Maturity or Chastisement

Hebrews 12:1-11

Hebrews is far more than just a book of doctrine which presents the mediation work of Christ. A serious look at Hebrews will see that it develops the practical implications of our faith.

This book was written to Hebrew Christians who were tempted to abandon their Christian profession and return to the Mosaic priesthood still taking place in the temple, so whey were warned to "Cast not away therefore your confidence…" (Hebrews 10:35-36)

This chapter is a warning against turning back to the old ways, and an encouragement to Christian duty.

After Christ, the old ways of the Temple were idolatry. A clear application for our day is that after Christ, our old manner of life is idolatry.

Wherefore. That is, God has declared his full mind on the vital subject of faith as it applies to our spiritual life. (Alterman) which now the authors give practical insight as to how the believer is to conduct himself, and how he is to be encouraged in his own spiritual life.

Great cloud of witnesses… Hebrews was written well before the fall of Jerusalem, so it would have been unusual for Christians to be thrown to the animals in the arena. But the text here prepares them for such treatment.

The metaphor refers to the great amphitheatre with the arena for the runners and the tiers upon tiers of seats rising up like a cloud. The µa?t??e? here are not mere spectators (?eata?), but testifiers (witnesses) who testify from their own experience {#Heb 11:2, 4, 5, 33, 39?} to God’s fulfillinghis promises as shown in chapter Heb 11.(RWP)

Thus, the cloud of witnesses is not necessarily those who might be cheering us on in this fallen world as the witnesses in the arenas might do. Rather, more likely that cloud is the many saints mentioned in Hebrews 11, who testify, or witness, to the necessity of trials in a fallen world where Christ and his people are hated, even to the death. Those saints bear witness to the power of God's supernatural grace through faith to see his people through whatever the trials of our faith might be.

The thought here is that if the saints who lived before the incarnation, the redemption and the new life in Christ remained faithful to what they could not see, then how much more should the saints after Christ and the new life in Christ remain faithful?

Hebrews 11 is given to show the sustaining power of God's grace through the most horrible trials of faith. God has presented saints of old as examples of what His faith looks like in various afflictions, as he moves on into chapter 12. We are not alone in the trials of our faith, which are more precious than gold that perisheth. (1 Pet 1:6, 7)

Besetting sin which so easily hampers our Christian race. Throughout the book we know as the New Testament, we are warned of the many sins that not only hamper us, but can cause us to fall flat on our face and drop out of the race completely. The Hebrew Christians had been warned several times against dropping out of the "race" for the prize that lays before the child of God, as they "press toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus".

Vv. 1, 2. First, responsibility:

1) Put off the old man that would hinder our run, and put on the new. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

2) "Race" speaks of self-denial, discipline, very hard work, persevering and endurance. Fighting the "good fight of faith" speaks of serious warfare using the sword of the Spirit, which can even lead to death at the hands of the wicked. We now live in a different generation that dreads earning their living by the sweat of their brow and getting their hands dirty. Moreover, the parents who did earn their living by hard work many times want “better” for their children, so they send them to college where any godly work ethic is destroyed. That attitude has certainly carried over into the Christian realm. This work hating and pleasure loving generation desires to flow to heaven on flowery beds of ease.

3) Run with patience:

c. Hebrews. Written to a persecuted church, Hebrews strongly exhorts to hypomone. {#Heb 10:32,36 12:1?} The gaze of Christians should be on Christ, who himself endured the cross. {#Heb 12:2?} Endurance of trials serves as divine discipline. {#Heb 12:7?}
d. James. James, too, shows that trials confirm faith and thus strengthen the steadfastness that makes complete. {#Heb 1:3-4?} Job is the great example (cf. the prophets too in #Heb 5:10). As in Job’s case, the Lord will prove to be compassionate to believers if they are steadfast (#Heb 5:11 cf. 1:12 Mt 5:12). (Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament)

The Hebrews had been promised reward for patiently doing the will of God as revealed in Christ Jesus.

the race that is set before us. We should find great comfort in knowing that the Eternal, Sovereign, Predestinating Triune-God is the One Who determined from eternity past the course that our race was to take---the course which would best conform us to the image of his Son. Our responsibility is to faithfully run that race to the Glory of God.

