Hebrews xii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Laying aside every weight;[1] i.e. all that may hinder us when we run in the way of virtue.— To the fight proposed to us. In the Greek it is more clear: let us run the proposed race. He compares the condition of Christians to those who run a race, who fight or strive for a prize in the Olympic games, who strip themselves, and make themselves as light as possible, the better to run and fight. (Witham) — This Christian’s life is both a race and a combat. In baptism we enter the lists; therefore we must fight in running to Jesus Christ, for he is the term, the goal, and the prize. To run well, we must be as light and disengaged as possible; and the same if we hope to combat with success. We should look up to the battles fought by our captain, Jesus Christ, and contemplate the glory he now enjoys on that account; for this he means to share with us, if we imitate his virtues: let us then rejoice to suffer with our Captain (archegon) here, and we shall be glorified with him hereafter.

Ver. 2. Who having joy[2] proposed to him, underwent the cross. The sense seems to be, who by reason of the joy he had to perform the will of his eternal Father, for which he knew he should be exalted above all creatures, underwent willingly the ignominy and death of the cross. (Witham)

Ver. 4. You have not yet resisted unto blood. Though you have met with some persecutions, you have not yet shed your blood for his sake who laid down his life, and shed every drop of his blood for you. (Witham)

Ver. 5. You have forgotten the consolation, &c. He puts them in mind, that it ought to be a subject of great comfort to them, that God calls them his children, his sons, and treats them as his true and legitimate children, when he admonished them to live under discipline and obedience to him, when, to correct their disobedient and sinful ways, he sends the afflictions and persecutions in this world, which they ought to look upon as marks of his fatherly tenderness; for this is what a prudent kind father does to his legitimate children, of whom he takes the greatest care: and not to use these corrections, is to neglect them, as if they were [3]illegitimate children. We reverence the father of our flesh, (ver. 10.) our parents in this world, when they instruct and correct us, how much more ought we to obey the Father and Creator of spirits, (i.e. of our souls) that being truly sanctified by him, we may live and obtain life everlasting. (Witham)

Ver. 8. In these last four verses we may observe as many subjects of consolation under afflictions. God, our Father, is the author of them; the chastisement he inflicts is the proof of his love; it is the sign or mark of our divine adoption; it is a necessary condition of our being adopted.

Ver. 11. It is true all discipline, all corrections, and sufferings in this present life, are disagreeable to our nature, because they bring not joy, but trouble and grief with them; yet afterwards, they who have been exercised with them, will reap the most peaceable fruit of justice, eternal peace and happiness in heaven. (Witham) — We must not judge of sufferings by the smart they occasion, but by the fruits of peace, justice, and eternal glory they produce in such as submit to them with patience.

Ver. 12-14. Wherefore lift up the[4] hands, &c. Be fervent in piety, walk firmly in the way of virtue, make straight[5] steps, without declining to one side or the other, without halting or going astray, and strive to be healed from your sins by his grace. — Follow and seek peace, as much as lies in you, with all men, and [6]purity of life, without which no man shall see and enjoy God. (Witham)

Ver. 15. Be wanting to the grace of God, by resisting and abusing his favours, or by falling from the grace of God received. — Lest any root of bitterness, &c. He means scandalous wicked persons, by whom others are infected, defiled, and corrupted. (Witham)

Ver. 16. Or profane person, as Esau, who had so little regard for the blessing and inheritance of his father, that he sold his right of first-begotten for one mess of broth, and afterwards found no place for repentance, although with tears he had sought for it; that is, he could not make his father repent or change what he had once done, though he endeavoured with his tears and lamentable outcries. Or if any one will have repentance referred to Esau himself, still the Novatian heretics can have no advantage in favour of their error, when they deny that sinners can repent, because Esau’s tears might only be for a temporal loss, not for God’s sake, nor for the guilt of his sins, so that he wanted the dispositions of a true penitent and of a contrite heart. (Witham) — Bebelos, profane, like Esau, who for a trifling meal could forfeit his right of primogeniture[first-begotten], and the honour of priesthood thereto attached. Oh, how many give up all right to a heavenly and eternal inheritance for even a mere trifling consideration! And how will they one day, with Esau, regret the same inflexibility on the part of God, their Father!

Ver. 17. He found, &c. That is, he found no way to bring his father to repent, or change his mind, with relation to his having given the blessing to his younger brother, Jacob. (Challoner)

Ver. 18. For you are not come to a mountain,[7] &c. That is, to a mountain on earth that can be touched; to wit, to Mount Sinai, where the law was given to Moses, where the mountain seemed all on fire, with dreadful thunder and lightning, whirlwinds, darkness, tempests, sounding of trumpets, voices, &c. which they who heard excused themselves, begging that Moses only, and not God, might speak to them, for they could not without exceeding consternation think of what was then said; that if any man, or even beast, should touch the mountain, he should be stoned to death. (Exodus xix. 15.) Nay Moses himself, trembling, was frightened. This particular is nowhere mentioned in the Scripture, but the apostle might know it by revelation, or by some tradition among the Jews. (Witham)

