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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - HEBREWS 12
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    CHAPTER 12

    Heb 12:1-29. EXHORTATION TO FOLLOW THE WITNESSES OF FAITH JUST MENTIONED: NOT TO FAINT IN TRIALS: TO REMOVE ALL BITTER ROOTS OF SIN: FOR WE ARE UNDER, NOT A LAW OF TERROR, BUT THE GOSPEL OF GRACE, TO DESPISE WHICH WILL BRING THE HEAVIER PENALTIES, IN PROPORTION TO OUR GREATER PRIVILEGES.

    1. we also--as well as those recounted in Heb 12:11.
    - are compassed about--Greek, "have so great a cloud (a numberless multitude above us, like a cloud, 'holy and pellucid,' [CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA]) of witnesses surrounding us." The image is from a "race," an image common even in Palestine from the time of the Greco-Macedonian empire, which introduced such Greek usages as national games. The "witnesses" answer to the spectators pressing round to see the competitors in their contest for the prize (Php 3:14). Those "witnessed of" (Greek, Heb 11:5, 39) become in their turn "witnesses" in a twofold way: (1) attesting by their own case the faithfulness of God to His people [ALFORD] (Heb 6:12), some of them martyrs in the modern sense; (2) witnessing our struggle of faith; however, this second sense of "witnesses," though agreeing with the image here if it is to be pressed, is not positively, unequivocally, and directly sustained by Scripture. It gives vividness to the image; as the crowd of spectators gave additional spirit to the combatants, so the cloud of witnesses who have themselves been in the same contest, ought to increase our earnestness, testifying, as they do, to God's faithfulness.
    - weight--As corporeal unwieldiness was, through a disciplinary diet, laid aside by candidates for the prize in racing; so carnal and worldly lusts, and all, whether from without or within, that would impede the heavenly runner, are the spiritual weight to be laid aside. "Encumbrance," all superfluous weight; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, and even harmless and otherwise useful things which would positively retard us (Mr 10:50, the blind man casting away his garment to come to Jesus; Mr 9:42-48; compare Eph 4:22; Col 3:9, 10).
    - the sin which doth so easily beset us--Greek, "sin which easily stands around us"; so LUTHER, "which always so clings to us": "sinful propensity always surrounding us, ever present and ready" [WAHL]. It is not primarily "the sin," &c., but sin in general, with, however, special reference to "apostasy," against which he had already warned them, as one to which they might gradually be seduced; the besetting sin of the Hebrews, UNBELIEF.
    - with patience--Greek, "in persevering endurance" (Heb 10:36). On "run" compare 1Co 9:24, 25.

    2. Looking unto--literally, "Looking from afar" (see on Heb 11:26); fixing the eyes upon Jesus seated on the throne of God.
    - author--"Prince-leader." The same Greek is translated, "Captain (of salvation)," Heb 2:10; "Prince (of life)," Ac 3:15. Going before us as the Originator of our faith, and the Leader whose matchless example we are to follow always. In this He is distinguished from all those examples of faith in Heb 11:2-40. (Compare 1Co 11:1). On His "faith" compare Heb 2:13; 3:12. Believers have ever looked to Him (Heb 11:26; 13:8).
    - finisher--Greek, "Perfecter," referring to Heb 11:40.
    - of our faith--rather as Greek, "of the faith," including both His faith (as exhibited in what follows) and our faith. He fulfilled the ideal of faith Himself, and so, both as a vicarious offering and an example, He is the object of our faith.
    - for the joy . . . set before him--namely, of presently after sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God; including besides His own personal joy, the joy of sitting there as a Prince and Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins. The coming joy disarmed of its sting the present pain.
    - cross . . . shame--the great stumbling-block to the Hebrews. "Despised," that is, disregarded.

    3. For--justifying his exhortation, "Looking unto Jesus."
    - consider--by way of comparison with yourselves, so the Greek.
    - contradiction--unbelief, and every kind of opposition (Ac 28:19).
    - sinners--Sin assails us. Not sin, but sinners, contradicted Christ [BENGEL].
    - be wearied and faint--Greek, "lest ye weary fainting." Compare Isa 49:4, 5, as a specimen of Jesus not being wearied out by the contradiction and strange unbelief of those among whom He labored, preaching as never man did, and exhibiting miracles wrought by His inherent power, as none else could do.

    4. not yet resisted unto blood--image from pugilism, as he previously had the image of a race, both being taken from the great national Greek games. Ye have suffered the loss of goods, and been a gazing-stock by reproaches and afflictions; ye have not shed your blood (see on Heb 13:7). "The athlete who hath seen his own blood, and who, though cast down by his opponent, does not let his spirits be cast down, who as often as he hath fallen hath risen the more determined, goes down to the encounter with great hope" [SENECA].
    - against sin--Sin is personified as an adversary; sin, whether within you, leading you to spare your blood, or in our adversaries, leading them to shed it, if they cannot through your faithfulness even unto blood, induce you to apostatize.

