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The Lord’s Discipline

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,[a] we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For[b] the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.[c] Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed[d] in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons?

My son, do not scorn[e] the Lord’s discipline
or give up when he corrects[f] you.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.”[g]

Endure your suffering[h] as discipline;[i] God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline,[j] something all sons[k] have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from[l] our earthly fathers[m] and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life?[n] 10 For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. 11 Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful.[o] But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness[p] for those trained by it. 12 Therefore, strengthen[q] your listless hands and your weak knees,[r] 13 and make straight paths for your feet,[s] so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed.

Do Not Reject God’s Warning

14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness,[t] for without it no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up[u] and causing trouble, and through it many become defiled. 16 And see to it that no one becomes[v] an immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.[w] 17 For you know that[x] later when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance, although he sought the blessing[y] with tears. 18 For you have not come to something that can be touched,[z] to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind 19 and the blast of a trumpet and a voice uttering words[aa] such that those who heard begged to hear no more.[ab] 20 For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”[ac] 21 In fact, the scene[ad] was so terrifying that Moses said, “I shudder with fear.”[ae] 22 But you have come to Mount Zion, the city[af] of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly 23 and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator[ag] of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does.[ah]

25 Take care not to refuse the one who is speaking! For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less shall we, if we reject the one who warns from heaven? 26 Then his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “I will once more shake not only the earth but heaven too.”[ai] 27 Now this phrase “once more” indicates the removal of what is shaken, that is, of created things, so that what is unshaken may remain. 28 So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. 29 For our God is indeed a devouring fire.[aj]

Footnotes

  1. Hebrews 12:1 tn Grk “having such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.”
  2. Hebrews 12:2 tn Or “Because of”; or “Instead of.” The Greek prepostion can be understood either way. For discussion and sources see Wallace, ExSyn 367-68; cf. also BDAG 88 s.v. 1, “instead of, in place of” and s.v. 3 “(in exchange) for.”
  3. Hebrews 12:2 sn An allusion to Ps 110:1.
  4. Hebrews 12:4 tn Grk “until blood.”
  5. Hebrews 12:5 tn Or “disregard,” “think little of.”
  6. Hebrews 12:5 tn Or “reproves,” “rebukes.” The Greek verb ἐλέγχω (elenchō) implies exposing someone’s sin in order to bring correction.
  7. Hebrews 12:6 sn A quotation from Prov 3:11-12.
  8. Hebrews 12:7 tn Grk “endure,” with the object (“your suffering”) understood from the context.
  9. Hebrews 12:7 tn Or “in order to become disciplined.”
  10. Hebrews 12:8 tn Grk “you are without discipline.”
  11. Hebrews 12:8 tn Grk “all”; “sons” is implied by the context.
  12. Hebrews 12:9 tn Grk “we had our earthly fathers as discipliners.”
  13. Hebrews 12:9 tn Grk “the fathers of our flesh.” In Hebrews, “flesh” is a characteristic way of speaking about outward, physical, earthly life (cf. Heb 5:7; 9:10, 13), as opposed to the inward or spiritual dimensions of life.
  14. Hebrews 12:9 tn Grk “and live.” sn Submit ourselves…to the Father of spirits and receive life. This idea is drawn from Proverbs, where the Lord’s discipline brings life, while resistance to it leads to death (cf. Prov 4:13; 6:23; 10:17; 16:17).
  15. Hebrews 12:11 tn Grk “all discipline at the time does not seem to be of joy, but of sorrow.”
  16. Hebrews 12:11 tn Grk “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
  17. Hebrews 12:12 tn Or “straighten.”
  18. Hebrews 12:12 sn A quotation from Isa 35:3. Strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees refers to the readers’ need for renewed resolve and fresh strength in their struggles (cf. Heb 10:36-39; 12:1-3).
  19. Hebrews 12:13 sn A quotation from Prov 4:26. The phrase make straight paths for your feet is figurative for “stay on God’s paths.”
  20. Hebrews 12:14 sn The references to peace and holiness show the close connection between this paragraph and the previous one. The pathway toward “holiness” and the need for it is cited in Heb 12:10 and 14. More importantly Prov 4:26-27 sets up the transition from one paragraph to the next: It urges people to stay on godly paths (Prov 4:26, quoted here in v. 13) and promises that God will lead them in peace if they do so (Prov 4:27 [LXX], quoted in v. 14).
  21. Hebrews 12:15 tn Grk “that there not be any root of bitterness,” but referring figuratively to a person who causes trouble (as in Deut 29:17 [LXX] from which this is quoted).sn An allusion to Deut 29:18.
  22. Hebrews 12:16 tn Grk “that there not be any,” continuing from v. 15.
  23. Hebrews 12:16 sn An allusion to Gen 27:34-41.
  24. Hebrews 12:17 tn Or a command: “for understand that.”
  25. Hebrews 12:17 tn Grk “it,” referring either to the repentance or the blessing. But the account in Gen 27:34-41 (which the author appeals to here) makes it clear that the blessing is what Esau sought. Thus in the translation the referent (the blessing) is specified for clarity.
  26. Hebrews 12:18 tn This describes the nation of Israel approaching God on Mt. Sinai (Exod 19). There is a clear contrast with the reference to Mount Zion in v. 22, so this could be translated “a mountain that can be touched.” But the word “mountain” does not occur here and the more vague description seems to be deliberate.
  27. Hebrews 12:19 tn Grk “a voice of words.”
  28. Hebrews 12:19 tn Grk “a voice…from which those who heard begged that a word not be added to them.”
  29. Hebrews 12:20 sn A quotation from Exod 19:12-13.
  30. Hebrews 12:21 tn Grk “that which appeared.”
  31. Hebrews 12:21 tn Grk “I am terrified and trembling.”sn A quotation from Deut 9:19.
  32. Hebrews 12:22 tn Grk “and the city”; the conjunction is omitted in translation since it seems to be functioning epexegetically—that is, explaining further what is meant by “Mount Zion.”
  33. Hebrews 12:24 tn The Greek word μεσίτης (mesitēs, “mediator”) in this context does not imply that Jesus was a mediator in the contemporary sense of the word, i.e., he worked for compromise between opposing parties. Here the term describes his function as the one who was used by God to enact a new covenant which established a new relationship between God and his people, but entirely on God’s terms.
  34. Hebrews 12:24 sn Abel’s shed blood cried out to the Lord for justice and judgment, but Jesus’ blood speaks of redemption and forgiveness, something better than Abel’s does (Gen 4:10; Heb 9:11-14; 11:4).
  35. Hebrews 12:26 sn A quotation from Hag 2:6.
  36. Hebrews 12:29 sn A quotation from Deut 4:24; 9:3.

