The Greek word that is translated “saint” is hagios. Hagios, and its Hebrew equivalent qadowsh, are usually translated “holy”. In Hebrew thought, if a thing is described as holy, the basic idea is that it is different from other things; it is in some sense set apart. In order to better understand this, let us look at how holy is actually used in the Old Testament.

  • When the regulations regarding the priesthood are being laid down, it is written: They shall be holy to their God (Lev.21:6). The priests were to be different from other men, for they were set apart for a special function.
  • The tithe was the tenth part of all produce which was to be set apart for God, and it is laid down: The tenth shall be holy to the Lord, because it is the Lord’s (Lev.27:30,32). The tithe of produce was different from other usages of food.
  • The central part of the Temple was the Holy Place (Exo.26:33); it was different from all other places.
  • In many of the New Testament letters, the believers are called saints. By virtue of Christ’s perfect sacrifice and their faith in Him, they are set apart for God, or sanctified by his Spirit for His exclusive use and purposes within the body of Christ here on earth.
  • Contrary to the traditions and beliefs of some people, all believers in Jesus are saints, not just a select few. Sainthood is not an achievement, it is a position that we have through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Every Christian is positionally perfect in Christ Jesus, while at the same time, we are conditionally imperfect, and in a life-long phase of being conformed to the image of God.

Note of the two residencies of every believer, our real home is in Christ Jesus; in heavenly places…our apartment is where we get our mail every day. One is permanent, the other is temporary. As we read in Ephesians 2, we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. But on earth, these saints were living in the city of Ephesus. No one can read Paul’s letters without seeing how often the phrases in Christ, in Christ Jesus, in the Lord occur. In Christ Jesus occurs 48 times, in Christ 34 times, and in the Lord 50 times. Clearly this was for Paul the very essence of Christianity. What did he mean? Marvin R. Vincent says that when Paul spoke of the Christian being in Christ, he meant that the Christian lives in Christ as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, the roots of a tree in the soil. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. He is our Lord and He is our life.