Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons… (Philippians 1:1)
First, I’ll offer some general context for this epistle (letter). Paul is writing from Rome where he is under house arrest, appealing to Caesar the penalty of death. This was sent to the church he had planted in Philippi eleven years earlier on his second missionary trip to the gentiles. Timothy, who had also visited the Philippians several times, was with Paul as he wrote, but Paul was the writer and the Holy Spirit was the author. The church in Philippi had prospered and grown over the years.
Paul addresses his letter to all the saints. Did you know you were a saint? Are you comfortable being called a saint? In our vernacular, sainthood is a position obtained and authorized by humans for perceived super-human goodness. We tend to either disbelieve it is possible to be a saint, or to believe it is possible for only a very select few. Neither position is biblically correct. The Greek word Paul chose here for saints is aègiov which transliterates in English as hagios (Pronounced hag’- ee-.os). It simply means, in its use here, all of the Christians believers in the church. Interestingly, when this word is applied to things instead of people it translates as holy and when applied to God it translates as the Holy One.
I don’t know any of the folks from the Philippi church, but there are several things I can reasonably assume about them. Although saved by their faith in Christ, they occasionally sinned. Paul knew this too, and certainly the Holy Spirit who was flowing through Paul as he wrote this knew every detail of their hearts, yet still selected this particular word. God and Paul saw the saints at Philippi through spiritual eyes, revealing the righteousness of Christ which clothed them. I wonder if we really walk securely in the knowledge that by faith we are saints in God’s eyes. As we repent our failings to God, it is important to also forget about them, as God has — I will remember their sins no more. Sin awareness without saint awareness can only bring condemnation.
I can say for myself with certainty that there were periods of my past where the word saint in no way applied to me. Even as a Christian, I have known some very unholy days. The bible tells us that every word it contains was inspired by God. All scripture is God-breathed…. (2 Timothy 3:16). God chose hagios, or saints, to define His children, even though in our root lives we may have seemed far less than saints, and even though we still have sin in our lives. People have pasts, but so do words. This word chosen to describe the righteousness of Christ in which we walk as saints before God also has an unholy past. It comes from the root word hagos, meaning an awful thing. God is pretty cool, isn’t He? Who but God could take a word that means an awful thing and transform it into a word which means holy saints to describe people who once were awful things but in Christ have become holy saint things? In God’s eye’s, you are a beloved saint.
Yes, we are sinner/saints. We all have sin awareness, but need to access even more our saint awareness. Our sin is defeated, covered by the holiness of the Holy One, Jesus. We’ve been designated as (hagios) saints by Paul through the Holy Spirit. As your soul waits silently for God, wait in peace. You are a (hagios) saint of the (hagios) Holy One. A sinner saved by Grace is no longer a sinner. You are a saint, saved and sainted (made and proven holy) by Grace through Faith. Praise the Lord, saint!