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Hebrews Chapter Twelve


Hebrews 12

The epistle now enters on the practical exhortation, that flow from its doctrinal instruction, with reference to the dangers peculiar to the Hebrew Christians-instruction suited throughout to inspire them with courage. Surrounded with a cloud of witnesses like these of chapter 11, who all declared the advantages of a life of faith in promises still unfulfilled, they ought to feel themselves impelled to follow their steps, running with patience the race set before them, and above all looking away from every [1] to Jesus, who had run the whole career of faith, sustained by the joy that was set before Him, and, having reached the goal, had taken His seat in glory at the right hand of God.

This passage presents the Lord, not as He who bestows faith, but as He who has Himself run the whole career of faith. Others had traveled a part of the road, had surmounted some difficulties; the obedience and the perseverance of the Lord had been subjected to every trial of which human nature is susceptible. Men, the adversary, the being forsaken of God, everything was against Him. His disciples flee when He is in danger, His intimate friend betrays Him; He looks for some one to have compassion on Him and finds no one. The fathers (of whom we read in the previous chapter) trusted in God and were delivered, but as for Jesus. He was a worm, and no man;His throat was dry with crying. His love for us, His obedience to His Father, surmounted all. He carries off the victory by submission, and takes His seat in a glory exalted in proportion to the greatness of His abasement and obedience, the only just reward for having perfectly glorified God where He had been dishonoured by sin. The joy and the rewards that are set before us are never the motives of the walk of faith-we know this well with regard to Christ, but it is not the less true in our own case-they are the encouragement of those who walk in it.

Jesus, then, who has attained the glory due to Him becomes an example to us in the sufferings through which He passed in attaining it; therefore we are neither to lose courage nor to grow weary. We have not yet, like Him, lost our lives in order to glorify God and to serve Him. The way in which the apostle engages them to disentangle themselves from every hindrance, whether sin or difficulty, is remarkable; as though they had nothing to do but to cast them off as useless weights. And in fact, when we look at Jesus, nothing is easier; when we are not looking at Him, nothing more impossible.

There are two things to be cast off: every weight, and the sin that would entangle our feet (for he speaks of one who is running in the race). The flesh, the human heart, is occupied with cares and difficulties; and the more we think of them, the more we are burdened by them. It is enticed by the object of its desires, it does not free itself from them. The conflict is with a heart that loves the thing against which we strive; we do not separate ourselves from it in thought. When looking at Jesus, the new man is active; there is a new object, which unburdens and detaches us from every other by means of a new creation which has its place in a new nature: and in Jesus Himself, to whom we look, there is a positive power which sets us free. It is by casting it all off in an absolute way that the thing is easy-by looking at that which fills the heart with other things, and occupies it in a different sphere, where a new object and a new nature act upon each other; and in that object there is a positive power which absorbs the heart and shuts out all objects that act merely on the old nature. What is felt to be a weight is easily cast off. Everything is judged of by its bearing on the object we aim at. If I run in a race and all my thought is the prize, a bag of gold is readily cast away. It is a weight. But we must look to Jesus. Only in Him can we cast off every hindrance easily and without reservation. We cannot combat sin by the flesh.

But there is another class of trials that come from without: they are not to be cast off, they must be borne. Christ, as we have seen, went through them. We have not like Him resisted even to the shedding of our blood rather than fail in faithfulness and obedience. Now God acts in these trials as a father. He chastises us. They come perhaps, as in the case of Job, from the enemy, but the hand and the wisdom of God are in them. He chastises those whom He loves. We must therefore neither despise the chastisement nor be discouraged by it. We must not despise it, for He does not chastise without a motive or a cause (moreover, it is God who does it); nor must we be discouraged, for He does it in love.

If we lose our life for the testimony of the Lord and in resisting sin, the warfare is ended; and this is not chastisement, but the glory of suffering with Christ. Death in this case is the negation of sin. He who has died is free from sin; he who has suffered in the flesh has done with sin. But up to that point, the flesh in practice (for we have a right to reckon ourselves dead) is not yet destroyed; and God knows how to unite the manifestation of the faithfulness of the new man, who suffers for the Lord, with the discipline by which the flesh is mortified. For example, Paul's thorn in the flesh united these two things. It was painful to him in the exercise of his ministry, for it was something that tended to make him contemptible when preaching, and this he endured (for the Lord's sake), but at the same time it kept his flesh in check.

Verse 9. Now we are subject to our natural parents who discipline us after their own will: how much more then to the Father of spirits, [2] who makes us partakers of His own holiness! Observe here the grace that is appealed to. We have seen how much the Hebrews needed warning-their tendency was to fail in the career of faith. The means of preventing this is doubtless not to spare warning, but yet to bring the soul fully into connection with grace. This alone can give strength and courage through confidence in God.

We are not come to Mount Sinai, to the law which makes demands on us, but to Sion, where God manifested His power in re-establishing Israel by His grace in the person of the elect king, when, as to the responsibility of the people, all was entirely lost, all relationship with God impossible on that footing, for the ark was lost; there was no longer a mercy-seat, no longer a throne of God among the people. Ichabod was written on Israel.

Therefore in speaking of holiness he says, God is active in love towards you, even in your very sufferings. It is He who has not only given free access to Himself, by the blood and by the presence of Christ in heaven for us, but who is continually occupied with all the details of your life; whose hand is in all your trials, who thinks unceasingly about you, in order to make you partakers of His holiness. This is not to require holiness on our part-necessary as it must ever be-it is in order to make us partakers of His own holiness. What immense and perfect grace! What a means! It is the means by which to enjoy God Himself perfectly.

Verse 11. God does not expect us to find these exercises of soul pleasant at the moment (they would not produce their effect if they were so): but afterwards, the will being broken, they produce the peaceable fruits of righteousness. The pride of man is brought down when he is obliged to submit to that which is contrary to his will. God also takes a larger (ever precious) place in his thoughts and in his life.

Verse 12. On the principle then of grace, the Hebrews are exhorted to encourage themselves in the path of faith, and to watch against the buddings of sin among them, whether in yielding to the desires of the flesh, or in giving up christian privileges for something of the world. They were to walk so courageously that their evident joy and blessing (which is always a distinct testimony and one that triumphs over the enemy) should make the weak feel that it was their own assured portion also; and thus strength and healing would be administered to them instead of discouragement. The path of godliness as to circumstances was to be made easy, a beaten path to weak and lame souls; and they would feel more than stronger souls the comfort and value of such a path.

Grace, we have already said, is the motive given for this walk; but grace is here presented in a form that requires to be considered a little in detail.

