Hebrews Chapter Twelve
I. Content of the Chapter
Exhortations and Warnings Concerning Hope
A. Exhortations ---- endurance works out hope (v.1-17);
1. Run the race with endurance (v.1-4);
2. Receive the discipline with endurance (v.5-11);
3. Seek unto the end with endurance (v.12-14);
B. Warnings ---- let us not lose the hope (v.15-29);
1. Lest we fall down from the grace (v.15-17);
2. Our hope is the heavenly
3. See that you do not refuse God who speaks to us and warns us (v.25-29).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Heb. 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
YLT: “Therefore, we also having so great a cloud of witnesses set around us, every weight having put off, and the closely besetting sin, through endurance may we run the contest that is set before us,”
Meaning of Words: “witness”: martyr; “be surrounded”: be enclosed, be bound with, be compassed with; “weight”: burden, hindrance; “easily ensnares”: well standing around, a thwarting in every direction, easily beset; “race”: conflict, contention, flight;
Literal Meaning: “therefore, since we are surrounded by so great … witnesses”, “therefore we”, it continues with the last chapter (see 11:40). “So great…witnesses” refer to that many giants by faith in chapter eleven. “Witnesses”: those who provide testimonies in order to confirm and prove the reality of things; It is the same word with “witness” (see Acts 1:8, 22; 2:32; 3:15 etc), so it can also refer to the good works worthy of encouragement to others.
“A cloud of”, “cloud” is used to describe the large numbers of people. Also there are the Bible expositors who think that the cloud is connected with the running of the race of God’s people (see Ex. 13:21-22; Num. 9:15-22). “Be surrounded”, it refers to the audience who shout cheerfully around, who make the runners feel more refreshing.
“Let us lay aside every weight”, “every weight” refers to all kinds of weight and burden that hinder the runners, e.g. the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things (Luke 8:14; Mark 4:19).
“And the sin which so easily ensnares us”, “easily ensnares”, it is just like the robe that wraps our body, which hinders the running. “Sin”, the meaning of the word is missing the mark. God is the only goal of our life. If anything or anybody outside of God (no matter good or bad) becomes our goal, it is sin. “The sin which so easily ensnares us”, in the heart of this epistle’s writer, the sin seems to especially refer to the “willful sin” like treading the Son of God or insulting the Spirit of grace (see 10:26-29), for it will prevent them from running in the heavenly race.
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”, “with endurance”: because the race covers the whole life, just like the marathon race, which requires endurance unto the end. “Run”, in the shortest time and run in the longest race, namely, the quickest speed; “that is set before us”, there is a goal set before each believer which shall be obtained by our diligent pursuit (see Phil. 3:12-14). “Race”: in the original it refers to the racetracks. Each believer is a participant of the race who runs in the race for the purpose of obtaining the prize (see 1Cor. 9:24).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The whole life of each believer is a race, where there are many good examples of men and things around, encouraging us to run ahead.
2) “Witness”, the word is often connected with
martyrs (see Rev. 2:13; 3:14; 11:3; 17:6). Christians put themselves to death
for the sake of the Lord and balk at no sacrifice, even that of our lives. The
works manifested before all the people are the best witness (see
3) “Weight” and “sin” are two great factors that hinder our running. If we do not deal with them, we will be unable to run well.
4) “Weight” may not be sin and even is not sin. However, if we have not put off our weight, we cannot run quickly. Therefore, we have to search what is the weight to each of us.
5) “Weight” often tends to be the burden in our hearts, e.g. sadness, sorrow, depression and discouragement etc., or the temptations that distract our hearts, e.g. easement, greediness, fame and gain and reputation etc. ---- all of them belong to the weight that hinders the running.
6) At that time, the most unbearable “weight” of the Hebrew believers is the laws and regulations (see Matt. 23:4). Therefore, we have to made up our mind not to put the “yoke” upon the necks of others in the church (see Acts 15:10), but have to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
7) “Sin” will not only hinder our running and even make us disqualified for the race. Sin means breaching the rules. And the one who breaches the rules will be disqualified for the competition.
8) The opposite side of faith is doubt ---- doubt about God’s love, faithfulness and power etc. Such doubt is a sin against God. Therefore, let us always not be ensnared by doubt.
9) The people of
10) The weight should be “laid aside”, and the sin should be “put off”. We have to make up our mind to put off the weight and sin so that we can run.
11) If we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, we will be blessed thereafter. However, if we are encircled by sins, we will be cursed thereafter.
12) Even though we have a good beginning and good process, we can still not obtain the prize before the destination. We have to run the whole length of the race “with endurance” before we finish the whole race, namely, before we see the Lord.
13) “Run” is not slow walking, nor standing, but go ahead as quickly as possible. We have to spare no efforts in the pursuit and service of Christians.