    5. forgotten--"utterly," so the Greek. Compare Heb 12:15-17, in which he implies how utterly some of them had forgotten God's word. His exhortation ought to have more effect on you than the cheers and exhortations of the spectators have on the competitors striving in the games.
    - which--Greek, "the which," of which the following is a specimen [ALFORD].
    - speaketh unto you--as in a dialogue or discourse, so the Greek, implying God's loving condescension (compare Isa 1:18).
    - despise not--literally, "Do not hold of little account." Betraying a contumacious spirit of unbelief (Heb 3:12), as "faint" implies a broken-down, weak, and desponding spirit. "Chastening" is to be borne with "subjection" (Heb 12:9); "rebuke" (more severe than chastening) is to be borne with endurance (Heb 12:7). "Some in adversity kick against God's will, others despond; neither is to be done by the Christian, who is peculiarly the child of God. To him such adverse things occur only by the decree of God, and that designed in kindness, namely, to remove the defilements adhering to the believer, and to exercise his patience" [GROTIUS].

    6. (Re 3:19.)
    - and--Greek, "yea and," "and moreover"; bringing out an additional circumstance.
    - scourgeth--which draws forth "blood" (Heb 12:4).
    - receiveth--accepts. Takes to Himself as a son "in whom He delighteth" (Pr 3:12).

    7. In Heb 12:7, 8 the need of "chastening" or "discipline" is inculcated; in Heb 12:9, the duty of those to whom it is administered.
    - If--The oldest manuscripts read, "With a view to chastening (that is, since God's chastisement is with a view to your chastening, that is, disciplinary amelioration) endure patiently"; so Vulgate. ALFORD translates it as indicative, not so well, "It is for chastisement that ye are enduring."
    - dealeth with you--"beareth Himself toward you" in the very act of chastening.
    - what son is he--"What son is there" even in ordinary life? Much more God as to His sons (Isa 48:10; Ac 14:22). The most eminent of God's saints were the most afflicted. God leads them by a way they know not (Isa 42:16). We too much look at each trial by itself, instead of taking it in connection with the whole plan of our salvation, as if a traveller were to complain of the steepness and roughness of one turn in the path, without considering that it led him into green pastures, on the direct road to the city of habitation. The New Testament alone uses the Greek term for education (paideia), to express "discipline" or correction, as of a child by a wise father.

    8. if ye be without--excluded from participation in chastisement, and wishing to be so.
    - all--all sons: all the worthies enumerated in the eleventh chapter: all the witnesses (Heb 12:1).
    - are--Greek, "have been made."
    - then are ye bastards--of whom their fathers take no care whether they are educated or not; whereas every right-minded father is concerned for the moral well-being of his legitimate son. "Since then not to be chastised is a mark of bastardy, we ought [not to refuse, but] rejoice in chastisement, as a mark of our genuine sonship" [CHRYSOSTOM].

    9. fathers . . . which corrected us--rather as Greek, "We had the fathers of our flesh as correctors."
    - subjection--See the punishment of insubordination, De 21:18.
    - Father of spirits--contrasted with "the fathers of our flesh." "Generation by men is carnal, by God is spiritual" [BENGEL]. As "Father of spirits," He is both the Originator, and the Providential and Gracious Sustainer, at once of animal and spiritual life. Compare "and LIVE," namely, spiritually; also Heb 12:10, "that we might be partakers of His holiness" (2Pe 1:4). God is a spirit Himself, and the Creator of spirits like Himself, in contrast to men who are flesh, and the progenitors of flesh (Joh 3:6). Jesus our pattern "learned obedience" experimentally by suffering (Heb 5:8).
    - and live--and so, thereby live spiritually and eternally.

    10. Showing wherein the chastisement of our heavenly Father is preferable to that of earthly fathers.
    - for a few days--that is, with a view to our well-being in the few days of our earthly life: so the Greek.
    - after their own pleasure--Greek, "according to what seemed fit to themselves." Their rule of chastening is what may seem fit to their own often erring judgment, temper, or caprice. The two defects of human education are: (1) the prevalence in it of a view to the interests of our short earthly term of days; (2) the absence in parents of the unerring wisdom of our heavenly Father. "They err much at one time in severity, at another in indulgence [1Sa 3:13; Eph 6:4], and do not so much chasten as THINK they chasten" [BENGEL].
    - that we might be partakers of his holiness--becoming holy as He is holy (Joh 15:2). To become holy like God is tantamount to being educated for passing eternity with God (Heb 12:14; 2Pe 1:4). So this "partaking of God's holiness" stands in contrast to the "few days" of this life, with a view to which earthly fathers generally educate their sons.

    11. joyous . . . grievous--Greek, "matter of joy . . . matter of grief." The objection that chastening is grievous is here anticipated and answered. It only seems so to those being chastened, whose judgments are confused by the present pain. Its ultimate fruit amply compensates for any temporary pam. The real object of the fathers in chastening is not that they find pleasure in the children's pain. Gratified wishes, our Father knows, would often be our real curses.
    - fruit of righteousness--righteousness (in practice, springing from faith) is the fruit which chastening, the tree yields (Php 1:11). "Peaceable" (compare Isa 32:17): in contrast to the ordeal of conflict by which it has been won. "Fruit of righteousness to be enjoyed in peace after the conflict" [THOLUCK]. As the olive garland, the emblem of peace as well as victory, was put on the victor's brow in the games.
    - exercised thereby--as athletes exercised in training for a contest. Chastisement is the exercise to give experience, and make the spiritual combatant irresistibly victorious (Ro 5:3). "Oh, GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH

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