12. Let Us Endure: Perseverance of Faith (Hebrews 12:3-29)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (39:54)

Gerard David, Christ Nailed to the Cross (1480)
He endured the cross, despising its shame. Gerard David (Flemish painter, 1460-1523), detail from "Christ Nailed to the Cross" (c. 1480), oil on wood, 48 x 94 cm, National Gallery, London. Larger image.
In the last chapter we concluded with a pair of transitional verses that move from faith to endurance:

"1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance (hupomonē) the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured (hupomenō) the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (12:1-2)

The recipients of this letter are tempted to desert Christianity and turn back to their former Judaism. So in the last section the author has given them examples of heroes of faith whose victorious lives were enabled by faith that sees the invisible. Now he turns to the need for endurance. They are undergoing persecution. As a good pastor, the writer of Hebrews sees the need to encourage their faith, mindful of what Jesus indicated in the Parable of the Sower was sometimes the result of persecution:

"The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." (Matthew 13:20-21)

And so our author calls them to endurance. The noun is in Hebrews 12:1, the verb in verse 2. "Endured" is hupomenō, "to maintain a belief or course of action in the face of opposition, stand one's ground, hold out, endure."1 They must develop an attitude of maintaining their faith when times are tough. Rather than seeing tough times as opposition, they must begin to see it as the "discipline of the Lord" (verse 5 and following). Jesus endured; so must they.

Enduring a Long-Standing Spiritual War (12:3-4)

During the Second Gulf War in Iraq, the longer the war continued, the more casualties accumulated, the fewer American citizens had the stomach to sustain the war to see some kind of lasting victory. Sustaining a spiritual battle is difficult too. Often we would rather just disengage rather than resist.

"Consider2 him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (12:3-4)

Notice three words he uses to characterize the battle we undergo to maintain our Christian testimony:

  1. "Opposition" (NIV), "hostility" (NRSV), "contradiction" (KJV) is antilogia. This word refers to a "controversy, quarrel, dispute," and so suggests "hostility, rebellion" in this verse.3 It's hard when others carry on a quarrel with us because we are Christians. It is wearing. But this is part of the spiritual battle.
  2. "Struggle" (NIV, NRSV) or "striving" (KJV), antagōnizomai. The verb means "struggle against, prove a match for," and is used especially in the context of war.4 Here it is a spiritual war.
  3. "Resist" is antikathistēmi, literally, "set against, oppose." In the passive it means "to be pitted against another, opposed, to be confronted with a lawsuit."5

In spiritual warfare, we too must resist the temptation to "grow weary"6 or "lose heart."7 If Satan can wear us down, then he can dominate us. But if we will just continue to resist, we can win. James commands us, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). The Apostle Paul commands us, "Having done all, stand!" (Ephesians 6:13b).

Q1. (Hebrews 12:3-4) Spiritual warfare can be lost by weariness. Why is spiritual warfare so wearying? Why must we continue to resist, on and on? Have you ever been overcome by Satan because of weariness?



Enduring the Lord's Discipline (12:5-7a)

The key verse in this section is:

"Endure hardship (hupomenō) as discipline (paideia); God is treating you as sons." (11:7a)

With rather astounding insight, the author of Hebrews says that Christians are to consider the tough times of spiritual warfare they are enduring as the kind of discipline that children endure in order to grow into responsible adults.

"Discipline" (NIV, NRSV) or "chastening" (KJV) translate the noun paideia and the verb paideuō which occur throughout this section. Paideia is "the act of providing guidance for responsible living, upbringing, training, instruction," in our literature chiefly as it is attained by "discipline, correction."10 The verb paideuō means "to discipline with punishment."11 A paideutēs is "an instructor, teacher," in verse 9 with the emphasis on the idea of correcting or disciplining.12 The author develops this concept with a quotation from Proverbs 3:11-12:

"5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement8 that addresses you as sons:
    'My son, do not make light9 of the Lord's discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
    6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.'" (12:5-6)

We sometimes struggle with a picture of God as a Father who uses corporal punishment with his children. We prefer a lovey-dovey God who never corrects, never chides, never spanks when we misbehave. But this view of God derives from a indolent society, not from the Bible. It is only in the last quarter century in America that corporal punishment has been socially taboo -- and look at what a wonderful strength of character has developed as a result! Up until then it has been part of a parent's arsenal of correction for millennia. The God of the Bible is known to "rebuke" and "punish,"13 to chastise by spanking or whipping.14 We shouldn't be offended, for without a firm hand of discipline, we become spoiled spiritual children. But it's too easy to consider every problem in life as a punishment. Let's dig a bit deeper before we jump to that conclusion.

