Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I wonder how many saints you know? None? A few? Many? The word ‘saints’ in the New Testament is quite a familiar word. It is translated from the Greek word hagioi. Basically, the root of the Greek word denotes someone, or even something, who has been designated or dedicated to God.
In the New Testament, the phrase ‘the saints’ refers to people. For example, above are the opening words of the letter to the Philippians. What kind of people were the saints in Philippi? Special people? Well, no. The answer comes in chapter 16 of the Book of Acts where we have the account of Lydia’s conversion: a rich businesswoman, and the account of the jailer: two characters from very different backgrounds! Despite that and the different nature of their experiences, they were both brought to faith in Christ and to a relationship with Him.
The people of Israel in the Old Testament were brought to God and it was the same idea, which is belonging to God. The flip side of the coin was the expectation for them, and indeed the saints in the New Testament, to be holy, that is pure.
It is clear that many of the New Testament authors, from the letters in the New Testament, were totally convinced that they knew many saints. The saints were people of flesh and blood like you and me – not stone statues! To be named a saint is not a prize to be won at the end of life, but rather the privilege of a present relationship with the God who called you and loved you in Jesus Christ and who brought you into fellowship with His people.
Iwan Rhys Jones, ‘Saint’ taken from Geiriau Bywyd, published by EMW in 2017