Who Are You? (Part 1)

Who Are You? (Part 1)

Who are you? How you “describe” yourself tells a lot about what’s genuinely important in your own mind! Our self-identities might include words like husband or wife, parent or child, teacher or student, or perhaps a description of your occupation. I hope the word at the “top” of your list is “Christian!” In a brief series of articles, we’ll take note of several new testament words the Holy Spirit used to describe those who have trusted in and obeyed Jesus’ instructions for forgiveness of their sins and hope of eternal salvation. This will (obviously!) not be an “exhaustive” list, but a look at of some terms to help each of us reflect on how GOD sees us, and how we should want others to see us (as Christians).

In Ephesians 2:19 Paul describes Christians as, “…no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God….” Focus on ONE word here: Saints.

The new testament uses this word about 60 times (the singular form is only used once, in Philippians 4:21). NO ONE in the new testament was ever described as “saint so-and-so.” About 40 times, this word refers specifically to Christians (other uses include the saved/faithful of all ages). The Greek word for “saint” is hagios, meaning “something holy.” It’s the same word used to describe God Himself; Christ; the Spirit; and angels. To be “holy” means to be dedicated, purified, consecrated so that we can be in God’s presence. In the old testament, things that were dedicated to God – the temple, the altar, and the sanctuary – were also called “holy” because they belonged to Him. No one who does not belong to God is ever called “holy” in the bible.

This is a word that clearly refers to Christians in passages like Acts 9:13 and 26:10. In passages like Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Ephesians 1:1, and Philippians 1:1, “saints” specifically refers to members of the congregations in those places. It is also associated with specific actions and attitudes in passages like 1 Corinthians 6:1-2 and Colossians 1:4.

Just as no person in the bible is ever addressed as “saint so-and-so,” neither is any person in the new testament is ever called a saint who was not a Christian – a member of the church. What this tells us is that being a saint means LIVING in a very distinctive way (in submission to God’s instructions, without objections or complaints). It means being aware every day of God’s love for us, Romans 1:7. It means taking comfort and confidence in knowing that God’s Spirit is “on our side” when we struggle, Romans 8:27. It means serving one another, Romans 12:13 & 15:25-31, and 1 Corinthians 16:15. Being a saint means respecting and helping one another, Romans 16:1-2 & 15, and it means WORKING to “be at peace” with each other, 1 Corinthians 14:33.

(More to come)

-Dave Rogers


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