Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 2 March 2023
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995, NASU), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.
● SP: The Samaritan Pentateuch is a text of the Torah written in the Samaritan script and used as sacred scripture by the Samaritans. The SP was probably developed in the first century B.C. Extant manuscripts date from the 12th century A.D. There are about 6,000 differences between the MT and SP. Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Special Terms: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), ADONAI (for the sacred name YHVH), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.
With the "heroes of faithfulness" like a cloud of witnesses providing encouragement, Paul exhorts his readers to lay aside hindrances and to run the race of endurance, looking to Yeshua's example for inspiration and emulation. The corrections being offered are to be considered as fatherly discipline from God, and to be patiently submitted to because of the benefits to be gained from them. The readers should take courage and go forward. Paul then exhorts his readers to follow peace with all men and holiness, and to take heed that they not fall from the grace of God. He cites the case of Esau as a warning.
Conversely, Paul reminds them that the privileges of disciples of Yeshua include being members in a great assembly of the righteous, having citizenship in heaven, and knowing Yeshua, the mediator of the New Covenant. They must take care not to reject Yeshua, who now addresses them from heaven, and who will shortly to be their Judge. As they were called to receive a kingdom, they should have gratitude in order to provide acceptable service to God.
Perfecter of Faithfulness, 12:1-3
Benefit of Discipline, 12:4-11
Call to Holiness, 12:12-17
Contrast of Sinai and Zion, 12:18-24
The Unshaken Kingdom, 12:25-29
Perfecter of Faithfulness, 12:1-3
1 Therefore, we also having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, having laid aside every weight, and the easily-entangling sin, let us run with endurance the race set before us,
Therefore: Grk. toigaroun, conj., consequently, so then, therefore. The conjunction is an emphatic way to introduce "what must follow" in light of what precedes (HELPS). Thus, the conjunction connects the first three verses of this chapter to the last two verses of the previous chapter. The first two verses of this chapter are one sentence in Greek, typical of Paul's use of long, complex sentences in Romans. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. With the plural pronoun Paul connects himself and Luke with his audience.
also: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition, sometimes with emphasis; and, also, even, indeed. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. having: Grk. echō, pl. pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. Hebrew has no special word for echō. In the LXX echō translates over 50 different Hebrew expressions, such as describing an intrinsic characteristic of something (Gen 1:29-30) or a construction that depicts someone or something in the possession of an animal or person (Gen 8:11; 16:4) (DNTT 1:636).
so great: Grk. tosoutos, demonstrative pronoun used to express intensity; so great, so much. a cloud: Grk. nephos, a mass of atmospheric clouds or a cloud, here figurative of a massed group of people. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The picture of a cloud describing a crowded group of people is a common figure in classical Greek literature and expresses not only the great number of people, but also the unity of the crowd (Rienecker).
of witnesses: pl. of Grk. martus, one who attests the fact or truth of something, one who has first hand knowledge of an event or person. In the LXX martus translates Heb. ed (SH-5707), a witness, first in Gen 31:47. The phrase "cloud of witnesses" refers to the faithful heroes mentioned in Chapter Eleven. In Greek culture martus could mean a spectator in an amphitheater, but the group to whom Paul refers were not passive observers. Bruce comments the use of martus here reflects the beginning use of the Greek term for martyr, a person who is put to death or endures great suffering because of his faithfulness to God. Many of the prophets as well as those mentioned in 11:34-38 suffered martyrdom.
surrounding: Grk. perikeimai, pres. mid. part., be in a position around, encompass, surround. us: Grk. hēmeis. having laid aside: Grk. apotithēmi, pl. aor. mid. part., to put off of oneself, put away, lay aside or rid oneself of something. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. weight: Grk. ogkos, a weight, burden, encumbrance. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. An athlete would strip for action both by the removal of superfluous flesh through rigorous training and by the removal of all his clothes (Hughes).
and: Grk. kai. the easily-entangling: Grk. ho euperistatos, adj., easily distracting, that which would easily prevent or hinder running. The picture may be that of putting off a long heavy robe which would be a hindrance in running. The word, which occurs only here in the Besekh, can have a variety of meanings: (1) easily avoided; (2) admired; (3) easily surrounding or besetting; and (4) dangerous (Rienecker).
sin: Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. The first meaning is intended here. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. The Tanakh has no main general word for sin like is found in the Besekh (DNTT 3:577).
In the LXX hamartia particularly translates Heb. avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity, first in Genesis 15:16 for the iniquity of the Amorites; and Heb. chatta'ah (SH-2403), sinful thing, guilt of sin, punishment for sin or a sin offering, first in Genesis 18:20 for the perversions committed in Sodom. Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior.
Given the uniqueness of the adjective the phrase "the easily-entangling sin" has given rise to considerable speculation among commentators as to its meaning. Bruce notes that like the clothing inappropriate for running there are many things which may be perfectly all right in their own way but which hinder the "race of faith." Similarly John Wesley's mother, Susannah, gave her son this guidance to prevent hindrances to a spiritual life:
"Take this rule, whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things, in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself." Letters of Susanna Wesley, June 8, 1725; quoted in Eliza Clarke, Susanna Wesley, W. H. Allen & Co., 1886; p. 145)
Susanna's definition of sin represents a high spiritual standard, not unlike the "fences around the law" that Pharisees imposed to assure compliance with God's commandments (Avot 1:1). Yet, the disadvantage of the definition is that it makes a person's conscience the standard for sin rather than God's written commandments. Anyone calling a certain behavior "sin" should be able to explain the biblical basis for the claim. Otherwise, it is strictly personal opinion. See my article What is Sin?
Bruce points out that the phrase refers to sin itself, not something good that legalists claim should be avoided (cf. 1Tim 4:1-4). Guthrie concurs that sin is the major impediment to the spiritual race. Hegg suggests the "sin which so easily entangles" no doubt differs from one person to another, yet each person knows (if he or she is honest) what one's own weaknesses are and that which therefore must be avoided for success in discipleship.
Fruchtenbaum points out that the presence of the definite article indicates not just any sin, but the sin, a specific sin. For the letter's recipients it is the sin of apostasy, the sin of going back into the unbelief of orthodox Judaism (cf. Heb. 10:38-39). For others it may be another sin that will divert them from the spiritual path. Paul's exhortation calls for serious self-examination. Is there a sin that needs to be confessed, repented and forsaken?
The verb "lay aside" (Grk. apotithēmi) is a favorite of Paul, appearing four times in other letters, and in every case the negative exhortation is followed by a positive exhortation as here.
"Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and let us put on the armor of light." (Rom 13:12 BR).
"22 Concerning your former manner of life, lay aside from you the old man, which is being corrupted according to its desires of deceit, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new man, having been created according to God in righteousness and holiness of truth. 25 Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are members of one another." (Eph 4:22-25 BR)
"But now you also, lay aside all these things: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, having put off the old man with his practices, 10 and have put on the new, the one being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One having created him" (Col 3:8-10 BR)
let us run: Grk. trechō, pres. subj., 1p-pl., move forward rapidly, generally of physical motion of running. with: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. endurance: Grk. hupomonē, capacity for resolute continuance in a course of action; i.e., endurance, patience, perseverance or steadfastness. the race: Grk. ho agōn, struggle, contest, race. Outside of Hebrews this term appears only in Paul's letters (Php 1:30; Col 2:1; 1Th 2:2; 1Tim 6:12; 2Tim 4:7).
set before: Grk. prokeimai, pres. part., to be set before, to be placed before the eyes, already there. us: Grk. hēmeis. Chrysostom observes that Paul "did not say, 'Let us contend as boxers, nor, Let us wrestle, nor, Let us do battle: but, what was lightest of all contests, the foot-race. Nor yet did he say, Let us add to the length of the course; but, Let us continue patiently in this, let us not faint. "Let us run" (he says) "the race that is set before us." Fruchtenbaum exhorts,
"The obligation is to lay the sin aside and to keep on running. The race is long and they must run with endurance. How long is it? It is from the day of salvation until the day of death. It is a lifelong marathon."
2 looking to Yeshua, the leader and perfecter of faithfulness, who in view of the joy set before him endured a cross, having despised its shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
looking: Grk. aphoraō, pl. pres. part., to view with undivided attention by looking away from every other object (Mounce); look, fix one's gaze; pay attention. Stern interprets the verb to mean, "like a runner with his eye on the finish line." The present tense emphasizes the continuous nature of the preferred activity and the participle being a verbal adjective describes the focus of the believer's life. The verb is dramatic in intensity, being used to describe the Jewish martyrs under Antiochus Epiphanes, "They vindicated their nation, looking to God and enduring torture even to death" (4Macc 17:10 RSV).
Guthrie comments that the verb suggests the impossibility of looking in two directions at once and implies looking away from others in order to direct one's gaze to the most important person. While the "cloud of witnesses" are models of faithfulness, the disciple's loyalty belongs to the One that Paul now extols. to: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "in, within," indicating the point reached or entered ("into"), and may express direction, position, relation, cause or purpose (DM 114), here direction, to, unto.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21 BR). The English translation of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua? The emphasis of this entire verse is on Yeshua, not his followers.
the leader: Grk. ho archēgos may mean (1) one who enjoys a preeminent position; leader, prince, ruler; (2) one noted for beginning something; originator or founder. The first meaning is intended here (cf. 1Macc 10:47). The noun occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in reference to Yeshua (also Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb 2:10). In the LXX archēgos translates four different Heb. words that denote leadership positions and the exercise of power: (1) rôsh, head, chief (Ex 6:14); (2) nasi, captain, ruler, chief (Num 13:2); (3) qatsin, a chief, ruler (Isa 3:6-7); and (4) sar, chief, ruler, captain, prince (Isa 30:4).
and: Grk. kai. perfecter: Grk. teleiōtēs, a finisher, one who completes and perfects a thing; one who brings through to final attainment, perfecter (Mounce). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. of faithfulness: Grk. ho pistis (from peithō, "be persuaded"), includes two primary facets of meaning: (1) belief evoked by another's reputation for trustworthiness, thus confidence, faith, or trust; and (2) dependability in awareness of obligation to others, thus constancy, faithfulness or fidelity. At the end of Chapter Ten Paul used pistis as the opposite of "shrinking back" (10:39). Thus, pistis is actively pressing straight ahead in fidelity to God.
In the LXX pistis occurs first in Deuteronomy 32:20 to translate Heb. emun (SH-529), faithfulness, trusting (BDB 53). This usage describes a generation that was not faithful to God. Then pistis translates Heb. emunah (SH-530), firmness, steadfastness, or fidelity (BDB 53), mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4). Pistis also translates amanah (SH-548), faith, fixed support (Neh 9:38; 11:23; SS 4:8); and emet (SH-571), firmness, faithfulness, or truth (BDB 54; Prov 14:22; Jer 28:9; 33:6).
The LXX usage emphasizes that the intended meaning of pistis is a firm persuasion of divinely revealed truth (Heb 11:1) that results in fidelity or steadfast loyalty to God. In Christianity "faith" has various shades of meaning and may be understood simply as belief in God or the teachings of Christianity, such as the content of the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. "Faith" is also thought of in terms of "saving faith," which not only knows and comprehends the facts about the good news of Yeshua but also trusts in the person and work of Yeshua alone for salvation.
Given the presence of the definite article a few versions translate the noun as "the faith" (DLNT, ISV, NASB), which objectifies the noun as a body of belief. However, the Jewish apostles did not use pistis as representative of a theological position or doctrine, but rather of a spiritual and behavioral characteristic. Instead, the word choice describes Yeshua.
Many versions translate the noun as "our faith," even though there is no plural pronoun present. Hegg defends this translation saying, "Yeshua is both the One Who is the very founder of our faith as well as the One Who, by His indestructible life as our heavenly High Priest, secures us in our faith so that we will persevere to the end." In my view if Paul meant "our," he would have used the pronoun hēmeis. The definite article more likely elevates the faithfulness most pleasing to God, in contrast to the Pharisees who looked to their "fathers" for models of piety (cf. Matt 23:9-10).
In regard to the nature of pistis he as ADONAI was the first to exhibit the virtue and then he actively completed the virtue through his incarnation and saving actions (cf. Heb 2:17; 3:6; 10:23). Yeshua said repeatedly that he lived to please His Father (John 8:29; 10:25; 15:10). The prominence of his faith far surpassed the examples of faith commemorated in Hebrews 11 (Thayer). As the leader Yeshua set the example and as the perfecter he sends the Holy Spirit to empower his followers in faithfulness. Stern likens the two characteristics to the theme of Yeshua being the beginning and the end, aleph and tav (Rev 1:8, 21:6, 22:13).
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. for: Grk. anti, prep. used to mark something being replaced by or exchanged for another; for, instead of, in place of. the joy: Grk. ho chara (from chairō, "to rejoice"), joy, delight, gladness, a source of joy. set before: Grk. prokeimai, pres. part. See the previous verse. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, often used to distinguish a person or thing in contrast to another, or to give him (it) prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here.
endured: Grk. hupomenō, aor., may mean (1) to stay in a place when others are leaving; or (2) be steadfast in face of difficulty. The second meaning is intended here. a cross: Grk. stauros, a structure used in carrying out a death sentence; cross. The English word "cross" is derived from the Latin crux. The term does not specifically imply the nature of its construction. In early Classical Greek writers the stauros referred to an upright stake, sometimes pointed, by which capital punishment of crucifixion was carried out (BAG). Stauros does not occur in the LXX at all (DNTT 1:393). However, Josephus, in referring to Esther 7:9 uses stauros for the Hebrew word ets ('tree,' 'gallows') (Ant. XI, 6:10-11).
The term stauros also referred to just the cross-beam of a Roman cross (Latin, patibulum) placed at the top of the vertical member to form a capital "T" (HELPS). This transverse beam was the one carried by the criminal. Messianic Jewish versions prefer to translate the term as "stake" (CJB, MJLT, MW). While not objecting to Christian use of the term "cross" Stern explains his preference for "stake" by saying,
"For centuries Jews were put to death under the sign of the cross by persons claiming to be followers of the Jewish Messiah. Therefore to me the cross symbolizes persecution of Jews. As a Messianic Jew, still feeling the pain on behalf of my people, I do not have it in me to represent my New Testament faith by a cross" (41).
Stern's rationale for "stake" is understandable from a Jewish point of view. In fact, the use of the cross by Gentiles as jewelry seems to trivialize the great sacrifice God made on our behalf. The Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce once invited his audience to imagine Gentiles wearing electric chair models around their necks. Of interest is that Paul's usage of stauros occurs only in his letters. In his sermon in Pisidian Antioch he used xulon, "tree" (Acts 13:29).
Nevertheless, we must consider not just what Paul said, but what he meant. For Paul the crucifixion of Yeshua on a Roman cross came to represent the power of God for salvation (1Cor 1:18) and reconciliation between God and man (Eph 2:16). The cross of Messiah accomplished atonement (Col 2:14). The historical facts are foundational to the good news of salvation.
having disregarded: Grk. kataphroneō, aor. part., may mean (1) look down on; despise, disdain, scorn; or (2) pay no attention to, disregard. The second meaning seems more likely (Mounce). Many versions have "despising/despised," but the report of the crucifixion in the apostolic narratives offers no support for this interpretation. Yeshua knew in advance what crucifixion meant and he chose not to focus on the horrific physical experience, but rather on his redemptive purpose. Some versions have "disregarded/disregarding" (AMP, ISV, LEB, MRINT, NET, NLT, NRSV, OJB, TLV) and other versions have "ignored/ignoring" (AMPC, CEB, GW, NOG, NCB, VOICE).
its shame: Grk. aischunē may mean (1) experience of humiliation or disapproval; shame, disgrace; or (2) a repulsive deed. The first meaning is intended here. Crucifixion produced shame because the victim was stripped of his clothing and scourged with a whip. Since Yeshua's mother and friends saw him in that condition on the cross they are the ones who would have despised the shame inflicted by the Romans. Artistic depictions of the crucifixion cover Yeshua's groin with a cloth to preserve modesty.
and: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. is seated: Grk. kathizō, perf., to sit, to take one's seat. at: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "at," "in" or "within." The perfect tense indicates that Yeshua is still there (Rienecker). the right hand: Grk. ho dexios, right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. In the LXX dexios translates Heb. yamin (SH-3225), "right hand," first in Genesis 13:9. Many versions have the anthropomorphic translation of "right hand."
of the throne: Grk. ho thronos refers to a throne or chair upon which a king sits. The throne was the official place from which the king exercised his power, authority and judgment. The term is often used figuratively of sovereignty or dominion (DNTT 2:611-615). In the LXX thronos translates Heb. kisse (SH-3678), seat of honor or throne, first in Genesis 41:40. of God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent Creator and owner of all things (Gen 1:1; John 1:1-3).