14) “Running” quickly means that one requires less time than others. Therefore, let us redeem the time (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5) and use the time given by God properly.
15) He who runs in the sport ground can only run within the due track. However, though many Christians are zealous and laborious and run, they run outside the will of God and will finally not be approved by God (see Matt. 7:21-23).
16) The race that Christians have to run in is not vague, but “is set before” ---- it is of certain direction and certain tracks and certain goal/
17) Since the race “is set before us”, we have to go ahead step by step, not go backward (see 10:38). What is most important is “to forget the things behind, and stretch out to the things before and press towards goal” (Phil. 3:13-14).
18) The race that Christians have to run in is always “set before us”. And the race of the world is always the race that follows us. No matter how farther we have run, the race of the world is always one step away from us ---- just behind “us”. Whenever we turn back, we have left the right way.
Heb. 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
YLT: “looking to the author and perfecter of faith -- Jesus, who, over-against the joy set before him -- did endure a cross, shame having despised, on the right hand also of the throne of God did sit down;”
Meaning of Words: “look unto”: consider; “author”: writer, captain, prince, leader, initiator; “finisher”: perfecter, completer, consummater; “for”: because of; “shame”: disgrace;
Literal Meaning: “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”, “look unto”: leave aside one thing and pay attention to another thing, and it is also translated as “looking off unto Jesus”;
“Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”, there are two aspects of meaning: 1) He is the initiator of our faith. We can have faith in Him. And He is also the finisher of our faith, who makes our faith perfect; 2) He is the pioneer and leader of our faith and paves the way of faith for us. Besides, he also keeps us in the rear and encourages us to finish the way of faith.
Note that here it is looking unto “Jesus”, not “Christ” or “the Lord Jesus” (the name after His resurrection). We have to look unto Jesus. That is to say, we have to consider the humanity of Him carefully.
“Who for the joy that was set before Him”, “the joy that was set before Him”: the exaltation by God after fulfilling His works (see Phil. 2:9-11), which is obtained after resurrection (see Ps. 16:11; 22:22; Is. 53:10).
“Endured the cross, despising the shame”, “despising the shame”: not care the insults from men; “endure”: experience; “the cross”: it includes the way of the cross that He walked on the earth as well as the summit of His crucifixion on the cross;
“And has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”, be exalted (see 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12) and enjoy the joy that was set before Him;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) One shall firstly “look off”, and then “look unto” Him. If we still look at other things, we cannot look unto the Lord only.
2) Not only may things on the earth attract our attention and entice us and even many spiritual things and knowledge can still not make us absorbed in the Lord Jesus. Therefore, we eyes shall be turned from many good or bad things to Him only.
3) Jesus is the coach and goal of the runners. A runner shall firstly be instructed by his coach before the race and then fix his eyes on the goal and press on instead of gazing around so as not to affect his running on the runway.
4) He is the author and finisher of our faith. Our faith starts from Him and ends in Him. Our faith is totally in Him. Without Him, we have no faith.
5) If we look unto the author and finisher of our faith, our faith will be continually increased and confirmed without shaking.
6) Christ is the “finisher” of our faith. Only Him can fulfill our faith to perfection. And only Him can perfect what we believe in us.
7) All spiritual things are in the Lord Jesus. He is Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8). We have no pursuit no desire but Him (see Ps. 73:25).
8) Men may often see the suffering and shame of the cross, but the Lord Jesus focuses on the joy and glory behind the cross.
9) If we Christians love the glory of man more than that of God (John 12:43), we will be afraid of shame. On the contrary, if we love the glory of God more than that of man, we will embrace the cross.
10) He despises the shame that is from men, and yet endures the suffering of the cross that is from God. Shame and cross are both sides of one body. Things that men have done to us are permitted by God.
11) We need not to pay much attention to the misunderstanding, or opposition or criticism or judgment from men, but shall embrace all that happen to us by God’s permission, for they will perfect what God will perfect.
12) “Despise” shows that it is a kind of view and attitude after comparison. The principle for Christians’ growth is not only afflictions in soul to overcome the sin but also seeing the coming hope of joy in spirit indeed. Thus we will certainly “despise” all the shame in this world.
Heb. 12:3 “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
YLT: “for consider again him who endured such gainsaying from the sinners to himself, that ye may not be wearied in your souls -- being faint.”
Meaning of Words: “consider”: think of, approve, count; “hostility”: disobedience, contradiction; “weary”: faint;
Literal Meaning: “Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself”, “Him…who”: Jesus Christ; “endure”: it is the lasting effect of the suffering of Christ’s atoning for sins; “such”: it indicates the serious degree; “hostility”: the contradiction in words and attitudes and actions, including how he was insulted, humiliated, maltreated, spat, whipped and injured by men.
