Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that 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, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2 NRSV)
The writer of Hebrews declares that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Who are the witnesses that the author is speaking about? Chapter 11 has been about all the people who had the faith to not look for the reward in this life but had the faith that looked upward. The testimony of these witnesses of faith is that any amount of rejection or suffering from the world is worth it because of the reward and approval that lies ahead. All of them died in faith without receiving what was promised (11:13), but lived for the approval of God. Now these people of faith are pictured as spectators watching our walk with God. It is interesting that the author does not merely tell us follow the example of these witnesses. Rather, he tells us that we are surrounded by them. They are pictured as an encouragement to our faith. Now the author is going to tell us what we must do because we see what these witnesses of faith have done.
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