Hebrews 12:1-3

Hebrews 12:1-3
Wednesday of Holy Week ABC


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloudA of witnesses,B let us also lay aside every weightC and the sinD that clings so closely,E and let us run with perseveranceF the raceG that is set before us, 

Notes on verse 1

A “cloud” = nephos. 1x in NT. This is cloud, used figuratively for a dense crowd or a multitude.
B “witnesses” = martus. This is a witness whether having heard or seen something. It refers to a witness literally, judicially, or figuratively. By analogy, this is a martyr. This is also where the word “martyr” comes from.
C “weight” = ogkos. 1x in NT. Perhaps from the same as agkale (bent arm – an arm that is ready to carry a heavy load); from agkos (bend or ache). This is a weight or burden. Figuratively, this is a hindrance.
D “sin” = hamartia. From hamartano (to miss the mark, do wrong, make a mistake, sin). Hamartano is from a (not) + meros (a part or share). Literally, this means not having one’s share or portion – like not receiving inheritance or what was allotted to you. This word means missing the mark so it is used for guilt, fault, and acts of sin.
E “clings so closely” = euperistatos. 1x in NT. From eu (good, well, well done) + periistemi (to turn around, avoid, stand around, be a bystander); {from peri (about, concerning, around, encompassing) + histemi (to stand, place, set up, establish, stand ready, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is easily surrounding or entangling, planted all around. Figuratively, this is used for a serious encumbrance that keeps one from moving forward when they need to.
F “perseverance” = hupomone. From hupo (by, under, about) + meno (to stay, remain, wait, await, continue, abide). This is properly to remain behind or remain under. It implies endurance, patience, steadfastness, and waiting in hope.
G “race” = agon. 6x in NT. From ago (lead, bring, carry, drive, go). This can refer to a gathering or contest – as an athletic competition such as a race. It can also refer to conflict, struggle, opposition or a fight. It is used figuratively in a positive sense – as fighting the good fight of faith. It is also used in a negative figurative sense for effort or anxiety. Properly, this word refers to a place where people gather, which implies the game or contest.

2 lookingH to JesusI the pioneerJ and perfecterK of our faith,L

Notes on verse 2a

H “looking” = aphorao. 2x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + horao (to see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience; to stare at, which implies clear discernment; by extension, attending to what was seen and learned; to see, often with a metaphorical sense, which can include inward spiritual seeing). This is to see clearly or to turn one’s attention away from something else to gaze at the thing in question.
I “Jesus” = iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
J “pioneer” = archegos. Related to “race” in v1. From archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power) +  hegeomai (to think, suppose, have an opinion; to lead the way, what comes in front or first, initial thought, high esteem or authority; one who commands in an official capacity); {from ago (see note G above)}. This can be founder, originator, pioneer. It can also be leader, prince, or captain. This is the one who is first in line in a long procession – the one who leads the way that others follow.
K “perfecter” = teleiotes. 1x in NT. From teleioo (to finish, accomplish, bring to an end, complete, reach a goal, finish a race, to consummate; completing stages or phases to get to an ultimate conclusion; can also mean consecrate or fulfill); from teleios (going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one; reaching an end and so being complete or “perfect”; also full grown or mature); from telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax). This is consummator, completer – the one who brings the process across the finish line.
L “faith” = pistis. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.

who for the sake of the joyM that was set before him enduredN the cross,O disregardingP its shame,Q and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throneR of God.S

Notes on verse 2b

M “joy” = chara. From chairo (to rejoice, be glad or cheerful; a greeting); from char- (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is joy, delight, gladness. Can be understood as the feeling you get when you are aware of grace.
N “endured” = hupomeno. Related to “perseverance” in v1. 17x in NT. From hupo (see note F above) + meno (see note F above). This is to remain under a burden to endure or bear up. It can also mean remaining behind. Figuratively, this is use for undergoing trials and describes fortitude and perseverance.
O “cross” = stauros. Related to “clings to closely” in v1. From the same as histemi (see note E above). This is an upright stake, cross. Literally refers to the horizontal beam of a Roman cross, generally carried by the one convicted to die.
P “disregarding” = kataphroneo. 9x in NT. From kata (down, against, among, according to) + phroneo (to think, judge, use one’s mind, have an opinion, shape one’s opinion through action); {from phren (diaphragm, heart, intellect, understanding; figurative for personal opinion or inner mindset; thought regulating action; sympathy, feelings, cognition); perhaps from phrao (to rein in or curb)}. This is to disregard despise look down, think little of. It can be active scorn or a generally hostile view. It can be disregarding or ignoring something because it is considered of little importance. This can also be thinking someone unworthy and hating them. Additionally, it can be to think against something.
Q “shame” = aischune. 6x in NT. From the same as aischuno (to dishonor, put to shame, shrink, disfigure); from aischos (shame, disgrace, disfigurement). This is shame, disgrace, dishonesty, a shameful thing. This can be used in an abstract or concrete sense.
R “throne” = thronos. Probably from thanos (bench); from thrao (to sit). This is throne or seat – the place where the king sits. So, it is used figuratively to mean power, dominion, or a potentate. This is where the word “throne” comes form.
S “God” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.

ConsiderT him who endured such hostilityU against himself from sinners,V so that you may not grow wearyW or lose heart.X

Notes on verse 3

T “consider” = analogizomai. 1x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, among, in turn, anew) + logizomai (this is to compute or reckon up, to count; figuratively, it is coming to a conclusion or decision using logic; taking an inventory in a literal or figurative sense); {from logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; here, word as an account or accounting; can also be a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); from lego (to speak, tell, mention)}. This is to consider something using careful reasoning in order to come to a conclusion. It implies going through all the necessary steps of thought and analysis to reckon out what is true or right. Figuratively, this is nuanced reflection and so contemplation.
U “hostility” = antilogia. Related to “consider” in v3. 4x in NT. From antilego (to speak against, oppose, contradict; to oppose with hostility; an argument to undermine; to refuse or deny); {from anti (over against, opposite, on my behalf) + lego (see note T above)}. This is contradiction, dispute, hostility. It is using logic to attack. It can also mean rebellion and strife.
V “sinners” = hamartolos. Related to “sin” in v1. From hamartano (see note D above). This is sinning, sinful, sinner. It referred to missing the mark or falling short. The term was also used in archery for missing the target.
W “grow weary” = kamno. 2x in NT. This is weariness that has gone on long enough to cause sickness or feeling faint. It can be feeling weary from working too much.
X “lose heart” = psuche + su + ekluo. Literally “in your souls fainting.” Psuche is from psucho (to breathe, blow). This is breath, the breath of life, the self, individual, soul. This is the word for that which makes a person unique – their identity, will, personality, affections. This isn’t the soul as the immortal part of us, but as our individuality. It is also not life as a general concept, but specific to people. This is where the words psyche and psychology come from. Ekluo is 5x in NT. From ek (from, from out of) + luo (to loose, release, untie; figuratively, to break, destroy, or annul; releasing what had been withheld). This is to release or relax. It can also be grow weary, succumb to weakness, faint. This is to relax in a literal or figurative sense for god or ill.

Image Credit: Greek vase with runners at the Pan-athenaic games, ca. 530 BC.

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