by A.E. Knoch

HALLOWED or holy persons are called "saints" in English. This causes much confusion of thought, which is not present in the Original, or in other languages, such as German, where they're called heilige HOLY-ones, as in the C.V. sublinear. In studying such idiomatic terms, which are not concordant, references should always be made to the stem, for "saint" is listed under HOLY, and by far the most of the occurrences are translated holy in the version. Otherwise the word may lead to an entirely false conclusion and inextricable confusion, just as a study of the word soul would, if we turned only to the A.V. renderings, "life." All believers who have the holy spirit of God are hallowed by it, and may be called saints, according to the Scriptures, but, in Roman Catholic and other circles, it is restricted to a particular class.


Israel was a holy nation (Ex.19:6), with holy places, and especially holy persons, such as the priesthood. But the word holy is not used of all the individuals of the nation, because it was based on conduct or privilege, not on faith. So, in the later Scriptures also, it has a special usage which distinguishes the saints from others of the nation. When Paul persecuted those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, Ananias spoke of "how much evil he does to thy saints in Jerusalem" (Acts 9:13). And this is the sense it has in the Circumcision writings. Paul uses it in this sense at times, but he enlarged it to include all who are hallowed or sanctified, or sainted, by faith that is in God (Acts 26:18).


Judging by the A.V., the rendering "saint" occurs about 22 times in the Circumcision writings (including Acts) and 41 times, nearly twice as many, in Paul's epistles. When we consider that these writings are three times as long, the true proportion is one to six. That is, Paul's epistles use the word saint six times as often as the circumcision epistles. It occurs only once in the so-called "Gospels" (Matt.27:52), and then only of the dead. It appears far less often in the Hebrew Scriptures. This should show that it has a far greater place in this administration than any other and is worthy of special study in Paul's epistles. None of the Circumcision epistles of Peter, John, James or Jude are addressed to the Circumcision "saints." Most of Paul's epistles to the Uncircumcision are addressed to "saints" (Rom.1:6; 1 Cor.1:2; 2 Cor.1:1; Eph.1:1; Phil.1:1; Col.1:1).


Romans was written by Paul as one who had obtained grace and apostleship for the obedience of faith among all nations. He writes to the Romans as beloved by God, called saints, or holy-ones (1:7). As we have seen in Israel, only those were called saints who believed in Christ by the power of holy spirit. To the Romans Paul wrote that the love of God has been poured forth in our hearts through the holy (saint) spirit which is being given to us. He was a Hebrew and they were the nations, but he speaks of this spirit as given to both (Rom.5:5).


If my readers are "hallowed in Christ Jesus," then they are "called HOLY-ones (saints)" like those in Corinth (1 Cor.1:2). This is the city where the Jews resisted Paul's preaching, so that he said, "From now on I shall go to the nations" (Acts 18:6). These people had been idolaters or immoral, but they were hallowed (made saints) in the name of Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God (1 Cor.6:10,11). God's dwelling places are always holy, or saintly. As the Corinthians are His temple, how could they be otherwise than holy (3:17; 6:19)?


Ephesians was written to all the saints in Christ Jesus (1:1,15) not only those mentioned in verse three, and referred to as us, but those implied in you also, who were sealed with the holy spirit of promise in verse thirteen. These are fellow citizens of the saints, and both form one dwelling place for God in spirit. He could not dwell in an unholy (un-sainted) temple. The point in the epistle is this, that there had been two separate bodies, with two degrees of holiness, but now they were merged into one joint body, in which such differences had disappeared. So we are exhorted to keep the unity of the spirit in the tie of peace. Nothing would so disrupt this unity as calling some the saints, and so implying that the others were not holy.


This epistle was written to a Roman city (Acts 16:21). The saints with Paul, especially those of Caesar's household, exchanged greetings with the saints in Philippi (4:21,22).


Colossians was written to the saints in a city outside the land of Israel. They had faith in Christ Jesus, and were mature, knowing the secret made known only to the saints, that is Christ among them, the expectation of glory (1:4,26). They were chosen of God, and holy (sainted, 3:12).


The Thessalonians received the word with joy of holy (saintly) spirit (1 Thess.1:6). They looked forward to the presence of our Lord Jesus with all His saints (3:13). God gave His holy spirit to them, which constituted them saints. The epistle was to be read to all the holy (sainted) brethren.

In the second epistle they are looking forward to the coming when He will be glorified in His saints (1:10). God preferred them in the beginning for salvation in holiness (or saintliness) of spirit (2:13).


If sainthood were limited to the Circumcision it would be difficult to place Timothy, for his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1). The Circumcision abstained from certain foods which were not holy according to Moses' law. But Timothy is assured that now, all food is hallowed (sainted) by the word of God and pleading (1 Tim.4:5).

In the second epistle Timothy is told to guard the ideal thing committed to him through the holy (sainted) spirit which is making its home in us (1:14).

Titus is reminded that we are saved through the renewal of holy (saintly) spirit which is poured out on us richly (Titus 3:6,7).

Paul praises Philemon for his love and faith toward all the saints (5), and that he soothed the compassions of all the saints (7).

In his rich variety of reference in Paul's epistles, it is abundantly evident that sainthood comes to all who have the holy (saintly) spirit of God, irrespective of their physical status. In this administration of transcendent grace all our blessings are spiritual. None are based on Circumcision. No longer have we a lower and less holy place than they. The unity today is one of spirit. May we all endeavor to teach and keep this grand and gracious unity!

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