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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Hebrews 12

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-3

FOURTH SECTION

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A COMPREHENSIVE APPEAL, BASED ON THE PRECEDING RETROSPECT

I

In possession of such examples, and looking away to Jesus Himself, the readers must maintain, with steadfastness, the struggle that awaits them

Hebrews 12:1-3

1Wherefore, seeing we also are [let also us, being] compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us [om. let us] lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience [steadfastness] the race [contest,ἀγῶνα] 2that is set before us, Looking [away] unto Jesus the author [Leader] and finisher [Perfecter] of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the [a] cross, despising the shame [making light of shame], and is set down [hath sat down][FN1] at the right hand of the throne of God 3 For consider him that [hath] endured such contradiction of [ὑπό, by, from] sinners against himself,[FN2] lest ye [in order that ye may not] be wearied and faint [ἐκλυόμενοι, relaxing, fainting] in your minds.

[ Hebrews 12:1.—Τοιγαροῦν, therefore, weighty and impressive in classical Greek; τοι probably for τῷ, by this, γάρ, for, οὗν, then, now; the whole=for by this now, hence, therefore.—καὶ ἡμεῖς, let also us; ἡμεῖς, emphatic; in E. V, the emphasis partly given in the “we also.”—τοσοῦτον, etc, having so great a crowd of witnesses encompassing us, scil, like the spectators in the stadium, but μάρτυρες, having probably a double reference to their character as spectators, and as witnesses to the faith. The Greek word, like the English, has both meanings, and probably for the same reason, viz., that a witness must naturally have been a beholder of that to which he witnesses.—ὄγκον, bulk, weight, unnatural swelling or protuberance; and may refer primarily to unnatural bulk of the body itself; then to extraneous burdens.—εὐπερίστατον, probably easily placing itself around, easily besetting,—δἰ ὑπομονῆς, by means of steadfastness, through, in the midst of, steadfastness, hence taken adverbially, steadfastly, perseveringly.

Hebrews 12:2.—ἀφορῶντες, looking away, ἄρχηγόν, file-leader, captain ( Hebrews 2:10), τελειωτήν, perfecter.—ἀντί, over against, in return for, in exchange for, hence here, in consideration of.—ὐπέμεινεν σταυρόν, endured a cross.—αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας, making light of shame, not specifically, the shame of the cross, but shame taken abstractly.—κεκάθικεν, has sat down, and still holds his seat.

Hebrews 12:3.—ἀναλογίσασθε, not adequately rendered by English, consider (which is used elsewhere for κατανοῶ, etc.), and difficult to express in English; think over analogously, or by way of comparison; Beng.: “comparatione instituta cogitate;τὸν ὑπομεμενηκότα, him who hath endured (Perf.); not merely suffered (πάσχειν), but stood under, abided.—ταῖς ψυχ. ἐκλυόμενοι. fainting in your souls.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 12:1. Therefore let also us.—Τοιγαροῦν (familiar in classical Greek, but in the N. T. confined to this passage and 1 Thessalonians 4:8) connects with the preceding O. T. examples the following exhortation to like conduct: the exhortation being couched in imagery, and technical expressions drawn from the Grecian games, with whose usages the Jews were sufficiently familiar. The phrase νέφος μαρτύρων at the outset, containing an allusion to this imagery, although it is rendered distinct only by the more explicit reference which follows. The sum of the passage is this: The capital thought expressed by the verb τρέχωμεν is an exhortation to the race, while the two participial clauses with ἔχοντες and ἀποθέμενοι intimate, the former what we possess for our incitement in the enveloping cloud of witnesses, and the latter, what we must previously have done to our persons in order to facilitate our progress. Unquestionably, now, δἰ ὑπομονῆς attached to τρέχωμεν, as more specially characterizing the race, looks back to Hebrews 10:36, and alike the preëminence given to πίστις in Hebrews 12:2, and the τοιγαροῦν of Hebrews 12:1, show a clear reference to Hebrews 11. Yet all this does not require us, with Lün, to explain μάρτυρες exclusively of witnesses of faith. On the one hand, we must not overlook the fact, that the persons signalized in Hebrews 11are designated as those who, on account of their faith, have received a good report, or testimony (not as those who have borne it), Hebrews 11:2; Hebrews 11:4-5; Hebrews 11:39; and on the other, we must remember that here, at Hebrews 12:2, the eyes of those running are turned to Jesus, as ἀρχηγός and τελειωτής of faith, and this in such a way that the ἀφορῶντες standing coordinate with ἔχοντες forms a second ground of exhortation to zeal in the race, and the ὑπομονή of Jesus is evolved from His history, thus brought into relation to the imagery of the stadium. The expositor, therefore, may be justified in taking the cloud of μαρτύρων, lifted above the earth, not, indeed, exclusively (with Bleek, De Wette, Thol, Bisp, etc.), but still primarily, as witnesses, or spectators of the struggle, and treat its meaning of witnesses of faith as not, indeed, properly combining itself with the former (with Del, Riehm, Alf.), nor again as entirely merged and lost in it. For the question is not at all one of mere spectators, but of sympathizing witnesses, witnesses who have been tried in a like conflict with our own, but have already reached the goal of perfection, and whose person and history are precisely on this account, patterns and incitements to us. The διά, with the Genesis, with verbs of motion, serves to designate the continuance of the movement, the permanent and habitual character of the act (Bernhardy, p239). So here δἰ ὑπομονῆς as διὰ πίστεως, 2 Corinthians 5:7.

That easily besets us.—The word εὐπερίστατον is as an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον of doubtful signification. Carpz, Schultz, Stein explain it actively =seducing, enticing; but this sense cannot be established. The signification, easily changing= unstable, movable (Matthäi), is inappropriate. The absence of the object prevents our taking it actively; and since elsewhere all derivations from ἴστημι have either an intransitive or passive meaning, this word can scarcely constitute an exception. The passive meaning, however, easily got around, avoided, or easily encompassed=overcome (Chrys, etc.), is far-fetched, and unsuited to the context. The same is true of Ernesti’s explanation; eagerly encompassed and thronged, hence, universally prized and beloved. We must therefore go back to the middle signification, and may either, with John Gerh, Bl, De W, Lün, Riehm, etc., refer it to sin, like a garment closely and constantly encompassing and hindering the runner; or (with Anselm, Horneius, Calv, Grot, Ebr, Del, etc.) to the fact that it everywhere easily besets us, and subtly encompasses us, so as to hinder and obstruct our way. A recurrence to the noun περίστασις for the sense, easily involving us in evil, plunging us into danger, creating hinderances (Theophyl, Beng, and others), is totally unnecessary. Calv, Chemnitz, Seb. Schmidt, and others, refer the word too restrictedly to hereditary sin, implied also in Luther’s rendering, “which ever cleaves to us.” Bugenhagen renders more correctly, “semper oppugnans;” and in part, Œcolamp, who, however, reduces the force of his rendering peccatum quod nos proxime circumstat, by the added clause, “sive tenaciter nobis inhæret.” The rendering of Grynæus, “ad nos circumcingendos proclive,” reaches about the exact idea.—For giving to ὄγκος the figurative meaning of self-sufficiency, high-mindedness (Beng, and others), we have no warrant from the context.

Hebrews 12:2. The Leader and Perfecter of faith.—ʼΑρχηγός denotes not merely the originator, who works in us the beginning of faith (Chrys, Erasm, Lün, and the majority), but, as at Hebrews 2:10, the leader, marshaller, who, in the exhibition of patient and victorious faith, has preceded us, as a pattern and an aid, comp. Hebrews 2:13; Hebrews 3:2. “How were it possible that faith could not be predicated of Jesus? For between Him and His eternal and strictly divine life had His earthly life, having become by the power of sin and wrath a thick prison wall, placed itself as a wall of partition, which, until it was actually broken through and done away, was non-existent only to His far-reaching and transcending faith—for that faith, by virtue of which, even in the very midst of the darkness of utter desertion, He could still call God “His God!” So soon as we recognize in its terrible and deadly earnestness the self-abnegation of the eternal Song of Solomon, we cannot wonder that, while that state continued, the author designates faith as the bond between Him and God” (Del.). The train of thought involves the idea that Jesus also, by enduring to the end, set forth and made manifest faith in its perfection (Riehm). It is not enough to say with Del. that Jesus, through affliction, entering into glory, has obtained for us ultimate salvation, styled, 1 Peter 1:9, to τὸ τέλος τῆς πίστεως. When faith is ascribed to Jesus Christ it must, in His person, in accordance with His uniformly developed character ( Hebrews 5:8-9), bear the stamp of perfection. Thus τελειωτής receives its usual transitive signification. And the sentiment may well be that in His display of faith Jesus also in His own person brought it to perfection (Theod, Beng, Bl, De W, Thol, Ebr, Bisp, etc.), and not merely that He brings it to perfection in us (Chrys, Lün, Del, etc.). Some, with Grot, take the idea of =τελειωτής, too narrowly, as referring to the Judge in the games (=βραβεύς).

