Search word: Retrieve verses, illustrations, etc
Word Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament
Hebrews 12:14 Pursue
men, and the
Amplified: Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue
that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see
Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a
clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Weymouth: Persistently strive for peace with all men, and for
that growth in holiness apart from which no one will see the Lord.
Wuest: Be eagerly seeking after peace with all, and holiness,
without which no one shall see the Lord,
Young's Literal: peace pursue with all, and the
separation, apart from which no one shall see the Lord,
PEACE WITH ALL MEN
AND THE SANCTIFICATION: Eirenen diokete (2PPAM) meta panton kai ton hagiasmon:
(Genesis 13:7, 8, 9; Psalms 34:14; 38:20; 120:6; 133:1; Proverbs 15:1;
16:7; 17:14; Isaiah 11:6, 7, 8, 9; Matthew 5:9; Mark 9:50; Romans
12:18; 14:19; 1Corinthians 1:10; Galatians 5:22,23; Ephesians 4:1-8;
1Thessalonians 5:15; 1Timothy 6:11; 2Timothy 2:22; James 3:17,18;
1Peter 3:11) (Sanctification - He 12:10; Psalms 94:15; Isaiah 51:1;
Luke 1:75; Romans 6:22; 2Corinthians 6:17; 7:1; Philippians 3:12;
1Thessalonians 3:13; 4:7; 1Peter 1:15,16; 3:13; 2Peter 3:11,18; 3Jn
1:11 ) (Ps 34:14, Mt 5:8-note Pr 15:1, 16:7, 17:14, Ep 4:3, Ro 14:19, Ro 12:18 Mt 5:9)
Holiness - by J C Ryle -
This volume is considered the best book on the Christian life that has
EVER been written
Thomas Brooks on Hebrews
12:14 - The Crown and Glory of Christianity or, Holiness the Only Way
Pursuing Holiness elsewhere
in the New Testament (among many references)...
having these promises (see 2Co 6:16, 17, 18, cp "precious and
magnificent promises" 2Pe 1:4-note),
beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and
spirit, perfecting holiness (hagiosune)
in the fear of God (a reverential awe should motivate us = cp Pr 1:7,
9:10, Ps 111:10-note,
Job 28:28, Eccl 12:13, 14, 1Jn 3:2, 3, 1Pe 1:17-note).
For this is the will of God, your
sanctification; that is, that you abstain (literally hold
oneself away from - cp 1Pe 2:11-note)
from sexual immorality (porneia)...For
God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in
As obedient (hupakoe)
children, do not be conformed (suschematizo
= stop molding your behavior in accord with a pattern or set of
standards) to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,15
but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves
also in all your behavior;16 because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE
HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." (1Pe 1:14-note,
1Pe 1:15, 16-note)
(dioko from dio = pursue, prosecute, persecute, also
pursue in good sense) means to follow or press hard after, pursue with
earnestness and diligence in order to obtain, go after with the desire
is a command to continually press hard after, moving energetically
toward the goals of something, in this case toward the goal of
peace with all men. Continually pursue this goal, like the hounds
chasing in pursuit of the fox. This is not a passive role
that one just lets happen; it is an active concept that one must
This command to
peace and holiness suggests several thoughts: (1) This not an optional
"activity" but a necessity (before I was saved I chased after sin, now
sin continually "chases" after me, thus the command); (2) To pursue
demands diligence and directed effort (cp 1Ti 4:7, 8, 9-note)
(3) This pursuit is not to be a spasmodic endeavor but is to be our
lifelong task (present
Clearly the pursuit of holiness requires enablement and provision from
the One Who is Himself holy. At the same time holiness is a process,
something we as believers will never completely attain in this life.
In fact as most of us of some age in Christ have experienced, as we
begin to conform to the will of God in one area of our life, He
reveals to us our need in another area. And thus we come to understand
that we will always be pursuing holiness in this life, the attainment
of the goal of holiness reserved for the next life in glory!
45 times in the NT - Matt. 5:10, 11, 12, 44; 10:23; 23:34; Lk. 11:49; 17:23;
21:12; Jn. 5:16; 15:20; Acts 7:52; 9:4f; 22:4, 7f; 26:11, 14f; Rom.
9:30f; 12:13f; 14:19; 1 Co. 4:12; 14:1; 15:9; 2 Co. 4:9; Gal. 1:13,
23; 4:29; 5:11; 6:12; Phil. 3:6, 12, 14; 1Th 5:15; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2
Tim. 2:22; 3:12; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:11; Rev. 12:13
Those who are at
peace with God are responsible to pursue peace in their relationships
with others as an important aspect of growth in sanctification (cp
The presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit makes this possible (Ro
for "the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace" (Gal 5:22-note).
from verb eiro = to join or
bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the
binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or
divided and thus setting at one again, a meaning convey by the common
expression of one “having it all together”. It follows that peace is
the opposite of division or dissension. Peace as a state of concord
and harmony is the opposite of war. Peace was used as a greeting or
farewell corresponding to the Hebrew word shalom - "peace to you".
Eirene can convey the sense of an inner rest, well being and
harmony. The ultimate peace is the state of reconciliation with God,
effected by placing one's faith in the gospel. In eschatology, peace
is prophesied to be an essential characteristic of the Messianic
kingdom (Acts 10:36).
Resource: See study of
Hebrew word Shalom
92 times in the NT - Matt. 10:13, 34; Mk. 5:34; Lk. 1:79; 2:14, 29;
7:50; 8:48; 10:5f; 11:21; 12:51; 14:32; 19:38, 42; 24:36; Jn. 14:27;
16:33; 20:19, 21, 26; Acts 7:26; 9:31; 10:36; 12:20; 15:33; 16:36;
24:2; Rom. 1:7; 2:10; 3:17; 5:1; 8:6; 10:15; 14:17, 19; 15:13, 33;
16:20; 1 Co. 1:3; 7:15; 14:33; 16:11; 2 Co. 1:2; 13:11; Gal. 1:3;
5:22; 6:16; Eph. 1:2; 2:14f, 17; 4:3; 6:15, 23; Phil. 1:2; 4:7, 9;
Col. 1:2; 3:15; 1Th 1:1; 5:3, 23; 2Th. 1:2; 3:16; 1 Tim. 1:2;
2 Tim. 1:2; 2:22; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3; Heb. 7:2; 11:31; 12:14;
13:20; Jas. 2:16; 3:18; 1 Pet. 1:2; 3:11; 5:14; 2 Pet. 1:2; 3:14; 2
Jn. 1:3; 3 Jn. 1:14; Jude 1:2; Rev. 1:4; 6:4
Peace is a condition of
freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war
or enemies or inwardly, as in the current context, within the soul. Peace
implies health, well-being, and prosperity.
Make it the habit of your life
to seek hard after peace with men and holiness before God, the holiness He desires
and which He alone can work in us as we work out our salvation in fear
Those who pursue peace seek to
forgive and to forget and to be kind and to be
thoughtful and be able to help others and be able to pray
for their enemies!
The exhortation is most likely
address the attitude those Jews who had come into the New Covenant
were to manifest toward the unsaved Jews who were in danger of
renouncing their professed faith in Messiah and of returning to the
Marcus Dods says:
The circumstances of the Hebrews
were fitted to excite a quarrelsome spirit, and a feeling of
alienation towards those weak members who left the straight path. They
must not suffer them to be alienated but must restore them to the
unity of the faith, and in endeavoring to reclaim them must use the
methods of peace, not of anger or disputation. (Hebrews
12 Expositors Greek Testament)
Without sanctification - Or
without holiness. Spurgeon writes that...
You will not gain holiness by
standing still. Nobody ever grew holy without consenting, desiring,
and agonizing to be holy (Php 2:12-note).
Sin will grow without sowing, but holiness needs cultivation. Follow
it; it will not run after you. You must pursue it with determination,
with eagerness, with perseverance, as a hunter pursues his prey. (Ed:
Before we were saved we chased after sin. After salvation sin chases
If you occasionally get drunk, or
if you now and then let fall an oath, or if in your business you would
make twice two into five or three, according as your profit happens to
run, do not talk about being a Christian. Christ has nothing to do
with you, at least no more to do with you than he had to do with Judas
Iscariot (cp Titus 1:16-note,
2Co 13:5, Mt 7:21-note,
Mt 7:22, 23-note).
You are very much in the same position. If without holiness, then much
more without morality can no man expect to see the face of God with
God smote an angel down from heaven
for sin, and will He let man in with sin in His right hand? God would
sooner extinguish heaven than see sin despoil it. It is enough for Him
to bear with your hypocrisies on earth. Shall He have them flung in
His own face in heaven?
Christ will be master of the heart,
and sin must be mortified (Ro 8:13-note,
If your life is unholy, your heart is unchanged; you are an unsaved
person (Gal 5:19, 20, 21-note,
Ep 5:5, 6-note).
If the Savior has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a
hatred of sin and a love of holiness (Ps 119:104, 128-note),
the grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless
counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not in their sins
but from them. Without holiness “no man shall see the
Lord” (Heb 12:14). “Let every one that names the name of Christ
= a command, not a suggestion) from
iniquity” (2Ti 2:19-note).
If not saved from sin, how can we hope to be counted among His people?
Lord, save me even now from all evil, and enable me to honor my
Savior. (Daily Help)
Andrew Murray writes...
Follow after sanctification,
lit. "holy-making." We know this word. Holiness is the highest glory
of God, and so holy-making is the being taken up into His fellowship,
and being made partakers of His holiness. It is receiving into our
nature and character the spirit of that heavenliness and holiness in
which He dwells. Follow holy-making, without which no man shall see
the Lord. Holy-making is the spiritual preparation, the inner capacity
for meeting the Lord, and being at home with Him. The passages in the
Epistle, in which we have already had the word, will be our best
instruction as to the way in which we are to follow after holiness.
Murray. The Holiest of All - see page 497)
R A Torrey...
Here we are taught that we have our
own part in sanctification, and that if we are to be sanctified in the
fullest sense, sanctification is something that we must pursue, or
seek earnestly, if we are to obtain it. While sanctification is God’s
work, we have our part in it, viz., to make it the object of our
earnest desire and eager pursuit. (Torrey, R. A. 1918. The Fundamental
Doctrines of the Christian Faith. New York George H.: Doran company)
pursue...holiness. It seems that peace and holiness go
together. In Heb 12:11 he mentions "the peaceful fruit of
righteousness (right living before God and man - which is certainly
related to holiness)." This truth is important to know and to
believe, so our belief might translate into appropriate behavior. In
other words to quote Jerry Bridges (in The Pursuit of Holiness)...
Because we do not believe (Ed:
Saying "I believe" is not the same as saying "I believe and therefore
I will behave"!) that humility is the path to God’s exaltation (1Peter
we jockey for a place of position and power in our relations with
others. Because we do not believe that God takes note of and
will in His time avenge all wrongs done to us (Romans 12:19-note),
we study in our own minds how we can “get back” at someone we feel has
wronged us. Because we are not convinced of the deceitfulness
of sin (Hebrews 3:13-note)
The Deceitfulness of Sin),
we play with it, thinking we will thereby find satisfaction. And
because we do not have a firm conviction that “without holiness
no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), we do not seriously pursue
holiness as a priority in our lives. Faith and holiness
are inextricably linked. Obeying the commands of God usually
involves believing the promises of God (Ed: See related
Obedience of faith - What does
Relationship of faith and
obedience in the study of covenant).
One definition of faith might be “Obeying the revealed will of God and
trusting Him for the results.” “Without faith it is impossible to
please God” (Hebrews 11:6-note).
If we would pursue holiness we must have faith to obey the will of God
revealed in the Scripture and faith to believe that the promises of
God will then be ours. (The
Pursuit of Holiness) (Bolding added)
= sanctify from
holy, set apart, consecrated) literally means sanctification
and includes the ideas of consecration, purification, dedication and
holiness. The dominant idea of sanctification is separation from the
secular and sinful and setting apart for a sacred purpose. Holiness is
the state of being
set apart from sin and the world to deity (God) or the process of
becoming more dedicated to God. Sanctification is "the process by
which believers are set apart by God as a special people to grow
spiritually in personal holiness and to develop Christ-like
resource - Puritan writer
Thomas Watson on "Sanctification"
puts it this way
The word “sanctify” in the Greek
means “to set apart,” and the word “sanctification” refers to the
setting apart process. (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
is used twice in the
(Ezekiel 45:4, Amos 2:11) and 10 times in the NT (these are discussed
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.
For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to
lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your
members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification...Romans
6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to
God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the
outcome, eternal life.
1Corinthians 1:30 But by
His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,
and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
1Thessalonians 4:3-note For this
is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you
abstain from sexual immorality;4 that each of you know how to possess
his own vessel in sanctification and honor...7 For God has not
called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.
2Thessalonians 2:13 But we
should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the
Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation
through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
1Timothy 2:15 But women
shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in
faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace
with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will
see the Lord.
1Peter 1:2-note according to the
foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the
Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His
blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.
was used in the Greek pagan religions to describe buildings, altars
or offerings set apart for religious purposes. The object set apart
was thus declared sacred, holy, devoted to religious purposes. It
applied also to the worshippers. They were set apart persons, thus
religious devotees of the temple.
below, hagiasmos can refer either to a state of being
set apart from sin and the world unto God (equating with our initial
salvation) or secondly can refer to the process by which a
saint becomes progressively more set apart to God. Thus
sanctification in one use takes place at a moment in time
(salvation) but in the other use sanctification is a continuous
process until we are glorified. Peter uses hagiasmos primarily with
the former meaning. The Holy Spirit is crucial both aspects of
This pre-salvation work of the
Spirit is spoken of in Scripture as the sanctification of the Spirit.
It is the setting-apart work of the Spirit in that He sets the unsaved
person apart from his unbelief to the act of faith, from his standing
in the first Adam which brought him sin and death, to a new standing
in the Last Adam which brings him righteousness and life. This we call
positional sanctification." (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology has a note that helps
illustrate the meaning of hagiasmos writing that...
