Hebrews With A Hebrew – Part 26

Written by Neil Silverberg

June 17, 2024

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:3-11

In this section of the letter, the writer deals primarily with the importance of endurance. He introduced it in the first two verses using the metaphor of a race (“run with endurance the race that is set before us”). Now, he deals with it as the most essential element in becoming a mature son. This section starts with the exhortation to consider what Jesus endured on their behalf. They are called upon to consider how He endured such hostility against himself so they won’t grow weary or fainthearted. Their own sufferings seemed minimal compared to Him who resisted to the point of shedding blood; a clear reference to the fact that Jesus actually shed his blood when praying in Gethsemane.

He then quotes some key verses from the book of Proverbs, describing our being sons of God (Proverbs 3:11-12). What is it all sons have in common? It is that all true sons share in discipline from their fathers. The writer reminds the readers that being under discipline is the earmark of being a true son. Without such discipline, we are “illegitimate children and not sons” (12:8). He then connects this with the Father’s work of disciplining those who are sons through the new birth. In Proverbs, he refers to it as the “discipline of the Lord” (12:5). And it is the earmark of God’s love that he allows us to be disciplined.

This is so important to properly understand. So often, we think of God’s discipline as evidence of his disapproval rather than a token of his love. But it is perhaps the clearest evidence of his love for us that he chastises us. What is our role in this? It is that we must endure (12;7). Again, the author uses the Greek word “hupomene” to describe our need to endure. When we experience it, God is treating us as true sons. If we are not disciplined then we are illegitimate children and not sons (12:8).

The writer goes on to remind us that we all have experienced the discipline of our earthly fathers in this life, and we have shown our respect for them by submitting to it. (12:9). Shall we not much more subject ourselves to our heavenly father’s discipline whereby we will live? After all, our earthly fathers disciplined us for their own purpose and for a relatively short time, but He does so that we might be partakers of his holiness. This is ultimately for our good. It is impossible, therefore, to partake of his holiness without receiving the discipline of the Lord.

The final statement in this section reflects something everyone knows who has received the discipline of the Lord. It is that discipline hurts whenever we receive it. The writer points that out when he says, “for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (12:11). More than once, after going through difficult times, I have said that looking back, I would not trade this time but would willingly go through it again. It is the blessed later that “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” What one gains after going through times of discipline is well worth the pain such discipline brings. Those times are used by God to train us to receive the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

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