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On occasion, when discussing the atonement, Paul carefully differentiates between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, calling the former saints and the latter believers. It was the saints, the holy people of God in the Old Testament, who brought the Messiah and redemption into the world, eventually extending the blessings to the Gentiles.

This usage may be seen in 1 Corinthians 1:2, which is addressed to “those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy [saints—Jewish Christians], together with all those [Gentiles] everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—Lord and ours.” The same distinction is made in Ephesians 1:1: “to the saints [Jewish Christians] in Ephesus and the faithful [Gentiles] in Christ Jesus.” Colossians is also addressed to “the holy and faithful brothers” in Christ.

Paul addresses the letter to all the Christians in Rome as saints (Rom. 1:7, because Gentiles who, as wild olive branches have been grafted into the stem of Judaism, now share in the full relationship to that plant and are also saints), but the Jewish Christians in Rome, who are to be recipients of a special contribution Paul collected among Gentile churches, are called “the saints” in distinction (Rom. 15:25–33).

It is informative in this regard that Paul refers to this same collection in 2 Corinthians 8:1–4 as a sharing by the Macedonian churches with “the saints,” not with the “other” saints. Paul’s apprehension over whether the Jerusalem saints would accept such a contribution was based on the fact that Jewish Christians were being asked to accept the offering from Gentile Christians. The entire discussion of the issue in Acts 21 when Paul arrived in Jerusalem makes this clear.

Thus, although Gentile Christians are saints, too, because they were given access to the faith of Abraham and the people of the Old Testament, when redemptive history is discussed the Jews are specially designated the “saints” while the Gentiles are considered believers who were later admitted into this “holy” Jewish nucleus.

John McRay

Do you feel what this author has said is true and that Paul is referring to 2 separate groups of people?

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What immediately surfaces in my mind is Galatians, chapter 3, and especially these verses:

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. ESV

When someone is born again, the person is a new creation, and the name people began to call the disciples in the early days of the Church is Christians (Acts 11:26). Verse 26 of Galatians says, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

So, I don't see how I can agree with this author.
PS Here is something that I'm just beginning to learn. Last Sunday evening, during bible study at a church I was visiting that evening, the minister was leading the group and read Acts 11:26 and explained it as though the disciples began to call themselves Christians. However, the verse says the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. I've always understood that verse the same way the minister said it, but upon re-reading it this morning, I'm re- thinking it :) One commentary on it says, it's the "name given by the world to the Church, which the Church has adopted"

Food for thought :)

Thank you for that light snack. I'll be honest, I didn't even know the word was used in the Bible though I never looked into it. I knew believers was used for the most part. 

I looked at the 3 Scriptures where it is used & the first one is the one you posted & it says they were 'called' that as if someone had put that name on them. Then Agrippa asked Paul how to be one. That doesn't necessarily mean that Paul called himself that. Then, the last verse is in Peter where he does call believers as Christians. Maybe it was just kind of a way for the world to distinguish those weird people coming around who followed that crazy Man & the name stuck. 

Like today, they have become attached to names like Calvinists, Baptists, Catholics. 

Yes, I've heard people saying they are "neither Calvinist not Arminian but Baptist" and I've heard people say they are "neither/nor fill in the blanks but Christian" and I've heard people say they aren't supposed to take the name of a denomination, such as Methodist, Wesleyan, etc., but are to only call themselves a Christian and so forth and so on, but really I wonder if anyone can be sure why those in the early church were called Christians, or at least, I'm wondering now how any doctrine could be built on it since there are only the three verses that mention the word. It seems calling ourselves saints would be best, if it's something that's based on being in the New Testament, since the word saints appears multiple more times as opposed to the word Christians. At any rate, there's more evidence of the early church calling themselves saints in New Testament times than of them calling themselves Christians.

Thank you. I thought he was stretching a tad.


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