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Intercession of the Angels and Departed Saints for those in the Flesh

by Stephen Gagnon

What do the angels and also the departed saints—that is, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have gone to be with the Lord—actually do?  Do they sit around idly on clouds, playing harps, as depicted in modern popular culture?  Scripture does not say a whole lot about their activity.  However, what little the Bible does say, is that they worship and glorify God in heavenly worship, and offer their own and our prayers to him.  This is an activity that is common to both the saints and the angels.

The Scriptures testify that the angels in heaven intercede to God for those on earth, offering the prayers of those on earth with their own.

And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.1
(Raphael the angel speaking to Tobit) And so when you and your daughter in law Sarah prayed, I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One....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.2

The Jewish apocryphal writings provide ample testimony that ancient Judaism had firm faith in the intercession of angels for men.  For example, in the Book of Enoch, the fallen angels ask Enoch to pray for them, so Enoch did as requested.  The Lord replied to Enoch, telling him that angels ought rather to be praying for men.

Then the Lord with his own mouth called me, saying, Approach hither, Enoch, at my holy word.  And He raised me up, making me draw near even to the entrance.  My eye was directed to the ground.  Then addressing me, He spoke and said, Hear, neither be afraid, O righteous Enoch, thou scribe of righteousness: approach hither, and hear my voice.  Go, say to the Watchers of heaven [fallen angels], who have sent thee to pray for them, You ought to pray for men, and not men for you.  Wherefore have you forsaken the lofty and holy heaven, which endures forever, and have lain with women; have defiled yourselves with the daughters of men; have taken to yourselves wives; have acted like the sons of the earth, and begotten an impious offspring?3

In the same apocryphal book, Gabriel is said to be petitioning and praying for those who dwell on earth.

The third voice I heard petitioning and praying for those who dwell upon earth, and supplicate the name of the Lord of Spirits…The third, who presides over all that is powerful, is Gabriel.4

The Archangel Michael is said to come down and receive the prayers of men.

And the angel took me and led me thence to a fifth heaven. And the gate was closed. And I said, Lord, is not this gate-way open that we may enter? And the angel said to me, We cannot enter until Michael comes, who holds the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; but wait and thou shalt see the glory of God. And there was a great sound, as thunder. And I said, Lord, what is this sound?  And he said to me, Even now Michael, the commander of the angels, comes down to receive the prayers of men. And behold a voice came, Let the gates be opened. And they opened them, and there was a roar as of thunder. And Michael came, and the angel who was with me came face to face with him and said, Hail, my commander, and that of all our order. And the commander Michael said, Hail thou also, our brother, and the interpreter of the revelations to those who pass through life virtuously.5
And now, fear the Lord my children, and beware of Satan and his spirits.  Draw near unto God and unto the angel that intercedeth for you, for he is a mediator between God and man, and for the peace of Israel he shall stand up against the kingdom of the enemy.6

The apocryphal Book of Enoch gives testimony regarding the departed saints in the presence of God interceding for the sons of men on earth.

There I saw another vision; I saw the habitations and couches of the saints.  There my eyes beheld their habitations with the angels, and their couches with the holy ones.  They were entreating, supplicating, and praying for the sons of men; while righteousness like water flowed before them, and mercy like dew was scattered over the earth.  And thus shall it be with them for ever and for ever.7

According to Scripture, also the departed saints in heaven intercede to God for those on earth.  For example, Judas Maccabeus was said to have had a dream wherein he saw Jeremiah interceding for the Jewish people during the terror of Antiochus Epiphanies.

He (Judas Maccabeus) 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.  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.  Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority.  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."8

In the Book or Revelation, the saints in heaven (symbolized by the twenty-four elders) are depicted as offering the prayers of the saints on earth.

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?  And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.  And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.  And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.  And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.  And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.  And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.  And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, honour, and glory, and blessing.  And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.  And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.9
According to Orthodox tradition, the four beasts represent the Cherubim and the four Gospels.

Some think that by these living creatures should be understood the four elements and God’s governance and preservation of them, or God’s dominion over the regions of heaven, earth, sea and the underworld.  However, as is clear from the further description of the appearance of these living creatures, without doubt they are the very angelic powers who in the mystical vision of the holy prophet Ezekiel (Ez. 1:5-25) on the river Chobar, supported the mystical chariot on which the Lord God sits as a King.  These four living creatures have served as it were as emblems of the four Evangelists.  The multitude of their eyes indicates the Divine omniscience, the knowing of everything past, present and future.  These are the highest angelic beings, closest to God [the Seraphim—tr] who ceaselessly glorify God.10

On the other hand, the twenty four elders are generally understood as symbolizing redeemed humanity.

