Faithful Saints (Eph. 1:1)

The Ephesian letter is addressed to the: “Dear saints who have remained faithful.”

Ask the general worded question, “Do you know any saints?” and you might get some unusual answers. This is because the English word has lost its original meaning. Not only do we use it in common speech, when we do use it we are apt to do so flippantly. We even have a football team named the “Saints.” This is a beautiful word applied to a selected number of people and should be used in that sense.

The Greek word used by Paul in Ephesians 1:1 is “hagiagz” or “hagios.” This word means consecrated to God or a holy thing. It could be translated “sacred” or “pious.”

Primarily the word is used in the New Testament to denote those who are a part of Jesus and his church. In every case but one, the plural is used suggesting the called out. Philippians 4:21 is the lone exception, and it is easily tied into a group setting. It is understood, of course, that you can’t have a plural without some singles. But, we also understand that God is in the habit of addressing his people as his people rather than as his person. The body of Christ, the church of God, is composed of saints.

Some believe you have to be a former worker of miracles and be dead in order to be called a saint. This idea is not taught in scripture, however. Still, others think a saint is a “super-Christian” type of person; the true holier than me type. We hear things like, “That woman (sometimes, man) is a saint. This way of thinking is also not a biblical concept. The thing that is basically wrong with these two ideas of saints is that they are pointing to the efforts or deeds of the person. Sainthood is not given for merited works but as a gift of God.

The scriptural truth is that all Christians are saints, even if they don’t always act like we think saints should. Paul uses the term sanctified and holy to talk about the church in Corinth (1st Cor. 1:2). Both of these words are from “hagios.”

We notice that in Ephesians 1:1, Paul uses a second term to let them know what kind of saints he is addressing in the letter. They are the faithful saints. Obviously then, you can be a Christian and called a saint and not be faithful to your calling. Perhaps you know such a person. Maybe you are such a person. Being sanctified by God, set apart and made holy is not something we do. No, it is what God does when we are born of water and spirit. Being made a saint is God’s way of saving us by putting us in the kingdom of his son.

Being sanctified and made holy is God’s part; being faithful until death is our responsibility. The Ephesian letter is written to faithful saints. You don’t need a degree in biblical studies to understand that there is a major difference between being a saint and being a faithful one. That is what I must work at. That is what you must work at.

Were the words of this letter written to you?

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