“To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father” (Colossians 1:2).
THE WORD “SAINTS” IS A DESIGNATION FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD. As we see in the text above, Paul addressed his letter to Colossae to “the saints and faithful brothers in Christ” in that place. (Notice the same usage in Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; and other letters.) All of the biblical terms used for God’s people are helpful to study, since they give us important information about what God expects of those who are committed to Him. Today, however, let’s focus on “saints” (and also “faithful brothers”).
Meaning. To be a “saint” is to be “separate.” A saint has accepted God’s call to be redeemed from sin — seeking salvation, he has obeyed the gospel. But since not everyone has done that, those who have done so are “set apart.” They are in a unique category, and they have a distinct identity. The apostle Peter put it this way: “you are . . . a people for [God’s] own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).
Privilege. Considering the price that had to be paid for our sins, it is the highest of privileges to be among the saints. There is no room for a condescending attitude, for no one who is in Christ deserves to be there. All are there by God’s grace. But surely, we can’t appreciate God’s grace and fail to see the honor which it bestows.
Responsibility. There are certain things — love for God and moral purity, for example — that are expected of those set apart for Him. God is patient, but ultimately, He will disown those of His saints who reject His lordship over their lives (Matthew 7:21–23).
But finally, notice that Paul also describes the saints in Colossae as “faithful brothers.” In Christ, our common attachment to God as our Father creates a bond between us as siblings. We love those who, like us, have been baptized into Christ’s death and are being prepared for an eternity with Him (2 Corinthians 4:16–18). In this family, each of the siblings is a saint. Set apart unto God, each has accepted both the privilege and the responsibility of living in this world as a person reserved exclusively for God.
“[The word ‘brothers’] is a beautiful description of that surprising new fellowship which the church constituted. It was composed of masters and slaves, of rich and poor, of Greeks and barbarians, of Gentiles and Jews; yet all these members recognized themselves as forming an actual brotherhood, a household of faith” (Charles R. Erdman).