Run with Perseverance

At the end of 2017 stay focused on the goal ahead and never loose faith in what God will do in and through you this next year. Be Blessed!

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Introduction Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews 12:1-2 is a passage that is used often in churches. It is a picture of a runner in a race and how the Christian life is like that runner. The writer explains why it is important to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as He followed the plan God had for Him. There is much the church can learn from this passage.

Historical Context

The historical context of Hebrews somewhat a mystery. The author is unknown, with very little speculation on the matter; unlike every other book of the New Testament.[1] Hebrews also does not fit the profile of a Pauline, Petrine or Johnannine letter.[2] Throughout the history of the church there have been some speculation on who the author was, but no one has come to any convincing argument. The earliest text of Hebrews that was found is from about 200 AD.[3] The recipients of Hebrews  seems to be to Jewish believers.[4] The reason for this is the great amount of Old Testament references and theological understanding of those symbols and customs. To that point it is believed to have been focused on believers in or near Jerusalem.[5] Some also believe the intended audience was in Rome or Antioch. This is because in Hebrews 13 it seems to reference Timothy. But this is uncertain.

Literary Context

Hebrews is considered a letter, but the genre is not the same as other letters in the New Testament. It has characteristics that of an epistle, but also that of a sermonic writing.[6] Most letters have a similar end throughout the New Testament, but Hebrews does not have this characteristic.[7] Because of this it is looked at often as an essay or an exhortation to the church.[8] Another view is that Hebrews is a homily similar to that found in other Jewish writings.[9]  These characteristics make many people Hebrews is a sermon that was recorded.[10]

Content

12:1a. The writer, begins chapter 12 with motivation for the readers to do what is right.[11] The previous chapter is a discussion about many of the great people of faith. The cloud of witnesses is understood to mean those heroes who were confirmed in the faith.[12] These are people who are watching and encouraging the believer, because they have already fought their fight of faith and now it is the readers turn. This also begins the idea of life being a sporting event. The idea here that of an audience in a stadium watching the athletes.[13] He continues with an explanation of what those witnesses are watching; the race of life each person is running. “Throw off (putting off) everything that hinders,” the witnesses are encouraging the believer to put off things that is weighing them down from following the path God has for the person’s life.[14] He continues with “and the sing that so easily entangles”. The writer is making it clear that there are things besides sin that hinder the progress of the believer.[15]

12:1b. The second half of the verse the writer writes, “And let us run.” This is a movement from present tense to past tense. This gives the idea that believers have been running and will continue to run through life.[16] The race he is assumed to be a marathon race; it takes perseverance because it is long.[17] Races at this time, were not straight, but the race would have been marked out for the runners and it was the runners.[18]

12:2a. The writer continues with the race metaphor with, “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Here it is the idea of someone the runner would look at helping them stay focused on running the race.[19] Jesus here is seen as a leader the believers can look to for focus while running. This is because Jesus is, “the pioneer and perfected of faith.” Meaning he is the forerunner who has already been made perfect through running and completing His race.[20] The word translated to “perfected” can be translated to originator or author.[21] Jesus is not only the one believers look to, but also He is the author or originator of the faith.

12:2b. The writer goes on to say that Jesus did it “for the joy set before Him He endured the cross.” This is because He knew the right hand of God seat awaited him after He suffered on the cross.[22] This also seems to refer to Hebrews 5:7-9 saying that Jesus submitted to the cross.[23] The shame Jesus endured on the cross is the expression of ultimate faith; showing that He is willing to do anything in order to follow the plan of God.[24] This verse concludes with Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father. This gives the reader the knowledge that Jesus has already crossed over and has made a way for the believer to finish the race successfully.

Application

This passage gives the believer a proper perspective on life. Connecting life to a race can help a believer to understand that life will not be easy. It will have turns and difficult parts, but there is a goal at the end. With the backdrop of chapter 11 the writer helps the reader understand that the Christian life is not a solitary race. There are many people who have heard God’s call and ran their race in faith and are now watching encouraging the believer. One of the people who has gone before each believer is Jesus. He followed God’s plan to the cross and through His act of submission and faith; Jesus made it possible for every believer to had a place in heaven.

This passage teaches that each believer must strive to focus on Christ and His finished work even when the path marked out becomes hard. In those times of difficulty, because of sin or other distractions, believers are encouraged to look to those who have gone before and be encouraged by their great faith.

[1] David L. Allen, The New American Commentary: Hebrews (Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Publ. Group, 2010) 23.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid (27).

[4] Ibid (45).

[5] Ibid (46).

[6] Ibid.

[7] James W Thompson, Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008) 10.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid (13).

[10] David L. Allen, The New American Commentary: Hebrews (Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Publ. Group, 2010) 24.

[11] James W Thompson, Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008) 247.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] ibid.

[15] David L. Allen, The New American Commentary: Hebrews (Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Publ. Group, 2010) 468.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] James W Thompson, Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008) 248.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] David L. Allen, The New American Commentary: Hebrews (Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Publ. Group, 2010) 470.

[24] James W Thompson, Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008) 249.

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Phone: 724.588.1276

E-mail: nbccgreenville@gmail.com

New Beginnings Christian.Church

73 Hamburg Rd.

Greenville, PA 16125

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