Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Romans 16:1-2 – Phoebe the saint

No doubt there is a day assigned to Phoebe in the calendar of saints, although we should observe that there is little saintly about having such a calendar because it distorts the meaning of sainthood. A saint is not a special person with unusual gifts, nor is it a description of a believer who has matured greatly in the faith. That person is no more or no less a saint than a Christian converted two minutes ago.
A sinner becomes a saint at conversion when God separates that individual to himself. The Lord does not separate the individual in the sense of isolating him – instead he separates the individual from the world and into the community of believers, which may be one reason why the idea of saint occurs usually in the plural.
There is a connection between the terms ‘saint’ and ‘sanctify’. In separating the individual, God begins the process of sanctification because he gives to that person the Holy Spirit. This, of course, means that a saint is a person becoming Christlike.

It looks as if Paul was concerned that the saints in Rome would not behave in a saintly manner towards Phoebe. He expected them to welcome her in a manner ‘worthy of the saints’. The saintly way to welcome her was to provide her with practical support, defined by Paul as ‘whatever she may need from you’. From one perspective, such behaviour is an expression of Christian love; from another perspective, it is the expression of a holy character. So the saints in Rome were to take the initiative and find out what she needed.

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