Cloud of witnesses?


#1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:1-2).

I often see this used as a "conclusive argument” that people go to heaven after death, as the witnesses are described earlier as characters from the OT,

To me this just seems like a very poetic but not a literal statement. Is this not simply an effective use of imagery to illustrate the legacy these people have left around us?


#2

[quote=anthony flavell]Is this not simply an effective use of imagery to illustrate the legacy these people have left around us?
[/quote]

You would need to tell me what “legacy” you have in mind. Do you mean the legacy of other Christians? When this epistle was written, there was not much “legacy” to be seen - Christians were an obscure sect who had made very little imprint upon society. If someone looked around, s/he would be hard pressed to observe a Christian “legacy” in the physical world. They built no buildings; they made no laws; they raised no armies; they wrote almost nothing.

To what physical “legacy” do you think the epistle refers?


#3

Because this passage refers to OT characters, I believe this legacy is their faith.

We have read about their incredible faith for God. They have set a standard for us as far as faith goes, I believe this is the “race that is set before us” to live a life of faith with Jesus as the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith”

But this is only my humble interpritation :slight_smile:

In Christ
Anthony


#4

[quote=anthony flavell]“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:1-2).

I often see this used as a "conclusive argument” that people go to heaven after death, as the witnesses are described earlier as characters from the OT,

To me this just seems like a very poetic but not a literal statement. Is this not simply an effective use of imagery to illustrate the legacy these people have left around us?
[/quote]

Look at:
Rev 5:8
Maccabees 15:12-15
Luke 9:28-36
Luke 15:7
Matthew 27:52-53
and Hebrews 12:1 which is the passge you quote about the clouds of witnesses.

These passages are not about Old Testament characters. You are missing the point.
All of the above passages imply interaction between those in heaven and those on earth and we should be aware of the presence and loving care of the saints. Those who are in heaven are close to the knowledge of God and therefore more aware of our needs and more devoted to us than when they were on earth. In other words we are never alone for we live in communion with the saints.


#5

To me this just seems like a very poetic but not a literal statement. Is this not simply an effective use of imagery to illustrate the legacy these people have left around us?

It very well could be.

There are much better Scriptural passages to allude to if one were to establish the doctrine of the soul’s immortality, and the fact that some souls are in heaven.

Of course, it’s only in the light of the Church’s Tradition that the Scriptural evidence for these beliefs is absolutely conclusive.


#6

Keep reading through verse 22-23

22] But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
23] and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, **and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
**

emphasis mine.


#7

[quote=drforjc]Keep reading through verse 22-23

emphasis mine.
[/quote]

What are we looking for?


#8

[quote=DavidFilmer]You would need to tell me what “legacy” you have in mind. Do you mean the legacy of other Christians? When this epistle was written, there was not much “legacy” to be seen - ?
[/quote]

I believe he may have been referring to those who had already been martyred for the faith, including the deacon Stephen, for whose murderers Paul had held their cloaks while they stoned him to death.


#9

[quote=Sacramentalist]It very well could be.

There are much better Scriptural passages to allude to if one were to establish the doctrine of the soul’s immortality, and the fact that some souls are in heaven.

Of course, it’s only in the light of the Church’s Tradition that the Scriptural evidence for these beliefs is absolutely conclusive.
[/quote]

I am yet to find any passages that can prove there are people in heaven.


#10

If you ignore the final paragraph, the following sermon from a Lutheran minister is very helpful:

“Where Does the Soul Go After Death?”


#11

Thistle

What are we looking for?

That there are souls in heaven. Isn’t that the question that is being asked?


#12

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