In the LXX theos primarily translates Heb. Elohim (SH-430), over 2500 times. Elohim (SH-430) is the one only and true God of Israel (BDB 42). In Hebrew thought the plural form of Elohim represents fullness, which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). Elohim translated by Theos also represents the full triunity of God (Father + Son + Spirit). God is a Person, not a philosophical construct for monotheism. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination.
Scripture often describes God as seated on a throne (1Kgs 22:19; Ps 11:4; 29:10; 47:8; 103:19; Isa 6:1; Ezek 1:26; Dan 7:9; Rev 4:2; 7:9). The apostles affirmed repeatedly that Yeshua is sitting at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 1Pet 3:22), which followed his post-resurrection ascension (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11; 1Tim 3:16). The divine seating fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 110:1 and Yeshua's own prediction about himself (Mark 14:62; John 14:12; 16:28; 20:17).
3 For consider the One having endured such contradiction by sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary, fainting in your souls.
For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that;" for, indeed. The conjunction continues the thought of the previous verse. consider: Grk. analogizomai, aor. mid. imp., 2p-pl., think upon, consider attentively, consider. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun for Yeshua. having endured: Grk. Grk. hupomenō, perf. part. See the previous verse. The perfect participle suggests the abiding effect of Yeshua's redemptive suffering (Hughes).
such: Grk. toioutos, demonstrative pronoun, of this kind or sort, such. contradiction: Grk. antilogia (from antilegō, "to dispute," which is derived from anti, "opposite to" and legō, "to speak"), properly, a contrary conclusion which closely corresponds, but does so in an opposite way; a controversy (contradict, deny, dispute), taking the opposite side to attack, supposedly on the basis of sound logic (HELPS). Thus, the term refers to adversarial speech; contention, contradiction, dispute. Many versions have "hostility" or "opposition," but Meyer insists the term means nothing less than "contradiction."
In the LXX antilogia is used for Hebrew words that mean controversy or dispute between parties before a judge (Ex 18:16; Deut 1:2; 17:8; 19:17; 25:1), and personal strife or reproach (Num 20:13; Deut 21:5; Ps 80:6) (Zodhiates). Thus, antilogia depicts verbal wrangling. Yeshua experienced considerable verbal abuse during much of his ministry, which included argumentation, belittling, criticizing, grumbling, mocking and slandering (e.g., Matt 11:19; Luke 7:39; 11:15; 15:2; 16:14; John 5:16; 6:41; 8:48).
However, the phrase "such contradiction" directly alludes to the repudiation of Yeshua's identity as Son of God and Messiah, which was declared publicly months before the crucifixion (John 6:41-43; 7:40-52; 9:22; 10:31-33). Then during Yeshua's trial the Jewish authorities insisted Yeshua spoke blasphemy by declaring himself to be the Messiah (Luke 22:66-71).
by: Grk. hupo, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of agent or cause; by; or (2) as a marker of a relatively lower position; below, under. The first meaning applies here and stresses "under the authority of." sinners: pl. of Grk. hamartōlos, adj., one who falls short of legal or religious standards; sinful, sinner. In Jewish culture the term was used for heathens among the nations (Gen 13:13; Isa 14:5; Tobit 13:8; 1Macc 1:10, 34; 2:44, 62). In the first century the term was used by Pharisees for those whose conduct did not satisfy Torah standards or Pharisee traditions (Matt 9:11; Luke 19:7).
In the LXX hamartōlos usually translates Heb. rasha (SH-7563; BDB 957), wicked, criminal (2Chr 19:2; Ps 3:7), but also Heb. chatta (SH-2400; BDB 308), sinful, sinners (Gen 13:13; Num 16:38) (DNTT 3:577). Generally in the Tanakh a "sinner" was someone who willfully violated Torah commandments, and which tended toward habitual practice. Yeshua himself was labeled a sinner for violating the Pharisee standard of Sabbath observance (John 9:24). Yet, the apostolic narratives do not depict Yeshua receiving opposition from those whom the Pharisees labeled as "sinner" (Luke 15:1-2).
against: Grk. eis, prep. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. Paul does not identify the adversaries he intends by the label "sinners," but opposition came from a variety of Jewish groups. Yeshua's adversaries were numbered among the Herodians, Pharisees, and Sadducees (Matt 16:1, 6; Mark 3:6; 12:13), as well as certain local synagogue officials (Luke 13:14). Indeed the first strong opposition against Yeshua occurred in his hometown of Nazareth in his first year of ministry (Matt 13:54-57; Luke 4:28-30). However, Paul uses the term "sinners" primarily for the Jewish religious leaders who opposed Yeshua, refused to believe in him, and then condemned him (cf. 1Th 2:14-15).
As predicted he was hated by those he came to save (John 15:24–25; cf. Ps 69:4; Isa 49:7). The Jewish rulers who condemned Yeshua could be considered "sinners" because of violating many rules of jurisprudence in the Torah and Jewish law. See a list of illegalities that occurred in the three Jewish hearings here. Pilate would also be deemed a "sinner," first because of being a pagan unbeliever, but then in terms of the trial of Yeshua, Pilate gave way to political expedience when he knew Yeshua to be innocent of the charges brought against him (cf. Luke 23:1-2, 14-16).
so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that, so that, that. you may not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation that rules out any implications that could be involved with what should (could, would) apply (HELPS). It differs from the negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). be weary: Grk. kamnō, aor. subj., 2p-pl., become weary, even to the point of sickness. fainting: Grk. ekluō, pl. pres. mid. part., become exhausted, collapse, give up.
in your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. souls: pl. of Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality of physical life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) the seat of feelings, desires, affections, aversions. The third meaning is intended here. In the LXX psuchē translates Heb. nephesh (SH-5315), which may mean a soul, living being; first in Genesis 1:20.
Leon Morris comments that the two verbs used at the end of this verse, "grow weary and lose heart," are both used by Aristotle of runners who relax and collapse after they have passed the finishing post. The readers were still in the race. They must not give way prematurely. They must not allow themselves to faint and collapse through weariness. Once again there is the call to perseverance in the face of hardship.
The idiomatic description of "soul-fainting" could well fit the modern psychological diagnosis of clinical depression. For many people the struggles of life, especially continual physical suffering, can have an adverse mental and emotion impact. Even good and godly people can succumb to the dark night of the soul. Paul himself experienced such a personal struggle (2Cor 1:8). Here Paul exhorts his readers to apply what he learned, that focusing on Yeshua can strengthen the soul (2Cor 1:9-10).
Benefit of Discipline, 12:4-11
4 You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed, struggling against sin.
You have not yet: Grk. oupō, adv., a negative particle indicating than an activity, circumstance, or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet. resisted: Grk. antikathistēmi, aor., 2p-pl., to set down against, stand firm against; resist. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. In Greek culture the verb was used to refer to setting an army in line of battle (Robertson). to the point of: Grk. mechris, adv. expressing a limit of measure; as far as, until, to the point of. bloodshed: Grk. haima, the fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and vertebrate animals, blood. The term is used here figuratively of being a victim of bloodshed by violence.
Paul could have made the comment really personal by adding "like Stephen." He had mentioned the persecution his readers suffered in former days (Heb 10:32), but he seems to suggest that his readers had not yet suffered martyrdom. Indeed, since the persecution which Paul himself instigated and disciples were put to death (Acts 22:4; 26:10), there is no mention in Acts or the apostolic letters of martyrs since that time.
struggling against: Grk. antagōnizomai, pl. pres. mid. part., to take a stand against, struggle against. The verb depicts an athletic contest, but now shifts from the race track to a fighting sport, such as boxing or wrestling. sin: Grk. ho hamartia. See verse 1 above. The second clause does not seem a natural conclusion from the first clause. "Struggling against enemies of the faith" would be a more natural extension. Many of the heroes of faithfulness suffered martyrdom. McKee suggests translating hamartia as "sinners" in line with the description of Yeshua in the previous verse. Again, Paul said what he meant. Bruce observes that the exhortation emphasizes the reality of spiritual warfare (355).
Given the choice of verb Paul could very well have intended the noun as a personification of evil. The first personification in Scripture is of sin when God says to Cain, "sin [chata, a feminine noun] is crouching at the door; and its [her] desire is for you, but you must master it" (Gen 4:7). Sin is a beguiling temptress who seeks to lure the unsuspecting into a trap that will result in death (cf. Prov 5:3-5). In Romans 8 Paul describes the struggle between "flesh" and "Spirit." Even in the face of persecution the disciple must decide whether his response will be reactionary or redemptive.
The presence of the definite article, as in verse 1 above, may also denote a particular sin, the sin of returning to the unbelief of orthodox Judaism. The Messianic Jews of the first century faced an intense personal and spiritual struggle, contending with the opposition of unbelieving family members (Matt 10:26) and synagogue leaders (Acts 13:45, 50; 14:2, 19; 17:5; 18:12). Paul continues to use "reality therapy" to counteract a tendency to self-pity.
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons: "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of ADONAI, nor be weary being reproved by Him.
A number of versions translate the opening sentence as a question (AMPC, ESV, GNB, NET, NIV, NLT, RSV, TLV), but the Greek text lacks an interrogative particle. It is in fact a confrontational declaration in line with the spiritual analysis in the previous verse.
And: Grk. kai, conj. you have forgotten: Grk. eklanthanomai, perf. mid., 2p-pl., to forget utterly. The verb properly means "to completely forget, removed out from memory (consideration) and to the sin of willful neglect, i.e. with the outcome of being wholly absent from one's mind. This personal neglect (rejection) means to willfully dismiss" (HELPS). The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb is not found in the LXX, but it does occur in Philo (On Joseph 99) and Josephus (Ant. IV, 3:3; VII, 13:1).
the exhortation: Grk. paraklēsis may mean (1) emboldening for facing or carrying out a responsibility or task, exhortation or encouragement; or (2) heartening in a time of trouble through word or demeanor; consolation or comfort. The first meaning applies here. In the Greek Tanakh paraklēsis occurs several times, but only in the sense of comfort or consolation (Job 21:2; Ps 94:19; Isa 57:18; 66:11; Jer 16:7; 31:9; Nah 3:7; Zech 1:13). However, in the Maccabean writings the term is used in the sense of admonition, exhortation and entreaty (1Macc 10:24; 2Macc 7:24; 15:9).
which: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. addresses: Grk. dialegomai, pres. pass., may refer either to (1) a speech exchange; argue, debate, dispute; or (2) presenting a reasoned position in public; address, make a speech, speak. The second usage is intended here. The utterance of Scripture is treated as the voice of God conversing with men (Westcott). you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The pronoun serves to remind Paul's readers of their identity as members of the covenant people, the only people on the earth who received the words of God (cf. Ex 24:3; Num 11:24; Deut 4:33; John 8:47).
as: Grk. hōs, adv., used here to introduce a pattern or model; as, just as, just like, similar to. sons: pl. of Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by ancestry. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), used in three ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but an ancestor; or (3) in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. The identification is significant because God had declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Deut 14:1; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 1:10; 11:1). Paul then quotes Proverbs 3:11 from the LXX.
My: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. son: Grk. huios. do not: Grk. mē, adv. regard lightly: Grk. oligōreō, pres. imp., despise, hold in low esteem, make light of. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX the verb translates Heb. ma'as (SH-3988), to despise. the discipline: Grk. paideia, corrective or instructive discipline. The term originated in reference to the training and education of children. The goal of paideia is to train someone to reach full development and maturity (HELPS).
In Scripture the father has the primary duty of instructing his sons and daughters and to teach them good behavior (Deut 6:7; 11:19; Eph 6:4). Parents were expected to employ disciplinary measures when necessary to motivate obedience, which includes verbal correction and rebuke (Prov 3:11; 29:17), restrictions on activities and privileges (Deut 8:2-5; Ps 139:5), and corporal punishment (Prov 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13).
of ADONAI: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX kurios is used to replace Heb. YHVH (SH-3068). Kurios is not translation of YHVH, but an interpretative substitution that encompassed all that the Hebrew text implied by use of the divine name. In fact, the oldest LXX manuscript fragments have YHVH written in Hebrew characters in the Greek text. See my article The Blessed Name.
nor: Grk. mēde, conj., negative particle used in escalation of negation; not, nor. be weary: Grk. ekluō, pres. imp., let completely out as to (entirely) succumb, i.e. with the outcome of losing inner strength; hence, to become weary or exhausted, to the point of fainting (HELPS). being reproved: Grk. elegchō, pres. pass. part., to expose, convict, reprove. by: Grk. hupo, prep. See verse 3 above. Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used in reference to ADONAI.
6 For whom He loves ADONAI disciplines, and He chastises every son whom He receives."
For: Grk. gar, conj. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. He loves: Grk. agapaō, pres. (for Heb. aheb), to esteem or love, to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being. The verb indicates a direction of the will and finding one's joy in something or someone (Zodhiates). Directed toward God the verb includes the idea of duty, respect and serving with fidelity. Directed toward humans the verb denotes showing regard with favor, goodwill and benevolence, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so.
ADONAI: Grk. kurios. See the previous verse. disciplines: Grk. paideuō, pres., exercise instructive discipline; discipline, educate, instruct or train. In Scripture paideuō can refer to a range of behaviors from instruction, to guidance, to corrective discipline, to punitive measures. In the LXX of this verse paideuō translates Heb. yakach (SH-3198), to adjudge, correct, decide, rebuke. The proverb makes the important point that God's discipline originates in love and genuine concern for our spiritual welfare.
and: Grk. de, conj. used to mark (1) a contrast to a preceding statement, "but;" (2) a transition in subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) the continuance of a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis as here, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). He chastises: Grk. mastigoō, pres., to severely scourge or whip, with the victim strapped to a pole or frame (HELPS). The verb is used here in a figurative sense meaning to chastise. The verbal thought is not present in the Hebrew text of the quoted verse. The verb occurs seven times in the Besekh and used primarily to describe the scourging of Yeshua by the Romans (Matt 20:19; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33; John 19:1).
In the LXX mastigoō normally translates Heb. nakah (SH-5221), to smite, first used of beating meted out to Israelites by the Egyptians (Ex 5:14), and then later as a legal punishment imposed by a court (Deut 25:2), and finally in a figurative sense of God's punishment of Israel (Jer 5:2). The Jewish practice of whipping was very different from the Roman. Jewish whipping consisted of delivering blows to the back of an offender with a rod or stick (cf. Prov 10:13; 19:29; 26:3). The Torah set the maximum number of blows at forty (Deut 25:3). Paul mentions that he was beaten three times with a rod (2Cor 11:25; cf. Acts 16:22, 37).
For scourging the Romans used a short whip (Latin flagrum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. The whip would rip the flesh (cf. Ps 129:3). For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post. The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers or by one who alternated positions. The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the soldiers and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death.
Since the LXX text is much older than the MT, the Masoretes apparently altered the text to remove an idea they found objectionable. McKee notes that the same reading of the LXX text occurs in Philo, which demonstrates the originality of the LXX:
"And it is from this consideration, as it appears to me that one of the disciples of Moses, by name the peaceful, who in his native language is called Solomon, says, "My son, neglect not the instruction of God, and be not grieved when thou art reproved by him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth; and scourgeth every son whom he received." (On Mating with the Preliminary Studies 177)
every: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. The adjective does not occur in the Hebrew text. son: Grk. huios. See the previous verse. The Hebrew text reads "the son." whom: Grk. hos. The pronoun does not occur in the Hebrew text, but is implied. He receives: Grk. paradechomai, pres. mid., receive with a positive attitude; accept, acknowledge, receive. The MT has Heb. ratsah (SH-7521), to be pleased with, delight in, accept favorably. Again the MT changed the original verb, perhaps to reflect the covenantal idea of Psalm 149:4, "ADONAI delights in His people."