For the joy that was set before him.—The joy refers not merely to the finished work of redemption, and the blessings it brings to men (Theodoret): it is the heavenly joy, the obtaining of which was to be the reward of Jesus’ suffering on the cross (Primas. and the most). This idea of ἀντί is demanded by the connection. From a misconception of it have arisen the renderings; “instead of the heavenly glory which He had as the preëxistent and premundane Logos (Pesh, Greg. Nazianz, Beza, etc.); or: “instead of the worldly joys and pleasures which it was in His power to enjoy” (Calv, Carpz, Stein, Bisp, etc.; or: “instead of that freedom from earthly suffering which, as the sinless One, He might have secured for himself” (Chrys, Calov, etc.).

Hebrews 12:3. For consider him, etc.—ʼΑναλογίζεσθαι expresses a consideration that compares and weighs. The hortatory ἀφορῶντες, looking away, which “implies the concentration of the wandering gaze into a single direction,” assigns the ground or condition of the preceding admonition; and this again now itself assumes the form of an exhortation. The words ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν are not (with Luth, Beng, etc.) to be connected with κάμητε, but with ἐκλυόμενοι (Bez, Bl, and the most), which would otherwise form an awkward and dragging close.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Without steadfastness of faith the goal is not to be attained. But this steadfastness shows itself not merely as the power of unfailing patience in suffering, and as unbending firmness in trials, but also, as courageous persistency in the noblest striving, and as unyielding exertion in struggling for the highest goal.

2. Since without such exertion, the Christian’s life-race cannot be happily terminated, it becomes the duty of self-preservation to divest ourselves of every thing which obstructs these endeavors, and hinders our progress to the goal. But that which most hinders our progress is sin, which partly cleaves to us by nature, as an oppressive burden, and a dragging fetter, and partly, whithersoever we turn, encounters us, and seeks to block up our way.

3. The most powerful incitement, and the surest means against that relaxing of effort which has its ground in spiritual feebleness, is an uninterrupted looking to Jesus, the perfected hero of faith, the greatest sufferer, the perfect conqueror, the theanthropic helper. “He has preceded us in the race of faith, and has opened the way, in commencing for us the struggle of faith. But He is also at the same time the perfecter of faith, infusing by His redemption into the believing combatants the power to achieve all and to bear off the victory.” Thus Von Gerlach, not incorrectly, and yet not exhaustively, for Jesus is a, pattern and helper in our race and conflict of faith, only in so far as in His own life He has wrought out and exhibited the personal living image of this course and conflict in its entire perfection. The idea that Jesus is to be regarded merely as an object, and not also as a subject, of faith, entirely destroys, when logically carried out, alike the reality of His history and the genuineness of His moral and religious perfection, and thus comes into direct conflict, not merely with the representations of the evangelists, as, for example, respecting our Saviour’s life of prayer, but also the entire conception and scope of our Epistle. For this in the very passage before us runs a parallel between our struggle with the adversaries of the Gospel and the struggles of the Redeemer, and also in the case of Jesus it regards His continuance in the conflict as the condition of his τελείωσις, which again harmonizes entirely with the representation given at Philippians 2:9 (comp. Thol.).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The witnesses, the enemies, and the auxiliaries of our conflict of faith.—The Christian’s course of life, a course of suffering, and a race for victory.—Jesus the archetype and prototype of believers who go through suffering to glory.—Steadfastness in faith, in its necessity, its difficulty, and its practicability.—What occasions us to faint, and what secures us against it.—The greatest sufferer is the most valiant hero. He who is most disciplined can best help others.—How they who are withdrawn from us still remain near to us.

Starke:—What noble incitements have we in our conflict of faith! Christ who has preceded us in it, and supplies us with all power for it; a cloud of witnesses of faith, who have set us an example in this conflict; and the benefit of this conflict, whose fruit is eternal bliss.—Sin must be borne as a life-long companion, even by the children of God, and they have therein an enemy on which they may exercise their spiritual knighthood.—Although sin cleaves to Prayer of Manasseh, it is not the essence of man; hence in heaven the elect are perfect.—God Himself arranged the knightly combat and the place of the tournament; on this every Christian must plant himself, and display his deeds of Christian prowess.—In the work of salvation every thing depends on Jesus.—The best lightening of the burden of the cross is that thou look away from it unto Jesus.—If thou hast not joy in the world, rejoice in thy cross; speedily enough thou wilt attain to true joy and glory.—It is the nature of man to shrink from the cross; hence we need to arouse and incite ourselves to the bearing of the cross that is so useful to us.—If we are assailed on account of our right doing in Christ, we should console ourselves with the example of Christ, strengthen our courage, and remember that we shall be abundantly rewarded in heaven ( Matthew 5:11-12).—However much we may suffer for the name of Christ, Christ has still suffered far more for our sakes.

Rieger:—Faith does not sleep, but watches and runs; yet neither does it hasten; but it waits in patience, and thus the prescribed conflict is accomplished, extremes on both sides avoided, and the way of truth preserved.—Faith looks to Jesus Christ, and is thus drawn into his footsteps.

Hahn:—Presumption and timid unbelief are the two capital faults against which patience alone can aid by preserving us in true moderation, and in the middle path.

Heubner:—The true use of biblical types and patterns is not idle and unfruitful contemplation, but imitation.—Sin is the heaviest burden that drags us down to earth.—Christian virtue is a free, cheerful wrestling and running after the heavenly jewel. The spirit must be deaf to a certain shame; the bearing of such shame leads to the highest honor.—That which allures and misleads in sufferings is this, that we must allow ourselves to find pleasure in those who are sinful and unworthy.

Menken:—Walk like Jesus! and that thou mayest walk like Him, walk with Him; and thus-shalt thou walk to Him.

Harless (IHebrews Hebrews 12:5):—Wherein lies the courage of a true Christian?

Gerok:—The glorious cloud of witnesses about the throne of the Redeemer of the world: 1. their bloody wounds; 2. their glorious banner; 3. their heavenly crowns.

G. von Zetzschwitz (Testimonies of the good Shepherd, 1864):—Looking to Jesus is our comfort and victory in all conflicts and sufferings. For looking to Jesus involves1. at the commencement of the struggle, looking immediately to the victorious issue: 2. if it continues long, seeing before us the highest model of patience; 3. recognizing in suffering itself a comforting seal of our Divine sonship.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - The Eng. ver. correctly, as to the sense, is set down].

FN#2 - Hebrews 12:3.—The reading εἰς ἑαυτόν(instead of εἰς αὑτόν or εἰς αὑτόν, which is found in D***. K. L, and nearly all the minusc, is directly sustained by A. and the Vulg.; indirectly by the senseless plurals, εἰς ἑαυτούς.in D*. E*., Pesh. and Sin.


Verses 4-13

II

Their sufferings are profitable chastisements of the paternal love of God

Hebrews 12:4-13

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children [sons], My Song of Solomon, despise not thou [make not light of] the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked [while being probed, corrected, ἐλεγχόμενος] of [by] him; 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth 7 If ye endure chastening [It is for chastisement that ye endure],[FN3] God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he [who is a son] whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be [are] without chastisement, whereof all are [have become] partakers, then 9 are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore [εἶτα, then, then again], we have had [we had, used to have the] fathers of our flesh which [who] corrected us [as chasteners], and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather[FN4] be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live? 10For they verily [indeed] for [or, with reference to] a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might [may] be partakers of his holiness 11 Now no chastening for the present [in respect indeed to the present] seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless [but], afterward it yieldeth the peaceable [peaceful] fruit of righteousness unto them which are [which have been] exercised [disciplined] thereby 12 Wherefore lift up [right up again] the hands which hang down, and the feeble [relaxed] knees; 13And make straight paths for your feet, lest [that] that which is lame [may not] be turned out of the way; but let it [may] rather be healed.

[ Hebrews 12:4.—ἀντικατέστητε, ye resisted, Aor.; Words, lays stress on the Aor.=“as ye might have done on several occasions.” Alf, with most, makes it=perfect. With οὔπω the Aor. rendering is harsh, unless we render not in any way, not at all, and take ἀντικατ. of a specific internal conflict with the sin of disobedience and apostasy, as the Saviour’s in Gethsemane; then μέχρις αἵματος, refers to the Saviour’s sweating drops of blood. I incline with Barnes to this interpretation.

Hebrews 12:5.—ἐκλέλησθε, ye have forgotten, much better than interrog, have ye forgotten? as Bl, De W, Lün, in order to soften what otherwise seems too harsh; but this forgetting is virtually assumed below, and the interrog. would be awkward.—ὀλιγωρεῖν, make little account of, not so strong as despise.—ἐλεγχόμενος, while being probed, sifted, corrected, rather than rebuked.

Hebrews 12:7.—εἰς παιδείαν ὑπομένετε, so the best authorities; it is for chastening or discipline that ye are enduring. Alf. argues that ὑπομένειν can hardly have the incidental meaning which the ordinary reading requires.—τίς γάρ ἐστιν υἰός,for who is a son?

Hebrews 12:8.—μέτοχοι γεγοναμεν, we have become partakers.

Hebrews 12:9.—έἶτα, then, in the next place. Unless we take έἶτα as a particle of indignant emotion, which I think better. This would indeed require, in a regular construction, οὐ πολὺ δὲ μἀλλον (not as Bl. and Alf, καὶ οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον); but that the author began with this construction in his mind, is shown by the μέν after τούς, which has not its answering δέ.

Hebrews 12:10.—πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας, with reference to a few days, or, perhaps, with Moll, etc, during.

