Paul is writing to all believers in Rome in his Epistle.  I’d argue that he is writing to all of us as well. He explains his conviction that salvation is by grace through faith and not of works which he will expound on in the later passages of this letter. Salvation is not an issue of trying harder, doing better, giving more, or doing any other good work. He knows better than most that “all of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags” to the Lord. Yet he calls all the believers saints. In Romans 1:7, he addresses them, “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” But he begins his address to them by telling them they are “loved by God.” Sproul says, “He states the destination of his letter, to all in Rome, and then in a very warm and personal way, he addresses his readers as those who are loved by God. That is a very pregnant, descriptive term because in the first instance and pre-eminently, it is Jesus Christ who is called ‘the beloved’ and the special object of God’s affection (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). In God’s economy of grace, however, his love does not stop with his only begotten Son, but pours out to those who are within his family, to those who are the adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus.”

Then Paul refers to the believers in Rome as Saints. As a matter of fact, there are at least 15 times in the New Testament where all believers are referred to as Saints.[1] I remember touring Boy’s Town not long ago and being shown Father Flanagan’s house. The tour guide told us that there is a petition to have him named as a saint, but they haven’t been able to verify the priest’s performance of a miracle yet, but they are still looking for it. I wanted to tell her that I was a saint and that the apostles had declared me as one, but I didn’t speak up. “There is a dual way in which the word ‘saint’ functions in Christian history. In Roman Catholic tradition, the term ‘saint’ refers to special Christians who have done extraordinary deeds of valor or made extraordinary contributions to the life of the church. A few such people the church has canonized, elevating them to a status of heroic proportions so that they are called ‘saints.’ But there is a broader sense in which the term ‘saint’ is used (in fact, the customary way in which it is used in the New Testament). It refers to the rank-and-file Christian. In the New Testament, the word translated as ‘saints’ is hagioi meaning the holy ones. They are not holy in and of themselves, not holy because they have reached an unthinkable level of virtue or righteousness. Rather, they are those who have been made holy by the fact of having been set apart by God and consecrated to him.”[2] This refers to all of us who believe in Jesus Christ.

As in other New Testament Epistles, Paul then commends grace and peace to his readers. Grace is the standard greeting to Gentiles. Peace is the standard greeting for Jews. By using both greetings, he is making the two who have historically been at odds with one another into a single body. These come from God the Father, who would be recognized as the God of the Old Testament for the sake of the Jews. Grace and Peace also come from Jesus Christ, representing believers who have not come up through the Jewish religion. The Gentiles were all the various ethnic groups in the world. They were all seen as one group of outsiders to the Jews. But Paul’s pronouncement brings them all together as one. Walton writes, “Consider the power of the cross to bring diverse people together. For example, the U.S. is a ‘melting pot’ of nationalities. Your one-dollar bill has the phrase E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one). The Lord’s church is a spiritual ‘melting pot.’ One body emerges from many diverse backgrounds at the Lord’s table in communion. Whether rich or poor, black or white, learned or unlearned, white collar or blue, city folks or country, ‘we who are many are one body.’ Only the power of God through the cross could bring imperfect people together by faith as one people.”[3]


[2] Sproul, R. C. 1994. The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans. Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.

[3] Walton, W. Frank. 1991. “Communion with One Another.” Christianity Magazine, 1991.