“Consider … lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls”, “consider”: make right judgment after careful consideration; “weary”: mental relaxation; “discouraged”: have no appetite for the fight
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The way and mind of the Lord Jesus on the earth are great refreshment and encouragement for believers’ spirit. If we ponder Him repeatedly, we will never be weary or discouraged.
2) To a man who is running in the race toward the kingdom, the most terrible enemy is weariness and discouragement in souls. “Weary and discouraged in your souls”: be powerless in you souls; that is to say, one’s will is paralyzed and his affection becomes cold and his mind has appetite for nothing. And to him, everything is meaningless and he just lets everything drift.
Heb. 12:4 “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”
YLT: “Not yet unto blood did ye resist -- with the sin striving;”
Meaning of Words: “resist”: withstand; “strive against”: struggle against, wrestle against;
Literal Meaning: “you have not yet resisted to bloodshed”, “resisted”, it is still a parable concerning sports competition, and it is transferred from running (see v.1) to boxing, which refers to boxing with sins;
“Striving against sin”, the degree of resistance has not reached to a point of life and death.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Sin is the great enemy of Christians. The Lord Jesus sheds His precious blood in order to deliver us from the power of sin. If we are unwilling to resist with sins, we have betrayed the love of the Lord who redeemed us by shedding His blood.
2) The majority of Christians resist sins only stay in spiritual sphere, and have not reached to the step of physical injuries.
3) Even though Christians are pressed to bloodshed, we will still be encouraged by the Lord’s word ---- be not afraid of them that kill the body (Matt. 10:28).
Heb. 12:5 “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;”
YLT: “and ye have forgotten the exhortation that doth speak fully with you as with sons, `My son, be not despising chastening of the Lord, nor be faint, being reproved by Him,”
Meaning of Words: “forgotten”: be utterly obliviously of; “exhortation”: consolation, entreaty, imploration; “despise”: disesteem, have little regard for; “chastening”: disciplinary correction, instruction, training;
Literal Meaning: “and you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons”: “have forgotten”, it is in the perfect tense in the original, and here it is for the purpose of reminding the readers. “The exhortation which speaks to you as to sons”, it is God the Father exhorts us patiently like the fathers on the earth; “speak”: the words in the Scriptures are just the words God has spoken to men.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD”, “do not”: it is an imperative prohibition; “despise”: disesteem; “chastening” includes correction, reproof, and chastisement etc. The fathers of the Jews are accustomed to fulfill the responsibility of chastening the children to make them morally well.
“Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him”, “nor be discouraged”: do not lose appetite for the pursuit or fight;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God often says the ongoing words to us by the words written on the Scriptures. Therefore, we have to read and be familiar with the Scriptures so that God can speak to us if it is necessary.
2) Men may easily ignore the reason why they are in tribulations, so they can learn nothing from the tribulations. Therefore, if we are chastened by the Lord and are in suffering, we shall not “despise” it so that we will learn something from it.
3) When we are chastened by God, there may be two wrong responses ---- either “despise” or “be discouraged”. Even though we shall not despise the chastening of God, we shall still not see the chastening too much so as not to be discouraged.
Heb. 12:6 “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."”
YLT: “for whom the Lord doth love He doth chasten, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth;'”
Meaning of Words: “scourge”: flog; “receive”: accept;
Literal Meaning: “for whom the LORD loves He chastens”, “whom the LORD loves”: it refers to sons; “chasten”: through which the son will be disciplined and perfected;
“And scourges every son whom He receives”, “scourge”: serious punishment; “son whom He receives”, it means regarding the son as a son, and the son is thus treated just because he is the son.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God chastens those whom He loves. If we are chastened by God, it is just the proof that God loves us. Therefore, every time when we are disciplined, we shall transfer compliant into thanksgiving and sorrow to praise.
2) God chastens us, for we are beloved of Him. Disciplines are arrangements of love. And it is love arranges these experiences for us and measures what we are supposed to go through.
3) “Scourge” brings afflictions to men. Therefore, sometimes, the tribulations that we often experience are out of the chastening of God.
4) Scourge does not mean rejection by God. Instead, it is a sign of being pleased by God.
5) The present custom of this world goes against the teaching of the Scriptures. In some countries, the laws say that children should not be scourged. However, the Scriptures say that “he that spares his rod hates his son, but he that loves him chastens him betimes” (Pro. 13:24).
Heb. 12:7 “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”
YLT: “if chastening ye endure, as to sons God beareth Himself to you, for who is a son whom a father doth not chasten?”
Meaning of Words: “deal with”: bring unto, do, offer up;
Literal Meaning: “if you endure chastening, God deals with you”, it means that the discipline you endure comes from God, so we have to receive with endurance.
“As with sons”, since God sets us among the sons, we should have the awareness of a son.
“For what son is there whom a father does not chasten”? No son is exceptional that he is not chastened by his father.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Please remember that chastening is the preferential treatment of God, not bitter treatment. If God disciplines you, He will bring you on the position of receiving blessings and glory.