…they are usually interpreted to be elders of the old and new Covenants: the twelve sons of Jacob and the Twelve Apostles, the fullness of both covenants.  They are the foundation of the people of God (7:4; Matt. 19:28).  These elders continually fall down before God in worship, adoration and praise…11
By the four living creatures and the elders is signified the fact that from angels and men has been formed a single flesh and a single Church through Christ God Who has joined together what was separate and has destroyed the middle wall of separation.  And so, together with the four living creatures who surpass the other orders of angels, the elders also, who signify the fullness of those being saved, are worthy of the song and worship of God.  May we also be vouchsafed this in Christ Himself the Giver of peace and our God, with Whom together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, may there be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever and unto the unending ages. Amen.12
The nearness of the saints to the Throne of the Lamb and the raising up by them of prayers for the Church on earth are depicted in the Apocalypse of St. John the Theologian: "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the Throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, who praised the Lord” (Apoc. 5:11)."13

2nd century Christian writer Clement of Alexandria understood the twenty four elders as symbolic of the righteous in heaven who sit down and judge the people.

Those, then, also now, who have exercised themselves in the Lord's commandments, and lived perfectly and gnostically according to the Gospel, may be enrolled in the chosen body of the apostles. Such an one is in reality a presbyter of the Church, and a true minister (deacon) of the will of God, if he do and teach what is the Lord's; not as being ordained by men, nor regarded righteous because a presbyter, but enrolled in the presbyterate because righteous. And although here upon earth he be not honoured with the chief seat, he will sit down on the four-and-twenty thrones, judging the people, as John says in the Apocalypse.’14

The offering of the “prayers of the saints” on earth by the twenty-four elders is interpreted thusly in the Orthodox Study Bible:

…the glorified saints of all ages represented by the twenty-four elders, worship Jesus, thus recognizing His deity.  And they present the prayers of the saints still on earth, manifested in the incense, to God.15

The verses in the Book of Revelation about the twenty-four elders are significant on two accounts: First, they are an example from a portion of Sacred Scripture that is accepted by all Christian groups as canonical (since other Christian groups do not accept the Deutero-canonical books), which depicts the saints in heaven interceding for the saints on earth by offering the latter’s prayers.  Second, the fact that the Scripture provides us with an example of the saints in heaven offering the prayers of the saints on earth refutes the allegation that the saints in heaven cannot hear the prayers of the saints on earth.  If the saints in heaven cannot hear the prayers of the saints on earth, then how is it that they offer the prayers of those saints on earth?16

St. John is having a heavenly vision of various entities around the throne of God. Around this throne are gathered 4 beasts and 24 elders. In the midst of these beings stood the Lamb of God. These beings verily fall down before the Lamb, worshipping the Lamb with harps and censers full of incense.  The incense that these beings offer is described as the "prayers of the saints."  The “prayers of the saints” that are offered by the 4 living creatures and 24 elders are those of the “saints” who are living in the earthly existence—that is the Church “militant.”  For we see a parallel to this in Revelation, chapter 8.  Thus, the 24 elders are offering to God (as incense) the prayers of their brothers and sisters on earth.  The 4 living creatures (whom Orthodox Tradition says symbolize the orders of angels) also offer the “prayers of the saints” (that is, the “saints” on earth).  Revelation 8 clarifies this even further as to how the heavenly beings are offering our prayers to God.

And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.17

This angel takes our prayers on earth ("the prayers of the saints") and mingles them with his own offering/prayer to God.  This is a clear witness of the early Church’s belief that angels and departed saints intercede for us, much in the same way that we are to "intercede" for each other here-and-now (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

The Fathers of the Church give ample testimony to the Church’s unbroken and consistent belief that the angels and saints in heaven intercede for the saints on earth.

