Just for Catholics

All Christians are Saints

Question: I believe that only the Church, through the Pope, has the authority to declare saints after considering the works and life of each individual whose name has been brought forward for canonization. The Church does not consider just anyone, no matter how "saintly" a life s/he appears to have led, without proper study and without at least one miracle (attributed to that individual) that could be authenticated beyond current scientific and medical explanation.

Answer: You point out that the Pope claims the authority to declare certain individuals as saints after their death on the basis of certain criteria established by the Catholic Church. From among the millions of Catholics, only a tiny minority would ever be recognized as saints by the Vatican.

What a contrast with the picture we see in the New Testament! In the early church, the title "saint" is not restricted to a select group of dead and super Christians. Without exception, all Christians are saints. Every believer in Christ is a saint during his lifetime despite the many imperfections. And they were called so not by the authority of a Pope. It was commonplace for Christians to call each other "saints".

Did you ever notice that the letters of the apostle Paul are addressed to the saints? Surely he did not write to the saints in heaven. Please read the quotations listed below, which prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Bible calls "saints" all living believers in Christ.

Christians need not wait many years after death to receive this title. Nor do they need an intensive campaign to persuade a college of Cardinals about their sanctity. In the Bible, God calls them "saints" despite their sins and failures. Miracles they cannot do, yet they recognize each other as saints because of such unimpressive things as sincere faith in Christ and their love for the brethren.

Canonization is based on Rome's erroneous doctrine that a person is justified on account of personal righteousness. According to the Catechism, canonization is the solemn proclamation "that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God's grace." It is no surprise that Catholics do not dare claim this title since they believe that sainthood is achieved by personal effort.

In the New Testament (and in Evangelical churches today), ordinary Christians are called saints for a very different reason. You will not find us boasting of our heroic virtues and fidelity. Rather, we keep confessing our sins to God daily. Still, all believers are saints here and now. We are saints because of Another. All believers are "sanctified - i.e. made saints - through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). All Christians are saints because of what Christ did for us. Praise His name!


Appendix

Again and again the Bible calls ordinary living believers "saints" - as can be seen from the following scriptures:

  1. Acts 9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem.
  2. Acts 9:32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
  3. Acts 9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
  4. Acts 26:10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
  5. Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Romans 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
  7. Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
  8. Romans 15:25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
  9. Romans 15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
  10. Romans 15:31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints.
  11. Romans 16:2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
  12. Romans 16:15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
  13. 1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.
  14. 1 Corinthians 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
  15. 1 Corinthians 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
  16. 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
  17. 1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
  18. 1 Corinthians 16:15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints).
  19. 2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia.
  20. 2 Corinthians 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
  21. 2 Corinthians 9:1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you.
  22. 2 Corinthians 9:12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.
  23. 2 Corinthians 13:13 All the saints salute you.
  24. Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
  25. Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints.
  26. Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.
  27. Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.
  28. Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
  29. Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
  30. Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.
  31. Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
  32. Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.
  33. Philippians 4:22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
  34. Colossians 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  35. Colossians 1:4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints.
  36. Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
  37. 1 Timothy 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
  38. Philemon 1:5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints.
  39. Philemon 1:7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
  40. Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
  41. Hebrews 13:24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.
  42. Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A