|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-11 The persevering obedience of faith in Christ, was the race set before the Hebrews, wherein they must either win the crown of glory, or have everlasting misery for their portion; and it is set before us. By the sin that does so easily beset us, understand that sin to which we are most prone, or to which we are most exposed, from habit, age, or circumstances. This is a most important exhortation; for while a man's darling sin, be it what it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him from running the Christian race, as it takes from him every motive for running, and gives power to every discouragement. When weary and faint in their minds, let them recollect that the holy Jesus suffered, to save them from eternal misery. By stedfastly looking to Jesus, their thoughts would strengthen holy affections, and keep under their carnal desires. Let us then frequently consider him. What are our little trials to his agonies, or even to our deserts? What are they to the sufferings of many others? There is a proneness in believers to grow weary, and to faint under trials and afflictions; this is from the imperfection of grace and the remains of corruption. Christians should not faint under their trials. Though their enemies and persecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet they are Divine chastisements; their heavenly Father has his hand in all, and his wise end to answer by all. They must not make light of afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they are the hand and rod of God, and are his rebukes for sin. They must not despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bear up with faith and patience. God may let others alone in their sins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this he acts as becomes a father. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Our whole life here is a state of childhood, and imperfect as to spiritual things; therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fully reconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience, and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.
Verse 10. - For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. The afortiori argument is thus continued. The discipline of our earthly fathers was "for a few days," i.e. during our childhood only, since which we have been left to ourselves; and even then not necessarily for our greatest advantage; it was only as seemed good to them (κατὰ τὸ δοκοῦν αὐτοῖς); it might be injudicious, or even capricious. But our heavenly Father's discipline we may trust to be always good for us, and with a definite final purpose. Though there is here no distinctly expressed antithesis to the "few days" of ordinary parental chastisement, yet one is implied in the last clause; for if God's purpose in chastening us is to make us partakers of his own holiness, we may conclude that the discipline will be continued till the end be attained; and thus also a further reason is implied why Christians should not "faint" under even lifelong trials.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For they verily for a few days chastened us,.... Which respects not the minority of children, during which time they are under the correction of parents, and which is but a few days; nor the short life of parents; but rather the end which parents have in chastening their children, which is their temporal good, and which lasts but for a few days; which sense the opposition in the latter part of the text requires: and this they do
after their own pleasure: not to please and delight themselves in the pains and cries of their children, which would be brutish and inhuman; though corrections are too often given to gratify the passions; nor merely in an arbitrary way, and when they please; but the sense is, they correct as seems good unto them; in the best way and manner; to the best of their judgments, which are fallible:
but he for our profit; saints are no losers by afflictions; they lose nothing but their dross and tin; they do not lose the love of God; nor their interest in the covenant of grace; nor the presence of God; nor grace in their own hearts; nor spiritual peace and comfort: on the contrary, they are real gainers by them; their graces gain by them fresh lustre and glory; they obtain a greater degree of spiritual knowledge; and a larger stock of experience; and are hereby restored to their former state, duty, and zeal; and become more conformable to Christ; yea, their afflictions conduce to their future glory; many are the profits arising from them. The Alexandrian copy reads in the plural number, "profits": particularly God's end in chastening of his children is,
that we might be partakers of his holiness; not the essential holiness of God, which is incommunicable; but a communicative holiness of his, which it is his determining will his people should have: it comes from him, from whom every good and perfect gift does; it is in Christ for them, and is received out of his fulness; and is wrought in them by the Spirit; and it bears a resemblance to the divine nature: now men are naturally destitute of this holiness; they have it not by nature, but by participation; as God's gift; and they first partake of it in regeneration; and here an increase of it is designed, a gradual participation of it; and it may include perfect holiness in heaven: afflictions are designed as means to bring persons to this end; to bring them to a sense of sin, an acknowledgment of it, an aversion to it, and to a view of pardon of it; to purge it away; to wean the saints from this world; to increase their grace, and lead them on to a perfect state of glory, where there will be no more sin, and no more sorrow.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. Showing wherein the chastisement of our heavenly Father is preferable to that of earthly fathers.
for a few days—that is, with a view to our well-being in the few days of our earthly life: so the Greek.
after their own pleasure—Greek, "according to what seemed fit to themselves." Their rule of chastening is what may seem fit to their own often erring judgment, temper, or caprice. The two defects of human education are: (1) the prevalence in it of a view to the interests of our short earthly term of days; (2) the absence in parents of the unerring wisdom of our heavenly Father. "They err much at one time in severity, at another in indulgence [1Sa 3:13; Eph 6:4], and do not so much chasten as THINK they chasten" [Bengel].
that we might be partakers of his holiness—becoming holy as He is holy (Joh 15:2). To become holy like God is tantamount to being educated for passing eternity with God (Heb 12:14; 2Pe 1:4). So this "partaking of God's holiness" stands in contrast to the "few days" of this life, with a view to which earthly fathers generally educate their sons.
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