We are not come, it says, to Mount Sinai. There the terrors of the majesty of God kept man at a distance. No one was to approach Him. Even Moses feared and trembled at the presence of Jehovah. This is not where the Christian is brought but, in contrast with such relationships as these with God, the whole millennial state in all its parts is developed; according however to the way in which these different parts are now known as things hoped for. We belong to it all; but evidently these things are not yet established. Let us name them: Sion; the heavenly Jerusalem; the angels and general assembly; the Church of the firstborn, whose names are inscribed in heaven; God the Judge of all; the spirits of the just made perfect; Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and finally, the blood of sprinkling which speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Sion we have,spoken of as a principle. It is the intervention of sovereign grace (in the king) after the ruin, and in the midst of theruin, of Israel, re-establishing the people according to the counsels of God in glory, and their relationships with God Himself. It is the rest of God on the earth, the seat of the Messiah's royal power. But, as we know, the extent of the earth is far from being the limits of the Lord's inheritance. Sion on earth is Jehovah's rest; it is not the city of the living God-the heavenly Jerusalem is that, the heavenly capital, so to speak of His kingdom, the city that has foundations, whose founder and builder is God Himself.

Having named Sion below, the author turns naturally to Jerusalem above; but this carries him into heaven, and he finds himself with all the people of God, in the midst of a multitude of angels, the great universal assembly [3] of the invisible world. There is however one peculiar object on which his eye rests in this marvelous and heavenly scene. It is the assembly of the firstborn whose names are inscribed in heaven. They were not born there, not indigenous like the angels, whom God preserved from falling. They are the objects of the counsels of God. It is not merely that they reach heaven: they are the glorious heirs and firstborn of God, according to His eternal counsels, in accordance with which they are registered in heaven. The assembly composed of the objects of grace, now called in Christ, belongs to heaven by grace. They are not the objects of the promises, who, not having received the fulfillment of the promises on earth, do not fail to enjoy them in heaven. They have the anticipation of no other country or citizenship than heaven. The promises were not addressed to them. They have no place on earth. Heaven is prepared for them by God Himself. Their names are inscribed there by Him. It is the highest place in heaven above the dealings of God in government, promise, and law on the earth. This leads the picture of glory on to God Himself. But (having, reached the highest point, that which is most excellent in grace) He is seen under another character, namely, as the Judge of all, as looking down from on high to judge all that is below. This introduces another class of these blessed inhabitants of the heavenly glory: those whom the righteous Judge owned as His before the heavenly assembly was revealed, the spirits of the just arrived at perfection. They had finished their course, they had overcome in conflict, they were waiting only for glory. They had been connected with the dealings of God on the earth, but-faithful before the time for its blessing was come-they had their rest and their portion in heaven.

It was the purpose of God nevertheless to bless the earth. He could not do so according to man's responsibility: His people even were but as grass. He would therefore establish a new covenant with Israel a covenant of pardon, and according to which He would write the law in the hearts of His people. The Mediator of this covenant had already appeared and had done all that was required for its establishment. The saints among the Hebrews were come to the Mediator of the new covenant: blessing was thus prepared for the earth and secured to it.

Finally, the blood of Christ had been shed on earth, as that of Abel by Cain; but, instead of crying from the earth for vengeance, so that Cain became a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth (a striking type of the Jew, guilty of the death of Christ), it is grace that speaks; and the shed blood cries to obtain pardon and peace for those who shed it.

It will be observed that although speaking of the different paths of millennial blessing, with its foundations, all is given according to the present condition of things, before the coming of that time of blessing from God. We are in it as to our relationships; but the spirits of the just men of the Old Testament only are here spoken of, and only the Mediator of this new covenant: the covenant itself is not established. The blood cries, but the answer in earthly blessing has not yet come. This is easily understood. It is exactly according to the existing state of things, and even throws considerable light on the position of the Hebrew Christians and on the doctrine of the epistle. The important thing for them was, that they should not turn away from Him who spoke from heaven. It was with Him they had to do. We have seen them connected with all that went before, with the Lord's testimony on earth; but in fact they had to do at that time with the Lord Himself as speaking from heaven. His voice then shook the earth; but now, speaking with the authority of grace and from heaven, He announced the dissolution of everything which the flesh could lean upon, or on which the creature could rest its hopes.

All that could be shaken should he dissolved. How much more fatal to turn away from Him that speaketh now, than from the commandments even of Sinai! This shaking of all things (whether here or in the analogous passage in 2 Peter) evidently goes beyond Judaism, but has a peculiar application to it. Judaism was the system and the frame of the relationships of God with men on earth according to the principle of responsibility on their part. All this was of the first creation, but its springs were poisoned; heaven, the seat of the enemy's power, perverted and corrupted; the heart of man on earth was corrupt and rebellious. God will shake and change all things. The result will be a new creation in which righteousness shall dwell.

Meanwhile the first fruits of this new Creation were being formed; and in Christianity God was forming the heavenly part of the kingdom that cannot be moved; and Judaism-the centre of the earthly system and of human responsibility-was passing away. The apostle therefore announces the shaking of all things-that everything which exists as the present creation shall be set aside. With regard to the present fact he says only, " we receive a kingdom that cannot be moved;" and calls us to serve God with true piety, because our God is a consuming fire; not--as people say-God out of Christ, but our God. This is His character in holy majesty and in righteous judgment of evil.


[1] It is not insensibility to them, but, when they are felt to be there, looking from them to Christ. This is the secret of faith. "Be careful for nothing" need not have been said, if nothing had been there calculated to awaken care. Abraham considered not his body now dead.

[2] "Father of spirits" is simply in contrast with "fathers of our flesh."

[3] The word here translated "assembly" was that of all the states of Greece; that of the "firstborn" is the word for the assembly of citizens of any particular state.

── John DarbySynopsis of Hebrews


Hebrews 12

Chapter Contents

An exhortation to be constant and persevere, The example of Christ is set forth, and the gracious design of God in all the sufferings believers endured. (1-11) Peace and holiness are recommended, with cautions against despising spiritual blessings. (12-17) The New Testament dispensation shown to be much more excellent than the Old. (18-29)

Commentary on Hebrews 12:1-11

(Read Hebrews 12:1-11)

The persevering obedience of faith in Christ, was the race set before the Hebrews, wherein they must either win the crown of glory, or have everlasting misery for their portion; and it is set before us. By the sin that does so easily beset us, understand that sin to which we are most prone, or to which we are most exposed, from habit, age, or circumstances. This is a most important exhortation; for while a man's darling sin, be it what it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him from running the Christian race, as it takes from him every motive for running, and gives power to every discouragement. When weary and faint in their minds, let them recollect that the holy Jesus suffered, to save them from eternal misery. By stedfastly looking to Jesus, their thoughts would strengthen holy affections, and keep under their carnal desires. Let us then frequently consider him. What are our little trials to his agonies, or even to our deserts? What are they to the sufferings of many others? There is a proneness in believers to grow weary, and to faint under trials and afflictions; this is from the imperfection of grace and the remains of corruption. Christians should not faint under their trials. Though their enemies and persecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet they are Divine chastisements; their heavenly Father has his hand in all, and his wise end to answer by all. They must not make light of afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they are the hand and rod of God, and are his rebukes for sin. They must not despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bear up with faith and patience. God may let others alone in their sins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this he acts as becomes a father. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Our whole life here is a state of childhood, and imperfect as to spiritual things; therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fully reconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience, and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.

