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Hebrews 12:2

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Looking unto Jesus - Αφορωντες· Looking off and on, or from and to; looking off or from the world and all secular concerns to Jesus and all the spiritual and heavenly things connected with him. This is still an allusion to the Grecian games: those who ran were to keep their eyes fixed on the mark of the prize; they must keep the goal in view. The exhortation implies,

  1. That they should place all their hope and confidence in Christ, as their sole helper in this race of faith.
  • That they should consider him their leader in this contest and imitate his example.
  • The author and finisher of - faith - Αρχηγος

    , translated here author, signifies, in general, captain or leader, or the first inventor of a thing; see Hebrews 2:10. But the reference seems to be here to the βραβευς, or judge in the games, whose business it was to admit the contenders, and to give the prize to the conqueror. Jesus is here represented as this officer; every Christian is a contender in this race of life, and for eternal life. The heavenly course is begun under Jesus; and under him it is completed. He is the finisher, by awarding the prize to them that are faithful unto death. Thus he is the author or the judge under whom, and by whose permission and direction, according to the rules of the heavenly race, they are permitted to enter the lists, and commence the race, and he is the finisher, τελειωτης, the perfecter, by awarding and giving the prize which consummates the combatants at the end of the race.

    Who, for the joy that was set before him - The joy of fulfilling the will of the Father, Psalm 40:6-8, etc., in tasting death for every man; and having endured the cross and despised the shame of this ignominious death, He is set down at the right hand of God, ever appearing in the presence of God for us, and continuing his exhibition of himself as our Sacrifice, and his intercession as our Mediator. See the notes on Hebrews 10:5, etc. There are different other explanations given of this clause, but I think that here offered is the most natural. It never can, in any sense, be said of Jesus that he endured the cross, etc., in the prospect of gaining an everlasting glory; when he had the fullness of that glory with the Father before the world began; John 17:5.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Looking unto Jesus - As a further inducement to do this, the apostle exhorts us to look to the Saviour. We are to look to his holy life; to his patience and perseverance in trials; to what he endured in order to obtain the crown, and to his final success and triumph.

    The author and finisher of our faith - The word “our” is not in the original here, and obscures the sense. The meaning is, he is the first and the last as an example of faith or of confidence in God - occupying in this, as in all other things, the pre-eminence, and being the most complete model that can be placed before us. The apostle had not enumerated him among those who had been distinguished for their faith, but he now refers to him as above them all; as a case that deserved to stand by itself. It is probable that there is a continuance here of the allusion to the Grecian games which the apostle had commenced in the previous verse. The word “author” - ἀρχηγὸν archēgon- (marg. beginner) - means properly the source, or cause of anything; or one who makes a beginning. It is rendered in Acts 3:15; Acts 5:31, “Prince”; in Hebrews 2:10, “Captain”; and in the place before us, “Author.”

    It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The phrase “the beginner of faith,” or the leader on of faith, would express the idea. He is at the head of all those who have furnished an example of confidence in God, for he was himself the most illustrious instance of it. The expression, then, does not mean properly that he produces faith in us, or that we believe because he causes us to believe - whatever may be the truth about that - but that he stands at the head as the most eminent example that can be referred to on the subject of faith. We are exhorted to look to him, as if at the Grecian games there was one who stood before the racer who had previously carried away every palm of victory; who had always been triumphant, and with whom there was no one who could be compared. The word “finisher” - τελειωτὴν teleiōtēn- corresponds in meaning with the word “author.” It means that he is the completer as well as the beginner; the last as well as the first.

    As there has been no one hitherto who could be compared with him, so there will be no one hereafter; compare Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:11. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last.” The word does not mean that he was the “finisher” of faith in the sense that he makes our faith complete or perfects it - whatever may be true about that - but that he occupies this elevated position of being beyond comparison above all others. Alike in the commencement and the close, in the beginning of faith, and in its ending, he stands pre-eminent. To this illustrious model we should look - as a racer would on one who had been always so successful that he surpassed all competitors and rivals. If this be the meaning, then it is not properly explained, as it is commonly (see Bloomfield and Stuart in loc.), by saying that the word here is synonymous with “rewarder,” and refers to the βραβευτὴς brabeutēs- or the distributor of the prize; compare notes on Colossians 3:15, There is no instance where the word is used in this sense in the New Testament (compare Passow), nor would such an interpretation present so beautiful and appropriate a thought as the one suggested above.

