“The Saints” in the NT

In the NT believers are referred to as “the saints/holy ones” over 60 times, particularly in Paul’s letters, with another concentration in Revelation, and a scattering of uses in some other NT writings (Acts, Hebrews, Jude).  It’s an interesting instance of a group self-designation in earliest Christian circles.

The Greek word used in these NT writings is αγιοι (hagioi), the plural substantive form of the adjective hagios (“holy”).  In the Greek OT (LXX, Septuagint), however, hagioi is used as a term for a group of people only a few times, e.g., Psalm 16:3 (LXX 15:3), Psalm 34:9 (LXX 33:9), and the same is true in the wider body of second-temple Jewish texts.  The Hebrew term most often translated as hagioi is kadoshim (קדושׁים).

With reference to humans, the more frequent honorific term in the Greek OT is οσιοι (hosioi), which typically translates the Hebrew word hasidim (חסידים), particularly in the Psalms:  e.g. Psalm 30:4 (LXX 29:4); 31:23 (LXX 30:23), over a dozen times in all.  And in texts such as Wisdom of Solomon as well this Greek term is preferred as a reference to the godly people (e.g., 3:9; 4:15; 18:1-2, 5).

So why do the NT writers prefer to designate Jesus-believers as the hagioi, and not as the hosioi?  Why don’t they use the more familiar group-designation for godly Israelites, and instead use the other term?  Whatever the reason, the effect seems to be two-fold:

Read more: https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/the-saints-in-the-nt/


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