Hebrews 12:2 MEANING

Hebrews 12:2
(2) Looking unto Jesus.--As in Hebrews 2:9, the description precedes the mention of the name, "Looking unto the Author and Perfecter of (our) faith, Jesus." The first word is very similar to that of Hebrews 11:26; the runner looks away from all other objects and fixes his gaze on One. Jesus is not directly spoken of as the Judge (2 Timothy 4:8); but, as the next words show, He has Himself reached the goal, and His presence marks the point at which the race will close. As the last verse spoke of our "patient endurance," this speaks of our faith, and of this Jesus is the Author and the Perfecter. The former word has occurred before, in Hebrews 2:10; and here, as there, origination is the principal thought. There the idea of leading the way was also present; but here "Author" stands in contrast with "Perfecter," and the example of our Lord is the subject of the clause which follows. Because it is He who begins and brings to perfection our faith, we must run the race with our eye fixed upon Him: in Him is the beginning, in Him the completion of the promises (2 Corinthians 1:20); and in the steady and trustful dependence upon Him which this figure describes consists our faith.

Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.--The literal meaning is very forcible, endured a cross, despising shame; the shame of such a death being set over against the joy that lay before Him. Here again we have the thought of Hebrews 2:9 (Philippians 2:9-10); the joy of His accomplished purpose (Isaiah 53:11; Matthew 25:21; Luke 10:21-22) and the glory with which He was crowned (John 17:1; 1 Peter 1:11) being the reward for His "obedience even unto death." The whole form of the expression (comp. especially Hebrews 6:18, "the hope set before us") shows that Jesus is presented to us as an example not of endurance only, but also of faith (Hebrews 2:12). On the last words of the verse see Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12-13; there is here a slight change in the Greek, which requires the rendering, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Verse 2. - Looking unto the Author and Finisher of our faith (rather, the Leader, or Captain, as in Hebrews 2:10, and Perfecter of the faith, or of faith - faith's Captain and Completer), Jesus; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The idea is not, as implied in the A.V. and understood by Chrysostom and other ancients, that Jesus first inspires and then brings to its complete result the individual Christian's faith ("quod caepit in nobis consummabit"), but (as implied in the word ἀρχηγὸς, and suiting the context better) that he is the Leader of the whole army of faith, whose standard we are to follow, and whoso own completed victory is the enabling cause as well as the earnest of our own. It is no valid objection to this view that he could not have been a Leader in this sense to the faithful ones before his coming, referred to in the last chapter; for, as has been before observed (see on "the reproach of Christ," Hebrews 11:26), he is regarded as the Head and Leader, in all ages, of the faithful; and in virtue of his future warfare for mankind the saints of old endured and triumphed: - and certainly Christians, to whom the exhortation is addressed, may look to him in an obvious sense as their Captain to be followed. Nor, again, is there difficulty - apart from that of the whole mystery of the Incarnation - in his being presented to us as himself an example of triumphant faith. For he is elsewhere spoken of as having so "emptied himself" of his Divine glory as to have become like unto us in all things, sin except; and thus to have been sustained during his human life by faith in the unseen, as we are. His addresses to the Father (see especially John 17.) are strikingly significant in this regard. The expression, "for the joy," etc. (ἀντὶ τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς), does not mean, as some take it, "instead of the joy which he might have had on earth" (such e.g. as was offered to him by the tempter), but, as is evident from the word προκειμένης, "as set against, i.e. for the sake of, future joy" (cf. ἀντὶ βρώσεως μιᾶς, ver. 16). Such looking forward to joy with the Father and the redeemed after triumph is expressed in the great intercessory prayer-above referred to (John 17:5, 13, 22, 23, 24, 26). It may be here observed that anticipation of reward hereafter is among legitimate human motives to a good life. It may be said, indeed, that the highest virtue consists in doing what is right simply because it is right - in fulfilling God's will, whatever may come of it to ourselves; but the hope of a final happy issue comes properly, and indeed inevitably, in as an inspiring and sustaining motive. Aspiration after Happiness is a God-given instinct of humanity, necessary for keeping up the life of virtue. There may be some so in love with virtue as to be capable of persevering in lifelong self-denial, though without any faith in a life to come. But human nature in general certainly requires this further incentive, and Christian faith supplies it. Nor are those who thus work with a view to future joy to be accused of selfish motives, as though they balanced only a greater against a smaller gain. To the true Christian the grand inspiring principle is still the love of God and of his neighbor, and of goodness for its own sake, though the hope of an eternal reward supports and cheers him mightily. Nor, again, is the joy looked forward to a selfish joy. It is the joy of sharing in the triumph of eternal righteousness in company with all the redeemed, whose salvation, no less than his own, he desires and strives for. And, further, with regard to his own individual joy, what is it but the joy of attaining the end of his being, the perfection God meant him for, and to which it is his duty to aspire? Hence Christ would not have been a perfect Example to man had he not been represented as looking forward to "the joy that was set before him."

