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What is a Saint?

By Bruce W. Robida



What is a Saint?

Here is how the Catholic Dictionary defines the word, saint:

Latin: sanctus, holy

Name applied in the New Testament to the members of the Christian community generally, as in Colossians 1

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus, who are at Colossa….

Early on the term became restricted to men and women of eminent holiness of life. In its strictest ecclesiastical usage it applies only to those who have distinguished themselves by heroic virtue and who, after the scrutiny of the Church, have been declared saints by a solemn judgment of the pope. The juridical consequence of such declaration entitles the person to receive general veneration (not adoration) in the Universal Church. The earliest class of saints to receive distinct recognition was the martyrs. The name confessors as in confessor of the faith originally applied to those who evinced signal courage and constancy in professing the faith, but now refers to male saints who are not martyrs or sufferers for the faith. Women are venerated either as virgins, virgin-martyrs, or as widows. http://saints.sqpn.com/saints/

The Catholic Dictionary begins its definition by correctly stating that the title, saint was given to the Christian community in general. However, the Catholic Church later restricted the title to only those that they deemed worthy, according to the standards as set forth by the pope. There are many verses in the Bible that show the correct usage for the term, saint. The apostles often referred to the saints in many of their letters, which can be found in the New testament (see for example, Acts 9:13, 9:32, 26:10, Romans 1:7, 8:27, 15:25-26, 15:31, 16:2, 16:15, 1 Corinthians 6:1-2, 14:33, 16:15, 2 Corinthians 1:1, 8:4, 9:1, 13:13, Ephesians 1:1, 1:15, 1:18, 3:18, 6:18, Philippians 1:1, 4:21-22, Colossians 1:4, 1:12, 1:26, 1 Timothy 5:10, Philemon 1:5, 1:7, Jude 1:3, Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4, 11:18, 13:7, 14:12, 16:6, 17:6, 18:20, 18:24, 19:8).

This title was given to all believers in the early Church, but was changed by the Catholic Church according to their own definition.

For a more thorough explanation of what it means to be a saint, see the article,
The Bible's Teaching on Sainthood - by Robert H. Kreger .

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