Commentary on Hebrews 12:12-17

(Read Hebrews 12:12-17)

A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian's hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but against this he must strive, that he may better run his spiritual race and course. Faith and patience enable believers to follow peace and holiness, as a man follows his calling constantly, diligently, and with pleasure. Peace with men, of all sects and parties, will be favourable to our pursuit of holiness. But peace and holiness go together; there can be not right peace without holiness. Where persons fail of having the true grace of God, corruption will prevail and break forth; beware lest any unmortified lust in the heart, which seems to be dead, should spring up, to trouble and disturb the whole body. Falling away from Christ is the fruit of preferring the delights of the flesh, to the blessing of God, and the heavenly inheritance, as Esau did. But sinners will not always have such mean thoughts of the Divine blessing and inheritance as they now have. It agrees with the profane man's disposition, to desire the blessing, yet to despise the means whereby the blessing is to be gained. But God will neither sever the means from the blessing, nor join the blessing with the satisfying of man's lusts. God's mercy and blessing were never sought carefully and not obtained.

Commentary on Hebrews 12:18-29

(Read Hebrews 12:18-29)

Mount Sinai, on which the Jewish church state was formed, was a mount such as might be touched, though forbidden to be so, a place that could be felt; so the Mosaic dispensation was much in outward and earthly things. The gospel state is kind and condescending, suited to our weak frame. Under the gospel all may come with boldness to God's presence. But the most holy must despair, if judged by the holy law given from Sinai, without a Saviour. The gospel church is called Mount Zion; there believers have clearer views of heaven, and more heavenly tempers of soul. All the children of God are heirs, and every one has the privileges of the first-born. Let a soul be supposed to join that glorious assembly and church above, that is yet unacquainted with God, still carnally-minded, loving this present world and state of things, looking back to it with a lingering eye, full of pride and guile, filled with lusts; such a soul would seem to have mistaken its way, place, state, and company. It would be uneasy to itself and all about it. Christ is the Mediator of this new covenant, between God and man, to bring them together in this covenant; to keep them together; to plead with God for us, and to plead with us for God; and at length to bring God and his people together in heaven. This covenant is made firm by the blood of Christ sprinkled upon our consciences, as the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled upon the altar and the victim. This blood of Christ speaks in behalf of sinners; it pleads not for vengeance, but for mercy. See then that you refuse not his gracious call and offered salvation. See that you do not refuse Him who speaketh from heaven, with infinite tenderness and love; for how can those escape, who turn from God in unbelief or apostacy, while he so graciously beseeches them to be reconciled, and to receive his everlasting favour! God's dealing with men under the gospel, in a way of grace, assures us, that he will deal with the despisers of the gospel, in a way of judgment. We cannot worship God acceptably, unless we worship him with reverence and godly fear. Only the grace of God enables us to worship God aright. God is the same just and righteous God under the gospel as under the law. The inheritance of believers is secured to them; and all things pertaining to salvation are freely given in answer to prayer. Let us seek for grace, that we may serve God with reverence and godly fear.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Hebrews


Hebrews 12

Verse 1

[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,

Wherefore, being encompassed with a cloud — A great multitude, tending upward with a holy swiftness.

Of witnesses — Of the power of faith.

Let us lay aside every weight — As all who run a race take care to do. Let us throw off whatever weighs us down, or damps the vigour of our Soul.

And the sin which easily besetteth us — As doth the sin of our constitution, the sin of our education, the sin of our profession.

Verse 2

[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 — From all other things.

To Jesus — As the wounded Israelites to the brazen serpent. Our crucified Lord was prefigured by the lifting up of this; our guilt, by the stings of the fiery serpents; and our faith, by their looking up to the miraculous remedy.

The author and finisher of our faith — Who begins it in us, carries it on, and perfects it.

Who for the joy that was set before him — Patiently and willingly endured the cross, with all the pains annexed thereto.

And is set down — Where there is fulness of joy.

Verse 3

[3] For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Consider — Draw the comparison and think. The Lord bore all this; and shall his servants bear nothing? Him that endured such contradiction from sinners - Such enmity and opposition of every kind Lest ye be weary - Dull and languid, and so actually faint in your course.

Verse 4

[4] Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Unto blood — Unto wounds and death.

Verse 5

[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 yet ye seem already to have forgotten the exhortation - Wherein God speaketh to you with the utmost tenderness.

Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord — Do not slight or make little of it; do not impute any affliction to chance or second causes but see and revere the hand of God in it.

Neither faint when thou art rebuked of him — But endure it patiently and fruitfully. Proverbs 3:11, etc.

Verse 6

[6] For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

For — All springs from love; therefore neither despise nor faint.

Verse 7

[7] If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Whom his father chasteneth not — When he offends.

Verse 8

[8] But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Of which all sons are partakers - More or less.

Verse 9

[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?

And we reverenced them — We neither despised nor fainted under their correction.

Shall we not much rather — Submit with reverence and meekness To the Father of spirits - That we may live with him for ever. Perhaps these expressions, fathers of our flesh, and Father of spirits, intimate that our earthly fathers are only the parents of our bodies, our souls not being originally derived from them, but all created by the immediate power of God; perhaps, at the beginning of the world.

Verse 10

[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.

For they verily for a few days — How few are even all our day on earth! Chastened us as they thought good - Though frequently they erred therein, by too much either of indulgence or severity. But he always, unquestionably, for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness - That is, of himself and his glorious image.

Verse 11

[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.

Now all chastening — Whether from our earthly or heavenly Father, Is for the present grievous, yet it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness - Holiness and happiness.

To them that are exercised thereby — That receive this exercise as from God, and improve it according to his will.

Verse 12

[12] Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

Wherefore lift up the hands — Whether your own or your brethren's.

That hang down — Unable to continue the combat.

And the feeble knees — Unable to continue the race. Isaiah 35:3.

Verse 13

[13] And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

And make straight paths both for your own and for their feet - Remove every hinderance, every offence.

That the lame — They who are weak, scarce able to walk.

Be not turned out of the way — Of faith and holiness.

Verse 14

[14] Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Follow peace with all men — This second branch of the exhortation concerns our neighbours; the third, God.

And holiness — The not following after all holiness, is the direct way to fall into sin of every kind.

Verse 15

[15] Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Looking diligently, lest any one — If he do not lift up the hands that hang down.

Fall from the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness — Of envy, anger, suspicion.

Springing up — Destroy the sweet peace; lest any, not following after holiness, fall into fornication or profaneness. In general, any corruption, either in doctrine or practice, is a root of bitterness, and may pollute many.

Verse 16

[16] Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

Esau was profane for so slighting the blessing which went along with the birth-right.

Verse 17

[17] For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

He was rejected — He could not obtain it.

For he found no place for repentance — There was no room for any such repentance as would regain what he had lost.

