I’m sure everyone out there, can name someone who seems to have a large arsenal of useless facts, in his or her armory.
I’ve been accused by more than a few folks, of being that person, and frankly, I know many argue the truth in that idea.
I would dispute the reputation, but not because I don’t have a lot of information, many would consider to be useless or worthless. On what basis do I mount my refutation?
It’s my contention, that very few of the things I know, are of no value.
Some things, for example, what the “BNC” in BNC connectors stands for, can be argued to have largely lost their significance. In case you’re wondering, I shan’t keep you in suspense, it stands for “British Naval Connector.”
Some other things though, will either keep their value for a good long time to come, or be more or less, timeless.
One example, would be the origin of the word, “saint.”
If you look up the word in most online dictionaries (or get a definition on search engines), you’ll come up with something like (the result from the search, “saint definition” on DuckDuckGo):
- n. A person officially recognized, especially by canonization, as being entitled to public veneration and capable of interceding for people on earth.
- n. A person who has died and gone to heaven.
More at Wordnik from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
But if you actually look at the etymology, various places, you’ll get something like this (from EtymOnline, which purports itself an “Online Etymology Dictionary”). Keep in mind, this is but a short excerpt from that site.
early 12c., from Old French saint, seinte “a saint; a holy relic,” displacing or altering Old English sanct, both from Latin sanctus “holy, consecrated” (used as a noun in Late Latin; also source of Spanish santo, santa, Italian san, etc.), properly past participle of sancire “consecrate” (see sacred). Adopted into most Germanic languages (Old Frisian sankt, Dutch sint, German Sanct).
I hope you can see the significant difference, between the two.
In the first, you find a definition the which, the “average Christian” would be lucky to ever to attain. In the second, the difference is not so clear-cut.
Are you consecrated? Are you holy (another word I would have others look up)? If so, even by this rather high-minded meaning, you are a saint.
Here’s the thing though. If you take the time to look for the word in, say, the King James Version of the Bible (KJV, created in around 1611AD), you might be somewhat surprised to see how that word is used.
I use an application called Online Bible, which has a good many modules, one can use to help one, to understand the Bible. One of these. is a tool called “Easton’s Bible Dictionary.” In that work, can be found the following for the word saint:
One separated from the world and consecrated to God; one holy by profession and by covenant; a believer in Christ #Ps 16:3 Ro 1:7 8:27 #Php 1:1 Heb 6:10 The “saints” spoken of in #Jude 1:14 are probably not the disciples of Christ, but the “innumerable company of angels” #Heb 12:22 Ps 68:17 with reference to #De 33:2 This word is also used of the holy dead #Mt 27:52 Re 18:24 It was not used as a distinctive title of the apostles and evangelists and of a “spiritual nobility” till the fourth century. In that sense it is not a scriptural title.
Wow! What a difference!
In this dictionary, that talks about what the word being used in Biblical senses looks like, it’s clear the meaning is not even all that similar to the one, presently in use.
Put plainly, modern day language (and by that, I mean compared to the idiom of Biblical times), has certainly done a number on this word. That’s not surprising, many similar examples can be found.
It’s pretty obvious that, in the original meaning of the word, more or less anyone who claimed to be under the banner of Jesus, called Christ, would be entitled to have that expression associated with his or her name.
Can a reasonable argument be made for the redefinition of the word in the course of time? In my mind, the answer to that question is pretty assuredly, “No.”
Nonetheless, that’s what has happened as we’ve moved toward the present day, regardless whether it makes sense, for it to have occurred.
And I think Christendom, is the poorer for that fact.
When believers are told they’re not saints, when the Bible seems pretty intent on indicating they are, it places them in a position of subjugation, I don’t think to be at all proper.
Recognition of this reality, also points up another thing many Christians seem to fail to understand. You are consecrated. You have been set apart.
Inability to comprehend this fact, makes it so many believers act as folks for whom it’s not true, instead of behaving as those for which it is the case.
Simply, when you’re not aware you’re a saint, you’re not prone to act like one.
Does sainthood mean perfection? Certainly not.
Even so, you have been set apart.
I’m not trying to cause people to “live up to” the idea of what’s currently referred to as sainthood, so much as help them to realize, the word applies to them.
I certainly don’t believe you’ll magically become the model of perfect behavior or attitude, when this is brought to your attention. I don’t think knowing it’s true is intended to cause that to happen.
That said, I do believe it should cause you to modify your view of yourself, and your fellows in Christ.
Have you gone your whole life to this point, not really properly understanding the word “saint?” If not, you’re in a distinct minority. It’s more common for followers of Jesus, to not know how this word should be applied, than to comprehend for whom it was intended.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.