Enduring a Father's Discipline (12:7b-11)

Now the author appeals to his reader's experience as children in their own families:

"7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (12:7-11)

A father trains his son with care so that he will be fit to take over in his stead as he matures. The father may even seem like he is hard on his son, but it is out of love and a view to the future. An illegitimate child who will never be heir, such a one would receive only the punishment necessary to keep him from getting out of control, not the careful, painstaking discipline designed to mold and perfect a son's character.

The Blessings of the Lord's Discipline (12:9b-11)

It's tough, says our author, but the Father's discipline is "for our good" (sumpherō), "to be advantageous, help, confer a benefit, be profitable/useful."15 Here are the benefits of the Father's discipline.

  1. Eternal life (12:9b). "How much more should we submit16 to the Father of our spirits and live (zaō)!" The author is not proposing a works-salvation, here, only reminding us that at the end of hardship is eternal life.
  2. The experience of sharing in his holiness (12:10b). This is an astounding statement. Holiness (hagiotēs) here is "positive holiness of life"17 rather than sanctification brought about by sacrifice (9:13; 10:10, 14, 29). This is the process of sanctification whereby we "are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another" (NRSV, 2 Corinthians 3:18). We don't develop personal holiness overnight; it is only completed when we enter Christ's presence at the end of our lives. Growing in this holiness is painful, however. As Paul said, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). But in the process we become sharers or partakers (metalambanō18) in the divine character.
  3. A peaceful harvest of righteousness (12:11b). "Peaceful" (NRSV, eirēnikos) means "pertaining to being conducive to a harmonious relationship, peaceable, peaceful."19

The Psalmist says:

"Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word....
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees." (Psalm 119:67, 71)

The process of enduring hardship is no fun. It is rather "painful" (NIV, NRSV, verse 12a), lupē, "pain of mind or spirit, grief, sorrow, affliction."20 Here the author introduces another analogy -- training for athletic competition:

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (12:11)

"Trained" (NIV, NRSV) or "exercised" (KJV) is gumnazō, originally in Greek literature of gymnastic exercises in the nude, later figuratively, "to train, undergo discipline." Football players preparing for the season are toughened up by long hours of practice, brutally long runs to build endurance. But in the end, the training pays off.

Here's the key, says the author of Hebrews. Don't see the hardships of the Christian life as a burden that you must escape, but as the "discipline of the Lord," the training course intended to prepare you to live and conduct yourselves as sons and daughters of the Living God. We are heirs in training.

Q2. (Hebrews 12:5-11) How does it help when you to look at your struggles and hardships as the Father's discipline and training? What are the benefits of such discipline to the Christian?




Is God Punishing Us?

So we are to look on the struggles and hardships of life as God's way of training us. But are we to look on each hardship as a punishment? I don't think that's what our author is saying. Look carefully at his argument:

  1. The context is not growing weary or losing heart due to persecution (12:3-4).
  2. Scripture quotation is given to illustrate a point about discipline, that is child-rearing (12:5-6).
  3. Key concept: Endure hardship as you would discipline (12:7).
  4. Illustrations about the hardships and benefits of parental discipline (12:7b-11).
  5. Conclusion: Therefore strengthen yourself to endure (12:12-13).

Nowhere does it say that the persecutions and hardships we face are punishment, only that we should view them as God's way of training us to be his sons.

However, though this particular passage does not indicate that God punishes us for sins, there are many passages in the Bible that indicate that God does indeed punish us -- sometimes by bringing the consequences of our actions, sometimes by bringing difficult circumstances.

Unless God reveals something to us specifically, we can't say with any certainty: This circumstance is God's punishment. It may well be caused by nothing you've done, but something God is using to train and purify you. So don't try to second-guess all the circumstances of your life. If God is punishing you, he'll let you know, so that you can learn by it. God doesn't punish his children vindictively, but so they will learn and grow up to maturity. He loves you. Never forget that. His discipline and training are out of love, not anger.

