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The Example of Jesus

12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,


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Heb 12:1-29. Exhortation to Follow the Witnesses of Faith Just Mentioned: Not to Faint in Trials: To Remove All Bitter Roots of Sin: For We Are under, Not a Law of Terror, but the Gospel of Grace, to Despise Which Will Bring the Heavier Penalties, in Proportion to Our Greater Privileges.

1. we also—as well as those recounted in Heb 12:11.

are compassed aboutGreek, "have so great a cloud (a numberless multitude above us, like a cloud, 'holy and pellucid,' [Clement of Alexandria]) of witnesses surrounding us." The image is from a "race," an image common even in Palestine from the time of the Greco-Macedonian empire, which introduced such Greek usages as national games. The "witnesses" answer to the spectators pressing round to see the competitors in their contest for the prize (Php 3:14). Those "witnessed of" (Greek, Heb 11:5, 39) become in their turn "witnesses" in a twofold way: (1) attesting by their own case the faithfulness of God to His people [Alford] (Heb 6:12), some of them martyrs in the modern sense; (2) witnessing our struggle of faith; however, this second sense of "witnesses," though agreeing with the image here if it is to be pressed, is not positively, unequivocally, and directly sustained by Scripture. It gives vividness to the image; as the crowd of spectators gave additional spirit to the combatants, so the cloud of witnesses who have themselves been in the same contest, ought to increase our earnestness, testifying, as they do, to God's faithfulness.

weight—As corporeal unwieldiness was, through a disciplinary diet, laid aside by candidates for the prize in racing; so carnal and worldly lusts, and all, whether from without or within, that would impede the heavenly runner, are the spiritual weight to be laid aside. "Encumbrance," all superfluous weight; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, and even harmless and otherwise useful things which would positively retard us (Mr 10:50, the blind man casting away his garment to come to Jesus; Mr 9:42-48; compare Eph 4:22; Col 3:9, 10).

the sin which doth so easily beset usGreek, "sin which easily stands around us"; so Luther, "which always so clings to us": "sinful propensity always surrounding us, ever present and ready" [Wahl]. It is not primarily "the sin," &c., but sin in general, with, however, special reference to "apostasy," against which he had already warned them, as one to which they might gradually be seduced; the besetting sin of the Hebrews, UNBELIEF.

with patienceGreek, "in persevering endurance" (Heb 10:36). On "run" compare 1Co 9:24, 25.




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