What is the Bible definition of a saint?

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By BibleAsk Team


The concept of saints in the Bible is deeply rooted in both the Old and New Testaments, carrying significant theological implications for believers. While the term “saint” may evoke images of extraordinary individuals or revered figures, the biblical definition of it extends to all those who have been set apart by God for His purposes and who live in accordance with His will.

Revelation 14:12 provides valuable insight into the characteristics of saints, offering a glimpse into their identity and lifestyle as followers of Christ. To explore the biblical definition of this term comprehensively, we will examine the passage in Revelation 14:12 within its broader biblical context, explore the theological significance of the term and consider its implications for believers today.

Revelation 14:12:

Revelation 14:12 (NKJV) reads:

“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

  1. Patience:
    • The phrase “patience” highlights the enduring perseverance and steadfastness of believers in the face of trials and tribulations. They are those who demonstrate patience and endurance, remaining faithful to God’s promises and commands despite adversity.
  2. Keeping the Commandments of God:
    • These believers are characterized by their obedience to the commandments of God (Exodus 20:1-17), living lives that reflect His moral and ethical standards. Their obedience is not based on legalism or self-righteousness but flows from a heart transformed by faith and love for God.
  3. The Faith of Jesus:
    • These believers are those who possess the faith of Jesus, trusting in Him as Savior and Lord and embodying His teachings and example in their lives. Their faith is rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is the object of their devotion and the source of their salvation.

The Term “Saint” in the Bible:

A saint (Gr. Hagioi), literally means a “holy one.” The term is common in the New Testament to describe Christians (Acts 9:32, 41; 26:10; Ephesians 1:1; etc.). It does not necessarily denote persons who are already perfect in holiness (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1:11), but rather those who by their faith and baptism may be assumed to be separate from the world and consecrated their life to God. The term “saint” carries significant theological weight in both the Old and New Testaments, reflecting the idea of holiness and set-apartness:

  1. Old Testament Usage:
    • In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “saint” is “qadosh,” which means “holy” or “set apart.” This term is often used to describe God Himself as holy and to designate His people as those who are consecrated or set apart for His purposes (Exodus 19:6; Psalm 30:4).
  2. New Testament Usage:
    • In the New Testament, the Greek word for “saint” is “hagios,” which also means “holy” or “set apart.” This term is frequently used to refer to believers in Jesus Christ as those who have been sanctified or set apart by God’s grace (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1).

God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and commands His children to become holy as He is. He is the ultimate example and source of holiness. Holiness means being pure and right—acting and thinking like God. So, any Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ in heart and deed and filled with His Holy Spirit, by biblical definition, is a saint.

Characteristics:

Based on the biblical usage of the term “saint,” several characteristics can be identified that define God’s people as saints:

  1. Set-Apartness: Saints are those who have been set apart or consecrated by God for His purposes and glory (1 Peter 2:9).
  2. Sanctification and Purity: Saints are those who have been sanctified or made holy through faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:2).
  3. Obedience: Saints are characterized by their obedience to God’s commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), living lives that reflect His moral and ethical standards (1 John 2:3-6). The saints will keep the commandments of God by the grace of God.
  4. Faith: Saints are those who possess genuine faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him as Savior and Lord and embodying His teachings and example in their lives (Hebrews 11:1; James 2:14-26). This faith of Jesus (Hebrews 11) will give them victory over sin.
  5. Love: Saints are characterized by their love for God and love for others, reflecting the love of Christ in their attitudes and actions (1 John 4:7-8; Matthew 22:37-39).
  6. Perseverance: Saints endure trials and tribulations with perseverance and faith, trusting in God’s promises and provision (James 1:12; Romans 5:3-5).

Their Role in the Church:

The biblical concept of the separated ones carries implications for the role and function of believers within the Church:

  1. Unity: Saints are members of the body of Christ, called to live in unity and love with one another, bearing one another’s burdens and supporting one another in faith (Ephesians 4:3-6; Galatians 6:2).
  2. Ministry: They are equipped by the Holy Spirit for ministry and service within the Church, using their spiritual gifts for the edification and building up of the body (1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Ephesians 4:11-12).
  3. Witness: Saints are called to be witnesses for Christ in the world, proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
  4. Intercession: They are called to pray for one another and intercede on behalf of the Church and the world, lifting up prayers and supplications to God (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16).

Conclusion:

The biblical definition of a saint, as revealed in Revelation 14:12 and throughout Scripture, encompasses those who demonstrate enduring perseverance, obedience to God’s commandments, and faith in Jesus Christ. Saints are characterized by their set-apartness, sanctification, obedience, faith, love, and perseverance, reflecting the transformative work of God in their lives. Thus, the term doesn’t point to extraordinary individuals or revered figures but to all believers who faithfully walk in God’s path.

As members of the body of Christ, saints play a vital role within the Church, living lives that honor God, serve others, and bear witness to the gospel. They are called to holiness, unity, ministry, witness, and intercession, embodying the values and virtues of the kingdom of God in the world.

Ultimately, the biblical concept of saints underscores the transformative power of God’s grace and the call to live lives that reflect His holiness and glory. As believers, we are called to embrace our identity as saints and to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1), trusting in the grace and power of God to enable us to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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