Though he sought it — The blessing of the birth-right.

Diligently with tears — He sought too late. Let us use the present time.

Verse 18

[18] For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

For — A strong reason this why they ought the more to regard the whole exhortation drawn from the priesthood of Christ: because both salvation and vengeance are now nearer at hand.

Ye are not come to the mountain that could be touched — That was of an earthy, material nature.

Verse 19

[19] And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

The sound of a trumpet — Formed, without doubt, by the ministry of angels, and preparatory to the words, that is, the Ten Commandments, which were uttered with a loud voice, Deuteronomy 5:22.

Verse 20

[20] (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

For they could not bear — The terror which seized them, when they heard those words proclaimed, If even a beast, etc. Exodus 19:12, etc.

Verse 21

[21] And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

Even Moses - Though admitted to so near an intercourse with God, who "spake to him as a man speaketh to his friend." At other times he acted as a mediator between God and the people. But while the ten words were pronounced, he stood as one of the hearers, Exodus 19:25; Exodus 20:19.

Verse 22

[22] But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

But ye — Who believe in Christ.

Are come — The apostle does not here speak of their coming to the church militant, but of that glorious privilege of New Testament believers, their communion with the church triumphant. But this is far more apparent to the eyes of celestial spirits than to ours which are yet veiled. St. Paul here shows an excellent knowledge of the heavenly economy, worthy of him who had been caught up into the third heaven.

To mount Sion — A spiritual mountain.

To the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem — All these glorious titles belong to the New Testament church.

And to an innumerable company — Including all that are afterwards mentioned.

Verse 23

[23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

To the general assembly — The word properly signifies a stated convention on some festival occasion.

And church — The whole body of true believers, whether on earth or in paradise. Of the first-born-The first-born of Israel were enrolled by Moses; but these are enrolled in heaven, as citizens there. It is observable, that in this beautiful gradation, these first-born are placed nearer to God than the angels. See James 1:18.

And to God the Judge of all — Propitious to you, adverse to your enemies.

And to the spirits — The separate souls.

Of just men — It seems to mean, of New Testament believers. The number of these, being not yet large, is mentioned distinct from the innumerable company of just men whom their Judge hath acquitted. These are now made perfect in an higher sense than any who are still alive. Accordingly, St. Paul, while yet on earth, denies that he was thus made perfect, Philippians 3:12.

Verse 24

[24] And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

To Jesus, the mediator — Through whom they had been perfected.

And to the blood of sprinkling — To all the virtue of his precious blood shed for you, whereby ye are sprinkled from an evil conscience. This blood of sprinkling was the foundation of our Lord's mediatorial office. Here the gradation is at the highest point.

Which speaketh better things than that of Abel — Which cried for vengeance.

Verse 25

[25] See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

Refuse not — By unbelief.

Him that speaketh — And whose speaking even now is a prelude to the final scene. The same voice which spake both by the law and in the gospel, when heard from heaven, will shake heaven and earth.

For if they escaped not — His vengeance.

Much more shall not we — Those of us who turn from him that speaketh from heaven - That is, who came from heaven to speak to us.

Verse 26

[26] Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

Whose voice then shook the earth — When he spoke from mount Sinai.

But now — With regard to his next speaking.

He hath promised — It is a joyful promise to the saints, though dreadful to the wicked.

Yet once more I will shake, not only the earth, but also the heaven — These words may refer in a lower sense to the dissolution of the Jewish church and state; but in their full sense they undoubtedly look much farther, even to the end of all things. This universal shaking began at the first coming of Christ. It will be consummated at his second coming. Haggai 2:6.

Verse 27

[27] And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

The things which are shaken — Namely, heaven and earth.

As being made — And consequently liable to change.

That the things which are not shaken may remain — Even "the new heavens and the new earth," Revelation 21:1.

Verse 28

[28] Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Therefore let us, receiving — By willing and joyful faith.

A kingdom — More glorious than the present heaven and earth.

Hold fast the grace, whereby we may serve God — In every thought, word, and work.

With reverence — Literally, with shame. Arising from a deep consciousness of our own unworthiness.

And godly fear — A tender, jealous fear of offending, arising from a sense of the gracious majesty of God.

Verse 29

[29] For our God is a consuming fire.

For our God is a consuming fire — in the strictness of his justice, and purity of his holiness.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Hebrews


Heb. 12:10~11

A new worker’s first experience in painting a car held many surprises for him. One of those took place after the car’s fresh coat of new paint was totally dry. The novice looked with favor on the finished product, only to see his greatly experienced trainer come by and begin to sand the paint with sandpaper. The apprentice was shocked, even angered at what the other man was doing to the finish, so he began to complain. But the supervisor continued to sand. After he had sanded the entire car he took out his buffer and, using a special compound, began to buff the places he had sanded. The result left the student painter shocked, but pleased. For, you see, the sanding made all the paint even and clean, and the buffing brought out a new shine—so bright when compared with the previous shine that it hardly looked like the same color. What appeared to be destroying the paint was in fact bringing out its deepest shine.

Paul tells us in this passage that God’s discipline may not be pleasant, but its aim is to brighten our polish and reveal the shine of our righteousness.