Hebrews 12:11.—τοῖς δἰ ἀυτῆς γεγυμνας, to those that have been trained by means of it.—ἀποδίδωσιν, it renders back, yields.—δικαιοσυνης, emphatically placed.

Hebrews 12:12.—ἀνορθώσατε, right up, bring back to erectness or straightness.—παρεινένας, slackened, unstrung.—παραλελυμένα, paralyzed, relaxed.

Hebrews 12:13.—καὶ τροχιὰς ὀρθὰς, etc., is a regular Dactylic Hexameter: ἴνα μὴ τὸ χωλὸν ἐκτραπῆ, part of an Iambic trimeter, as in Hebrews 12:14, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὸν κύριον, is a perfect Iambic verse.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 12:4. Resisted unto blood.—The expression is hardly a figure drawn from boxing (Beng, Bl, Del.), but denotes a bloody death (Wieseler), with a reference to the death of Jesus, and implies that the readers have indeed already been subjected to acts of violence ( Hebrews 10:32 ff.), but have not as yet, like earlier members of the Church ( Hebrews 13:7), been persecuted unto death, but rather are in their conduct, shielding themselves from such perils, and forget the import of the sufferings which God destines for His children. A moral struggle against their own sin, and one in which they have not put forth their utmost exertions (so recently again Holtzmann in the Stud. und Krit., 1859, II.) is here not intended. [I incline to think it Isaiah, and that in this consists the rebuking character of the language.—K.]. Sin appears here as an objective worldly power, as it appears in particular in the enemies of the Gospel, and prepares the same suffering for the disciples, as for the Lord.

Hebrews 12:5. And ye have forgotten, etc.—If with Calv, Beza, Bl, Lün, etc., we take these words interrogatively, the tone of reproof is softened [and the passage enfeebled]. The citation is from Proverbs 3:11-12, where in Heb. the concluding clause runs, “and as a father to the Song of Solomon, He is good to him” (or, receives him kindly). instead of וּכְאָב the Sept. read either יְכָאֵב or as Job 5:17, יַכְאִב, he occasions pain. The Cod. A. of the Sept. reads with fifteen other MSS. παιδεύει; the remainder have ἐλέγχει.

Hebrews 12:7. For chastisement.—The lect. rec. εἰ has the parallels, Hebrews 12:8, in its favor; still this cannot decide us against the authorities, which by no means present us an unmeaning clerical error, but assign the object of the suffering, which is the first mentioned παιδεία. Εἰς, denoting purpose, is frequent in our Epistle, Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 3:5; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 6:16; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 11:11. The Indic. construction corresponds better with the connection (Chrys, Del.) than the Imper. (Ebr.), especially considering the pregnant signification of ὑπομένειν and the δέ in Hebrews 12:8. Again τίς is not to be taken adjectively with υἱός (Bl, De W, Thol, Lün.), nor as predicate=of what sort perchance is the son? (Böhme) but as a substantive, as also υἱός and πατήρ, are without the article. Thus the sense Isaiah, according to Del, “where is there one who stands in truth in the relation of Song of Solomon, whom He does not chastise, who stands to Him in truth in (the relation of father?”

Hebrews 12:9. Again, [in the next place].—εἶτα continues the argumentation.—To take the word as ironical, or as a question of surprise=to ita ne (Valck, Alberti, etc.) is consistent with classical usage, but is here forced, besides which also, the second member of the sentence should have commenced with καί.

Father of spirits.—This is not Christ (Hammond), but God, who, however, receives this designation not as one caring for our souls (Böhm. after Morus, and others), nor as bestower of the gifts of the Spirit (Theodoret), nor in the moral sense, as Father, in respect to the higher spiritual province of life (De W, Ebr, Lün.); but inasmuch as all spirits are derived from Him (Thol, Del, Riehm). We must not, however, refer the “spirits” exclusively to angels (Chrys, Œc, Theoph.); nor find here a one-sided and extreme statement of creatianism (Calv, Beng, Este, Carpz, etc.), but only a moderate and authorized form, as at Hebrews 7:10, of Traducianism.

[In regard to the construction of the vexed passage above, we may, in the first place, set aside at once the idea of Wets, Storr, Kuin, Böhm, and Bleek, that πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας is to be understood of the second member of the sentence, as implying a restriction in the time of the discipline, alike of the human and the Divine, both being confined to the present life. This, however true, is clearly not expressed in the sentence; πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας belongs only to the first member. But, so restricted, are we to explain it as “for, i.e, during a few days,” viz: the few days of our minority, in which we were subject to their chastisement, or, as “with reference to a few days,” viz., the days of our earthly life? The objection to this latter, hinted at by Moll, and more fully expressed by Alford, viz., that it is not true that the discipline of earthly parents always “has regard only to the present life,” seems to me without force; inasmuch as the author’s statement is simply a general one, not referring to what may be the possible scope of the training of Christian parents, but what is the natural scope of human and earthly discipline as such. Alford’s next objection (as also Moll’s), viz., that the contrast thus implied between the transitory purpose of human chastisement, and the eternal purpose of the Divine, is superinduced on the passage because “there is not one word in the latter clause expressing the eternal nature of God’s purpose,” he subsequently answers himself by placing the πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας in contrast with the ἐπὶ τὸ συμφέρον, in which, he says, “we have set over against one another the short time during which, the temporary reference with which their chastisement was inflicted, and the great purpose implied as eternal from its very expression, as τὸ συμφέρον for an immortal being, in which he chastises us.” The question, then, is whether, with Moll, we are to take πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας as simply like our “for=during a few days,” or, with many others, to take it as= “with reference to a few days.” If the former, then the clause κατὰ τὸ δοκοῦν αὐτοἴς, of the first member is set over against the two clauses in the second. If the latter, then we have a double antithesis, and the question arises, whether we are to take it, with Alford, in the natural order of the clauses (“for a few days” against “for our profit,” and “according to their pleasure” against “in order to participate in his holiness”) or, with Delitzsch, chiastically, the second of the one corresponding to the first of the other, and the first of the one to the second of the other. It does not follow, however, necessarily, that, even if we take πρός, with reference to, there still is any such exact antithesis intended as either of these explanations implies. I incline, on the one hand, to take πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας as in reference to a few days (which seems to me to have much more point than the other), and, on the other, to doubt even then if the writer intends any exactly balanced antithesis. He puts the two grand points of earthly correction, viz., its being but for and with reference to a few days, and its possessing, even in the best, the character more or less of arbitrariness, against the one grand point of the Divine, viz., its intrinsic and essential profitableness, in which, however, a contrast to both the other characteristics is virtually implied.—K.].

Hebrews 12:11. Peaceful fruit of righteousness.—As the tree which bears the fruit is the παιδεία, δικαιοσύνης cannot be the Gen. Subj.—as even recently Klee supposes. The Gen. is Gen. of apposition ( James 3:18). The adj. εἰρηνικός stands in relation to δι’ αὐτῆς γεγυμνασμένοις, so that the παιδεία is regarded under the point of view of γυμνασία=ἀγών (Thol, Del, etc.).

Hebrews 12:12. Wherefore raise up again, etc.—The first clause borrows both thought and language from Isaiah 35:3; the other from Proverbs 4:26. The Pass. Signif. given by many since and with Grot. to ἐκτρέπ., to be dislocated, distorted, is unsustained by usage. The original text, the expression of the Sept. ποίει σοῖς ποσί, and partially the following clause with ἵνα, lead us to take the τοῖς ποσίν ὑμῶν, not as Dat. instrum. (It, Vulg, Luth, Bl, De W, Thol, Lün.), but as Dat. commodi (Böhm, Ebr, Del, Riehm, Alf.). [We may call attention to the lofty and rythmical character of the language here. Καὶ τροχιὰς ὀρθάς, etc., is a perfect Dactylic hexameter; ἵνα μὴ τὸ χωλόν, etc., is a rough and irregular Iambic trimeter, while the general cast of the expression is decidedly poetic. See textual note, and Hebrews 12:14-15.—K.].

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Sin which reigns in the world, and is mighty in the children of unbelief, is often also skilful to employ violent measures against the professors of the true faith, and to threaten not merely their property and honor, but their life. In such cases it behooves them to be faithful and obedient even unto death.

2. Yet even where matters do not come to extremities, still there are frequently sorrows and sufferings, painful and heavy. In them we must recognize not mere violent acts of men, not mere undeserved strokes of fortune, but the hand of God, yet still, as of a father who regards our interests, and by his discipline of suffering, is bringing into clear recognition, and stamping with the seal of validity, that filial relation to which he has received us in Christ.

3. There are, thus, sufferings which stand indeed in connection with our own sinfulness, and have the significance of chastisement, yet still are not punitive sufferings, such as would give us to taste the wrath of God, but strokes inflicted by Divine love, as means of paternal chastisement for the purpose of educating us for the heavenly kingdom.

4. If we recognize this Divine purpose, and find in the painful, yet salutary chastisings, a recognition, confirmation, and development of our filial relation to God, then we shall all the more readily submit ourselves, in humility and patience, to these chastisements, which have their ultimate ground in the love of God, and their true end and aim in His desire for our salvation, the more clearly we perceive that this loving chastisement of our heavenly Father immeasurably transcends that of earthly fathers.

