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Author Topic: A Great Cloud of Witnesses  (Read 1897 times)
doug
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« on: August 20, 2008, 05:03:19 PM »

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,... (Hebrews 12:1)

Recently, and when I say recently I mean within the last couple of years, a friend recommended I watch a video that inspired him.
The speaker featured in the video was Noel Jones and his message was in fact inspiring, or if you choose, motivational.
What bothered me however was the visual impression of the Old Testament saints rooting us on as we run this "race." This is not the impression I received from this passage.
The imagery was that of an arena where us saints run a race and the onlookers in the stands root us on.
I found that there are more that hold this view, or at least who are struck by the imagery and run with it. I can't help but to conclude that the latter is the case. It's very common these days. But I was surprised to find that JFB Commentary and even  Gill lean toward this view that would equate the 'cloud' with 'those who ran before us'.
If the way the grammar is constructed in Heb 12:1 is correct, then the word 'also' has a lot to do with how the verse should be understood. If the word 'also' means anything then it won't even fit the context of the first view: that of the O.T. saints rooting us on since this would necessarily imply that they were rooted on by yet another cloud of witnesses, i.e., more saints before them of which there is no mention or antecedent.
I am convinced that this 'great cloud of witnesses' is actually the unbelievers of old; those who mocked, tempted and afflicted the saints.
It was a display of faith to this great cloud of witnesses who would have been happy if the saints of God would just follow the 'in crowd', who would have been happy if the saints of God would bow to men.
But it was in not following the crowd that was such a witness to these unbelievers.
This passage encourages us to proclaim the name of Christ Jesus boldly in spite of what happens to us in this life.
Look what happened to the saints of old. They were scourged, mocked, sawn asunder, etc., yet all having obtained a good report through faith.

The meaning is clearly that . . . just as they were encompassed by such a great cloud of witnesses and didn't back down, we, who serve the same God are also encompassed by this cloud of unbelievers and shouldn't waiver in our faith setting our eyes to a better resurrection. "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." (Heb 12:3, 4)
We could get along with the world and escape mockings. We could blend in and then there would be no witnesses. But because we as Christians stand out, there will be many witnesses; some who will only mock and persecute, and some who will consider the possibility that there really is more to Christianity. It's easy to be a Christian in church where this 'great cloud of witnesses' doesn't go. Let's try taking it to the streets, and if we endure the same treatment as those who went before us, we also will receive the promise.

In Christ,
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_doug
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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2008, 06:25:47 AM »

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,... (Hebrews 12:1)

Recently, and when I say recently I mean within the last couple of years, a friend recommended I watch a video that inspired him.
The speaker featured in the video was Noel Jones and his message was in fact inspiring, or if you choose, motivational.
What bothered me however was the visual impression of the Old Testament saints rooting us on as we run this "race." This is not the impression I received from this passage.
The imagery was that of an arena where us saints run a race and the onlookers in the stands root us on.
I found that there are more that hold this view, or at least who are struck by the imagery and run with it. I can't help but to conclude that the latter is the case. It's very common these days. But I was surprised to find that JFB Commentary and even  Gill lean toward this view that would equate the 'cloud' with 'those who ran before us'.
If the way the grammar is constructed in Heb 12:1 is correct, then the word 'also' has a lot to do with how the verse should be understood. If the word 'also' means anything then it won't even fit the context of the first view: that of the O.T. saints rooting us on since this would necessarily imply that they were rooted on by yet another cloud of witnesses, i.e., more saints before them of which there is no mention or antecedent.
I am convinced that this 'great cloud of witnesses' is actually the unbelievers of old; those who mocked, tempted and afflicted the saints.
It was a display of faith to this great cloud of witnesses who would have been happy if the saints of God would just follow the 'in crowd', who would have been happy if the saints of God would bow to men.
But it was in not following the crowd that was such a witness to these unbelievers.
This passage encourages us to proclaim the name of Christ Jesus boldly in spite of what happens to us in this life.
Look what happened to the saints of old. They were scourged, mocked, sawn asunder, etc., yet all having obtained a good report through faith.

The meaning is clearly that . . . just as they were encompassed by such a great cloud of witnesses and didn't back down, we, who serve the same God are also encompassed by this cloud of unbelievers and shouldn't waiver in our faith setting our eyes to a better resurrection. "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." (Heb 12:3, 4)
We could get along with the world and escape mockings. We could blend in and then there would be no witnesses. But because we as Christians stand out, there will be many witnesses; some who will only mock and persecute, and some who will consider the possibility that there really is more to Christianity. It's easy to be a Christian in church where this 'great cloud of witnesses' doesn't go. Let's try taking it to the streets, and if we endure the same treatment as those who went before us, we also will receive the promise.

In Christ,

Hello Doug,

All I can say is that you are one confused person. Hebrews 11 defines who the witnesses of Hebrews 12:1 are - THE LIFE WITNESS OF PREVIOUS BELIEVERS. THEIR LIFE IS A TESTIMONY TO US ABOUT HOW TO LIVE OUR LIVES. The "WITNESS" is their WITNESS to us about how they served GOD in their lives, what they endured, and the testimony they gave with their lives. In other words, the WITNESS is the lives of previous believers and how the WITNESS of their lives should encourage us in the WITNESS of our lives. All Christians have a struggle and a fight during this short life, and we have many wonderful examples to follow from hosts of Christians who have lived before us. They have finished their LIFE TESTIMONY and WITNESS for GOD and are HOME with the LORD.

Please read Hebrews 11, and that should help you understand this. On this and other things, you shouldn't try to teach others things that you aren't sure of yourself. Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were being horribly persecuted. Hebrews was to encourage them to endure and not go back to Judaism. Many of them had been disowned and persecuted by their own families.

WITNESS  -  TESTIMONY  -  PREVIOUS BELIEVERS  -  THEIR LIVES  -  ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE EXAMPLES THEY SET. See a partial example below. Christians living right now are giving their WITNESS (LIFE TESTIMONY) for GOD right now. It will be anywhere from extremely poor to excellent. If our WITNESS is GOOD, it will be an example of encouragement for future believers. The opposite is true if our WITNESS is bad. The GOOD WITNESSES serve as exhortations (encouragement) for strong FAITH and endurance through difficult times.


Love In Christ,
Tom

Hebrews 11:33-40  Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  34  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  35  Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:  36  And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  37  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  38  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  39  And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:  40  God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
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