Yet, the LXX tacitly recognizes that ADONAI receives as sons those not descended from Jacob (cf. Isa 2:2; 11:10; 60:3; Zech 2:11; 8:22-23; John 1:12; Acts 11:1; Rom 1:5; Gal 3:14). In reality ADONAI "delights" in those who fear Him (Ps 147:11), regardless of their ethnic background (cf. Acts 10:35). Like a good parent God chastises His sons (cf. Prov 13:24). Guthrie comments that chastisement that springs from love cannot be vindictive, but must always be beneficial.
Paul's point in this verse is that suffering experienced from mistreatment represents chastisement or discipline from God (Rienecker). Yeshua warned his disciples that just as he would bear a cross, so they too must expect to bear a cross as well (Matt 10:38; 16:24; Luke 9:23). Indeed he declared that being insulted, slandered and persecuted because of righteousness results in the blessing of the kingdom of heaven and then he exhorted his disciples to rejoice when persecuted (Matt 5:10-12).
Bruce points out that Paul similarly tells the members of the congregation in Thessalonica that the persecutions endured by them, while they are a token of God's righteous judgment on their persecutors, are the means by which they themselves are considered worthy of the kingdom of God (2Th 1:4-5). Identifying with the prophets and Yeshua in their suffering and "turning the cheek" (cf. Matt 5:39; Gal 2:20; 5:24) negates the right of the believer from seeking revenge for his suffering.
7 You are enduring for discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Reference: Deuteronomy 8:5; 2Samuel 7:14.
Lane comments that verses 7-11 constitute a midrash on the quoted text from Proverbs (246). Then three issues bearing on divine discipline receive an expository explanation: the necessity of paternal discipline for true sonship (verses 7–8), the appropriate response to discipline (verse 9), and the benefits that accrue to those who are disciplined (verses 10–11).
You are enduring: Grk. hupomenō, pres. See verse 2 above. The verb implies remaining steadfast in adverse circumstances. Lane interprets the simple present tense as hortatory in function and many versions translate the verb as if it were imperative mood, "endure" (e.g., CSB, ESV, NET, NIV, NRSV). The indicative mood simply affirms a fact of present existence. Some versions make the opening clause hypothetical or rhetorical with the conjunction "if you endure" (KJV, NKJV, NMB, YLT), but the word "if" is not in the Greek text.
for: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into," but fig. of purpose. discipline: Grk. paideia. See verse 5 above. The first clause is essentially explanatory. In other words Paul explains why they are "hanging on" and "tolerating" adverse circumstances. There is a redemptive purpose. The DLNT has "You are enduring [your trials] for discipline." The NASB and TLV have "It is for discipline that you endure." The CJB has "Regard your endurance as discipline."
God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 2 above. is treating: Grk. prospherō, pres. mid., to bear or bring to, normally used where offering sacrifices is mentioned. Mounce notes that the middle voice conveys "to bear, behave or conduct one's self towards, to deal with, treat any one." However, there is an element of divine sacrifice involved in "bearing up" the covenant people. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. as: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 5 above. sons: pl. of Grk. huios. See verse 5 above. Whether "allowed" or "divinely directed," the presence of hardships is proof that God is dealing with the congregational members as sons.
For: Grk. gar, conj. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. son: Grk. huios. is there whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. his father: Grk. patēr, normally used of a male biological parent, someone who fulfilled the role of a father or an ancestor. In the LXX patēr translates ab (SH-1, "av"), father, with the same range of meaning (Gen 2:24) (DNTT 1:616f). The term properly refers to one who imparts life and is committed to it; a progenitor, bringing into being to pass on the potential for likeness (HELPS).
does not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. discipline: Grk. paideuō, pres. See the previous verse. Paul reminds his readers of the proverbial axiom that a good and loving father disciplines his son, whereas withholding discipline reflects a lack of love (cf. Prov 13:24). God is that good parent.
8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
But: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction introduces a contrasting hypothetical situation. Paul makes his point even stronger. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker that introduces a current real condition, or an assumption for the sake of argument; here the latter. you are: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-pl., to be, to exist, whether in the past, present or future ("is, was or will be"). In the LXX eimi translates Heb. hayah (SH-1961), be, become, come to pass; first in Genesis 1:2. without: Grk. chōris, prep., in a condition or circumstance not including; apart from, lacking, separate from, without. discipline: Grk. paideia. See verse 5 above.
of which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. The adjective means "all sons." have become: Grk. ginomai, perf., to become, here in reference to undergoing entrance into a particular state or condition of existence. In the LXX ginomai translates Heb. hayah (SH-1961), be, become, come to pass; first in Genesis 1:11. partakers: pl. of Grk. metochos, adj., having a part in something, an active sharing in. Paul acknowledges that his readers are experiencing mistreatment. The declaration is based on the axiom that "all desiring to live godly in Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted" (2Tim 3:12).
then: Grk. ara, conj., a marker of inference based on a preceding matter or statement; so, then. you are: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-pl. illegitimate: pl. of Grk. nothos, adj., without status or rights because of questionable origin; illegitimate, bastard. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. The term nothos does not occur in the LXX at all. BAG and Thayer give the meaning of nothos as "born, not in lawful wedlock." Thayer adds "but of a concubine or female slave," which was true for Greek culture, but not for Jewish culture. In Athens a nothos was the child of a citizen father and an alien mother (LSJ).
In the Bible "lawful wedlock" or marriage exists when a woman belongs to a man (Gen 2:21-22), which is manifest by the woman giving her consent followed by sexual consummation (Gen 24:67; 38:1-3). There was no marriage license or marriage ceremony as required today. For a complete explanation of the nature of marriage in Bible times see my article Marriage in Ancient Israel. Josephus also uses the term nothos to mean the son of a concubine: "Gideon had seventy sons that were legitimate, for he had many wives; but he had also one that was spurious [Grk. nothos], by his concubine [Grk. pallakēs] Drumah, whose name was Abimelech" (Ant. V, 7:1).
In ancient times among the Hebrew people a "concubine" (Heb. pilegesh) was a legitimate marriage partner, though of lower rank than the principal wife (Gen 16:3; 22:24; 25:1; 30:4, 9; 35:22; Jdg 19:3-5; 2Sam 12:11; 16:22). A son by a concubine of a Hebrew or Israelite was legitimate (Gen 25:6; 2Sam 5:13; 1Chr 1:32; 2:46; 3:9). After all, four of the sons of Jacob were birthed by his two concubines Bilhah and Zilpah (Gen 35:22, 25-26). So, calling Abimelech son of Gideon as nothos means that Drumah must have been from one of the forbidden tribes.
In modern law "wedlock" or the state of marriage exists after the issuance of a government marriage license and a marriage ceremony. A birth "before wedlock" is considered illegitimate, which can have legal consequences affecting inheritance and child support. However, in the biblical Jewish context the term refers to being born as a result of any relationship forbidden in the Torah (Jastrow 794). In that context illegitimacy affects covenantal rights, including both inheritance in the land of Israel and the right to participate in congregational or family worship. Thus, in Scripture illegitimacy is primarily a religious category. See the Additional Note below.
and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv. sons: pl. of Grk. huios. See verse 5 above. In other words, all true sons submit to discipline and those who do not ipso facto have no claim to be called sons (Guthrie). Losing the status of "son" would mean the loss of all covenantal rights.
Additional Note: Illegitimacy
According to the commandments God gave Israel there are two types of forbidden relationships that could produce a child being treated as illegitimate: ethnic and sexual. First, men were forbidden to marry women of nine specific ethnic groups in the land of Canaan: Ammonites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, Moabites, and Perizzites (Ex 34:11-16; Deut 7:1-3; 20:17; Ezra 9:1). Women were similarly prohibited from marrying men of Ammon, Moab, Edom or Egypt (Deut 23:3, 7-8; cf. Yebamoth 76b). Offspring of such unions were banned from joining the covenant community to the tenth generation (Deut 23:3).
Second, men were forbidden from a sexual relationship with another man's wife (Ex 20:14), with a near blood relative (Lev 18:6) and a prostitute (Deut 22:21; 23:17; 1Cor 6:15-18). The marriage exclusion applied to the offspring of these unions: "Not one mamzer shall enter the assembly of ADONAI; even none to the tenth generation of his descendants, shall enter the assembly of ADONAI" (Deut 23:2 BR). BDB defines the Hebrew term mamzer (SH-4464) as a bastard or child of incest (BDB 561). The LXX translates mamzer with ek pornē, "born of a harlot." Targum Jonathan explains the mamzer as one born of fornication or of an unclean Gentile.
God did allow intermarriage with groups not on the prohibited list (Deut 20:10-14; 21:10-14; Jdg 5:30; cf. Rom 4:15). God also allowed intermarriage with groups on the prohibited list in exceptional circumstances. Rahab (a Moabite) and Ruth (a Canaanite) were accepted because they chose to worship the God of Israel and identify with His people. The sons of Rahab and Ruth and their descendants were certainly legitimate since they resulted in King David and the Messiah Yeshua (Matt 1:5). However, the exclusionary rule was applied rigorously in the time of Ezra to over a hundred Israelite men who had married women from the prohibited list and had borne children (Ezra 9:1-2; 10:2, 18-44; cf. Neh 13:23-25).
Once Jewish law (Mishnah) was codified in writing by Rabbinic scholars (c. 200 A.D.), the ruling of Ezra became the guiding principle for intermarriage.
"MISHNAH: There is a principle with regard to the halakhot of lineage: Any case where there is betrothal, i.e., where the betrothal takes effect, and the marriage involves no transgression by Torah law, the lineage of the offspring follows the male, his father. ... And any case where there is a valid betrothal and yet there is a transgression, the offspring follows the flawed parent." (Kiddushin 66b, The William Davidson Talmud, Sefaria.com)
"MISHNAH: Bastards and Nethinim [Gibeonite] are ineligible, and their ineligibility is for all time, whether they be males or females." (Yebamoth 8:4; 78b)
Thus, the "flawed parent," that is, the one who did not satisfy the Torah as an acceptable marriage partner, determined the status of the children of the marriage. The Mishnah made it even more explicit in declaring that if a daughter of Israel married an idolater and bore a son, the son would be considered mamzer (Yebamot 69b; cf. fn 26 on 47a). Being a mamzer was a permanent status.
9 Furthermore, we have had correctors, indeed fathers of our flesh, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
Reference: Numbers 16:22; 27:16
Furthermore: Grk. eita, adv. introducing what is next in a sequence, 'then,' and here marking a stage in argument; furthermore, moreover. we have had: Grk. echō, impf., 1p-pl. See verse 1 above. Robertson says the imperfect tense is the customary imperfect meaning "we used to have." correctors: pl. of Grk. paideutēs, one who exercises instructive discipline; instructor, discipliner. The word has the idea of discipline and correction, as well as teaching (Rienecker). The word occurs in the LXX at Hosea 5:2 for Heb. musar (SH-4148), discipline, chastening, or correction" (BDB 416), in the sense of one who rebukes moral failure. This noun occurs only two times in the Besekh, the other in Romans 2:20. See my comment there.
indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions don't translate the conjunction. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr. See verse 7 above. of our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. flesh: Grk. sarx, "flesh" or "body," has a variety of literal and figurative uses in Scripture. The term denotes of human origin and empowerment (HELPS). Since Paul uses the phrase "fathers of our flesh" as a contrast to God, then sarx is variously translated as "earthly," "human" or "natural." The phrase could have a double meaning, including both biological father, Paul's first teacher, and a Jewish sage or leader of an advanced Jewish school, such as Paul attended (cf. Acts 22:3).
and: Grk. kai, conj. we respected them: Grk. entrepō, impf. mid., 1p-pl., to revere, reverence, or regard (Mounce). Paul then poses a rhetorical question. Shall we not: Grk. ou, adv. much: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, indicating a high degree of amount or quality; great, much. more: Grk. mallon, adv., a marker of degree of increase in an activity; more. The words "much more" introduces a Jewish hermeneutical argument known as kal v’chomer ("light and heavy") or what in logic is called a fortiori reasoning: If A is true, then, a fortiori (Latin, "with [even] greater strength"), B must also be true.
be subject: Grk. hupotassō, fut. pass., 1p-pl., to place or rank under, to be in compliance with requirements for order, to subject, so subordinate, to bring into compliance. Hupotassō originated as a military term where a rank structure is clearly defined (DNTT 1:476). to the Father: Grk. ho patēr. In the Besekh the capitalized "Father" is a circumlocution for the God of Israel. Indeed, "the Father" is often identified as "God, the Father" (John 6:27; 20:17; Rom 1:7; 15:6; 1Cor 1:3; 8:6; 2Cor 1:3; 11:31; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:17; 5:20; 6:23; Php 2:11; Col 1:3; 3:17; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:2; 1Tim 1:2; 2Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4; 1Pet 1:2; 2Pet 1:17; 2Jn 1:3; Jude 1:1).
of spirits: pl. of Grk. pneuma, wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the human spirit, and used for Heb. ruach (SH-7307) with the same range of meaning, including humans in whom is the breath of life (Gen 7:22). The expression "Father of spirits" occurs only here in Scripture and would be comparable to "the God of the spirits of all flesh (Num 16:22; 27:15). The expression "Father of spirits" affirms God as Creator of those to whom He gave a spirit, first the heavenly beings (Heb 1:7, 14; cf. Rev 4:5; 5:6), and then all human beings, as Paul declared to the philosophers in Athens (Acts 17:28).
and: Grk. kai. live: Grk. zaō, fut., 1p-pl., be in the state of being physically alive. As used here the verb has a spiritual meaning in the sense of being alive in a state of salvation and right relationship with God. Paul's observation is intended to contrast with the human analogy. As our earthly existence was mediated through an earthly father, so our spiritual existence is through the agency of a spiritual father, God (Guthrie). Since we owe respect to our earthly fathers in obedience to the fifth commandment (Ex 20:12), we owe an even great reverence of our heavenly Father.
10 For they, indeed, were disciplining us for a short time according to what seemed good to them, but He for our benefiting, that we may share His holiness.
For: Grk. gar, conj. they: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. The word refers back to the "fathers of our flesh" in the previous verse. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See the previous verse. were disciplining us: Grk. paideuō, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 6 above. for: Grk. pros, prep. a short: Grk. oligos, adj., used (1) of extent or degree; little, small; (2) of quantity, few; or (3) adverbially of time; short. The third meaning is intended here. time: pl. of Grk. hēmera, "day," used here to denote an imprecise time period. The "short time" probably alludes to the period of childhood and adolescence being subject to parents and teachers.
according to: Grk. kata, prep., generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) position, 'down, upon, in;' or (3) relation, 'according to, in reference to.' The third meaning applies here. what: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. seemed good: Grk. dokeō, pres. part., to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; suppose, think. The verb is used here in the sense of what seemed best, good or right. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 2 above.
Paul does not demean the discipline of fathers, but rather points to the practice of raising children according to a set of values and standards, which in Jewish culture was established by the Torah. For the good Jewish father the goal of parenting was to prepare a child for the best kind of life, a life pleasing to God. Solomon exhorted, "Train a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not turn from it" (Prov 22:6 TLV). Paul himself exhorted parents to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Training is the parent's responsibility, not the child's. See my article Common Sense Parenting.
but: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction introduces a contrast to demonstrate the ultimate superiority of God's parenting. He: Grk. ho, lit. "the One." The word refers to the "Father of spirits" in the previous verse. for: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location, but here marks the purpose of disciplining. our benefiting: Grk. sumpherō, pres. part., bring together to result in a benefit to others. that: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 2 above. Here the preposition introduces the goal of the benefit of discipline. we may share: Grk. metalambanō, aor. inf., have or get a share, partake. An infinitive may express purpose or result, here the latter, the receipt of which can only come from the Holy Spirit.