Now these things (Ignatius' martyrdom) took place on the 13th day before the Kalends of January, that is, on the 20th of December,...Having ourselves been eye-witnesses of these things, and having spent the whole night in tears within the house, and having entreated the Lord, with bended knees and much prayer, that He would give us weak men full assurance respecting the things which were done, it came to pass on our falling into a brief slumber, that some of us saw the blessed Ignatius suddenly standing by us and embracing us, while others beheld him again praying for us, and others still saw him dropping with sweat, as if he had just come from his great labor, and standing by the Lord.  When therefore, we had with great joy witnessed these things, and had compared our several visions together, we sang praise to God, the giver of all good things, and expressed our sense of the happiness of the holy martyr; and now we have made known to you both the day and the time when these things happened, that, assembling ourselves together according to the time of his martyrdom, we may have fellowship with the champion and noble martyr of Christ, who trod under foot the devil, and perfected the course which out of love for Christ, he had desired in Christ...18
[The Shepherd said:] 'But those who are weak and slothful in prayer, hesitate to ask anything from the Lord; but the Lord is full of compassion, and gives without fail to all who ask Him. But you, [Hermas,] having been strengthened by the holy angel [you saw], and having obtained from Him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lord understanding, and receive it from Him?'19
In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer].20
But these pray along with those who genuinely pray—not only the high priest but also the angels who ‘rejoice in heaven over one repenting sinner more than over ninety-nine righteous that need not repentance,’ and also the souls of the saints already at rest. Two instances make this plain. The first is where Raphael offers their service to God for Tobit and Sarah. After both had prayed, the scripture says, ‘The prayer of both was heard before the presence of the great Raphael and he was sent to heal them both,’ and Raphael himself, when explaining his angelic commission at God's command to help them, says: ‘Even now when you prayed, and Sarah your daughter-in-law, I brought the memorial of your prayer before the Holy One,’ and shortly after, ‘I am Raphael, one of the Seven angels who present the prayers of saints and enter in before the glory of the Holy One.’ Thus, according to Raphael's account at least, prayer with fasting and almsgiving and righteousness is a good thing.  The second instance is in the Books of the Maccabees where Jeremiah appears in exceeding ‘white haired glory’ so that a wondrous and most majestic authority was about him, and stretches forth his right hand and delivers to Judas a golden sword, and there witnesses to him another saint already at rest…’This is he who prays much for the people and the sacred city, God's prophet Jeremiah.’21
Let us on both sides pray for one another.  Let us relieve the burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if any one of us by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence first{get martyred}, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father's mercy.22
Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition23
Yes, I am well assured that [my father's] intercession is of more avail now than was his instruction in former days, since he is closer to God, now that he has shaken off his bodily fetters, and freed his mind from the clay that obscured it, and holds conversation naked with the nakedness of the prime and purest mind.24
For it is, it is possible for him who comes hither with faith to gather the fruit of many good things. For not the bodies only, but the very sepulchers of the saints have been filled with spiritual grace. For if in the case of Elisha this happened, and a corpse when it touched the sepulcher, burst the bands of death and returned to life again, much rather now, when grace is more abundant, when the energy of the spirit is greater, is it possible that one touching a sepulcher, with faith, should win great power; thence on this account God allowed us the remains of the saints, wishing to lead by them us to the same emulation, and to afford us a kind of haven, and a secure consolation for the evils which are ever overtaking us. Wherefore I beseech you all, if any is in despondency, if in disease, if under insult, if in any other circumstance of this life, if in the depth of sins, let him come hither with faith, and he will lay aside all those things, and will return with much joy, having procured a lighter conscience from the sight alone. But more, it is not only necessary that those who are in affliction should come hither, but if any one be in cheerfulness, in glory, in power, in much assurance towards God, let not this man despise the benefit. For coming hither and beholding this saint, he will keep these noble possessions unmoved, persuading his own soul to be moderate by the recollection of this man's mighty deeds, and not suffering his conscience by the mighty deeds to be lifted up to any self-conceit. And it is no slight thing for those in prosperity not to be puffed up at their good fortune, but to know how to bear their prosperity with moderation, so that the treasure is serviceable to all, the resting place is suitable, for the fallen, in order that they may escape from their temptations, for the fortunate, that their success may remain secure, for those in weakness indeed, that they may return to health, and for the healthy, that they may not fall into weakness. Considering all which things, let us prefer this way of spending our time, to all delight, all pleasure, in order that rejoicing at once, and profiling, we may be able to become partakers with these saints, both of their dwelling and of their home, through the prayers of the saints themselves, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom be glory to the Father with the Holy Spirit, now and always forever and ever amen.25
For on these very grounds we do not commemorate them at the table in the same way, as we do others who now rest in peace, as that we should also pray for them, but rather that they should do so for us, that we may cleave to their footsteps; because they have actually attained that fullness of love, than which, our Lord hath told us, there cannot be a greater.26
It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them, and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers.27
You say in your book that while we live we are able to pray for each other, but afterwards when we have died, the prayer of no person for another can be heard…But if the apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, at a time when they ought still be solicitous about themselves, how much more will they do so after their crowns, victories, and triumphs?28
Let us rejoice, then, dearly beloved, with spiritual joy, and make our boast over the happy end of this illustrious man in the Lord [the martyr Laurentius]…By his prayer and intercession we trust at all times to be assisted29