2) Madame Guyon said, “I desire to kiss the whip on me and kiss the hand slapped on me”. If you have seen this is the whip of the Father and the hand of the Father, you will not complain.
Heb. 12:8 “But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”
YLT: “and if ye are apart from chastening, of which all have become partakers, then bastards are ye, and not sons.”
Meaning of Words: “partaker”: sharer, partner; “illegitimate”: unlawful, bastard;
Literal Meaning: “of which all have become partakers”, “have become partakers”, it means that the chastening is received and the effect is lasting. As long as one is a son, he has personally experienced chastening and enjoyed the eternal effect on him.
“But if you are without chastening … then you are illegitimate and not sons”, “illegitimate”, it means that the father does not treat the unlawful children seriously and the unlawful children can not enjoy the right of inheritance nor worship God with the family members.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If a man has not been chastened by God, he has not proof of a son. Every child of God shall be disciplined by God without exception.
2) If you are the son of God, you cannot expect distinct treatment. Discipline is a sign for sons, without which one is a illegitimate son, who is not a member of God’s house.
Heb. 12:9 “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?”
YLT: “Then, indeed, fathers of our flesh we have had, chastising , and we were reverencing ; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of the spirits, and live?”
Meaning of Words: “furthermore”: besides; “correct”: train; “respect”: fear, esteem: “in subjection to”: obedience;
Literal Meaning: “furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us”, “we” refers to the common people; “corrected”, it is a noun in the original, namely, correctors, who teach by disciplines. “Human fathers who corrected us”: the human fathers are correctors.
“And we paid them respect”, “and”, the conjunction shows that there is further serious condition. “Pay…respect”: receive with respect;
“The Father of spirits and live”, “spirits”, both the eternal value of human beings and all function of fellowship with God come from the spirit. “The Father of spirits”, the Father in the heavens, namely, God. Here it is a comparison with the fathers in the flesh.
“Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to…?” “Shall…not much more”, it follows the previous word “and”. “Be in subjection to”, it is not different from “respect”. Though a man may hear and obey his parents because of respect (see Eph. 6:1-2), he may not be “submissive” in heart. However, we have to be in subjection to the works of God without any reason. “Live”: live before God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The matter of son leads to that of chastening. And the matter of chastening produces that of subjection. Since we are sons, we have to be disciplined. And since there is discipline, we have to be submissive.
2) Concerning the obedience to God, we have to both obey His commands and His chastening. On one hand, we shall be in subjection to all the words God has spoken in the Scriptures. And on the other, we have to obey all the arrangements of God in our circumstances.
3) Obedience is not a vain slogan. One has to pay the cost when he obeys, namely, enduring the chastening of God.
Heb. 12:10 “For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
YLT: “for they, indeed, for a few days, according to what seemed good to them, were chastening, but He for profit, to be partakers of His separation;”
Meaning of Words: “seemed best to”: apparently good; “profit”: be better for; “partakers”: receiver, participants;
Literal Meaning: “for they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them”, “a few days”: the days are limited. Probably, the sons have not grown up. “As seemed best to them”, they chastened according to what they regarded as best, but their thoughts might not be right or profitable.
“But He for our profit”, “for…profit”: it must be of profit in the sight
of God (see
“That we may be partakers of His holiness”, “holiness”, only God is holy, and all that are outside of God are common. Therefore, “holiness” means being consecrated unto God. “His holiness”, since holiness is the nature of God, so it is called God’s holiness. “Be partakers of His holiness”: have part in the holy nature of God;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) All the discipline and reproach of God are not punishment, nor chastisement, but training for our profit.
2) God chastens us for our profit. Such profit is making us partakers of God’s holiness, namely, partakers of Himself. Therefore, every discipline of God is for the purpose of manifesting Himself so that such a holy God will be known.
3) Holiness is the nature of God as well as the disposition of God. Such holiness of God is “constituted” into us gradually. And it is not received all at once, but craved step by step. We really not know how many times of chastening will build such a holy disposition!
Heb. 12:11 “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
YLT: “and all chastening for the present, indeed, doth not seem to be of joy, but of sorrow, yet afterward the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those exercised through it -- it doth yield.”
Meaning of Words: “painful”: grievous, sad; “trained”: exercised; “yield”: produce, reward, deliver, give; “peaceable”: salutary; “righteousness”: justice, uprightness, what is right;
Literal Meaning: “now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful”, “chastening” includes the discipline of both the father in the flesh and the Father of spirits. “No ….be…but”, this is the right feeling of those who are chastened. And it is not joyful of being disciplined.
“Nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”, “those who have been trained by it”: those who have been chastened; “the peaceable fruit of righteousness”, which means: 1) righteousness is a kind of fruit. It is right and just no matter to God or to men; 2) in righteousness, there is peace between God and men and in oneself;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Note the words “seems to…” and “afterward”, it seems to be painful, but afterwards there yields joyful fruit (see 1Pet. 1:6). Therefore, let our eyes not stay at the apparent condition, but at the coming result.
2) It is a certainty that one is painful because of being chastened. However, pain is not the purpose of God. The will of God is to let us obtain profit through tribulations, namely, the change in life and the fruit borne inside.
3) Only when man is peaceful before God can he obtain fruit. The most terrible condition is that one complains and murmurs and disobeys under the discipline. If one desires to yield the fruit of peace, he has to firstly learn to obey and learn to not disagree with God or not complain against God. When peace is in us, there will yield righteousness. Once man has no peace, or complains or disputes before God, he has lost righteousness.
4) On one hand, peace brings about righteousness, and righteousness leads to peace on the other. No matter the relations between God and men, or interpersonal relations, or international relations, peace can only be obtained in righteousness.
Heb. 12:12 “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,”
YLT: “Wherefore, the hanging-down hands and the loosened knees set ye up;”
Meaning of Words: “hang down”: alongside, let by, relax; “feeble”: sick of the palsy, loosen; “strengthen”: make straight, life up;
Literal Meaning: “hands” represent works and deeds; “the hands which hang down”, it means being powerless to work; “strengthen”: be strong in works (see Is. 35:3).
“Knees”, if there is something wrong with one’s knees, there must also be something wrong with his feet. And feet stand for the power of running the heavenly race. “The feeble knees”, it means being powerless to walk; “strengthen … the feeble knees”, it means that one has power to run the heavenly race.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If we focus on our experience, we will be weary and discouraged (see v.5). If we see the outcome that our experience will produce, we will be refreshed. Therefore, we shall take a foresighted view ---- from the present to the future.
2) Tribulations works endurance, and endurance
works experience, and experience works hope and hope does not make ashamed (
Heb. 12:13 “and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”
YLT: “and straight paths make for your feet, that that which is lame may not be turned aside, but rather be healed;”
Meaning of Words: “path”: track (as a wheel-rut), a course of conduct; “be dislocated”: turn out of the way, deflect; “heal”: make whole, cure;
Literal Meaning: “make straight paths for you feet”, “make straight”, it is for the purpose of running easily (see Pro. 4:26-27). If one’s feet are strong, and the paths are not good, he may still be stumbled and his feet may be hurt.
“So that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed”,
“lame” represents those who are not firm in faith (see
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We shall still firm by faith in persecutions and tribulations rather than turn away from the right path, lest we should become the stumbling-stone of the feeble brothers. Moreover, we have to help and strengthen them to run on the heavenly race.
2) When we are tried, we have to be under the mighty hand of God so that the holy character will be established in us. Therefore, the way you tread upon is right, and you can help those who give up halfway and lead them to walk uprightly. If a man who walks ahead of us turns aside slightly, he will mislead those who are after him.
Heb. 12:14 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:”
YLT: “peace pursue with all, and the separation, apart from which no one shall see the Lord,”
Meaning of Words: “pursue”: press forward, follow, pursue; “peace”: quietness, rest, prosperity; “holiness”: sanctification;
Literal Meaning: “pursue peace with all people”, “pursue”, it means that one pursues initiatively and actively and then obtains (see Ps. 34:14). “Peace with all people”, peace with all those who are in the church (Rom. 12:18; 14:19).
“And holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”, “holiness”: holiness in life experience; since we believers have been given positional sanctification (see 10:10, 14), we have to still seek to be sanctified in daily life. “Without which no one will see the Lord”, holiness is the primary condition for the fellowship between God and men.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Pursue peace with all people”, it is not a negative attitude of “not irritating others”, but a kind of active attitude of dealing with all.
2) Believers who live in the world have to manifest the characteristic of the Son of God, namely, “the peace-maker” (see Matt. 5:9). In other words, the secret of making peace is to live out the life of God in daily life.
3) Though it is the Spirit perfects the
“holiness” in us (see
4) “Peace” is stressed in interpersonal relations of believers, and yet “holiness” is focused on in the relations of men with God. Peace and holiness are indispensible elements for our relations with men and God.
Heb. 12:15 “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;”
YLT: “looking diligently over lest any one be failing of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up may give trouble, and through this many may be defiled;”
Meaning of Words: “looking carefully”: look diligently, taker the oversight; “fall short of”: lack, fail, be destitute; “spring up”: swell up, grow, germinate; “disturb”: crowd in, annoy, trouble; “defiled”: sully, taint, contaminate;
Literal Meaning: “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God”, “looking carefully”, the ministers (e.g. healers, overseers etc.) have to watch carefully;
“Lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble”, “root of
bitterness”, there are two aspects of meaning: 1) be hostile to men and bitter
in heart (
“And by this many become defiled”, “become defiled”, there are also aspects of meaning: 1) be defiled in conscience and morality (Titus 1:15); 2) be defiled in faith and godliness (see James 1:27).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) All have sinned, and come short of the glory
of God (
2) The failure and mistake of even one single member in the church tend to influence many believers, just like a little leaven leavens the whole lump (1Cor. 5:6).