Ver. 22. But you are come to Mount Sion, where not a law of fear, like that of Moses, but a new law of love and mercy hath been given you, preached by our Saviour himself, and by his apostles, testified by the coming of the Holy Ghost, and by the effusion of God’s spirit upon the believers. Here you are called to the city of the living God, (to the Christian Church on earth) and even to the celestial Jerusalem, there to be for ever happy in the company of many millions of Angels; to the church of the first-born, who are written in heaven, (ver. 23.) to be happy with those who have been chosen by a special mercy of God, and blessed with an endless happiness; to be there in the presence of God, the judge of all men, with all the celestial spirits and souls of the just and perfect in the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is the mediator of this new testament, the redeemer of mankind by his death on the cross, by the sprinkling and effusion of his blood, which speaketh better than that of Abel: the blood of Abel cried to heaven for vengeance, and the blood of Christ for mercy and pardon. (Witham)

Ver. 25. Refuse not then to hearken to him; for if the Jews escaped not God’s severe judgments, for being deaf to his admonitions, given by an Angel to Moses on Mount Sinai, and by him to the people, much less shall we escape, if we turn away our minds, and harden our hearts against the instructions of our Redeemer, who came from heaven to speak to us, and teach us the way to our eternal salvation. (Witham)

Ver. 26. Whose voice then moved the earth, by such signs and prodigies on Mount Sinai: but now he promiseth, saying by the prophet Aggeus[Haggai]: yet once; and I will move not only the earth, but heaven also. These words of the prophet are commonly understood of Christ’s first coming at his incarnation, when at his birth a star appeared, Angels were sent, and sung his praises, when the heavens opened at his baptism, when the earth trembled at his resurrection, when the sun and moon were darkened at his death, &c. Yet others expound these words of Christ’s coming to redeem mankind, so as to comprehend all the time of the law of grace, and even his second coming to judge all men, at the end of the world, of which may particularly be understood those words, (ver. 27.) of the translation of the moveable things; that is, of the elements, and of the heavens changed to a more perfect state. See here St. Chrysostom; St. Augustine, lib. 18. de civ. Dei. chap. xxxv. p. 517. Nov. Editionis. (Witham)

Ver. 27. Some refer these words to the tabernacle, to the ark, the altar, and other parts of the Jewish religion; which, as figures were to be altered and to be replaced by the more lasting and more perfect dispensation of the gospel. (Estius)


[1] Ver. 1. Omne pondus, panta ogkon, omnem sarcinam.

[2] Ver. 2. Curramus ad propositum nobis certamen, trechomen ton prokeimenon emin agona, without pros, ad. Certamen is not only pugnando, but contendendo cursu, &c.

[3] Ver. 5. Ergo adulteri, et non filii, ara nothoi este, kai ouch uioi, adulterini, non germani filii.

[4] Ver. 12-14. Remissas manus, pareimenas, which signifies hands hanging down in a lazy posture.

[5] Ver. 12-14. Gressus rectos facite, trochios orthas poiesate, which is to advance in a straight line, not turning aside, or tottering.

[6] Ver. 12-14. Sanctimoniam, agiasmon.

[7] Ver. 18. Ad tractabilem montem, pselaphomeno orei. palpabilem.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Exhortation to constancy under their crosses. The danger of abusing the grace of the new testament.

1 And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over us, *laying aside every weight, and the sin that surroundeth us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us:

2 Looking on Jesus the author and finisher of faith, who having joy proposed to him, underwent the cross, despising the shame, and sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God.

3 For reflect upon him who endured such opposition from sinners against himself: that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds,

4 For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin:

5 And you have forgotten the consolation which speaketh to you, as to children, saying: *My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord: neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him.

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chastiseth: and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 Persevere in discipline. God offereth himself to you as to sons: for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct?

8 But if you be without discipline, whereof all are made partakers: then are you bastards, and not sons.

9 Moreover we have had indeed for instructors, the fathers of our flesh, and we reverenced them: shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits and live?

10 And they indeed for a few days instructed us according to their own will: but he, for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now all discipline for the present indeed seemeth to bring not joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice.

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

13 And make straight steps with your feet: that no one halting may go astray, but rather be healed.

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

15 Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled.

16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, *as Esau: who for one mess sold his first birth-right:

17 For know ye that *afterwards when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, although with tears he had sought it.

18 *For you are not come to a mountain that might be touched, and a burning fire, and a whirlwind, and darkness, and tempest,

19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which they that heard excused themselves, that the word might not be spoken to them.

20 For they did not endure that which was said: *And if a beast shall touch the mountain, it shall be stoned.

21 And so terrible was that which was seen, Moses said: I am frightened, and tremble.

22 But you are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of Angels,

23 And to the church of the first-born, who are written in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect,

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

25 See that you refuse not him who speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke upon earth: much less we, who turn away from him that speaketh to us from heaven.

26 Whose voice then moved the earth: but now he promiseth, saying: *Yet once: and I will move not only the earth, but heaven also.

27 And in that he saith: Yet once: he signifieth the translation of the moveable things, as of the things that are made, that those things may remain which are immoveable.

28 Wherefore receiving an immoveable kingdom, we have grace: whereby let us serve, pleasing God with fear and reverence.

29 *For our God is a consuming fire.



1: Romans vi. 4.; Ephesians iv. 22.; Colossians iii. 8.; 1 Peter ii. 1. and iv. 2.

5: Proverbs iii. 11.; Apocalypse iii. 19.

14: Romans xii. 18.

16: Genesis xxv. 33.

17: Genesis xxvii. 38.

18: Exodus xix. 12. and xx. 21.

20: Exodus xix. 13.

26: Aggeus ii. 7.

29: Deuteronomy iv. 24.