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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What is a Saint?

You have probably heard the expression, “Grandma Jones surely was a saint.” You’ve also heard, “If anyone ever was a saint, it’s him.” We have a good friend who repaired religious images in his craft shop. He used to paint saints! Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard talk about “fast tracking” two men to sainthood.

saint (dictionary definition)—a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous. (verb) to formally recognize as a saint; canonize.

When I began researching religions that have saints, I was surprised to find that many religions have some form of sainthood:
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Taoism
  • Confucianism
  • Islam “awliya”
  • Traditional African religions “orisha”
  • Shintoism “kami”
  • Roman Catholicism 

I became interested some years ago with the process of Roman Catholic sainthood. This is what is required: the person must have been dead for at least five years. (A pope can waive this requirement for a special case. Example: Mother Theresa)
  1. The candidate is examined by a bishop. If the candidate is found worthy, he is considered to be a “Servant of God.”
  2. A Church official must prove that the candidate lived heroic virtues. Records are checked, and if the candidate passes this phase, he is called “Venerable.”
  3. The candidate must either have died a martyr or have produced a miracle (after his/her death) when someone prayed to him/her. If this miracle is approved, the candidate is called “Blessed.”
  4. A second miracle must be recognized as happening through the candidate, unless the candidate is a martyr. (In that case, he only has to produce one miracle after death.) The pope will then declare the candidate a “Saint.” (This information about the steps to canonization is from

Of course, every religion is different, and each has its own teaching about saints.

Let’s see what the Bible says about saints. Who are they? What does one have to do to become a saint?

The words saint and saints are used over a hundred times in the Bible. The first references are in Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible, and we see saint(s) all the way through the Bible, to its last book, Revelation.

First, let’s look at what they’re not. In the Bible, a saint is never:
  • Prayed to
  • Worshipped
  • “Canonized” or made a saint by the decision of others
  • Made into an image for veneration (See Exodus 20:4-5.)
  • More important than anyone else

A Bible saint is always:
  • A believer in God and in the Messiah, Jesus. (Old Testament saints trusted that Jesus would come, and they believed in God. Examples: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esther, Aaron, Moses, Ruth, Rahab, Joshua, Gideon, David, the prophets, etc. Later, when Jesus had come, saints were those who believed in Him for salvation. They are your New Testament saints. Saints living today—and those who will live in the future—are those who have trusted Jesus as their personal Savior.)
  • A normal person. No special attributes are given to any biblical saint. He/she is simply a believer.
  • A follower of the Lord.
  • In the New Testament, part of a local church. (Notice all the times Paul addresses the saints in the churches.) 

Here are just a few of the more than 100 Bible verses about saints. I think you’ll see that these—and all the others—are referring to actual people, many of them in local churches:
  • Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness (Psalm 30:4).
  • And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints (Psalm 89:5).
  • But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-26).
  • Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them (Romans 16:15).
  • Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2).
  • For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33).
  • Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1).
  • Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons (Philippians 1:1).
  • To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:2).
  • Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you (Hebrews 13:24).
  • Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).

Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior from sin? If so, biblically, you’re a saint. It doesn’t make you more special than anyone else. It just means you were saved from your sins by the grace and mercy of God.

If you haven’t, wouldn’t you like to be a saint? Wouldn’t you like to have your sins forgiven?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him
from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(Romans 10:9-10, 13)


  1. Muy bueno, es algo en lo que no se suele pensar mucho.


    1. Thank you, Tere, for your comment. It's true we don't think about these word concepts much.


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