I am interested in your thoughts about the article I found above while searching for the word saint in the NIV. A friend of mine, a sister in my church for many years, didn’t know what a saint was. I was shocked, asked her to study it out and I wanted to quickly grab some scriptures from regarding a saint and couldn’t find it in the NIV version. According to the site, NIV has removed it from the entire bible. Interested in your thoughts.


In my opinion, this is a non-issue.   First of all, the word saint is not in either the Old or the New Testament.  Saint is not a Hebrew or Greek word.  The NIV did not remove the word saint from the Bible, they removed it from their translation of the Bible.  That is a different thing.  “Saint” is, arguably, a Latin word, as it is derived from a Latin root word.   There is probably nothing wrong with using the word saint in an English Bible translation, but as the article you give a link to above notes, probably a more accurate translation of the Hebrew is “holy ones.”   A “saint” is a holy one.  He or she is a person who has been sanctified by the blood of Jesus.   If the NIV translators decide that the translation “holy ones” is a more accurate translation, then they have every right to improve/change their translation.   The fact is that the word saint has some baggage in the English language, largely because of its use by the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches to denote, not a Christian in general, but a particularly extra-holy person.  Given the common misuse of the word saint by certain denominations, it can be confusing to use the word saint in an English translation of the Bible.  For what it is worth, I believe that it is fine to use the word saint, but for the sake of clarity, “holy ones” is probably gives a more clear sense of the original.  In any case, to make a big issue out of what one group of translators does is probably not a good use of one’s energy.  There are many translations and the fact that different translations use different English words can help those who read multiple translations get a better feel for the meaning of an original Greek or Hebrew word.

So, my advice to you is to use translations like the 2011 NIV to help your friends understand what the word saint means when it is used in other English Bible translations.  What is a saint?  It is a holy one.  It is a person who has been saved and forgiven of their sins by the blood of Jesus.   It is NOT an extra-holy person chosen by some Christian denomination for the title.  The NIV now makes that more clear.

John Oakes

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