His: Grk. autos. holiness: Grk. ho hagiotēs, a degree of virtue exceeding ordinary human standards; holiness, moral purity. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh and previously only in 2Macc 15:2. Bruce notes that the holiness mentioned here is not that initial sanctification provided for believers by the sacrifice of Yeshua (cf. Heb. 9:13; 10:10, 14, 29), but that entire sanctification which is consummated in the resurrection when Yeshua returns in glory (cf. Rom 8:18, 21, 30; Php 3:21; Col 3:4; 1Th 12-13; 5:23-24). In contrast to the temporal benefit of earthly parenting, God's parenting has eternal benefits.
11 Now all discipline, indeed for the present, does not seem to be of joy, but of grief; yet afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those having been trained by it.
Now: Grk. de, conj. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. discipline: Grk. paideia. See verse 5 above. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 9 above. for: Grk. pros, prep. the present: Grk. ho pareimi, pres. part., to be present, to be here or there, reflecting the perfect tense 'had come.' As used here the verb denotes the present time (Mounce). does not: Grk. ou, adv. seem: Grk. dokeō, pres. See the previous verse. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 8 above. of joy: Grk. chara. See verse 2 above.
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. of grief: Grk. lupē indicates inner distress, whether mental or spiritual; grief, sorrow. The first part of the verse is a statement of common experience. Being mistreated does not produce pleasure or giddy excitement. The adverse experience becomes discipline by virtue of the fact that it constrains one's life and activities and thereby produces stress.
yet: Grk. de. afterward: Grk. husteros, adv., in a state or condition of being subsequent, here of a temporal moment or period; later, thereafter, afterward. it yields: Grk. apodidōmi, pres., with the basic idea of reciprocity the verb may mean (1) give back, return, or restore; or (2) give or render as due. The second meaning applies here. the peaceable: Grk. eirēnikos, adj., conducive to a harmonious and salutary relationship; peaceable, peace-loving. fruit: Grk. karpos, generally means the edible product of a plant grown for agricultural purposes, but used here in the figurative sense of a natural outcome or benefit.
of righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē, a state that is in accord with Torah standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior, uprightness, righteousness, justice. to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having been trained: Grk. gumnazō, perf. pass. part., train by physical exercise, but used here figuratively for practical application of biblical parenting values. by: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The difficult circumstances motivates the disciple to focus more on pleasing God. David expresses this positive outcome:
"67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. … 71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. … 75 I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." (Ps 119:67, 71, 75)
Call to Holiness, 12:12-17
12 Therefore strengthen the drooping hands and the weakened knees,
Therefore: Grk. dio (from dia, "through," and hos, "which"), inferential conj., consequently, for this reason, on account of which, therefore, wherefore. Lane comments that the thought of training through disciplinary sufferings in verse 11 suggested the metaphor of an athletic contest requiring flexed arms and strong knees. Paul then quotes from Isaiah 35:3, providing his own translation of the Hebrew text. strengthen: Grk. anorthoō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., to set upright, set straight again. The verb is a word picture of restoring strength. The Hebrew text employs a separate verb to describe restorative action of each part of the body, but Paul chose to use a single verb for both parts.
the drooping: Grk. pariēmi, pl. perf. pass. part., cause to be in a relaxed or flaccid condition, thus weakened or exhausted. hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand, but used here in a figurative sense. and: Grk. kai, conj. the weakened: Grk. paraluō, pl. perf. pass. part., cause to be in a weakened condition; enfeebled, weakened. knees: pl. of Grk. gonu, the anatomical joint of the leg between the thigh and the lower leg that allows for movement; knee.
The metaphor of "drooping hands and weakened knees" occurs in Sirach 25:23. Lane comments that the figure of the athlete, e.g. a beaten boxer, who drops his hands in weakness was commonplace in antiquity (e.g., Philo, On the Preliminary Studies 164). The allusion to Isaiah 35:3 thus depicts loss of heart and hope.
13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
Reference: Psalm 23:4; Proverbs 4:26.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Paul then quotes from Solomon (Prov 4:26), using the text of the LXX: make: Grk. poieō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., a verb of physical action, which may mean (1) to produce something material or bring something into existence; or (2) to express by deeds the thoughts of the mind; act, do, perform. The second meaning applies here. straight: Grk. orthos, level, straight. paths: pl. of Grk. trochia, a track, way or path. The noun refers to a track made by the feet of the runners (Rienecker). for your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. In the LXX the pronoun is singular, but Paul makes it plural so that the exhortation applies to the whole community.
feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the anatomical limb of the foot. The instruction is appropriate for a person who is to compete in a race that will be long and arduous. He must move straight toward the goal, not swerving from the track that will lead him to his determined destination (Lane). so that: Grk. hina, conj. the lame: Grk. ho chōlos, crippled in the feet, limping, halting, lame; fig. spiritually weak. The mention of "the lame" is curious since normally those with physical deficiencies would not compete in a race. However, the spiritual race offers greater participation.
may not: Grk. mē, adv. be put out of joint: Grk. ektrepō, aor. pass. subj., to turn out or aside; i.e., to dislocate. The medical description alludes to the idea of turning aside in a race (Rienecker). but: Grk. de, conj. rather: Grk. mallon, adv. See verse 9 above. be healed: Grk. iaomai, aor. pass. subj., to cure or heal, here in the figurative sense of spiritual healing or restoration from a state of sin and condemnation (Mounce). The exhortation of this verse is essentially ethical. Paul expects congregational leaders to give attention to the spiritually weak to prevent their loss.
14 Pursue peace with all, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
Reference: Psalm 34:14; 85:10.
The athletic metaphor is now abandoned, and the same teaching is expressed in straightforward ethical terms (Bruce). Verses 14 through 16 are actually one sentence in Greek, typical of Paul's lengthy grammatical units. Bible versions translate the wordy verses as independent units.
Pursue: Grk. diōkō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., to engage in pursuit or chase, to follow after, to pursue; used here in a positive sense of zealous interest in attaining something important. peace: Grk. eirēnē, peace, which has a variety of applications and here denotes a state of harmony as a result from cessation of hostility. In the LXX eirēnē translates Heb. shalom (SH-7965), peace and friendship in human relations. Shalom has a greater range of meaning than eirēnē, including (1) personal welfare, health and prosperity; (2) security and tranquility in the community; (3) peace from war; and (4) peace with God especially in covenant relation.
with: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The first usage is intended here. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. Yeshua had told his disciples, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Matt 5:9). Yeshua exhorted his disciples to be at peace among themselves (Mark 9:50), but also to seek peaceful relations with members of the community (Matt 5:25; Luke 10:27; 16:9). Paul had previously written, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Rom 12:18).
Hegg suggests that the exhortation may allude to the text of Psalm 34:14, "Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." The pursuit of peace is more than a desire for a peaceful existence. Pursuit implies taking definitive action to mend and reconcile relationships, as Yeshua urged (Matt 5:23-24). Personal reconciliation was a prerequisite for observance of Yom Kippur, "For transgressions as between man and his fellow the Day of Atonement does not procure any atonement, until he has pacified his fellow" (Yoma 8:6).
and: Grk. kai, conj. Hegg notes the importance of the conjunction here of linking the two goals of the pursuit. The pursuit of peace must not concede absolute ethical and moral values to accommodate an adversary. Another psalm may have been in view here: "Covenant loyalty and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed" (Ps 85:10 BR).
holiness: Grk. ho hagiasmos (from hagiazō, "to make holy, consecrate, sanctify, set apart"), holiness, consecration, sanctification. See the Additional Note below. Some versions taking note of the definite article translate the noun as "the holiness" (CJB, ESV, NASB, NCB, NRSV, RSV, TLV). The term refers to sanctification or the process of advancing in holiness; and used of the believer being progressively transformed by the Lord into His likeness (HELPS). Hegg suggests that the definite article signifies the kind of holiness God accepts, a holiness defined by the written Torah and not by Pharisaic legalism.
Barclay points out that the noun has its root in hagios, "holy," which signifies difference and separation (181). The follower of Yeshua while living in the world must always be different and separate from it. His standards are not the world's standards, nor his conduct like that of the world. Westcott comments that hagiasmos is preparation for the presence of God.
The term, which occurs 10 times in the Besekh, is a favorite of Paul, occurring eight times in other letters (Rom 6:19, 22; 1Cor 1:30; 1Th 4:3-4, 7; 2Th 2:13). In Romans hagiasmos is what results from being devoted to God and submitting parts of the body to righteousness (Rom 6:19, 22). In Thessalonians hagiasmos is specifically defined as abstaining from sexual immorality and impurity (1Th 4:3, 7), which was a stipulation made by the apostles for the obedience of Gentiles (Acts 15:29). In the LXX hagiasmos has no clear Hebrew equivalent, although words related to hagiasmos do translate the qodesh word-group (DNTT 2:224).
without: Grk. chōris, prep. See verse 8 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. The words "without which" applies to the exhortation to pursue holiness. The exclusion reference cannot apply to the pursuit of peace, since harmonious relationships cannot be guaranteed in a world opposed to Yeshua and to those who seek to live by godly values. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing.
will see: horaō, fut. mid., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception; see, perceive, experience. In the LXX horaō translates Heb. ra'ah (SH-7200), to see, with a wide range of meaning, first in Genesis 1:9. the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. See verse 5 above. Paul intends the title as a reference to Yeshua. The future tense of the phrase "see the Lord" anticipates the day when Yeshua's followers will "see him" in the resurrection and Second Coming (Matt 24:30; 26:64; Php 3:20-21; 1Jn 3:2; Rev 1:7; 22:3-4).
The phrase also applies to the time before the Second Coming when God's people are received into heaven after death (cf. Luke 16:19-22; 23:43; John 11:25; 2Cor 5:1, 8; 1Pet 1:3-4; Rev 2:7, 17; 3:5, 12, 21). The requirement of holiness (or more accurately the pursuit of holiness) in order to "see the Lord" is not intended to be an impossible standard achieved only by the religious elite. We should remember that Yeshua informed his disciples before his death and before their own spiritual empowerment on Pentecost that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20).
Nevertheless, the clause declares that a criteria does exist for entry into heaven and the presence of God. The popular assumption that everyone goes to heaven after death is false. Yeshua provided atonement for all (Heb 7:27), but not all are saved (Matt 7:13-14). The criteria is stated positively by Yeshua: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt 5:8). Purity of heart is a euphemism for singleness of mind, the opposite of being double-minded (Jas 1:8). The pure in heart have complete trust in Yeshua and purpose to remain faithful to obey him regardless of what may come.
Yeshua also stated the criteria negatively: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter" (Matt 7:21). Stern comments that those who fail to heed the instruction here, who suppose that mere intellectual acknowledgment of God's existence and Yeshua's Messiahship, unaccompanied by good deeds and submissiveness to God, will "get them into heaven" are in for rude awakening and disappointment (cf. Jas 2:19-20, Rev 20:15).
Paul is very clear that the habitual practice of sin will exclude the offender from heaven (1Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21). The Besekh closes with these warnings given to John of who will not be permitted in heaven:
"nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it" (Rev 21:27).
"Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying." (Rev 22:15)
Additional Note: Sanctification and Holiness
Christian theologians tend to distinguish "the process" and "the result" with the term "sanctification" for the process and "holiness" for the result. Scripture affirms frequently that God wants His people to be holy (i.e., wholly His). Indeed, the present tense of the verbal command "pursue" implies that holiness is to be a personal quest of every believer (cf. 2Cor 7:1) (Guthrie). The apostles were insistent that being holy is expected of Yeshua's followers (Rom 6:19; Eph 1:4; 4:24; 5:27; Col 1:22; 1Th 4:3, 7; 1Pet 1:15-16; 2:9; 2Pet 3:11; Jude 1:20). God expects there to be a marked difference between His people and the world (Jas 1:27).
The apostles taught that holiness is both a state of belonging wholly to God and a goal of being transformed into the image of God's Son (Rom 8:29), as Yeshua petitioned for all His disciples (John 17:17). Traditional Wesleyan theology affirms that sanctification is freedom from a sinning lifestyle (Rom 6:19-22) made possible by a cleansing of the heart by the Holy Spirit accomplished in those trusting in Yeshua for salvation (cf. Acts 2:38; 11:15-17; 19:1-6; Rom 6:22; 15:6; 2Th 2:13). The work of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost represents this normative process (Acts 15:9).
Christian theologians have been divided regarding the degree to which a person is made holy and when it happens. Wesleyan theologians are quick to point out that "entire sanctification" does not make one as pure as God, as perfect as the angels or as innocent as Adam and Eve before they sinned. Moreover, all disciples make mistakes or fall short of the glory of God due to human imperfection and frailty (Rom 3:23; Jas 3:2). Yet, sanctification, or being separated to God, is necessary to become a fully "actualized" disciple. The chief impediment to sanctification is the self-will acting contrary to the interests of God (Rom 8:4-8).
The promise of the New Covenant is that God's people would be empowered to obey His commandments (Jer 31:31-32). Too many believers fail to become fully sanctified disciples because they are unwilling to obey all that God commands. Some Christians associate holiness with strict piety, but being holy in this life is not a matter of developing a personal list of rules or building a resume of good works. Sanctification means consecrating oneself or transferring the ownership of one's life to God and allowing God through the Holy Spirit to empower full obedience (cf. Acts 1:8; Rom 12:1; 15:16; Titus 3:5).
Being sanctified does not mean that the disciple will never commit another sin, but that by being single-mindedly devoted to pleasing God, the disciple's life will demonstrate a moral character that conforms to God's commandments. In any event, it is reasonable to assume that the God of grace will complete whatever may be lacking in the faithful believer on the great day of the Messiah's appearing and the resurrection. The completion of sanctification at the resurrection may be inferred from some passages (Php 3:20-21; 1Th 3:12-13; 5:23; 1Jn 3:2; Rev 22:11).
15 watching carefully lest anyone be falling short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up should trouble you, and through it the many might be defiled;
Reference: Deuteronomy 29:18.
In this verse and the next Paul urges certain precautions to be taken to insure the success of the pursuit of peace and holiness. watching carefully: Grk. episkopeō (from epi, "on" and skopeō, "to look"), pl. pres. part., may mean (1) to look at, be on the alert, take care; or (2) exercise oversight, serve as an overseer (1Pet 5:2). The first meaning is intended here. The participle depicts action concurrent with the pursuit commanded in the previous verse and thus is hortatory. Many versions translate the participle as imperative mood, some with "See to it" (CJB, ESV, NASB, NET, NIV, NRSV, RSV, TLV). This manner of using participles is very uncommon in Koine Greek, which indicates that the apostles wrote in Jewish Greek akin to the LXX.
Scholars have long been puzzled over the frequent use of the participle in hortatory instructions of Paul's letters. Davies says that non-biblical Jewish writings used the participle in exactly the same manner, and thus Paul's use of the participle as imperative probably reflects Jewish sources (130f). Stern concurs in this information (428). With the use of the participle Paul is appealing to the conscience rather than commanding the will.
Morris points out that the unusual choice of the verb conveys the idea of exercising care not just for oneself but for other members of the Messianic community. Paul then speaks of three things in particular the careful watching should prevent. lest: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 3 above. The adverb is used here to introduce a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring caution. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything.
be falling short: Grk. hustereō, pres. part., to be in a relatively deficient or disadvantaged state or condition; be in want. The verb means to be in lack and hence, unable to meet the need at hand because of being depleted. This state of lack (insufficiency, privation) naturally results when a person misses out on what is vital (HELPS). of the grace: Grk. ho charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude.
In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times, always in the adverbial form of charin (SG-5484), of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, primarily Heb. chên (SH-2580, "khane"), favor, grace, first in Genesis 6:8 (DNTT 2:116). The Greek adverb charin denotes favor which furnishes the reason for divine or human action (HELPS). When used of God chên denotes granting special favor to an individual or causing nonbelievers to grant favor to God's people (e.g., Gen 39:21; Ex 3:21; 11:3).