The generic meaning of
sanctification is the state of proper functioning.” To sanctify
someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use
intended by its designer. A pen is “sanctified” when used to write.
Eyeglasses are “sanctified” when used to improve sight. In the
theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the
purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he
or she lives according to God’s design and purpose." (Elwell,
W. A., & Elwell, W. A. The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
. Baker Book House)
Press NIV Commentary states that...
The concept of sanctification
can be understood by comparing the sanctification of people to the
sanctification of the temple or its utensils. A sanctified building,
lampstand, or pot is designated to be used only in service to God. A
sanctified person has also been set apart for service. The Holy Spirit
both marks us for God’s service and empowers us to render that
service. (1 & 2 Peter : The College Press NIV Commentary. Joplin, MO:
College Press Publishing).
Writing to the Thessalonian
believers (whose faith had been shaken by false teachers cf 2Th 2:1,
2, 3, 4, 5) Paul reminds them
of the source and security of their salvation, explaining that they
brethren beloved (perfect
tense = their
permanent state) by the Lord, because God has chosen you (election --
= for Himself) from the beginning for salvation through
sanctification (hagiasmos) by the Spirit (God's part) and
faith (man's part, realizing that even faith is a gift) in the truth"
The Spirit uses
the Word of Truth (the Gospel - 2Co 6:7, Col 1:5-note,
Jas 1:18-note) to convict men of sin, righteousness
and the judgment to come (Jn 16:8), to point them to safety in the "Ark" of Christ and
to set them apart from the world.
Using the verbal
root of hagiasmos (hagiazo), Paul declared to the
And now I commend (paratithemi =
para - beside + tithemi - place = a banking term = to deposit as a
trust and/or for protection, commit for safe keeping, cp use in 2Ti
entrusting gospel to faithful stewards) you to God and to the word of
His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the
inheritance ("imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away
reserved in heaven" - 1Pe 1:4-note)
among all those who are sanctified (hagiazo [word
pictures their having been set apart occurring at a definite point of
time in the past -- the moment they were born again by faith -- with
the present result that they are still set apart, that blessed
condition continuing throughout this life and the one to come!)." (Acts
What is "the" holiness
which the writer refers to?
The exhortation is thus addressed
to the saved among the recipients of this letter, and in relation to
their attitude towards the unsaved Jews who were in danger of
renouncing their professed faith in Messiah and of returning to the
temple sacrifices. The holiness spoken of here is defined in the
context and by the historical background of the letter.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Greek Testament says
which this epistle has explained is a drawing near to God with a
cleansed conscience (He 10:14-note,
a true acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice as bring the worshipper into
fellowship with God. (Nicoll, W Robertson, Editor: Expositors Greek
Testament: 5 Volumes. Out of print. Search Google)
offers this explanation stating that...
Holiness is the same as
sanctification. As far as our position and standing before God are
concerned, we, as believers, have peace with God and are sanctified
in Christ Jesus (Ro 5:1-note;
1Co 1:2). Without these (which means without salvation), we
could never hope to see the Lord. We still need to follow diligently
after peace and holiness in a practical sense, by His enabling grace,
if we would see Him in faith. (Morris,
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
feels that the writer means that...
Without sanctification in life we
cannot see the Lord; i.e., worship Him acceptably. (The
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody
explains it this way...
But of even more importance is the
pursuit of holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord.
Whether this seeing of the Lord refers to the beatific vision of God
(Bruce 1964:364, cp Mt 5:8-note), or to seeing Jesus at his Second Coming (Westcott
1889:406; Ed: I think this cannot be an option for "every eye will see
Him", both saved and unsaved, Re 1:7-note),
it clearly precludes any who are not pursuing holiness from having a
close and vital relationship with God. The need to make every effort
suggests continuance and is perhaps better translated “pursue.” As we
have noted before, it is a mistake to take holiness as referring only
to righteous behavior apart from seeing it also as a gift of God Who
imparts righteousness to the one who believes in Jesus.
If we pursue righteous behavior
only as a means to “seeing” the Lord, we will eventually find
ourselves with the Pharisees (cp Mt 15:14, 23:16, 17, 19, 24, 25, cp
Is 56:10, 6:10). They were blindly ignorant of terrible
failure but claimed a relationship that did not really exist. But if
we truly practice a continual reckoning of ourselves as already
righteous within by a gracious act of God on the basis of the death
and resurrection of Jesus (cp Php 3:9-note,
Ro 6:11-note), we will find ourselves strongly motivated
to live righteously (cp Titus 2:11-note,
Titus 2:12-note) and inwardly distressed at any failure to do so
(cp Ps 32:3-note,
This inward distress will bring us again and again to the throne of
grace (He 4:16-note) for forgiveness
(1Jn 1:9) and recovery (cp Pr 28:13, cp Mt 3:8). We will progressively be transformed into his (Christ’s) likeness with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2Cor 3:18). That is
what is meant by the exhortation to “pursue holiness, without which no
man shall see the Lord” (KJV). (Hebrews 12:14-17 Dangers to Watch For)
MacArthur explains it this way...
This verse is not easy to
interpret, and has been a problem for many sincere Christians. At
first glance, it seems to be teaching salvation by works—if we
successfully pursue peace and sanctification, we will be saved and
will see the Lord. The truth is, however, that a person who is not
saved cannot pursue either peace or sanctification, at least not
successfully. Only the Christian has the ability, through the Holy
Spirit, to live in peace and in holiness. “‘There is no peace,’
says my God, ‘for the wicked’” (Isa 57:21) and any
righteousness men try to produce apart from God is as “a filthy
garment” (Isa 64:6).
I believe the writer is speaking of
practical peace and righteousness. Positionally, in Christ, Christians
already are at peace (Ro 5:1-note) and already are righteous (2Cor 5:21), but practically we
have a great deal to do (Php 2:12-note). Because we are at peace with God, we should
be peacemakers. Because we are counted righteous, we should live
righteously. Our practice should match our position. Otherwise the
unbeliever will stand back and ask, “Why don’t you practice what you
preach? If you don’t live like Christ says to live, why should I
accept Him as my Lord and Savior?” (cf. 1John 2:6).
Pursuing peace primarily relates to
loving men, and pursuing righteousness primarily to loving God. If we
love men, we will be at peace with them, and if we love God we will
live righteously. (MacArthur,
John: Hebrews. Moody Press
J I Packer adds that...
Holiness is not a price we
pay for final salvation, but is, rather, the road by which we reach
it, and sanctification is the process whereby God leads us along that
road (Ed: He leads but we must choose to follow!). The New Testament shows us that in the school of sanctification
many modes of pain have their place–physical and mental discomfort and
pressure, personal disappointment, restriction, hurt, and distress.
God uses these things to activate the supernatural power that is at
work in believers (2Co 4:7, 8, 9, 10, 11), to replace self–reliance
with total trust in the Lord who gives strength (2Co 1:8, 9, 10f.;
2Co 12:9, 10-note),
and to carry on his holy work of changing us from what we naturally
are into Jesus’ moral likeness “with ever–increasing glory” (2 Cor.
3:18). Thus he prepares us for that which he has prepared for us,
verifying Paul’s statement that “God chose you to be saved through
the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth …
that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th
2:13, 14, 15; cf. Eph. 5:25, 26, 27; Titus 2:11, 12, 13, 14;
3:4, 5, 6, 7).
When children are allowed to do
what they like and are constantly shielded from situations in which
their feelings might get hurt, we describe them as spoiled. When we
say that, we are saying that overindulgent parenthood not only makes
them unattractive today but also fails to prepare them for the moral
demands of adult life tomorrow–two evils for the price of one. But
God, who always has his eye on tomorrow as he deals with us today,
never spoils his children. The lifelong training course in holy living
in which he enrolls us challenges and tests us to the utmost again and
again. Christ like habits of action and reaction–in other words, the
fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control (Gal. 5:22, 23)–are
ingrained most deeply as we learn to maintain them through experiences
of pain and unpleasantness. Which in retrospect appear as God’s,
chisel for sculpting our Souls.
There is more to sanctification
than this but not less. “Endure hardship as discipline; God is
treating you as sons,” writes the author of Hebrews. “For what son
is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and
everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and
not true sons” (Heb.12:7, 8f). Bastard offspring notoriously go
uncared–for, but, says the writer, it will not be so for you who
believe. Your heavenly Father loves you enough to school you in holy
living. Appreciate what he is doing, then, and be ready for the rough
stuff that his program for you involves...
In reality, the witness of
Scripture is: “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb.
12:14). There is no heaven without holiness of life...
When we realize that real holiness
is a real necessity, it is a tremendous encouragement to know also
that by the power of the Spirit a holy life is possible even for
spiritual weaklings such as we are, and so of course we should want
and seek it. (Packer, J. God's Plans for You)
the writer of Hebrews is telling us
to take seriously the necessity of personal, practical holiness. When
the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at our salvation, He comes to
make us holy in practice. If there is not, then, at least a yearning
in our hearts to live a holy life pleasing to God, we need to
seriously question whether our faith in Christ is genuine (cp 2Cor
13:5). It is true that this desire for holiness may be only a spark at
the beginning. But that spark should grow till it becomes a flame—a
desire to live a life wholly pleasing to God. True salvation brings
with it a desire to be made holy. When God saves us through Christ, He
not only saves us from the penalty of sin, but also from its dominion.
Bishop Ryle said, “I doubt, indeed, whether we have any warrant for
saying that a man can possibly be converted without being consecrated
to God. More consecrated he doubtless can be, and will be as his grace
increases; but if he was not consecrated to God in the very day that
he was converted and born again, I do not know what conversion
means.” (See Bishop Ryle's classic treatise on
Holiness - This volume
is considered the best book on the Christian life that has EVER been
written) (Bridges, J.. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs:
Holiness is that
which only comes from God as a free gift of His matchless grace. In
this epistle it is pragmatically explained as a drawing near to God
with a cleansed conscience (Heb 10:14, 22), a true acceptance of Christ's
sacrifice as bringing the worshiper into fellowship with God. Holiness
in Hebrews means not
throwing away your confidence, not shrinking back to destruction, not
falling away, not drifting, not hardening your heart, not living in
continual disobedience. On the positive side, holiness in Hebrews is being holy as He is holy by holding
fast, by enduring, by pressing on to maturity, by diligently seeking
Him, by believing that He is, by believing that He is a Rewarder of
those who seek Him.
J C Philpot...
To possess this holiness is a
necessary and indispensible meetness for the inheritance of the saints
in light; but this meetness must be wrought in us by the power of
God’s grace, for I am sure that in ourselves of it we have none. But
see its necessity. What happiness could there be in the courts of
bliss unless we had a nature to enjoy it? Unless we were made capable
of seeing Christ as He is, and enjoying His presence for evermore,
heaven would be no heaven to us. Nothing unclean or unholy can enter
there. Sanctification therefore must be wrought in us by the power of
God, to make us meet for the heavenly inheritance, and He therefore
communicates of His Spirit and grace to give us heavenly affections,
holy desires, gracious thoughts, tender feelings; and above all that
love whereby He is loved as the altogether lovely. By the sanctifying
operations of His Spirit, He separates us from everything evil, plants
His fear deep in the heart, that it may be a fountain of life to
depart from the snares of death; and works in us a conformity to His
suffering image here that we may be conformed to His glorified image
hereafter. Thus there is a perfect and an imperfect
sanctification—perfect by imputation, imperfect in its present
operations. But the one is the pledge of the other; so that as surely
as Christ now represents His people in heaven as their holy Head, so
will He eventually bring them to be for ever with Him in those abodes
of perfect holiness and perfect happiness which are prepared for them
as mansions of eternal light and love.
Resources Related to
Holiness and Sanctification
The Lord Who Sanctifies
The Lord Who Sanctifies 2
Holiness by J. C. Ryle
Exposition of 1Peter 1:15-16 "Be
Holy as He is Holy"
The Attributes of God - His Holiness
The Holiness of God - by A W Pink
John Piper's Strategies for fighting lust
Thomas Brooks The Crown and Glory
of Christianity or, Holiness the Only Way to Happiness
Why Would Anyone Want To Be Holy?
Holiness: Root of His Grace - Sammy Tippit: Pt 1
- Real, Counterfeit, Necessity, Signs, Inducements, How Attained?
Holiness by Joel R. Beeke
Holiness by Striving or Resting? Jerry Bridges
related to pursuit of holiness)
WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD: choris oudeis opsetai (3SFMI)
ton kurion: (Ge 32:30; Job 19:26; 33:26; Mt 5:8;
1Co 13:12; 2Cor 7:1; Ep 5:5; Gal 3:21;
1Jn 3:2,3; Re 21:24, 25, 26, 27; 22:3,4,11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
• Without shedding of blood, no
remission Heb. 9:22
• Without faith no pleasing God Heb. 11:6
• Without holiness, no heaven Heb. 12:14
• Without chastisement, no sonship Heb. 12:8
(choris from chora = land from choros = field or
place usually where cattle range or chasma = thru idea of empty
expanse) as a preposition it means apart from, separate from (at a
space, separately) and thus is a marker of dissociation, indicating a
distinct separation from something.
No one (3762)
(oudeis from ou = not + dé = but + heis =
one) means literally "but absolutely not one" and thus no one,
nothing, none at all. It emphasizes not even one!
(horao) means to discern clearly (physical or mental). it is
not merely act of seeing, but also actual perception of object.
How do we see Him today? By
faith (Heb 11:1-note,
As far as our position and standing before God are concerned, we, as
believers, have peace with God and are "sanctified in Christ Jesus"
(Ro 5:1-note; 1Co 1:2). Without these (which means without salvation), we
could never hope to see the Lord. We still need to follow diligently
after peace and holiness in a practical sense, by His enabling grace,
if we would see Him in faith.