Q3. (Hebrews 12:5-7) I've sometimes heard, "God never punishes anyone." Is that true according to these verses? If so, how does punishment fit into the larger overall concept of discipline and child-rearing? What is the purpose of God's discipline?




Strengthen Your Weak Knees (12:12-13)

Having helped his readers to put their struggles and persecutions in proper perspective, our author now exhorts them to "get with the program":

"Therefore, strengthen22 your feeble23 arms and weak24 knees. 'Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed." (12:12-13)

You've been acting like a bunch of wimps, he says. It's time to stop acting as if you're on your last legs. Rather it's a time for exercise, for strengthening, for straightening up, for being healed. He quotes from Isaiah 35:3 and Proverbs 4:26 to buttress his exhortation.

A Call to Holiness (12:14)

In verse 10b, the author talked about the fruit of holiness that comes through the Lord's discipline. Now he exhorts them to live holy lives:

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (12:14)

"Holiness" (hagiasmos) is a "personal dedication to the interests of the deity, holiness, consecration, sanctification."25 From earliest times, God had commanded, "Be holy, because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:45b). Holiness is not an option. Twice the Apostle Paul warns his readers against profligacy and unrestrained sin.

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived...." (1 Corinthians 6:9a)
"I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:21b)

We can read such verses, realize our sins, and be overcome with fear of damnation. That isn't God's desire at all. Praise God, there is forgiveness for sins. But we can't kid ourselves. If we adopt a sinful, debauched lifestyle, we are only kidding ourselves about the reality of our Christian faith. We are not saved by being holy; we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. But if we are saved, we will desire to be holy and our lives will gradually become more and more like Christ's.

Warnings against Self-Deception (12:14-17)

It is self-deception that we must guard against -- and self-deception is all too common among Christians, both ancient and modern. Therefore, the author of Hebrews strongly exhorts his readers.

"14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears." (12:14-17)

Christians are exhorted to "make every effort" (NIV), "pursue" (NRSV), "follow" (KJV) peace and holiness. The Greek verb is diōkō, that has the basic idea of "hasten, run, press on." The word is also used for "to persecute." Here it is used figuratively, "pursue, strive for, seek after, aspire to something."26 We are called on a quest, a pursuit of holiness.

It is possible, says the author, to miss out on the grace -- the undeserved favor -- of God. "Misses" (NIV), "fails to obtain" (NRSV), "fail of" (KJV) is hustereō, "to miss out on something through one's own fault, to miss, fail to reach." The Hebrew Christians themselves are being strongly tempted to turn back to their former Judaism and miss out on God's grace through Jesus Christ.

"See to it that ... no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (11:15)

This "bitter root" reference indicates that our author is thinking of a passage from Deuteronomy:

"Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison." (Deuteronomy 29:18)

It is also possible for a "bitter root" of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12) or dissipation to grow in a Christian community that is contagious and can infect others. Such a sin can "cause trouble" (NIV, NRSV, enochleō) "to interfere or bother to the point of causing discomfort, trouble, annoy."28 It can also defile (miainō), "to cause the purity of something to be violated by immoral behavior, defile."29 Open, unconfronted sin can affect others in the Christian community: "Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?" (1 Corinthians 5:6).

Notice the things the Christian is to pursue in his ethical quest for holiness:

  1. Peace with everyone (12:14), that is, as much as is possible from your end (Romans 12:18).
  2. Sexual purity. The writer warns against sexual immorality. A pornos is "one who practices sexual immorality, fornicator."30
  3. Godliness is the flip side of godless or worldly31 unbelief. Esau, who sold his birthright for a "mess of pottage" is the example of a person so godless that he did not value what he had.

Our writer is suggesting that the Hebrew Christians, if they don't value the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins, are teetering on the brink of abandoning for the sake of comfort their "birthright" as sons of God. Twice in this letter, the author suggests that if they were to turn back, they won't be able to return again even if they wanted to32 (here and 6:6). If they apostatize, they face rejection by God, apodokimazō, "to regard as unworthy or unfit and therefore to be rejected, reject."33

Q4. (Hebrews 12:14-17) Is the writer of Hebrews teaching salvation by being holy? Why or why not? 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:19-21. Can habitual sin deprive us of heaven? If so, how?




