Bible Study Christian Character Traits Christian Living Discipleship

Hebrews 12:4-13

Among the instructions and encouragements, the writer now turns to teaching about God’s discipline. God is a teacher. He wishes for His people to mature, have self-control, learn failure, deal with difficulties, learn to ask for wisdom and grace, to help each other in afflictions, and the goals of a godly life.

My translation and notes on Hebrews 12:4-13

God’s Discipline

4 Youp have not yet resisted, striving against sin, to the point of bloodshed.

[This verse must be understood in light of the witnesses in Hebrews 11. They did resist and many died. Striving against sin is not the inward sin we are tempted with but with the sins in the world which seek to destroy us and the world. The devil is a destroyer (John 8:44). Compare Daniel 9:27 and Revelation 11:18. We need to stand for the truth and be ready to preach the Gospel. Compare Zechariah in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21. Regarding truth, see notes at John 17:17-19].

5 Have youp forgotten the encouragement which speaks to youp like children? “My child do not despise the Lord’s training, nor despair when yous are rebuked by him.

[No discipline is enjoyable, yet, God encourages us that discipline is beneficial. The Greek word for ‘despise’ is (G3643) ὀλιγωρέω oligoreo. It means have no respect for, dismiss it, despise it. Compare Proverbs 3:11. The Lord is active every day and hour training us, even rebuking us. The Greek word for ‘rebuked’ is (G1651) ἐλέγχω elénchō. It means to correct, to point out error plainly with explanation. Whomever is the writer of the noncanonical book of Wisdom writes: Wisdom 12:2 Therefore you correct little by little those who trespass, and you remind and warn them of the things through which they sin, so that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in you, O Lord. ‘Rebuked’ is not with anger, loud voice, and threatening. It is pointing out error, and how to correct it. The Lord trains/disciples us to have the fruit of the Spirit increased and consistent in our lives (Galatians 5:22-24). He knows that our life and all life in the world would be much safer and pleasant with God’s ways rather than the selfish pleasures of sin. God also teaches wisdom as can be applied from His word in the book of Proverbs. Schaff commenting on this verse adds: Nor faint when corrected by him. The rendering of the Greek is here adopted; the Hebrew means, to resent or to murmur against. Despondency and resentment imply the same unbelief of the loving purpose of the discipline, and they express themselves in the same outward form of complaint].

6 “For whom the Lord loves, he trains and punishes.” [Proverbs 3:11-12]

[Throughout Scriptures we see the people of God endure many of life’s experiences. From difficulties in childbearing (Genesis 35:18 and Luke 1:7) to sickness (2 Kings 20) and persecution (Job), God trained His people. Suffering breeds endurance (Romans 5:3-4). We see rebuke as when the Lord Jesus corrects Peter (Matthew 16:23) and calling him ‘satan.’ God trains us today similarly. These actions are for our benefit (Hebrews 12:10). This training leads to self-control, accountability, making better choices, learning to live with failures, learning from our failures, etc. Parents are not to hover over the child preventing all dangers and insuring all happiness. God does not either. He wants mature children].

7 If youp calmly endure discipline, God treats youp as children, because what child is [there] whom the father doesn’t discipline?

[This is not beating us and making us suffer under heavy burdens. Jesus’s yoke is easy and light (Matthew 11:30). This means it is not the heavy burden of Mosaic Law but living the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). Easy is in the sense of not meticulous and detailed as Mosaic Law. He wants us to be mature to handle responsibility and develop character. Compare Romans 5:3-5 and 2 Peter 1:3-9. The Bible gives us examples of those who accepted God’s discipline and those who rebelled against it. Those who rebelled against God’s discipline includes Cain (Genesis 4:3-8) and Joash (2 Chronicles 24). Those who accepted God’s discipline includes Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:1-9 and repentance in 2 Chronicles 33:10-16) and Jonah (The book of Jonah)].

8 But if youp are without any training, of which all are partakers, then youp are illegitimate, not children.

[Too often Christians are taught that once a person accepts Jesus, then life will be good. Everything will be your best life now. The Christian life is much different as we read in the Scriptures. Compare the Lord Jesus in Hebrews 5:7].

9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who trained [us], and we gave [them] great respect. Will we not much more be under the authorityN1 to the Father of our spirits and live?

10 Truly, they disciplined us for only a few days according to what seemed best to them, but he for our benefit, so that we may be partakers of his holiness.

[God trains us. We benefit. We can be partakers of His holiness. See James 1:2-3, 2 Corinthians 6:17-18. The Greek word for ‘holiness’ is (G41 ἁγιότης hagiotes. It means holiness. Holiness as it relates to God refers to His character traits, worldview, lifestyle, attitude, laws, thoughts, desires, words, and deeds. Compare 1 Samuel 6:20, Habakkuk 1:13, and Revelation 15:4. God is separated from all that is evil which is everything that is the opposite of God’s ways. All of God’s decisions and actions are done in wisdom, love, and holiness. J. C. Ryle writes in a note on Luke 1:5-12: If afflictions drive us nearer to Christ, the Bible, and prayer, they are positive blessings. We may not think so now. But we shall think so when we wake up in another world].

11 Now no training at the time seems joyous but joyless, nevertheless, after it is all over, it produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

[God’s style of chastening leads to the ‘peaceful fruit of righteousness.’ Human chastening too often is lacking or if administered is done with wrong attitudes and actions, which lead to emotional hurt, then bitterness, then anger, etc. (Ephesians 6:4). Training of any sort—physical, emotional, or spiritual—leads to some discomfort, but this is how God strengthens us. See 1 Timothy 4:8 (godliness) and 2 Timothy 3:16 (training in righteousness). Compare Proverbs 15:32 NLT If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding].

12 For this reason, lift the hands which hang down and those feeble knees,

[Be encouraged. The writer quotes from Isaiah 35:3]

13 And make straight paths for yourp feet, lest what is lame become dislocated, instead let it be healed.

[Pray ‘Your will be done, O Lord.’ Let God do His work ministering to you. If we resist, it will only make us worse. We need to be healed from the effects of sin that is a part of us. The idea of straight paths is to make a smooth road. A rocky and hole filled road is hard on the legs and feet. Sin is a difficult addiction and leads to many hardships and sorrows. Barnes (NOTES ON THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS) on Acts 13:10 writes: The straight paths or doctrines of the Christian religion, in opposition to the crooked and perverse arts of deceivers and impostors. Straight paths denote “integrity, sincerity, truth,” Jeremiah 31:9; Hebrews 12:13; compare Isaiah 40:3-4; 42:16; Luke 3:5. Crooked ways denote “the ways of the sinner, the deceiver, the impostor,” Deuteronomy 32:5; Psalm 125:1-5; Proverbs 2:15; Isaiah 59:8; Philippians 2:15].

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