Hebrews 12:1-2


Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, 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 the race marked out for us.

The first three words of this verse range us along side of the Old Testament believers mentioned in chapter 11.  "Such a great cloud" denotes a host, a countless number, and is already a fulfillment of what God promised to Abraham at Hebrews 11:12. Even the believers in the Old Testament are a countless host. They are witnesses in the sense that they are examples to us of faith and endurance. They surround us. God has placed them all about us in our thinking to encourage us.

"Let us lay aside that which hinders." Paul is using the metaphor of a runner. Runners must put off every encumbrance. Illustration becomes application. "Which so easily besets us, which clings so closely, which holds on to us so tightly, which we easily fall into, that so readily entangles our feet." Don't limit this to besetting sin. It denotes the flesh, the old Adam. Read Romans 7.

"Perseverance" is the God-given ability to stand up under trying circumstance. Note Luke 8:15. Running a race is strenuous work. We are told it is strenuous. We are told that it is laid before us. God has laid it before us. God has placed a mighty host around us and has laid the strenuous race before us.

Look at 10:22-24. God encourages Christians through their mutual and reciprocal encouragement.

Guthrie: These witnesses bear witness to the faithfulness of God in sustaining them.
Lenski: Their past life and their death still speak to us about what faith really is.
Bruce: It is not so much they who look at us as we who look to them -- for encouragement.

Correct. The Old Testament saints here are not spectators.

Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In this verse Jesus is pictured solely as Savior. How do we run? By looking exclusively to Jesus. The word "fix" means to rivet one's attention on one person or thing. "On" clearly denotes the object of the looking. Note that "Jesus" is placed last for emphasis. The name "Jesus" emphasizes His humanity here. He is called "the Author and the Completor of the faith." 

Chrysostom: He Himself placed the faith in us. He Himself gave the power.

Correct. The Vulgate translates: aspicientes in auctorem fidei. From this the KJV translated: "The author and finisher of our faith." Luther rendered it: "The beginner and completer of faith." AAT renders it: "Who gives us our faith from start to finish." The synergistic non-Lutheran commentators and translators want to picture Jesus here as "first believer" or "pioneer" or "leader." No. Not only is Jesus the object of faith, He is also the giver of faith.

The use of "the faith" here is anaphoric to all of chapter 11. The promises of God in the Old Testament caused the faith in the Old Testament believers. Paul tells us: "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." 2 Corinthians 1:20, NKJV. Look at John 8:56.

There is only one, true faith. That's the point of Hebrews 11:39-40.

God laid the joy before Jesus. Look at John 15:11; 16:20,21,22,24; 17:13. Jesus endured the cross. He stood up under very trying circumstances. How did He endure? By despising the shame. On this compare Galatians 3:13 and Philippians 2:8. This indicates Jesus' attitude, not the lack of intensity of shame.

The last part of the verse tells us that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. The point here is that His suffering came to an end, He was victorious and now reigns forever. That should hearten us in our daily battle with sin as we run the race.

Guthrie: 'On despising the shame.' An attitude which does not ignore the shame, but holds it to be of no consequence in view of the joy.
Bengel: The shame which was very great along with the cross. Look at 13:13; 1 Peter 2:24; Matthew 27:35.
Westcott: In one form or other the hope of the vision of God has been the support of the saints in all ages. John 19:26ff; Psalm 17:15.
Lenski: The completing takes place when Christ gives to faith and to the believer 'the things hoped for' and 'the things not seen.'
Bruce: This disgrace Jesus disregarded, as something not worthy to be taken into account when it was a question of His obedience to the will of God.


Adapted for Buls' Notes on the Web, from Exegetical Notes Epistle Texts, Series B, Sundays After Pentecost By Harold H. Buls, Pages 98-99

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