12:1-11 The persevering obedience of faith in Christ, was the race set before the Hebrews, wherein they must either win the crown of glory, or have everlasting misery for their portion; and it is set before us. By the sin that does so easily beset us, understand that sin to which we are most prone, or to which we are most exposed, from habit, age, or circumstances. This is a most important exhortation; for while a man's darling sin, be it what it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him from running the Christian race, as it takes from him every motive for running, and gives power to every discouragement. When weary and faint in their minds, let them recollect that the holy Jesus suffered, to save them from eternal misery. By stedfastly looking to Jesus, their thoughts would strengthen holy affections, and keep under their carnal desires. Let us then frequently consider him. What are our little trials to his agonies, or even to our deserts? What are they to the sufferings of many others? There is a proneness in believers to grow weary, and to faint under trials and afflictions; this is from the imperfection of grace and the remains of corruption. Christians should not faint under their trials. Though their enemies and persecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet they are Divine chastisements; their heavenly Father has his hand in all, and his wise end to answer by all. They must not make light of afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they are the hand and rod of God, and are his rebukes for sin. They must not despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bear up with faith and patience. God may let others alone in their sins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this he acts as becomes a father. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Our whole life here is a state of childhood, and imperfect as to spiritual things; therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fully reconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience, and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,.... Not with bodily eyes, for at present he is not to be looked upon in this manner, but with the eye of the understanding, or with the eye of faith; for faith is a seeing of the Son; it is a spiritual sight of Christ, which is at first but glimmering, afterwards it increases, and is of a soul humbling nature; it is marvellous and surprising; it transforms into the image of Christ, and fills with joy unspeakable, and full of glory: a believer should be always looking to Christ, and off of every object, as the word here used signifies. Christ is to be looked unto as "Jesus", a Saviour, who being appointed and sent by God to be a Saviour, came, and is become the author of eternal salvation; and to him only should we look for it: he is able and willing to save; he is a suitable, complete, and only Saviour; and whoever look to him by faith shall be saved; and he is to be considered, and looked unto, as "the author and finisher of faith": he is the author or efficient cause of it; all men are by nature without it; it is not in the power of man to believe of himself; it is a work of omnipotence; it is an instance of the exceeding greatness of the power of God; and it is the operation of Christ, by his Spirit; and the increase of it is from him, Luke 17:5 and he is the finisher of it; he gives himself, and the blessings of his grace, to his people, to maintain and strengthen it; he prays for it, that it fail not; he carries on the work of faith, and will perform it with power; and brings to, and gives that which is the end of it, eternal life, or the salvation of the soul.

Who for the joy that was set before him; the word rendered "for"; sometimes signifies, in the room, or stead of, as in Matthew 2:22 and is so rendered here in the Syriac and Arabic versions; and then the sense is, that Christ instead of being in the bosom of the Father, came into this world; instead of being in the form of God, he appeared in the form of a servant; instead of the glory which he had with his Father from eternity, he suffered shame and disgrace; instead of living a joyful and comfortable life on earth, he suffered a shameful and an accursed death; and instead of the temporal joy and glory the Jews proposed to him, he endured the shame and pain of the cross: sometimes it signifies the end for which a thing is, as in Ephesians 5:31 and may intend that, for the sake of which Christ underwent so much disgrace, and such sufferings; namely, for the sake of having a spiritual seed, a numerous offspring with him in heaven, who are his joy, and crown of rejoicing; for the sake of the salvation of all the elect, on which his heart was set; and for the glorifying of the divine perfections, which was no small delight and pleasure to him. And to this agrees the Chaldee paraphrase of Psalm 21:1.

"O Lord, in thy power shall the King Messiah "rejoice", and in thy redemption how greatly will he exult!''

And also because of his own glory as Mediator, which was to follow his sufferings, and which includes his resurrection from the dead, his exaltation at the right hand of God, and the whole honour and glory Christ has in his human nature; see Psalm 16:8 and with a view to all this, he endured the cross; which is to be taken not properly for that frame of wood, on which he was crucified; but, improperly, for all his sufferings, from his cradle to his cross; and particularly the tortures of the cross, being extended on it, and nailed unto it; and especially the death of the cross, which kind of death he endured to verify the predictions of it, Psalm 22:16 and to show that he was made a curse for his people; and this being a Roman punishment, shows that the sceptre was taken from Judah, and therefore the Messiah must be come; and that Christ suffered for the Gentiles, as well as Jews: and this death he endured with great courage and intrepidity, with much patience and constancy, and in obedience to the will of his Father: despising the shame; of the cross; for it was an ignominious death, as well as a painful one; and as he endured the pain of it with patience, he treated the shame of it with contempt; throughout the whole of his life, he despised the shame and reproach that was cast upon him; and so he did at the time of his apprehension, and when upon his trial, and at his death, under all the ignominious circumstances that attended it; which should teach us not to be ashamed of the reproach of Christ, but count it an honour to be worthy to suffer shame for his name.

And is set down at the right hand of the throne of God; Which is in heaven; and is expressive of the majesty and glory of God; and of the honour done to Christ in human nature, which is not granted to any of the angels: here Christ sits as God's fellow, as equal to him, as God, and as having done his work as man, and Mediator; and this may assure us, that when we have run out our race, we shall sit down too, with Christ upon his throne, and be at rest.

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