Main point summary
Pursue peace and holiness together because of who you are - God's children and where we have come - God's joyful mountain.
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted
to the point of shedding your blood.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
f “My son, g do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary
when reproved by him.
For h the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline
that you have to endure.
i God is treating you as sons.
For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
If you are left without discipline,
j in which all have participated,
then you are illegitimate children
and not sons.
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us
and we respected them.
Shall we not much more be subject to k the Father of spirits
l and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time
as it seemed best to them,
but he disciplines us
for our good,
m that we may share his holiness.
n For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,
but later it yields o the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore p lift your drooping hands
and strengthen your weak knees,
and q make straight paths for your feet,
so that what is lame may not be put out of joint
r but rather be healed.
s Strive for peace with everyone,
and for the t holiness
u without which no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one v fails to obtain the grace of God;
that no w “root of bitterness” springs up
and causes trouble,
and by it many become defiled;
that no one is x sexually immoral
like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.
For you know that y afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing,
he was rejected,
for he found no chance to repent,
though he sought it with tears.
For you have not come to z what may be touched,
a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and a the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words b made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.
For they could not endure the order that was given,
c “If even a beast touches the mountain,
it shall be stoned.”
Indeed, d so terrifying was the sight
that Moses said,
“I tremble with fear.”
But you have come to e Mount Zion
and to the city of the living God,
f the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to g innumerable angels in festal gathering,
and to h the assembly 1 of the firstborn who are i enrolled in heaven,
and to j God, the judge of all,
and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
and to Jesus,
k the mediator of a new covenant,
and to l the sprinkled blood
m that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.
For n if they did not escape
when they refused him who warned them on earth,
much less will we escape
if we reject him who warns from heaven.
At that time o his voice shook the earth,
but now he has promised,
p “Yet once more
I will shake not only the earth
but also the heavens.”
This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates q the removal of things that are shaken—
that is, things that have been made—
in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving r a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
and thus s let us offer to God acceptable worship,
with reverence and awe,
for our t God is a consuming fire.
lit. flogs. The same root as Heb 11:36
παιδεύω pahee-dyoo'-o /paideúō/ source: from παῖς; I discipline, educate, train, chastise with the additional implication of moral instruction (see Hebrew: musar) This discipline is both physical (as evident by the flogging in ver 6) and verbal (see 10:32-34, cf. Rev 3:19)
In the context, Jesus endured hostility from sinners. The Hebrews were different, in that while they strove (like a wrestler) against sin, they did not shed blood. In other words, they too are in the midst of hostility - not from their own entangling sin here, but from the sinfulness of others. Yet, they were not yet martyred like Jesus or the older heroes of faith. Perhaps in the author's mind, there is the lingering danger of apostasy (10:26-39). They have been persecuted, yet not killed for their faith. They have not yet resisted to the point martyrdom and seem ready to give up. The author shouts - "Consider Jesus!"
i.e. endure this suffering because you are being disciplined - disciplined as a son of God. cf. 2 Sam 7:14, Heb 1:5
Ans: no son at all - hence the conclusion in ver 8
The book of Proverbs reflects a culture that took for granted the father’s disciplinary role. Its frequent references to “the rod” are not popular in our society, which has adopted a different understanding of the educational process and in which the relationship of parents with their children is often far from the authority and respect this discussion is able to presuppose. Here, even more than in other NT language about God as Father, it is important not to read our cultural experiences and expectations into the biblical imagery but rather to start from the biblical understanding of the authoritative discipline that was the unquestioned role of a loving and responsible father. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 170). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
cf. Num 16:22, 27:16
cf. ver 3 - fainthearted, and unable to finish the race
In the Greco-Roman world it was not unusual for a nobleman to subject his legitimate son and heir to a rigorous upbringing under the severe tutelage of a guardian, since the future of the father’s name and estate would rest with the son (Gal. 4:1–2). Meanwhile, illegitimate children, since they did not bear their father’s name nor stand to inherit his property, might be left without moral discipline. To be spared God’s painful discipline is indicative not of his favor but of his indifference and rejection. From the ESV Expository Commentary
2 Pet 1:2, Lev 11:44
Cf. Is 32:14-20 Note that this is a new covenant prophecy involving the discipline of Jerusalem and destruction of Assyria James too seems to draw inspiration from this cf. Heb 6:4-8
Note the mixing of the passive farmland metaphor for discipline - "later it yields...fruit" with the active athletic metaphor of "been trained by it"
12:4-6 What situation is the author addressing here? What sin is he talking about? How do we know? What exhortation have they seemed to forget? What is regarded as discipline here? Who causes it? What is are the two big ideas in this exhortation? What is God's heart in this discipline? What should our response NOT be to God's discipline?