Mt. Sinai vs. Mt. Zion (12:18-24)

Now the writer of Hebrews shifts gears. His gaze moves from sin and godlessness to a vision of the fearsome presence of God. He contrasts the Israelites' terror of the Lord at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:10-25) with an even more awesome holy vision of the New Jerusalem:

"18You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20because they could not bear what was commanded: 'If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.' 21The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, 'I am trembling with fear.'
22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." (12:18-24)

Our writer is presenting an allegory, contrasting the Old Covenant with the New, comparing Mt. Sinai with the heavenly Jerusalem, Mt. Zion. Mount Zion, literally, was the original Jebusite fortification along the southeast hill of the Jerusalem that David captured about 1000 BC (2 Samuel 5:7) and which became his royal residence and capital. Later, the term Zion extends to become synonymous with the entire city of Jerusalem.

The Heavenly Jerusalem (12:22)

This New Testament idea of a heavenly Jerusalem that pre-exists the earthly Jerusalem also appears in several Jewish deuterocanonical books of the late first century or early second century AD after the fall of Jerusalem (2 Baruch 4:2-6 and 4 Esdras 7:26; 13:36), but not in later Rabbinical Judaism.34

Just as the writer of Hebrews viewed the earthly tabernacle as a copy of the heavenly one, so the earthly Jerusalem was a physical representation of the heavenly city. Paul, too, contrasts the earthly and heavenly and says, "the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother" (Galatians 4:26).

The author of Hebrews uses this term "city" several times. The saints lived in tents and were aliens and exiles on the earth. But they looked to "the city":

"For [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (11:10)
"God ... has prepared a city for them." (11:16)
"For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come." (13:14)

The earth is not our home. That city, the heavenly Jerusalem, is our true home. At present, the true Jerusalem is in heaven, but at the final day in Revelation, the heavenly city comes down to earth and God dwells in the midst of his people once again and we see the New Jerusalem on earth:

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.'" (Revelation 21:1-2; cf. 3:12; 21:10)

John sees this city in his vision of heaven in symbolic terms, coming out of heaven from God. It "shone with the glory of God" like a precious jewel (Revelation 21:11).

  • 12 gates bearing the names of the 12 tribes of Israel (21:12-13) made of pearls (21:21)
  • 12 foundations bearing the names of the "12 apostles of the Lamb" (21:14), each made of precious gems (12:19-20)
  • The city is a perfect cube ("foursquare") with dimensions of 12,000 stadia in each direction (21:16)
  • A wall 144 cubits thick (21:17)

The actual distances in miles and meters isn't the point. It's the symbolic that is at the forefront (12, 12 x 12 = 144, 1000 = large number). This heavenly Jerusalem is called by three synonymous terms in Hebrews 12:22:

Mount Zion = Heavenly Jerusalem = the City of the Living God

The Residents of the City of God (12:22-24)

But it is residents of the city that are more glorious even than the city itself:

"22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." (12:22-24)

Angels. Thousands of angels are gathered in joyful assembly.35 In Revelation we see heavenly beings of all kinds worshipping the Lord.

Believers, the "church of the firstborn." Heavenly Jerusalem is seen as the dwelling place of the saints and martyrs who have gone on before. If it were singular, the term "firstborn" could refer to Christ (Hebrews 1:6; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18; Revelation 1:5) But the word is plural here, "firstborn ones." While it might refer to the first martyrs for the faith, more likely it refers to all believers, using the Old Testament idea of the firstborn as belonging especially to God.36 And it isn't just confined to those who are currently in heaven, but those "whose names are written in heaven," that is, enrolled currently as citizens of heaven, though now living abroad. This is a reference to the roll that God keeps of his children, called " book of life" (Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 13:8; 20:15).

God. He is termed "the judge of all men," a reference to the final "white throne" judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), where all give account of what they have done.

Jesus. He is called the "mediator37 of a new covenant," which we have seen in 8:6 and 9:15.

Sprinkled Blood. Of course, this is not a person in the series, but the blood of Christ which atones for our sin (9:12-14). "Sprinkled" is in the past tense, the atonement has been made. Specifically, it refers to the blood brought into the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle on the Day of Atonement and sprinkled on the "mercy seat" of the ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16:11-17).

Warning Against Rejecting (12:25)

The writer has painted this amazing picture of heaven in order to inspire both awe and fear of God in his readers, who are flirting with the thought of returning to Judaism:

"See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?" (Hebrews 12:25)

The writer uses two synonyms here to characterize the direction his readers are considering.