The Orthodox belief that the angels and departed saints intercede for those on earth is in keeping with the ancient teaching of God’s people as witnessed by the apocryphal, the Scriptural and the Patristic writings.  It only makes sense that if the saints on earth are commanded by Scripture to intercede for others on earth, then it only follows that this activity should not cease when they leave the tabernacle of their flesh and stand in the presence of God.  If we, as Scripture says, have been made priests in Christ’s Kingdom, and we are sharers in His Royal Priesthood, then it only seems to follow that we should exercise this priesthood by offering:

…supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.30

Despite the Church’s ancient Tradition, the teaching of Scripture, and in view of its reaction to 16th century Roman Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation was divided on this issue of the saints’ intercession.31


1. Revelation 8:3-4

2. Tobit 12:12, 15 (New American Bible)

3. 1 Enoch 14:24-15:2

4. 1 Enoch 40:6, 9

5. 3 Baruch 11:1-7, http://wesley.nnu.edu/noncanon/ot/pseudo/3baruch.htm

6. Testament of Dan 2:14-15, “The Lost Books of The Bible and The Forgotten Books of Eden,” Page 249, New American Library

7. 1 Enoch 39:4>

8. 2 Maccabees 15:11-14

9. Revelation 5:1-14

10. “The Apocalypse in the Teachings of Ancient Christianity” Page 112

11. “Orthodox Study Bible” Page 601, Footnote on 4:4, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville

12. “The Apocalypse in the Teachings of Ancient Christianity” Page 121, Quoting St. Andrew’s “Commentary on the Apocalypse” Chapter 12

13. “Orthodox Dogmatic Theology,” Father Michael Pomazansky, Page 316, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

14. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book 6, Chapter 13, ANF 2:504

15. “Orthodox Study Bible” Pages 602-603, Footnote on 5:8, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville

16. Protestant commentators vary in their interpretation of the meaning of the twenty four elders.  However, it seems that a majority of them understand the twenty four elders as, in some way, representing the Church—that is, the redeemed.  Even though Protestant commentator Robert Mounce personally does not believe that the twenty-four elders represent the Church, he concedes the fact that “a great many writers interpret” these elders as representative of redeemed humanity.  He writes: “The identity of the twenty-four elders has been widely discussed.  Commentators who tend to find the source of John’s imagery in the astromythological tradition of Eastern polytheism take the elders to be a Judaic counterpart of the twenty-four star-gods of the Babylonian pantheon.  Others interpret them as symbolic of the twenty-four courses of Aaronic priests (I Chron 24:5), who in heaven render to God that perfect worship of which the priestly worship on earth is but an imperfect copy.  A great many writers interpret the twenty-four elders as symbolic of the church it its totality—a combination of the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles—but this seems unlikely in that their song of praise (5:9-10) definitely sets them apart from those who were purchased by the blood of Christ (most certainly the church!)” (“The New International Commentary on the New Testament—The Book of Revelation,” Page 135, Robert H. Mounce, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977).  Protestant commentator William Barclay writes: “The first section in the chorus of praise is the song of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders; and, as we have seen, they represent all that is in nature and in the universal Church” (“The Revelation of John,” Volume 1, Page 174, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville).  Again, the same author writes: “We find the twenty-four elders frequently appearing in Revelation…We move on to explanations which we think are much more likely…We think that the likeliest explanation is that the twenty-four elders are the symbolic representatives of the faithful people of God.  Their white robes are the robes promised to the faithful (Revelation 3:4), and their crowns (stephanoi) are those promised to those who are faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).  The thrones are those which Jesus promised to those who forsook all and followed him (Matthew 19:27-29).  The description of the twenty-four elders fits well with the promises made to the faithful.  The question will then be, ‘Why twenty-four?’  The answer is because the Church is composed of Jews and Gentiles.  There were originally twelve tribes, but now it is as if the tribes were doubled.  Swete says that the twenty-four elders stand for the Church in its totality” (“The Revelation of John,” Volume 1, Pages 152, 153, 154, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville).