12:7-11 Why do we have to endure - to what purpose and based on what reason? If I am not being disciplined, what does that evidence? What differences are mentioned between earthly fathers and our heavenly Father? What is the author's point in establishing these differences? What should our response be to God's discipline? Why does God discipline us with suffering/hostility? What is he causing? What is his purpose? How is God's purpose expressed? What enables our running with endurance in suffering? God sees us as sons whom he loves (ver 5-6) His discipline is perfect (ver 7-9) He disciplines us for our good (ver 10) His purpose is for us to share his holiness (ver 10) We are trained by his discipline (to run) (ver 11) His discipline yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (ver 11)
Cf. Is 35:3-6, Prov 4:26-27 God is coming to both judge and save/heal. Cf. Heb 10:30-31, 37-38 (Deut 32:35-36, Hab 2:3-4)
Involving both level paths to prevent stumbling as well as straight in direction like a race track, to prevent deviation and distraction.
1 Tim. 1:6; 5:15; 2 Tim. 4:4 The phrase can also mean to veer off, turn away
what is lame = lit. the lame
διώκω dee-o'-ko /diṓkō/ Verb I pursue, persecute
Strive/Pursue mean the same as persecute. We have already seen that peace is the final fruit of righteousness, closely assosciated with holiness (12:10-11). Now, in the midst of persecution, the author encourages that hope to manifest itself in peace toward others - both within the church and without (including those that persecute them). Why? Because God's discipline is working in them with this as the end purpose! This is not just an avoidance of conflict, but a pursuit of reconciliation - both via the gospel and otherwise.
Cf. Heb. 10:10, 14, 19-22 Pursue the holiness that was bought for you. While Christ and the covenant he mediates has already made us holy, positionally, two means of our reaching that holiness practically is God's discipline (ver 10) and our pursuing that blood-bought holiness (ver 14)
12:14-17 What is the main command in these verses? Who do these commands relate to? Why does that church need to pursue peace with everyone? What does pursuit have to do with anything? If Heb 10 has told us that the new covenant guarantees our holiness, why do we need to pursue it? What is "seeing the Lord"? What 3 dangers should we look out for in our pursuit of peace and holiness? What is the 'grace of God', here? What is the "root of bitterness"? Where does the author get this idea from? What is he talking about? What is the result of having a root of bitterness spring up? Why does the author bring up Esau? What is his warning against? What is the danger of not heeding the author's warnings?
Ps 27:4; Mt 5:8; Rev 22:4 Seeing=greater intimacy of faith, coupled with the idea of "drawing near"
Cf. 2:1-4, 3:7-4:11, 6:4-8, 10:26-31 The basis of all Hebrews is the danger of falling short and missing the grace of God in salvation.
Cf. Deut 29:18-21
For “bitter” as a term for an ungodly attitude, cf. Ac 8:23; Eph 4:31; Jam 3:14; in Dt 29:18 a “root that produces bitter poison” describes the effect of an idolater on the community.) Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 174). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
Cf. Gen 27:34-38 The "it" seems to be referring to his blessing and not repentance
Cf. Gen 25:29-34 The idea of birthright has to do with God. It was God who called him into the world first, giving him the right that Esau despised. He belived the promise of a meal instead of the promises of God.
This could mean literal sexual immorality, an appetite for sensuality or idolatry (adultery and fornication are often used of idolatry). It could mean all three as well. The explanation helps us understand the point - Esau ran after petty pleasures and never found lasting pleasure, because it was too late.
12:12-13 What 3 commands does the author give? How are they similar? Why do we need level and straight paths? Why does the author start with "therefore"? What is the basis for this imperative? To whom is he giving these commands? Why is the "your" all plural?
