Tenth article: I believe in the communion of saints - 23 February 2018

Hennie Symington

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1-2

To the mainstream Protestant stream of thinking, the phrase could imply a reference to the traditions of conferring sainthood on certain just and deserving believers such as Mother Teresa and other highly regarded Christian believers through the centuries. The phrase, the communion of saints, was incorporated into the creed much later ‒ probably around 350-500 AD, and has been the cause of much speculation. However, when we confess the “communion of the saints” it simply implies that we are all, whether as a group or as individuals, recipients (partakers) of Christ and his gifts. From this, it becomes clear that our relationship with fellow believers should be guided and supported by the love that Christ has for us. This article of faith truly articulates the mutual bonds uniting fellow believers inspired by the love of Christ. The phrase “communion of saints” is used in the New Testament to refer to baptised believers in a local congregation, such as the saints at Corinth, or Ephesus or Colossae. Some of these believers were far from saintly in their behaviour, but they were holy by virtue of their participation in the church as the body of Christ.

The New Testament also recognizes “a great cloud of witnesses” made up of men and women of faith who surround us as we walk the path of faith, while each community within the Christian tradition has its own “saints” in this sense. Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Spurgeon, along with many missionaries and martyrs, are held in great regard by Christians throughout the ages. Each Christian tradition can offer its own special “saints” to the entire body of Christ. In the same way we as believers can respond to the biblical call to holiness be drawn closer to one another as we look to Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Prayer: Dear Lord, most of us see ourselves as lacking in faith, love and good works. Yet Lord, you have adopted all of us as children of God. Empower us in our weakness to act as a body of “saints” witnessing to your love, your forgiveness and restoration of God’s image in mankind. Amen

Go to top