Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 1:1, NKJV)
Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, a celebration of Ireland named for Patrick, a fifth-century cleric from Roman Britain credited with bringing Christianity to the island. March 17 is regarded as the day of his death. Patrick recounted a vision led him to Ireland as a missionary. Legends and tales of shamrocks, snakes, and walking sticks becoming living trees wrap themselves about the imagery of Patrick. Never officially canonized by a Catholic pope, he is venerated by millions. And, herein is just some of the problems with “Saint” Patrick. In the New Testament, every Christian is a “saint” (holy person) as today’s verse indicates (see also, Acts 9:13, 32, 41; 26:10; 1 Cor. 1:2). God does not speak through visions now, but through Jesus Christ and His apostles (Heb. 1:1-2; Matt. 10:40). Patrick’s imaginations ought not be thought of as divine directives. (Many have made that mistake through the centuries!) And, please explain how drinking alcohol to celebrate a “saint” squares with the holiness of a “saint,” when the Bible says do not start the drinking process, much less continue it to inebriation (Eph. 5:18). The Bible does not teach us to have feast days to honor “saints” of the Catholic Church. Celebrate Ireland, but don’t confuse worldly indulgence with honoring a saint of man’s own creation.
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:1–3, NKJV)
Just as Christ called Paul to be an apostle, Christ calls sinners to be saints. Paul was called to be an apostle through the will of God, and, God’s will calls sinners through the gospel to be “sanctified in Christ” – holy and set apart from sin and set apart unto God. The word saints (“holy ones”) is applied in the Scriptures to every Christian, not just special ones the church decides ought to be called saints (like is practiced in Roman Catholicism). The church is a “holy nation” according to Peter in 1 Peter 2:9. Those who are “beloved of God” are saints according to Paul in Romans 1:7. In today’s text, saints “call on the name of Jesus Christ,” and through Him obtain grace and peace from God. In Catholicism, Saint Patrick is the “patron saint of Ireland,” but in the Scriptures, all Christians are saints. The reason is simple: “Be holy, for I am holy,” says the Lord (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. (Philippians 4:21–22, NKJV)
Who is a saint? The western world generally regards someone who does extraordinary good for others as a saint. The Catholic Church canonizes their saints and prays to them. But the Bible refers to every Christian as a saint. The apostle Paul regarded all the Christians in Philippi as saints, addressing them as saints (Phil. 1:1). In his closing salutation he again referred to them as saints, along with the brethren in Rome. The word “saint” means “holy one”. Every Christian is called to “be holy” as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). The gospel calls us to be holy, to be sanctified – to be saints (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11). If you catch yourself excusing your sin by saying, “I’m not a saint”, perhaps you should ask yourself, “Why not?”