In the Old Testament
The word saints (Hebrew qodesh or qadosh) means “separated from a common to a sacred use.” And this term was addressed to the Jewish people as a nation. “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6 also Exodus 19:5, 6).
This didn’t mean that the Jews were perfect but that they were separate from other nations and sanctified to God’s service. While God’s people worshiped the One true God, other nations worshiped idols made by man. Thus, the term designated those people that have dedicated themselves for the worship and ministry of God.
In the New Testament
The word saints (Greek Hagios) literally means “holy ones.” It identifies the Christians or the believers: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1 also Acts 9:32, 41; 26:10; etc.).
The word saints does not necessarily mean believers who are perfect in holiness (1 Corinthians 1:2,11). But rather it points to those who by their confession and baptism may be separate from the world and devoted to His service.
Characteristics of the saints
John the Revelator describes the saints saying: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12 also 12:17). Therefore, the saints are identified by keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus. Some say that the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) were abolished by the Savior but Jesus Himself asserted, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17,18).
The commandments of God are revelation of His character. They represent the divine standard of righteousness that God wants man to reach. On his own, man cannot do that (Romans 8:7) without divine assistance. For man comes short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But praise God, Jesus came to empower humans with the power to overcome sin that they may be able to reflect His image (Matthew 5:48). And thus, through faith in God, people can keep His Commandments (Romans 8:3, 4).
In His service,