Hebrews 12:25-29
25. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

25. Videte ne asperenemini loquentem; nam si illi, qui aspeernati sunt eum qui loquebatur in terra, non effugerunt, multo magic nos si aversemur loquentem e coelis;

26. Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

26. Cujus vox tune terram concussit, nunc autem denuntiavit, dicens, Adhuc semel ego moveo non solum terram, sed etiam coelum.

27. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

27. Illud autem, Adhuc semel, significat eurum quae concutiuntur translationem, ut maneant quae non concutiuntur.

28. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

28. Quare regnum quod non concutitur apprehendentes, habemus (alias, habeumus) gratiam: per quam colamus Deum, placentes illi cum reverentia et religione:

29. For our God is a consuming fire.

29. Deus enim noster ignis consumens est.

25. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh, etc. He uses the same verb as before, when he said that the people entreated that God should not speak to them; but he means as I think, another thing, even that we ought not to reject the word destined for us. He further shows what he had in view in the last comparison, even that the severest punishment awaits the despisers of the Gospel, since the ancients under the Law did not despise it with impunity. And he pursues the argument from the less to the greater, when he says, that God or Moses spoke then on earth, but that the same God or Christ speaks now from heaven. At the same time I prefer regarding God in both instances as the speaker. And he is said to have spoken on earth, because he spoke in a lower strain. Let us ever bear in mind that he refers to the external ministration of the Law, which, as compared with the gospel, partook of what was earthly, and did not lead men's minds above the heavens unto perfect wisdom; for though the Law contained in it the same truth, yet as it was only a training school, perfection could not belong to it. [269]

26. Whose voice then shook the earth, etc. Though God shook the earth when he published his Law, yet he shows that he now speaks more gloriously, for he shakes both earth and heaven. He quotes on the subject the testimony of the Prophet Haggai, though he gives not the words literally; but as the Prophet foretells a future shaking of the earth and the heaven, the Apostle borrows the idea in order to teach us that the voice of the Gospel not only thunders through the earth, but also penetrates above the heavens. But that the Prophet speaks of Christ's kingdom, is beyond any dispute, for it immediately follows in the same passage, "I will shake all nations; and come shall the desire of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory." It is however certain that neither all nations have been gathered into one body, except under the banner of Christ, nor has there been any desire in which we ought to acquiesce but Christ alone, nor was the temple of Solomon exceeded in glory until the magnificence of Christ became known through the whole world. The Prophet then no doubt refers to the time of Christ. But if at the commencement of Christ's kingdom, not only the lower parts of the world were shaken, but his power also reached the heaven, the Apostle justly concludes that the doctrine of the Gospel is sublimer than that of the Law, and ought to be more distinctly heard by all creatures. [270]

27. And this word, yet once more, etc. The words of the Prophet are these, "Yet a little while;" and he means that the calamity of the people would not be perpetual, but that the Lord would succor them. But the Apostle lays no stress on this expression; he only infers from the shaking of the heaven and the earth that the state of the world was to be changed at the coming of Christ; for things created are subject to decay, but Christ's kingdom is eternal; then all creatures must needs be brought into a better state. [271]

He makes hence a transition to another exhortation, that we are to lay hold on that kingdom which cannot be shaken; for the Lord shakes us for this end, that he may really and forever establish us in himself. At the same time I prefer a different reading, which is given by the ancient Latin version, "Receiving a kingdom, we have grace," etc. When read affirmatively, the passage runs best, -- "We, in embracing the Gospel, have the gift of the Spirit of Christ, that we may reverently and devoutly worship God." If it be read as an exhortation, "Let us have," it is a strained and obscure mode of speaking. The Apostle means in short, as I think, that provided we enter by faith into Christ's kingdom, we shall enjoy constant grace, which will effectually retain us in the service of God; for as the kingdom of Christ is above the world, so is the gift of regeneration. [272]

By saying that God is to be served acceptably, euarestos, with reverence and fear, he intimates that though he requires us to serve with promptitude and delight, there is yet no service approved by him except it be united with humility and due reverence. Thus he condemns froward confidence of the flesh, as well as the sloth which also proceeds from it. [273]

29. For our God, etc. As he had before kindly set before us the grace of God, so he now makes known his severity; and he seems to have borrowed this sentence from the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy. Thus we see that God omits nothing by which he may draw us to himself; he begins indeed with love and kindness, so that we may follow him the more willingly; but when by alluring he effects but little, he terrifies us.

And doubtless it is expedient that the grace of God should never be promised to us without being accompanied with threatening; for we are so extremely prone to indulge ourselves, that without the application of these stimulants the milder doctrine would prove ineffectual. Then the Lord, as he is propitious and merciful to such as fear him unto a thousand generations; so he is a jealous God and a just avenger, when despised, unto the third and the fourth generation. [274]


[269] By "him that speaketh," is by some understood Christ, but more properly God, as his is the leading subject in the foregoing and the following verses. The words which follow are brief; and the first clause is explained more fully in chapter 10:28, and the second in chapter 1:2. God spake "on earth" by Moses, but "from heaven" by his son, who came from heaven, ascended into heaven and sent his spirit down from heaven. The comparison here is between speaking on earth and speaking from heaven; but included in this, as previously explained in the Epistle, are the agents employed. God in delivering the Law fixed on a place on earth, and then as it were descended and employed an earthly agent, a mere man as his mediator; but in delivering the gospel, he did not descend from heaven, but employed a heavenly agent, his own son; thus manifested the superiority of the Gospel over the law. And that God is meant throughout this verse is evident from the following verse, "Whose voice," etc. The passage may be thus rendered, -- "See that ye reject not him who speaketh; for if they escaped not who rejected him when speaking on earth, how much more shall not we, if we turn away from him when speaking from heaven?" We have no single word to express chrematizonta -- oraculizing, rendered by Doddridge, "giving forth oracles;" by Macknight, "delivering an oracle;" and by Stuart, "warning." But the best word we can adopt here is "speaking." -- Ed

[270] The quotation is literally neither from Hebrew nor from the Sept., but is substantially the same. "The earth and the heaven" may be deemed a phrase used to designate the whole state of things, as they include the whole of the visible creation. The whole Jewish polity, civil and religious, is generally supposed to be intended here. But as the shaking of the nations is mentioned in Haggai 2:6, 7, Macknight thought that by "the earth" is meant heathen idolatry, and by "heaven" the Jewish economy, so called because it was divinely appointed. If this be allowed, then we see a reason for the change which the Apostle has made in the words: the original is both in Hebrew and in the Sept., "I shake (or will shake) the heaven and the earth;" but the Apostle says: "I shake not only the earth, but the heaven also." -- Ed.

[271] See [52]Appendix Y 2.

[272] See [53]Appendix Z 2.

[273] The Vulgate is, "with fear and reverence;" Beza's "with modesty and reverence and religious fear;" Schleusner's, "with reverence and devotion." Stuart has adopted our version. See [54]Appendix A 3.--- Ed.

[274] The conjunction kai at the beginning of this verse is commonly omitted by translators, but Macknight has retained it, "For even our God," etc. The intimation clearly is, that under the Gospel no less than under the Law God is a consuming fire to apostates; and apostasy or idolatry is the sin especially referred to in Deuteronomy 4:24, from which this passage is taken. -- Ed

hebrews 12 18-24
Top of Page
Top of Page