READ PHILIPPIANS ONE
Yesterday we saw how Paul identifies himself: as a slave in the household of God.
How does Paul identify his readers?
What does the word “saints” indicate to you?
Paul opens his letter to the Philippians by reminding them of one of the most central identifiers of Christians in the New Testament: saints who are “in Christ.” The Greek word for “saints” is ἁγίοις, which is literally translated “the holy ones.” Most often when we see this word in the Text it is referring to God’s holiness, or describing His character. But here, Paul uses it as an infinitive to describe the ones who assume the description. For example, in our own culture we might describe someone as funny, or we can call them “the funny guy.” This is an imperfect example, but you get the idea. Here, the idea is taken to another extreme as Paul uses the word “Holy” to call the believers in Philippi “the holy ones.”
Let’s take a closer look at this Greek word and at the phrase “in Christ” that accompanies it. Look up the following passages, most of which have been written by Paul. Make note of what Paul’s other writings teach us about being “saints in Christ Jesus”:
1 Corinthians 6:1
1 Peter 2:9
II Corinthians 5:17
Paul wants to emphasize two things to the believers. First, they have been made holy. They have a new identity, and it is one as saints, holy ones, in the family of God. And secondly, they are made holy because they have been united to Christ! They are found “in Christ,” located “in Christ,” and their identity is “in Christ.” In no other way, by no other means could they have been made holy but by being joined to the One who is Himself holy. In just a few short words, Paul takes a common Greek word that is attributed to God and applies it to the believers because they are “in Christ.”
This is the Gospel, friend. We have been made holy because we are united to the Holy One. We, like the Philippian church, have received a full portion of Christ’s justifying grace, and God looks on us as holy because of His finished work on the cross. You, me, undeserving as we are, are made holy as we are in Christ.
PRAY & REFLECT
Reflect on your union with Christ. Thank God that He looks upon Christ’s holiness and applies it to you though His grace.