Hebrews 12:1-4, 22-29

The full question:

Provide and exegetical paper on Hebrews 12:1-4, 22-29.

Greek Text: Hebrews 12:1-4

1 Τοιγαροῦν[1] καὶ ἡμεῖς τοσοῦτον ἔχοντες περικείμενον ἡμῖν νέφος μαρτύρων, ὄγκον ἀποθέμενοι πάντα καὶ τὴν εὐπερίστατον[2] ἁμαρτίαν, διʼ ὑπομονῆς τρέχωμεν τὸν προκείμενον ἡμῖν ἀγῶνα ἀφορῶντες εἰς τὸν τῆς πίστεως ἀρχηγὸν καὶ τελειωτὴν Ἰησοῦν, ὃς ἀντὶ τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς ὑπέμεινεν σταυρὸν αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας ἐν δεξιᾷ τε τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ κεκάθικεν[3]. ἀναλογίσασθε γὰρ τὸν τοιαύτην ὑπομεμενηκότα ὑπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν εἰς ἑαυτὸν[4] ἀντιλογίαν, ἵνα μὴ κάμητε ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν ἐκλυόμενοι. Οὔπω μέχρις αἵματος ἀντικατέστητε πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι[5].[6]

Introduction

The beginning of Hebrews chapter twelve draws the lessons from what the preacher began in chapter three.[7] There the Son is faithful over God’s household. A household that has existed both past and present. Having described ‘Christ’s high priesthood in 4:14-10:18’[8], Jesus’ faithfulness has been proven. Now we see both the past in chapter eleven and the faithful High Priest in these verses being implemented to make the preacher’s strongest and most motivating appeal to an audience in desperate ‘need of endurance’ (Heb 10:36).[9] This very endurance is made possible by fixing their eyes on Jesus who endured.

The chapter ‘is framed by an inclusio formed by the Greek hortatory subjunctives’ in 12:1 and 12:28.[10] With a change in the indicative mood to exhortation (12:1, 3)[11], ‘the dominant tone of this chapter is paraenetic’[12]. There is also the ‘concomitant shift from the third person to the use of the first and second person’[13]. Despite these changes, there are clear connections between chapter eleven and chapter twelve. The ‘two sets of linking words, “attested witnesses” (11:39) with “witnesses” (12:1)…while the strong conjunction therefore (12:1) brings them into full view’[14]. Furthermore, without chapter eleven, chapter twelve’s ‘exhortatory thrust’ would lose its contextual significance.[15] Yet there is still evidence in the transition of a ‘difference between the old order and the new’[16]. The spectators are the heroes of the past and Christians are the ones in the arena. ‘The focus shifts to the present, but the value of the examples of the past is incorporated into the total picture.’[17] This amalgamation and clarification pushes the audience to Jesus as the preacher has desired to do throughout this entire sermon.

Employing the use of ‘vivid athletic imagery’[18], the preacher says run (Heb 12:1) looking to Jesus (12:2) who endured (12:3). Then returning to the ‘indicative of description’[19] he begins to develop verses 1-3 for Jesus’ followers in verse 4.[20]

Verses 1-4: Consider Jesus and Run with Endurance

Verse 1

Τοιγαροῦν καὶ ἡμεῖς τοσοῦτον ἔχοντες περικείμενον ἡμῖν νέφος μαρτύρων, ὄγκον ἀποθέμενοι πάντα καὶ τὴν εὐπερίστατον ἁμαρτίαν, διʼ ὑπομονῆς τρέχωμεν τὸν προκείμενον ἡμῖν ἀγῶνα

Beginning with a strong inferential particle (τοιγαροῦν)[21] to indicate ‘an emphatic relationship between 11:39-40 and 12:1-2’[22], there is a hinge from the OT (Old Testament) examples ‘to application in the life of a believer’[23]. The phrase, καὶ ἡμεῖς, is also emphatic with καὶ coming before ἡμεῖς (“we ourselves”).[24] The preacher uses the first person plural to identify himself as one of those in the arena ‘which clearly shows that he is describing the position of Christians generally’[25]. The adjective τοσοῦτον which agrees with νέφος is separated to intensify its force emphasizing ‘both the size and quality of the “cloud” of witnesses’[26]. Just like other paraenetic passages (Heb. 4:14; 10:19) there is a reference to what Christians “have” (ἔχοντες).[27] The concept of a cloud could be linked to the idea of being surrounded (περικείμενον) by conjuring ‘up the picture of people being enwrapped in a cloud’[28]. These examples are not dead and gone. The pastor would ‘have his hearers feel that they can reach out and touch these heroes who lived by faith…whose approval is worth courting despite the sneer of the unbelieving world’[29]. This word for cloud (νέφος) is not used elsewhere in Scripture but in secular Greek it can refer to ‘a group of people as a unity or a totality’[30]. Some ‘patristic interpretations’ see cloud as being protective or refreshing but Attridge believes these ‘are unwarranted’ conclusions.[31] The witnesses (μαρτύρων) are the ‘spectators in a stadium’[32]. Although their immediate role can be passive in one sense[33], they are witnesses ‘to and of God’s contemporary people’[34] (11:2, 6, 16, 39).[35] Before this great multitude there is a comparison between the ‘temporal shame’ of the world to the suffering of ‘shame before the eyes of these great heroes of faith’[36]. The emphatic position of ὄγκον is debated amongst scholars in its relation to τὴν εὐπερίστατον ἁμαρτίαν. Some consider καὶ to be epexegetical,[37] yet ὄγκον is a broad statement meant ‘to be applied metaphorically of any affairs which would impede a Christian convert’[38]. This seems plain with the use of qualifying adjective πάντα (every).[39] The hortatory participle (ἀποθέμενοι)[40] points to the urgency of the situation. The Greek article (τὴν) is being used to describe sin (ἁμαρτίαν) in general[41]. As opposed to referring particularly to the sin of apostasy.[42] The adjective (εὐπερίστατον) describes ‘how sin impedes one’s progress in the race’[43]. The next word διὰ is of ‘attendant circumstances’ allowing the preacher to provide ‘a powerful exhortation…of which Jesus is both the object and the supreme example’.[44] Endurance (ὑπομονῆς) is stated several times (10:32, 36; 12:7)[45] and here presents an image more of a marathon than a short sprint.[46] The main command of this Greek sentence is τρέχωμεν.[47] The hortatory subjunctive provides a ‘pastoral tone’ and the present tense gives the sense of a ‘prolonged nature’.[48] This foot race (ἀγῶνα)[49] is not of our own choosing but set before us by God (προκείμενον).[50] The Greek word ἀγῶνα also presents the idea of ‘conflict’ (Phil 1:30; Col 2:1; 1 Thess 2:2; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7).[51] All this pointing to the next verse and the centre of our ability to endure.

