Intercession of the Saints

“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” – Revelation 5:8

Here is a verse of the saints interceding for the holy ones on earth. How do Protestants reconcile this with their rejection of the doctrine of the saints intercession?

I would add, to support your point, that this very same chapter of Revelation describes prayers offered directly to God not as incense but as words. So in one chapter we have prayers to God described as words, and the prayers of the holy ones described as incense. Clearly two different types of prayer are being described.

Uhm, aren’t prayers generally compared to incense throughout the Bible. I can’t remember the actual verse but the Old Testament phrase “may my prayer like incense rise before you, the lifting of my hands a sacrifice” comes to mind. So I’m not really seeing the distinction between the prayers of “regular” Christians as mere words and the prayers of the “saints” as incense.

Revelation is written in symbols. Incense offered to God in heaven or on earth in the Holy Mass represents prayer. The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn reminds us that Revelation contains a description of the Holy Mass as it is celebrated in heaven.

When God’s close personal friends, the Saints, add their prayers to ours when we ask for their intercession, wonderful things can happen, and often do.

Rejection of prayers to the Saints began with Martin Luther, the “father” of Protestantism. It’s sad to be deprived of the beauty and logic of the God-made Catholic faith, as I was when I was Protestant. Any friend of God’s is a friend of mine :smiley: (that’s the title of a little book by Patrick Madrid about prayers to the Saints).

I see that verse as the incense being the prayers of holy ones on earth, an incense pleasing to the nostrils of God. I consider myself as Holy, because that simply means dedictated to Jesus God, which I am, along with all who have similarly done so. Any doctrine which condemns us as “not worthy” I leave to God’s justice and love.
I did remark that the saints are dead people whom we are forbidden to raise for intercession purposes. Someone replied that the saints are alive in Heaven. Ah huh, but they are dead on earth. Only Jesus is resurrected and alive in all dimensions; since Mary is “assumed” to have been raised bodily to heaven it’s OK to ask her for intercession. Of course, there is Enoch, who walked with God and was seen no more (or taken by Him) [Gen. 5:18-24].
I now understand that the Catholic church has to encompass all, from those whose faith is weak or even non-existant all the way through to Fervent Born Agains. I suppose the church gives its blessing on those whose faith is not strong enough (and who are condemned as unworthy sinners) to pray for intercessions. I pray that the Church begins to teach a doctrine of God’s forgiveness and love (through Jesus) and lead the faithful into prayers and dedication direct to God, whose loving ears are always yearning to be called upon.

Your statement doesn’t make much sense in light of the passage below…

“And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.” – Mark 12:26-27

God bless,

Where did you learn about Gods forgiveness and love through Jesus? :confused:

There are many other verses as well:

1 Timothy 2:1-4 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”
There is nothing in Scripture that would indicate that not even death can separate us from Christ:
Rom. 8:38-39 “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord"
Is not the Church the Body of Christ?

Rev 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, **“O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” **11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Mt 18:10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Lu 15:7 I tell you that in the same way **there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents (**how did they know the sinner repented?) than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Tobit 12:14 So now God sent me to heal you and your daughter-in-law Sarah. 15** I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One."**

2Maccabees 15: 11 He (Judas Maccabee) armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision, which was worthy of belief. 12 What he saw was this: Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. 13 Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. 14 And Onias spoke, saying, "This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God." 15 Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave it he addressed him thus: 16 “Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries.”

Rev 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;

Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; 4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.

Right, theres no way of avoiding Church Tradition in the Apostolic Churchs here either.

Are you sure Marin Luther rejected the intercession of the saints. After all, even in his old age he had great respect for Mary and I am almost sure he still recited the Ave Maria. I think it was more the second or third generation Reformers that rejected the intercession of the saints

Right, little hard to see.

Where does it say the holy ones on earth asked for intercession? Does it say that the saints in Heaven will not pray for those on earth unless we one earth ask them to?


Please read the scripture again.

“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” – Revelation 5:8

The Protestant Catholic dispute is not over intercession. Protestants ask one another to pray for things all the time, to intercede with God for some personal need. The Protestant does not believe that after people die and go to heaven that they still pray for their loved ones on earth. They say there are no heavenly intermediaries between people who pray and God.

The scripture referenced shows that there are intermediaries who bring the prayers of others to God.

Catholics do not think that people should not or can not pray directly to God. We think that the prayers of individuals can be united, joined together and offered to God. Protestant congregations have common prayer also. What they insist on is that death separates us from those those who go before us, that it ends our communion with those we love.

Catholics say love is more powerful than death. Protestants say that once souls depart they no longer are concerned with those living on earth. Surely Protestants continue to love those who die, their mothers, siblings, friends. They do not stop loving them once they are in the grave, but that love becomes one way for them. They think their departed loved ones no longer love us here on earth.

Catholics say love is always two ways and death can not break its bonds. In loving one another we will one another’s good. The holy ones in heaven will our good and we remain joined to them in holy love which we have by God’s grace.

