22/01/17 Hebrews 12:1-11 “If we suffer (for Him), we shall also reign with Him.”
Hebrews 12:1 – 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,
This must be read with the second half of the sentence (Vs 2) in mind.
cloud – cloud; a large dense multitude; a throng
witnesses – martus (originally meant a witness, but came to mean those who have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death, that is, martyrs). Here it probably refers to (or includes) the hall of faith heroes we have been learning about in Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 11:40 (God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.) suggests that they are awaiting the time of perfection when all will be having their sabbath-rest. Those who have finished the race will be waiting for the others to complete their races also.
weight – burden. Athletes often ran without the burden of clothes.
beset – skilfully surrounding, that is, besetting.
patience – steadfastness; constancy; endurance; steadfast waiting for; in the New Testament – the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
race - an assembly; the place of an assembly, especially games: stadium, arena. It can mean a fight or a battle. Translated as “fight” in 2 Timothy 4:7 and “contention” in:
1 Thessalonians 2:2 – But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
Wherefore (therefore) seeing as we are surrounded by such a throng of witnesses (including those who have gone before, possibly also martyrs), let us put to one side our burdens (that slow us down), and the sin (a violation of the divine law in thought or in act) that so skilfully enfolds us, and let us run with steadfastness and endurance the race (struggle, fight, battle) (as in a stadium) that is set before us.
1 Corinthians 9:24 – Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
2 Timothy 4:7 – I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith: (or “I have laboured fervently a good fight, I have completed the course”)
Because we have so many watching on to see how we run, let us therefore put aside everything that might hold us back, and run a good race; fight the good fight!
Hebrews 12:2 – Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
looking – to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something else. Similar to “had respect” in Hebrews 11:26, yet different term used. We must look away from what we were first looking at and instead focus on Jesus. A shift in the direction of our gaze. A looking away from distractions.
author – the chief leader; prince; one that takes the lead in anything and thus affords an example; a predecessor in a matter; author. Translated as “captain” in Hebrews 2:10 and “Prince” in Acts 3:15 (“And killed the Prince of life”)
finisher – perfector. This Jesus is the Captain (who leads by example) and Perfector of faith (the word “the” isn’t in the original).
This race we run, looking toward Jesus, so that we might follow His example set for us, having run the race already and now is seated on the right hand of the Father.
John 13:15 – For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
1 Peter 2:21 – For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
The “race” in Vs 1 signified more of a struggle to make the end, a fight, and Vs 2 continues to enlarge on this. Christ had joy (gladness) in anticipation of His final end, sitting on the right hand of the Father and being our High Priest after the order of Melchisedec in heaven. However, between Him on earth and His glory in heaven lay a massive battlefield, a life and death struggle (literally) that included the cross and the resurrection. In order to reach that “joy” that was set before Him, He had to endure the cross, despise (think little or nothing of) the shame to which He was subjected, and the end result is that He finally achieved that position of joy, being now seated on the right hand of the throne of God. The Hebrews knew about such endurance; the writer has already reminded them of it in Hebrews 10:32 – But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
Also Hebrews 2:9 – But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
Hebrews 12:3 – For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
The theme of endurance continues: consider (think over; ponder) Him who endured such contradiction (opposition; rebellion) of sinners (wicked men, specifically of men stained with certain definite vices or crimes; tax collectors; heathen) against His person lest you be wearied (grow sick; sickened) in your minds (psyche – the soul; the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)
That is, be encouraged that you aren’t the first to experience such opposition (and probably won’t be the last one, either). Don’t let your tribulations get to you (that is, cause depression, something the world today tries to term mental disease, but here it is a spiritual issue).
1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].
Hebrews 4:15 – For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.
Hebrew 12:4 – Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
You have not (yet) endured the sufferings of Christ. You have not (yet) reached the blood-letting that comes with martyrdom. They are being encouraged to ponder this this also, that they haven’t reached this stage (yet) probably because they haven’t struggled or fought fully against the sin that so easily besets them (Vs 1).
striving – antagonizomai (strive against; struggle; fight) That is, to antagonise (sin).
This is not so much as a race as it is a fight, a battle. The picture appears to be more like being in the arena in front of a great crowd of witnesses, where you have to fight your way to the winning post, yet risk injury or even death in your struggles.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27 – 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
keep under – like a boxer one buffets his body, handle it roughly, discipline by hardships. (Note that castaway is the word adokimos = reprobate.)
Hebrews 12:5 – And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
And because they haven’t (yet) dealt with their rebellion, they still need to be disciplined. This passage now deals with that which is needed in order to better approach that stage of striving against sin. They had completely forgotten (probably through other distractions which they needed to get their eyes away from) the exhortation (paraklesis – admonition; instruction) of God who speaks to them as His children. It is clear that the Hebrews had been facing persecution, and that some may have already apostatised back to their old covenant religion because it was safer. But this chapter so far is talking about enduring such contradiction (opposition) in order to reach the goal – their Sabbath-rest.
Romans 8:17-18 – 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Do not despise (to care little for; make light of; make of no account) the chastening (paideia – the training and educating of children by correcting mistakes; applied to Christians as God’s children) of God, nor faint (relax; grow weak or weary; become despondent; loathe) when you are rebuked (chastened; corrected) by Him. Don’t try to ignore God’s discipline, nor give up or even sulk when He corrects you.
Proverbs 3:11-12 – 11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth.