Cf. Gal 4:24-29
Ex 19, 20 Ex 19:12-13, 16-19, 20:18-21, Dt. 4:11-12, 5:23-27
Come to=salvation cf. 4:16, 7:25, 10:22, 11:6 Note also that this is not future (like ch 11), but past: "You have come"
Cf. Dt. 5:26
Cf. 8:5, 9:23, 11:16
Cf. Rev 4-5, Dt 33:2, Dan 7:10 See Heb 1-2
Cf. Rev 7, 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 21:27 This corporate body is similar to the corporate care we are called to give our brothers and sisters in ver 12-17
The firstborn is the heir, the most precious child, and the church (or “assembly”—ekklēsia, GK 1711; it need not carry here its developed Christian sense; cf. 2:12, its only other use in this letter) consists of those whom God has appointed as his heirs (1:14; 6:12, 17) and who have not, like Esau, bartered away their birthright (vv.16–17). Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 178). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
Probably OT saints, cf. 11:39-40. Note connection between judge and the just
See 9:13-22 Cf. Ex 24:8
Cf. 11:4 See Gen 4:10-11
Better, because while one blood called for justice, the better blood speaks a better word - drawing near/perfection
The link with vv.18–21 is clearer in Greek than most English versions have been able to convey, in that “refuse” here translates the same Greek word as “begged that no …” in v.19. “Refuse him who speaks” is thus a direct echo of the Sinai story; the readers are urged not to shrink away in fear from the speaking God, as their Hebrew ancestors once did. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 180). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition. In other words, don't come to God in terror
Cf. 7:12, 11:5
Cf. Dan 7:14
12:18-24 Why do these verses start with "For"? What does "have come" remind us of, from Hebrews? What contrast is presented by the author? Where have we not come? What did that look like? Who all are there? Where, instead have we come? What does that look like? Who all are there? In what 2 ways are God's children described? Who all are included here? Who does 'firstborn' contrast with from earlier? Why does the author talk about "sprinkled blood"? Why does he also talk about Abel's blood?
12:25-29 What is the command given? What are the 2 bases for it? What does the warning remind us of? How does the author argue from the lesser to the greater here? What is the opposite of enduring, in these verses? What is the difference between the old and new shaking? What does 'Yet once more' mean? What is the purpose of the new shaking? What is the response demanded to this fearful warning? What does "consuming fire" mean? How does that cause any rejoicing (ver 22)?
We now begin to have an idea of why this letter is written. ENDURE ENABLED BY GOD (12:4-17) God Disciplines Those He Loves (12:4-6) 12:4, 6 Two things frame the author's thoughts as he gently scolds his audience: a. His audience has experienced tremendous hostility from sinners, but not yet martyrdom, like the older martyrs of faith and Jesus in Heb 11, 12:3 (ver 4) b. The audience needs reminding from the living and active word of God (Prov 3:11-12) - that they are loved and are sons of God, - and this hostility is loving discipline from God's hand via the hand of sinners (ver 6) 12:5 The exhortation from Proverbs in the light of their position is twofold, and we can veer in either incorrect opposite direction: a. Don't take God's discipline lightly and ignore it in arrogance b. Don't be so discouraged by it and be weary in insecurity God's Discipline Enables Endurance ( 12:7-11 ) 12:7-8 God treats us as beloved sons. Just as discipline is part of normal child-rearing, much more with God, so much so that if one is not disciplined, the only conclusion to be drawn is one is not a son. 12:9-10 Moreover, there is a big difference between the discipline of fleshly fathers and that of the perfect Father seen in 3 ways: a. Human fathers were fathers of flesh but God is the father of spirits b. Human discipline was for a short time but God's is continuous c. Human discipline was based on what seemed fallibly best to the fleshly father, but God's infallible discipline is for our good - with the ultimate purpose of our sharing in his holiness Our response, in comparison, ought to be a greater humbling of ourselves in submission before his Fatherly care 12:11 Even though momentary affliction seems painful, not joyful, it later yields a weight of eternal fruit to those who are rigorously trained by it. And so we run with endurance, looking back at the martyrs before us, looking up to Christ above us and looking forward to the reward set before us of sharing God's holiness, trusting in God's powerful, loving discipline that trains and prepares us, cf. 2 Cor 4:16-18 1. Are we willing to endure God's discipline? 2. Are we willing to see suffering as coming from the hand of God? And to, therefore, see this as a loving discipline? 3. This seeing is part of what faith is. It depends on who we see God to be. It depends on how we consider Jesus (ver 3). Is this our faith? 4. How can we practice and prepare ourselves to see this as loving discipline? [Look to the reward] 5. Is the reward of holiness and righteousness enjoyable to us to the extent that we can endure suffering as loving discipline? 