Chapter 12. Hope with Perseverance

Feeble Arms
Weak Knees

I. Run the Race Ahead

  1. Throw Off Burdens
  2. With Perseverance
  3. Fix Eyes on Jesus

II. Benefits of Receiving Disciplines

  1. Share in His Holiness
  2. Harvest of Peace
  3. The Fifth Warning

III. A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

  1. At the Foot of Mount Zion
  2. Heavenly Jerusalem
  3. The Sixth Warning

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Running The Race Of Faith (12:1-3)
1. Throughout our study, we have noted the emphasis on being steadfast
   in our faith...
   a. The warning against developing unbelief - He 3:12-15
   b. The need for a faith that endures - He 6:11-12; 10:36-39
   c. In chapter eleven, we were reminded of many who had this kind of 
2. This emphasis continues, with our own life of faith described as a 
   a. In which we are "surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses"
      - He 12:1
      1) The "cloud of witnesses" refers to those mentioned in the 
         previous chapter
      2) I.e., those Old Testament saints like Abraham, Moses, etc.
   b. In what way are they "witnesses"?
      1) While the word can mean "spectator", it is not likely so used
         a) That would suggest they are now "looking down" on us from
         b) But there is no indication the dead know what is going on 
            earth - cf. Ecc 9:5
         c) While they may have "memory" of what happened (Lk 16:28),
            their attention is focused upon their present condition 
            - cf. Re 7:9-17
      2) The word can also refer to those who "bear witness"
         a) By their lives, they have borne witness to the value of 
            faith - cf. He 11:1-40
         b) By their exemplary lives, they encourage us in "Running The
            Race Of Faith"!
[As we seek to follow in the footsteps of others who have successfully
"run the race of faith", there are three things necessary as presented
in our text.  The first one is...]
      1. The runner who seeks to win:
         a. Loses as much weight as possible without hurting
         b. Wears clothing that is light and allows freedom of movement
      2. Excess weight, chafing clothing, etc., can be the difference
         between victory or defeat!
      1. "every weight"
         a. I.e., things which slow down our spiritual progress
            1) Such as "carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life"
               - Lk 21:34-36
            2) Also, "anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy 
               language..." - cf. Co 3:8; 1 Pe 2:1-2; Ja 1:21
         b. Such things make "running the race of faith" difficult, if
            not impossible!
      2. "the sin which so easily ensnares us"
         a. Any and all sins should be laid aside
         b. From the context, I understand "the" sin to be the "sin of 
            1) The epistle was written to encourage faithfulness to 
               Christ and His covenant
            2) We've seen warnings against unbelief - He 3:12-13
            3) When one no longer believes, the race is lost! - He 10:
[With a full assurance of faith, and with every hindrance laid aside, 
we can "run the race of faith" as God intended.  But as we comprehend 
the true nature of the "course" set before us, we can appreciate the 
need for the element of endurance...]
      1. It does not require one quick burst of energy, in which the 
         race is soon over
      2. This "race" requires a sustained effort over a long period of 
      1. Jesus often taught His disciples concerning the need for 
         endurance (i.e., patience)
         a. In the parable of The Sower - Lk 8:12
         a. In preparing the disciples for the Limited Commission - Mt 
         b. In His discourse on the Mount of Olives - Mt 24:13
      2. The writer to the Hebrews had stressed this virtue earlier
         a. In which he appealed to the example of Abraham - He 6:11-15
         b. In which he quoted from Habakkuk - He 10:36-39
      3. We can develop such patience with the help of the Scriptures 
         - Ro 15:4
         a. As we read of the faithfulness of God Who fulfills His 
         b. As we read of the ultimate end of those persevered in 
[Paul wrote that eternal life would be given "to those who by patient
continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" (Ro
2:7). Therefore, endurance is required for successfully running this 
"race of faith"!
Equally important is where we have our mind focused as we run the 
      1. Our focus must be upon the Lord as we "run the race"
         a. We might "glance" at others (cf. He 11)
         b. But we are to "gaze" upon the Lord Savior (Believers' Study
         c. As suggested by this "Formula For Spiritual Success":
            1) If you want to be distressed -- look within
            2) If you want to be defeated -- look back 
            3) If you want to be distracted -- look around
            4) If you want to be dismayed -- look ahead
            5) If you want to be delivered -- look up! - cf. Co 3:1-2
      2. For Jesus is "the author and finisher of our faith"
         - cf. He 2:10
         a. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last,
            the Alpha and the Omega - Re 1:8,11
         b. He has blazed the trail for us...
            1) By having run the race Himself
               a) As a forerunner He has entered the heavenly sanctuary
                  - He 6:19-20
               b) He has opened a "new and living way" for us - He 10:
            2) And now He helps us to finish it ourselves - cf. He 7:25
      3. He succeeded in running the race by looking at "the joy set 
         before Him"
         a. The "joy" that inspired Him was likely that privilege of 
            being seated at God's right hand - cf. Psa 16:9-11; Ac 2:
         b. With the anticipation of such "joy", Jesus...
            1) "endured the cross" (the physical pain)
            2) "despised the shame" (the emotional and spiritual agony)
      -- Just as Jesus looked at the joy set before Him, so we must
         look to Jesus!
      1. We must consider how He endured, not only on the cross, but 
         even before! - He 11:3
         a. How He "endured such hostility from sinners against 
         b. This hostility is something He experienced frequently - cf.
            Lk 4:28-29; 11:15-16,53-54; 16:14
      2. Meditating upon our Lord will prevent us from becoming
         "weary and discouraged in your souls"
         a. We cannot run with endurance if we become weary and
         b. But as we consider the Lord and His example (in itself a
            form of "waiting upon the Lord"), we shall not grow weary
            nor faint - cf. Isa 40:31
1. "Running The Race Of Faith" requires both negative and positive 
   a. Negatively, we must lay aside things which would hinder us
   b. Positively, we must keep our focus on Jesus who has made our 
      salvation possible
2. In both cases, the Word of God (the Bible) is crucial...
   a. For in it we learn what sort of things we must lay aside
   b. For in it we learn about our Lord, what He endured, how His 
      example should inspire us
3. Have you lost your endurance?  Have you grown weary in "Running The
   Race Of Faith"?
   a. Let the Bible help you examine what "baggage" should be left 
   b. Let the Bible help you learn about Jesus whose own example can 
      encourage you to continue on with perseverance!
Remember what we read earlier...
   "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the
   will of God, you may receive the promise..." (Hebrews 10:36)