Verse 2

ἀφορῶντες εἰς τὸν τῆς πίστεως ἀρχηγὸν καὶ τελειωτὴν Ἰησοῦν, ὃς ἀντὶ τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς ὑπέμεινεν σταυρὸν αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας ἐν δεξιᾷ τε τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ κεκάθικεν.

The verse opens with a present participle (ἀφορῶντες) linked to the main verb in this Greek sentence (τρέχωμεν). It reflects what the author has ‘repeatedly recommended’ right from the beginning (Heb 2:1).[52] Brown and Guthrie both observe this participle to be implying the impossibility of looking at anything else.[53] The present tense shows that this must be a ‘continuous occupation of God’s people’[54]. The noun πίστεως (faith) usually is anarthrous in Hebrews yet here it has the article.[55] Other times this is used (4:2; 13:7) ‘it refers to the faith of specified groups’ pointing Ellingworth to the conclusion that it is predominantly referring to the author and his readers.[56] Lane points out that to interpret τῆς πίστεως as ‘of our faith’ would be inaccurate as ‘here the article is one of renewed mention’[57], referring to ‘faith’ just ‘defined and exemplified’[58] in Hebrews 11. It seems in context that Lane and Cockerill with O’Brien[59] seem to comprehend the meaning of the author more completely. The following phrase (ἀρχηγὸν καὶ τελειωτὴν Ἰησοῦν) is an example of the TSKS (article-substantive- καὶ-substantive) Personal Construction. This points to a significant unity between the two nouns (ἀρχηγὸν and τελειωτὴν) connoting equality or identity ‘always’ referring to the same person.[60] These two appositional nouns ‘span the whole range of the activities of Jesus’ in relation to faith.[61] Bringing to mind the statement earlier in Hebrews (2:10), the preacher explains Jesus ‘is both the cornerstone and the capstone’[62]. The faith that the preacher, his followers and the Old Testament exemplars share is perfected.[63] At the same time Jesus’ faith is ‘qualitatively and not simply quantitatively greater than that of the exemplars’[64]. The ‘postponement’ of Ἰησοῦν until the end of the ‘clause gives it special emphasis’[65] and the fact that it is the first time mention since 10:19 demonstrates its emphasis. No other name would suffice for the ultimate ‘climax of any list of paragons of faith’[66].

Whilst Ellingsworth contends vs. 2b ‘is creedal’ or ‘a hymn of praise’[67], DeSilva points to the language enhancing Jesus’ honor and concludes ‘it is very unlikely that the pastor is here quoting a creedal statement’[68]. The small preposition (ἀντὶ) is quite contentious in the scholarship. The two opinions interpreting it as either ‘because of’ or ‘instead of’.[69] Calvin considers the latter interpretation to be correct pointing to Christ being free to ‘exempt Himself from all trouble’ yet does ‘not greatly object’ to the former option.[70] The latter could also be seen as ‘instead of’ the joy of Jesus’ ‘pre-existent bliss’[71] (Phil 2:5-8) and equate with Moses’ experience (11:24-25)[72]. Although, in consideration of 12:16 where the same preposition is ‘in order to obtain’[73], the athletic imagery of honor for the victor[74] and how the prior interpretation would fit with the rest of verse two along with this ‘recurrent theme in Hebrews’ (1:3, 13; 2:7-9; 5:7-9; 8:1; 10:12; 11), all points to the conclusion that ‘because of’ is preferable.[75] The verb προκειμένης brings to mind προκείμενον ἀγῶνα (verse 1)[76] and shows a correlation between the race before us and the joy before Jesus as Guthrie notes ‘in both cases the processes of salvation are in the hands of God’[77]. Nowhere else in the New Testament is the expression that Jesus endured the cross (ὑπέμεινεν σταυρὸν), making it clear how the pastor goes about encouraging ‘the endurance so needful for his hearers’ (10:39).[78] The shame and disgrace (αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας) is not specified but could include both the defeat by his enemies and/or the punishment itself.[79] The right hand of the throne of God (ἐν δεξιᾷ τε τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ) brings to mind ‘superior power or ultimate honor’[80] (Gen 48:18; 1 Kings 2:19; Ps 11:1; 16:11; 45:4, 9; 48:10). This phrase ‘sounds the refrain of Psalm 110:1 once more’[81]. This half of the verse tells of the movement of Christ or the “Way of the Son” ‘and is used variously by Hebrews’[82]. The perfect tense of κεκάθικεν is in contrast to all of the aorists that have preceded this word (1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12). Here the perfect tense completes this thrust by ‘an emphatic affirmation of the permanent triumph of Christ’ and ‘the permanent effects of that triumph for believers’.[83] This example provides ‘an argument from a greater situation to a lesser’[84] which the next two verses go on to explain.

Verse 3

ἀναλογίσασθε γὰρ τὸν τοιαύτην ὑπομεμενηκότα ὑπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν εἰς ἑαυτὸν ἀντιλογίαν, ἵνα μὴ κάμητε ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν ἐκλυόμενοι.

Verse three begins with an imperative to consider Jesus (ἀναλογίσασθε). This verb overlaps with ἀφορῶντες in the previous verse ‘but the metaphor of seeing is replaced by a literal expression’[85] also known as a ‘transitional admonition’[86]. This imperative ‘is a culminative aorist’ urging his readers to come ‘to the full realization of who he [Jesus] is’[87], looking ‘to him for inspiration and encouragement’[88]. The conjunction γὰρ is inferential providing a strong link with verse two.[89] The article τὸν ‘clarifies the reference to Jesus’ and τοιαύτην emphasises the intensity of the opposition. [90] The perfect tense of the verb ὑπομεμενηκότα (endured) is used by the preacher to describe the ‘abiding significance’[91] and ‘completed results’[92] of what Jesus has done. The hostility (ἀντιλογίαν) Jesus himself (εἰς ἑαυτὸν)[93] endured from sinners (ὑπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν) ‘has the prime sense of hostility in words’ which led to ‘hostility in action’ and ‘reached its climax in the shame of the cross’.[94] The goal of this command is stated negatively here and more positively ‘at the conclusion of this section (12:12)’[95]. The ingressive aorist μὴ κάμητε (might not become weary) is followed by the present participle ἐκλυόμενοι (giving up) which is a ‘participle of result’[96]. These two words are not used in regard to physical weariness but ‘of mental or spiritual (ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν) exhaustion’[97]. This expression qualifies both words around it by ‘its central location’[98]. The preacher is immensely concerned with the readers’ ability to endure within their inmost being. Then from Jesus’ triumph over suffering and his endurance the pastor now turns to his listeners’ suffering and need for endurance in verse four.[99]

Verse 4

Οὔπω μέχρις αἵματος ἀντικατέστητε πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι.