Chên especially denotes God's unilateral gift of favor toward selected individuals, such as Noah (Gen 6:8), Abraham (Gen 18:3), Lot (Gen 19:19), Moses (Ex 33:12-13; 34:9), as well as the nation of Israel (Ex 33:16). Both Grk. charis and Heb. chên refer to God freely extending Himself (His favor, grace), reaching or inclining to people because He is disposed to bless and be near them. The core idea of favor-grace is "extension-towards" (HELPS).
of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 2 above. Paul could speak of receiving God's grace in vain (2Cor 6:1) and of falling from grace (Gal 5:4). Thus, losing God's favor is a spiritual danger to be avoided. God is not stingy in offering grace. He gives His people all they will take. Accordingly, it is important for them not to fail to make use of their opportunities.
lest: Grk. mē. any: Grk. tis. root: Grk. rhiza, root, normally used of a tree (Matt 3:10) and other plants (Mark 4:6), but also in imagery of genealogical lineage (Rom 15:12; Rev 5:5). The root is the source of nourishment and support for the entire plant. The noun has a figurative use here. of bitterness: Grk. pikria, a hostile emotion; animosity, bitterness, resentment. The noun refers to negative feelings toward some significant person (perhaps even God) over some perceived or actual hurt experienced in the past. The technical term occurs as a character flaw of Simon Magnus (Acts 8:23), who could be a model for the warning here.
In the LXX pikria translates Heb. mara (SH-4785), bitter, which was initially a place-name of where Israel camped (Ex 15:23; Num 33:8-9), and then Heb. roshe (SH-7219), bitter and poisonous herb, referring to wormwood (Deut 29:18). Paul no doubt intended an allusion to the Deuteronomy passage. God warned the Israelites against harboring resentment that would cause them to turn away from ADONAI and to serve other gods. Thus, the second contingency to guard against is the springing up of a "bitter root." Similarly Paul exhorted the Ephesian congregation, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice" (Eph 4:31).
springing: Grk. phuō, pres. part., to come up or grow up, shoot forth, spring up. The verb originated in an agricultural setting. up: Grk. anō, adv., upward as a motion of direction. should trouble you: Grk. enochleō, pres. subj., bother to the point of causing discomfort; trouble, annoy. and: Grk. kai, conj. through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. the many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 9 above. might be defiled: Grk. miainō, aor. pass. subj., to stain, contaminate, pollute, or defile, used of both ritual and moral pollution, the latter sense here. Resentment invariably results in negative consequences for relationships, first with God and then with others.
Hegg comments that the reference to a "root of bitterness" is not describing an attitude which many might have, but rather a person who himself or herself is such root and who brings the sin of bitterness into the community, the kind of sin which defiles many and leads to rebellion. The point is that it is better to risk disrupting the peace of the community in order to expel such an individual than to endure the sin of bitterness and risk the infectious bitterness to spread to others in the community.
16 lest there be any fornicator or godless person as Esau, who in exchange for a single meal traded his birthright.
Reference: Genesis 25:29-34.
The third warning concerns avoidance of the two big "I's," immorality and idolatry. lest there be: Grk. mē. See the previous verse. any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. fornicator: Grk. pornos, properly a man who prostituted his body for hire to another's lust, a male prostitute, and by extension a man who indulges in sexual acts prohibited by God (Sirach 23:16-17). For a list of prohibited sexual acts see my comment on 1Cor 5:1. Being a pornos is a capital crime that bars a person from inclusion in the kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9; Eph 5:5) and subjects the offender to eternal damnation (Heb 13:4; Rev 21:8; 22:15).
Relevant to this term is that prohibitions of specific sexual acts in the Torah are primarily directed to men, thus men are responsible for immorality in the world. Immorality was a serious problem among first century believers, because the Greek and Roman culture made sex so accessible at pagan temples and brothels. In addition, a man might have one wife to bear his legitimate children, but he could freely have sex with a mistress, a slave or a prostitute without legal consequences (Pseudo-Demosthenes, Speeches: Against Neaera, 59:122). Paul admonished disciples to avoid any man who professed to be a believer but was immoral (1Cor 5:11-13).
or: Grk. ē, conj., used here to denote an alternative. godless person: Grk. bebēlos, not in accord with a sense of what is sacred; irreverent, profane, ungodly, worldly. Guthrie notes that bebēlos occurs elsewhere only in Paul's pastoral letters (1Tim 1:9; 4:7; 6:20; 2Tim 2:16) where godlessness is one of the characteristics of the false teachers. as: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 5 above. Esau: Grk. Ēsau, a transliteration of Heb. Esav, the elder fraternal twin son of Isaac and Rebekah (Gen 25:24-26; 27:1, 32, 42; 1Chr 1:34). Before birth Rebekah received a divine revelation that her firstborn son would serve the second-born. Esau became the father of the Edomite nation (Gen 26:1; Deut 2:4-29).
Bruce and Westcott are skeptical that the comparison "as Esau" applies to immorality since there is no biblical passage identifying a sexual sin of Esau, either literally or metaphorically. Actually, the same point could be made regarding the charge of being profane. Thus, on what basis does Paul charge Esau with such capital crimes? The Jewish description of Esau as an immoral and godless person is based first on the text of Genesis 25:27, "Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field." With their extensive flocks there was no need to slaughter wild game for food.
Esau was apparently given to sensual appetites and hunted for sport. His prowess along with the game he brought home appealed to his father (Gen 27:4). The only other hunter mentioned in Scripture is Nimrod in Genesis 10:9 who was a rebel against God and notorious for developing the early pantheon for idol worship. Esau could be called "godless" because he lived as if God did not exist. Previously in Genesis God spoke to various persons besides Abraham, such as Hagar (Gen 16:7) and Abimelech (Gen 20:3), but God never spoke to Esau. He ignored God, so God ignored him.
Next, Esau chose to take a total of five wives from idolatrous pagan tribes (Gen 26:34; 28:9; 36:2-3). In the Tanakh immorality is often associated with the practice of idolatry (Num 14:33; 25:1-2; Deut 31:16; Jdg 2:17; Hos 1:2; Jer 2:20; 3:6–9, 20; Ezek 16:15, 23). The principle of marrying only "in the Lord" (1Cor 7:39; 2Cor 6:14-15) was established with Abraham and Isaac (Gen 24:3; 28:1). Esau could have been given the title "fornicator" among the early Jewish communities because of his "contrary-to-Torah" marriages. However, his ungodly character could not be blamed on his wives, but it was rejection of covenantal faithfulness that motivated his sinful marriage choices.
Hegg, Lane and McKee point out that Jewish tradition had a pejorative viewpoint regarding Esau and associated his conduct with sexual immorality. The Apocryphal book of Jubilees records Rebekah complaining that all the deeds of Esau's Canaanite wives "are fornication and lust and there is no righteousness in them" (25:1). In 25:8, Jacob confides in Rebekah that Esau had often urged him to marry a Canaanite but that he had been taught by Abraham his father in "regard to lust and fornication." Later, Rebekah said to Isaac, "you know Esau's thoughts that they are perverse from his youth" (35:9).
Philo also offered a critical analysis of Esau based on the Genesis passage (On the Virtues §208–210). He also accused Esau of being a man of wickedness and vice:
"Now that the wicked man is destitute of a city and destitute of a home, Moses testifies in speaking of that hairy man who was also a man of varied wickedness, Esau, when he says, "But Esau was skilful in hunting, and a rude Man." For it is not natural for vice which is inclined to be subservient to the passions to inhabit the city of virtue, inasmuch as it is devoted to the pursuit of rudeness and ignorance, with great folly." (Allegorical Interpretation III, §2)
Targum Jonathan in quoting Genesis 25:27 presents specific charges against Esau that reflect Paul's description:
"And Esau came from the wilderness, exhausted; for in that day he had committed five transgressions: he had worshipped with strange worship, he had shed innocent blood, he had gone in unto a betrothed damsel, he had denied the life of the world to come, and had despised the birthright."
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Paul then mentions the narrative of Genesis 25:33-34. in exchange for: Grk. anti, prep. See verse 2 above. The preposition signals the result of a legitimate negotiation. a single: Grk. heis, the number one. meal: Grk. brōsis may mean (1) the activity of one who eats, eating or (2) what is consumed by eating, food. The second meaning is intended here. traded: Grk. apodidōmi, aor. mid. See verse 11 above. The great majority of versions have "sold," but this verb normally refers to conveying something according to a monetary value.
Use of the Greek verb properly signifies that Esau relinquished his legal rights by means of barter. A few versions have "traded" (LEB, TLB, NLT). A few versions have "gave up" (CJB, MRINT). his: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. See verse 3 above. birthright: Grk. prōtotokia, the rights of the firstborn. In the LXX of the cited narrative (Gen 25:31-34) prōtotokia occurs four times and translates Heb. bekorah (SH-1062), the right of the firstborn. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The right of the firstborn was not automatic, since it was determined by the father (cf. 1Chr 5:1-2).
In ancient times the concept of "birthright" included three important rights for the firstborn son. First, the firstborn would be superior rank in his family and therefore exercise leadership authority over the clan (Gen 49:3). Second, the firstborn had the spiritual responsibility of performing the priestly office and officiating at the altar (Gen 22:9; 26:25; 35:1; Num 8:17-19). Third, the firstborn received a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deut 21:17). With two sons the father's goods were divided into three parts, and the firstborn took two parts, and the second son the third part.
In this family birthright carried with it special and significant responsibilities no other family had. Jacob's family had the responsibility of transmitting the tablets bearing the record of God's history that would be used by Moses to construct the Genesis story. The birthright also carried the title to the covenantal promises made to Abraham. Most important of all was maintaining the Messianic line that would produce the Seed of Salvation, first promised to Eve (Gen 3:15) and then to Abraham (Gen 22:17-18; cf. Matt 16:18; Acts 3:25; Gal 3:6; Heb 2:16). Esau did not possess the character worthy of these great privileges and responsibilities.
Moses narrates an unusual circumstance that brought about Esau's sale of his birthright. Paul had previously mentioned that Abraham had lived with Isaac and Jacob before his death at 175 (Heb 11:9). According to Jewish tradition Jacob prepared the stew on the occasion of Abraham's death to comfort his father (Targum Jonathan; Baba Bathra 16b). Returning "faint" from a hunting trip Esau discovered Jacob preparing a lentil stew. Targum Jonathan gives the reason for Esau's weariness as the result from committing five capital crimes, including murder.
In any event Esau begged Jacob to feed him. Esau could have fixed himself something to eat. Henry Morris suggests that Jacob was disgusted with the profane nature of Esau and was horrified at the thought of the birthright going to him (TGR 417). Jacob made a proposition, which on the face of it would be considered outlandish. Jacob was likely surprised that Esau actually accepted the bargain, justifying his decision by saying, "Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?" (Gen 25:32).
The attitude of Esau belittled the importance of the birthright and his readiness to give it away for so little in exchange reveals his unworthiness for the blessed privilege. While some Christian commentators have alleged that Jacob defrauded Esau, there was nothing unfair about the contract. Esau later lied when he complained that Jacob "took" his birthright (Gen 27:36).
17 For you know that even afterward, wishing to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for a change of mind, although having sought it with tears.
Reference: Genesis 27:30-40.
For: Grk. gar, conj. you know: Grk. oida, perf., 2p-pl., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida translates Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience (DNTT 2:395). that: Grk. hoti, conj. even: Grk. kai, conj. afterward: Grk. metepeita, adv., after that, afterward. Paul now shifts the narrative scene forward by 25 years. wishing: Grk. thelō, pres. part., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire.
to inherit: Grk. klēronomeō, aor. inf., to be an heir in a legal sense. More frequently the verb means to be a recipient of a share in something, with focus on experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. the blessing: Grk. ho eulogia may mean (1) praise, fine speaking, well-chosen words; or (2) bestowal of a blessing or gift. The second meaning applies here. Eulogia also carries the idea of something being bountiful (BAG). In the LXX eulogia translates Heb. b'rakhah (SH-1293), benefit or blessing, first in Genesis 27:12. In the Tanakh a b'rakhah is ordinarily transmitted from the greater to the lesser (Heb 7:7), either from man to man (Gen 12:2), from parent to child (Gen 27:12, 41) or from God to man (Ex 32:29).
Here the b'rakhah refers to the blessing that Isaac intended for Esau but by means of deception was conveyed to Jacob. Paul made reference to the incident in the previous chapter (Heb. 11:20). See my comment there. The first part of this verse alludes to the fact that Isaac considered his blessing of the firstborn as his last will and testament. However, "the blessing," if given to Esau, would have wrongfully transferred the Abrahamic covenant with all its promises to an ungodly man who cared nothing for the responsibilities of fulfilling the covenant.
he was rejected: Grk. apodokimazō, aor. pass., to refuse to recognize as qualified. The addition of the preposition apo indicates rejection after examination. Thus, the verb means to discard or to reject. for: Grk. gar, conj. he found: Grk. heuriskō, aor., to come upon, used often of finding after seeking. no: Grk. ou, adv., lit. "not." opportunity: Grk. topos may mean (1) a spatial area; (2) a position with obligation; or (3) a circumstance that offers an opportunity to do something. The third meaning is intended here. for a change of mind: Grk. metanoia is a serious change of mind and heart about a previous point of view or course of behavior.
The LXX does not use metanoia to translate any Hebrew word, although it does occur in the Apocrypha (Sirach 44:16; Wisdom 12:19), Philo (Special Laws I, 58), and Josephus (Ant. IX, 8:5; XIII, 11:3). The thought of repentance, exhorted especially by the prophets is expressed with the verb shuv (SH-7725) (DNTT 1:357). Paul's normal usage of metanoia (e.g., Acts 20:21; Rom 2:4; 2Cor 7:9-10; Heb 6:1, 6) expresses the force of shuv, which signifies the turning away from evil, renouncing and disowning sin, and turning toward the good or becoming obedient to God’s will as expressed in the commandments.
However, in the context of Genesis 27 there is no mention of any sin of Esau needing repentance. In other words, what sin did he need to repent of in order to gain the blessing he sought? Of interest is that the ASV translates the clause as "he found no place for a change of mind in his father," which interprets the narrative as meaning that Esau could not get Isaac to change his mind. The ASV reflects the circumstances reported in the Genesis narrative. The EHV similarly translates, "for he found no chance to change his father's mind."
N.T. Wright incorporates this interpretation in his translation: "There was no way he could change either his mind or Isaac's." Hegg finds this translation to be commendable, since clearly Esau desired the blessing, not repentance. However, Isaac was not about to retrieve the blessing he had already conferred upon Jacob, and thus was unwilling to change his mind.
although: Grk. kaiper, conj., although, though. having sought: Grk. ekzēteō, aor. part., engage in a thorough search; seek out. The verb emphasizes the personal intent of the seeker, i.e. the outcome intensely and personally desired by the seeker (HELPS). it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; used to refer to "the blessing." The verbal phrase refers to Esau appealing two times to his father to bless him (Gen 27:34, 38). with: Grk. meta, prep. tears: pl. of Grk. dakruon, a tear. The mention of tears alludes to Esau's weeping after his appeal for "the blessing" failed (Gen 27:38). His tears did not flow from sorrow over his sinful life. Esau's mind was on his right to power and prestige, not on God's covenantal expectations.
Contrast of Sinai and Zion, 12:18-24
Verses 18 through 21 are one long sentence in Greek, but Bible versions translate the verses as independent units. These verses depict the awesome manifestation of God on Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb in Deuteronomy) when Moses met with God to receive the commandments and to inaugurate the covenant with Israel. Similarly, verses 22 through 24 are also one sentence in Greek. In these verses Paul points out what his readers have received as beneficiaries of the New Covenant, but not in any sense to extol the superiority of the New Covenant.
Rather, The Torah narrative that describes the majesty of God revealed at Mt. Sinai drives home the point of the seriousness of the need for holiness (verse 10 and 14 above). The comparison between the encounter with God at Mt. Sinai and the provision for the New Covenant is meant to emphasize that the same truth still applies. With the New Covenant God did not change His expectation of holiness.