Compare Jesus' own words in Mt
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
There is another way some
interpret this verse. Practical holiness is a proof of new life within
and thus if a
person is not growing more holy, it raises the possibility that he may
never have been made positionally holy by grace through faith. When the Spirit of
Holiness invades and indwells a person, He imparts a new desire to be
pleasing to God (Ezekiel 36:27, Php 2:13-note) and this new heart is manifest by that person
living more and more a life separated unto God His Father. It is a
matter of cause and effect. If Christ has been received, the rivers of
living water will flow.
How do we apply the truth in
this exhortation? The way to finish well in life’s marathon is to
pursue peace and holiness making every effort to live in peace with
all men and to be holy. We must learn the runner’s lean, continually
stretching ourselves forward to peace and extending our entire beings
toward holiness! (Php 3:12-note,
J C Ryle
from his article on Holiness...
“Without holiness no one will see
the Lord.”--Hebrews 12:14
for today opens up a subject of deep importance. That subject is
practical holiness. It suggests a question that demands the attention
of all professing Christians-Are we holy? Will we see the Lord?
That question can never be out of season. The wise man tells us, there
is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to be silent and a time
to speak,” (Eccl 3:4, 7) but there is no time, no, not a day, in which
a man ought not to be holy. Are we?
That question concerns all ranks and situations of men and women. Some
are rich and some are poor-some educated and some uneducated-some
masters, and some servants; but there is no rank or state in life in
which a man or woman ought not to be holy. Are we?
I ask to be heard today about this question. How does our account
stand between our souls and God? In this hurrying, bustling world, let
us stand still for a few minutes and consider the matter of holiness.
I know I could have chosen a subject more popular and pleasant. I am
sure I could have found one easier to handle. But I feel deeply I
could not have chosen one more seasonable and more profitable to our
souls. It is a solemn thing to hear the Word of God saying, “Without
holiness no one will see the Lord.”
I will endeavor, by God’s help, to examine what true holiness is, and
the reason why it is so needful. In conclusion, I will try to point
out the only way in which holiness can be attained in a plain and
I. First, then, let me try to show what true practical holiness
is-what sort of persons are those whom God calls holy.
A man may go to great lengths, and yet never reach true holiness. It
is not knowledge-Balaam had that: nor great profession-Judas Iscariot
had that: nor doing lots of things-Herod did that: nor zeal for
certain matters in religion-Jehu had that: nor morality and outward
respectability of conduct-the rich young ruler had that: nor taking
pleasure in hearing preachers-the Jews in Ezekiel’s time had that: nor
keeping company with godly people-Joab and Gehazi and Demas had that.
Yet none of these was holy! These things alone are not holiness. A man
or woman may have any one of them, and yet never see the Lord.
What then is true practical holiness?
It is a hard question to answer. I don’t mean that there is any lack
of Scripture on the subject. But I fear lest I should give a defective
view of holiness, and not say all that ought to be said; or lest I
should say things about it that ought not to be said, and therefore
cause harm. Let me, however, try to draw a picture of holiness, that
we may see it clearly before the eyes of our minds. Only let it never
be forgotten, when I have said everything, that my explanation will be
nothing but a poor imperfect outline at the best.
a) Holiness is the habit of agreeing with the mind with God, in
accordance as we find His mind described in Scripture.
It is the habit of agreeing with God’s judgment-hating what He
hates-loving what He loves-and measuring everything in this world by
the standard of His Word. The person who most completely agrees with
God is the one who is the most holy person.
b) A holy person will endeavor to turn away from every known sin,
and to keep every known commandment.
They will have a decided bent of mind toward God, a hearty desire to
do His will-a greater fear of displeasing Him than of displeasing the
world, and a love for all His ways. They will feel what Paul felt when
he said, “In my inner being I delight in God’s law” (Ro 7:22-note),
and what David felt when he said, “I consider all your precepts right,
I hate every wrong path” (Psalm 119:128-note).
c) A holy person will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ.
They will not only live the life of faith in Him, and draw from Him
all their daily peace and strength, but they will also strive to have
the mind that was in Him, and to be “conformed to His likeness” (Ro
It will be their aim to bear with and forgive others, just as Christ
forgave us-to be unselfish, just as Christ did not please Himself-to
walk in love, just as Christ loved us-to be meek and humble, even as
Christ made Himself nothing and humbled Himself. They will remember
that Christ was a faithful witness for the truth-that He did not come
to do His own will-that it was His food and drink to do His Father’s
will-that He would continually deny Himself in order to minister to
others-that He was meek and patient in spite of undeserved
insults-that He thought more of godly poor men than of kings-that He
was full of love and compassion to sinners-that He was bold and
uncompromising in denouncing sin-that He did not seek the praise of
men, when He might have had it-that He went about doing good-that He
was separate from worldly people-that He prayed continually-that He
would not even let His nearest relatives stand in His way when God’s
work was to be done. These things a holy person will try to remember.
By them they will endeavor to shape their course in life. They will
lay to heart the saying of John, “Whoever claims to live in him must
walk as Jesus did” (1Jn 2:6); and the saying of Peter, that “Christ
suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in
his steps” (1Peter 2:21-note).
Happy is the person who has learned to make Christ his “everything,”
both for salvation and example! A great deal of time would be saved,
and a great deal of sin prevented, if men and women would often ask
themselves the question, “What would Christ have said and done, if He
were in my place?”
d) A holy person will pursue meekness, endurance, gentleness,
patience, kindness, and control of their tongue.
They will put up with a lot, tolerate a great deal, overlook a lot,
and be slow to talk of demanding their rights. We see a clear example
of this in the behavior of David when Shimei cursed him-and of Moses
when Aaron and Miriam spoke against him (2Sa 16:10; Nu 12:3).
e) A holy person will pursue self-control and self-denial.
They will labor to subdue the desires of their body-to crucify their
flesh with all of its affections and lusts-to curb their passions-to
restrain their worldly inclinations, lest at any time they break
loose. Oh, what a word of warning is that of the Lord Jesus to the
Apostles, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with
dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life” (Luke 21:34); and
that of the Apostle Paul, “I beat my body and make it my slave so that
after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for
the prize” (1Corinthians 9:27).
f) A holy person will pursue love and brotherly kindness.
They will endeavor to observe the golden rule of doing to others as
they would have others do to them, and speaking as they would want
others to speak to them. They will be full of affection towards their
brothers and sisters in Christ-towards their bodies, their property,
their characters, their feelings, and their souls. “He who loves his
fellowman,” says Paul, “has fulfilled the law” (Ro 13:8-note).
They will detest all lying, slandering, backbiting, cheating,
dishonesty, and unfairness, even in the smallest things. They will
strive to adorn their religion in all of their outward demeanor, and
to make it lovely and beautiful in the eyes of everyone around them.
Sadly, what condemning words are found in the 13th chapter of 1
Corinthians, and the Sermon on the Mount, when laid alongside the
conduct of many professing Christians!
g) A holy person will pursue a spirit of mercy and benevolence
not stand idle all day long. They will not be content with simply not
harming others-they will try to do good to others. They will strive to
be useful in their day and generation, and to lessen the spiritual
needs and misery of those around them, as far as they can. Dorcas was
such a person “always doing good and helping the poor,” which she
did,”-not merely planning to do it or just talking about it, but she
actually did it. Paul was another such person, stating: “I will very
gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well,” he
says, “If I love you more, will you love me less” (Acts 9:36;
h) A holy person will pursue purity of heart.
They will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to
avoid everything that might draw them into it. They know their own
heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of
temptation. Who will dare to talk of strength when David can fall?
There are many hints to be gleaned from the ceremonial law. Under it
the man who only touched a bone, or a dead body, or a grave, or a
diseased person, at once became unclean in the sight of God. And these
things were pictures and figures. Few Christians are ever too watchful
and too particular about this point.
i) A holy person will pursue the fear of God.
I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because they are
afraid of punishment, and would be idle if they did not dread
discovery. Rather, I mean the fear of a child, who wishes to live and
move, as if they were always in their father’s sight, because he loves
them. What a noble example Nehemiah gives us of this! When he became
Governor at Jerusalem he might have invoke taxation on the Jews,
requiring money from them for his support. The former Governors had
done so. There was no one to blame him if he did. But he says, “But
out of reverence for God I did not act like that” (Nehemiah 5:15).
j) A holy man will pursue humility.
They will desire, in humility, to consider others better than
themselves. They will see more evil in their own heart than in any
other in the world. They will understand something of Abraham’s
feeling, when he says, “I am nothing but dust and ashes;”-and Jacob’s,
when he says, “I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you
have shown your servant;”-and Job’s, when he says, “I am
unworthy;”-and Paul’s, when he says, “I am the worst of sinners.”
Bradford, that holy and faithful martyr of Christ, would sometimes
sign his letters with these words, “A most miserable sinner, John
Bradford.” Good old Mr. Grimshaw’s last words, when he lay on his
deathbed, were these, “Here goes an unprofitable servant.”
k) A holy man will pursue faithfulness in all the duties and
relationships in life.
They will try, not merely to fulfill their duties and
responsibilities, as well as others who have no care or concern for
their souls, but even better, because they have higher motives, they
will try to be of more help than the others. Those words of Paul
should never be forgotten, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your
heart, as working for the Lord,”-“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep
your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Colossians 3:23-note;
Holy persons should aim at doing everything well, and should be
ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything poorly if they can help
it. Like Daniel, they should seek to give no “basis for charges
against themselves, “unless it has something to do with the law of
their God” (Daniel 6:5). They should strive to be good husbands and
good wives, good neighbors, good friends, good citizens, good in
private and good in public, good in the place of business and good in
their homes. Indeed, holiness is worth little, if it does not bear
this kind of fruit. The Lord Jesus puts a searching question to His
people, when He says, “What are you doing more than others?” Mt 5:47-note).
l) Last, but not least, a holy person will pursue spiritual
They will endeavor to set their affections entirely on things above,
and to hold very loosely the things of earth. They will not neglect
the daily business of their life; but the first place in their mind
and thoughts will be given to the life to come. They will aim to live
like those whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world
like a stranger and pilgrim traveling to their home. To commune with
God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people-these
things will be the holy person’s principal enjoyments. They will value
every thing and place and company, in the same proportion as it draws
them nearer to God. They will enter into something of David’s feeling,
when he says, “My soul clings to you.” “You are my portion, O LORD”
Such is the outline of holiness. Such is the character that is pursued
by those who are called “holy.” Such are the main features of a holy
man and a holy woman. (Read the complete article on
Hebrews 12:14: Holiness)
Steven Cole writes
We must pursue peace and purity to
finish the Christian race: Stay on course (Heb 12:14)! The course
entails the two great commandments. Pursuing “peace with all men” is
the second commandment, to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt.
22:39). To pursue “the sanctification without which no one will see
the Lord” is the first commandment, to “love the Lord your God will
all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt.
22:37). Jesus links these two themes (in reverse order) in the Sermon
on the Mount: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”
(Mt. 5:8, 9-note).
The link between pursuing peace and sanctification shows that we must
not pursue peace at any cost. As Paul puts it (Ro 12:18-note),
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
His words imply the reality of living in this fallen world, that
sometimes it is not possible to be at peace with everyone. Sometimes
the other person clings to bitterness and hatred, and you can’t do
anything more than you’ve done to be reconciled. At other times, to
make peace would require compromising obedience to God, either morally
or doctrinally. You can’t sacrifice personal holiness or commitment to
God’s truth for the sake of peace. But, whenever you can do so without
compromise, the race set before us includes pursuing both peace with
others and purity before God....
B. Pursue the purity without which
no one will see the Lord.
The NASB uses “sanctification,” but
that doesn’t alliterate with peace as purity does! Some versions use
“holiness.” The idea is, moral purity, both inwardly and outwardly. It
points to a heart that is growing in conformity with God’s standards
of purity or holiness. As Jesus pointed out in the Sermon on the
Mount, moral purity must begin on the heart level. Adultery, in God’s
sight, is not just the physical act, but also the lust of the heart
(Mt. 5:27, 28, 29, 30-note).
Jesus indicated that if a man will not judge his lust on the thought
level, his whole body will be thrown into hell! That is what our text
means when it says, “without which no one will see the Lord.” It
means, if you’re not growing in sanctification (purity), you will not
go to heaven!
We need to clarify that with two
First, it does not mean that we
earn heaven by our righteous behavior. The Bible is abundantly clear
that heaven is God’s free gift to all that trust in Christ as Savior
and Lord (Ro 6:23-note).
Second, it does not mean that
anyone can be perfectly holy or sanctified in this life. Some
Christians teach that believers can achieve a state of sinless
perfection or total sanctification in this life. But the Bible is
clear that we must strive against indwelling sin as long as we live
So, what does our text mean? It
means that those whose hearts have been regenerated by God's grace
will pursue a course of purity or holiness (1Co 6:9, 10, 11; Eph.
Col. 3:5, 6, 7,8-note;
1Jn 3:7, 8, 9, 10). They may sin often, but they do not remain in sin.
They hate it, they confess it and turn from it, and they fight against
it with the spiritual weapons that God provides (Ep 6:10-20-note).
They build into their lives safeguards to avoid sin. They renew their
minds through Scripture, hiding God’s word in their hearts, so that
they might not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11-note).
It is a lifelong pursuit, but without it, no one will see the Lord.
They won’t go to heaven! Heaven will be a place of absolute holiness.
