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1 Corinthians 1:2
Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: [emphasis added]
Many Christian writers and teachers have remarked upon the fact that Paul refers to the Corinthian believers as “saints.” If the Corinthians, who were noted for their carnality, are designated as saints, this certainly challenges the traditional definition of sainthood! And indeed, when defined scripturally, we see that saints are those who are sanctified, or holy, due to the simple fact that God has made them holy.
You will note, however, that in the King James translation of this verse (quoted above), it speaks of the Corinthians as being called to be saints. The words “to be” change the “sainthood” of the Corinthians from a reality into a possibility. In other words, it implies that if they clean up their act they may someday attain to sainthood.
This must certainly be a relief for those who cannot conceive of a saint behaving in anything less than a heavenly manner. Indeed, perhaps this is the reason why many of the modern translations follow the example of the King James Version by including these two little words.
There is only one problem: in the King James Version, you will note that the words “to be” are printed in italics, indicating that they are not in the original text! The accurate reading, therefore, is “called saints.” But what is it to be a called saint?