5. This submission is entirely authorized, obligatory and salutary: for, while our parents can only endow us with merely natural life, but cannot change our fleshly nature, and during our minority are influenced by personal, and sometimes selfish views, in the application of the means of chastisement, so that the results are often either inconsiderable or uncertain, God, as the Father of spirits, is also the author of our spiritual nature, and by the means of education which He employs, makes us partakers of His holiness, of the Divine nature ( 2 Peter 1:4). Thus life, in its fullest sense, is the consequence of such a subjection to the dispensations and leadings of God; and the end of this discipline of suffering, is a fruit which consists in righteousness, and the taste of which is peace.

6. “The entire falling away of the unconfirmed, wavering members of the Church, can be guarded against, and their recovery be rendered possible, only by the opening of straight paths on the part of the entire body, only by their going forward in a plain, simple, upright course of thought, confession and action, which shall exercise upon the weak such a salutary and restorative influence as straight and even paths upon lame and diseased feet” (Del.).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

If God comforts us as a father, we must allow ourselves to be chastised as children.—Points of likeness and unlikeness in human and Divine education.—That which pains, comforts, and blesses us in sufferings.—The sweetness, not only of the means, but of the mode of God’s comforting us in suffering.—Our filial relation to God teaches us not lightly to regard afflictions, not to faint in them, but to be improved by them.

Starke:—The thing which is not pleasant to us, we can easily forget ( Psalm 88:13); but he who often calls to mind the cross, will be less surprised by it when it comes ( 1 Peter 4:12).—To make an honest application to one’s self, is the most important thing in the reading of the Holy Scripture ( Romans 4:23-24).—The dearer a child the sharper his discipline under the rod.—The community of sufferings which visits in the world all the brethren, is the consolation of all the children of God.—Do not vex thyself in relation to long continued sufferings; our whole life is but short.—We must regard the cross not in reference to our outward sensibilities, as being painful and afflictive to flesh and blood; but according to the salutary uses which God brings out of it ( Romans 8:17).—Every cross has a bitter beginning, but a sweet termination.—In tears lies hidden the seed of all joy and glory.—Hands and feet should, in the spiritual sense, be properly employed; the former for valiant strife, the latter for nimble running.—The stumbler must not be immediately rejected, but restored and raised up with words of comfort and admonition ( Psalm 73:2; Psalm 17:15).

Rieger:—Those are sure steps which are made in accordance with the course and conflict which God has ordained, with our eye on the goal of joy and glory that is set before us, and in confidence in the grace of God, accompanying us at every step.

Heubner:—How much less are our sufferings than the sufferings of the early Christians! Now, those who confess Christ have peace. This should shame, warn, and incite us.

Fricke:—Every chastisement of God Isaiah, in His children, a seed, which subsequently produces fruit.

Footnotes:

FN#3 - Hebrews 12:7.—Instead of εἰ read εἰς, after Sin. A. D. E. K. L, and most minusc. Reiche, however, defends the Rec.

FN#4 - Hebrews 12:9.—Οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον, sanctioned by Sin. A. D*., instead of the lect. rec. οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον.

FN#5 - Hebrews 12:15.—Instead of διὰ ταύτης, we should read after A, 17, 67***, 137, 238, δι’ αὐτῆς, and instead of πολλοί, read after Sin. A, 47, οἱ πολλοί.


Verses 14-17

III

Incipient apostasy must be counteracted by striving after union and sanctification

Hebrews 12:14-17

14Follow peace with all men [om. men], and holiness, without which no man [none] shall see the Lord 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of [fall short of] the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up, trouble you, and thereby[FN5] [the] many 16 be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat [one meal] sold his birthright.[FN6] 17For ye know how that [that also] afterward, when he would have inherited [though wishing to inherit] the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully [earnestly] with tears.

[ Hebrews 12:14.—μετὰ πάντων with all, not “man;” the reference is doubtless to the brethren—any further reference would here be irrelevant.—

οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὸν κύριον

Ἐπισκοποῦντες μή τις ὑστερῶν ἀπό.

Two strictly metrical lines of Iamb. Trimeter; poetic also in diction, as οὗ χωρίς for χωρὶς οὗ or ἄνευ οὗ.

Hebrews 12:15.—With ὑστερῶν either is understood or (with De W, Lün, Del, Alf, we must regard it as subject of ένοχλῇ, and in the resumption of the sentence ῥίζα πικρίας, is put in its place. In favor, however, of the other construction is that of πόρνος, which also requires . The passage is imitated from Deuteronomy 29:18, where the Sept. ἐν χολῇ καὶ πικρι̇α, would almost seem, and is deemed by Del, to have originated the similarly sounding ἐνοχλῇ. Still this Isaiah, on the whole, improbable, “especially as the Alexandrine copy of the Sept, which our author constantly used, has ἐνοχλῇ” (Alf.).—ῥίζα πικρίας, is evidently to be taken of persons, and persons inclined and tempting to apostasy.—οἱ πολλοί, not many; but the many, the mass.

Hebrews 12:16.—ἀντὶ βρώσεως μιᾶς, in exchange for one meal.

Hebrews 12:17.—μετανοίας—εὗρε, I should put this in parenthesis in entire accordance with the usage of the author. μετανοίας also with Del, Alf, etc. (against Moll, who, however, seems undecided), I would refer to Esau, not to Isaac, and the following αὐτήν to εὐλογίαν, Alford’s objection to the latter, that ἐκζητήσας immediately takes up εὖρε, is by no means decisive. Ἐκζητήσος is the natural word, without any reference to the preceding εὗρεν and the μετὰ δακρύων ἐκζητήσας αὐτήν exactly describes Esau’s endeavors after the blessing, as recorded in Gen.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 12:15. Fall short of the grace, etc.—Ὑ̔στερῖν ἀπό expresses the idea of free agency and of guilt (Böhme, etc.). With the participle ὑστερῶν either is to be supplied as frequently in the classics after μή (Böhm, Thol, etc., after the ancients), or the construction is broken, and subsequently so resumed, and completed with words from Deuteronomy 29:18 after the Cod. Alex. in the Sept, that while τὶς ὑστερῶν would be properly the subject of ἐνοχλῇ, yet in place of it, on the resumption of the sentence, stands ῥίζα πικρίας (Bl, Lün, Del.). Antioch. Epiph. is called, 1 Maccabees 1:19, ῥίζα πικρίας.

Hebrews 12:17. For ye know, etc.—Luth. erroneously after the Vulg. takes ἴστε imperatively, and is seriously stumbled at the general thought of the passage, inasmuch as he refers αὐτήν to μετάνοια (with Chrys, Œc, Primas, Grot, etc.), and refers μετάνοια to the change in the mind of Esau. Hence sprang grave psychological difficulties, and a seeming antagonism, with the general teachings of Scripture. To take the clause with De W. objectively, would require that αὐτόν, sc. τόπον, should have been written. If we adhere to the certainly natural reference of αὐτήν to μετάνοια, we must (with most intpp. since Zwingle, Bez, among them Thol, Ebr, Bisp, Lün.) understand the change of mind as applying to Jacob, not to Esau. We might, however, be tempted, on account of the special sense of μετάνοια in the N. Test, and inasmuch as Isaac has not been previously named, to refer (with Theophyl, Calv, Beng, Bl, Hofm, Del, Riehm) αὐτήν to εὐλογίαν. This yields also the unobjectionable idea that the tears shed on account of the loss of the blessing remained ineffectual, inasmuch as he found in himself no place for repentance. But in that case we must, on the one hand, take this explanatory clause, “for he found,” etc., as parenthetical, which is entirely foreign to the style of the author (for Hebrews 7:11 and Hebrews 12:20, are by no means parallel;) and on the other hand, the sentiment which thus arises Isaiah, to be sure, in accordance with Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:29, but not with the record of the life of Esau. The opinion of Del. that Esau is here presented as a type of that unpardonable sin of apostasy, which draws after it inevitable damnation, finds no support in the text itself. But the seeking with tears for the change of mind in his father, and the father’s repelling of his entreaties, are recorded Genesis 27:34-38.

[To me Moll’s objections to the view which he rejects seem by no means conclusive. That the parenthesis is not opposed to the genius of our author’s style, can be shown by several examples, as Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 7:20-21; Hebrews 10:7; Hebrews 10:23, in all of which a parenthesis is most naturally assumed. In the second place it seems by no means necessary to assume here that the personal character of Esau is in question, at least as to his ultimate repentance and individual salvation. But he held a position and enjoyed a prerogative of inestimable importance. As Isaac’s first-born he was his natural heir, and thus naturally the inheritor of the blessings covenanted to Abraham; naturally, in the line of Theocratic descent. That prerogative he recklessly threw away. He valued so little the privilege connected with the promise and covenant of God, that he forfeited it for the single gratification of his sensual appetite. The forfeiture was fixed and fatal. When he would have recovered it he was rejected, discarded, reprobated (ἀπεδοκιμάσθη), and no repentance was of any avail to secure the recovery of the once discarded and abandoned blessing. Thus his example is a most happy and forcible one for the author. He stands, as suggested by Del, as the type of him who wantonly turns away and rejects with carnal and sensual mind the blessings of God’s spiritual covenant. In his case, indeed, there is perhaps no necessity of supposing that the rejection was such as to shut him out from the kingdom of heaven. But he was inexorably excluded from the high position which he would have held as one of the line of God’s covenant people, and one of the ancestors of the Messiah, and his example is a most striking and pertinent one for the purpose of our author. I believe, therefore, that αὐτήν refers to εὐλογίαν, that the clause “for he found,” etc., is parenthetical, and that μετάνοια refers to the change in Esau’s own mind: repentance was impossible, i.e., any such repentance as could restore to him the once forfeited theocratic blessing, and that thus the doctrine is strikingly parallel and analogous to (though not precisely identical with) the author’s elsewhere repeatedly expressed doctrine of the hopelessness of the condition of the apostate.—K.].