"Refuse" is paraiteomai, which here means "decline, refuse, avoid, reject."38 Often the word has overtones of polite euphemism, "beg off, get excused," so there may be a note of persuasive tact here.39

"Turn away" (NIV, KJV) or "reject" (NRSV) is apostrephō, the stronger of the two synonyms. It's basic meaning is apo, "from" + strephō, "turn." Here it means, "to turn away from by rejecting, reject, repudiate."40 No tact here. It pictures outright refusal and rejection.

By making this option crystal clear to his readers, the writer hopes to turn them from this path.

Shaking and Fire (12:26-29)

Finally, he displays God as the one who shakes and who consumes by fire:

"At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.' The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken -- that is, created things -- so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" (12:26-29)

This is the last of the five warning passages in Hebrews. God is the one who shakes, with a quote from Haggai 2:7. One of the words used here is seiō,41 from which we get our English word "seismic." Israel sits astride a major fault line, which divides two continental tectonic plates (the Arabian plate and the African Plate), that runs along the Jordan Valley Rift and the Dead Sea Rift. As those plates keep moving, from time to time things shake! God shakes both the earth and political systems. Thus the value of the "kingdom that cannot be shaken," the Kingdom of God.

God is also the one who consumes with fire, a reference to Deuteronomy 4:24. He is not one to be trifled with! Rather than buck his authority and refuse him, three attitudes are appropriate or pleasing to God:42

Thankfulness. "Be thankful/give thanks" (NIV, NRSV), "have grace" (KJV) is charis, which has the basic meaning of "grace, graciousness." Here it refers to a "response to generosity or beneficence, thanks, gratitude."43

Service. "Worship" (NIV, NRSV) or "serve" (KJV) is latreuō, "serve," in our literature only of the carrying out of religious duties, especially of a cultic nature, by human beings.44 The priests carried out their service of worship in the tabernacle according to prescribed rules. For us, our service of worship isn't confined to religious duties, but a whole life. Paul exhorts with the noun form of this verb:

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship (latreia)." (Romans 12:1)

Reverence. Two nouns express this attitude. "Reverence" (eulabeia) is "a cautious taking hold and careful and respectful handling: hence piety of a devout and circumspect character."45 This is joined with another word, "awe" (NIV, NRSV) or "godly fear" (KJV, deos), "fear, awe" ... "apprehension of danger," as in a forest.46

We aren't to live in terror of God, for that kind of fear is the opposite of faith (1 John 4:18). Neither are we to be flippant or casual towards him. I have a rule when driving: Don't mess with buses and big trucks. Throughout the Bible, the phrase "feared God"  described a believer in Yahweh. That is, those took obedience seriously and feared the consequences of rebellion -- contrary to many of their contemporaries.

Q5. (Hebrews 12:25-29) Is a fear of God healthy? If so, how? When does fear of God become unhealthy? How does the fear of God fit with 1 John 4:18?




Hebrews: Discipleship Lessons, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson (paperback and e-book formats)
Lessons are also available in e-book and paperback formats.

We conclude as we began: appreciating the discipline of the Lord, and having learned from it, seeking to live our lives before him with thankfulness, service, and reverence.


Father, in this passage we've studied what it means to be a son, a daughter, under your discipline. Help us to endure the hardships of our lives, understanding that this is how you train us. Fix our eyes on the city to come. Give us an awe of you, that we might serve you in holiness, righteousness, and joy all our days. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" (Hebrews 12:7)

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14)

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" (Hebrews 12:28-29)