God is holy, surrounded by His holy angels, who cover their faces and
proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3). The
saints in heaven are all perfectly holy, never to sin again. If you’re
not pursuing a course of holiness now, you’d be awfully uncomfortable
in such a holy place, not to mention the fact that you’d ruin it! So
everyone who has been rescued from sin and judgment by the cross wants
to please the Lord who died for him by pursuing purity. (Read
Pastor Cole's full Sermon)
Hebrews 12:15 See
to it that
short of the
trouble, and by
Amplified: Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look
[after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to
secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in
order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred)
shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many
become contaminated and defiled by it—
Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on
the special favor of God. Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief
rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by
its poison. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: looking diligently over lest any
one be failing of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness
springing up may give trouble, and through this many may be defiled;
SEE TO IT THAT NO ONE COMES SHORT OF THE GRACE OF GOD: episkopountes
(PAPMPN) me tis husteron (PAPMPN) apo tes charitos tou theou:
(He 2:1,2; 3:12; 4:1,11; 6:11; 10:23-35; Deuteronomy 4:9; Proverbs
4:23; 1Corinthians 9:24, 25, 26, 27; 1Corinthians 10:12; 2Corinthians
6:1; 13:5; 2Peter 1:10; 3:11,14; 2Jn 1:8; Jude 1:20,21) (Luke 22:32;
1Corinthians 13:8; Galatians 5:4)
Deuteronomy 29:18 Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or
clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God
to go and serve the
gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing
poisonous and bitter fruit (wormwood; Lxx = pikria)
Comment: Moses reminded the
people of the gross idolatry they witnessed while enslaved in Egypt
and then while traveling through the wilderness (cp Dt 29:16, 17). If
they witnessed it with hearts devoted to the Lord, they couldn't help
but be repulsed by what they saw, and they surely wouldn't want to
participate in it. Nobody in Israel—no individual, family, or
tribe—was to get involved in idolatry; for any idolater could become a
"bitter root" that could defile the whole nation. Hebrews 12:15
applies this same warning to local assemblies of believers, for "one
sinner destroys much good" (Ec 9:18). Even if the offenders kept their
sins hidden and were confident that they could escape judgment, the
Lord would know and would judge. There could be no forgiveness; they
would be plagued and killed and their names would be blotted out from
under heaven (Dt 9:14; Ex 32:32, 33). They would suffer from all the
plagues named in Deuteronomy 28. (Wiersbe)
Wormwood (Dt 29:18; Pr 5:4;
Jer 9:15; 23:15; La 3:15, 19; Am 5:7; 6:12) was a plant known for its
bitter pulp and often associated with poison. Therefore Israel was
warned to be extremely vigilant against the sin of idolatry when they
entered the land of Canaan and faced the temptations of the lewd,
debauched, sexually charged practices associated with pagan idol
Calvin: As soon, therefore,
as any one should endeavor to excite his brethren to worship false
gods, God commands him to be plucked up, lest the poison should burst
forth, and the bitter root should produce its natural fruits in the
corruption of others.
Hard Sayings: Just as one
apostate in Israel could influence many neighbors to serve gods other
than Yahweh, so one apostate among these Christians could lead others
to forsake their faith.
Pulpit Commentary: The herb
is thus described by Umbreit: “It is a plant toward two feet high,
belonging to the genus Artemisia (species Artemisia absinthium), which
produces a very firm stalk with many branches, grayish leaves, and
small, almost round, pendent blossoms. It has a bitter and saline
taste, and seems to have been regarded in the East as also a poison,
of which the frequent combination with rosh gives an intimation.”
See to it (1983)
= upon or intensifying the already existing idea in verb + skopeo
= regard, give attention to, look at, contemplate) means literally to
look upon, and thus to observe, to examine the state of affairs of
something, to look after or to oversee. In the NT, episkopeo is used
only in Hebrews 12:15
and 1 Peter 5:2-note, the latter used to describe the
work of shepherding the flock. It
expresses careful regard of those
in position of responsibility.
Vincent writes that...
(episkopountes) gives diligently as the force of epi, but epi
signifies direction rather than
The idea is exercising oversight.
better conveying the meaning of episkopeo...
(episkopeo) [over yourselves] lest anyone be falling away from the
grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up be troubling
you, and through this the many be defiled (Hebrews 12:15)
one who is literally a "watchman" "upon" (prefix "epi-"
= upon) the sheep. This verb is in the
pictures these men as
constantly, diligently, actively and responsibly overseeing the care
of the sheep in their flock. They are constantly examining them for "spiritual
parasites" and are ever on the lookout for the ravenous wolves in
sheep's clothing (Mt 7:15-note).
Oversight is not the only duty of shepherding, but it is the one Peter
mentions here in the situation of suffering.
Episkopeo is made up of
two words in Greek just like it is in English - "over" and "sight".
Elder-shepherds exercise oversight. They are "overseers". They look
out over the flock. God holds them accountable for seeing the big
picture and acting for the good of the whole flock.
ESV Study Bible...
See to it that. As
they pursue peace and holiness (v. 14), Christians should watch out
for each other (cf. 3:13; 10:24-25) in order that no one falls short
of the gift of eternal salvation
(He 12:15KJV) has in it
the thought of direction. And what is that direction? "Looking unto
Jesus the author and finisher of our faith . . ." (Heb. 12:2).
Vine writes that
“exercising” is the right rendering; the word does not imply the
entrance upon such responsibility, but the fulfilment of it. It is not
a matter of assuming a position, but of the discharge of the duties.
Matthew Poole says episkopeo...
notes a very strict and
severe inspecting themselves; its primitive, skopein, signifieth such
a looking to a thing, as those who, in shooting, aim at the mark; and
the preposition adds intention to the action, signifying a most
earnest care in Christians over themselves, in them over others, and
in ministers over them all.
See to it is in the plural,
making it everyone’s responsibility to make sure no one misses the
grace of God. Continually considering, taking heed of the critical
importance of the grace of God, remembering that God is opposed to the
proud but gives grace to the humble. The word expresses the careful
regard of those who occupy a position of responsibility (as a
physician, or a superintendent) The same word is used in 1Pe 5:2
(see note) where
the elders are exhorted to take the oversight of the local church. The
noun is used in [Acts 20:28] where Paul calls the elders, overseers. The
idea here is that these Jews should exercise oversight over their
lives to the end that they do not fail of the grace of God.
Hebrews addressed an audience
wanting to face two directions ("Mr. Facing-Both-Ways") at once--the
security of what they could see which was the Ritual and Legalism of Judaism
(exemplified by Mt. Sinai He 12:18-note)
versus what they could not see yet already
possessed by faith (Mt Zion - He 12:22-note)
which equates with the freedom as a slave of Christ.
The inspired writer urged them to face full forward toward Christ and
forget legalism. The gravest sin they could commit would be to try to
earn salvation through the law and miss the way of grace.
The idea of episkopeo in this
All of you, act like bishops in seeing that no one succumbs to
In other words the writer is
urging what you might call some sanctified “meddling” in each other’s lives. We must
consciously involve ourselves in the Body of Christ, assuming
responsibility for seeing others go on in grace, and also humbly
receiving their loving care for us. We all need grace to finish the
The next two verses (He 12:16,
17-notes) seem to
present four distinct sins to avoid. But there is a strong suggestion
in the context that this is another warning against the single sin of
apostasy and that these four sins are all related to it.
First of all, apostasy is a
failure to obtain the grace of God. Note that the verb comes short is
present tense suggesting that this is this person's
In other words such a person continually comes short of or
lacks the grace of God. Such a one is continually left behind in the race and so
fails to reach the goal. He is continually falling short of the end,
that is of becoming a full partaker of the grace of God. And no one can continually, habitually come short of God's
amazing grace and pretend to say they are a true believer. The person looks like
a Christian, talks like a Christian, professes to be a Christian, but
he has never been born again. He has come so near the Savior but has
never received Him and thus is so near and yet so far.
There must be a constant
watch kept not only over our own hearts but also over the
congregations to which we belong. Members must take care of one
another; this is the communion between saints. (An Exposition on the
Epistle of James)
Baker NT Commentary...
the writer reasserts the
corporate responsibility of the believers. "See to it that no one
misses the grace of God" (compare He 3:12; 4:1, 11). As members of the
body of Christ we are responsible for each other. We have the task of
overseeing one another in spiritual matters, so that we may grow and
flourish in the grace of God and not come short of it. That is, no one
should be allowed to straggle, for if this happens he becomes Satan's
prey and will miss God's grace (2Co 6:1; Gal. 5:4). Mutual supervision
within the entire body stimulates the spiritual health of the
individual members. Avoid, therefore, the indifference to one another
manifested by Cain, who asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4:9).
Instead we should ask each other about our spiritual well-being,
although perhaps not in the quaint wording of the Methodist preacher
who inquired, "How is it with thy soul, brother?" But certainly as
members of Christ's body we must put similar questions to our brothers
and sisters in the Lord.
Comes short of
from hústeros = last, latter, terminal, hindmost)
has the basic meaning of come to late (in time) or to come after (in terms of
space) and thus it means to fail in something, come short of, miss, not to
reach. Hustereo has the basic meaning of being last or inferior. It
means to be left behind in the race and so fail to reach the goal, to fall
short of the end, to lack. It means to come late or too tardily.
Vincent writes that the idea is...
“fall back from,”
implying a previous attainment. The present participle marks something
in progress: “lest
any one be falling back.”
Note the word "of" is the preposition apo (575)
which is a marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a former
association, separation, departure, cessation, completion, reversal.
It pictures any separation of one thing from another by which the
union or fellowship of the two is destroyed.
Hustereo means to be excluded here (He 12:15-note)
or in He 4:1-note as coming too late through one's own fault miss and so
to fail to reach the intended objective or goal.
The early Greek commentator
Theophylact interprets hustereo in terms of a journey of a band of
travelers who every now and again check up, "Has anyone fallen out?
Has anyone been left behind while the others have pressed on?" We too
are on a "journey", the final destination being the City of the Living
God, the Heavenly, New Jerusalem, Mt Zion. Don't fall behind & be left
behind or you'll miss the grace of God & be left at the fearful Mt.
Sinai where the Law has condemned you because of your sin.
In several of the NT
passages hustereo means to be in short supply, to fail, to give out or
to lack. Hustereo can mean to experience deficiency in something
advantageous or desirable and thus to be lacking, go without or come short
of (as in Mt 19:20).
What sins will rob us of the
enabling of God's grace? These verses tell us: lack of spiritual diligence,
bitterness against others (see Deut.
29:18), sexual immorality, and living for the world and the flesh.
(Commenting on He 13:24) Of
course, the writer of the Hebrew epistle was sending his personal greetings
to the leaders of the church; but this is a good example for all of us to
follow. Every Christian should be on speaking terms with his pastor. Never
allow any "root of bitterness" to grow up in your heart (Heb. 12:15) because
it will only poison you and hurt the whole church.
Richards sees the falling short in the context of the divine
discipline just discussed in Heb 12:5-11...
If we fail to sense the love and the
purposefulness that underlie God's discipline we are likely to become bitter
and so "miss the grace of God." If we see our trials and difficulties in the
perspective provided by God's grace we will accept discipline. (Bible
Hustereo is used 14 times in the Lxx (Num. 9:7, 13; Neh. 9:21; Job
36:17; Ps. 23:1; 39:4; Eccl. 6:2; 9:8; 10:3; Cant. 7:2; Dan. 4:33; 5:27;
Hustereo - 16x in 16v -
Matt. 19:20; Mk. 10:21; Lk. 15:14; 22:35; Jn. 2:3; Rom. 3:23; 1Co. 1:7; 8:8;
12:24; 2 Co. 11:5, 9; 12:11; Phil. 4:12; Heb. 4:1; 11:37; 12:15
Hustereo is used in the famous "Hall of Faith" chapter, Hebrews 11...
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to
death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being
destitute (hustereo), afflicted, ill-treated (see note
The meaning of hustereo is further illustrated in the following
(At the wedding in Cana site of Jesus' first recorded miracle) And when the
wine gave out, (hustereo) the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have
no wine." (John 2:3)
Now when he (the prodigal son) had spent everything, a severe famine
occurred in that country, and he began to be in need (hustereo).
The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still
lacking (hustereo)?" (Mt 19:20)
If our perseverance should “fall short” like the wine at the wedding feast in Cana, the party could be
ruined (John 2:3). If our faith runs out like the prodigal son’s money, we
may find ourselves very impoverished (Lu 15:14). It is easy for this
deficiency to come on us unnoticed, like the rich young ruler’s lack of
freedom from his wealth (Mt 19:20).
With reverential fear all are to examine their own spiritual condition (cf.
1Cor 10:12; 2Cor 13:5) and to actively press for commitment on the part of
others (cf. Jude 1:23).
Hustereo means to essentially to be found to come short as in Romans
3 where Paul writes that ...
all have sinned and fall short (hustereo) of the glory of God
When you come short of something, you can miss it an inch or a mile,
but you still miss it! So those in
have missed it a "mile". There are others who have missed it by only an
"inch". For example, take the man that Mark wrote about...
And looking at him (a man who ran up to Jesus and knelt before Him), Jesus
felt a love for him, and said to him, "One thing you lack (hustereo):
go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have
treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But at these words his face fell,
and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus,
looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who
are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! (Mark 10:21, 22, 23)
In this declaration by Jesus the verb lack is the same word
hustereo (come short) used here in Hebrews 4. Jesus was telling the man
(and all who have ears to hear) that "you are coming short in just one
Isn't it amazing how some can come so close! They are in a good Bible
believing church, they know stories and verses in the Bible, they know the
message of good news, they are "good" people, etc, etc...but they lack one
thing…they've never confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life the
importance of which Paul explains...
But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR
HEART"-- that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you
confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart
that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; 10 for with the heart
man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he
confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER
BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED (means to be caused to be
much ashamed, humiliated or disgraced!)." (See notes
10:9; 10; 11)
When you come so close yet are still short, you might even presume that you
have entered into the rest (like a "vaccination" or being inoculated with
the inactive virus to prevent you from getting the real viral disease), and
so this is why it is so important to continue to encourage one another daily
while there is still time. Coming to Bible study means nothing if Christ is
not in your heart. You can know a lot in your head but the real issue is to
make certain of your calling and election. Many will say to Jesus in that
day "Lord, Lord" but He will say "I never knew you." (Mt
Mt 7:22, 23-note)
Here are all the uses of hustereo (words in bold below represent
translation of hustereo) in the NT...