    Who for the joy that was set before him - That is, who in view of all the honor which he would have at the right hand of God, and the happiness which he would experience from the consciousness that he had redeemed a world, was willing to bear the sorrows connected with the atonement.

    Endured the cross - Endured patiently the ignominy and pain connected with the suffering of death on the cross.

    Despising the shame - Disregarding the ignominy of such a mode of death. It is difficult for us now to realize the force of the expression, “enduring the shame of the cross,” as it was understood in the time of the Saviour and the apostles. The views of the world have changed, and it is now difficult to divest the “cross” of the associations of honor and glory which the word suggests, so as to appreciate the ideas which encompassed it then. There is a degree of dishonor which we attach to the guillotine, but the ignominy of a death on the cross was greater than that; there is disgrace attached to the block, but the ignominy of the cross was greater than that; there is a much deeper infamy attached to the gallows, but the ignominy of the cross was greater than that. And that word - the cross - which when now proclaimed in the ears of the refined, the intelligent, and even the frivolous, excites an idea of honor, in the ears of the people of Athens, of Corinth, and of Rome, excited deeper disgust than the word “gallows” does with us - for it was regarded as the appropriate punishment of the most infamous of mankind.

    We can now scarcely appreciate these feelings, and of course the declaration that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame,” does not make the impression on our minds in regard to the nature of his sufferings, and the value of his example, which it should do. When we now think of the “cross,” it is not of the multitude of slaves, and robbers, and thieves, and rebels, who have died on it, but of the one great Victim, whose death has ennobled even this instrument of torture, and encircled it with a halo of glory. We have been accustomed to read of it as an imperial standard in war in the days of Constantine, and as the banner under which armies have marched to conquest; it is intermingled with the sweetest poetry; it is a sacred thing in the most magnificent cathedrals; it adorns the altar, and is even an object of adoration; it is in the most elegant engravings; it is worn by beauty and piety as an ornament near the heart; it is associated with all that is pure in love, great in self-sacrifice, and holy in religion. To see the true force of the expression here, therefore, it is necessary to divest ourselves of these ideas of glory which encircle the “cross,” and to place ourselves in the times and lands in which, when the most infamous of mankind were stretched upon it, it was regarded for such people as an appropriate mode of punishment. That infamy Jesus was willing to bear, and the strength of his confidence in God, his love for man, and the depth of his humiliation, was shown in the readiness and firmness with which he went forward to such a death.

    And is set down at the right hand of the throne of God - Exalted to the highest place of dignity and honor in the universe; Mark 16:19 note; Ephesians 1:20-22 notes. The sentiment here is, “Imitate the example of the great Author of our religion. He, in view of the honor and joy before him, endured the most severe sufferings to which the human frame can be subjected, and the form of death which is regarded as the most shameful. So amidst all the severe trials to which you are exposed on account of religion, patiently endure all - for the glorious rewards, the happiness and the triumph of heaven, are before you.”

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The persevering obedience of faith in Christ, was the race set before the Hebrews, wherein they must either win the crown of glory, or have everlasting misery for their portion; and it is set before us. By the sin that does so easily beset us, understand that sin to which we are most prone, or to which we are most exposed, from habit, age, or circumstances. This is a most important exhortation; for while a man's darling sin, be it what it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him from running the Christian race, as it takes from him every motive for running, and gives power to every discouragement. When weary and faint in their minds, let them recollect that the holy Jesus suffered, to save them from eternal misery. By stedfastly looking to Jesus, their thoughts would strengthen holy affections, and keep under their carnal desires. Let us then frequently consider him. What are our little trials to his agonies, or even to our deserts? What are they to the sufferings of many others? There is a proneness in believers to grow weary, and to faint under trials and afflictions; this is from the imperfection of grace and the remains of corruption. Christians should not faint under their trials. Though their enemies and persecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet they are Divine chastisements; their heavenly Father has his hand in all, and his wise end to answer by all. They must not make light of afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they are the hand and rod of God, and are his rebukes for sin. They must not despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bear up with faith and patience. God may let others alone in their sins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this he acts as becomes a father. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Our whole life here is a state of childhood, and imperfect as to spiritual things; therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fully reconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience, and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.
    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 970