18 For you have not come to that being touched, and having been kindled with fire, and to darkness, and to gloom and to storm;
Reference: Exodus 19:16-20; 20:18-21; Deuteronomy 4:11; 5:22-27.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction introduces a line of argument based on the exhortation of the preceding section. you have not: Grk. ou, adv. come: Grk. proserchomai, perf., 2p-pl. to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. The verb is used here in a figurative sense of drawing near to God. In the LXX proserchomai translates Heb. qarab (SH-7126), to come near or approach, which is used to describe the congregation of Israel coming near and standing before the presence of God (Ex 16:9; Lev 9:5-6). The point of the verbal phrase is "you did not begin your relationship with God as the ancient Israelites."
to that being touched: Grk. psēlaphaō, pres. pass. part., to make contact with movement of the hand in exploratory fashion; feel, touch. The verb alludes to personal contact and the participle depicts God touching the mountain. and: Grk. kai, conj. Paul then lists the meteorological effects that God employed in the revelation of Himself to Israel in order to emphasize and illustrate His omnipotence and holy nature. having been kindled: Grk. kaiō, perf. pass. part., cause to be on fire; kindle, burn. The verb depicts fiery ignition. with fire: Grk. pur, a fire, as a physical state of burning. On Mount Sinai fire was manifested in lightning.
and: Grk. kai. to darkness: Grk. gnophos, darkness, gloom; a thick cloud. This is the darkness of storm clouds (LSJ). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX the noun is used for Heb. araphel, a heavy cloud (Ex 20:21) and Heb. anan, a cloud mass (Deut 4:11). The CEV is no doubt correct with the translation of "dark cloud." and: Grk. kai. to gloom: Grk. zophos, murky, appalling gloom, referring to darkness so dense and foreboding it is "felt" (HELPS). In Greek literature the term is used of the darkness of the nether world (LSJ). The atmosphere would heighten the sense of impending divine judgment.
and: Grk. kai. to storm: Grk. thuella, stormy wind, whirlwind. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. On the occasion of Israel gathered at the foot of Mt. Sinai waiting for Moses to report the revelation of God the peak of the mountain was enveloped in a strong thunderstorm. Stern notes that a theophany (an appearance of God to mankind) was often accompanied by fire (Ex 13:21, Jdg 13:20, 1Kgs 18:38), darkness (Gen 15:12; Ex 10:21-22, 14:20; 1Kgs 8:12; Joel 2:31; Amos 5:18) and whirlwind (Nah 1:3; Job 37:9, 38:1; Zech 9:14).
19 and of the sound of a shofar and to a voice of words, which those having heard begged that not a word be spoken to them,
Reference: Exodus 19:16, 19; 20:18-21; Deuteronomy 4:12; 5:22-27.
and: Grk. kai, conj. of the sound: Grk. ēchos, a sound that spreads out and makes an impact; sound, noise. Some versions have "blast." of a shofar: Grk. salpinx, which may refer to (1) the instrument itself, (2) the sound made by blowing into it or (3) the signal given by the instrument. The second meaning is intended here. In Greek and Roman culture the salpinx was primarily a military trumpet used to change the guard, to sound attack or retreat or to terrify or deceive the enemy (DNTT 3:873).
The Greek salpinx, known since the years of Homer, consisted of a long, straight tube of narrow, cylindrical bore (roughly 90 cm) that ended in a prominent tulip-shaped bell. It was usually made of copper or bronze with a bone or metal mouthpiece. In the LXX salpinx translates six different Hebrew terms, the most common being shofar (SH-7782), a horn for blowing (DNTT 3:873f). A shofar is a trumpet made from the horn of a kosher animal with the marrow removed. The shofar was originally made from the horn of a ram (Josh 6:6), which recalled the near sacrifice of Isaac, who was saved when God showed Abraham a ram to offer as a substitute.
The shofar was used in both religious (Lev 25:9; 2Chr 5:12; Ps 81:3) and military (Josh 6:5; Jdg 7:18-20; 1Sam 13:3; 2Sam 2:28; 18:16) settings. The Exodus narrative to which Paul refers records that the people heard the sound of a shofar (Ex 19:16). God did not actually blow a shofar, but the people heard a loud piercing sound that reminded them of the shofar. The piercing sound emitted from the top of mountain was no doubt employed to gain the attention of the Israelites and instill awe of God. Thus, the CJB, MJLT, MW, OJB and TLV appropriately translate salpinx here with shofar.
and: Grk. kai. to a voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech and the sound of uttered words, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language (1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). The second meaning applies here. In the LXX phōnē generally translates Heb. qôl (sound, voice, BDB 876), the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113).
of words: pl. of Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch and prophetic writings for the Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing." Thus, rhēma, standing for dabar, can mean both (a) a word or utterance as well as (b) a matter, event, or case in the sense of the result of things said or done (DNTT 3:1119f). The phrase "a voice of words" initially indicates the three messages that God told Moses to convey to the people (Ex 19:3-6, 10-15, 21-24).
Then the phrase recalls the narrative that the Israelites gathered at the foot of the mountain heard the voice of God as He declared to them the Ten Words that summarized His covenantal expectations (Ex 20:1; Deut 4:11-13). In the Exodus narrative the second person pronouns are singular, which may emphasize viewing the nation as a single entity, but more likely the individual sense of "each one of you." Obedience of the Ten Words or Commandments was expected of every single member of the nation.
which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun of the Israelites. having heard: Grk. akouō, pl. aor. part., to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). begged: Grk. paraiteomai, aor. mid., to obtain by entreaty, to beg from, to ask for.
that not: Grk. mē, adv. a word: Grk. logos is used primarily for a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, message or teaching. In the LXX logos primarily translates Heb. dabar (SH-1697), speech or word, and used widely for a message, speech or saying of men (Gen 29:13; 34:18) or of God (Ex 4:28; 19:7) (DNTT 3:1087).
be spoken: Grk. prostithēmi, aor. pass. inf., to put to or to add to, i.e., to join to or gather with. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Stern explains that when God gave the Ten Commandments (Deut 5:6-18), all the people of Israel were terrified hearing His voice, and the hearers begged that no further message be given to them, but only to Moses as their representative (Deut 4:10–13, 5:20–25).
20 for they could not bear that being commanded: if even an animal should touch the mountain, it shall be stoned,
Reference: Exodus 19:12-13.
For: Grk. gar, conj. they could not: Grk. ou, adv. bear: Grk. pherō, impf., 3p-pl., to move from one position to another; to bear, carry (bring) along, especially to a definite or prescribed conclusion (HELPS). that: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun, used of the spoken message of God. being commanded: Grk. diastellō, pres. pass. part., to give instruction or an order. The verb refers to giving an explicit command that is unambiguously clear (HELPS). The context of the divine instruction to which Paul alludes is in Exodus 19:12-13.
"12 You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, 'Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.'" (Ex 19:12-13)
If even: Grk. kan, adv., a contingency particle setting the stage for consideration of additional possibility; and if, also if, even if, at least. an animal: Grk. thērion (dim. form of thēr, "beast of prey"), beast or wild animal, typically four-legged (Lev 11:27); i.e. not domesticated and therefore unclean. In the LXX thērion normally translates Heb. chay, a wild animal (Gen 1:24-25, 30; 2:20). However, the MT of the referenced Torah passage (Ex 19:13) has Heb. behemah, beast, animal or livestock, which the LXX translates with ktēnos, a domesticated animal. The instruction presumes these are animals over which the Israelites had control, such as dogs.
should touch: Grk. thigganō, aor. subj., touch or handle, thereby indicating physical contact. The verb actually occurs in Exodus 19:12 for Heb. naga, to touch or reach, but the verb is applied to the animal mentioned in the next verse. the mountain: Grk. ho oros, mountain, hill, or hill-country. Modern science distinguishes hills from mountains by classifying a hill as being less than 1,000 feet above its surroundings, but the distinction may depend upon local interpretation. In contrast, biblical terms were used to refer to any natural topographical feature that rose above a valley, plain or other surroundings regardless of height.
The identified mountain in Exodus is Sinai (Ex 19:11, 18) whereas in Deuteronomy the mountain is Horeb (Deut 4:15; 5:2). The co-location of Mt. Sinai with Mt. Horeb is implied by a comparison of the two narratives. See the map here. Josephus provided valuable information about the mountain:
"Now this is the highest of all the mountains thereabout, and the best for pasturage, the herbage being there good; and it had not been before fed upon, because of the opinion men had that God dwelt there, the shepherds not daring to ascend up to it." (Ant. II, 12:1)
"Mount Sinai is the highest of all the mountains that are in that country and is not only very difficult to be ascended by men, on account of its vast altitude, but because of the sharpness of its precipices" (Ant. III, 5:1).
Mt. Sinai/Horeb is a mountain mass two miles long and one mile broad, with the southern peak being 7363 feet high and the northern peak, Ras Sufsafeh, being 6830 feet high (SBD, Sinai). In Arabic the southern peak is known as Jebel Musa ("Mountain of Moses"). In Christianity the mountain was called Mt. Catherine because of the monastery of St. Catherine being built there. See pictures of the mountain here.
it shall be stoned: Grk. lithoboleō, fut. pass., throw stones at someone, here as a mode of killing. Stoning was the primarily means of punishment for capital crimes and even animals could be stoned if they inadvertently acted in a manner that violated a divine instruction (Ex 21:29, 32).
The TR, with no known manuscript support, ends the verse with "or thrust through with a dart" from Exodus 19:13. The clause is preserved in several versions (JUB, KJV, MEV, NKJV, NMB, RGT, YLT).
21 and so fearful was the sight that Moses said, "I am terrified and trembling."
and: Grk. kai, conj. so: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done and here expresses intensity; in this way, so, thus. fearful: Grk. phoberos, adj., capable of arousing fear; dreadful, fearful, terrifying. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 8 above. the sight: Grk. ho phantazō, pres. pass. part., bring about open disclosure, cause to appear, make visible. The participle lit. "the thing appearing" = "the sight." The verb occurs only here in the Besekh.
that Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh, which may be derived from Egyptian mes meaning "child" or "son" (BDB 602), since the daughter of Pharaoh named him (Ex 2:10). The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life can be divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt (Ex 2:11; Acts 7:23), the second his years in Midian (Ex 7:7; Acts 7:30), and the third from Exodus from Egypt through the years spent in the wilderness until his death (Ex 16:35; Deut 34:7). For a summary and analysis of his life see my article Moses, Servant of God.
said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; ask, call, declare, say, speak, tell. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to say, shew, command or think (Gen 1:28). I am: Grk. eimi, pres. terrified: Grk. ekphobos (from ek, "out of" and phobos, "fear"), adj., greatly terrified, horrified. The adjective signifies being wholly frightened (literally out of one's wits), with the outcome of becoming extremely fearful (HELPS). The phrase "I am terrified" is drawn from the LXX of Deuteronomy 9:19.
The quotation of Moses did not occur on the occasion of the giving of the Torah, but in the next month when Moses witnessed the golden calf idolatry, drinking, singing, lewd dancing and party atmosphere (Ex 32:6, 18-19; Deut 9:18). The rebellion of the Israelites caused Moses to greatly fear the wrath of God, because God was prepared to destroy the nation (Ex 32:10; Deut 9:14). The nation was saved from destruction by the intercession of Moses.
and: Grk. kai. trembling: Grk. entromos, adj., in quivering condition or trembling with fear; atremble, trembling, terrified. The words "and trembling" are not found in the source text and so was added by Paul to emphasize the state of fear experienced by Moses. Of interest is that Stephen used this adjective to describe the reaction of Moses to seeing the burning bush and hearing the voice of God (Acts 7:32).
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, a festal gathering,
Reference: Deuteronomy 33:2; Daniel 7:10; Matthew 26:53; Luke 2:13; Hebrews 11:10, 16; Revelation 5:11.
Verses 22 through 24 are one sentence in Greek, but Bible versions present them as independent units. The translation of these verses follows the word order and noun grouping of the Greek text.
But: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 11 above. While the conjunction introduces the lofty benefits of followers of Yeshua as a contrast to the experience of the early Israelites, Paul does not intend the presentation of these benefits as "Christian vs. Jewish," or "grace vs. law" or the basis of replacement theology as argued by some Christian commentators. The letter is addressed to Jewish people, not to the Christianity created by the church fathers. Here Paul applies a hermeneutical principle taught in the Pharisee schools known as gezerah shavah ("similar laws, similar verdicts"), an argument from analogy.
This argument holds that what holds true or good in one case also holds true in another. In other words, the reminder of the inauguration of the Sinai covenant emphasized that God called Israel to be a holy people (Ex 19:6). The benefits and privileges enjoyed by the people of the Messiah, while greater and more precious, do not lessen the demand for the pursuit of holiness.
you have come to: Grk. proserchomai, perf., 2p-pl. See verse 18 above. Paul then lists twelve nouns or noun word groups to describe that which followers of Yeshua have come. Some of the noun word groups stand in apposition to one another as a way to further describe the benefit. These benefits fall into three categories. The first category is a city.  Mount: Grk. oros. See verse 20 above. Zion: Grk. Siōn transliterates Heb. Tsiōn (SH-6726), one of the seven mountains on which Jerusalem was built (cf. Ps 125:1-2).
Mt. Zion was originally the fortress of the Jebusites (Josh 15:63), but was captured by David (2Sam 5:5-7). Later King David moved the Ark of the Covenant to the city (2Sam 6:2) and David also built his residence and headquarters there (1Chr 11:5). Zion became a substitute name for the city of Jerusalem (2Kgs 19:31; Ps 48:1f; 135:21; Isa 2:3). Zion is the dwelling place of God (Ps 76:2; 132:13-14; Isa 8:18; 12:6; Joel 3:16; Zech 3:2).
However, the mention of Mount Zion here is not to the physical mountain in Judea, but to the heavenly location as clarified by the following points of identification. The fact that the original Tabernacle and the Temple were constructed according to a heavenly pattern (Ex 25:9, 40; 1Chr 28:11-19; Ps 78:68-69) illustrates the heavenly reality. The heavenly Zion is the location where the 144,000 Israelites redeemed from the land of Israel sing a new song before the throne of God, the four living creatures and the angelic elders (Rev 7:4-8; 14:1-4).
and: Grk. kai, conj.  the city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. of the living: Grk. zaō, pres. part. See verse 9 above. God: Grk. theos. See verse 2 above. The description of the God of Israel as the "living God" occurs frequently in Scripture, which stands in contrast to the fact that pagan deities have no existence and therefore no life (Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10; Ps 42:2; 84:2; Acts 14:15). Paul emphasizes that there was one city where God chose to put His name (Deut 12:5, 11; 1Kgs 11:36; 2Kgs 21:4), and in ancient times it was the only city in the world recognized as the center for worship of the living God.
 heavenly: Grk. epouranios, adj., may refer to (1) existing in the third heaven where God dwells; or (2) of heavenly origin and nature. The first meaning is intended here. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm, which transliterates Heb. Yerushalaim (SH-3389) in the LXX, first in Joshua 10:1 (DNTT 2:324). This Greek spelling also transliterates Aram. Yerushalem (SH-3390) in the Aramaic portions of Ezra and Daniel.
Jerusalem was the center of Jewish worship (Deut 16:16; Ps 122:1-4; John 4:20; Acts 8:27; 24:11), but it figured prominently in Messianic expectation (Isa 59:20; 62:11; Zech 9:9). Jerusalem is the "city of the great king" (Ps 48:2; Matt 5:35) and "the city of ADONAI-Tzva'ot" (Ps 48:8). It was the city to which the Messiah would come to provide redemption (Isa 9:6-7; 41:27; 59:20; Mic 5:2; Zech 2:10; 9:9; 12:10). It was also the city from which the message of God's salvation would go forth (Isa 2:3; 40:9; 41:27; Mic 4:2). In the millennial kingdom Jerusalem will be the capital and center of the Messiah's government (Zech 14:16; Rev 20:9).
For the faithful Jew the city of Jerusalem represented all that was dear in the covenant relationship with God. One psalmist expressed his affection thus, "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill, may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy" (Ps 137:5-6). Nevertheless, their love of Jerusalem anticipated a better world to come. The apostles, as Abraham, looked forward to a permanent Jerusalem, "the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb 11:10).
The expression "heavenly Jerusalem" serves to explain the references "Mount Zion" and "city of the living God." The idea of a heavenly city prepared for God's people (Heb. 11:16) is based on the premise that wherever God is, there must be a city. God revealed to Isaiah a future Zion:
"O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. 12 Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones" (Isa 54:11-12).