The Chastening Of The Lord (12:4-11)
1. In encouraging his readers to "run the race that is set before us",
   the author of "The Epistle To The Hebrews" mentions the need for 
   a. Suggesting that the "race" will not always be an easy one - He 
   b. Indeed, our "forerunner" Himself had to endure hostility from 
      sinners and eventually the cross - He 12:2-3
2. They were reminded that they had yet to endure as much as the 
   a. They had "not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin" 
      - He 12:4
   b. Though they had earlier endured "a great struggle with 
      sufferings" - He 10:32-34
   -- Because persecutions were likely to intensify, they needed 
      "endurance" - He 10:35-36
3. To help them in this regard, he reminds them of "The Chastening Of 
   The Lord" by...
   a. Quoting a well-known passage in Proverbs - He 12:5-6
   b. Expounding upon the purpose of the Lord's chastening - He 12:7-11
   -- Understanding how the Lord might use hardships, even 
      persecutions, to "chasten" them for their good, would serve to 
      encourage them to endure
4. What does the word "chasten" mean?
   a. The Greek word is paideia {pahee-di'-ah}
   b. In the KJV, it is variously translated as "chastening, nurture,
      instruction, chastisement"
   c. Thayer defines the word in this way:
      1) "the whole training and education of children (which relates
         to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this 
         purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and 
      2) "whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, esp. by 
         correcting mistakes and curbing passions"
         a) "instruction which aims at increasing virtue"
         b) "acc. to biblical usage chastisement, chastening, (of the 
            evils with which God visits men for their amendment)"
[In this lesson, I wish to focus on "The Chastening Of The Lord", 
using this text in Hebrews as the basis for our study.  To begin, let 
me stress...]
      1. Believing that a loving God would never bring suffering to His
      2. Believing that any suffering is due solely to the influence of
         a. As some have so interpreted the Book of Job
         b. Yet because Satan himself could not do anything unless God
            allowed it, Job's adversity came ultimately from the Lord 
            - cf. Job 42:11
      1. In the Old Testament:
         a. "You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his
            son, so the LORD your God chastens you." - Deu 8:5
         b. "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor 
            detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
            Just as a father the son in whom he delights." - Pro 3:
      2. In the New Testament:
         a. "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
            But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that
            we may not be condemned with the world." - 1 Co 11:31-32
         b. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be 
            zealous and repent." - Re 3:19
         c. And of course, our entire text under consideration - He 12:
            1) Especially verses 7-8
            2) Which state that all of God's children must experience 
[The "fact" of the Lord's chastening cannot be questioned by anyone who
accepts the Bible.  At this point, let's consider "how" God might 
chasten His children...]
      1. There is both "instructive" and "corrective" chastening 
      2. "Instructive" chastening is designed to prevent the need for
         "corrective" chastening
      3. Instructive discipline is seen most often in the form of 
         a. In the form of warnings, admonitions
         b. Thus Jesus could "clean" (purify) His disciples through His
            teaching - Jn 15:2-3
         c. Through His words Jesus sought to chasten the Laodiceans 
            - Re 3:15-19
         -- One way, then, that God chastens us is through His Word!
      4. But instructive discipline can also be in the form of 
         a. In the case of Job...
            1) His suffering was not because he needed correction - cf.
               Job 1:1,8
            2) Yet God allowed it, knowing it would make him better
         b. In the case of the early Christians...
            1) Persecution was looked upon as a form of chastisement 
               - cf. He 12:4-6
            2) Their persecution for the cause of Christ was not 
               because they were wicked
            3) But God allowed it, knowing that it would make them 
               stronger - cf. Ro 5:3-4; Ja 1:2-4; 1 Pe 5:8-10
         -- Another way, then, that God chastens us is by allowing
            persecution for Christ's sake!
      1. When "instructive" discipline is not heeded, "corrective" 
         discipline follows
      2. Note the example of Judah and Israel:
         a. Failure to heed God's word would bring judgment upon Judah 
            - Am 2:4-5
         b. God made repeated efforts to bring Israel back to Him - Am 
         c. Such efforts included famine, drought, pestilence, plague,
            war, earthquakes
            1) These were not miraculous or supernatural events
            2) But acts of nature brought on by the providential 
               working of God!
         d. Some understood the value of such affliction - cf. Psa 119:
      3. What about "corrective" discipline today?
         a. If God would use Providence to encourage Israel to repent 
            before it was too late...
            1) Would not the same God use Providence to chastise His 
               erring children today?
            2) Does He love us any less?
         b. I know of no scriptural reason why God would not use His
            Providence to bring about events in our lives which serve
            1) Wake us up
            2) Cause us to reflect on our lives and our relationship to
            3) Encourage us to repent and turn back to Him if we are 
         c. There are several passages which suggest that God might 
            bring some form of "corrective" discipline if we do not 
            heed His "instructive" discipline...
            1) Some of the Corinthians had already begun to experience
               God's chastisement, which they could have avoided if 
               they had "judged" themselves (by heeding His word) 
               - 1 Co 11:30-32
            2) Jesus spoke of some way in which He would punish some at
               Thyatira that would be evident to all - cf. Re 2:20-23
         -- I therefore have no problem with the idea that God may 
            choose to employ corrective discipline in the form of 
            national and even personal affliction
[My understanding of a loving God chastening His children is tempered 
by my understanding of "why" He does this...]
      1. God found it necessary to bring judgment upon Israel - Lam 1:
      2. It was not something He wanted to do - Lam 3:31-33
      1. To correct us - He 12:9
         a. Our human fathers do so, and we respect them for it
         b. Should we not expect the same from the "Father of spirits",
            and submit to it?
      2. That we may be partakers of His Holiness - He 12:10
         a. Our human fathers do it for what seems best to them
         b. Our heavenly Father does it for a reason that far excels 
            any earthly purpose!
      3.  That we may yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness - He
         a. In the short term, the experience is unpleasant
         b. But in the long term, we benefit by such "training"!
1. Whether "corrective" or "instructive" chastisement, it is always for
   our good!
   a. It may be grievous - He 12:11a
   b. But it will produce "the peaceable fruit of righteousness to 
      those who have been trained by it" - He 12:11b
2. "Corrective" chastisement can mostly be avoided...
   a. By correcting ourselves - cf. 1 Co 11:31-32
   b. Which we can do by taking heed to God's Word - cf. Jn 15:2-3
3. But even when we heed the "instructive" chastisement through the 
   Word of God, we may still experience some form of tribulation...
   a. Such as persecution for the cause of Christ
   b. Brought on by Satan, working in and through the world - 1 Pe 5:
   c. Not because we are wicked, but because we are righteous (like 
   -- Yet God can use even that to provide a form of "instructive" 
      discipline, in which the good are made even better!
May the prayer expressed by Peter help us to endure should we 
experience such tribulation...
   "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal 
   glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while,
   perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  To Him be the
   glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Pe 5:10-11)