  1. Hupomenō, BDAG 1039.
  2. "Consider" is analogizomai, "to reason with careful deliberation, consider" (BDAG 67).
  3. Antilogia, Liddell-Scott, BDAG 89.
  4. Antagōnizomai, Liddell-Scott, BDAG 86. We get "antagonize" from this word.
  5. Antikathistēmi, Liddell-Scott. BDAG 88.
  6. Kamnō, "be weary, fatigued" (BDAG 506-507).
  7. "Lose heart" (NIV, NRSV) or "faint" (KJV), is ekluō, "be exhausted in strength, become weary, give out, lose courage, lose heart," in both verse 4 and 6.
  8. "Encouragement" (NIV) or "exhortation" (KJV, NRSV) is paraklēsis, "act of emboldening another in belief or course of action, encouragement, exhortation." (BDAG 766).
  9. "Make light of" (NIV), "regard lightly" (NRSV), "despise" (KJV) is oligōreō, a compound word, oligos, "small, little" + ōra, "care." It means "have little esteem for something, think lightly, make light of something" (BDAG 703).
  10. Paideia, BDAG 748.
  11. Paideuō, BDAG 749.
  12. Paideutēs, BDAG 749.
  13. "Rebukes" (NIV, KJV), "punished" (NRSV) is elenchō, which here means, "to penalize for wrongdoing, punish, discipline" (BDAG 315).
  14. "Punishes" (NIV), "chastises" (NRSV), "scourgeth" (KJV) is mastigoō, with the basic meaning, "to beat with a whip or lash." Here it more general, "to punish with discipline in mind, punish, chastise." (BDAG 620).
  15. Sumpherō, BDAG 960, 2.b.γ.
  16. "Submit" (NIV) or "subject" (NRSV, cf. KJV) is hupotassō, "subject oneself, be subjected or subordinated, obey" (BDAG 1042).
  17. Bruce, Hebrews, p. 344.
  18. "Share" (NIV, NRSV) or "be partakers" (KJV) is metalambanō, "to share or participate in something, have a share in." (BDAG 639).
  19. Eirēnikos, BDAG 288.
  20. Lupē, BDAG 604-605.
  21. Gumnazō, BDAG 208.
  22. "Strengthen" (NIV) or "lift" (NRSV, KJV) is anorthoō, "to become erect from a bent position, straighten up" (BDAG 86, 2.)
  23. "Feeble" (NIV), "drooping" (NRSV), "hang down" (KJV) is pariēmi, "to be weak, let fall at the side, slacken, weaken" (BDAG 777).
  24. "Weak" (NIV, NRSV), "feeble" (KJV) is paraluō, "to cause to be feeble, undo, weaken, disable." (BDAG 768-769).
  25. Hagiasmos, BDAG 10.
  26. Diōkō, BDAG 264, 4.b.
  27. Hustereō, BDAG 1043-1044, 1.
  28. Enochleō, BDAG 338.
  29. Miainō, BDAG 650.
  30. Pornos, BDAG 855.
  31. "Godless" (NIV, NRSV), "profane" (KJV) is bebēlos, "pertaining to being worldly as opposed to having an interest in transcendent matters, totally worldly" (BDAG 173).
  32. Esau afterwards sought to regain his birthright, but without effect. "Sought" (NIV, NRSV), "sought carefully" (KJV) is ekzēteō, "to exert effort to find out or learn something, seek out, search for" (BDAG 302, 1.).
  33. Apodokimazō, BDAG 110.
  34. Eduard Lohse discusses this in Siōn, ktl., TDNT 7:325-326.
  35. "In joyful assembly" (NIV), "company" (KJV), "in festal gathering" (NRSV) is the noun panēguris, with the basic idea of "gathering," here "an assemblage of many persons for a special occasion, festal gathering" (BDAG 753-754).
  36. Bruce, Hebrews, pp. 358-359; Ellingworth, Hebrews, pp. 679-680; Michaelis, prōtos, ktl., TDNT 6:865-882.
  37. "Mediator" is mesitēs, "one who mediates between two parties to remove a disagreement or reach a common goal, mediator, arbitrator" (BDAG 634).
  38. Paraiteomai, BDAG 764.
  39. Ellingworth, Hebrews, p. 683.
  40. Apostrephō, BDAG 122-123, 3.
  41. "Shook" is saleuō, "to cause to move to and fro." The passive means, "be shaken, be made to wave/totter" (BDAG 911). "Shake" is seiō, "to cause to be in a state of commotion, shake, agitate," literally of things, especially natural phenomena, "shake" (BDAG 918).
  42. "Acceptably" is euarestōs, "'pleasing, acceptable,' in the Greco-Roman world commonly said of things and especially of persons noted for their civic-minded generosity and who endeavor to do things that are pleasing" (BDAG 403).
  43. Charis, BDAG 1079-1081, 4.
  44. Latreuō, BDAG 587.
  45. M.R. Vincent, Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, on Hebrews 5:7.
  46. Robertson, Word Pictures, in loc.

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