What is a saint?

The term “saint” is a familiar word in Christian circles. Despite its regular use not every church defines a saint in the same way. The Catholic church is well known for its saints. In Catholicism a saint is someone who has shown great piety in life and meets very specific requirements after death. The Catholic church only gives the title of saint to those who have died, and only then to a very select few. Many Catholics ask the saints to pray for them, and saints are believed to exercise protection or guidance over specific groups, activities or places. For example, St. Christopher is believed to be the patron saint of travelers.

The Bible does not explain saints in this way. The Old and New Testaments both speak of saints and it means essentially the same thing in both testaments. The people of God are saints. In the Old Testament the saints were the believing Israelites. In the New Testaments all believers are saints. A saint is one who has been saved. Every child of God is a saint. In the book of Acts the apostle Peter went to the city of Lydda and visited with the saints there. Paul says in the epistle to the Colossians, “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse.” In the book of Ephesians the Christians living at Ephesus are said to be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews are said to have ministered to the saints. The book of Revelation repeatedly describes those who are saved, whether living or dead, as the saints. Sixty times the New Testament refers to Christians as saints. Everyone who has trusted Jesus for salvation is a saint.

The word saint has more significance than just a title. It is a description. The word saint means holy. A Christian is a holy one. He is holy in both major senses of the term. The Christian is one who has been made holy by the blood of Jesus. He is cleansed of sin and made righteous. Though the child of God still struggles with sin in this life, he is holy before God because he has been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. The Christian is one who has been set apart to God. He is holy unto God. The believer is set apart from the world to worship and glorify God. Every Christian is set apart unto God, His purchased possession and a royal priest in God’s holy nation. (1 Peter 2:9) A saint is the child of God made holy unto God by the blood of Jesus.