for they, indeed, for a few days, according to what seemed good to them, were chastening, but He for profit, to be partakers of His separation;
Hebrews 12:10 Additional TranslationsVincent's Word Studies
Much difficulty and confusion have attached to the interpretation of this verse, growing out of: (a) the relations of the several clauses; (b) the meaning of for a few days, and how much is covered by it. The difficulties have been aggravated by the determination of commentators to treat the verse by itself, confining the relation of its clauses within its own limits, attempting to throw them into pairs, in which attempt none of them have succeeded, and entirely overlooking relations to the preceding verse.
For a few days (πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας)
This clause is directly related to be in subjection to the father of spirits and live, and points a contrast. On the one hand, subjection to the Father of spirits, the source of all life, has an eternal significance. Subjection to his fatherly discipline means, not only the everlasting life of the future, but present life, eternal in quality, developed even while the discipline is in progress. Subjection to the Father of spirits and life go together. On the other hand, the discipline of the human father is brief in duration, and its significance is confined to the present life. In other words, the offset to for a few days is in Hebrews 12:9. To read for a few days into the two latter clauses of the verse which describes the heavenly discipline, and to say that both the chastening of the earthly and of the heavenly father are of brief duration, is to introduce abruptly into a sharp contrast between the two disciplines a point of resemblance. The dominant idea in πρὸς is not mere duration, but duration as related to significance: that is to say, "for a few days" means, during just that space of time in which the chastisement had force and meaning. See, for instances, Luke 8:13; John 5:35; 1 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 7:8. The few days can scarcely refer to the whole lifetime, since, even from the ancient point of view of the continuance of parental authority, parental discipline is not applied throughout the lifetime. It signifies rather the brief period of childhood and youth.
After their own pleasure (κατὰ τὸ δοκοῦν αὐτοῖς)
Better, as seemed good to them. The αὐτοῖς has a slightly emphatic force, as contrasted with a higher intelligence. The thought links itself with παιδευτὰς in Hebrews 12:9, and is explained by as seemed good to them, and is placed in contrast with subjection to the Father of spirits. The human parents were shortsighted, fallible, sometimes moved by passion rather than by sound judgment, and, therefore, often mistaken in their disciplinary methods. What seemed good to them was not always best for us. No such possibility of error attaches to the Father of spirits.
But he for our profit (ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὸ συμφέρον)
The contrast is with what is implied in as seemed good to them. The human parent may not have dealt with us to our profit. Συμφέρειν means to bring together: to collect or contribute in order to help: hence, to help or be profitable. Often impersonally, συμφέρει it is expedient, as Matthew 5:29; Matthew 18:6; John 11:50. The neuter participle, as here, advantage, profit, 1 Corinthians 12:7; 2 Corinthians 12:1. There is a backward reference to live, Hebrews 12:9, the result of subjection to the Father of spirits; and this is expanded and defined in the final clause, namely:
That we might be partakers of his holiness (εἰς το μεταλαβεῖν τῆς ἁγιότητος αὐτοῦ)
Lit. unto the partaking of his holiness. Ἑις marks the final purpose of chastening. Holiness is life. Shall we not be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For, in contrast with the temporary, faultful chastening of the human parent, which, at best, prepares for work and success in time and in worldly things, his chastening results in holiness and eternal life.
Hebrews 12:10 Parallel CommentariesBest Character Chastened Disciplined Disciplines Fathers Few Fit Good Holiness Holy Indeed Little Order Partakers Pleasure Profit Punished Punishment Seemed Sharers Short Thought True. VerilyBest Character Chastened Disciplined Disciplines Fathers Few Fit Good Holiness Holy Indeed Little Order Partakers Pleasure Profit Punished Punishment Seemed Sharers Short Thought True. VerilyThe ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
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