Matthew 19:20 The young man said to Him, "All these things I have
kept; what am I still lacking?"
Mark 10:21 And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to
him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to
the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
Luke 15:14 "Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine
occurred in that country, and he began to be in need.
Luke 22:35 And He said to them, "When I sent you out without purse
and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" And
they said, "No, nothing."
John 2:3 And when the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said
to Him, "They have no wine."
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
1 Corinthians 1:7 so that you are not lacking in any gift,
awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Corinthians 8:8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither
the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.
1 Corinthians 12:24 whereas our seemly members have no need
of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to
that member which lacked,
2 Corinthians 11:5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior
to the most eminent apostles.
2 Corinthians 11:9 and when I was present with you and was
in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came
from Macedonia, they fully supplied my need (related word husterema), and in
everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do
2 Corinthians 12:11 I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled
me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I
inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in
prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being
filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest,
any one of you should seem to have come short of it.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to
death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being
destitute, afflicted, ill-treated
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of
bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
Wuest writes that
is “lest any one be falling back.” This exactly describes the
situation of this unsaved Jew who has allowed himself to be led along
by the Holy Spirit in His pre-salvation work of convicting the sinner
of sin, and of bringing him to the place of repentance (He 6:4, 5, 6-see notes
Jews were thus the recipients of the grace of God up to this point.
The writer is concerned that they might fall back from this grace to
the temple sacrifices again, and thus be irrevocably lost (Ch. 6). It
should be clear that the writer is not here speaking of the Jew who
had already put his faith in Messiah as High Priest. That person could
not fall back to the sacrifices (He 6:9-note). He has been the recipient of
the work of the Spirit by whom he was regenerated, baptized into Jesus
Christ as his Head and into the Body of Christ, and permanently
indwelt, and sealed with the Spirit by God the Father until the
glorification of his body." (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Guzik explains it this way...
We must get right with
God's grace. So look diligently to keep both yourself and others from
a return to legalism in either outward form or inward attitude that
falls short of God's grace, lest any root of bitterness springing up
i. "A bitter root is a root that bears bitter fruit . . . So it is
possible for the seed of bitterness to be sown in a community and,
though nothing is immediately apparent, in due time the inevitable
fruit appears." (Morris)
ii. Many are corrupted because of bitterness towards someone they feel
has wronged them, and they hold on to the bitterness with amazing
stubbornness! What they must do is remember the grace of God extended
to them, and start extending that grace towards others - loving the
iii. A legalistic attitude will always produce a bitterness that
defiles many; its emphasis on what we should do for God before what He
has done for us in Jesus puts us (and those around us) in a terrible
performance trap. (Hebrews 12)
hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The readers are
admonished, therefore, to see to it, to show practical concern, that
no one fail to obtain the grace of God, or, rather, that none of their
fellow contestants fall behind in the race and turn away from the
prize that is before them. As we have repeatedly seen, the danger by
which they are threatened is that of apostasy: in He 3:12 they have
been warned to take care lest in any of them an evil, unbelieving
heart should cause them to desert the living God; in 4:1 they have
been advised to fear lest any of them be judged to have failed to
reach God's rest; in He 6:4-6 they have been told of the impossibility
of restoration for any who wilfully abandon the blessings of the
gospel; and in He 10:26-31 they have been cautioned again regarding
the irremissibility of the sin of deliberately profaning the blood of
the covenant. Similarly here it is once more the peril of apostasy, of
dropping out of the race, of "rejecting him who warns from heaven" (He
12:25-29), against which they are being warned. Our author, then, is
not speaking of some relatively serious deficiency in the Christian
life, but of the absolutely disastrous eventuality of cutting oneself
off from the grace of God. Where there are symptoms that such a
situation may be developing, earnest attentiveness and searching
self-scrutiny on the part both of the community and of the individuals
of which it is composed are an urgent necessity. (A Commentary On The
Epistle To The Hebrews)
Grace (5485)(charis) is a word
with a number of meanings in the NT, the specific nuance being
dependent on the context.
quality that adds delight or pleasure or a winning quality or
attractiveness that invites a favorable reaction = graciousness,
attractiveness, charm, winsomeness (Lk 4:22, Col 4:6-note)
beneficent disposition toward someone, and specifically in the NT
defines God's attitude toward human beings = kindness, grace, favor,
helpfulness, gracious care/help, goodwill (Jn 1:16, Ep 2:8)
practical application of goodwill = (a sign of) favor, gracious
deed/gift, benefaction (Ac 24:27, 25:9, 2Co 8:4, Eph 4:29-note)
exceptional effects produced by God's favor = ability, power to
transform, enabling power Ro 12:6-note,
response to generosity or beneficence = verbal thank offering, thanks,
gratitude (1Co 15:57)
New American Commentary...
God's grace is always available 'to help us in our time of need' (He
4:16). Those who fail to depend on it and respond to it will not enter
his heavenly kingdom (cf. He 3:12, 13, 14).
Lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any person among them
should fail of grace offered in the gospel to it, and never have it,
2:11-12; or apostatize from the profession of it, by seduction or
persecution, Heb 4:1; 10:38; 2Co 6:1: compare Ga 1:6; 3:3.
The grace of God is
undeserved, unsought, and unbought (except that it is made available
by the precious blood of the Lamb of God). The infinitely high price
of redemption was paid for by
of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your
sake He became poor (His incarnation), that you through His poverty
might become rich (spiritual riches that Jesus gives to all who place
their trust in Him). (2Cor 8:9)
is God’s supernatural provision for our every need when we need it. God in
His grace gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy He does not give
us what we do deserve.
So the riches of our salvation
(calling, election, justification, sanctification) were all made
possible by the "impoverishment" of Christ Who became a man, suffered
and died a cruel death on the cross so that grace could be manifested
in our life. When we realize what it cost God to express grace,
it helps us realize the wickedness of our sin and the undeserving
state of mankind. What an amazing divine paradox -- grace was
immeasurably costly for God to express and yet is unconditionally free
to all men. Grace is God’s favor freely offered but expensively
Grace is not some static concept but is a dynamic force, which
totally transforms the believer's life beginning with salvation (Acts
15:11; 18:27; Ro 3:24-note;
continuing in our sanctification (2Pe 3:18-note,
- where grace "instructs" us in our daily walk of godliness) and then all
through eternity in our glorification (1Pe 1:13-note,
Grace enables the believer suffer/endure without grumbling or
complaining, and enables our weakness or suffering to be used for
God's glory. When a Christian turns away from living by God's grace,
he or she must depend on their own power and this invariably leads to
failure and disappointment.
Grace is distinct to Christianity for no other world religion has
such a supernatural enablement, nor could they because grace is from God and
every other world religion is anti-god at its core! The great news of the
Gospel is that every believer has “received...grace upon grace” through our
Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 1:16), because “grace and truth were realized through”
Him (Jn 1:17) and He is “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). And so from the
very beginning of the birth of the Church in Acts we see that “abundant
grace was upon them all" (the new believers composing the church) (Acts
4:33). In the epistles Paul wrote of the “grace in which we stand” (Ro 5:2-note).
James adds that humility gives every believer access to grace that is
greater than sin’s power (James 4:6; cp Ro 5:20-note).
Peter described the “manifold [multi-colored - like Joseph's multicolored
"dream coat"] grace of God” (1Pe 4:10-note)
which is sufficient for "multicolored" trials (1Pe 1:6-note).
In short, God always provides the sufficient grace for every trial (no
exceptions!) Thus it is little wonder that Paul characterized this amazing
grace as the “surpassing grace of God in [believers]” (2Co 9:14), and was
confident that “God is able (present
= He continuously has the ability) to make all (pas = all without
exception) grace abound to you (referring to believers), that always
(pantote from pas = all + tote = then) having all
sufficiency in everything (pas),
you may have an abundance for every (pas)
good deed” (2Co 9:8 - note the "all" sufficient character of grace all the
time to all believers! Praise God.).
The "grace of God" is described as...
(many-sided, multi-colored, variegated) (1Pe 4:10-note)
(sufficing, enough, adequate - there is never a shortage)
THAT NO ROOT OF BITTERNESS SPRINGING UP
CAUSES TROUBLE, AND BY IT MANY BE DEFILED: me tis rhiza pikrias ano
phuousa (PAPFSN) enochle (3SPAS) kai di
autes mianthosin (3PAPS) polloi:
(He 3:12; Dt 29:18; 32:32; Is 5:4,7; Je 2:21;
Mt 7:16, 17, 18) (Trouble - Josh 6:18; 7:25,26; 22:17-20;
Ep 5:3; Col 3:5 ) (Ex 32:21; 1Ki 14:16; Ac
20:30,31; 1Co 5:6; 15:33; Gal 2:13; 2Ti 2:16,17;
topic - Forgiveness
List of links related to
Multiple illustrations and quotes
related to forgiveness/unforgiveness
Exposition of "Forgiveness" in
Exposition of "Forgiveness" in
Exposition of "Forgiveness" in
For all you
horticulturists out there, does not this passage present a powerful
picture of the acrid fruit reaped when we we plant the seeds of
bitterness in our heart?!
(Biblical Counseling Keys) has these insights on bitterness...
Resentment toward God and those who have not fulfilled your
expectations will grow bitter roots that destroy acceptance of
yourself and others.
If you don't forgive, you will develop a root of bitterness and a
bitter root will grow bitter fruit.... You will become bitter.
Unresolved anger produces
bitterness. And the Bible links bitterness with being in bondage to
sin. (Acts 8:23)
Give the situation to God. Jesus
understands how much you have been wronged. When He was being
persecuted, Jesus knew that the heavenly Father would judge justly...
in His way, in His time. And you can know the same. Your trial will
make you either bitter or better.
Following conflict, what keeps your
heart from a negative focus? Jesus said, "Love your enemies."...If you
are saying, "but they really aren't enemies," realize that if someone
evokes resentment, bitterness, or hatred, that person is an enemy to
your spirit. Because praying for your enemy is commanded by Christ,
believers should obey this directive and not regard this as optional.
And because praying for your enemy protects your heart from
bitterness, you should want to obey this directive in heart and in
deed. One approach is to pray "the fruit of the Spirit" for your
offender. And because you are willing to "bless" your enemy, the Bible
says that you will inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
Gantry wrote the following that relates to the root of
is the tumor of the soul, and it grows by what it feeds on. You cannot
cure it by a few good resolutions. It requires the most drastic
treatment, and Christ prescribes crucifixion as the only way of
destroying this root of every kind of bitterness. (Ed: Note
after we have been crucified with Christ, but now the battle can we
waged victoriously as we surrender to the indwelling Spirit of grace).
(rhiza) is literally the underground part of a plant and
figuratively as used here that which constitutes a basic source or
reason for an event and thus the source, cause or reason.
Root - 17x in 16v - Mt
3:10; 13:6, 21; Mk 4:6, 17; 11:20; Lk 3:9; 8:13; Ro 11:16, 17, 18;
15:12; 1Ti 6:10; He 12:15; Re 5:5; 22:16.
We need to be
very careful to not nurse a grudge for it can grow into a root of bitterness
(listen to Steve Cantrell discuss the relation between
ungratefulness, unforgiveness and bitterness -
See the OT example of a root of bitterness (Ge 37:8, 11) which led
to the fruit of bitterness, attempted murder! (Ge 37:18)
bitterness -- not merely a "bitter root," which might possibly bring
forth sweet fruits; this, a root whose essence is "bitterness," never
could...The only safety is in rooting out such a root of bitterness...
So long as it is hidden under the earth it cannot be remedied, but
when it "springs up," it must be dealt with boldly. Still remember the
caution (Mt 13:26, 27, 28, 29, 30) as to rooting out persons.
Baker NT Commentary...
of many weed plants spread rapidly and produce plants in all the
places where the roots grow. These roots develop undetected; the
resultant rapid multiplication of plants is quite unsettling. Roots
and plants spell trouble for crop-producing plants that are then
deprived of necessary nutrients and as a result yield a reduced
harvest. With this picture borrowed from the world of agriculture, the
author of Hebrews looks at the church and compares a person who has
missed the grace of God (and has fallen away) with a bitter root. Such
a person causes trouble among God's people by disturbing the peace.
With his bitter words, he deprives the believers of holiness.
A root of
bitterness signifies a poisonous plant. The Hebrews call every species
of poison a bitter, and with considerable propriety, as most plants
are poisonous in proportion to the quantum of the bitter principle
they possess. The root of bitterness is here used metaphorically for a
bad man, or a man holding unsound doctrines, and endeavoring to spread
them in the Church.
of bitterness refers to a person who is superficially identified with
God's people, and who falls back into paganism. But he is no ordinary
apostate. He is arrogant and defiant concerning the things of God. He
thumbs his nose at the Lord. God's response to such boastful unbelief
is harsh and final.
from pik- = to cut, prick) originally meant pointed or sharp,
e.g., of arrows then more generally of what is “sharp” or
“penetrating” to the senses, a bitter, pungent taste or smell and then
what is “painful” to the feelings.
Pikria - 4x in 4v - Acts 8:23; Ro 3:14; Ep 4:31; He 12:15.
All uses translated as bitterness.
Pikria - 19x in the Lxx - Ex 15:23; Deut 29:17; 32:32; Ps
9:28; 13:3; Job 3:20; 7:11; 9:18; 10:1; 21:25; Amos 6:12; Isa 28:21,
28; 37:29; Jer 2:21; 15:17; Lam 3:15, 19; Ezek 28:24
was used literally to describe plants that produced inedible or
poisonous fruit. Greeks described the figurative use of
pikria as long-standing
resentment, as the spirit which refuses to be reconciled. So many of
us have a way of nursing our wrath to keep it warm, of brooding over
the insults and the injuries which we have received.
