Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:1-2 NASB)
The audience to whom Paul writes his letter are the “saints” in Philippi. The term “saint” is used many times in the New Testament and it always refers to “someone who is holy”. Interestingly, the term is always used in the plural to refer to a group of people. It is never used in the singular to refer to one person.
The Catholic church has its own definition of saint which has permeated our culture. The Catholic church recognizes deceased people as saints if they have met certain man-made requirements including heroism, and the performance of miracles (at least two are required – one during life and one after death). After a person is made a saint the Catholic church encourages its members to pray to these dead people, especially those who are classified as “patron saints”.
A patron saint has responsibility over certain demographics or material items. This includes the patron saint of the Internet (St. Isidore of Seville), patron saint of unattractive people (St. Drogo), and a patron saint of drug dealers (St. Jesus Malverde) to mention just three of the more strange ones. There are actually hundreds of patron saints. Allegedly if you pray to any of these people they will help you in their particular area of life.
But all this is unbiblical. It is man-made religion.
God calls all of those who believe in Jesus, and who therefore will be in heaven, “saints”. We are simply set apart (i.e. holy). We do not have any special powers. We cannot make the Internet run faster or make unattractive people good-looking. We should not be worshiped or prayed to in life or after we die. “Saint” is simply a biblical reference for someone who has been saved through the blood of Jesus.
One can only be a “saint” by being “in Christ Jesus”. It is faith in Jesus’ death on the cross as payment-in-full for sin that makes someone holy – saved and set apart by God for all eternity.
Paul also refers to some of the members of the church at Philippi as “overseers” and “deacons”. In the original Greek (the language the New Testament was written in) these are just general terms for those with leadership responsibility and those who serve within the church, respectively. Some Christian denominations have morphed these terms into titles within a church, but that is not their original meaning.
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