The adverb οὔπω (not yet) is critical. Although physical persecution has not yet occurred there remains ‘a real possibility’[100]. The idea of αἵμα is often associated with sacrifices yet here it simply implies violent death recalling ‘Christ’s endurance of the cross’. [101] Some recognise the possibility of μέχρις αἵματος being metaphorical[102] others have suggested it refers to a boxing match[103] yet in connection with 10:32-34 it makes more sense for it to be associating with Christ’s literal death and the potential of the hearers’ martyrdom. The second aorist ἀντικατέστητε (resisted) is referring to an event that has not come to pass ‘rather than an event in the recent past’[104] and the present participle ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι (struggling against) ‘denotes an ongoing striving’[105]. The sin (τὴν ἁμαρτίαν) they seem to be attempting to resist could be giving up anything in their way of the race, enemies of God or apostasy.[106] One, if not all, of these suggestions are valid possibilities. The preacher passionately points these suffering runners to Jesus who endured so they too might endure, come what may, even death.

Greek Text: Hebrews 12:22-29

22 ἀλλὰ προσεληλύθατε Σιὼν ὄρει καὶ πόλει θεοῦ ζῶντος, Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπουρανίῳ, καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων, πανηγύρει 23 καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων καὶ πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων 24 καὶ διαθήκης νέας μεσίτῃ Ἰησοῦ καὶ αἵματι ῥαντισμοῦ κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι παρὰ τὸν[107] Ἅβελ. 25 Βλέπετε μὴ παραιτήσησθε τὸν λαλοῦντα· εἰ γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι οὐκ ἐξέφυγον ἐπὶ γῆς παραιτησάμενοι τὸν χρηματίζοντα, πολὺ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς οἱ τὸν ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν ἀποστρεφόμενοι, 26 οὗ ἡ φωνὴ τὴν γῆν ἐσάλευσεν τότε, νῦν δὲ ἐπήγγελται λέγων, Ἔτι ἅπαξ ἐγὼ σείσω οὐ μόνον τὴν γῆν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸν οὐρανόν. 27 τὸ δὲ Ἔτι ἅπαξ δηλοῖ [τὴν] τῶν σαλευομένων μετάθεσιν ὡς πεποιημένων, ἵνα μείνῃ τὰ μὴ σαλευόμενα. 28 Διὸ βασιλείαν ἀσάλευτον παραλαμβάνοντες ἔχωμεν χάριν[108], διʼ ἧς λατρεύωμεν εὐαρέστως τῷ θεῷ μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέους 29 καὶ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν πῦρ καταναλίσκον.[109]

Verses 22-24: You Have Arrived

The last section of Hebrews chapter twelve (12:18-29) could ‘rightly be construed as the pastoral and theological climax of Hebrews’[110]. In verses twenty-two to twenty-four there is a fine eschatological tension between the ‘already/not yet’. The entire vision spurs believers on to persevere in the faith and reach the ultimate goal of a heavenly rest.[111] Set against the backdrop of a ‘dark and frightening’ scene (18-21) that communicates ‘the need to stay away from the mountain and God’, the preacher provides ‘the beautiful contrast…of joyful celebration, community, and relational closeness to God himself’[112] (22-24). It is ‘a matchless one-sentence description of the Christian believer’s destiny’[113]. Following the seven features of Mount Sinai, the preacher culminates his contrasting style with seven images of Mount Zion.[114]

Verse 22

ἀλλὰ προσεληλύθατε Σιὼν ὄρει καὶ πόλει θεοῦ ζῶντος, Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπουρανίῳ, καὶ μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων, πανηγύρει

The contrast between Mount Sinai and Mount Zion is made clear with the ‘Greek adversative conjunction’ ἀλλὰ (but) as well as the perfect indicative verb προσεληλύθατε (you have come). [115] The conjunction (ἀλλὰ) in vs. 22 and the conjunction (οὐ) in vs. 18 correspond to each other and indicate ‘that this mountain is significantly different from Sinai’.[116] The perfect tense verb that follows (προσεληλύθατε) demonstrates the already-but-not-yet eschatological dimension. As Hagner points out, ‘by the use of this tense the author clearly means to stress that what he is about to describe is in some way already enjoyed by the readers’.[117] The three references to where they have come (Σιὼν ὄρει καὶ πόλει θεοῦ ζῶντος, Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπουρανίῳ) are ‘all in apposition to one another and refer to the same place’.[118] The threes dative of destination (ὄρει, πόλει, ἐπουρανίῳ) in this verse ‘indicates the final point of the verb’.[119] Although this usage is fairly infrequent it provides the idea of being transferred from one place to another. Here these datives of destination cause the listeners’ to see themselves as being transferred to Mount Zion. With these three descriptions of the same place ‘the pastor reassures his hearers that it is a real “place”’[120] making καὶ explicative.[121] Mount Zion (Σιὼν ὄρει) has many Old Testament references (2 Sam 5:6-9; 1 Kings 8:1; Ps 9:11; 48:1-2; Isa 8:18; 59:20; Zech 9:9) and ‘the biblical assertion that God laid the foundations of the city of Jerusalem on Mount Zion (Pss. 48:8; 87:1-7) was extended to the foundations of the glorified heavenly city as well (Isa 28:16; 54:11-14)’.[122] The city of the living[123] God (πόλει θεοῦ ζῶντος) is mentioned as Abraham’s goal (Heb 11:10). There is a tension between the realised and future eschatology as Hagner explains, ‘Christians have experienced fulfillment, but fulfillment short of consummation’[124]. The pastor once again implies his multiple facets as he talks of a heavenly Jerusalem (Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπουρανίῳ) where ‘the earthly Jerusalem points upward to the heavenly Jerusalem, and at the same time it points forward in time to the heavenly Jerusalem’ (11:10; 13:14).[125] The idea of ‘heavenly’ points away from the ‘earthly mountain where the Law had flourished’[126].

The second καὶ in this verse then introduces new information.[127] This mention of countless angels (μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων) correlates with the giving of the law at Mount Sinai (Deut 33:2) and ‘is particularly relevant in view of the discussion in chapters 1 and 2 on their relationship to Christ’[128].

The final noun πανηγύρει (festal gathering) is debated if it belongs with the angels or the following word ἐκκλησίᾳ (assembly). A key point of this noun is the expression of joy which occurs with either interpretation.[129] With καὶ occurring after πανηγύρει, it seems likely that the structure is referencing angels rather than the assembly.[130] This beautiful, joyful vision assures and motivates to endure, and it continues with the next five images of this glorious now-but-not-yet eschatology.

Verse 23

καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων καὶ πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων

The Israelites were called the assembly (ἐκκλησίᾳ) (Deut 4:10; 18:16).[131] They were also called the firstborn (πρωτοτόκων), ‘given to the Israelites when God brought them out of Egypt to lead them to Sinai’[132] (Exod 4:22-23). As for the perfect passive participle ἀπογεγραμμένων (enrolled) the Israelites’ ‘names were said to be written in a heavenly register’ (Exod 32:32-33).[133] The passive makes it clear their registration was by God’s initiative.[134] At the same time, this not only refers to the faithful Israelites but also the whole company of the people of God[135] through the view of ‘an eschatological or heavenly entity’[136]. Firstborn (πρωτοτόκων) also provides the idea of ‘an exalted position of inheriting eschatological blessings’[137]. The perfect participle (ἀπογεγραμμένων) places emphasis on the permanence of this written record in heaven (ἐν οὐρανοῖς).[138]

The next phrase (καὶ κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων) could be seen as God being the judge of all in a positive sense as one who examines or vindicates.[139] This agrees with the idea of privilege in coming to God (4:14-16; 10:19-25) yet it could also be seen as the pastor reminding his listeners that this is still the same God of Sinai. Tying verses 22-24 with verses 18-21 and continuing his theme of intertwining ‘comfort and warning’, which corresponds with the last five verses of chapter twelve.[140]

The fifth image (καὶ πνεύμασιν δικαίων τετελειωμένων) is perfectly situated between God the judge and Christ the mediator. Before the judge they have been accepted as righteous (δικαίων) because they have been made perfect (τετελειωμένων) through the mediator.[141] The use of πνεύμασιν (spirits) points to those who have died under both covenants ‘but now inhabit the heavenly city’, their goal (Heb 11:10, 13-16; 13:14).[142] O’Brien considers this picture to be different from ‘the assembly of the firstborn’ (vs. 23) in that it seems to specify those who have died.[143] Attridge believes it more demonstrates the understanding in Hebrews of the ‘human hearts, minds, and spirits’ that have been “perfected” and not specifically referring to those who have died.[144] Others specify it as referring to the ‘OT people of God’[145]. O’Brien’s conclusion seems most convincing in the immediate context to distinguish between the first description of ‘the assembly of the firstborn’ (vs. 23) and ‘the spirits of the righteous made perfect’ (vs. 23). The intervening statement of God as just, ‘indicates why this group of people needed to be spoken of from a different angle’[146]. Then the climax of 18-24 is provided with the final two descriptions in the next verse.

Verse 24

 καὶ διαθήκης νέας μεσίτῃ Ἰησοῦ καὶ αἵματι ῥαντισμοῦ κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι παρὰ τὸν Ἅβελ.

These two clauses ‘are not synonymous but closely related: the latter (v. 24b) builds on and develops the former (v. 24a)’.[147] Once again in the first clause (καὶ διαθήκης νέας μεσίτῃ Ἰησοῦ) the author climaxes with the name of Jesus by leaving it until the end.[148] A key motif in Hebrews (Heb 7:22; 8:6-13; 9:15) is mentioned for the first time since chapter ten verse twenty-nine, διαθήκη (covenant), which gives an understanding ‘of the broad scope’ of this verse.[149] The adjective, νέος (new) is not used elsewhere in the Greek Bible in relation to a covenant. Furthermore, elsewhere in Hebrews when this concept is explained two other words are used: κρείττων (better) (8:6); καινός (new) (9:15). Cockerill believes that using these three different expressions of the Covenant ‘serves to underscore its superior quality’.[150] God is at the centre of this picture and whom is worshipped yet ‘its climax’ points to ‘the one through whom God has made everything described in vv. 22-23 possible’.[151] The name Jesus (Ἰησοῦ) seems deliberately identifying Christ’s humanity. Brown notes, ‘we have come to Jesus, the man like us, and the man for us’[152].

The final picture in verse twenty-four looks to the sprinkling of Christ’s blood (καὶ αἵματι ῥαντισμοῦ). This is the only means of atonement and ‘it is to this reality that the listeners have come[153]. The understanding of blood and cleansing has already been explored within Hebrews (9:7, 12-14, 19-22; 10:19).

It is the following words that ‘are something of a puzzle’[154] (κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι παρὰ τὸν Ἅβελ).[155] At first this appears to be a random inclusion as it does not immediately reflect the comparison with Mount Sinai, yet there is a connection with the author’s mention in the previous chapter (11:4). This could be the author’s method of drawing ‘attention to the whole sweep of redemptive history’[156] beginning and ending ‘his account of the past and present history of God’s faithful people, as he began, with the mention of righteous Abel’[157]. Why is Jesus’ blood better (κρεῖττον)? It could be because ‘Abel’s blood testified…to his trust in God’ but Jesus’ blood cleans ‘those who trust in him’ (Gen 4:10).[158] Or it compares Abel’s blood that speaks of vengeance to Christ’s blood that secures forgiveness.[159] This wonderful place to where the hearer’s have come is a beautiful truth that would push everyone who truly grasped this reality over the edge into ongoing endurance.

Verses 25-29: The Final Judgment

Following the two previous indicative paragraphs balanced by contrast, there is now a shift to the imperative with an ‘absence of any introductory conjunction’ merely intensifying the force of the preacher’s words.[160] This exhortation is dependent on what has just gone before. The connecting word ‘speaking’ (λᾰλέω) is ‘a link between the two segments’[161]. Arguing via a fortiori[162], now that they have come to Mount Zion ‘the author warns them one last time’[163].

Verse 25

Βλέπετε μὴ παραιτήσησθε τὸν λαλοῦντα· εἰ γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι οὐκ ἐξέφυγον ἐπὶ γῆς παραιτησάμενοι τὸν χρηματίζοντα, πολὺ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς οἱ τὸν ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν ἀποστρεφόμενοι,

The imperative that this paraenetic passage begins with is a reminder of the earlier warning in Hebrews (3:12) that begins with the same word (βλέπετε).[164] The same root verb παραιτέομαι (reject) is in verse 19 ‘and must, therefore, be understood against the background of the giving of the law’[165]. This verb can bring out the sense of the gospel not being an offer to be considered per se but more ‘an ultimatum, as something to be either received or rejected’[166]. The one who speaks (τὸν λαλοῦντα) most certainly appears to be God ‘whose voice was heard at Sinai’.[167] The first word εἰ is a conjunction that ‘introduces a real condition’[168]. They (ἐκεῖνοι) did not escape when God warned them on Sinai and in the wilderness. The aorist indicative ἐξέφυγον points to an inclusio ‘with the first warning in the letter’ (2:3).[169] In the ‘slightly emphatic position’ ἐπὶ γῆς (on earth) is followed by two participles (παραιτησάμενοι τὸν χρηματίζοντα) that ‘are probably best taken as conditional in meaning’.[170] It seems from the strong warning placed here that some of the listeners’ were ‘in grave danger’ of rejecting this better covenant or even of committing apostasy.[171] The great emphasis falls on ἀποστρεφόμενοι ‘by making it attributive…and by reserving it for the end of the sentence’[172]. There is no mincing of words in this sermon. The pastor has moved away from conditional warnings in the past to ‘this more forceful substantive’ warning.[173] The argument is from the lesser (ἐπὶ γῆς) to the greater (ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν).[174] The contrast is not being suggested that there are two different speakers ‘but between the modes of revelation’[175]. The seriousness of God speaking is then further emphasised in the next verse through a quotation of Haggai (2:6).

Verse 26

οὗ ἡ φωνὴ τὴν γῆν ἐσάλευσεν τότε, νῦν δὲ ἐπήγγελται λέγων, Ἔτι ἅπαξ ἐγὼ σείσω οὐ μόνον τὴν γῆν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸν οὐρανόν.

Here is another fortiori[176] between ‘the “then” (τότε) of Sinai, the “now” (νῦν δὲ) of the promise, and the “once more” (ἔτι ἅπαξ) of the judgment’.[177] Back then his voice (φωνὴ) shook (ἐσάλευσεν) the earth (τὴν γῆν) [Exod 19:18; Ps 67:9; Heb 12:18] but even now he has promised (ἐπήγγελται) that he will once again shake the earth (τὴν γῆν) and the heaven (τὸν οὐρανόν). The aorist tense of ἐσάλευσεν point to the specific time on Sinai. Ellingworth points out the ‘juxtaposition of τότε and νῦν δὲ…and confirms that νῦν…is to be understood temporally’[178]. The perfect, middle with active meaning verb ἐπήγγελται (he has promised) does not suggest that the promise has already occurred, ‘but that the making of the promise has ramifications for the present’[179] and a permanence[180]. By including not only the earth but also heaven in the quote from Haggai the pastor desires to say, ‘this judgment is absolutely final’[181]. The original context of Haggai has been debated as to the eschatological nature of the author’s intention yet considering the use of it in this passage and ‘consonance with similar interpretations in broader Judaism’ it makes sense for it to ultimately be referring ‘to Christ’s second coming’.[182] Take note, this promise will take place soon. The pastor then provides an exegetical comment in the next few verses that indicates the removal of the created to the establishment of the unshakable.

Verse 27

τὸ δὲ Ἔτι ἅπαξ δηλοῖ [τὴν] τῶν σαλευομένων μετάθεσιν ὡς πεποιημένων, ἵνα μείνῃ τὰ μὴ σαλευόμενα.

The beginning article τὸ could be taken as a substantive. There is an idiom here that ‘suggests that the whole verse is under examination’ even though only part of the verse was directly quoted.[183] Yet once (ἅπαξ) more, indicates a ‘definitive action…the great removal of all that can be shaken’[184]. The present active verb δηλοῖ (indicates) implies the ongoing message of Haggai. Instead of the verb for shake in Haggai 2:6, the preacher uses the synonym of vs. 26a of the voice that shook the earth. This choice could be part of the pastor’s ‘exhortatory purpose’ with this verb often describing ‘the effects of divine judgment’ in ‘a metaphorical sense’[185]. The preposition ὡς (namely) contains the idea ‘of the visible universe, not a comparison’[186]. As the perfect participle, πεποιημένων (created things), also implies, ‘these things are established, they have been made and are still in existence’[187]. God will judge all the universe. Only the righteous will not be shaken for they ‘share in the unshakeable character of God’.[188] As Lane notes, the aorist active subjunctive verb μείνῃ (might remain) ‘is used frequently in reference to the enduring, unchangeable character of God, of reality like the new heaven and earth, and of persons who are rightly related to God’ (e.g. Ps 102:25; Isa 66:22; Zech 14:10).[189] What determines the unshakeable nature of anything is its relationship to God and to his intentions made positive only through Jesus. The next two verses conclude all of chapter twelve.

Verse 28-29

Διὸ βασιλείαν ἀσάλευτον παραλαμβάνοντες ἔχωμεν χάριν, διʼ ἧς λατρεύωμεν εὐαρέστως τῷ θεῷ μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέους καὶ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν πῦρ καταναλίσκον.

Διὸ (therefore) is an inferential conjunction that signals the conclusion.[190] Here Haggai 2:6 is ‘applied to the new covenant community’[191]. The word order of βασιλείαν (kingdom) makes this emphatic and ἀσάλευτον (unshakable) a synonym of μὴ σαλευόμενα in verse twenty-seven, making the association between the unshakable and this kingdom quite clear.[192] The participial clause is ‘causal’ and gives ground for the hortatory subjunctives that follow.[193] The present participle παραλαμβάνοντες (we are receiving) provides ‘a careful balance between present and future eschatology’[194]. Right now we are in the Kingdom that will be fully delivered in the future. The hortatory subjunctive ἔχωμεν (to have) with the accusative noun χάριν (grace/gratitude) has been debated as to the meaning. Calvin believes ‘the sense runs better’ when we are receiving a kingdom we have grace,[195] yet in other contexts these two words together often means ‘give thanks’ (Lk 17:9; 1 Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 1:3)[196]. Ellingworth also notes these two words as ‘a well-known expression for gratitude’.[197] The next hortatory subjunctive λατρεύωμεν (let us serve or worship) is ‘in a relative clause which is syntactically subordinate to the call to be thankful’[198]. The idea of service and worship is intimately tied together as in Romans 12:1. Mohler believes acceptable service is a living sacrifice which is the only pleasing worship we can offer to the Lord.[199] This can only be done μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέους (with reverence and awe).[200] Both the thankfulness and the godly fear are so intertwined that one cannot be fully appreciated without the other. The one who truly lives out this combination serves ‘God by approaching him with praise and the obedience of good works as described in the following chapter’.[201] The γὰρ in verse 29 makes it subordinate to verse 28 and the conjunction καὶ is emphatic and adds emphasis to what is said next.[202] The preacher has been building up from 4:13 where we are accountable to God, to 10:31 where it is a fearful thing to fall into God’s hands and now the climax based on Deuteronomy 4:24 ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν πῦρ καταναλίσκον (our God is a consuming fire).[203] This final note should reinforce the gratitude and godly fear we are called to have, ‘God is good in providing not only a way of escape, but a way that his own can enjoy eternal fellowship with him’[204]. Though the fire on Sinai (12:18) may be past, ‘God must not be trifled with’[205] because ‘God’s holy, jealous and righteous love will never be extinguished’[206]. This image of fire, regularly associated with judgment (6:8; 10:27), does not identify God with fire ‘as in some other religious traditions’ but draws ‘attention to one aspect of his being’[207]. This God is the same God of the Old covenant and though we have now come to Mount Zion God is still the same so let us be thankful and let us serve God with reverence and awe for Jesus is now our wonderful mediator.

Conclusion

We have come to Mt Zion through Jesus’ blood. Let us consider his example, running this race being thankful and worshipping God acceptably.

 

 

  1. In P46 the compound conjunction τοιγαροῦν is reduced to τοίγαρ. Harold W. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (ed. Helmut Koester; Hermeneia-A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1989), 353.

  2. A textual variant to the Greek word is found in P46, εὐπερίσπαστον “easily distracting”. Hagner believes, ‘The latter reading may have occurred…because of some uncertainty about the meaning of the former word (which is not found elsewhere in the NT, the LXX, or Greek writers prior to the NT)’ in Hebrews (eds. W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston; Understanding the Bible Commentary Series; Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011), 213. Metzger considers εὐπερίσπαστον to be ‘either a palaeographical error or a deliberate modification’. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Corrected ed.; Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1975), 675.

  3. The perfect verb here is ‘corrected’ according to Attridge in the P46 to the aorist used in the LXX εκάθισεν. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 353.

  4. Although the plural reading, εἰς ἑαυτοὐς, has ‘stronger external attestation, including P13 and P46’, it is difficult to construe. Cockerill makes a number of excellent points as opposed to Ellingworth (643-644) and Lane (2:400) when he says, ‘Other authors occasionally used such expressions to describe the self-destructive nature of wicked behavior. However, such an interpretation seems out of place. This understanding of the plural reading fits poorly within the context. It would only detract from the dominant emphasis on Jesus’ suffering and introduce a concept elsewhere unattested in Hebrews. Thus, the plural is probably the result of a primitive scribal error. It is possible that someone felt this description of Jesus too harsh.’ Gareth Lee Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews (The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge, U.K: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012), 611. Hagner agrees with Cockerill. Hagner, Hebrews, 214. Yet Metzger believes the plural to be the more likely original in Textual Commentary, 675.

  5. ‘Instead of the composite ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι, “struggle against,” some witnesses (𝔓13.46 2495 pc z) read the simple ἀγωνιζόμενοι, “struggle (with)”.’ Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 359.

  6. B. Aland et al. (eds.), The Greek New Testament (5th rev. ed.; Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), v. Hebrews 12:1-4.

  7. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 601.

  8. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 601.

  9. V. C. Pfitzner, Hebrews (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries; Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1997), 171–172.

  10. David Allen, ‘Hebrews 12:1-3 | Preaching Source’, November 28, 2016, http://preachingsource.com/sermon-structure/hebrews-12-1-3/, (accessed September 26, 2017), 2.

  11. Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews (The Pillar New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.; Apollos, 2010), 448.

  12. Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text (The New International Greek Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1993), 637.

  13. Allen, “Hebrews 12:1-3,” 4.

  14. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 448.

  15. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 448.

  16. Donald Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews: An Introduction and Commentary (ed. Leon Morris; The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 15; Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1983), 248.

  17. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 248.

  18. Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews: Christ Above All (ed. John Stott; The Bible Speaks Today; Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 2000), 226.

  19. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 601.

  20. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 637.

  21. Hagner, Hebrews, 211. This word only occurs one other time in the New Testament. Allen, “Hebrews 12:1-3,” 1.

  22. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 449. Even suggesting that 12:1-2 summarises the previous chapter. David A Renwick, ‘Hebrews 11:29-12:2’, Interpretation 57/3 (July 2003): 301.

  23. R. Albert Mohler, Exalting Jesus in Hebrews (eds. David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida; Christ-Centred Exposition; Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2017), 195.

  24. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 602.

  25. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 248.

  26. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 602.

  27. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 354.

  28. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 248.

  29. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 602.

  30. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, 2:408. The singular rather than the plural emphasises a unity of purpose. Thomas G. Long, ‘What Cloud? What Witnesses?: A Preacher’s Exegesis of Hebrews 12:1-2’, Word & World 28/4 (September 2008): 356.

  31. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 354.

  32. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 638. Although earlier in 10:28 it refers to those who testify in a court of law the context here makes this understanding clear.

  33. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 638.

  34. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 602. As Westcott also points out ‘they witness to His power and faithfulness; and those who regard them cannot but be strengthened by their testimony’ in The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1984), 391.

  35. Schreiner makes a connection between μαρτύρων and earlier μαρτῠρέω (gained approval) in 11:2, 39). Thomas R. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews (eds. Andreas J. Köstenberger and T. Desmond Alexander; Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation; Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2015), 377. Anderson sees this connection and notes how they are ‘more than spectators. They have themselves been ‘commended…(11:39; see 11:2, 4, 5) by God’. Kevin L. Anderson, Hebrews: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (New Beacon Bible Commentary; Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2013), 213.

  36. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 603.

  37. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews.

  38. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 249.

  39. While some would say this word is then defined with the following statement such as Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 638, Cockerill makes more sense by explaining the intention to be ‘both general and comprehensive’. He describes this by noting that anything that distracts from the race that is not put aside, ‘though innocent in itself, becomes part of the “sin that clings so closely”’. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 603.

  40. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, 2:398. This participle along with the three in this sentence of Greek could also be seen as being used semantically which provides the means of accomplishing the main verb (τρέχωμεν). “let us run by means of throwing off…”. Allen, “Hebrews 12:1-3,” 17.

  41. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 604. Anderson contends it refers directly to apostasy as it is surrounded closely by two warnings against this (10:26-31; 12:14-17). Anderson, Hebrews, 316. Although, with a correct understanding of ‘weight’ this reference appears more general along with the generic article.

  42. As Cockerill considers in The Epistle to the Hebrews, 604.

  43. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 452.

  44. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 639. This main command is the positive side to the previous statement of taking off burdens and sins. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 249.

  45. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 227.

  46. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 355–356.

  47. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 377.

  48. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 452. It also points to the listeners current involvement in the race.

  49. Jean Calvin, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews and the First and Second Epistles of St Peter (eds. David W Torrance and Thomas F Torrance; trans. by William B Johnston; Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), 187.

  50. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 249–250.

  51. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 249.

  52. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 640.

  53. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 228; Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 250.

  54. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 610.

  55. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 640.

  56. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 640.

  57. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, 2:412.

  58. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 606.

  59. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 454.

  60. Daniel B Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008), 270.

  61. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 250.

  62. Mohler, Exalting Jesus in Hebrews, 196. Bowman puts it well when he says it was Jesus ‘who created the faith-race contest for us, set the ground rules, and furnished everything we need to finish that race’. George M. Bowman, Don’t Let Go! An Exposition of Hebrews (Phillipsburg, N. J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 1982), 101.

  63. Whilst most commentaries such as Attridge, Ellingworth, Lane and others consider τελειωτὴν to be rare and possibly coined by the author Croy points out an example in secular literature which supports the interpretation of Jesus being the consummator of faith ‘not one to be transcended by subsequent improvements, for he is also faith’s paragon’. N Clayton Croy, ‘A Note on Hebrews 12:2’, Journal of Biblical Literature 114/1 (1995), 117–119. This concept of perfection is a theme that runs throughout Hebrews (e.g. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28; 10:14; 11:40; 12:23).

  64. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 455.

  65. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 453.

  66. Hagner, Hebrews, 211.

  67. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 641. He points to ὃς being a key indicator as it ‘is often held to signal the beginning of a creedal statement’.

  68. David Arthur DeSilva, The Letter to the Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective (Cascade Companions 15; Eugene, Or: Cascade Books, 2012), 433. Lane also concurs. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, 2:412–413.

  69. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 367–368.

  70. Calvin, The Epistle, 188.

  71. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 229.

  72. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 357.

  73. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 455.

  74. Mohler, Exalting Jesus in Hebrews, 197. This victory would attain salvation (Heb 1:1-4) which is part of the joy (χαρᾶς) set before him by God. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 609.

  75. An objection to this is Jesus having an ‘unworthy motive’ for his obedient death but this objection ‘fails to understand that the stress on the future hop of the Christian is exactly the point that the author has made to his readers throughout the preceding chapter’. Hagner, Hebrews, 214.

  76. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 396.

  77. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 251.

  78. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 609. The cross (σταυρὸν) does not have an article suggesting ‘the nature of his death rather than the mere fact of it’. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 456.

  79. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 642.

  80. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (eds.), Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Nottingham, England: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 942.

  81. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 457.

  82. Beale and Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 985.

  83. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 642.

  84. Beale and Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 985.

  85. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 643.

  86. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 459.

  87. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 612.

  88. Mohler, Exalting Jesus in Hebrews, 197.

  89. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 258.

  90. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 643.

  91. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 251.

  92. Hagner, Hebrews, 214.

  93. The variation and meaning of the text is discussed above in the footnotes of the Greek.

  94. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 251.

  95. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 358.

  96. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 637.

  97. This also provides a link to Proverbs 3:11 (ἐκλύου) ‘that dominates the next paragraph’. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 358.

  98. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 613.

  99. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 618.

  100. Mohler, Exalting Jesus in Hebrews, 198.

  101. Some have suggested 13:7 contains the idea of martyrdom yet due to this verse that interpretation seems to be ruled out and the ‘more central theme of faithfulness to the end of the leaders’ earthly lives’ is more appropriate. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 645.

  102. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 252.

  103. Craig R. Koester, Hebrews: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary (ed. Paulus Apostolus; Nachdr. ed.; The Anchor Bible 36; New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2008), 525. The argument for boxing imagery is perpetuated with the next aorist verb ἀντικατέστητε (resisted) Ellingsworth, Attridge and Cockerill all consider this to be a likely scenario yet Schreiner and Croy consider the imagery here to be more general. N. Clayton Croy, Endurance in Suffering: Hebrews 12:1-13 in Its Rhetorical, Religious, and Philosophical Context (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 98; Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 69–70. Mackie makes a convincing case in studying this visually oriented rhetoric for there to be a singular focus ‘on promoting the visualization of a footrace’. Scott D Mackie, ‘Visually Oriented Rhetoric and Visionary Experience in Hebrews 12:1-4’, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 79/3 (July 2017): 489.

  104. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 619.

  105. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 619.

  106. Hagner, Hebrews, 215. Sin could parallel with verse three that refers specifically to ‘sinners’. This has happened in other places in the New Testament where ‘an abstract noun is used for a person or persons’ (e.g. Gal 3:13). V. C. Pfitzner, ChiRho Commentary on Hebrews (ChiRho Commentary Series; Adelaide: Lutheran Pub. House, 1979), 195–196.

  107. Some witnesses (P46 Ls pc sy) have the neuter τὸ, meaning, “that (i.e., the blood) of Abel”. Attridge notes it is probably a correction ‘influenced by Gen 4:11’. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 372.

  108. O’Brien points out how ‘some MSS have the indicative ἔχομεν χάριν (‘we are grateful’: P46 א K P Ψ etc.)’ yet he goes on to explain that ‘the hortatory subjunctive ἔχωμεν χάριν (‘let us be thankful’: P46c A C D etc.) is preferable since the context calls for an exhortation.’ O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 499.

  109. Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Hebrews 12:22-29.

  110. David Allen, ‘Hebrews 12:18-29 | Preaching Source’, November 28, 2016, http://preachingsource.com/sermon-structure/hebrews-12-18-29/, (accessed September 26, 2017), 12.

  111. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 491.

  112. Beale and Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 988. Wenkel not only notes this approachability contrasting an unapproachability but also the idea of sensory perceiving and unperceivable. Some of his conclusions are interesting but the concept of the senses is worth considering. David H Wenkel, ‘Sensory Experience and the Contrast Between the Covenants in Hebrews 12’, Bibliotheca sacra 173/690 (April 2016), 219–234.

  113. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 244.

  114. As Kistemaker points out, this is not to suggest that the two sections ‘correspond at every point’. Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of the Hebrews (Herts, England: Evangelical Press, 1984), 391.

  115. Allen, “Hebrews 12:18-29,” 1. This word is a clear expression of the preacher’s eschatological understanding. Thompson believes ‘the author’s purpose is not to…denigrate Israel’s sacred institutions but…to demonstrate the greatness of the Christian experience in comparison to all alternatives’. James Thompson, Hebrews (Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2008), 267. Whilst this may be true to an extent, it is important to realise that negative attitude towards the Old Covenant that the preacher portrays in its inability to draw people near to God.

  116. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 482.

  117. Hagner, Hebrews, 225.

  118. Allen, “Hebrews 12:18-29,” 6.

  119. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 148.

  120. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 651.

  121. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 677.

  122. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 483.

  123. This theme of the ‘living God’ has run throughout Hebrews (3:12; 9:14; 10:31).

  124. Hagner, Hebrews, 225.

  125. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 399.

  126. Calvin, The Epistle, 200.

  127. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 678.

  128. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 261.

  129. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 654.

  130. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 399. Spurgeon contends it is referring to ‘all the saints after the death and resurrection of our Lord’. C. H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary Hebrews. (eds. Steve E Ritzema and Jessi Strong; Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2015), 424. Moffatt agrees with Schreiner and notes that this description connotes a picture of ‘angelic hosts thronging with glad worship round the living God’. James Moffatt, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (eds. S. R. Driver, A. Plummer, and C. A. Briggs; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1957), 216. Wright suggests the reason for their gathering is ‘not now to give the law, as in chapters 1 and 2, but to celebrate the fact that what the law had not been able to do has been accomplished through the son of God’. N. T Wright, Hebrews for Everyone. (The New Testament for Everyone Commentary Series; London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2014), 162.

  131. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 654.

  132. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 485.

  133. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 485.

  134. Koester, Hebrews, 545.

  135. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 645.

  136. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 486.

  137. Beale and Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 853.

  138. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 680.

  139. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 400.

  140. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 656; Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 262.

  141. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 656. This work of Christ allows the Old Testament believers in chapter eleven to be “perfected” (11:40). Moffatt, Epistle to the Hebrews, 218.

  142. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 487.

  143. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 487–488.

  144. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 376.

  145. Hagner, Hebrews, 226.

  146. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 488.

  147. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 488.

  148. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 401.

  149. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 681.

  150. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 658.

  151. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 658.

  152. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 245.

  153. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 489.

  154. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 489.

  155. One of the difficulties is that blood is not directly written in the Greek but merely added by most translations and exegetes. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 489. It is interesting the P46 and a few Latin manuscripts read τὸ rather than τὸν. The neuter accusative τὸ would then make it possible to refer to blood (αἷμα) and make Ἅβελ as genitive: “the [blood] of Abel”. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 658–659. As McCruden points out ‘these textual witnesses suggest that the author of Hebrews employs the rhetorical device of braehylogy, such that the idea of the blood of Abel is implied’. Kevin B McCruden, ‘The Eloquent Blood of Jesus: The Neglected Theme of the Fidelity of Jesus in Hebrews 12:24’, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 75/3 (July 2013): 504.

  156. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 491.

  157. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 660.

  158. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 402.

  159. Calvin, The Epistle, 201. Robert McLachlan Wilson, Hebrews (The New Century Bible Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1987), 231. Andrew Murray makes another comparison between what was shed on earth in comparison to what was sprinkled in heaven. Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1969), 511. Meyer contrasts it well with a number of statements, blood of martyrdom – blood of sacrifice; accused – pleading for mercy; denounced wrath – proclaiming reconciling love; punishment on the murderer – the issuing of salvation; unto death – unto life. F. B. Meyer, The Way into the Holiest: Expositions of the Epistle to the Hebrews (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott., 1978), 163.

  160. Allen, “Hebrews 12:18-29,” 2.

  161. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 491.

  162. A lesser to greater argument which the author has already done a number of times (2:1ff.; 4:11ff.; 10:28f.). Hagner, Hebrews, 230.

  163. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 404.

  164. Hagner, Hebrews, 232.

  165. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 264. Some commentators are divided over who is speaking in verse 25 due to the proximity of the participle λαλοῦντι in 24b. Smillie argues the case well when he concludes that it is the God of Sinai who speaks. Gene R Smillie, ‘‘The One Who Is Speaking’ in Hebrews 12:25’, Tyndale Bulletin 55/2 (2004), 275–294.

  166. Mohler, Exalting Jesus in Hebrews, 215.

  167. God speaking is a major motif within Hebrews (cf. 1:1; 2:1-4; 4:12-13). Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 379.

  168. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 684.

  169. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 405.

  170. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 685.

  171. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 494.

  172. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 663.

  173. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 663. Not “if we turn away” but “we who turn away”. That is ‘very direct’.

  174. Guthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews, 264.

  175. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 380.

  176. Victor Rhee, ‘Chiasm and the Concept of Faith in Hebrews 12:1-29’, The Westminster Theological Journal 63/2 (September 2001): 281.

  177. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 664.

  178. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 686.

  179. Allen, “Hebrews 12:18-29,” 9.

  180. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 686.

  181. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 666.

  182. Beale and Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 989; Calvin, The Epistle, 202.

  183. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 237–238.

  184. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 495. This is different to the previous uses of this verb where it constantly referred to ‘the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ’ (ie. Heb 9:26, 28)

  185. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 496.

  186. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 688.

  187. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 669.

  188. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 496.

  189. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, 2:482–483.

  190. Allen, “Hebrews 12:18-29,” 10.

  191. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 497.

  192. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 690.

  193. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 497.

  194. Hagner, Hebrews, 233.

  195. He believes the exhortation is ‘forced and puzzling’. His explanation is that ‘we enter the kingdom of Christ by faith we shall obtain a firm grace which will effectively hold us to the service of God’. Calvin, The Epistle, 203.

  196. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 406.

  197. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 489. Cockerill also agrees and provides a number of reasons for his conclusion in The Epistle to the Hebrews, 671.

  198. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, 499.

  199. Mohler, Exalting Jesus in Hebrews, 217.

  200. Ellingworth considers this to be a hendiadys: “with reverent fear”. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 691. Bruce says it well, ‘sacrificial worship must be offered with a due sense of the majesty and holiness’ of God. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of the Hebrews: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes (The New International Commentary on the New Testament 14; Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1981), 384.

  201. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 672.

  202. Allen, “Hebrews 12:18-29,” 11; Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 692.

  203. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 672.

  204. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 673.

  205. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 407.

  206. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 247.

  207. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 692.

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment. Leave new

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    June 24, 2019 7:09 am

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