In the NT
pikria is used in a metaphorical sense to describe animosity,
resentfulness, harshness or an openly-expressed emotional hostility
against an enemy. Pikria defines a settled hostility that poisons the
whole inner man. Somebody does something we do not like, so we harbor
ill will against him. Bitterness leads to wrath, which is the
explosion on the outside of the feelings on the inside.
Bitterness—extreme enmity; sour temper
A. Kinds of:
The heart Pr 14:10
Death 1Sam. 15:32
B. Causes of:
Childlessness 1Sa 1:5, 10
A foolish son Pr 17:25
Sickness Is 38:17
C. Avoidance of:
Toward others Ep 4:31
As a source of defilement He 12:15
ISBE has this note on bitterness...
the physical sense of taste;
2. a figurative meaning in the objective sense of cruel, biting words;
intense misery resulting from forsaking God, from a life of sin and
impurity; the misery of servitude; the misfortunes of bereavement;
3. more subjectively, bitter and bitterness describe emotions of
sympathy;’ the sorrow of childlessness and of penitence, of
disappointment; the feeling of misery and wretchedness, giving rise to
the expression “bitter tears”;
4. the ethical sense, characterizing untruth and immorality as the
bitter thing in opposition to the sweetness of truth and the gospel;
5. Numbers 5:18 the Revised Version (British and American) speaks of
“the water of bitterness that causeth the curse.” Here it is
employed as a technical term.
says this is "a bad man in the church"!
In the first use
of pikria in the OT Moses records...
And when they came to Marah, they
could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter
(pikria); therefore it was named Marah. (Ex 15:23)
reflects a smoldering resentment, a brooding grudge–filled attitude,
an unwillingness to forgive or a harsh feeling. Bitterness is the
opposite of sweetness and kindness (cf. husbands toward wives in Col
It harbors resentment and keeps score of wrongs (cf 1Cor 13:5-note)
bitterness is the spirit of irritability that keeps a person in
perpetual animosity, making him sour and venomous. Bitterness applies
to the bitterness of spirit to which men give vent by bitter words.
the Greeks defined (pikría )
as long-standing resentment, as the spirit which refuses to be
reconciled. So many of us have a way of nursing our wrath to keep it
warm, of brooding over the insults and the injuries which we have
received. Every Christian might well pray that God would teach him how
to forget." (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The
says that pikria is...
A figurative term denoting that
fretted and irritable state of mind that keeps a man in perpetual
animosity, that inclines him to harsh and uncharitable opinions of men
and things, that makes him sour, crabby and repulsive in his general
demeanor, that brings a scowl over his face & infuses venom into the
words of his tongue.
adds that their
Bitterness is ever ready!
What fearful folly for a race speaking thus to imagine that by "being
baptized, " and "joining the church" they are ready to "go to heaven,
" and be in the holy company on high, with the meek and lowly Son of
God and the holy angels, -and all this without a thought of being
forgiven, washed, born again! (Romans
3: Devotional and Expositional)
has this practical comment on bitterness to which even
believers can fall prey (although here in Hebrews, the reference
appears to refer to an unsaved individual):
An unforgiving spirit is the
devil’s playground (cp Ep 4:29, 2Cor 2:11) and before long it becomes the Christian’s
battleground. If somebody hurts us, either deliberately or
unintentionally, and we do not forgive him, then we begin to develop
bitterness within, which hardens the heart. We should be tenderhearted
and kind, but instead we are hardhearted and bitter. Actually, we are
not hurting the person who hurt us; we are only hurting ourselves.
Bitterness in the heart makes us treat others the way Satan treats
them, when we should treat others the way God has treated us. In His
gracious kindness, God has forgiven us, and we should forgive others.
We do not forgive for our sake (though we do get a blessing from it)
or even for their sake, but for Jesus’ sake. Learning how to forgive
and forget is one of the secrets of a happy Christian life. (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
means to spring up in regard to a seed germinating and breaking
through the surface of the ground. The use is figurative of course in
Phuo - 3x in 3v - Luke
8:6, 8; Heb 12:15. NAS = grew(2), springing(1).
Springing up is in the
which pictures the springing up in progress. The root is gradually
revealing its pernicious character.
There are none so bitter against
the truth as those who have departed from it. - James Philip
(enochleo from en = in + ochléo = disturb) means
to excite disturbance, to trouble, annoy. The idea is to interfere or
bother to the point of causing discomfort.
The only other NT use is by Luke who describes an episode from the
life of Jesus....
And He descended with them, and stood on a level place; and there was
a great multitude of His disciples, and a great throng of people from
all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, 18
who had come to hear Him, and to be healed of their diseases; and
those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being
cured. (Luke 6:17, 18) (Interesting use!)
Vincent has an
interesting note on enochleo writing that it is...
From ochlos, a crowd or mob (Ed
note: Thayer has a similar note), with the idea of want of arrangement
and discipline, and therefore of confusion and tumult. Hence it is
applied to the noise and tumult of a crowd, and so passes into the
sense of the trouble and annoyance caused by these, and of trouble
generally, like the Latin turbae. Thus Herodotus says of Croesus, when
on the funeral-pile he uttered the name of Solon, and the interpreters
begged him to explain what he meant, “and as they pressed for an
answer and grew troublesome” — I., 86. Frequent in medical
language. Thus Hippocrates, “troubled with a spasm or tetanus.”
J Vernon McGee...
Bitterness today is like quinine in a barrel of water. It doesn't
take much to make the water bitter. I remember when I was a boy my
mother would always tell me when I cut up a chicken, "Be careful and
don't break the gall bladder. You'll ruin the whole chicken if you
do." She was right. You could spoil the entire fowl if you broke the
gall bladder. God wants to get rid of that gall bladder of bitterness
in His church. For instance, Hebrews 12:15 says, "Looking diligently
lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness
springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." Just a few
complainers and critics in the church can absolutely stifle any
spiritual movement. Oh, how many lives have been wrecked by
Ray Stedman summarizes missing the grace of God noting that
writer has already warned of this in He 3:12
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart
that turns away from the living God.” Such unbelief is a bitter root
which will create strife and defile many. The root is unbelief which
refuses to reckon on God’s provision of righteousness because it feels
confident it can produce an acceptable righteousness on its own.
Strife and defilement are the bitter fruit which this root inevitably
produces. It will reveal itself in two forms: sexual immorality or
godlessness, like that of Esau. The first is defilement of the body;
the second is defilement of the soul. Our author only touches on the
first at this point but will bring it up again at He 13:4
this brief reference must not be missed for it equates sexual
immorality in its effects with a godless spirit. (Hebrews 12:14-17 Dangers to Watch For)
means to contaminate, corrupt, taint, defile, tinge, pollute, make
"dirty", make "unclean". Originally the verb miaino meant to stain, as
with color, and then came to mean defile as by staining (with color).
The verb defile actually conveys the idea of giving something color by
painting or staining it. Homer for example has this phrase "Tinges the
white ivory with purple." In classical Greek, miaino is the
standing word for profaning something. Thus Plato wrote "And if a
homicide... without purification pollutes the agora, or the games, or
the temples,” etc. Figuratively in the NT miaino means to defile and
stain and speaks especially of cultic and ceremonial impurity which
causes something to be unacceptable.
Miaino - 5x in 4v - Jn
18:28; Titus 1:15; Heb 12:15; Jude 1:8. NAS = defile(1),
Miaino - 113x in the Lxx
- Ge 34:5, 13, 27; 49:4; Ex 20:25; Lev 5:3; 11:24, 43f; 13:3, 8, 11,
14f, 20, 22, 25, 27, 30, 44, 59; 15:31f; 18:24f, 27f, 30; 20:3; 21:1,
3f, 11; 22:5, 8; Nu 5:3, 13f, 19f, 27ff; 6:7, 9, 12; 19:13, 20; 35:34;
Deut 21:23; 24:4; 2 Kgs 23:8, 10, 13, 16; 2Chr 29:19; 36:14; Ps 78:1;
105:39; Job 31:11; Hos 5:3; 6:10; 9:4; Hag 2:13f; Is 43:28; 47:6; Jer
2:7, 23, 33; 3:1f; 7:30; Ezek 4:14; 5:11; 7:22, 24; 9:7; 14:11; 18:6,
11, 15; 20:7, 18, 26, 30f, 43; 22:3f, 11; 23:7, 13, 17, 30, 38; 24:13;
36:17; 37:23; 44:25; Da 7:26; 11:31f
As an aside this verb miaino is used some 30 times in the
(which had about 104
uses!) and thus would likely have been a very familiar term to the
Jewish readers (many of whom used the Septuagint as their primary OT
The writer is quoting from Moses who referred to a root
there shall be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose
heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods
of those nations; lest there shall be among you a root bearing
poisonous fruit and wormwood. (NIV = "make sure there is no
root among you that produces such bitter poison.") (Dt 29:18)
Wormwood is a bitter plant. An idolatrous individual or group could
infect the entire nation with the poison of idolatry. This
figure of speech thus projects an image of the tragic and hopeless
fruit of idolatry. Worshiping anyone or anything other than the one
God separates us from God's forgiveness and blessing. We can become so
set in our determination to worship a false god that we are no longer
sensitive to the call of the one true God. God does not overrule the
freedom of the individual. God will not forgive one who will not
repent and turn to Him. We can become so determined in our sinful
alienation from God that we place ourselves beyond the reach of God's
forgiveness and infect others with the same poison.
must be alert. Every fellowship of any size has a few “bitter roots”
who follow false gods and subtly poison those around them. If we are
to run well, the price is vigilance—especially in the good times.
And thereby many be defiled; lest
by but one such poisonous root, a whole church of Christians may be
infected and poisoned, their sin being as apt to spread and diffuse
itself, as leaven, 1Co 5:6, to taint the whole lump, Ga 5:9: and how
early, even in the apostles' time, for want of obeying this caution,
were the primitive churches corrupted, both in doctrine and morals, by
loose, filthy heretics among them!
Apostasy is a root of
bitterness. The person turns sour against the Lord and repudiates the
Christian faith. His defection is contagious. Others are defiled by
his complaints, doubts, and denials.
In sum, this root of bitterness refers
to the first century Jew who is considering leaving the teaching of
grace and return to the Law and ritual of Judaism and thus induce
others to commit the same offense.
><> ><> ><>
Helen Grace Lesheid writing
on on bitterness - It grows. It distorts reality. It keeps us
chained to the past. Like bad air, it pollutes not just the bitter
person, but those who come in contact with the person (He 12:15).
(Breaking Free from Bitterness - Discipleship Journal, Vol 14, No. 6,
><> ><> ><>
Self-pity weeps on the devil’s shoulder, turning to Satan for comfort.
His invitation is: “Come unto me all you that are grieved, peeved,
misused, and disgruntled, and I will spread on the sympathy. You will
find me a never-failing source of the meanest attitudes and the most
selfish sort of misery. At my altar you may feel free to fail and fall,
and there to sigh and fret. There I will feed your soul on fears, and
indulge your ego with envy and jealousy, bitterness and spite.
There I will excuse you from every cross, duty, and hardship, and permit
you to yield unto temptation.” (From Green, M. P. Illustrations
for Biblical Preaching)
><> ><> ><>
The Cure for Bitterness is a Heavenly Vision (Pun intended) - The
story of the blind songwriter
Fanny Crosby (Click
for additional bio and links to many of her hymns)
who wrote more that 8,000 songs is a powerful example of a heart that
refused to let the seeds of bitterness and unforgiveness germinate. When
Fanny was only 6 weeks old a minor eye inflammation developed and as
some tell the story, the doctor who treated her was a quack and the
potion he prescribed resulted in her becoming totally and permanently
blind! Talk about having a reason to be bitter! And yet this Spirit
filled woman harbored no bitterness against the physician and was quoted
as having said of him
If I could meet him now, I would say thank you, over and over again for
making me blind.
Indeed Fanny Crosby considered her blindness to be a gift from God to
help her write the 8000 hymns that flowed so freely from her pen. Warren
Wiersbe in commenting on Fanny's life wrote that...
It was said of another blind hymn writer,
George Matheson, that God made him
blind so he could see clearly in other ways and become a guide to men.
This same tribute could be applied to Fanny Crosby, who triumphed over
her handicap and used it to the glory of God. (Editorial comment: Here
are words from his most popular hymn)
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
And so when God allowed life to give Fanny Crosby "lemons", instead of
choosing bitterness, she turned the lemons into some of the sweetest
hymns ever penned! In short, Fanny filled with the Spirit and the grace
of God, turned tragedy into triumph, becoming better instead of bitter!
May her tribe increase!
><> ><> ><>
English essayist and critic Charles Lamb (1775–1834) once commented
about a person he did not want to meet:
“Don’t introduce me to that man. I want to go on hating him, and I can’t
hate someone I know.” Our Daily Bread
><> ><> ><>
Myth: "You must forget in order to forgive." Truth: Forgiving is not
forgetting. The key is how it is remembered.... Forgiving is remembering
without bitterness, hatred or resentment (June Hunt - Biblical
Counseling Keys - Biblical Counseling Keys)
><> ><> ><>
Bitterness always inflicts a deeper wound on the person who
harbors it than the person against whom it is directed. A man who had
car trouble on a lonely road asked a farmer to tow him to the nearest
garage. On the way his wife was protesting to her husband the fee the
farmer charged. “It is scandalous,” she said, “to charge us ten dollars
for towing this car only three miles.” To which her husband replied,
“Never mind, dear. I’m having my revenge—I’ve got my brakes on.” Many a
person has thought himself to be getting revenge, but all the time the
major damage was being done to him. (Speaker's Quote Book)
><> ><> ><>
Robert Louis Stevenson, in his Picturesque Notes of Edinburgh, tells the
story of two unmarried sisters who shared a single room. As people are
apt to do who live in close quarters, the sisters had a falling out,
which Stevenson says was “on some point of controversial divinity.” In
other words, they disagreed over some aspect of theology. The
controversy was so bitter that they never spoke again (ever!). There
were no words, either kind or spiteful — just silence. Nevertheless,
possibly because of a lack of means, or because of the innate Scottish
fear of scandal, they continued to keep house together in the single
room. A chalk-line was drawn across the floor to separate their two
domains. For years they coexisted in hateful silence. Each woman’s
meals, baths, and family visitors were exposed to the other’s unfriendly
silence. At night each went to bed listening to the heavy breathing of
her enemy. Thus, the two sisters (ostensibly daughters of the Church!)
continued the rest of their miserable lives.