Another Evangelical commentary, which expresses the four major interpretive schools (Historicist, Preterist, Futurist and Spiritual) makes the following observations regarding how the twenty-four elders are identified.  For the Historicist school, the commentary states: “Without attempting to identify the twenty-four elders, Adam Clarke suggests that the image may be taken from the smaller Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, which was composed of 23 elders.  Barnes speaks for many other expositors of this school when he recognizes in the 24 elders ‘the church triumphant—redeemed—saved—as rendering praise and honour to God; as uniting with the hosts of heaven in adoring him for his perfections and for the wonders of his grace.’  Ezekiel saw 25 men in a vision, representing the high priest and heads of the 24 orders of priests.  Here, the Lamb replaces the high priest of that vision, and the church replaces the corrupt priesthood of Ezekiel’s day” (“Revelation—Four Views—A Parallel Commentary,” Pages 86, 88, Edited by Steve Gregg, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville).

For the Preterist school: This commentary, while citing a Preterist commentator (Jay Adams) who does not believe that the elders represent the Church, concedes the fact that Jay Adam “does not follow the apparent majority in seeing the twenty-four elders as representing the church, or ‘the representative assembly of the Royal Priesthood, the Church’” (“Revelation—Four Views—A Parallel Commentary,” Page 86, Edited by Steve Gregg, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville).

For the Futurist school: “The majority opinion among dispensationalists (Gaebelein, Ryrie, Walvoord, Lindsey, and others) identifies the 24 elders as the New Testament saints, who were raptured into heaven.  Gaebelein writes: ‘There is only one possible meaning.  They represent the redeemed, the Saints in glory.  They are Priests (clothed in white) and the are Kings (crowned); they are the royal priesthood before the throne’” (“Revelation—Four Views—A Parallel Commentary,” Page 89, Edited by Steve Gregg, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville).

The Catholic Study Bible states that the twenty-four elders “represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles” (“Catholic Study Bible,” New American Bible, New Testament, Page 405, Footnote on 4, 4, Oxford University Press, Oxford)

The Original Greek:

“Kai adousin wdhn kainhn, legontes, ‘axios ei labein to biblion, kai anoixai tas sfragidas autou, oti esfaghs, kai hgorasas tw qew hmas en tw aimati sou ek pashs fulhs kai glwsshs kai laou kai eqnous, kai epoihsas hmas tw qew hmwn basileis kai iereis, kai basileusomen epi ths ghs.”  (Textus Receptus, Revelation 5:9-10)

“Kai adousin wdhn kainhn, legontes, ‘axios ei labein to biblion, kai anoixai tas sfragidas autou, oti esfaghs, kai hgorasas tw qew en tw aimati sou ek pashs fulhs kai glwsshs kai laou kai eqnous, kai epoihsas autous tw qew hmwn basileian kai iereis, kai basileusousin epi ths ghs.”  (Novum Testamentum Graece [1979], Revelation 5:9-10)

According to the “Orthodox New Testament” (Volume 2, Page 561, Footnote 116, Holy Apostles Convent/Dormition Skete, 1999), “The evidence for the third person pronoun is overwhelmingly supported.”  These footnotes inform us that only the Textus Receptus renders 5:10a as “hmas” (“us”), while other manuscripts employ “autous” (“them”).  Also, regarding “we shall reign” versus “they shall reign”: “’They shall reign’ (basileusousin) [Uncials aleph P; Minuscules 1854 2050 2053 2344 2351 2953 2344; mss. Following Andrew of Caesarea; Editions Constantinople, CT, NA; St. Hippolytos, St. Cyprian].  The KJV reads ‘we shall reign’ (basileusomen) [TR]” (“Orthodox New Testament” Volume 2, Page 561, Footnote 117, Holy Apostles Convent/Dormition Skete, 1999).

