by Brad Scott
I have had several requests concerning the English word saint. The reasons to me are obvious. This word has certainly been redefined in our culture. This is due to new colloquial paradigms and its travel from the Hebrew through the Indo-European languages. Our current dictionaries define the word saint as "any of certain persons of exceptional holiness of life, formally recognized by the Christian Church as having attained an exalted position in heaven and being entitled to veneration on earth; (in certain religious groups) a designation applied by the members to themselves." I believe that pretty much sums up where we got our cultural definitions from.
Because of the redefined model of a saint by our dominant religions, there are other commonly accepted uses of the word. When someone performs a gracious act we sometimes say "Oh, isn't she a saint!" Most religious leaders are seen as saints, particularly Billy Graham and the Pope. We have many sports teams across the country called The Saints. Many towns across America begin with the word Saint. Many years ago, I almost bought a rather large dog that contained this word.
All right, enough of that. I am only trying to show how our understanding of biblical words are sometimes skewed by our religious and secular culture. The English word saint comes from the Latin sancio. This word meant "to make sacred by a religious act", which is a rather circular definition seeing that the word sacred also comes from this word. The Greek word hagios (αγιος) is used to translate the Hebrew word qadesh (קדש). It is by means of the Greek that the English words wholeness, holy, health and wealth spring from. As you can probably imagine, the Hebrew word and the scriptural context of this word has lost it's meaning. Qadesh means to be prepared or separated out for a purpose. It is the context of this word that determines for what purpose. When used in context with following the God of Israel, it is always used in juxtaposition with being LIKE the God of Israel.
Vayiqera (Leviticus) 11:44For I am YHVH your ’Elohiym: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy ...
1 Kefa (1 Peter) 1:15-16But, as He who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of life, because it is written, be ye holy for I am holy.
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 5:12Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as YHVH thy ’Elohiym hath commanded thee.
I could go on and on here. There is a holiness to God and there is a holiness to those things that are unrighteousness as well. Obviously, our society has been equally confused about this term.
Devariym 22:9Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with various seeds, lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled [qedesh].
Devariym 23:18Thou shalt not bring the hire of an harlot, or the price of a sodomite [qedesh], into the house of YHVH thy ’Elohiym for any vow; for even both these are abomination unto YHVH thy ’Elohiym.
Everyone has a choice as to how, what, or who they choose to prepare or separate themselves unto, for, since the time of Yeshua', the people of God are also called to be qadesh.
Romans 1:7To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints ...
Philippians 1:1Paul and Timothy, servants of Yeshua‘ the Messiah, to all the saints in Messiah Yeshua‘ ...
I suppose we can choose to call whomever we want by this title, but it says very little about who they are following.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