Heb. 12:16 “lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.”
YLT: “lest any one be a fornicator, or a profane person, as Esau, who in exchange for one morsel of food did sell his birthright,”
Meaning of Words: “fornicator”: prostitute; “profane”: heathenish, wicked;
Meaning: “lest there be any fornicator”, “lest”, note
that if we do not “look carefully” (see v.15), there will be the third “lest”.
“Fornicator” has two meanings: 1) physical fornication, namely, the sexual
behaviors outside of marriage (1Cor. 6:18); 2) spiritual fornication, namely,
profanity that is mentioned below and worship of idols (see Rev. 2:15, 20; Eph.
“Profane person like Esau”, “profane” it is opposite to holiness (v.14). “Profane”: love the world and things in the world (1John 2:15).
“Who for one morsel of food sold his birthright”, it is recorded in the Book of Genesis (25:29-34); “his birthright”: the right of the first-born, including double inheritances (Deut. 21:17), being the family priest and the eldest one among the brothers (1Sam. 20:29).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1John 2:15). He who loves the world cannot please the God.
2) “Profanity” is just like “one morsel of food”. Once it is tasted, it is gone. Any earthly enjoyment cannot be compared with the coming blessings of Christians.
Heb. 12:17 “For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.”
YLT: “for ye know that also afterwards, wishing to inherit the blessing, he was disapproved of, for a place of reformation he found not, though with tears having sought it.”
Meaning of Words: “rejected”: disapprove, repudiate; “found”: seek, search; “place”: space, room, chance; “repentance”: a change of heart;
Literal Meaning: “inherit blessing”: the blessing of the first-born; “was rejected”, it was not that Isaac did not bless Esau (see Gen. 27:39-40), but Isaac could not transfer the blessing given to Jacob to Esau (Gen. 27:35). “Repentance”, it was not making Isaac repent, but means that Esau could not change that even though he repented with tears ---- the lost birthright could not be found again.
Heb. 12:18 “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,”
YLT: “For ye came not near to the mount touched and scorched with fire, and to blackness, and darkness, and tempest,”
Meaning of Words: “come”: approach, draw near; “be touched”: handle, feel after; “blackness”: gloom; “darkness”: obscurity, shadiness;
Meaning: “for you have not come to the mountain that may be touched”, “the mountain that
may be touched” refers to the
“And that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest”, “fire”, for at that time Jehovah came upon the mountain in fire and the whole mountain covered with darkness (Ex. 19:18), which showed that God is a consuming fire (see v.29), burning all that is not holy; “blackness”, the thick clouds that made the whole mount black (Deut. 4:11); “darkness”: thick darkness (Deut. 4:11; 5:22). It is revealed in the Scriptures that God dwells in the thick darkness (1King 8:12); “tempest”, the storm with thunder and lightning (Ex. 19:16; 20:18), which shows that no one can stand before God.
Heb. 12:19 “and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.”
YLT: “and a sound of a trumpet, and a voice of sayings, which those having heard did entreat that a word might not be added to them,”
Meaning of Words: “beg”: entreat, reject, make excuse; “anymore”: increase, give more, lay unto;
Literal Meaning: “the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words”, at that time, when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice (Ex. 19:19); “the sound of the trumpet” showed that God would come (Ex. 19:16, 20); “the voice of words” means the voice that God spoke to the Israelites (Deut. 4:12).
“So that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore”, it is recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy (5:23-26). At that time, all the heads of the tribes and elders came near to Moses and said, “if we hear the voice of Jehovah our God any more, we shall die”.
Heb. 12:20 “(For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow."”
YLT: “for they were not bearing that which is commanded, `And if a beast may touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or with an arrow shot through,'”
Meaning of Words: “endure”: bear; “touch”: handle;
Literal Meaning: “for they could not endure what was commanded”, “could not endure”: unable to bear…; “what was commanded”: the requirements in the law;
“And if so much as a beast touched the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow”, no matter human beings or beasts, anyone who draws near to the mountain, he or it shall not live (Ex. 19:12-13).
Heb. 12:21 “And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling." )”
YLT: “and, (so terrible was the sight,) Moses said, `I am fearful exceedingly, and trembling.'”