The prophecy of Isaiah is repeated in the Apocrypha:
"16 For Jerusalem will be built with sapphires and emeralds, her walls with precious stones, and her towers and battlements with pure gold. 17 The streets of Jerusalem will be paved with beryl and ruby and stones of Ophir; 18 all her lanes will cry 'Hallelujah!' and will give praise, saying, 'Blessed is God, who has exalted you for ever.'" (Tobit 13:16-18 RSV)
In Jewish thought there is a heavenly counterpart to the earthly Jerusalem. The Targum on Psalm 122:3 says, "Jerusalem that is built in the firmament is like the city that is joined with it as one on earth." Paul affirmed this belief by saying, "But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother" (Gal 4:26). The revelation to John of the heavenly New Jerusalem (Rev 3:12; 21:2, 10) only confirmed what Jews already believed.
and: Grk. kai.  to myriads: pl. of Grk. murias (for Heb. rebabah), a number which in ordinary usage equaled 10,000. Idiomatically the plural form of the term can refer to a very great number, tens of thousands. of angels: pl. of Grk. angelos, one sent, a messenger, whether human or heavenly (BAG). The term is used here to mean a heavenly or celestial being. According to the Bible the angels are superhuman and immortal spirit beings that dwell in Heaven (Gen 28:12; Ps 148:1-2; Matt 18:10; Heb 1:7; 2Pet 2:11). They are endowed with wisdom and knowledge, holy in character, and obedient to their Creator.
They serve their Creator in a variety of ways and generally provide a beneficial ministry to humans (Heb 1:13-14). Angels are not glorified humans that earn status in heaven by doing good works on earth. All individual angels mentioned in Scripture have masculine names or descriptions, contrary to popular art and media, which sometimes depicts them as female. For a review of the varieties and classes of angels see my article The Host of Heaven.
The number of angels in existence is enormous. The first mention of "myriads" of angels is the report of Moses that God "came with myriads of holy ones" to give the Torah on Mount Sinai (Deut 33:2). Next Daniel saw a vision of "myriads" of angels attending the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:10). Then a multitude of the heavenly host praised God at the announcement of the nativity of the Messiah to shepherds (Luke 2:13-14). Later Yeshua told his disciples that the Father had made 12 legions (72,000) of angels available to him (Matt 26:53). John reported seeing "myriads of myriads" of angels in heaven (Rev 5:11) The numerical count probably means 10,000 times 10,000 or one hundred million angels glorifying God.
 a festal gathering: Grk. panēguris (from pas, "all" and agora, "the public square, meeting place"), properly, an assembly-place where people met for a common purpose, especially to celebrate (commemorate) or be festive (HELPS). See the Textual Note below. In Greek literature the term referred to an assembly of people, especially on a religious occasion (LSJ). Bible versions are about evenly divided over the placement of the noun and its application, either at the end of this verse descriptive of the angels or at the beginning of verse 23 in reference to the people of God.
Most commentators favor the "festal gathering" as referring to the angels. The celebratory praise of angels is mentioned in Scripture (Job 38:7; Ps 103:20-21; 148:1-2; Luke 2:13-14; 15:10). The Dead Sea Scrolls also contain passages in which angels are depicted singing praise of God (Vermes 1QM 12:1-4; 4Q400-407). John recorded that he heard the voice of many myriads of angels declaring, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing" (Rev 5:11).
It is possible that the noun could have a dual application to both angels and the saints. The description could anticipate the revelation given to John of the people of God gathered before the throne in heaven waving palm branches and singing praise to God (Rev 7:9-10; 14:1-3; 15:2-4).
Greek texts are divided over the placement of the noun panēguris. In the Greek texts of Westcott-Hort (1881), the Textus Receptus (1896), and Nestle (1904, 1993), the noun begins verse 23. In the UBS-5 and Nestle-28 (2012) the noun appears at the end of verse 22.
23 and to the congregation of the Firstborn, having been enrolled in heaven, and to God, Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous having been perfected,
Reference: Genesis 18:25
and: Grk. kai, conj. The second benefit category is a congregation.  to the congregation: Grk. ekklēsia, a gathering of people meeting for matters of common interest; assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. In Greek culture ekklēsia had a secular meaning, but in the Besekh the noun primarily occurs for a religious gathering, particularly of Yeshua's followers. In the LXX ekklēsia translates Heb. qahal (SH-6951), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874). In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; Ps 35:18) (DNTT 1:292).
Most versions translate the noun as "assembly," but some have "congregation" (EXB, JUB, NET, NMB, RGT) or "church" (ASV, DRA, KJV, TLB, NASB, NIV, NKJV). The English word "church" is really an ecclesiastical term of Christianity. (See my background note on this subject here.) In the apostolic era the term ekklēsia denoted either the aggregate of Yeshua followers in a specific city or more generally of the entire Body of Messiah in the world, whose constituency at this time was mostly Jewish.
of the Firstborn: Grk. prōtotokos (from prōtos, "first" and tiktō, "bring forth"), adj., first in time, being the first child in order of birth or enjoying the status of a first child; firstborn, preeminent. In the LXX prōtotokos translates Heb. bekorah (SH-1062), right of the firstborn, birthright (Gen 4:4; 25:31), and then Heb. bekor (SH-1060), firstborn of a womb (Gen 10:15). However, prōtotokos does occur in the LXX without reference to physical descent or birth to denote special legal rights and honors. First, God refers to the nation of Israel as His firstborn son (Ex 4:22). The Jewish Midrash connects this Exodus passage with the Messiah:
"The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, 'In the same way that I made Jacob a firstborn - as it is said (Ex 4:22) Israel is My son, My firstborn -- so I will make Messiah the King firstborn' -- as it is said (Ps 89:28) I will also give him to be firstborn" (Mid. Exodus 19:7, quoted in Gruber 322).
Second, "firstborn" is used of King David (a younger son), and by extension the Davidic king, who would be exalted over the kings of the earth (Ps 89:27). Third, "firstborn" is used in an allusion to the one who was pierced (the Messiah) and Israel will mourn over him as they would a firstborn son (Zech 12:10). In the Besekh Luke used "firstborn" of Yeshua in relation to the other children of Miriam (Luke 2:7). Then Paul called Yeshua "firstborn," first in relation to other men due to his resurrection (Rom 8:29; Col 1:18); and then in relation to creation (Col 1:15).
Stern suggests that since God originally assigned to Israel the status of firstborn (Ex 4:22), the descriptor here could function as an allusion to the Commonwealth of Israel formed from the believing remnant of Israel and grafted-in Gentiles (cf. Rom 11:25–26, Gal 6:16, Eph 2:11–16). However, most likely is that the term is used here as a title of Yeshua, as it is used at the beginning of this letter: "And again, when He should bring the Firstborn into the world, He says, 'And all angels of God must worship him'" (Heb 1:6).
 having been enrolled: Grk. apographō, pl. perf. pass. part., to write down in a list, to register or to record. in: Grk. en, prep. heaven: Grk. ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens"), which even in its plural form may refer to a single location (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4).
In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the planetary atmosphere in which birds fly and elements of weather are produced (Gen 1:20; Matt 6:26; 16:2; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space with its host of planetary bodies and stars (Gen 1:1, 14-15; Matt 24:29; Acts 7:42). The third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2). Here ouranos refers to the third heaven.
Yeshua had once told His disciples "rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven" (Luke 10:20). The heavenly register parallels the practice common in ancient cities that kept a list of citizens according to their class or tribe and in which new citizens were entered and from which degraded citizens were removed. Paul alluded to the heavenly enrollment when he wrote "our citizenship is in heaven" (Php 3:20) and mentioned the "book of life" (Php 4:3). The Book of Life is especially noted in Revelation (3:5; 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 15, 21:27).
and: Grk. kai.  to God: Grk. theos. See verse 2 above. Judge: Grk. kritēs, judge or magistrate, generally in reference to an official office of one presiding over a court. of all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. While God has entrusted judgment to Yeshua the Messiah (John 5:22, 27-30; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom 2:16; 2Cor 5:10), God the Father is the Supreme Judge of all the earth (Ps 7:11; 50:6; 58:11; 75:7; 94:1-2; Eccl 3:17; 2Chr 20:12; Rom 3:6; Heb 13:4; Jas 5:9).
and: Grk. kai.  to the spirits: pl. of Grk. pneuma. See verse 9 above. The noun is used here of the departed spirits, as separated from the body (cf. Luke 24:39; Acts 7:59; 2Cor 5:1-2; 1Pet 3:19). of the righteous: pl. of Grk. dikaios, adj., being in accord with God's covenantal standards expressed in Torah for acceptable behavior, upright or just. In the LXX dikaios translates Heb. tsaddiq (SH-6682), 'just or righteous' (BDB 843). In Scripture a just man is one who is innocent of wrongdoing, one who lives by the commandments of God.
having been perfected: Grk. teleioō, perf. pass. part., bring to a point at which nothing is missing, complete or perfect. The focus of the verb here is bringing to the ultimate point of spiritual maturation. The "righteous having been perfected" includes the faithful Hebrew and Israelite people of the past and the Messianic martyrs that entered glory upon death (cf. Matt 5:12; Luke 23:43; Heb 12:1; Rev 2:7; 6:9; 7:14-17; 15:2-3; 22:10). Paul's readers can expect the same benefit either at death or when Yeshua returns (cf. Heb 11:39-40).
Bible versions are divided over the placement of the noun panēguris, which reflects the verse division of the Greek texts. In the Greek texts of Westcott-Hort (1881), the Textus Receptus (1896), and Nestle (1904, 1993), the noun begins verse 23. In the UBS-5 and Nestle-28 (2012) the noun appears at the end of verse 22. Thus, a number of versions translate the noun at the end of verse 22 (AMPC, CJB, CSB, DLNT, ESV, LEB, NABRE, NRSV, RSV, TLV). However, the translation of these versions ignores the punctuation in the Greek text and makes the noun descriptive of the angels, when in fact it refers to the congregation of the Firstborn.
24 and to the mediator of a new covenant, to Yeshua, and to the sprinkling of blood, speaking better than that of Abel.
Reference: Genesis 4:10; Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:8; 9:15.
and: Grk. kai, conj. The third benefit category is a covenant.  to the mediator: Grk. mesitēs (from mesos, middle), one who intervenes between two, and may be one who (1) guarantees the performance of all the terms stipulated in a covenant or (2) intervenes to restore peace between two parties, especially as it fulfills a compact or ratifies a covenant (HELPS). In the Tanakh, patriarchs, priests and prophets served as mediators between conflicting parties and between God and His people.
A related idea is that of the peacemaker (cf. Matt 5:9), such as Abraham who settled a conflict between his shepherds and his nephew Lot's shepherds by giving Lot his choice of land (Gen 13), and the priest Phinehas who resolved an alleged sin by the eastern tribes, which really amounted to misunderstandings about their intentions in erecting a memorial (Josh 22:10-34). The best representative of a mediator in the Tanakh is Moses who mediated the covenant at Sinai (Ex 24:4-8) and interceded with ADONAI at various times when Israelites displeased God and sinned (e.g., Ex 32:30; Num 12:3; 16:8).
Moses prophesied that God would send a prophet like him (Deut 18:15, 18-19). In the book of Isaiah the concept of mediator is seen as the awaited servant of ADONAI. He is the bearer of God's revelation (Isa 42:1-4) and the bearer of salvation to the nations (Isa 49:1-6). He takes the guilt of men upon himself and blots it out by his suffering (Isa 52:13−53:12). The term mesitēs occurs six times in the Besekh, and outside of Hebrews only in Paul's letters (Gal 3:19-20; 1Tim 2:5).
of a new: Grk. neos, adj., in existence for a relatively short time, new. The choice of neos is an exception to the normal use of kainos in this context (LXX Jer 31:31; Luke 22:20; 1Cor 11:25; 2Cor 3:6; Heb 9:15). covenant: Grk. diathēkē, a formal agreement having complete terms determined by the initiating party, which also are fully affirmed by the one entering the agreement (HELPS). In the LXX diathēkē occurs 270 times and almost always translates Heb. b'rit (SH-1285), pact, compact, or covenant (BDB 136), used first of God's covenant with Noah (Gen 6:18). See my article The Everlasting Covenants.
The promise of a new covenant was prophesied by Jeremiah (31:31-34), which Paul quotes in Hebrews 8:8-12. The New Covenant, made with Israel, did not replace the Sinai Covenant, but offered five transformative promises. The covenant people will be empowered to keep God's commandments; they will acknowledge the Creator God as their only God; they will be preserved as God's chosen people; they will experience a personal intimate relationship with God; and they will experience full atonement for sins not previously forgiven. Of course, God's plan of salvation included the nations (Isa 42:6; 49:6; 51:4; 60:3; Amos 9:11-12; Mic 4:2-3; cf. Acts 13:46-48; 15:14-18).
 to Yeshua: See verse 2 above. Paul had declared in Chapter Nine that Yeshua is the mediator of the New Covenant (9:15). In other words, Yeshua inaugurated the New Covenant at his last supper (Luke 22:20; 1Cor 11:25), so that all the promises and expectations of the New Covenant would be fulfilled in him (cf. 2Cor 1:20). Yeshua's role as mediator is emphasized in this verse by the fact that in the Greek text his name appears between two of his great acts. As mediator Yeshua acts as the believer's representative before God and God's representative before the believer. Through Yeshua we can have shalom with God (Acts 10:36; Rom 5:1, 11).
and: Grk. kai.  to the sprinkling: Grk. rhantismos, sprinkling, thus serving to purify. of blood: Grk. haima. See verse 4 above. The phrase "sprinkling of blood" alludes to the Torah narrative in which the act of sprinkling blood sealed the ratification of the covenant with Israel (Ex 24:3, 6-8). However, Isaiah prophesied that the Servant of ADONAI would "sprinkle [with blood] many nations" (Isa 52:15). Paul uses the expression to denote Yeshua's death functioning as an atoning sacrifice (cf. Rom 8:3; 1Cor 5:7; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 9:26). The "sprinkling of blood" is a priestly ritual (Lev 1:11), but as accomplished by our great High Priest the blood cleanses the conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14).
speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. In the LXX laleō translates Heb. dabar (SH-1696), to speak, often used of verbal communication from God, first in Genesis 12:4. The present tense is a historical present employed to convey vividness of a past event. Eisenbaum suggests the subject of the verb is God, not the Messiah, and reminds the readers of the beginning of the letter, which uses the same verb to affirm, "God, having spoken long ago … at these last days has spoken to us by a Son" (Heb 1:1-2).
better: Grk. kreittōn, adj., having a degree of advantage, used here to denote status or rank; better, more excellent, superior. The adjective appears 12 times in this letter, and is used to assert the superior quality of the blessings provided by God. than: Grk. para, prep. with the root meaning of "beside" (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote (1) a point of origin, from; or (2) a close association or proximity, with, beside, in the presence of. Lane notes that with the accusative case of the noun following the preposition has the notion of "beyond" or "than" (283), which amplifies the adjective "better."
that of: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. Many versions translate the definite article as "the blood" in the sense of bloodshed (AMP, CEB, CSB, ESV, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TLV), even though the word "blood" is not in the Greek text. This improper translation sets up a comparison Paul did not intend. Abel: Grk. Habel, which transliterates Heb. Hebel (Gen 4:2, "breath, vapor"), the proper name of the son of Adam (Heb. Adam) and Eve (Heb. Chavvah).
Most commentators treat the comparison here as "the tale of two murders," and apply the verb "speaking" to God's statement to Cain, "The voice of the blood of your brother cries out to me from the ground" (Gen 4:10). While the earliest apostolic sermons confronted the culpability of Jewish rulers in the unlawful execution of Yeshua (Acts 2:23, 36; 3:14-15; 4:10; 7:51-52), Paul consistently employs the paradigm of Yeshua's crucifixion as the Messiah dying for a redemptive purpose (Rom 5:6, 8; 8:34; 14:9, 15; 1Cor 8:11; 15:3; 1Th 4:14; 5:10).
Moreover, it is the "sprinkling of blood" that speaks, not the "shedding of blood." The point of the comparison here, as Fruchtenbaum notes, is not the murder of Abel and the unlawful execution of Yeshua, but the fact that Abel presented "a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain" (Heb 11:4). Adam Clarke also asserts:
"Many have supposed that the blood of Abel means here the blood that was shed by Cain in the murder of this holy man, and that the blood of Jesus speaks better things than it does, because the blood of Abel called for vengeance, but the blood of Christ for pardon; this interpretation reflects little credit on the understanding of the apostle."