They probably were not true Christians, because Christians are not to
resist reconciliation and forgiveness. (Hughes,
R. K.: Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ. Crossway Books
><> ><> ><>
The Burden of Bitterness - Luis Palau writes...
A friend of mine went through a massive emotional breakdown. After his
recovery, we went for a walk. "Luis," he told me, "don't ever allow
anyone to make you bitter."Luis
Palau: How to Renew Your Spiritual Passion, Discovery House, October,
He told me about his breakdown which proved very embarrassing.
"My problems began when I got so worked up about the contractor who
didn't build my basement and driveway right. I hated what he'd done to
my home. And since he lived next door, I saw him almost daily. Each time
I saw him, my anger and bitterness grew even more intense until I
No wonder God's Word is so emphatic: "Get rid of all bitterness"
(Ephesians 4:31). Why? Because if a "bitter root grows up" within you,
it will "cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15). (
><> ><> ><>
The Poison - My friend and I were standing in the parking lot of a restaurant where
we had just finished lunch. While we were discussing the damage a
bitter spirit can cause, he took out his New Testament and solemnly
read Hebrews 12:15 to me: "Looking carefully . . . lest any root of
bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become
In the six long decades since our conversation, the sad truth of that
warning has been repeatedly verified by my experiences in pastoral
ministry. Bitterness is a poison, and if not purged out by prayer,
confession, and forgiveness, it does great emotional damage and
destroys relationships. A little grudge that festers can become a
devastating malignancy of soul. That's why the advice in Hebrews must
be diligently heeded.
Have you been holding fast to the memory of some insult, some event,
some criticism? As Paul put it in Ephesians 4:26-note, "Do not let the sun
go down on your wrath." Take the proper steps to resolve the problem
Holding a grudge poisons our spiritual lives. With the Holy Spirit's
help, let's uproot any bitterness right now. It's amazing how joyful
our lives will be when we allow God to purge out the poison of
bitterness. --V C Grounds (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Thinking It Through
What are we to do when someone sins
against us? (Lk. 17:3, 4). According to Jesus,
how many times are we to forgive? (Mt. 18:21, 22).
To get rid of weeds of anger,
dig out the bitter roots.
><> ><> ><>
Sunk by Own Attack (USS
Tang in Wikipedia) - During World War II the U.S.
submarine Tang surfaced under the cover of darkness to fire upon a
large Japanese convoy off the coast of China. Since previous raids had
left the American vessel with only eight torpedoes, the accuracy of
every shot was absolutely essential. The first seven missiles were
right on target; but when the eighth was launched, it suddenly
deviated and headed right back at their own ship. The emergency alarm
to submerge rang out, but it was too late. Within a matter of seconds
the U.S. sub received a direct hit and sank almost instantly. Instead
of doing battle with the enemy, Christians often use God's Word like a
torpedo to attack one another. With precisely aimed missiles of
criticism, contempt, or callousness, we can cripple the body of
Christ, of which we are all members. You cannot sink someone else's
end of the boat and still keep your own afloat. (Ed: "Amen" or
In much the same way we can destroy ourselves by our enmity and
hostility directed toward others. The effects of holding a grudge are
very serious. In fact, modern medicine has shown that emotions such as
bitterness and anger can cause problems such as headaches, backaches,
ulcers, high blood pressure, even contributing to the increased
incidence of heart attacks, etc. When we do not love our enemies (Mt
- keep on loving them in effect "70 x 7"!) but
strike back at them, we are usurping God's prerogative to mete out
justice (Ro 12:17-note,
Ro 12:18, 19, 20, 21-note).
When we seek to take our own revenge, beloved, we in effect are aiming
the torpedo at our own heart and are sure to incur severe damage
ourselves. For the sake of God's Holy Name and the forgiveness wrought
in our behalf by the Cross of Christ, may the Spirit give each of us
the necessary desire and power in the "knick of time" so that we think
before we act in haste and hatred. Amen (Quoted in part by
Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose - Pathway to Living
><> ><> ><>
His father and I were good
friends. The man whom I shall call John died suddenly, leaving a
devastating shock. Years later, John, Jr., moved to the city where we
were located. Hearing I was serving a church in the community, he
looked us up, and eventually affiliated with our congregation. I was
delighted to think he wanted to be part of our fellowship. Like his
father, I assumed he, too, was a commendable churchman. I soon
learned, however, that he was bitter over his father's death, was
blaming God, and trying to punish Him for taking his father in the
prime of life. When Victory Sunday arrived—the day we underwrite the
program needs of the church—young John wrote a big "0" on his pledge
card. This bright, attractive, articulate man with a splendid business
connection had permitted bitterness to consume his potential, distort
his personality, and sour his soul. The antidote to bitterness is
acceptance and forgiveness. What if God had retaliated for the
crucifixion of His son? The cross would be just another death marker;
there would be no church, no salvation! (1000 Illustrations for
Preaching and Teaching)
><> ><> ><>
Vindictiveness - It is said that
when Otto Von Bismarck surrendered to resentment, he ate too much,
drank too much, talked too much, and spent his nights rehearsing
conflicts real and imaginary. He carried the bile of bitterness and
the inner seethings of resentment. When he had no immediate cause for
hate, he would dredge up a skeleton from the past and chew on it for
awhile. One morning Bismarck proudly announced, "I have spent the
whole night hating." So, the weight of resentment eventually broke his
health. He grew a beard to hide the twitching muscles of his face.
Jaundice, gastric ulcers, gallstones, and shingles wracked his body.
After ascending to enviable prominence and power, he spent his sullen
retirement in shameful vindictiveness. When a publisher offered him a
large sum of money for his life's story, he began to write with a
reckless disregard for truth, heaping hate on men and women long dead.
Hatred was Bismarck's passion. He died at the age of eighty-three, an
embittered, cynical, desperately lonely old man, miserable and
self-consumed. (1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching)
><> ><> ><>
Good Dads -
Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. grew
up with a father he describes as physically present but emotionally
absent. In his first book on parenting, Pitts openly chronicles his
struggle to come to terms with his alcoholic father and the climate of
fear he had created in their home. Pitts challenges all men to resolve
the resentment toward their absent or abusive fathers instead of
passing it on to the next generation.
There's a passage in Hebrews 12 that applies to all Christians, but it
has special relevance to dads. It reads:
Pursue peace with all
people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking
carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of
bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become
defiled (He 12:14, 15)
Think of what could happen in our families if we emptied our hearts of
bitterness and made peaceful relationships our goal! If we have been
blessed with a wise and loving father, we should be grateful and
follow his example. But if our father has failed us, we must rely on
God's grace, resolve our anger toward him, and strive to be the kind
of dad we never had. It won't be easy, but with our heavenly Father as
a perfect example, we can learn to be good dads. —David C. McCasland (Ibid)
A faithful father leads by love
With tender firmness from above,
For he himself has learned from God
The lessons of His chastening rod. --DJD
A good father reflects
the love of the heavenly Father.
William Cowper, the great hymn writer, after
his attempt at suicide had been frustrated, returned home and wrote:
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform.
He plants His footsteps on the sea
And rides upon the storm.
"Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.
"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take!
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessing on your head.
"Judge not the hand by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace,
Behind a frowning Providence,
He hides a smiling face.
"His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
"Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain."
THAT [THERE BE] NO IMMORAL
OR GODLESS PERSON LIKE ESAU
WHO SOLD HIS OWN BIRTHRIGHT FOR A SINGLE MEAL: me tis pornos e bebelos os Esau
os anti (Idea of exchange) broseos mias apedeto (3SAMI) ta prototokia heautou:
(He 13:4; Mark 7:21; Acts 15:20,29; 1Corinthians 5:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,9,
10, 11; 6:15, 16, 17, 18, 19 20; 10:8; 2Co 12:21; Gal 5:19, 20, 21; Ep
5:3,5; Col 3:5; 1Th 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; Re 2:20, 21, 22, 23; 21:8; 22:15 )
from pernáo = sell <> peráo = pass
thru, carry over particularly as merchants do and thence to sell) is a
fornicator or sexually immoral person. It is one who commits sexual
Pornos - 10x in 10v - 1Co 5:9, 10,
11; 6:9; Ep 5:5-note;
1Ti 1:10; Heb. 12:16; He 13:4-note;
NAS = fornicators(2),
immoral(2), immoral men(1), immoral people(2), immoral person(1),
Here the writer asserts in
clearest terms that Esau was sexually immoral, calling him a pornos,
from which we get the word pornography. Interestingly, the Old
Testament does not say he was a fornicator unless it is implied in his
marrying the two Canaanite daughters of Heth, who subsequently made
life miserable for his parents (cf. Ge 26:34, 35). Rabbinical
tradition, however, both Palestinian and Hellenistic, paints Esau as a
man completely subject to his libido.
from baíno = to go + belos = threshold, particularly of
a temple) refers properly to one who either was or ought to have been
debarred from going over the threshold or entrance of the temple. The
picture is that which is trodden under foot and which thus describes
that which is the antithesis of that which is holy or set apart.
Bebelos thus describes that which is accessible to everyone and
therefore devoid of real significance. Bebelos can thus
describe that which is worldly as opposed to having an interest in
transcendent (existing apart from and not subject to the limitations
of the material universe) matters.
Bebelos - 5 times in the NT - 1Ti 1:9; 4:7;
6:20; 2Ti 2:16; Heb. 12:16. NAS = godless person(1), profane(1),
The meaning of
this adjective is nicely conveyed by our English word profane
which describes that which disregards what is to be kept sacred or
holy. The English word "profane" is derived from the Latin
profanus which means "outside the temple, not sacred" and
in turn is derived from pro- ‘before’ + fanum =
describes a mindset which takes little notice of anything beyond the
suggests that which is void of all connection with, or relation to,
God. There is nothing sacred about these fables. By using bebelos
Paul is not saying that the fables were blasphemous per se but
that they did not possess the character of truth and sound doctrine.
The verb bebeloo means "to
profane, pollute", (Matt. 12:5; Acts 24:6, and often in
Derived from belos = threshold (compare to baino = to
go). Hence the primary sense is that which may be trodden. Compare to
Latin profanus meaning before the temple or on the ground
outside. What is permitted to be trodden by people at large is
unhallowed, profane. Esau is called bebelos in Heb. 12:16, as
one who did not regard his birthright as sacred, but as something to
be sold in order to supply a common need. (Vincent's
A godless person
is one who has no regard for God,
whose focus is only on physical pleasures. Like Esau such
a one would not consider the
birthright in the Abrahamic Covenant of any value and thus he despise
Then Jacob gave Esau
bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his
way. Thus Esau despised (Lxx = phaulizo a verb not found
in the NT but means to hold cheap, worthless, of no account,
good-for-nothing) his birthright. (Genesis 25:34).
Calvin says of such that
the godless are
those in whom the love of the
world so holds sway and prevails, that they forget heaven as men who
are carried away by ambition, addicted to money and riches, given over
to gluttony, and entangled with other kinds of pleasures, and give the
spiritual kingdom of Christ either no place or the last place in their
Westcott sums up this word by
saying that it describes the man whose mind recognizes nothing higher
than earth, for whom there is nothing sacred, who has no reverence for
the unseen. An unhallowed life is a life without any awareness of or
interest in God. In its thoughts, aims, pleasures, it is completely
earthbound. We have to have a care lest we drift into a frame of mind
and heart which has no horizon beyond this world, for that way
inevitably lie the failure of chastity and the loss of honour.
Hebrew word = bekowrah
see 01062) is the rights of the
birthright among the ancient patriarchal Hebrews conferred upon the
eldest son the right of religious leadership (acting as the so–called
priest of the family) and promised a double portion of the father’s
estate (Dt 21:17) which indicated his authority over the his younger
siblings. Thus the firstborn was not only a type of Christ as the
Firstborn and High Priest of God, but also a type of Christians as the
firstborn who are written in heaven and are partakers of the eternal
inheritance (cf. He 12:23-note).
Slighting the birthright was both slighting the high honor of
officiating in God’s name, and despising that eternal inheritance
which was typified by the double portion.
Esau sold his birthright to
Jacob as indicated in this narrative by Moses...
But Jacob said,
"First sell me your birthright."
And Esau said,
"Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright
And Jacob said,
"First swear to me"; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright
to Jacob. (Ge 23:31, 32, 33)
Stedman sums up Esau
(and those who would emulate his behavior) concluding that...
He thought so little
of the promises of God to Abraham and Isaac, to which he was the
primary heir as the firstborn, that he sold those rights to his
brother Jacob for a bowl of stew! So unimportant was this transaction
in his eyes that later he assumed he could still receive the blessing
which accompanied the right of firstborn. Though his brother Jacob had
tricked their blind father into conferring the blessing upon himself,
Esau still tried to change his father’s words and gain the blessing he
had sold. His father could not and would not change his mind, so Esau
lost both the birth right and the blessing. That is the secular
mentality. It has little time for worship or service, but it is intent
upon material gain and earthly advantage. Professing Christians who
claim to be born again but who live no differently than non-Christians
are repeating the godlessness of Esau. Like him they too will find a
surprising rejection in the last day. Jesus has them in mind when he
says, “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me,
you evildoers!’” (Mt 7:23-note). (Hebrews 12:14-17 Dangers to Watch For)
Apostasy is illustrated by Esau.
He had no real appreciation and no desire for the birthright and therefore
he willingly bartered it for the momentary gratification of his
appetite. As recorded earlier we saw that "Esau despised his birthright." He
was the prototype of an ungodly man who had no affinity for the
things of God (in essence trodding the Holy things of God under foot).
He illustrates the one who has had the light of the truth but who
falls away (He 6:6-note) , who
sins willfully (He 10:26-note)
and there no longer
remains a sacrifice for sins.
><> ><> ><>
Our Daily Bread -
What's Worth Keeping? - A story is told of a man who
loved old books. He met an acquaintance who had just thrown away a
Bible that had been stored in the attic of his ancestral home for
generations. "I couldn't read it," the friend explained. "Somebody
named Guten-something had printed it." "Not Gutenberg!" the book lover
exclaimed in horror. "That Bible was one of the first books ever
printed. A copy just sold for over two million dollars!"
His friend was unimpressed. "Mine wouldn't have brought a dollar. Some
fellow named Martin Luther had scribbled all over it in German."
This fictitious story shows how a person can treat as worthless that
which is valuable. That's what Esau did. Although he was a nice enough
fellow, Esau was a "profane" man because he sold his spiritual
birthright "for one morsel of food" (Hebrews 12:16). Only when it was
too late to undo his wretched bargain did he realize that he had
sacrificed the permanent on the altar of the immediate.
We had better be careful of the "bargains" we make in life. Our
culture places a high price on what is worthless and throws away as
worthless what is of eternal value.
Ask the Lord to help you discern what's worth keeping and what is best
discarded.—Haddon W. Robinson (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
The little choices we must make
Will chart the course of life we take;
We either choose the path of light
Or wander off in darkest night. —D. De Haan
Why pay the high price for this world's bargains
when eternal life is
Hebrews 12:17 For
you know that
sought for it
Amplified: For you understand that later on, when he wanted [to
regain title to] his inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected
(disqualified and set aside), for he could find no opportunity to
repair by repentance [what he had done, no chance to recall the choice
he had made], although he sought for it carefully with [bitter] tears.
Bible - Lockman)
NLT: And afterward, when he wanted his father's blessing, he
was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he wept
bitter tears. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: for ye know that also afterwards, wishing to
inherit the blessing, he was disapproved of, for a place of
reformation he found not, though with tears having sought it.
FOR YOU KNOW THAT EVEN AFTERWARDS
WHEN HE DESIRED TO INHERIT THE BLESSING: iste (2PRAI) gar hoti kai metepeita thelon (PAPMSN) kleronomesai
(AAN) ten eulogian:
afterwards - This refers to Moses record in Genesis 27...
Then he also made savory food, and
brought it to his father; and he said to his father, "Let my father
arise, and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me."
32 And Isaac his father said to him, "Who are you?" And he said, "I am
your son, your first-born, Esau."
33 Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, "Who was he then that
hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before
you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed."
34 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an
exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me,
even me also, O my father!"
35 And he said, "Your brother came deceitfully, and has taken away
your blessing." (Genesis 27:31-35)
Esau was remorseful at the
loss of the older son’s double portion, but it was too late. His
father could not reverse the blessing.
Esau had no regard for spiritual
values, no need for God in his life. As noted earlier Esau typifies that man the writer
of Hebrews describes as willingly renounces the truth about Christ in
order to escape reproach, suffering, or martyrdom. The writer has just
told them that there is a great hall of faithful saints who have
finished the race and so can they. The conflict of sufferings they
were experiencing was a manifestation of God's loving discipline
(Hebrews 12:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11) so that they should not lose heart but run with
endurance, strengthening the hands that are weak and the knees that
are feeble. And then the writer presents for their consideration a stark contrast with those
in Hebrews 11 -- the immoral and godless Esau who had light but he
fell away (He 6:4, 5, 6 -see notes
sinning willfully (He 10:26-note). Such a man cannot be
renewed to repentance and there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.
Such a man may exhibit great emotion with loud weeping but it is only
worldly sorrow and it only leads to remorse and ultimately to death in
contrast to genuine godly sorrow which leads to repentance and
ultimately to true life.
Esau may have desired the
blessing but the writer has clearly taught that without faith it is
impossible to please God (He 11:6-note) and that He is a rewarder of those
who diligently seek Him, not those who diligently seek the
Blessing (eulogia) - 16 times in the
NT - Ro. 15:29; 16:18; 1 Co. 10:16; 2 Co. 9:5f; Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:3;
Heb. 6:7; 12:17; Jas. 3:10; 1 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 5:12f; 7:12
HE WAS REJECTED
FOR HE FOUND NO PLACE FOR REPENTANCE
THOUGH HE SOUGHT FOR IT WITH TEARS: apedokimasthe (3SAPI) metanoias gar topon ouch heuren
(3SAAI) kaiper meta dakruon
ekzetesas (AAPMSN) auten: (He 6:8; Proverbs
1:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31; Jer 6:30; Matthew 7:23; 25:11,12;
Luke 13:24, 25, 26, 27 ) (He 6:4,5, 6; 10:26, 27, 28, 29 )
[word study] from apó =off,
away from, a marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a
former association +
= approve after
examination - proving a thing worthy or genuine. Put to the test for
the purpose of approving - Ro 1:28-note)
means to judge someone or something as not being worthy or genuine
and thus someone or something to be rejected. In classic Greek there
is a secular use describing coins rejected as counterfeit or after
scrutiny or trial to reject a candidate because of lack of
qualification. Reject after testing or scrutinizing. Declare useless.
Throw out as the result of a test! (think of the tragic absurdity this
meaning conveys in light of the NT uses that speak of rejection of the
Precious Messiah!). The word means to be rejected completely!
in context speaks
of a deliberate choice and one which is final and thus it speaks of no second chance for Esau
= past completed action) .
has this note on the root and the related words (especially in classic
The root dek-, dechomai, accept,
gives two verbal derivatives dokeo and dokao. The former means
(intrans.) to appear, have the appearance, (trans.) to think, believe,
consider right; the latter means expect. Derivatives of the former
are: (a) dokimos, trustworthy, reliable, tested, recognized, used as a
technical term for genuine, current coinage, but also applied to
persons enjoying general esteem; (b) adokimos, untested, not
respected; (c) indirectly also dokimion, test, probation; (d) from
dokimos are also derived dokimazo, test, pronounce good, establish by
trial, recognize, and apodokimazo, disapprove of, reject, blame;
dokimasis and dokimasia, investigation, testing (preparatory to
installing in an office); dokime, approved character, trial.
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
Most of the NT
uses (see below) reflect reflection of the Messiah by His own people,
the Jews (cp Jn 1:11, 12, 13)
In fact Larry
Richards writes that...
indicates putting something or someone to the test and rejecting that
object or person as unfit or not genuine. This word is used in nearly
every instance of the Jewish people's examination of Jesus and their
rejection of him as the Messiah, the Son of God.
- 9 times in the NT - Matt. 21:42; Mk. 8:31; 12:10; Lk. 9:22; 17:25;
20:17; Heb. 12:17; 1Pet. 2:4, 7
Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them,
"Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'The stone which the builders
rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about
from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes '? (Quoting Ps 118:22,
Isa 28:16 - When Christ, the Stone, presented Himself to the
builders—the leaders of Israel, they had no place for Him in their
building plans. They declared Him as useless and threw Him aside!) (Related
Christ, the Rock, the Stone
Click here for Scripture chain &
chart - this would make a great Sunday School series)
Mark 8:31 And He began to teach
them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be
rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and
be killed, and after three days rise again.
Comment: Wuest writes
that "The religious leaders of Israel put Jesus to the test for the
purpose of approving Him as Messiah, for they were looking for their
Messiah. But He did not meet their specifications. He was not the kind
of a Messiah the Jews wanted. They wanted a military leader who would
liberate them from the yoke of Rome, not a Saviour who would free them
from their bondage to sin. The article ("the") appears (in the
original Greek) before each word, elders, chief priests,
and scribes, saddling each, Expositors says, with his separate
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Mark 12:10 "Have you not even read
this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected, This
became the chief corner stone;
Comment: Wuest writes
that "The leaders of Israel investigated His claims, found them to be
true, substantiated by the miracles He performed (John 3:2), yet with
all this evidence, rejected Him as Messiah because He did not meet
their specifications. They were looking for a Messiah who would
deliver Israel from the despotism of Rome, not from the dominion of
sin. But this Messiah will some day become the King of kings and Lord
of lords over the earth as the Head of the
empire, the Headstone
of the Corner.
Luke 9:22 saying, "The Son of Man
must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and
chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the
Luke 17:25 "But first He must
suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Luke 20:17 But He looked at them
and said, "What then is this that is written, 'The stone which the
builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone'?
Hebrews 12:17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to
inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place
for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
1 Peter 2:4-note
And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but
choice and precious in the sight of God,
1 Peter 2:7-note
This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who
disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, This became
the very corner stone,"
is used 6 times in the
The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief
Jeremiah 6:30 They call them rejected silver, Because the LORD
has rejected them.
Jeremiah 7:29 'Cut off your hair and cast it away, And take up a
lamentation on the bare heights; For the LORD has rejected and
forsaken The generation of His wrath.'
Jeremiah 8:9 "The wise men are put to shame, They are dismayed and
caught; Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, And
what kind of wisdom do they have? (What an oxymoron - "wise men"
rejecting the only source of true wisdom! Deception is an amazing
Jeremiah 14:19 Hast Thou completely rejected Judah? Or hast
Thou loathed Zion? Why hast Thou stricken us so that we are beyond
healing? We waited for peace, but nothing good came; And for a time of
healing, but behold, terror!
Jeremiah 31:37 Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be
measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I
will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that
they have done," declares the LORD.
from ek = out or
to intensify the meaning + zeteo = to seek) means to seek out,
to look for, to search diligently for anything lost. This verb implies
that the seeker exerts considerable effort and care in learning
Ekzeteo - 7 times in the NT - Lk. 11:50, 51; Acts 15:17; Rom.
3:11; Heb. 11:6; 12:17; 1 Pet. 1:10
Key to the Greek New Testament" (Rienecker) notes that the preposition
"ek" in this compound
to denote that the
seeker finds, or at least exhausts his powers of seeking."
The point is that Esau showed a
worldly sorrow (for getting caught, for not being able to enjoy the
benefit of the blessing, but he totally lacked any desire for the "Blesser",
for God Himself). There was no "godly sorrow" such as
Paul writes about explaining that it is...
sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance
without regret, leading to salvation; but the
of the world produces death. 11 For behold what earnestness this
very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication
of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal,
what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to
be innocent in the matter.(2Cor 7:10, 11)
There was no
"repentance without regret" and thus the result for Esau was
death. What an
irony. He so despised his birthright that he sold it for a cup of
soup claiming that if he didn't get it he would die (Ge 25:32). He was
prophetic! He did die but not like he thought.
God’s message to all who are in
the race is clear: To give free rein to our sexual ("immoral and
godless") and physical appetites will ruin our race and if that is the
habitual practice of one's life, it indicates that person was never
truly regenerate and did not possess the indwelling Holy Spirit Who
directs one's heart toward Holy desires and away from godlessness. As
Paul warned the saints in Ephesus
you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous
man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ
and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of
these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
So beloved, stop being deceived. Those who run the race
like Esau will receive Esau's just recompense. As the writer warned in
the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every
transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall
we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the
first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who
><> ><> ><>
F B Meyer - Our Daily Walk - LOST OPPORTUNITIES-
"O Jerusalem .... how often
would I have gathered thy children together .... and ye would not!"--
THE GREEKS represented
Opportunity as bald, with no lock of hair by which she could be laid
hold of as she turned away and fled. Every one has opportunity, but
there is often no symptom of its approach, no sign of its departure;
when once it is missed, it rarely comes again! It is said that Queen
Victoria once gave a comparatively unknown painter the opportunity of
a private sitting. She came at the exact time that was arranged, but
he was five minutes late, and he lost his opportunity!
Esau bartered his birthright!
What cared he for the spiritual prerogative of the first-born to act
as the priest of the clan, and to stand in the possible lineal descent
of the Messiah. He craved what would satisfy and please his senses.
But when he had sold his birthright, he was held to the transaction.
"He found no place of repentance" does not mean that he wished to and
could not, but that the die was cast, the decision was deemed final.
It is within the range of every one to do an act, to make a choice, to
barter away the spiritual for the material so absolutely, that the
decision is held irrevocable. Let us take care lest we be betrayed by
passion into an act which may affect our entire destiny.
The outstretched wing of God's
love would have sheltered Jerusalem from its impending fate, but she
refused Him in His servants and His Son, and her day of opportunity
Even so, salvation waits for us
all, and there is hope and opportunity for us to repent as long as the
day of grace is not closed, but let us not forget, as McCheyne said,
that Christ gives last knocks. The present is your time of hope, of a
fresh beginning, of a new opportunity. Open the door of your life to
Christ and make Him King. He offers you your chance, rise to it; do
your very best, find your niche of service in His Kingdom, and set
yourself to follow Him with all your heart, and mind, and strength.
O Lord, let us not serve Thee with
the spirit of bondage as slaves, but with the cheerfulness and
gladness of children, delighting ourselves in Thee and rejoicing in
Thy work. AMEN.
for free. It is an easy to
install and simple to use Bible Verse pop up tool that allows you to read
in context and in the Version you prefer. Only the KJV is free with
this download but you can also download a free copy of
which in turn offers
that work with
including the excellent, literal translation, the English Standard Version
(ESV). Other popular versions are available for purchase. When you
hold the mouse pointer over a Scripture reference anywhere on the Web (as
well as offline in Word for Windows, email, etc) the passage pops up
can be disabled if the
popups become distractive. This utility really does work and makes it easy
to read the actual passage in context and not just the chapter and verse