Ro 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
1 Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
Re 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Ps 47:4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.

The Everlasting Predestinating God predestinated the skills and abilities of those he calls to himself. (1 Cor 14)

The Everlasting Predestinating God even predestinated and controls the temptation of the elect; He will not allow the temptation to go above what they, by his grace, are able to bear.

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Job understood that God had established the path he was to walk, and his faith told him that he would come forth as gold.

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Second, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher…
The author, “The pioneer of personal faith”
Finisher, or Perfecter—used only here. (He 11:40)
“The meaning is, he is the first and the last as an example of faith, or of confidence in God…” (Barnes)
Scripture teaches that Christ initiates faith and sustains faith to the end in his people, but that is not the context here. Rather, here Christ is seen as the One who himself began and completed the whole course of faith; he is the perfect example and witness of what faith is as he endured to the end. The end was to be seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Rev 3:21)
Author: "one who takes the lead." He is the "Captain" of our salvation as he leads his people in the battle against the very gates of hell. His personal name "Jesus" is used rather than his official name "Christ", thereby stressing his humanity. He was truly "made like unto his brethren" in all things. As truly a human man, he lived a perfect life of faith as our example.


1) lives a life in complete dependence upon God. Proverbs 3:5, 6.
2) lives a life in communion with God. Psalm 16:8.
3) lives a life in obedience to God. John 8:29, 15:10.
4) lives a life in assured confidence in the unseen and unknowable future. Hebrews 11:1.
(AW Pink)

Third, Jesus set the example, or led the way of suffering, as he despised the shame of the cross; that is, he considered it as nothing compared to what lay before him. Despite His agony and suffering, He assumed His task with joy, and He is now seated at the right hand of the Power on High.

Building on Hebrews 11, we are told that our example, Christ, joyfully endured because of what was promised. So we are to joyfully endure because of the joy set before us, as did the Saints of old.

Fourth, he endured the wrath of this fallen world. The hostility of this sinful world against Jesus Christ far exceeds anything we might experience, and we must not grow weary or faint, for our sufferings can never equal His. In fact, the Christians are reminded: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” None of you have yet faced death for your faith. The elect were promised the same hatred by the world as what their Lord endured.

Not yet resisted unto blood: Hebrews was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, so this phrase seemed to be a preparation for the bloody persecution that was soon to come.

Vv. 5-11. The author moves from resisted unto blood to what it means to be sons of God, or children of the Father by quoting:

Proverbs 3: 11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Though our sufferings may be inflicted by the enemies of God, ultimately they have their origin in the will of God. His purpose is corrective, even as a father is eager to help rear a beloved son properly by correcting him when necessary.

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Eph 1:2, 2:10, Le 20:7, 1Pe 1:15,1Pe 1:16

Our election is to holiness. We either answer that calling to holiness willingly, or through chastisement. I can well remember “Jr, do this or don’t do that.” If I followed my instructions, I pleased my father. If I did not, I found chastisement. His goal was to teach us boys discipline and obedience.

To be a son means to be chastened, which is a mark of fatherly love and concern. We must therefore view our sufferings as an aspect of God’s fatherly love, as does our human father chastens the children he loves. God’s chastening is to prepares us to meet our responsibilities in time and in eternity.

Note the implication: God made a child to understands love in the chastening of his father.

Eliphaz spoke the original words to Job, Job 5:17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.(See the rest of the chapter.)

“God’s corrective discipline seeks the reformation of the people…”, not the destruction of his people. (TWOT. Note that a man must be humbled before God can exalt him. See Jam 4:10, 1 Pet 5:6)

1) We understand from Deuteronomy 8 that God’s negative disciplining of his children is balanced with his positive care and provision. They were hungry in the wilderness, but they were fed by the Manna; the purpose was to make them "understand that man does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds from the mouth of God".
2) The loving father will discipline a child when that child needs it, yet he still provides for that child's welfare.
3) “discipline gives assurance of sonship, for mûsar primarily points to a God-centered way of life, and only secondarily to ethical behavior.” (TWOT)
4) chastening by the father is toward maturity, to form the image of Christ in his sons. The reprobates are spared chastening because they are not his sons. (Chastisement: That is, “of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment”, or correction.)
Our human fathers give us our understanding of our heavenly Father. We cannot see our heavenly Father, but we can see our earthly father, and we identify with that relationship.