It really is difficult to see why anyone would object to this spiritual truth.

Not all protestants.


Precisly why I never use one verse of Scripture (a method used by fundamentalsits) to prove a docrine. There are many verses, plus the Apostolic Fathers. Plus an understanding of Jewish as well as Christian culture. Maccabees and Tobit are Jewish as well as Catholic books. Through that, the Protestant can see intercession of the Saints has a long history and was not a “pagan” adoption by the Church.

As an Anglican I believe in the Communion of Saints and the intercession of the saints in heaven

Pardon my ignorance of Lutherans. Do different communions within the Lutheran church believe in the Intercession of the Saints?

Not really. The question for us is not whether the saints in Heaven pray for us, the Church Militant. They do! Scripture is clear on that. What the confessions say is that scripture gives us no command, example (except the dream in 2 Macc), or promise (attached to it) that we should invoke the saints in Heaven.
The reformers’ biggest complaint was that we be required to do so.

From the Apology of the augsburg Confession:

The Twenty-first Article they absolutely condemn, because we do not require the invocation of saints. Nor on any topic do they speak more eloquently and with more prolixity. Nevertheless they do not effect anything else than that the saints should be honored; likewise, that the saints who live pray for others; as though, indeed, the invocation of dead saints were on that account necessary.


Besides, we also grant that the angels pray for us. For there is a testimony in Zech. 1:12, where an angel prays: O Lord of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on 9] Jerusalem? Although concerning the saints we concede that, just as, when alive, they pray for the Church universal in general, so in heaven they pray for the Church in general, albeit no testimony concerning the praying of the dead is extant in the Scriptures, except the dream taken from the Second Book of Maccabees, 15:14.

Moreover, even supposing that the saints pray for the Church ever so much, 10] yet it does not follow that they are to be invoked; although our Confession affirms only this, that Scripture does not teach the invocation of the saints, or that we are to ask the saints for aid. But since neither a command, nor a promise, nor an example can be produced from the Scriptures concerning the invocation of saints, it follows that conscience can have nothing concerning this invocation that is certain. And since prayer ought to be made from faith, how do we know that God approves this invocation? Whence do we know without the testimony of Scripture that the saints perceive the prayers of each one? 11] Some plainly ascribe divinity to the saints, namely, that they discern the silent thoughts of the minds in us. They dispute concerning morning and evening knowledge, perhaps because they doubt whether they hear us in the morning or the evening. They invent these things, not in order to treat the saints with honor, but to defend lucrative services. 12] Nothing can be produced by the adversaries against this reasoning, that, since invocation does not have a testimony from God’s Word, it cannot be affirmed that the saints understand our invocation, or, even if they understand it, that God approves it. Therefore 13] the adversaries ought not to force us to an uncertain matter, because a prayer without faith is not prayer. For when they cite the example of the Church, it is evident that this is a new custom in the Church; for although the old prayers make mention of the saints, yet they do not invoke the saints. Although also this new invocation in the Church is dissimilar to the invocation of individuals.

Of my own opinion, I think it is clear that the saints know the events of the Church Militant, as an example in Luke 15:7. Additionally, greatnumbers of good Christians, both east and west, have drawn great comfort by invocation of the saints for intercessory prayer. For these reasons, I find it hard to condemn the practice, other than the **requirement **to believe in it or practice it.


To echo Jon, not all Protestants.

The following is from The Presence, a book by Berthold von Schenk, a Lutheran theologian who wrote the book shortly after his wife’s death:

When we, then, view death in the light of the Communion of Saints and Holy Communion, thee is no helpless bereavement. My loved one has just left me and has gone on a long journey. But I am in touch with her. I know that there is a place where we can meet. It is at the Altar. How it thrills me when I hear the words of the Liturgy, “Therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of Heave,” for I know that she is there with that company of Heaven, the Communion of Saints, with the Lord. The nearer I come to my Lord in Holy Communion, the nearer I come to the saints, to my own loved ones. I am a member of the Body of Christ, I am a living cell in that spiritual organism, partaking of the life of the other cells, and sharing in the Body of Christ himself.

There is nothing fanciful or unreal about this. Indeed, it is the most real ting in my life. Of course, I miss my loved one. I should miss her if she took a long holiday trip. But now, since she is what some people call dead, she is closer to me than ever. Of course, I miss her physical presence bitterly. I miss her voice and the sound of approaching footsteps. But I have not lost her. And when my sense of loss becomes too great, I can always go to our meeting place at the Altar where I receive the Body and Blood of my Lord that preserves my body and soul just as it has preserved her unto everlasting life. Do learn to love the Altar as the meeting place with your beloved who have passed within the veil.

I think this is clearly a belief in a two-way connection between the living and the dead.

Certainly existed early on with the Apostles Creed. I would say it was a required belief very early. How would one reconcile reciting a Creed they did not believe in?

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