    Passport to the Holy City—Only those who receive the seal of the living God will have the passport through the gates of the Holy City. But there are many who take upon themselves responsibilities in connection with the work of God who are not wholehearted believers, and while they remain thus cannot receive the seal of the living God. They trust in their own righteousness, which the Lord accounts as foolishness (Letter 164, 1909). 7BC 970.1

    The Mark of Distinction—Those who would have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. This is what distinguishes them from the disloyal, who have accepted a man-made institution in the place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God's rest day is the mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not (Manuscript 27, 1899). 7BC 970.2

    Like Christ in Character—The seal of the living God will be placed upon those only who bear a likeness to Christ in character (The Review and Herald, May 21, 1895). 7BC 970.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 492

    God calls upon those who have exercised undue authority to take off from His workers every dominating hand. Let everyone to whom has been entrusted sacred responsibilities seek to understand his individual duty before God, and do that duty humbly and faithfully. Let no one regard himself as a master, with controlling power to exercise over his brethren. The principles of the word of God are to be taught and practiced. TM 492.1

    While respecting authority and laboring in accordance with wisely laid plans, every worker is amenable to the Great Teacher for the proper exercise of his God-given judgment and of his right to look to the God of heaven for wisdom and guidance. God is Commander and Ruler over all. We have a personal Saviour, and we are not to exchange His word for the word of any man. In the Scriptures the Lord has given instruction for every worker. The words of the Master Worker should be diligently studied; for they are spirit and life. Laborers who are striving to work in harmony with this instruction are under the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and need not always, before they make any advance move, first ask permission of someone else. No precise lines are to be laid down. Let the Holy Spirit direct the workers. As they keep looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith, the gifts of grace will increase by wise use. TM 492.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 209

    The consecrated messengers who in the early days of Christianity carried to a perishing world the glad tidings of salvation, allowed no thought of self-exaltation to mar their presentation of Christ and Him crucified. They coveted neither authority nor pre-eminence. Hiding self in the Saviour, they exalted the great plan of salvation, and the life of Christ, the Author and Finisher of this plan. Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever, was the burden of their teaching. AA 209.1

    If those who today are teaching the word of God, would uplift the cross of Christ higher and still higher, their ministry would be far more successful. If sinners can be led to give one earnest look at the cross, if they can obtain a full view of the crucified Saviour, they will realize the depth of God's compassion and the sinfulness of sin. AA 209.2

    Christ's death proves God's great love for man. It is our pledge of salvation. To remove the cross from the Christian would be like blotting the sun from the sky. The cross brings us near to God, reconciling us to Him. With the relenting compassion of a father's love, Jehovah looks upon the suffering that His Son endured in order to save the race from eternal death, and accepts us in the Beloved. AA 209.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Gospel Workers 1915, 28

    Christ longs to extend His sway over every human mind. He longs to stamp His image and character upon every soul. When He was on this earth, He hungered for sympathy and co-operation, that His kingdom might extend and embrace the whole world. This earth is His purchased possession, and He would have men free and pure and holy. “For the joy that was set before Him,” He “endured the cross, despising the shame.” [Hebrews 12:2.] His earthly pilgrimage was cheered by the thought that He would not have all this travail for naught, but would win man back to loyalty to God. And there are triumphs yet to be accomplished through the blood shed for the world, that will bring everlasting glory to God and to the Lamb. The heathen will be given for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. Christ will see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. [See Isaiah 53:11.] GW 28.1

    “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and Kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee.” “For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” [Isaiah 60:1-5; 61:11.] GW 28.2

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