Clarke and Fruchtenbaum contend that the sacrifice offered by Abel is in view here. Abel was the first human to offer a blood sacrifice (Gen 4:4), a testament of the need of such a sacrifice to gain the saving favor of God (cf. Gen 3:21). In this regard Abel's sacrifice served as a type of the sacrifice offered by Yeshua. Abel's sacrifice only benefited him, but Yeshua's sacrifice provides atonement for the whole world.
The Unshaken Kingdom, 12:25-29
25 Take care lest you refuse the One speaking. For if those did not escape having refused the One warning on earth, how much more we having turned away from the One from heaven,
In view of the blessed benefits accorded to followers of Yeshua, Paul now issues a stern, if not ominous, warning. Take care: Grk. blepō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., properly, to see, be observant (watchful). The command warns to beware of, to take care to take heed. lest: Grk. mē. See verse 15 above. you refuse: Grk. paraiteomai, aor. mid. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 19 above. Here the verb means to decline receiving, refuse, reject. the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun and circumlocution for God. speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part. See the previous verse. The verb refers back to "the speaking through the sprinkled blood."
For: Grk. gar, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 8 above. those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun; that, that one there, this. The pronoun alludes to the Israelites who received the Sinai covenant and then rebelled in the wilderness. did not: Grk. ou, adv. escape: Grk. ekpheugō, aor., 3p-pl., to seek safety in flight, to flee out of, flee away, escape. having refused: Grk. paraiteomai, pl. aor. mid. part. the One: Grk. ho. warning: Grk. chrēmatizō, pres. part., to admonish on the basis of a valid standard (HELPS), and used of God admonishing or warning people.
on: Grk. epi, prep. earth: Grk. gē can mean (1) soil (as in receiving seed), (2) the ground, (3) land as contrasted with the sea, (4) land enclosed within fixed boundaries, and (5) the earth in contrast to heaven. The fifth meaning is intended here. The LXX uses gē to translate Heb. erets (SH-776), with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). Here the noun also has the sense of the Land of Israel. Paul offers the reality check of Israelite history. God had warned Israel what He would do if they rejected His demands for exclusive loyalty and high moral standards (Ex 20:5; Lev 20:1-27; Num 14:22-23).
how much: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 9 above. more: Grk. mallon, adv. See verse 9 above. Some versions inexplicably translate the adverb with "less," which is not its meaning. Paul again employs the Jewish hermeneutical argument known as kal v’chomer ("light and heavy"). See verse 9 above. Paul uses kal v'chomer arguments many times in his letters (Rom 5:9, 10, 15, 17; 11:12, 24; 1Cor 9:12; 12:22; 2Cor 3:9, 11; Php 2:12; Phm 1:16; Heb 2:2-3; 9:14; 10:29; 12:9).
we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. having turned away from: Grk. apostrephō, pl. pres. pass. part., to turn away, turn back, reject. The verb depicts departure from a previous point. the One: Grk. ho. from: Grk. apo, prep. heaven: pl. of Grk. ouranos. See verse 23 above. The "One from heaven" is Yeshua the Messiah. Paul argues that God's attitude and response toward those who rebelled against His original covenant will be no different for those who turn away from the New Covenant and their Messiah.
Indeed the consequences would be greater given the greater privileges accorded to followers of Yeshua. Paul has warned previously of the danger of eternal consequences for falling away from their Messiah (Heb 3:12-19; 6:4-8; 10:26-27). Paul will later pass on this warning in his second letter to Timothy:
"It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." (2Tim 2:11-13)
26 whose voice at that time shook the earth, but now he has promised, saying, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven."
Reference: Exodus 19:18; Psalms 68:8; Haggai 2:6.
The force of Paul's argument continues in this verse. whose: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. voice: Grk. ho phōnē. See verse 19 above. at that time: Grk. tote, adv., at that time, then. shook: Grk. saleuō, aor., cause to waver or totter, agitate, shake. the earth: Grk. ho gē. See the previous verse. Paul reminds his readers of the omnipotence of God manifested at Sinai in an earthquake (Ex 19:18; Ps 68:8), in addition to the meteorological effects listed in verse 18 above. The shaking of the mountain dramatized the giving of the Ten Commandments to impress on the Israelites that His expectations were not negotiable and disobedience would receive severe judgment.
The very first earthquake recorded in human experience initiated God's judgment of the great deluge in Noah's time (Gen 7:11). Charles Wesley, in recounting several catastrophic earthquakes in the 17th and 18th centuries, asserted that earthquakes are truly acts of God, and, whatever the natural cause may be, they are the result of His anger at sin ("The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes," Sermons on Several Occasions, 1872 ed.)
but: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv., a primary particle of present time ("now"). he has promised: Grk. epaggellomai, perf. pass., to promise something in the sense of a commitment. The verb occurs often in the context of covenantal promises. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 21 above. Paul then offers an interpretive translation of Haggai 2:6 (LXX/MT), which reads "Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land." The words are spoken by ADONAI-Tzva'ot.
Yet: Grk. eti, adv. of degree and increase, here offering a comparison; besides, even, yet. once more: Grk. hapax, adv., once, once for all. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. will shake: Grk. seiō, fut., cause to tremble; agitate, shake. not: Grk. ou, adv. only: Grk. monon, adv. marking a narrow limitation; merely, just, only. The words "not only" are not in the quoted passage, but Paul inserts them to make a special point. the earth: Gr. ho gē. Paul changes the word order of the quoted text to emphasize that Yeshua had prophesied earthquakes happening as evidence of the last days (Luke 21:11). In addition, a special earthquake will announce the second coming (Zech 14:4; Rev 6:12).
but: Grk. alla, conj. also: Grk. kai. conj. heaven: Grk. ho ouranos. See verse 23 above. The Hebrew noun (ha-shamayim) in the quoted text is plural, but the LXX translates the noun as singular. Given the quoted text some versions translate the noun as plural "heavens" (AMPC, CSB, ESV, EXB, ICB, TLB, MSG, MW, NCV, NIV, NLT, OJB, TLV). A sign associated with the Day of the Lord (Isa 13:13; Joel 2:10) and the Second Coming of the Messiah is the shaking of the heavens (Matt 24:29; Mark 13:25; Luke 21:26). Yeshua's prophecy is that the "powers (pl. of Grk. dunamis) of the heavens" will be shaken.
The "powers" likely refers to a personification of supra-natural beings (Eph 6:12). The plural form of "heavens" could include all three locations, since Satan has access to Heaven (Job 1:6; cf. Luke 10:18; Rev 12:9), but certainly the atmosphere, since Satan is known as the "prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2) and his evil organization operates in the near heavenly realms (cf. Rom 8:38-39; Col 2:15; 1Pet 3:22). The world lies in the power of evil one (1Jn 5:19), and it will take a mighty divine confrontation to shake his evil empire out of existence. Satan will finally be defeated.
27 Now this phrase, "Yet once more," indicates removal of things being shaken, as of things having been created, so that the things not being shaken may remain.
Now: Grk. de, conj. this phrase: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Paul repeats a phrase from Haggai 2:6. Yet: Grk. eti, adv. once more: Grk. hapax, adv. indicates: Grk. dēloō, pres., to make evident or clear, especially "the inner sense" or character of something with its viable inferences (Thayer); disclose, explain, indicate, make plain, reveal, show. removal: Grk. metathesis (from metatithēmi, "to change or transfer"), change of position or location; removal, transposition.
of things: neut. pl. of Grk. ho. being shaken: Grk. saleuō, pl. pres. pass. part. See the previous verse. as: Grk. hōs, adv. of things having been created: Grk. poieō, pl. perf. pass. part. See verse 13 above. The participle refers to things of the physical universe created by God. In other words everything that God made will be destroyed. Scripture prophesies that God will create or make a new heaven and a new earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; Rev 21:1). Three views were common among Jewish Sages about the end of the earth. Some believed that the existing earth would be renovated and made new so that it would return to its original state at the seventh day of creation, but free from sin and evil.
Others taught the earth would be returned to its original state on the first day of creation and then recreated with a new cleansed existence, and still other rabbis taught that the earth would be completely destroyed and a brand new heaven and new earth would be created in its place (Rienecker 513). Scripture teaches that God does not rehabilitate that which is cursed, but creates entirely new out of nothing just as He did at the beginning (cf. Rom 8:20-22; 2Cor 5:17; Heb 11:3). In addition, the Hebrew and Greek words for "new" indicate a heaven and earth that have not existed before.
so that: Grk. hina, conj. the things: neut. pl. of Grk. ho. not: Grk. mē, adv. being shaken: Grk. saleuō, pl. pres. pass. part. may remain: Grk. menō, aor. subj., to be in a situation for a length of time; remain. Here the verb is used to denote that which lasts for an eternity.
28 Therefore receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us hold to grace, through which we may serve God pleasingly, with reverence and awe.
Therefore: Grk. dio, conj. See verse 12 above. receiving: Grk. paralambanō, pl. pres. part., to receive to one's side; take, receive. an unshakable: Grk. asaleutos, adj., incapable of being moved or shaken out of place; immovable., unshaken. kingdom: Grk. basileia may mean kingship, royal power, or territory ruled over by a king. For the use of the term the size of the territory was immaterial, ranging from a city to a country to an empire. In the LXX basileia translates Heb. mamlakh (SH-4467; BDB 575), kingdom, sovereignty, dominion, reign, first in Genesis 10:10; and Heb. malkuth (SH-4438; BDB 574), royalty, royal power, reign, kingdom, first in Numbers 24:7.
let us hold: Grk. echō, pres. subj., 1p-pl. See verse 1 above. With the subjunctive mood the verb is hortatory. A number of versions translate the verb as "let us be," which seems inaccurate. The proper verb to convey "to be" is eimi, whereas echō conveys possession of something. to grace: Grk. charis. See verse 15 above. The noun is accusative case, which signifies the end, direction or extent of the action. Many versions translate the noun as "thankful," "grateful" or "gratitude." BAG justifies this translation as the appropriate response to the participle "receiving."
Gleason Archer explains that while charis is sometimes rendered "thanks," the core-idea is still "favor, grace" or "extension towards" (HELPS). Indeed, the exclusive use of charin in the LXX to mean "favor" or "grace" is an important consideration in the translation of the term here. As David Hill of The University of Sheffield affirms,
"Not only word-meanings in the New Testament, but also the structure and syntax of New Testament language bear the impress of a special Hebraic influence channeled, for the most part, through the Septuagint" (14).
Thus, the exhortation here is a positive reinforcement to the warning given in verse 15 above about falling short of the grace of God. In practical terms Paul is saying, "in view of what we have received and what we have become a part of, let us hold on to the favor of God." If we fail to pursue holiness we will surely lose the "favor-grace" of God. A number of versions recognize that "grace" is the intended meaning (ASV, BRG, CJB, CSB, DRA, JUB, KJV, MJLT, MW, NKJV, NMB, OJB, RGT, WEB, YLT).
Some commentators also recognize that "grace" is the intended meaning here (Barnes, Benson, Clarke, Ellicott, Fruchtenbaum, Gill, Stern). Paul has already noted in this letter that there is for us a "throne of grace" to which we may draw near and find help in time of need (Heb 4:16). An important imperative for our spiritual relationship with God is that we do not forfeit the grace of God through rebellion. through: Grk. dia, prep. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. we may serve: Grk. latreuō, pres. subj., 1p-pl., to minister or serve, whether of God or man, often in the context of engaging in worship.
In the LXX latreuō translates Heb. avad (SH-5647), to work or serve, first in Exodus 3:12 where God informs Moses of the mission to bring the Israelites to Mt. Sinai to "serve Him." The verb latreuō occurs especially in the Torah, Joshua and Judges, mostly where avad has a religious reference (DNTT 3:549f). However, for God the focus of avad-latreuō is not primarily performing religious rites, but serving Him and obeying His voice (cf. Ex 23:25; Deut 10:12f; Josh 24:14-15). For the apostle Paul the relationship of man to God was expressed as service (Acts 27:23; Rom 1:9; 2Tim 1:3). Holding on to the favor-grace of God will enable the disciple to properly serve God (Heb 9:14; 13:15).
God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 2 above. pleasingly: Grk. euarestōs, adv. (from euarestos, adj., "well-pleasing"), in a well-pleasing way, or fully acceptable. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. His concept of pleasing service is captured in his exhortation to the Roman congregation "to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service" (Rom 12:1).
with: Grk. meta, prep. reverence: Grk. eulabeia (from eulabēs, "God-fearing, pious"), reverence, fear of God, piety. The noun denotes "holy caution," inducing circumspect behavior (HELPS). The fear of God is to hate evil and to obey His commandments (cf. Deut 6:2; 8:6; Job 28:28; Prov 8:13). Reverence by Yeshua assured that the Father would answer his prayers (Heb 5:7). How much more is that true for disciples of Yeshua (1Jn 3:22; 5:14)?
and: Grk. kai, conj. awe: Grk. deos (from deidō, "fear, be alarmed"), awe, fear. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun occurs in 2Maccabees (3:17, 30; 12:22; 13:16; 15:23) to denote the response of appropriate fear when confronted with the all-seeing presence of God. Josephus uses the noun to describe the fear Antiochus Epiphanes had of the Romans (Ant. XII, 5:3) and the fear Herod the Great had of plots against him (Ant. XVI, 8:2). Having reverence and awe of the holiness of God provides additional motivation for holding on to the favor-grace of God.
29 for also our God is a consuming fire.
Reference: Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3; Isaiah 29:6; 30:27; 33:14.
The declaration of this verse, a quotation from Deuteronomy 4:24, is a natural conclusion to the exhortation of the previous verse. for: Grk. gar, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 2 above. Our God is the living God. is a consuming: Grk. katanaliskō, pres. part., use up, spend, consume all the way. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. fire: Grk. pur. See verse 18 above. The quoted verse adds "a jealous God."
The imagery alludes to the fact that in biblical history God destroyed the wicked with fire (Gen 19:24), and in the last days God will pour out His wrath on the earth with fire (Ezek 38:22; Rev 9:17-18). God has also prepared a place of burning for eternal punishment (Rev 20:10; 21:8). Paul had previously said, "It is terrifying to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31), which concludes a warning about the danger of persistent sinning and the fact that God will judge His people. Because God is awesome and holy, we must pursue holiness and serve God with due reverence.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews. Rev. ed. The Westminster Press, 1976. Daily Bible Study Series.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
Benson: Joseph Benson (1748-1821), Commentary of the Old and New Testaments. T. Carlton & J. Porter, 1857. Online.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Chrysostom: John Chrysostom (347-407), Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Oxford Edition. ed. Philip Schaff; trans. J. Walker, et. al. (Online)
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Davies: W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology. rev. ed. Harper Torchbooks, 1967.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Eisenbaum: Pamela Eisenbaum, annotations on "The Letter to the Hebrews," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Hebrews," Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. [Translation of the New Testament Majority Text and annotations by the author.]
Guthrie: Donald Guthrie, Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1983. [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 15].
Hegg: Tim Hegg, A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews. Vol. 2. TorahResource, 2016.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Hill: David Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings: Studies in the Semantics of Soteriological Terms. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000.
Hughes: Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1977.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushlami, and the Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Lane: William L. Lane, Word Biblical Commentary: Hebrews 9-13. Word Books, 1991. Online.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
McKee: John Kimball McKee, Hebrews for the Practical Messianic. Messianic Apologetics, 2012.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.
SBD: Sir William Smith (1813-1893), A Dictionary of the Bible. John Murray, 1893. Online. aka "Smith's Bible Dictionary."
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Harper Brothers, 1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.
TGR: Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific & Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings. Baker Book House, 1976.
Vermes: Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. 7th ed. Penguin Books, 2012. Online.
Westcott: B.F. Westcott (1825-1901), The Epistle to the Hebrews. 2nd ed. Macmillan and Co., 1892. Online.
Wright: N.T. Wright, Hebrews for Everyone. (The New Testament for Everyone). Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.
Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
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