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. With a steadfast constancy in our Christian profession, there must be associated a corresponding walk, an advancement in holiness. Great hinderances to this arise when, along with outward afflictions, there spring up internal divisions, and a spirit of contention becomes prevalent in the Church. This is all the more in opposition to the Lord’s will, by as much as we are not merely to seek to come into relations of peace with all the brethren, even with those of different views from our own, and to preserve and cherish these relations, but also, so far as in us lies, to live in peace with all men ( Romans 12:18).

2. Fellowship with the Lord, and the certainty by means of this, of yet beholding God, should not be made dependent on external things, but we should ever bear in mind that with unspiritual modes of feeling, and with a failure in sanctification, the possession of salvation is impossible, and our claim to the inheritance is lost. To our seeing of God a fulfilment of the required conditions is indispensable, Psalm 17:15; Psalm 42:3; Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:3-4.

3. The Divine fulness of peace and holiness may and should serve as an example to the Church; but the appropriation of these, and reproduction in our own life, demands a zealous and continued endeavor, and a mutual brotherly, coöperation, in order that none may so withdraw himself from grace that it can no longer influence him, or be beyond his reach.

4. The roots of bitterness, those poisonous plants which, springing up, disquiet and molest a Church, as the field and vineyard of God, and bring contagion and ruin to the individuals who come in contact with them, and of whom there are but too many, are of various kinds; but preëminently dangerous is that impure and worldly feeling which, for the sake of fleeting charms of sense, and momentary enjoyments, half recklessly, half thoughtlessly, sacrifices the blessing of the promise, and a title to an inheritance in the kingdom of God.

5. As there are fruitless tears, which have no influence on the improvement and purifying of our own heart, because they stand in no connection with actual repentance, so there are also tears shed too late, and therefore in vain, which are of no avail to change the purposes of others, and have no power to modify the lot which a person has previously chosen for himself. A repentance, however, sought sincerely and earnestly, and yet in vain, Isaiah, according to the tenor of Scripture, as completely unsupposable as is a truly penitent and yet ineffectual seeking of the grace of God for the forgiveness of sin within the limits of our temporal life.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Better seasonably preserve a good than mourn for it when too late.—They who most zealously strive for their own sanctification, care most earnestly for the salvation of others.—He who is intent on seeing God must be in earnest in securing sanctification.—From what source the pursuit of peace derives its power, and wherein it finds its limits.

Starke:—It is lovely and beautiful to live in peace with all men, so far as it can be done with a good conscience. Yet if we cannot always be at peace, still we must never give occasion for quarrelling and strife ( Psalm 133:1; 1 Corinthians 11:16).—Great wisdom and careful keeping of our conscience are required, that we may neither from fear of men omit in our works or suppress in our words any thing which ought to be done and spoken, and that in neither do we say any thing which may breed dissension, and which either had better been entirely omitted, or might have been done or uttered in a better manner ( Proverbs 13:10).—He who will not be born anew with Christ, to him His birth is of no avail. He who will not die to sin with Christ, to him His death is of no avail. He who will not rise from sin in Christ, His resurrection is of no avail ( Acts 3:26; Colossians 3:1; John 3:3; John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:24).—If hatred has sprung from wrath, and the hatred continues until the sun has repeatedly set upon it, the seated hatred roots itself in the heart, and becomes a noxious plant not easily eradicated.—A Christian should be watchful over his fellow, that he may exhort him to that which is good.—There are in the Holy Scripture bad and good examples, which prove that the devil has for a long time carried on his wickedness, and that we must not indiscriminately appeal to ancient examples ( 1 Corinthians 11:1).—Oh, how many brethren of Esau are abroad in the world, who sell for temporal pleasures the prerogative of their birth-right, the kingdom of heaven! Woe to those who follow after them ( 2 Timothy 3:4).

Rieger:—We think that we are in the right, and that we are seeking nothing but the right; but we seek it in such a way that love, peace, compassion, are sacrificed in the pursuit, and we defile our spirits with many a stain, in which we also involve many others. He who cannot be induced to carefulness in regard to apparently small matters, will never be in genuine earnest. A mess of pottage could do Esau so much harm!—A cup of cold water may receive a reward.—To will while God wills, and awakens our own will, this effects good. To will, when grace and the season of grace have been neglected, and the door has been shut, will be in vain, and will prove no small part of one’s eternal shame and suffering ( Matthew 7:22-23; Luke 13:25).

Hahn:—A single act can work great ruin. Much is often lost in a brief space; for the sake of a small thing we often surrender that which is great. The false hope of its recovery we see in the example of Esau.

Heubner:—Peace would seem not to be sinful neglect, but connected with a strict adherence to the will of God.—The reward of Christian sanctification is glorious. It is the necessary condition of blessedness.—By deferring our reformation, Divine grace is often trifled away.—It is a duty to keep the Church pure, and to guard against the influence of seducers; the whole Church is defiled, dishonored and poisoned.—How miserable is the reward bestowed by sin, and how infinitely great the loss of the sinner.—Though those who come to late repentance may obtain indeed a Seir, yet it is not Canaan.

Ahlfeld:—In sanctification the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ: 1. Why should we be in earnest in regard to this sanctification? 2. Whence do we acquire the power to attain it? 3. Wherein do we perceive that we grow in it? 4. What is its goal and termination?

Menken:—The grace of God and the sanctification of our own nature, peace with God and with ourselves, and the love of peace, and a peaceful tone of feeling and of conduct in our relation with others, stand in indissoluble connection, and in the degree in which we are participant in the first, will the other also be found with us.

Footnotes:

FN#6 - Hebrews 12:16.—Instead of ἀπέδοτο is found in A. C, the form ἀπέδετο, which is not an error of the copyist, but frequently occurs in the New Testament, as a specimen of forms of the later vulgar idiom. See Alex. Buttmann’s Gramm. of the New Test. Idiom, p41.

FN#7 - Hebrews 12:18.—Even Tisch. has (in Edd11, IV, VII.) replaced in the text the indispensable ὄρει after ψηλαφ., following D. K. L. and nearly all the minusc, although it is wanting in Sin. A.C, 14, 17, and many ancient translations, and hence is suspected by Mill as a gloss, and rejected by Lachm, Tisch. I, and Alford. [With Tisch, Moll, etc., I should retain it, regarding this as a case (like Ἐχομεν, Romans 5:1) in which the internal evidence overbalances stronger external testimony on the other side.—K.].


Verses 18-24

IV

We are held under obligation to this by the nature of the New Covenant

Hebrews 12:18-24

18For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched [to a mountain[FN7] that is handled], and that burned with fire [and to burning fire], nor [and] unto blackness, 19and darkness,[FN8] and tempest, And [to] the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which voice [om. voice] they that heard entreated [deprecatingly begged, παρῃτήσαντο, that the word should not be spoken to them any more [that (further) speech might not be added to them]: 20(For they could not endure [endured not] that which was [om. was] commanded, And if so much as [Even if] a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart [om. or thrust through with a dart[FN9]]: 21And so terrible was the sight, that [And—so fearful was the spectacle—] Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake). 22But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the first-born [and to myriads, a festal company of angels and the congregation of the first-born], which are written [who are registered] in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all [or, and as Judges, to the God of all], and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the [a] new covenant, 24and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of [more mightily[FN10] than] Abel.

[ Hebrews 12:18.—ψηλαφωμένω, scil, ὄρει, to a mountain that is felt of, handled, palpable to touch=material and earthly.—καὶ κεκαυμένῳ πυρί, and to kindled, hence, burning fire, better than burning with fire.

Hebrews 12:19.—παρητήσαντο, etc, begged off against any further word being said to them; παραιτεῖσθαι, to beg off for oneself, to deprecate, not=αἰτεῖσθαι παρά τινος (as Alf.), but παρά, with force of aside from, against.

Hebrews 12:20.—οὐκ ἔφερον τὸ διαστελλόμενον, they did not bear that which commanded=the command.

Hebrews 12:21.—καί—οὕτως. Song of Solomon, perhaps, it is better to punctuate, carrying καί over to τὸ φανταζ., as otherwise a ὅτι, or ὥς with φανταζ., could hardly be dispensed with.