The Pursuit Of Peace And Holiness (12:12-17)
1. In "Running The Race Of Faith" (He 12:1-3), we saw the need to...
   a. Lay aside things that would hinder us, especially the sin of 
   b. Have endurance, even as Jesus endured hostility and the cross
   c. Focus our gaze on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, 
      whose own example should encourage us not to become weary and 
2. After reminding his readers of the value of the Lord's chastening, 
   the author of Hebrews returns to the metaphor of "running"...
   a. With a call to "run with style" - He 12:12-13
   b. With instructions to pursue peace and holiness - He 12:14
   c. With a word of caution, appealing to the example of Esau - He 12:
3. One way to describe the Christian "race", then, is "The Pursuit Of 
   Peace And Holiness"
   a. How well are you doing in your pursuit?
   b. Do you know what it is you are to be running after?
   c. Are you aware of the possible pitfalls that can hinder you?
[To encourage excellence in regards to our pursuit, let's take a closer
look at the passage, beginning with...]
      1. We are to "strengthen"...
         a. "the hands which hang down"
         b. "the feeble knees"
         -- A common figure of speech (Job 4:3-4; Isa 35:3), calling us
            to shake off all weariness, to be firm and strong
      2. We are to "make straight paths" for our feet, so that...
         a. "what is lame may not be dislocated"
         b. "but rather be healed"
         -- Another common expression (Isa 40:3-4), encouraging us to
            remove all that would hinder our progress (especially if we
            are weak)
      1. First, we must respond to this call to action
         a. This is something "we" are being called to do
         b. We can't expect God to do it all!
         c. While God will certainly help us, we must make the effort 
            - cf. Ph 2:12-13
      2. This call to action is not limited to strengthening just 
         a. Certainly there is the personal application
         b. But as concerned Christians, we should seek to:
            1) "strengthen the hands...and feeble knees" of others
            2) "make straight paths" for others - cf. 1 Th 5:14
         c. Just as those who are "spiritual" should be concerned for 
            the weakness of others - Ga 6:1
[In a way, this call is similar to the one the Lord gave to Joshua 
(Josh 1:6-9), which Joshua later gave to Israel (Josh 23:6,11). Shall
we heed the call to "be strong and very courageous", i.e., to "run with
Now, for some thoughts about...]  
      1. We should not be surprised to read that we are to "pursue
         a. Jesus is "The Prince of Peace" - Isa 9:6
         b. He died to make peace possible:  with God, and with man 
            - Ro 5:1; Ep 2:13-17
         c. He taught that peacemakers will be called the children of 
            God - Mt 5:9
         d. A key element of the kingdom of God is peace - Ro 14:17-18
         -- Therefore, we are to pursue peace with all men - Ro 14:19;
      2. How does one "pursue peace with all men"?
         a. By seeking peace with God first - Prov 16:7
            1) We must first make our relationship with God what it 
               ought to be
            2) Through Jesus, we can be at peace with God - Ro 5:1
         b. Letting the peace of God rule in our hearts - Col 3:15
            1) The Lord is able to "give you peace always in every way"
               - 2 Th 3:16
            2) How the Lord imparts peace:
               a) Through His Word - Psa 119:165
               b) Through prayer - Ph 4:6-7
            -- If one is not at peace with himself, it is unlikely he 
               can be at peace with others
         c. By doing things that make for peace - Ro 14:19
            1) Such as being considerate of their conscience - Ro 14:
            2) Seeking unity with compassion, love, tenderness, and
               courtesy; willing to respond to evil or reviling with a 
               blessing - cf. 1 Pe 3:8-11
      1. As God is holy, so His children must be holy - 1 Pe 1:14-16; 
         1 Th 4:7
      2. How can one "pursue holiness..."?
         a. True holiness (sanctification) comes through:
            1) Faith in Jesus - Ac 26:18; cf. He 10:10,14
            2) The work of the Holy Spirit - 1 Co 6:11; 2 Th 2:13; 
               cf. Ti 3:5
            3) The Word of God - Jn 17:17,19
         b. We cooperate with God in pursuing holiness by:
            1) Offering ourselves as "slaves of righteousness" - Ro 6:
            2) Perfecting holiness in the fear of God - 2 Co 7:1
               a) Which includes cleansing ourselves from all 
                  "filthiness of the flesh and spirit" - 2 Co 7:1
               b) Also putting on the "new man...in true righteousness 
                  and holiness" - Ep 4:24; cf. Co 3:9-14
[In many respects, this is what the Christian life is all about:  
pursuing peace and holiness!  How successful we are will depend on how 
diligently we avoid...]
      1. Without God's grace, none can be saved, pursue peace, or have
         the holiness necessary to see God!
      2. But do Christians need to concern themselves with falling from
         grace?  Consider...
         a. The warning not to neglect our great salvation - He 2:1-3
         b. The warning not to be hardened by sin - He 3:12-14
         c. The warning to be diligent - He 4:1,11; cf. 2 Pe 1:10
         d. The warning against willful sin - He 10:26-31
         e. The warning not receive God's grace in vain - 2 Co 6:1
         f. The warning not to fall from grace - Ga 5:4
         g. The warning to "look to yourselves, that we do not lose
            those things we worked for..." - 2 Jn 8
         -- Indeed, if there were no possibility for one to "fall short
            of the grace of God", then there would be no need for us to
            be "looking diligently"
      3. For the Christian, however, God's grace can be just a prayer 
         away! - cf. He 4:16
      1. Bitterness can be a stumbling block in our pursuit of peace
         a. It destroys the peace within the person who harbors it 
            (modern medicine has shown that emotions like bitterness 
            and anger can cause problems such as headaches, backaches,
            allergic disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, and heart
            attacks, etc.)
         b. It can destroy the peace in the congregation where it 
            becomes manifest
      2. It also becomes a stumbling block in our pursuit of holiness,
         for the problems it creates cause many to become "defiled" 
      -- If we are going to "make straight paths for your feet", then 
         we need to clip any root of bitterness "in the bud"!
      1. Fornication is certainly a pitfall to avoid...
         a. Fornication is a generic term for any sort of sexual 
            immorality (including pre-marital sex, adultery, 
            homosexuality, etc.)
         b. It is contrary to God's will regarding our sanctification 
            - 1 Th 4:3-8
            1) Later, we will read in Hebrews where God will judge 
               fornicators - He 13:4
            2) It will keep one out of the kingdom of heaven - 1 Co 6:
               9-10; Ga 5:19-21
         -- Therefore, let us "Flee fornication!" - 1 Co 6:18
      2. We must also not become a "profane person"...
         a. "A worldly person who profanes holy privileges by placing
            on them a worldly estimate." (B. W. Johnson)
         b. One does not have to overtly wicked; they can displease God
            by simply devaluing that which is important to Him!
         c. Such was the case with Esau... - cf. Gen 25:29-34
            1) There is no indication that he was a fornicator
            2) But he was a profane person because he did not proper 
               estimate the value of his birthright
            3) Though he later wanted the blessings of the birthright,
               it was too late; despite his tears, it was too late to 
               change his father's mind ("he found no place for 
         d. We can become "profane" by devaluing our spiritual 
            1) In Christ, we have a spiritual birthright (redemption, 
               fellowship with God, the hope of eternal life)
            2) But we can let careers, hobbies, friends, even families,
               come between us and the things of God
            -- Are we willing to "sell our birthright" for "one morsel 
               of food"?
1. As we run the race of faith, peace with others and holiness before 
   God should be our goal
2. To run the race with "style", we need to...
   a. Get in the proper form (lift the hands, strengthen the knees), 
      helping one another to do so
   b. Watch out for the pitfalls that can hinder us in our pursuit, 
      such as...
      1) Not utilizing God's grace to help you in your race
      2) Allowing bitterness to become a stumbling block
      3) Becoming a fornicator or profane person
As we run this "race", the words of the apostle Paul are appropriate...
   "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one 
   receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  
   And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all 
   things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for
   an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with 
   uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I
   discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I 
   have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
                                           (1 Co 9:24-27)
Are you running in such a way as to obtain the imperishable crown?


