Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
When you hear the word “saint” what do you think about? Most people think people who have lived a sacrificial, selfless life in service of others. Many might think of the work Mother Teresa did in India. But the Scriptures give a different view on sainthood, not based on what the person has done in their life, but what God has done.
Here we see that Paul say to the believers in Rome that they are called to be saints. The literal in the Greek actually says that they are “called holy.” This means that the “saintliness” of the believers in Rome is something that they have been brought into by the work of Christ through their faith and trust in him.
But the believers in Rome are not the only ones who are called saints. Paul also says this about the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:2, 2 Cor. 1:1), the Ephesians (Eph. 1:1), the Philippians (Phil. 1:1), the Colossians (Col. 1:1) and so on. Just stop for a moment and consider the condition of the Corinthian church that was full open sin, cliques, Christians suing each other, in-fighting and all manner of dysfunction, but Paul still calls them saints, why? Because true sainthood is not bestowed upon men by men, true sainthood is bestowed on men by God and he does this the moment we have come to faith in him.
To be called holy is to be declared holy by God, not by our works, but by him who has made us holy because (1) we have been cleansed of our sins, (2) we have been clothed in his righteousness, (3) and we have been placed “in Christ” so that we are viewed as holy in God’s sight. Therefore all believers from the apostles to those who come to faith at the end of this age, we are called to be saints.