Hebrews 12:22-23.—μυριάσιν ἄγγέλ. πανηγύρει καὶ ἐκκλησία. The Eng. ver, an innumerable company of angels and the general assembly and church, etc., is rendered impossible by the absence of the conjunction before πανηγ. while again to connect πανηγ. with ἐκκλησία without the καί, involves an unaccountable departure from the general structure of the passage, in which all the other principal members are connected by καί. It remains then either to take μυριάσιν as a collective term distributed into the πανήγυρις of angels, and the ἐκκλησία of the first-born, or to take μυριάσιν as belonging only to the clause ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει in which case again it is a question whether we are to read, “to myriads, a festal company of angels,” or, “to myriads of angels, a festal company.” In regard to the first construction, μυριάσιν is justly remarked by Moll to be naturally suggestive, from Old Testament associations, of angels, and it seems better so to restrict it. Thus restricted again, if μυριάσιν governs ἀγγέλ. the noun πανηγ. comes in as a dragging and halting apposition. With Moll, I prefer, therefore, “to myriads,” via., a festal host of angels. If (with Alf, etc.) μυριάσιτ covered both πανηγ. and ἐκκλησ., so elegant a writer would hardly have omitted τε after ἀγγέλων.—πανήγυρις, not merely a general assembly, but, a festal gathering, a joyful and jubilant host.—ἐκκλησ. πρωτο., perhaps better rendered by the indefinite art, “a congregation of first-born ones,” suggested by the case of Esau, who had to lose his birthright in order that Jacob might obtain it.—ἀπογεγ. ἐν οὐρ, registered, enrolled, whose citizenship is in heaven.—καὶ κριτῆ θεῷ πάντων, and to God the judge of all, so E. V, etc., and still Alf, while among others Be Wette, Bleek, Lün, Del. and Moll construct: “and as judge to the God of all,” which certainly has the order of the words, and I think the sentiment in its favor.

Hebrews 12:24.—διαθ. νεᾶς, of a new covenant.—κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι, speaking better, or, more mightily.—παρὰ τὸν Αβελ, in comparison with Abel.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 12:18. Which is handled.—The pres. particip. can be scarcely regarded as=the verbal adjective in τος, hence ψηφαλώμενος is not=which might be touched, as is commonly maintained, nor=touched by God, i.e., by the lightning, and therefore, smoking (Beng, Storr, and others); but it expresses that which, in its nature, is material and perceptible to the sense. The position of ὄρει is opposed to the construction which would connect κεκαυμένῳ with it, and make πυρί dat. of the instrument (Bl, De W, Thol, Lun, etc.), with reference to Deuteronomy 5:23; Deuteronomy 9:15, etc. Del. also remarks, in defence of the coördinate construction of these words adopted by Erasm, Calv, Beza, Grot, Beng, etc., that also at Deuteronomy 4:36; and elsewhere “the great fire” is mentioned by itself. Σαλπίγγος ἤχῳ is borrowed from Exodus 19:16; φωνῇ ῥημάτων from Deuteronomy 4:12; the relative clause ἦς, etc., refers to Deuteronomy 5:22; Deuteronomy 18:16; comp. Exodus 20:18 ff.; the command, Hebrews 12:20, refers to Exodus 19:12 ff. To understand τὸ διαστελλόμενον as=that which is ordained (Storr, Schultz, etc.), is contrary to the New Testament usage, which employs the verb only as a middle.

Hebrews 12:21. And—so fearful, etc.—The proper punctuation originated with Beza. Previously, καὶ οὕτως were always taken together. Hebrews 12:21 is a heightening of the idea of8–20; but the καἱ is not=also, or even (Carpz, Boehm, and others). This interpretation is inconsistent with its position in the clause. The words here ascribed to Moses are not found in the Scripture account of the giving of the Law. According to Calov, the author drew from immediate inspiration. According to Erasm, Beza, Schlicht, and others, from tradition. Recent commentators more correctly refer the words to Deuteronomy 9:19, where Moses expresses his fear of the wrath of God, after the defection of the people in worshipping the golden calf, by the words καὶ ἔκφοβός εἰμι. Stephen, at Acts 7:32, in recounting the appearance of God in the burning bush, represents Moses as ἔντρομος γενόμενος, which words, also, are not found at Exodus 3:6.

Hebrews 12:22. To Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem.—With Mount Sinai, the representative of the legislation of the Old Covenant ( Galatians 4:24), is contrasted Mt. Zion as the city of the fulfilled Messianic promises ( Psalm 48:3; Psalm 50:2; Psalm 78:68; Psalm 110:2; Psalm 132:13; Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1; Joel 3:5; Obadiah 1:17; Revelation 4:1), and as the true dwelling-place of God ( Micah 14:3; Isaiah 26:21; Ezekiel 3:12). So also the Heavenly Jerusalem, which ( Galatians 4:26) is also mentioned as Mother of the redeemed and truly free children of God, is contrasted with the earthly Jerusalem, the city of the great King ( Matthew 5:35), as the city in which the living God, who is also its Founder and Architect ( Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16), has not so much His dwelling-place as His people. That the contrast of the earthly and the heavenly is here arranged according to the sacred number seven (Beng, Del, Kluge), is not indicated in the text.

Myriads, etc.—By the term “myriads,” we are involuntarily reminded of angels ( Deuteronomy 33:2; Daniel 7:10; Judges 14). It is therefore very natural to regard angels also here as exclusively meant, and to take the term not as a collective conception, distributing itself into the two parts of a festal assemblage of angels, and the congregation of the first-born (as with Beng, Bl, De W, Ebr, Del, etc.). It Isaiah, indeed, in my judgment, most natural to conceive the angelic hosts “as a festal company” ( Song of Solomon 7:1), yet, as in apposition with ‘myriads;’ to which there is then subjoined the mention of the Christian church. For inasmuch as the term “myriads” does not of necessity, under all circumstances, denote angels, Numbers 10:36, it would be almost indispensable to add some specializing clause. Should we, on the contrary, connect ἀγγέλων not with πανηγύρει (Seb. Schmidt, Griesb, Knapp, etc.), but with μυριάσιν (Bez, Calov, Storr, Thol, Lün, etc.), we must, in that case, either take πανηγ. as in opposition with μυριάσιν, which would be dragging and heavy, or connect it with the following, giving it quite another reference. Thol. makes, alongside of the ‘myriads of angels,’ a ‘festal company’ of glorified saints, who are already celebrating the Sabbath of the people of God ( Numbers 4:19), and the community of Christians still walking upon the earth. To these latter the ἐκκλησία πρωτοτόκων certainly has reference, inasmuch as they are said to be “registered or enrolled in heaven;” because by the introduction of their names into the book of life, they are registered as citizens of the kingdom of heaven, with an assured prospect of the heavenly inheritance, ( Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 20:15); and they are called “First-born,” not in reference to the time of their conversion, whether understood of Apostles (Primas, Grot.), or of the earliest Jewish and Gentile believers (Schlicht, Bl, Ebr, etc.), or of those who have been glorified by martyrdom (De W.); but in reference to their dignity as “first-fruits of the creatures of God” (ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κτισμάτων τοῦ θεοῦ), James 1:18, Revelation 14:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (Böhm, Thol, etc.). [May there not be a reference in the term πρωτότοκος, here to the case of Esau, a little above alluded to, who sold his birth-right, πρωτοτόκια, and whose selling or parting with it was indispensable to its passing over to Jacob? In earthly families and relationships there can be but one first-born; the prerogative is restricted by the nature of the case. But in the family of God they are all ‘first-born.’ The congregation of ancient Israel was made up in but a small proportion of those who held this honor; but the spiritual church of the New Testament is a “community or congregation of First-born ones”—they are all first-born. This need not exclude the reference to the import of the term as given by the author.—K.]. The term ἀπογεγρ. forbids our referring the “first-born,” either to those already dwelling in heaven, or to angels, as the oldest inhabitants of heaven (Nö Song of Solomon, Storr, etc.), or to the patriarchs and saints of the Old Testament (Calv, Beng, Lün, etc.), or to the glorified first fruits of Christianity (De W.); for the sealing borne by the144,000, as their characteristic mark on the heavenly Zion ( Revelation 14:1), and which had been already impressed upon them on the earth ( Hebrews 7:3), is an entirely different thing from the registering of their names in the list of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven. But it is very questionable whether we are authorized to refer πανηγ. to the festal company of the glorified, as such a reference is in no way exegetically involved in the text. It were much more natural in such a coördination of πανηγύρει and ἐκκλησίᾳ in reference to the πρωτότοκοι, not, indeed, to adopt the view of Lün, that the collective community of the first-born are characterized partly as a festal and exulting assemblage (πανηγ.); partly as bound in an inward unity (ἐκκλησ), but rather that of Hofmann, who finds in it the united and kindred designations of the church, partly as a religious and worshiping, partly as a political organization. But there is absolutely no ground apparent for this double representation; on the contrary, the absence in this case of the connecting particle καί between the two principal members would be entirely inexplicable.

Hebrews 12:23. As Judges, to the God of all, etc.—[So Moll with many, instead of “to God, the Judge of all”]. We need absolutely assume no inversion (with the old translators and interpreters). The subject is the prerogatives of the Christian revelation; hence in regard to the Judge before whom the first-born, who are enrolled for the kingdom of heaven, i.e., Christians, are yet to appear, the comforting declaration is made that He is the God of all; i.e., stands in a positive religious relation to all the members of this community. This explanation is suggested by the context, and is entirely satisfactory. It makes also a natural connection with what follows. To take πάντων as neuter, thus designating the Judge who protects His people by His judgment, in His omnipotence as God over all beings and things (Del.) is totally unnecessary, and, in fact, would require ἐπί with πάντων. It is equally erroneous to find in the passage a reference to the narrow and bigoted conceptions of the Jews (Bl, De W, Lün.).

Spirits of the just made perfect.—By virtue of their religious communion with God the Christians, while yet living, stand in the same political fellowship to which the departed spirits of the righteous belong, not barely those of the Old Covenant (Schlicht, Bl, De W, Ebr, etc.), nor merely those of the New (Grot, Beng, Storr, Lün, etc.), but of both (Böhme, Thol, Bisp, Del, Riehm, Alf.). They are called τετελειωμένοι, not because they have completed their earthly life (Calv, Limb, Böhme, etc.), and not in the sense of τέλειοι, perfect ones (Theophyl, Luth, etc.), but because Christ has brought them to the goal of perfection. For although they have not yet experienced the resurrection, and that ultimate perfection (τελείωσις) which is common to all the believers of the Old and the New Testament, still awaits them ( Hebrews 11:40), yet Christ who descended and ascended, Ephesians 4:10, has already opened to them the gates of the realm of death ( Revelation 1:18). Even before the resurrection they have been permitted to enjoy the presence of the Lord ( Philippians 1:23; compare John 14:2).

Hebrews 12:24. Jesus, mediator of a new covenant.—The writer selects the personal historical name of the Mediator, because by the death of the Incarnate One upon the cross, that covenant was effected which ( Hebrews 8:8; Hebrews 8:13; Hebrews 9:15) was called καινή, as being new in its quality (fœdus novum), but is here called νεά which Böhme, Kuin, and others here without ground regard as identical in meaning, but which rather characterizes this covenant as recent, as new in time and fraught with youthful vigor.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The legislation of Mount Sinai has a threatening, and even fearful character, which brings out in strong relief the majesty of the God, who, by His voice indeed reveals Himself on earth, but remains Himself invisible; and in view of it fills sinful man with terror in the feeling that he stands exposed to the avenging lightnings of this Heavenly King, and has nothing to oppose to the thunders of His speech; so that, instead of rejoicing in the presence of God, he would rather flee from the stormy terrors of His approach, unless restrained by the hand and mandate of the Almighty. This fearful shuddering before God was felt even by the Mediator of God’s revelation to the world, inasmuch as He was only a man who Himself stood in need of a reconciling mediator. Although there existed an earthly place for the revelation of God, yet God still remained Himself unapproachable, and the natural phenomena in which He announced His presence, and indicated the character of His revelation for the time being, at the same time veiled His real essence. In accordance with this, the character of God’s Old Covenant people is only that of an external holiness and union with God, which expresses, and represents that which should be, but is unable to obtain and impart it.

2. Christians, on the contrary, are the true people of God, endowed with a citizenship in heaven, and with all the means of grace on earth, so that in their pilgrimage below, they are not merely blest with heavenly goods, but are transformed into the heavenly character, ( Ephesians 2:6), and have their citizenship (πολίτευμα) in heaven ( Philippians 3:20), with whose inhabitants they now already, as belonging to the kingdom of God, have fellowship, and their approach to which, as members of the New Covenant, is rendered possible by the blood of its Mediator, which brings them who are sprinkled with it into a gracious relation to the Judge, and which, as the blood of the Righteous One, who, in the power of an indestructible life, stands completely and forever in our stead, powerfully surpasses the cry of Abel for vengeance, who, murdered in his innocence, is not forgotten of God ( Hebrews 11:4).

3. The mention of the “spirits of the just made perfect,” argues decisively alike against the assumption of a sleep of the souls of the departed, and against the doctrine of a purgatory.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

By what means we ascertain that the Mediator of the Old Covenant revelation was not the genuine Mediator.—The diversity of the voice of God in the Law and in the Gospel.—By our entrance into the Christian Church we come into communion with a heavenly world.—That which most terrifies us, most powerfully consoles, most tenderly allures.—Our connection with heaven, prepares us on earth to triumph over the world.

Starke:—The glory of the New Covenant pledges all who live in it to the greater sanctity.—The law of the Most High is no child’s play; it commands and threatens. If we are unable to fulfil it, we must still fear in holy reverence, and seek protection with Him who has fulfilled it on our behalf.—Here on earth believers are really blessed and they pass in their blessed state of grace from one degree of blessedness to another.—See, we are to be citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, associates with Christ, with the holy angels and the elect.—By faith, Christ dwells in our hearts; we have Him and enjoy Him; but in heaven we shall properly see Him, possess Him, and be satisfied.

Hahn:—We are, as it were, so loaded down with grace, that it were the greatest ingratitude and insensibility if this did not spur us on.—The fact that a part of His people are still in a distant land, and some are already at home, is matter of no account with the Lord Jesus, and occasions Him no concern; for, in His own time, He will bring us all thither.—We have, in the Spirit, perpetual access on high, and perpetual enjoyment from on high.

Heubner:—The Church of Christ on earth is a nursery for the Church of Christ in heaven.—The Christian alone has the hope of a blessed communion with all saints.

Tholuck:—The greater the grace which is evinced toward us, the heavier our responsibility, if we refuse to heed it.

Appuhn:—The children of God on earth and the children of God in heaven, are intimately united.

Hedinger:—Grace, not wrath, is to quicken our obedience.—The fairer the city, the more cheerful and glad the service of its citizens.

Footnotes:

FN#8 - Hebrews 12:18.—Instead of καὶ σκότῳ read, after Sin. A. C. D, 17, 31, 39, the more rare and elegant τῷ ζόφῳ. The former comes from Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22, and is added in Sin. by the corrector.

FN#9 - Hebrews 12:20.—The clause βολίδι κατατοξ. of the Rec. (but inserted after καὶ οὕτως, Hebrews 12:21), is as deficient in authority as it is injurious to the rhetoric of the passage, and is rejected as an interpolation by all the best editors.—K.].

FN#10 - Hebrews 12:24.—Instead of κρείττονα, the uncials uniformly, and the minusc. generally read κρεῖττον.


Verses 25-29

V

The guilt and punishableness of apostasy stand proportionate to the blessings and obligations of the New Covenant

Hebrews 12:25-29

25See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spake [was uttering his oracles, χρηματίζοντα] on earth, much[FN11] more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I[FN12] 27shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removal of those things that are [being] shaken, as of things that are made [as having been made], that those things which cannot be shaken [which are not shaken] may remain 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved [not to be shaken], let us have grace [cherish gratitude][FN13] whereby we may [let us] serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear [with devout reverence and 29 fear]:[FN14] For [also] our God is a consuming fire.

[ Hebrews 12:25.—μὴ παραιτήσησθε, lest ye beg off from, decline, refuse; a verbal correspondence with παραιτήσ, Hebrews 12:19, which it is difficult to reproduce in English.—τὸν λαλοῦντα, him who is speaking, viz., God through Christ, as anciently through Moses.—παραιτησάμενοι, after refusing, or more exactly, when they refused. The Part, is not part of the subject, but is added predicatively to ἑκεῖνοι, or subject.—τὸν χρηματίζοντα, who was uttering heavenly oracles, declaring the divine will, not speaking as if=λαλοῦντα or λέγοντα—τὸν ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ him (who speaketh) from heaven—again God, speaking through Christ.

Hebrews 12:26.—νῦν δέ, seemingly temporal, and in part Song of Solomon, as contrasted with τότε; but in my judgment still more decidedly logical=in the present state of things, as the case actually stands.—ἔτι ἄπαξ, yet once, and once only.

Hebrews 12:27.—τῶν σαλευ.of the things which are being shaken.—ὡς πεποιημένων, as having been made.—Ἱνα, I connect not (with Del, Moll, etc.) with πεποιημένων, but with μετάθεσιν, and hence put a comma after πεποιη.

Hebrews 12:28.—βασιλ. ἀσάλευτον, a kingdom not to be shaken—“which cannot be moved,” of E.V, destroys the paronomasia.—ἔχμεν χάριν, according to Greek usage, not, let us have grace, but, “let us exercise gratitude.”—μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶδέους; ‘with reverent submission and fear” (Alf.).

Hebrews 12:29.—καὶ γὰρ, for also, not “for even,” which would require μέτερος, or a more emphatic position of ἡμῶν.—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 12:25. Him who is speaking, etc.—Inasmuch as the ἐπὶ γῆς χρηματίζων must be not Moses, but God; inasmuch, too, as the words τὸν ἀπ̓ οὐρανῶν, sc. χρηματίζοντα can in like manner, as shown by the following οὖ, denote God alone, but the words just mentioned stand parallel with τὸν λαλοῦντα in the beginning of Hebrews 12:25, by the “speaker” here referred to must be understood, not Christ (Œc, Primas, Böhm, Ebr, etc.), but God. The emphasis is not laid on the diversity of the persons whom God employed in founding the Old and the New Covenant, but on the diversity in the modes of revealing one and the same God. “The Sinaitic Revelation, belonging to the past, and the ever present and continued revelations to the Church of Christ, are placed in contrast with each other. At that time, He who was speaking to Israel had descended to earth; but He through whom God speaks to us is He who hath ascended to heaven” (Hofm, Del, in part, Bl.). Thus vanishes the imperfect antithesis censured by De W, produced by referring the speaking on earth to the earthly ministry of Christ, and then, with Thol, laying the emphasis on the fact that Christ had descended from heaven, that Isaiah, had not appeared among mankind in the ordinary and natural way; or, with Lün, upon the fact that God had sent to us not an earthly Prayer of Manasseh, as Moses upon Sinai, but His own Song of Solomon, as His interpreter. For it might then be objected that the Son of God has appeared “upon earth,” but that God upon Sinai, without descending into the midst of Israel, had spoken “from heaven” ( Exodus 20:22; Deuteronomy 9:13). The true explanation preserves and renders consistent the connection of the thought with the above mentioned blood of sprinkling.