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run(A) with perseverance(B) the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,(C) the pioneer(D) and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,(E) scorning its shame,(F) and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.(G) Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary(H) and lose heart.

God Disciplines His Children

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.(I) And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart(J) when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,(K)
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a](L)

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.(M) For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline(N)—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits(O) and live!(P) 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.(Q) 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace(R) for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.(S) 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b](T) so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.(U)

Warning and Encouragement

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone(V) and to be holy;(W) without holiness no one will see the Lord.(X) 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God(Y) and that no bitter root(Z) grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral,(AA) or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.(AB) 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears,(AC) he could not change what he had done.

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm;(AD) 19 to a trumpet blast(AE) or to such a voice speaking words(AF) that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,(AG) 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[c](AH) 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”[d](AI)

22 But you have come to Mount Zion,(AJ) to the city(AK) of the living God,(AL) the heavenly Jerusalem.(AM) You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn,(AN) whose names are written in heaven.(AO) You have come to God, the Judge of all,(AP) to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,(AQ) 24 to Jesus the mediator(AR) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood(AS) that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.(AT)

25 See to it that you do not refuse(AU) him who speaks.(AV) If they did not escape when they refused him who warned(AW) them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?(AX) 26 At that time his voice shook the earth,(AY) but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[e](AZ) 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken(BA)—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,(BB) let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,(BC) 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”[f](BD)

Footnotes

  1. Hebrews 12:6 Prov. 3:11,12 (see Septuagint)
  2. Hebrews 12:13 Prov. 4:26
  3. Hebrews 12:20 Exodus 19:12,13
  4. Hebrews 12:21 See Deut. 9:19.
  5. Hebrews 12:26 Haggai 2:6
  6. Hebrews 12:29 Deut. 4:24

12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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

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

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

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

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

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

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 For our God is a consuming fire.

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