1.) Every child needs chastening. To fail to be consistent in the chastening and correction of a child which has done wrong or disobeyed, will cause him to believe he can avoid the heavenly Father's chastening. If the father fails to be consistent in this chastening, it will only bring down more of the rod of God against the child as he grows older. He will feel he has avoided the results of his sins from the heavenly Father.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. (Ec 8:11)

Furthermore, God has placed in every child the understanding that identifies proper chastening, correction with love. (V. 6)

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Col 3:21.)

“lest they be discouraged; or disheartened and dispirited; their spirits be broke through grief and trouble, and they become indolent, sluggish, and unfit for business; or, despairing of having any share in the affections of their parents, disregard their commands, instructions, and corrections, and grow obdurate, stubborn, and rebellious.” (Gill)

1. The wrong kind of anger is an uncontrolled emotion and action.

2. The correct kind of anger is an excitement to action, yet that action is completely under control, and according to God’s law-word. The uncontrolled display of anger will do just the opposite of creating respect and reverence from the child. A failure to chasten or allowing that child to disobey and get away with his sin is not love. In fact, the heavenly Father is very strong on this, saying that a lack of chastening is hate toward the child.

He that spareth his rod hatheth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Prov 13:24)

Betimes… Seek early, earnestly. (TWOT) Early in childhood, or as soon as possible after an offence

Our command is to Be ye angry, and sin not… (Eph 4:26) Thus, the lack of anger against sin that motivates to godly action is sin in itself.

Therefore, the child has a built-in mechanism that equates the lack of swift and sure Biblical chastening with hate.

The human child and the redeemed child are dealt with together. Thus, the lack of chastening causes the child to feel rejected by the father, v. 8.

Every son needs chastening.

V. 9. Fathers who love their sons have their good in mind in their chastisement. Dare we assume that God the Father is not wiser in His dealings with us?” The fathers of flesh are here contrasted with the Father of spirits, who works for our eternal welfare.

Observe that without proper chastening, the son will not reverence his father, nor will he have proper reverence toward God. (Ezekiel alone has 63 “Know that I am the Lord” as the result of His chastisement of his people. See also Rom 13:7.)

Implied here is that the son must be taught to reverence his father. (Pro 22:15)

V. 10. The father’s chastening of his son is only for a few days, and done as seems best to the father. However, the Heavenly Father’s chastening is “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness”.

V. 11. Chastening will not be pleasant for the child, nor for the father. It hurts for a season, but the result is “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” The father’s (both the earthly and the heavenly) goal is that the son might be governed by the law-word of God which is now written on the heart.

Note that chastening and correction is the father's responsibility, not the mother's. He can delegate the authority, but he cannot delegate the responsibility. If the father has any sense at all, he will heed the mother’s concerns about the child. More often than not, she knows better what is going on in the child's heart. Both father and mother must act as one. If a father fails in this Biblical responsibility, he may well condemn his child to an exceedingly difficult life, including prison, and if the child remains in his rebellion, to hell itself.

Jesus Christ, as our Great High Priest, makes atonement for us, and then he proceeds to remake us by His Spirit. Being “born again” is only the starting place of the Christian’s life. Maturity or sanctification requires chastening, for His purpose is to mature His new children in the grace and knowledge of His Dear Son.

Those who present or see heaven as the goal of salvation have missed the meaning of the gospel. The gospel makes one a member of His people, and His people are given this command, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

As our lawyer in WV used to say, “They are idiots!” And how right he was.

A child who fails in proper mental development is an Idiot: “A person of subnormal intelligence.”

A newborn Christian who fails to mature into the image and mind of Christ is an idiot. Idiots both in the church in the public square surround us. People cannot think; they cannot reason; they cannot “connect the dots”. It seems that all ability to reason has vanished both inside and outside of the church. It seems that college does not educate the idiocy out of them, but makes them more committed in their idiocy as the “snow flakes” melt down when things do not go their way. (Sadly, parents pay astromanical fees to have their young people turned into idiots.)

Rather than remain immature in our Christian development (idiots), Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)