Heeding The Voice From The Mountain (12:18-29)
1. In encouraging Christians to run the race that is set before them,
   the Hebrews writer has instructed them to...
   a. Lay aside things that would hinder them - He 12:1
   b. Run with endurance - He 12:1
   c. Keep their focus on Jesus - He 12:2-3
   d. Remember the value of the Lord's chastening - He 12:4-11
   e. Run with "style" - He 12:12-13
   f. Pursue peace and holiness - He 12:14
   g. Look diligently lest one fall short of God's grace, stumble 
      because of bitterness, or become a fornicator or profane person 
      - He 12:15-17
2. Further encouragement is now provided in the last half of chapter 
   a. With a reminder of the "mountain" to which they have come
   b. With a warning to heed "Him who speaks"
3. As we "run the race of faith" today, we need this same reminder and 
   a. Do we appreciate the significance of the "mountain" to which we 
      have come?
   b. Are we "Heeding The Voice From The Mountain"?
   -- How we answer such questions can reveal how well we are running 
      the race of faith!
[With our text before us, let's take a look at...]
      1. The mountain described first is Mount Sinai, to which Israel
         came following their deliverance from Egyptian bondage - cf. 
         Exo 19:12-19
         a. It seems to have been much like a volcano - Exo 20:18; Deu
         b. It frightened the people - Deu 5:22-26; 18:16
         c. Even Moses was afraid - Deu 9:19
      2. We have not come to such a mountain, that forces us to stand 
         "afar off"
   B. IT IS MOUNT ZION (22-24)
      1. The "mountain" to which we have come is one that encourages us
         to "draw near"
      2. We have come to "Mount Zion"
         a. Zion was originally the stronghold of the Jebusites in 
            Jerusalem that became the "city of David" - 2 Sam 5:6-10;
            1 Chr 11:4-9
         b. The term "Zion" came to be used to refer to:
            1) The city of Jerusalem - Psa 48:2; 84:7; Am 6:1
            2) The heavenly Jerusalem where God dwells - Isa 28:16; 
               Ps 2:6 Re 14:1
      3. In coming to "Mount Zion", we have also come to...
         a. "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem"
            1) The heavenly city longed for by Abraham and the others 
               - cf. He 11:10,13-16
            2) The heavenly city longed for by Christians today - cf. 
               He 13:14
            3) The heavenly city we will one day experience - Re 3:12;
               21:1-7; 22:14
            -- "This heavenly city is where our Lord dwells and is our
               eternal home. In coming to Christ we have come into the
               covenant which gives us the right to a place in that 
               city." (B. W. Johnson, People's New Testament)
         b. "an innumerable company of angels"
            1) The heavenly servants of God, of which there is a great
               number - cf. Re 5:11
            2) Who also minister to those who will inherit salvation 
               - He 1:14
         c. "the general assembly and church of the firstborn 
            registered in heaven"
            1) The church in the universal sense, made up of all who 
               are saved - Ac 2:47
            2) They are the "firstborn ones", who enjoy special 
               privileges of their birthright
            3) Their names are in "the Book of Life" - Ph 4:3; Re 3:5
         d. "God the Judge of all"
            1) The Judge of all the earth - cf. Gen 18:25
            2) He is the One to whom we must give heed, as we shall 
               note shortly
         e. "the spirits of just men made perfect"
            1) Those who died in faith, such as the Old Testament 
               saints - He 11:39-40
            2) Note:  They had not been made perfect apart from us, but
               now they are made perfect;  they were redeemed by the 
               blood of Christ! - cf. He 9:15
         f. "Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant"
            1) As we've seen, He is the Mediator of "a better covenant"
               - He 8:6
            2) This "new covenant" is by means of His death - He 9:15
         g. "the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than 
            that of Abel"
            1) Abel still speaks through the example of his faith 
               - He 11:3
            2) But in comparison, the blood of Jesus speaks volumes! 
               - He 10:11-14
[In coming to Christ, being redeemed by the blood of the New Covenant,
we have drawn near to this wonderful "mountain"!  It is a place that 
offers many wonderful blessings, both now and with promise for the 
But the author's purpose is not just to review the blessings we have in
coming to this "mountain"; he is warning us:  
       "See that you do not refuse Him who speaks." (He 12:25a)
To appreciate the need for his warning, let's now consider...]
      1. We have seen from our study that...
         a. "every transgression and disobedience received a just
            reward" - He 2:2
         b. Those who sinned, their "corpses fell in the wilderness" 
            - He 3:17
         c. Those who rejected Moses' law died "without mercy" - He 10:
      2. Thus the argument is again one of comparison, from the lesser
         to the greater...
         a. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation..."
            - He 2:1-4
         b. "Of how much worse punishment , do you suppose, will he be
            thought worthy..." - He 10:26-31
      3. As Jesus said in Lk 12:48...
         a. "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be
         b. "...and to whom much has been committed, of him they will
            ask the more."
      -- In Christ we enjoy so much more; dare we refuse to heed Him 
         who speaks, not from Mount Sinai, but from Mount Zion (i.e., 
         heaven itself)!
      1. When God spoke at Mount Sinai, the earth trembled - Exo 19:18
      2. The day is coming when both heaven and earth will be shaken,
         even removed!
         a. As promised in Hag 2:6
         b. Which refers to "the removal of those things that are 
            being shaken, as of things that are made" - cf. 2 Pe 3:
      -- Dare we refuse to heed Him who speaks with such impact?
      1. While everything made will one day perish, we "are receiving"
         a kingdom which cannot be shaken!
         a. Note the present tense ("are receiving")
         b. Thus we are in the process of receiving this "kingdom"
      2. It is a kingdom both present and future...
         a. In one sense, we are now "in" the kingdom - cf. Co 1:13;
            Re 1:9
         b. In another sense, we have yet to enter the kingdom - cf. 
            2 Pe 1:10-11
      3. It is a kingdom...
         a. Inaugurated when Jesus ascended to sit at God's right hand
            on David's throne - Ac 2:30-36
         b. To be culminated when Jesus returns to deliver the kingdom
            to God - 1 Co 15:23-26
      4. Thus it is a kingdom...
         a. "which shall never be destroyed...it shall stand forever"
            - Dan 2:44
         b. Of which "there will be no end" - Lk 1:33
      -- Receiving such a kingdom, dare we refuse to heed Him who 
      1. We've read of a "fiery indignation which will devour the
         adversaries" - He 10:27
      2. We've seen "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of 
         the living God" - He 10:31
      3. Even Jesus taught us to "fear Him who is able to destroy both
         soul and body in hell" - Mt 10:28
      -- Dare we refuse to heed such an awesome God?
1. God has indeed spoken...
   a. He has spoken through His Son - cf. He 1:1-2
   b. He has spoken from Mount Zion, that heavenly city, the New 
      1) To which we have come through an obedient faith in Jesus - cf.
         He 5:9
      2) Where we can enjoy the fellowship of angels, the redeemed in
         heaven and on earth, and of Jesus and God Himself!
      3) Where we can enjoy a New and better covenant, based upon the 
         better sacrifice of Jesus' blood!
2. But with such wonderful blessings come the responsibility of giving
   a. Not to neglect our great salvation
   b. Not to refuse Him who speaks from the heavenly "mountain"
Therefore our goal should be that as expressed by the author himself:
   "...let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with
   reverence and godly fear." (He 12:28b)
With God's grace to help us (cf. He 4:14-16), we can serve Him in a 
manner well-pleasing to Him.  Are you "Heeding The Voice From The 

--《Executable Outlines


Hope with perseverance

Feeble arms

Weak knees


I.  Run the race ahead

1.    Throw off burdens

2.    With perseverance

3.    Fix eyes on Jesus

II.Benefits of receiving disciplines

1.    Share in His holiness

2.    Harvest of peace

3.    The fifth warning

III.       A kingdom that cannot be shaken

1.    At the foot of mount Zion

2.    Heavenly Jerusalem

3.    The sixth warning

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament