“To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1:2).
The word “saint” has been used in a variety of ways over the centuries. For instance, some identify a saint as a “…person of exalted virtue who is canonized by the Church after death and who may be the object of veneration and prayers for intercession.” (1) Others associate this word with someone who has patiently endured a difficult situation for an extended period of time. However, the Biblical use of this word carries a different connotation.
The word translated “saint” in Colossians 1:2 refers to one who is “sacred,” “holy,” and “set apart.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary expands on this definition with the following insight…
“In the plural, as used of believers, it designates all such and is not applied merely to persons of exceptional holiness, or to those who, having died, were characterized by exceptional acts of ‘saintliness.'” (2)
With these things in mind, we can associate the word “saint” with anyone who is set apart to God in Christ. In other words, this term is not used to designate an extraordinary man or woman of God or someone who is worthy of exceptional merit. From a Biblical perspective, we can say that no group or individual possesses the ability to elevate someone to “sainthood” for every man or woman in Christ is already acknowledged to be a saint.
Next comes a reference to grace and peace. This greeting appears often within Paul the Apostle’s New Testament letters and serves as one of his favorite forms of introduction. While its possible to look at this expression of grace and peace as nothing more than prelude to the content of Paul’s message, the progressive structure of this greeting implies something important.
You see, the ultimate source of grace and peace is “…the Lord Jesus Christ” for it is through Jesus’ sacrificial death that God graciously enables human beings to establish a relationship with Him. This foundation of grace (or God’s unmerited favor extended to us in Christ) enables us to enjoy peace with God. Once we have found this peace in our vertical relationship with God, our horizontal relationships with others are sure to benefit as a result.
As Jesus Himself told His followers…
“I am leaving you with a gift– peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 TLB).
(1) “saint” Oxford English Dictionary https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/saint
(2) Saint (-s) hagios (G40) Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, © 1984, 1996, Thomas Nelson, Inc.