Hebrews 12:26. But now hath he promised.—The subject of ἐπήγγελται is contained in the preceding οὖ, and the whole sentence has sprung grammatically from blending into one two declarations; for the νῦν.δέ refers to the time of the incipient fulfilment of that which God has announced, Haggai 2:6 ff. Ἐπήγγελται is Perf. Pass, in a middle sense, as4:21.

Hebrews 12:27. Yet once for all.—The first shaking took place at the giving of the Law ( Exodus 19:18), where, however, the Sept. translates λαός instead of ὄρος, for which reason our author refers doubtless to Judges 5:4-5; comp. Psalm 68:9; Psalm 114:7. A like display of Jehovah’s power is predicted by the prophets for the closing Messianic epoch, Micah 7:15; Habakkuk 3.; Haggai 2. The author follows the defective translation of the Sept. In the original it is said, “Yet one thing; it is a small matter.” This expansion of the time from Hosea 1:4 implies, according to Hitz. and Hofm, two things; namely, that the time from the present until the final grand consummation will constitute but one epoch, and that this will be a brief one. Thus the argument from the “yet once for all” (ἔτι ἅπαξ) is sound as to the matter of fact, although in form it attaches itself to a false rendering.

As having been made, etc.—Alike the expression, ὡς πεποιμένων, and the final clause following that, show that the shaking refers not to any convulsion accompanying the entrance of Christianity into the world (Coccei, a Lapid, Böhm, Klee, etc.), but to the final consummation (Theodoret, Theoph, Erasm, Bez, Bl, Thol, etc.). Even at the creation God intended and prepared for the last and now commencing transformation of the changeable into the unchangeable, of what may be shaken into what cannot be shaken ( Romans 8:21), or (as is said, Hebrews 4:4-9), for the sabbatism of the world. On account of this parallel with which Colossians 1:16; Ephesians 1:10 substantially coincide, the reference of the final clause with ἵνα to μετάθεσιν (Theod, Œc, Bl, De W, Lün, etc.) is quite improbable, and all the more so in that also the new heaven and the new earth are said to be created and made, Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22. In connecting ἵνα with ὧς πεποιημένων it is better with Grot, Beng, Thol, Hofm, Del, etc., to take μένειν in its usual signification, which has the authority of Isaiah 66:21, than in that of waiting for something (Storr, Böhm, etc.), which occurs Acts 20:5; Acts 20:23, and frequently in the Sept.

[Alford rejects, and I think with entire correctness, the, reference of the final clause to πεποιημένων, and retains the much more rational and entirely unobjectionable view that it is to be connected with μετάθεσιν. The characterization of “the things that are shaken” as “having been made in order that the things which are not shaken may remain,” to wit, by the removal of things which are shaken, is so forced and unnatural that nothing but necessity can justify our adopting this construction. On the other hand, its construction with μετάθεσιν seems to me open to no valid objection whatever. For, in the first place, although there is no strict logical causative connection between the removal of the things that are shaken and the remaining of the things that are not shaken, yet, as a popular form of expression, it is entirely natural. The changeable and temporary is easily conceived as being taken out of the way in order to give permanent place to the immutable and abiding. In the second place, the objection to taking τῶν πεποιημένων absolutely, as denoting simply things which have been made, i.e., created, drawn from the fact that the abiding and eternal, viz., the new heavens and the new earth are also represented as having been made, rests, I think, upon an entire misconception of the author’s point of view. He says nothing about “a new heaven and a new earth,” and there is no evidence that these specific things are in his mind. It is rather the great heavenly, spiritual elements of the new dispensation, as against the worldly, material, and perishable elements of the old. It is Mt. Zion as opposed to Mt. Sinai; the heavenly Jerusalem as opposed to the literal seat of the Old Theocracy; the heavenly sanctuary as against the earthly—and in short, the whole spiritual system of the New Testament, as against the things that have been made. The term τῶν πεποιημ. is therefore, from the author’s point of view, a precise and admirable characterization of the created and therefore perishable nature of the Old Test, economy.—K.].

Hebrews 12:28. Therefore since we, etc.—Διὀ introduces the following exhortation as a logical reference from the preceding verse, the special ground of the exhortation being given in the participial clause ( Daniel 7:18). The absence of the article with βασιλείαν indicates that this clause is not, with Calv, Schlicht, Beng. and others, to be included in the exhortation itself. Nor may we, with Bez, Schlicht, Grot, Bisp, etc., render, “Let us hold fast the grace.” For then the article would be indispensable with χάριν, and, instead of ἔχωμεν, κατέχωμεν would be required (as Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 10:23); or κρατῶμεν, as Hebrews 4:14.

Hebrews 12:29. For also our God, etc.—Were the idea intended that our God also, the God of the New Test, as well as the God of the Old, is a consuming fire (Bl, De W, Thol, Bisp.), the reading should be καὶ γὰρ ἡμῶν θεός. Yet neither again do the position of the words and the connection point to the thought that God is not merely a God of grace, but also of avenging justice (Lün.). The passage merely designs to give, with a reference to Deuteronomy 4:24, a feature of the Divine character, and is not intended merely to give prominence to one attribute in comparison with another. Under this view, καὶ γάρ is = etenim, as Luke 1:66; Luke 20:37 (Del, Riehm).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. We can refuse to receive and to follow that which God says to us; but we can escape neither the responsibility for such conduct, nor the judgment of God regarding it.

2. Our responsibility is rendered all the greater by the increased elevation and fulness of grace which characterize the revelation of God in the New Testament, a revelation standing related to that of the Old Testament, as heaven to earth.

3. This Christian revelation is at the same time the final and the complete one, so that nothing farther is to be looked for but the last convulsion of all things, which, at the second coming of the Lord, shall transform heaven and earth.

4. At the very creation of the world, God looked forward to, and made arrangements for the eternally abiding and unchangeable kingdom of glory, and to the introduction of that kingdom tend all the Revelation, arrangements, and providences of God in the history of the world.

5. This everlasting kingdom shall we Christians as children of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:17), receive into possession: for this we owe a debt of gratitude to God, which should evince itself in a service well pleasing to Him, which yields for us the highest gain, and has the richest promise ( Psalm 50:23.)

6. This filial relation to God must beget neither an unbecoming familiarity, nor a false security, but must inspire a guarded caution and reverence such as belongs to the nature of God in which the fire of holy love consumes all that is unholy, and kindles to a flame all that is susceptible of life.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

God speaks with us; then He seeks us in His word; afterwards He judges us.—Every revelation of God is accompanied with great convulsions, and by movements in heaven and on earth. How stands our heart in relation thereto?—We can neither plead ignorance nor inability if we fail to escape the coming wrath.—The rejection of the highest grace, draws after it the heaviest punishment.—However different is the old covenant from the new, it is one God who speaks, judges, and saves, in both.—The world, however powerful and great it may be, cannot shield us against the wrath of God, and cannot rob us of the kingdom of God; but it can bring down upon us the one, and defraud us of the other.—The kingdom of nature is destined, through the kingdom of grace, to be transformed and exalted into the kingdom of glory.—The kingdom of God is the object of the creation; revelation is the means of its accomplishment.

Starke:—In the duty of serving through the grace of God, of pleasing Him with reverence and fear, lies a beautiful connection of Law and Gospel.—Believers receive the kingdom, not as mere subjects, but as partners in sovereignty, who are jointly exalted to the throne of Christ, ( Revelation 1:16; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:9 ff.), by virtue of their royal priesthood ( 1 Peter 2:9).—Alas! the world sins against the commands of God as securely as if there were no avenger; nay, it even makes a mock at sin. But God is a consuming fire ( Psalm 2:11-12).

Rieger:—God is without end in the gift, the Lord Jesus without end in the allotment, and we without end in the reception of the immovable kingdom; and thus we mount above everything which is subject to change.

Heubner:—The glory of Christianity lays us under obligation for the highest gratitude.

Hedinger:—Compulsory love is not the best. But the obligation to be godly is great; of this be not forgetful.

Footnotes:

FN#11 - Hebrews 12:25.—According to the best authorities we are to read ἐξέφυγον ἐπὶ γῆς παραιτησάμενοι τὸν χρηματίξοντα, πολὺ μᾶλλον. So also Sin.

FN#12 - Hebrews 12:26.—Instead of σείω read σείσω, after Sin. A. C, 6, 47, 53.

FN#13 - Hebrews 12:28.—The lect. rec. ἔχωμεν is supported by A. C. D. L. M, etc. So also the reading λατρεύωμεν. Sin. has in both cases the Indic.

FN#14 - Hebrews 12:28.—Instead of μετὰ αἰδοῦς καὶ εὐλάβείας read μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δεους, after Sin. A. C. D *., 17, 71, 73, 80, 137.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Hebrews 12:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/hebrews-12.html. 1857-84.

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