“Et cantabant canticum novum, dicentes: Dignus es Domine accipere librum, et aperire signacula ejus: quoniam occisus es, et redemisti nos Deo in sanguine tuo ex omni tribu, et lingua, et populo, et natione: Et fecisti nos Deo nostro regnum, et sacerdotes: et regnabimus super terram.”  (The Vulgate of St. Jerome, Revelation 5:9-10)

17. Revelation 8:3-4

18. Martyrdom of St. Ignatius, Chapter 7, ANF 1:131

19. The Shepherd of Hermas, 3:5:4, ANF 2:35

20. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies , ANF 2:545

21. Origen of Alexandria, On Prayer 6

22. St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 60:5[56:5], ANF 5:352

23. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 23:9, NPNF II 7:154

24. St. Gregory Nazianzen, Orations, On the Death of His Father 18:4, NPNF II 6:256

25. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. Ignatius, NPNF I 9:140

26. St. Augustine of Hippo, Homilies on John 84, NPNF I 7:350

27. St. Augustine of Hippo, Reply to Faustus the Manichaen, Book 20, Chapter 21, NPNF I 4:262

28. St. Jerome, Against Vigilantius 6, NPNF II 6:419

29. St. Leo the Great, Sermons 85:4, NPNF II 12:198

30. 1 Timothy 2:1

31. Protestants have been traditionally divided over this issue even from the start.  While the Lutheran Reformation admitted that the saints in heaven interceded for the Church on earth—but only IN GENERAL, they did not have much confidence in this, and seemed to refer to it only as a possibility rather than a given.  While Luther, in his earlier years, when writing his famous commentary on the Magnificat, expressed a clear belief that the saints in heaven intercede for those on earth (as shown in the following excerpt): “We pray God to give us a right understanding of this Magnificat, an understanding that consists not merely in brilliant words but in glowing life in body and soul.  May Christ grant us this through the intercession and for the sake of His dear Mother Mary! Amen.”  (Martin Luther, Commentary on the Magnificat, W, VII, 600, 601, Luther’s Works, Volume 21, Page 329, Concordia Publishing House)  He later weakened his affirmation of this belief, as is evidenced in the later Lutheran confessional documents, which express a belief in only a possible, general intercession.  “Although angels in heaven pray for us (as Christ himself also does), and although saints on earth, and perhaps also in heaven…” (Smalcald Articles, Part II, Article II, Book of Concord 297, Fortress Press, Philadelphia)  The Augsburg Confession states: “We also grant that the saints in heaven pray for the church in general, as they prayed for the church universal while they were on earth.  Nevertheless, there is no passage in Scripture about the dead praying, except for the dream recorded in the Second Book of the Maccabees.”  (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 21, Book of Concord 230, Fortress Press, Philadelphia)  The Reformation in Geneva was much more firm in its outright rejection of any suggestion that the saints in heaven intercede for those on earth.  John Calvin dismissed it in uncompromisingly scathing language.  He wrote: “What pertains to the office of intercession we also see is peculiar to Christ, and no prayer is pleasing to God unless this Mediator sanctifies it.  Yet even if believers reciprocally offer prayers before God for the brethren, we have shown that this detracts nothing from Christ’s unique intercession…We have, moreover, taught that it is inappropriately applied to the dead, of whom we nowhere read that they have been bidden to pray for us.  Scripture often urges us to do our duty by one another but has not one syllable of the dead.  Indeed, James by joining these two exhortations—to confess our sins to one another, and to pray for one another [James 5:16]—tacitly excludes the dead.  Therefore this one reason is enough to condemn this error: prayer rightly begun springs from faith, and faith, from hearing God’s Word [Rom. 10:14, 17], where no mention is made of fictitious intercession; for superstition has rashly taken to itself advocates who had not been given by God.”  (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 20:27, Library of Christian Classics, Volume 21, Page 887, Westminster Press, Philadelphia)  “The saints are not to be adored, worshipped or invoked.  For this reason we do not adore, worship, or pray to the saints in heaven, or to other gods, and we do not acknowledge them as our intercessors or mediators before the Father in heaven.  For God and Christ the Mediator are sufficient for us…” (2nd Helvetic Confession Chapter 5.025, Book of Confessions, Study Edition, Page 99, Geneva Press, Louisville, KY)

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