Meaning of Words: “terrifying”: extremely frightening, awesome, formidable; “afraid”: sore afraid, exceedingly fear; “trembling”: terrified;
Meaning: “and so terrifying was the sight that Moses
said”, “terrifying”, it indicated that the sight the
“That Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling””, “afraid”: it is the internal feeling; “trembling”: it is the external attitude;
Heb. 12:22 “But you have come to
“But, ye came to
Meaning: “but you have come to
“And to the city of the living God, the heavenly
“To an innumerable company of angels”, “angels” are ministering spirits (see 1:14); “an innumerable company of angels” and “the church of the firstborn” (see v.23) constitute the two groups in the heaven.
Heb. 12:23 “to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,”
YLT: “to the company and assembly of the first-born in heaven enrolled, and to God the judge of all, and to spirits of righteous men made perfect,”
Meaning of Words: “register”: enroll, write off; “the firstborn”: firstbegotten; “church”: a calling-out, assembly; “general assembly”: the assembly of all; “made perfect”: be fulfilled, consummate;
Literal Meaning: “to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven”, “who are registered in heaven”: those whose names are listed in the book of life (Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 20:15; 21:27; Ps. 69:28; Luke 10:20); “the firstborn”: they have enjoyed the right of the firstborn, for they are united with Christ “who is the firstborn of all”. It includes all those who have faith in the New Testament (see 11:39-40); “the church of the firstborn”: the gathering of those who are called by God (including the Old Testament and the New Testament).
“The general assembly”, it means the great gathering in feasts. Here it refers to the grand gathering in the heaven of both the innumerable angels and the church of the firstborn. Here, the innumerable angels (see v.22) and the church of the firstborn, as two groups in the heavenly gathering, are the second group.
“To God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect”, “God the Judge of all”: He is the righteous God (see Gen. 18:25; Acts 17:31); “to the spirits of just men made perfect”, the spirits of saints who are justified by God; here, God the Judge of all and the spirits of just men made perfect are the third group, emphasizing that “righteousness” abides in the eternal world forever (see 2Pet. 3:13).
Heb. 12:24 “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
YLT: “and to a mediator of a new covenant -- Jesus, and to blood of sprinkling, speaking better things than that of Abel!”
Meaning of Words: “better”: excellent, stronger;
Literal Meaning: “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling”, “the Mediator of the new covenant”, it means that the lamb who is slain is always the mediator for us before God in the heaven (see 7:24-25; Rev. 5:6); “the blood of sprinkling”, it indicates that the blood that Jesus shed had the eternal effect of redemption (see 9:12; Rev. 5:9). Here, Jesus and His blood are the fourth group, emphasizing that both of them always “speak” for us before God.
“That speaks better things than that of Abel”, the blood of Abel was the voice cried to God from the ground to revenge according to the righteousness of God and send punishment to the one who killed him (Gen. 4:8-11). The blood of the Lord Jesus is the voice that God shall give favor to men to remit. Besides, His blood does not condemn us. Therefore, it speaks of better things.
Heb. 12:25 “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,”
YLT: “See, may ye not refuse him who is speaking, for if those did not escape who refused him who upon earth was divinely speaking -- much less we who do turn away from him who from heaven,”
Meaning of Words: “see”: take care, watch; “refuse”: reject, beg off, avoid; “escape”: flee away, run away, vanish; “turn away”: disappear, vanish away; “speak”: preach, utter;
Literal Meaning: “see that you do not refuse Him who speaks”, “Him who speaks” refers to God (see v.5). He is a God that speaks (see 1:1-2).
“For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth”, “who spoke on earth”, it refers to the commands of God in the Old Testament preached by the angels and men (see 2:2).
“Much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven”, “Him who speaks from heaven”: the direct commands of the Holy Trinity in the New Testament;
Heb. 12:26 “whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven."”
YLT: “whose voice the earth shook then, and now hath he promised, saying, `Yet once -- I shake not only the earth, but also the heaven;'”
Meaning of Words: “then”: at that time; “shake”: stir up, wave; “only”: merely, alone;
Meaning: “whose voice then shook the earth”, “then”:
when the law of the Old Testament was given on the
“But now He has promised, saying”, the following words are quoted from the Book of Haggai (2:6, 21).
“Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven”, “shake” is for the purpose of moving away (see v.27). The Lord Jesus prophesizes that the powers of heavens in the last days shall be shaken (Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:25; Luke 21:26), and finally “the first earth and the first earth” would pass away (Rev. 21:1).
Heb. 12:27 “Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
YLT: “and this -- `Yet once' -- doth make evident the removal of the things shaken, as of things having been made, that the things not shaken may remain;”
Meaning of Words: “indicate”: show, express; “remain”: stay, abide, keep;
Literal Meaning: “now this, ‘Yet once more’, indicates … that are being shaken”, “being shaken”: the heaven and the earth shall be shaken (see v.26);
“The removal of those things … as of things that are made”, “things that are made”, all the elements of the old creation in the heaven and on the earth; “the removal”: be destroyed and dissolves and burnt with heat (see 1:11-12; 2Pet. 3:10);
“That the things which cannot be shaken may remain”, “things which cannot be shaken” refer to the new heaven the new earth and righteousness that dwells therein (see 2Pet. 3:13).
