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Hebrews 12:1-2 – Running the Race with Perseverance

Summary

The saints from Israel's history inspire believers to persevere in faith. Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith," provides the ultimate model and inspiration.

Analysis

These verses compare Christians to runners in a stadium. The author pictures them surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. These witnesses are not mere spectators but include the whole company of faithful people pictured in the previous chapter. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and many others have already experienced the challenges of living in faith. They now provide inspiration for others engaged in lives of faith. The author notes that athletes lay aside everything that gets in the way of running, so that they will not be tripped up along the way. Similarly, the faithful are called to lay aside the sins that encumber them and seek to trip them up. They are to run the race with perseverance. There is no suggestion that only the fastest runner wins the race or that there is only one prize. Rather, the goal is to persevere, to continue moving forward in faith. Perseverance rather than speed is what is important. Finally, readers are given inspiration by Jesus himself. Jesus entered fully into the human condition, experiencing suffering and death before being exalted to heavenly glory. This in turn assures readers that those who follow Christ through suffering have the promise of everlasting life in God's presence.

Hebrews 12:1-2

The Example of Jesus

12Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,* and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of* the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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