Hebrews 12:6 – For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
loveth – agapao (God’s special love)
scourgeth – from the root word “to chew” but here used spiritually. That which draws blood – see “Ye have not resisted unto blood” (Vs 4)
For whom God has a special love for as children, He also disciplines as children, and every son (child) he has received into His family as one of His own. This discipline is the evidence of belonging to God’s family and the demonstration of His special love.
Hebrews 12:7 – If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
If – this word differs depending on which manuscripts you are studying. The textus receptus would translate as above, while other manuscripts would translate more like “It is for chastening that you endure”. However, the overall meaning is that we endure chastening and God treats us as His children, with the two ideas connected. The textus receptus would suggest that God’s dealing with us as sons is dependent in some way upon us enduring such chastening; that if we decide to endure less chastening, then God deals less with us as sons. The last part of the verse appears to support this: that if a father doesn’t chasten a child, then that child cannot be his son. (See Vs 8 for further on this.) That is, what sort of a son would he be if the father didn’t chasten him when it was necessary?
dealeth – to bring unto; to lead to; to bring a present or thing; to hand something to someone; to deal with one. Translated “dealeth” only once out of 48 occurrences.
Translated as “offer” 22 out of 48 occurrences:
Matthew 5:24 – Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Thus, it has the idea of God offering His chastening to us as sons.
The greatest of God’s faithful people endured trials more than most, and still do.
2 Corinthians 11:23-27 – 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
2 Timothy 3:11-12 – 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of [them] all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
It surely opposes the teaching that if Christians don’t sin, then neither will they suffer (especially matters of health and finances, apparently!).
Hebrews 12:8 – But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards (illegitimate), and not sons.
This is a simple statement of logic: If all God’s children are partakers of His chastisement, and if you do not receive His chastisement, then you are not really His children after all. It’s very clearly stating that if Christians are not called to endure, or if they decide not to endure, then they cannot be called the children of God. Far too many who think they are Christians also reject any idea of suffering for what they believe. It’s clear that many such people may not be the children of God that they thought they were!
Hebrews 12:9 – Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
The overwhelming attitude of today is that children will grow up better the less they are actually disciplined; that they have to experience rather than be taught! Certainly reasonable discipline should engender more respect than no discipline.
fathers – pater (male ancestor) Can also mean one who acts on behalf of the male parent. Generally taken to mean the authority figure, so doesn’t specifically exclude mothers.
reverence – to be ashamed; to reverence a person.
2 Thessalonians 3:14 – And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
be in subjection – to obey; to submit to one’s control; to yield to admonition or advice; be subject. A Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden". (Thayer)
the Father of spirits – to Patri ton pneumaton. I think it has the idea of our spiritual father in contrast to “fathers of our flesh”.
Thus, if we had respect for earthly fathers who corrected us, shouldn’t we, to a much greater degree, place ourselves under the authority of the Father of spirits (our spiritual Father), with one significant consequence: we shall live!
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 – 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, [and] that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he [is] thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Hebrews 12:10 – For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness.
pleasure – opinion; own thinking; to judge thus; it seems good to me; it seemed right to me.
a few days – a short time
For the chastening by parents was indeed (verily) for a limited time only, and was according to the opinion and considerations of the parent, but God’s chastening is for our benefit so that we would become partakers of (= partners in) God’s holiness. The idea is that we become more like God as He chastens us.
Romans 8:29 – For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Which simply means that those who were the elect according to God’s foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2) were then (consequent to God’s foreknowledge) predestinated (predestined) to become like Christ through a rigorous training program which the writer to the Hebrews has alluded to in our passage today. This training program includes chastening in order to correct our faults. The whole process may be called disciplining, which means training in order to produce a specific character or pattern of behaviour.
We are to be holy as God is holy.
1 Peter 1:13-17 – 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear:
Hebrews 12:11 – Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
grievous – pain; grief; annoyance; affliction.
Of course, no-one really likes to be disciplined, and it is a general feeling (when being disciplined) that one should be given the chance to learn without the pain. But, as they say, there’s no gain without pain! No chastening seems pleasant while we are experiencing it; in fact, it feels really painful (grievous). I’m sure that, whether or not we think we deserved it, any chastening feels painful; it is usually more than an annoyance; rather it is something more of an affliction. Even if we know we deserved it, it doesn’t help reduce any of the pain. So, the affliction, pain and grief hurt us. And if it had no purpose other than to cause affliction, pain and grief, then it would be pointless.
This is what this verse is pointing out, that without purpose there’d be no point to the chastening. And yes, there is a purpose: for those who have had a vigorous session (exercised) of chastening, the pain is only for a period of time, hopefully followed by the desired consequence of becoming more right (righteous) with God. Now that which causes conflict with God reduces our peace with Him. Man’s sinful nature (as a result of Adam’s sin) produced an ongoing lack of peace with God for all mankind. The old covenant was made (with Israel) in order to deal with this barrier between God and man, and Israel was supposed to be a priesthood to the nations. But this covenant could only cover up (atone for) the sin barrier.
However, when Christ died and rose again, it made possible a new covenant that actually removed the barrier and made it possible for man to come to peace with God through the reconciling work done on the cross.
Ephesians 2:13-18 – 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
The chastening (suffering, trials,
training) of God (and consequent persecution even) may not feel good – no
chastening is ever meant to feel good – but if endured correctly, it will
result in the righteousness of God in our lives which brings peace with Him
because of the cross. If only today’s “Christians” could realise this: that
unless they are prepared to suffer with Christ, then they may not either reign
2 Timothy 2:9-12 – 9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, [even] unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 [It is] a faithful saying: For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us:
Isaiah 32:17 – And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
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