Heb. 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
YLT: “wherefore, a kingdom that cannot be shaken receiving, may we have grace, through which we may serve God well-pleasingly, with reverence and religious fear;”
Meaning of Words: “not be shaken”: unshakeable, immovable; “reverence”: bashfulness, awe, shamefacedness; “godly fear”: adoration; “serve”: minister, worship;
Meaning: “therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom
which cannot be shaken”, “a kingdom which cannot be shaken” refers to the
“Let us have grace”: let us possess and keep such grace of kingdom.
“By which we may serve God acceptably with
reverence and godly fear”, “God acceptably”: according to the will of God (see
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken”, we cannot bring shakable things into this kingdom. Therefore, today we have to examine ourselves to see how many moveable things there are in us and deal with them as soon as possible.
2) “We may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”, it is the way to value and possess the grace. Having grace is not manifested in oral praise, but also in the godly life and spirit of serving God.
Heb. 12:29 “For our God is a consuming fire.”
YLT: “for also our God a consuming fire.”
Meaning of Words: “consuming”: consume utterly, burn up;
Literal Meaning: “our God”, it carries the following meanings: 1) He is the God whom we believe; 2) God belongs to us; 3) God is the God who feeds and takes cares of us, and has deep expectations and demands on us.
“God is a consuming fire”, there are double aspects of meaning: 1) the judgment of God is terrible and fearful. 2) All that goes against God’s holy nature will be consumed by Him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Be not deceived: God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7). If we refuse Him who speaks from heaven (see v.25), we will surely be wounded by the consuming fire.
2) In the last days, all the elements shall be burnt with heat and be dissolved. Therefore, we ought to be in holy conversation and godliness and seek things that dwell forever (see 2Pet. 3:10-13).
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Race That is Set before Us
A. A cloud of witnesses (see Chap.11) encompass us (v.1) ---- encouraging us to run ahead like the cheering squads;
B. Many weights encumber us (v.1) ---- making us run slow;
C. Many wickedness entangles (v.1) ---- making our feet stumbled;
D. Weariness encounters us (v.3) ---- making us give up;
E. Winners encourages us (v.2) ---- renewing us strength;
The Path of Christians
A. The example of the Savior ---- looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (v.1-3);
B. The experience of the children ---- the chastening of the fathers(v.4-6);
C. The endurance of the saints ---- that we may be partakers of His holiness (v.7-11);
D. The entreaty of the servants ---- pursuit with diligence (v.12-17);
E. The encouragement of the shepherds ---- we
have come to
Reasons Why Believers Have to Endure Chastening
A. For chastening is according to the teachings of the Scriptures (v.5);
B. For whom the LORD loves He chastens (v.6);
C. For what we endure is the chastening of God (v.7);
D. For chastening is for the partakers (v.8);
E. For chastening makes us be partakers of His holiness (v.9-10);
F. For chastening yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (v.11);
Comparisons between Two Sorts of Discipline
A. The chastening of the human fathers:
1. We respect him (v
2. It is only for “a few” days (v
3. Chasten as seemed best to the children (v.10b);
B. The chastening of the Father of spirits:
1. we shall be in subjection to Him and live (v.9b);
2. “Afterward” (v.11) ---- influence the future;
3. For our profit (v.10b);
Profits of Being Chastened by God
A. Live because of subjection (v.9);
B. Be partakers of His holiness (v.10);
C. Yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness (v.11);
The Great Responsibilities and Dangers for Believers in the New Testament
A. Great responsibilities:
1. To men ---- pursue peace with all people (v
2. To oneself ---- pursue holiness (v.14b);
3. To God ---- let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (v.28);
B. Great danger:
1. Lest anyone fall short of the grace of God
2. Lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble (v.15b);
3. Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau (v.16);
4. Lest be judged by the fire of God (v.25, 29);
The Old Testament Which is Fearful and the New Testament Which is Worthy of Boast
A. Seven fearful conditions that Christians have never experienced:
1. The mountain can be touched (v.18);
2. Be surrounded by fire (v.18);
3. Be covered by thick clouds (v.18);
4. Be wrapped in darkness (v.18);
5. Be in the tempest (v.18);
6. Be warned by the sound of trumpet (v.19);
7. The voice of words, that was command men could not endure (v.19-20);
B. Eight conditions worthy of boast that Christians are able to experience:
1. Come to
2. Come to the city of the living
God, the heavenly
3. To an innumerable company of angels (v.22);
4. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven (v.23);
5. To God Judge of all (v.23);
6. To the spirits of just men made perfect (v.23);
7. To Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant (v.24);
8. To the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that to Abel (v.24);
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou