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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Hebrews 12

Verse 1

Therefore (τοιγαρουν). Triple compound inferential participle (τοι, γαρ, ουν) like the German doch denn nun, a conclusion of emphasis, old particle, in N.T. only here and 1 Thessalonians 4:8. There should be no chapter division here, since Hebrews 12:1-3 really is the climax in the whole argument about the better promises (Hebrews 10:19-12) with a passionate appeal for loyalty to Christ.

Us also (κα ημεις). We as well as "these all" of Hebrews 11:39 and all the more because of the "something better" given us in the actual coming of Christ.

Compassed about (εχοντες περικειμενον). Literally, "having (εχοντες, present active participle of εχω) lying around us" (περικειμενον, present middle participle of περικειμα, old verb as in Luke 17:2).

Cloud of witnesses (νεφος μαρτυρων). Old word (Latin nubes), here only in the N.T., for vast mass of clouds. Νεφελη is a single cloud. The metaphor refers to the great amphitheatre with the arena for the runners and the tiers upon tiers of seats rising up like a cloud. The μαρτυρες here are not mere spectators (θεατα), but testifiers (witnesses) who testify from their own experience (Hebrews 11:2; Hebrews 11:4; Hebrews 11:5; Hebrews 11:33; Hebrews 11:39) to God's fulfilling his promises as shown in chapter Hebrews 12:11.

Laying aside (αποθεμενο). Second aorist-middle (indirect, from ourselves) participle of αποτιθημ, old verb as in Colossians 3:8 (laying off old clothes). The runners ran in the stadium nearly naked.

Every weight (ογκον παντα). Old word (kin to ενεγκειν, φερω) like φορτοσ, βαρος. Here every encumbrance that handicaps like doubt, pride, sloth, anything. No trailing garment to hinder or trip one.

The sin which doth so easily beset us (την ευπεριστατον αμαρτιαν). "The easily besetting sin." There are a dozen possible renderings of this double compound verbal from ευ, well, and περιιστημ, to place around or to stand around (intransitive). The Vulgate has circumstans nos peccatum (the sin standing around us). Probably this is the true idea here, "the easily encompassing (or surrounding) sin." In this case apostasy from Christ was that sin. In our cases it may be some other sin. The verbal adjective reminds one of the ring of wild beasts in the jungle that encircle the camp-fire at night each ready to pounce upon a careless victim.

Let us run (τρεχωμεν). Present active volitive subjunctive of τρεχω, "let us keep on running."

With patience (δι' υπομονης). Not with impatience, doubt, or despair.

The race that is set before us (τον προκειμενον ημιν αγωνα). Note the article and the present middle participle of προκειμα, old compound (already in Hebrews 6:18, and also in Hebrews 12:2). Dative case (ημιν) of personal interest.

Verse 2

Looking unto (αφορωντες εις). Present active participle of αφοραω, old verb to look away, "looking away to Jesus." In N.T. only here and Philippians 2:23. Fix your eyes on Jesus, after a glance at "the cloud of witnesses," for he is the goal. Cf. Moses in Hebrews 11:26 (απεβλεπεν).

The author (τον αρχηγον). See Hebrews 2:10 for this word. "The pioneer of personal faith" (Moffatt).

Perfecter (τελειωτην). A word apparently coined by the writer from τελειοω as it has been found nowhere else. Vulgate has consummator.

For the joy (αντ της χαρας). Answering to, in exchange for (verse Hebrews 12:16), at the end of the race lay the joy "set before him" (προκειμενης αυτω), while here was the Cross (σταυρον) at this end (the beginning of the race) which he endured (υπεμεινεν, aorist active indicative of υπομενω),

despising shame (αισχυνης καταφρονησας). The cross at his time brought only shame (most shameful of deaths, "yea, the death of the cross" Philippians 2:8). But Jesus despised that, in spite of the momentary shrinking from it, and did his Father's will by submitting to it.

Hath sat down (κεκαθικεν). Perfect active indicative of καθιζω, and still is there (Hebrews 1:3).

Verse 3

Consider (αναλογισασθε). First aorist middle imperative of αναλογιζομα, old word to reckon up, to compare, to weigh, only here in the N.T. See κατανοησατε in Hebrews 3:1. Understanding Jesus is the key to the whole problem, the cure for doubt and hesitation.

Endured (υπομεμενηκοτα). Perfect active participle of the same verb υπομενω used in verse Hebrews 12:2.

Gainsaying (αντιλογιαν). Old word from αντιλογος (from αντιλεγω), already in Hebrews 6:16; Hebrews 7:7.

Of sinners (υπο των αμαρτωλων). "By sinners."

Against themselves (εις εαυτους). Against their better selves if a genuine reading. But εις εαυτον (against himself), against Christ, is far more likely correct.

That ye wax not weary (ινα μη καμητε). Negative final clause with ινα μη and the second aorist active subjunctive of καμνω, old verb to be weary as here or sick as in James 5:15.

Fainting in your souls (ταις ψυχαις υμων εκλυομενο). Present passive participle of εκλυω, old verb to loosen out, to set free, and in passive to be enfeebled, to be tired out (here in soul with locative case), as in verse Hebrews 12:5. The rest of the Epistle drives home the argument.

Verse 4

Resisted (αντικατεστητε). Second aorist active indicative (intransitive) of the double compound αντικαθιστημ, old verb to stand in opposition against in line of battle, intransitively to stand face to face (αντ) against (κατα), here only in the N.T.

Unto blood (μεχρις αιματος). "Up to blood." As was true of Jesus and many of the other heroes of faith in chapter Hebrews 12:11.

Striving (ανταγωνιζομενο). Present middle participle of ανταγωνιζομα, old verb with the same figure in αντικατεστητε.

Against sin (προς αμαρτιαν). Face to face with sin as in verse Hebrews 12:1.

Verse 5

Ye have forgotten (εκλελησθε). Perfect middle indicative of εκλανθανω, to cause to forget, old verb, here only in the N.T. with genitive case as usual.

Reasoneth with you (υμιν διαλεγετα). Present middle indicative of διαλεγομα, old verb to ponder different (δια-) things, to converse, with dative. Cf. Acts 19:8. The quotation is from Proverbs 3:11.

Regard not lightly (μη ολιγωρε). Prohibition with μη and the present active imperative of ολιγωρεω, old verb from ολιγωρος and this from ολιγος (little) and ωρα (hour), old verb, here only in N.T.

Chastening (παιδειας). Old word from παιδευω, to train a child (παις), instruction (2 Timothy 3:16), which naturally includes correction and punishment as here. See also Ephesians 6:4.

Nor faint (μηδε εκλυου). Prohibition with μη and present passive imperative of εκλυω (see verse Hebrews 12:3).

Verse 6

Scourgeth (μαστιγο). Present active indicative of μαστιγοω, old verb from μαστιξ (whip). This is a hard lesson for God's children to learn and to understand. See Hebrews 5:7 about Jesus.

Verse 7

That ye endure (υπομενετε). Present active indicative or present active imperative and so just "endure for chastening."

Dealeth with you (υμιν προσφερετα). Present middle indicative of προσφερω, but this sense of bearing oneself towards one with the dative here only in the N.T., though often in the older Greek.

What (τις). Interrogative.

Whom (ον). Relative. Cf. Matthew 7:9.

Verse 8

If ye are without chastening (ε χωρις εστε παιδειας). Condition of first class, determined as fulfilled. Note position of εστε (are) between the preposition χωρις and παιδειας (ablative case).

Have been made (γεγονασιν). Perfect active indicative of γινομα.

Partakers (μετοχο). Partners (Hebrews 3:14).

Then (αρα). Accordingly, correspondingly.

Bastards (νοθο). Old word, here only in N.T. Illegitimate.

Verse 9

Furthermore (ειτα). The next step in the argument (Mark 4:17).

We had (ειχομεν). Imperfect indicative of customary action, "we used to have."

To chasten us (παιδευτας). Predicate accusative after ειχομεν, "as chasteners." Old word from παιδευω, as agent (-της). Only once in LXX (Hosea 5:2) and twice in N.T. (here and Romans 2:20).

We gave them reverence (ενετρεπομεθα). Imperfect middle of old word εντρεπω, to turn in or at. Here "we turned ourselves to" as in Matthew 21:37, habitual attitude of reverence.

Shall we be in subjection (υποταγησομεθα). Second future passive of υποτασσω. There is no δε here to correspond to μεν in the first part of the verse.

Unto the father of spirits (τω πατρ των πνευματων). Rather, "Unto the Father of our spirits" (note article τον). As God is.

Verse 10

They (ο μεν). Demonstrative ο in contrast (μεν).

Chastened (επαιδευον). Imperfect active, used to chasten.

As seemed good to them (κατα το δοκουν αυτοις). "According to the thing seeming good to them." Δοκουν is present active neuter singular articular participle of δοκεω.

But he (ο δε). Demonstrative with δε vs. μεν.

For our profit (επ το συμφερον). Present active articular neuter singular participle of συμφερω, to bear together as in 1 Corinthians 12:7.

That we may be partakers (εις το μεταλαβειν). Articular second aorist active infinitive of μεταλαμβανω with εις for purpose, "for the partaking."

Of his holiness (της αγιοτητος αυτου). Genitive with μεταλαβειν (to share in). Rare word, in N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 1:12.

Verse 11

For the present (προς το παρον). A classical phrase (Thucydides), προς with the accusative neuter singular articular participle of παρειμ, to be beside.

Not joyous, but grievous (ου χαρασ, αλλα λυπης). Predicate ablative (springing from) or predicate genitive (marked by). Either makes sense, but note predicate ablative in 2 Corinthians 4:7 (κα του θεου κα μη εξ ημων).

Peaceable fruit (καρπον ειρηνικον). Old adjective from ειρηνη (peace), in N.T. only here and James 3:17. Peaceable after the chastening is over.

Exercised thereby (δι' αυτης γεγυμνασμενοις). Perfect passive participle (dative case) of γυμναζω, state of completion, picturing the discipline as a gymnasium like Hebrews 5:14; 1 Timothy 4:17.

Verse 12

Wherefore (διο). Because of the chastening.

Lift up (ανορθωσατε). First aorist active imperative of ανορθοω, old compound (from ανα, ορθος) to make straight, in N.T. here and Luke 13:13; Acts 15:16.

Hang down (παρειμενας). Perfect passive participle of παριημ, old verb to let pass, to relax, in N.T. only here and Luke 11:42.

Palsied (παραλελυμενα). Perfect passive participle of παραλυω, old verb to loosen on the side, to dissolve, to paralyze (Luke 5:18; Luke 5:24).

Verse 13

Straight paths (τροχιας ορθας). Track of a wheel (τροχος, James 3:6 from τρεχω, to run), here only in N.T. "Straight (ορθας) wheel tracks."

Be not turned out of the way (ινα μη εκτραπη). Negative final clause with ινα μη and second aorist passive of εκτρεπω, old verb to turn out, to twist, to put out of joint. So 1 Timothy 1:6. Vivid picture of concern for the lame (χωλον, as in Matthew 11:5). Graphic picture of concern for the weak, a good argument for prohibition also.

Verse 14

Follow after peace (ειρηνην διωκετε). Give peace a chase as if in a hunt.

With all men (μετα παντων). Like Paul's use of διωκω with ειρηνην in Romans 14:19 and his to εξ υμων (so far as proceeds from you) in Hebrews 12:18. This lesson the whole world needs including Christians.

Sanctification (αγιασμον). Consecration as in 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Romans 6:19, etc.

Without which (ου χωρις). Ablative case of the relative with χωρις (post positive here). About seeing God compare Matthew 5:8 where we have καθαρο.

Verse 15

Looking carefully (επισκοπουντες). Present active participle of επισκοπεω, to have oversight, in N.T. only here and 1 Peter 5:2. Cf. επισχοπος (bishop).

Lest there be any man (μη τις). Negative purpose clause with ε (present active subjunctive) omitted.

Falleth short of (υστερων απο). Present active participle of υστερεω (see Hebrews 4:1) agreeing with τις. Followed here by απο and the ablative.

Root of bitterness . (ριζα πικριας). Quoted from Deuteronomy 29:18. Vivid picture.

Springing up (ανω φυουσα). Present active participle of φυω, to sprout. Pictured here as a quick process. Also from Deuteronomy 29:18.

Trouble (ενοχλη). Present active subjunctive (in final clause with μη τις) of ενοχλεω, old verb to trouble with a crowd, to annoy. In N.T. only here and Luke 6:18.

Be defiled (μιανθωσιν). First aorist passive subjunctive (in final clause with μη) of μιανω, old verb to dye, to stain, to defile as in Titus 1:15 (the conscience). The contagion of sin is terrible as any disease.

Verse 16

Profane (βεβηλος). Trodden under foot, unhallowed (1 Timothy 1:9).

For one mess of meat (αντ βρωσεως μιας). Idea of exchange, "for one act of eating" (1 Corinthians 8:4).

Sold (απεδετο). Second aorist middle indicative from Genesis 25:31; Genesis 25:33, and with irregular form for απεδοτο (regular μ form).

His own birthright (τα πρωτοτοκια εαυτου). From Genesis also and in Philo, only here in N.T. From πρωτοτοκος (first born, Hebrews 1:6).

Verse 17

Ye know (ιστε). Regular form for the second person of οιδα rather than the Koine οιδατε.

He was rejected (απεδοκιμασθη). First aorist passive indicative of αποδοκιμαζω, old verb to disapprove (Matthew 21:42).

Place of repentance (μετανοιας τοπον). Μετανοια is change of mind and purpose, not sorrow though he had tears (μετα δακρυων) afterwards as told in Genesis 27:38. He sought it (αυτην, the blessing ευλογιαν) with tears, but in vain. There was no change of mind in Isaac. The choice was irrevocable as Isaac shows (Genesis 27:33). Esau is a tragic example of one who does a wilful sin which allows no second chance (Hebrews 6:6; Hebrews 10:26). The author presses the case of Esau as a warning to the Christians who were tempted to give up Christ.

Verse 18

Ye are not come (ου προσεληλυθατε). Perfect active indicative of προσερχομα. There is no word here in the Greek for "a mount" like ορε in verses Hebrews 12:20; Hebrews 12:22 (and Exodus 19:12; Deuteronomy 4:11), but it is clearly understood since the dative participles agree with it unless they be taken as descriptive of πυρ ("a palpable and kindled fire " when πυρ would be the dative case after προσεληλυθατε).

That might be touched (ψηλαφωμενω). Present passive participle (dative case) of ψηλαφαω, old verb to handle, to touch (Luke 24:39).

That burned with fire (κεκαυμενω πυρ). Perfect passive participle of καιω, old verb to burn, with instrumental case πυρ (fire), unless the other view (above) is correct.

Verse 19

Unto blackness (γνοφω). Dative case of γνοφος (late form for earlier δνοφος and kin to νεφος, cloud), here only in N.T. Quoted here from Exodus 10:22.

Darkness (ζοφω). Old word, in Homer for the gloom of the world below. In the Symmachus Version of Exodus 10:22, also in Judges 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4; 2 Peter 2:15.

Tempest (θυελλη). Old word from θυω (to boil, to rage), a hurricane, here only in N.T. From Exodus 10:22.

The sound of a trumpet (σαλπιγγος ηχω). From Exodus 19:16. Εχος is an old word (our εχο) as in Luke 21:25; Acts 2:2.

The voice of words (φωνη ρηματων). From Exodus 19:19; Deuteronomy 4:12.

Which voice (ης). Relative referring to φωνη (voice) just before, genitive case with ακουσαντες (heard, aorist active participle).

Intreated (παρηιτησαντο). First aorist middle (indirect) indicative of παραιτεομα, old verb, to ask from alongside (Mark 15:6), then to beg away from oneself, to depreciate as here, to decline (Acts 25:11), to excuse (Luke 14:18), to avoid (1 Timothy 4:7).

That no word should be spoken unto them (προστεθηνα αυτοις λογον). First aorist passive infinitive of προστιθημ, old word to add, here with accusative of general reference (λογον), "that no word be added unto them." Some MSS. have here a redundant negative μη with the infinitive because of the negative idea in παρηιτησαντο as in Galatians 5:7.

Verse 20

For they could not endure (ουκ εφερον γαρ). Imperfect active of φερω, "for they were not enduring (bearing)."

That which was enjoined (το διαστελλομενον). Present passive articular participle of διαστελλω, old verb to distinguish, to dispose, to order. The quotation is from Exodus 19:12. The people appealed to Moses (Exodus 20:19) and the leaders did so also (Deuteronomy 5:23), both in terror.

If even (καν). "Even if." Condition of third class with second aorist active subjunctive of θιγγανω as in Hebrews 11:28, followed by genitive ορους (mountain).

It shall be stoned (λιθοβοληθησετα). From Exodus 19:13. Late compound verb from λιθοβολος (from λιθοσ, βαλλω) as in Matthew 21:35.

Verse 21

Fearful (φοβερον). As in Hebrews 10:27; Hebrews 10:31, only in Heb. in N.T.

The appearance (το φανταζομενον). Present passive articular participle of φανταζω, old verb from φαινω, to make visible, here only in N.T. "The manifestation."

I exceedingly fear and quake (εκφοβος ειμ κα εντρομος). "I am terrified (εκφοβος, late compound like εκφοβεω, to frighten, Mark 9:6) and trembling" (εντρομος, late compound like εντρεμω, to tremble at, as in Acts 7:32; Acts 16:29). Εκφοβος is quoted from Deuteronomy 9:19.

Verse 22

But (αλλα). Sharp contrast to verse Hebrews 12:18 with same form προσεληλυθατε.

Unto Mount Zion (Σιων ορε). Dative case of ορος, as with the other substantives. In contrast to Mount Sinai (verses Hebrews 12:18-21). Paul has contrasted Mount Sinai (present Jerusalem) with the Jerusalem above (heaven) in Galatians 4:21-31.

City (πολε). As in Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16. Heaven is termed thus a spiritual mountain and city.

The heavenly Jerusalem (Ιερουσαλεμ επουρανιω). See Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16; Isaiah 60:14.

Innumerable hosts of angels (μυριασιν αγγελων). "Myriads of angels." Μυριας is an old word (from μυριος, 1 Corinthians 4:15) as in Luke 12:1.

Verse 23

To the general assembly (πανηγυρε). Old word (from πας and αγυρισ, αγειρω). Here only in N.T. Πανηγυριζω occurs in Isaiah 66:10 for keeping a festal holiday. Possibly to be connected with αγγελων, though not certain.

Church of the firstborn (εκκλησια πρωτοτοκων). Probably an additional item besides the angelic host as the people of Israel are called firstborn (Exodus 4:22). The word εκκλησια here has the general sense of all the redeemed, as in Matthew 16:18; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:24-32, and equivalent to the kingdom of God.

Who are enrolled in heaven (απογεγραμμενων εν ουρανοις). Perfect passive participle of απογραφω, old verb to write off, to copy, to enroll as in Luke 2:1; Luke 2:3; Luke 2:5 (only N.T. examples). Enrolled as citizens of heaven even while on earth (Luke 10:20; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 3:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 13:8, etc.).

To God the Judge of all (κριτη θεω παντων). All these chief substantives in the dative case. People should not forget that God is the Judge of all men.

Made perfect (τετελειωμενων). Perfect passive participle of τελειοω, perfected at last (Hebrews 11:40).

Verse 24

To Jesus (Ιησου). This great fact is not to be overlooked (Philippians 2:10). He is there as Lord and Saviour and still "Jesus."

The mediator of a new covenant (διαθηκης νεας μεσιτη). As already shown (Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 8:8; Hebrews 8:9; Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 9:15) and now gloriously consummated.

To the blood of sprinkling (αιματ ραντισμου). As in Hebrews 9:19-28.

Than Abel (παρα τον Αβελ). Accusative as in Hebrews 1:4.

Better (κρειττον). Comparative of καλος. Abel's blood still speaks (Hebrews 11:4), but it is as nothing compared to that of Jesus.

Verse 25

See (βλεπετε). Earnest word as in Hebrews 3:12. Driving home the whole argument of the Epistle by this powerful contrast between Mount Zion and Mount Sinai. The consequences are dreadful to apostates now, for Zion has greater terrors than Sinai, great as those were.

That ye refuse not (μη παραιτησησθε). Negative purpose with μη and the first aorist middle subjunctive of παραιτεομα, the same verb used in verse Hebrews 12:19 about the conduct of the Israelites at Sinai and also below.

Him that speaketh (τον λαλουντα). Present active articular participle of λαλεω as in verse Hebrews 12:24 (Jesus speaking by his blood).

For if they did not escape (ε γαρ εκεινο ουκ εξεφυγον). Condition of first class with ε and second aorist active indicative of εκφευγω, to escape. Direct reference to Sinai with use of the same verb again (παραιτησαμενο, when they refused).

Him that warned (τον χρηματιζοντα). That is Moses. For χρηματιζω see Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 11:7.

Much more we (πολυ μαλλον ημεις). Argument from the less to the greater, πολυ, adverbial accusative case. The verb has to be supplied from the condition, "We shall not escape." Our chance to escape is far less, "we who turn away (αποστρεφομενο, middle participle, turn ourselves away from) the one from heaven (τον απ' ουρανων)," God speaking through his Son (Hebrews 1:2).

Verse 26

Then shook (εσαλευσεν τοτε). Old verb as in Matthew 11:7.

He hath promised (επηγγελτα). Perfect middle indicative of επαγγελλω and it still holds. He quotes Haggai 2:6.

Will I make to tremble (σεισω). Old and strong verb (here future active) σειω, to agitate, to cause to tremble as in Matthew 21:10. The author applies this "yet once more" (ετ απαξ) and the reference to heaven (τον ουρανον) to the second and final "shaking" at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ for judgement (Hebrews 9:28).

Verse 27

And this word (το δε). He uses the article to point out "ετ απαξ" which he explains (δηλο, signifies, present active indicative of δηλοω).

The removing (την μεταθεσιν). For this word see Hebrews 7:12; Hebrews 11:5. For the transitory nature of the world see 1 Corinthians 7:31; 1 John 2:17. "There is a divine purpose in the cosmic catastrophe" (Moffatt).

Made (πεποιημενων). Perfect passive participle of ποιεω. Made by God, but made to pass away.

That those things which are not shaken may remain (ινα μεινη τα μη σαλευομενα). Final clause with μη and the first aorist active subjunctive of μενω. The Kingdom of God is not shaken, fearful as some saints are about it.

Verse 28

Wherefore (διο). Ground for loyalty to Christ and for calm trust in God.

That cannot be shaken (ασαλευτον). Old compound with alpha privative and the verbal adjective from σαλευω just used. In N.T. only here and Acts 27:41.

Let us have grace (εχωμεν χαριν). Present active volitive subjunctive of εχω, "Let us keep on having grace" as in Hebrews 4:16, though it can mean "Let us keep on having gratitude" as in Luke 17:9.

Whereby (δι' ης). That is δια χαριτος.

We may offer service (λατρευωμεν). This subjunctive in a relative clause can be volitive like εχωμεν just before (cf. imperative στητε in 1 Peter 5:12) or it might be the futuristic subjunctive as in Hebrews 8:3 (ο προσενεγκη).

Well pleasing (ευαρεστως). Old compound adverb, here only in N.T.

With reverence and awe (μετα ευλαβειας κα δεους). For ευλαβεια see Hebrews 5:7; Hebrews 11:7. Δεος is apprehension of danger as in a forest. "When the voice and tread of a wild beast are distinctly heard close at hand the δεος becomes φοβος" (Vincent).

Verse 29

A consuming fire (πυρ καταναλισκον). From Deuteronomy 4:24. Present active participle of καταναλισκω, old compound verb, here only in the N.T. This verse is to be coupled with Hebrews 10:31.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 12". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/hebrews-12.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.