6. Do we see ourselves as God's children in whom he delights or the victims of an angry God? 7. Are we running with endurance? Therefore, Run after Peace and Holiness Together ( 12:12-17 ) 12:12-13 The writer exhorts his congregation, in the light of God's enabling discipline, to strengthen and stabilise the weak and disabled in faith in order for them to heal and run, i.e. to endure 12:14-17 The metaphor shifts to pursuit, with the dual exhortation based on Deut 29:18-21, explaining the running that preceded this in Heb 12:4 : a. Horizontally: Pursue peace with everyone (whether or not everyone pursues you) b. Vertically: Pursue the holiness that enables us to see the Lord This exhortation is succeeded by 3 ways by which the church together should pursue peace and holiness, by fighting against the dangers like the plague: a. Apostasy: See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God to apostasy b. Adultery: See to it that no one flourishes in ungodliness (bitter root), which causes adversity and mass dilution and defilement c. Appetency: See to it that no one is like Esau: satisfied by what is seen at the cost of the better unseen (parallel with 12:2), and despite tears, it was too late to change what he had done 1. How seriously do we consider our roles in our churches? Are we sensitive to the needs of others in our Christian families, bible study groups and churches - do we seek to strengthen and stabilise others? 2. Are we minimalists - avoiding what is wrong and failing to pursue peace and holiness? 3. While holiness is often talked about, do we pursue after peace with everyone, including those that don't help us/persecute us? 4. What motivates our running and pursuit? Is it seeing the Lord and his enabling power at work (via discipline, sometimes)? Or is it because we have to - it being our duty? 5. Do we think that being part of this community will shelter us from falling away? Beware that we don't lose out on the blessings of the new covenant by falling away. 6. Are we in danger of apostasy, adultery or appetency? How can we get out of this? 7. Is Jesus Better? Are we running? This group is meant for us to support one another, not just provide intellectual ear-tickling. When was the last time you checked on someone else in this group to lift them up? When was the last time you prayed for people in this group or in this church? Beware of this - don't cross the point of no return. NEAR THE BETTER MOUNTAIN (12:18-29) A Tale of Two Mountains (12:18-24) The pursuit of peace and holiness ( ver 13-17 ) is now grounded in a great reality, i.e. where Christians have drawn near to 12:18-21 The author shows where the old covenant people "drew near", based on Exodus 19-20: - touchable (physical) - terrifying 12:22-24 This is sharply contrasted with where Christians have (already) "drawn near": - Jerusalem in heaven, the city of the living God, the real Mt. Zion - full of joy among its inhabitants, i.e. the angels and the saints from before and after Christ. These saints are firstborn, like Jesus and totally unlike Esau - and more: where God is, where our forerunner and better mediator Jesus is, whose blood inaugurated the new covenant which is not like Abel's blood which cried out for justice and resulted in a curse. Jesus' blood takes care of the justice from the judge of all. The Fifth Warning (12:25-29) 12:25 In the light of where they have drawn near to, the author exhorts his readers to not refuse (same phrase as "beg that no" in ver 19) Jesus and his blood of the new covenant, arguing as he has done several times before, from the lesser to the greater (cf. 2:2-3, 3:7-4:13, 10:28-29): - Those at Sinai did not escape when they refused the warning on earth - Much less will we escape when we refuse the warning from heaven, via the Son (1:2) and his blood (ver 24) 12:26-27 Haggai 2:6 (cf. Hag 2:21) is quoted now eschatologically to explain a final shaking of the created universe (including Sinai) to make way for the unshakable kingdom of the Son, the judge who rules from Mount Zion. Cf. 1:10-12 (Ps 102:25-27) 12:28-29 The readers are receiving this unshakable kingdom and are urged therefore to offer acceptable worship in gratitude instead of refusing what God has offered. The readers are to live as citizens of their kingdom. How and why do we offer acceptable worship? In reverence and awe, because our God is a consuming fire, jealous for his glory and our joy. 1. Can we offer suitable worship because of where we are in Christ? Do we? 2. What does it mean for us that the covenant we are under is not one of fear, but joy? Do we have joy? 3. Are we fixated on our earthly circumstances and persecution? Or are we fixated on the heavenly mountain to which we have come? How does that manifest in our lives? 4. What does it mean to us that while Jesus is God's firstborn, we 'in Christ' are firstborn as well? 5. We have drawn near the "judge of all" with joy. Do we have this reality as our mindset? 6. Are we clinging to what can be shaken or what remains unshakable? 7. Our God is a consuming fire is joyous news for his firstborn. Is it joy for you and I?