Hebrews 12:13
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) And make straight paths.—Quoted with some slight changes from the Greek translation of Proverbs 4:26, “ponder” (or, more probably, make even)the path of thy feet.”

Be turned out of the way.—The difficulty in these words is concealed to some extent when they are separated from the following clause, as in the Authorised version; this separation, however, the Greek will not allow. If the words be rendered, “that what is lame may not be turned out of the way, but may rather be healed,” we cannot but feel that the two members are somewhat incongruous. It is probable, therefore, that the first verb here bears the meaning which it not unfrequently has in medical writers, be put out of joint. Let the paths (or tracks) which you follow be straight, for crooked and uneven paths will make the limbs which are lame more helpless still; should nothing aggravate the hurt that has been received, it may soon be healed. In the application, the words are a warning against the shifting courses of men who are ready to turn aside from strict duty when persecution threatens, and seek to avert the danger by compliance with what they do not in heart approve. Whatever may be the result in the case of “the strong” (Romans 14:1; 1 Corinthians 8), the example brings destruction on “the weak.”

12:12-17 A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian's hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but against this he must strive, that he may better run his spiritual race and course. Faith and patience enable believers to follow peace and holiness, as a man follows his calling constantly, diligently, and with pleasure. Peace with men, of all sects and parties, will be favourable to our pursuit of holiness. But peace and holiness go together; there can be not right peace without holiness. Where persons fail of having the true grace of God, corruption will prevail and break forth; beware lest any unmortified lust in the heart, which seems to be dead, should spring up, to trouble and disturb the whole body. Falling away from Christ is the fruit of preferring the delights of the flesh, to the blessing of God, and the heavenly inheritance, as Esau did. But sinners will not always have such mean thoughts of the Divine blessing and inheritance as they now have. It agrees with the profane man's disposition, to desire the blessing, yet to despise the means whereby the blessing is to be gained. But God will neither sever the means from the blessing, nor join the blessing with the satisfying of man's lusts. God's mercy and blessing were never sought carefully and not obtained.And make straight paths for your feet - Margin, "even." The word used here means properly straight, in the sense of upright, erect; Acts 14:10; but it is used here in the sense of straight horizontally, that is, level, plain, smooth. The meaning is, that they were to remove all obstacles out of the way, so that they need not stumble and fail. There is probably an allusion here to Proverbs 4:25-27. "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left; remove thy foot from evil." The idea is, that by every proper means they were to make the way to heaven as plain and easy as possible. They were to allow no obstructions in the path over which the lame and feeble might fall.

Lest that which is lame be turned out of the way - A lame man needs a smooth path to walk in. The idea is here, that everything which would prevent those in the church who were in any danger of falling - the feeble, the unestablished, the weak - from walking in the path to heaven, or which might be an occasion to them of falling, should be removed. Or it may mean, that in a road that was not level, those who were lame would be in danger of spraining, distorting, or wrenching a lame limb; and the counsel is, that whatever would have a tendency to this should be removed. Divested of the figure, the passage means, that everything should be removed which would hinder anyone from walking in the path to life.

But let it rather be healed - As in the case of lameness, pains should be taken to heal it rather than to suffer it to be increased by careless exposure to a new sprain or fracture, so it should be in our religious and moral character. Whatever is defective we should endeavor to restore to soundness, rather than to suffer the defect to be increased. Whatever is feeble in our faith or hope; whatever evil tendency there is in our hearts, we should endeavor to strengthen and amend, lest it should become worse, and we should entirely fall.

13. Quoted from Pr 4:26, Septuagint, "Make straight paths for thy feet."

straight—that is, leading by a straight road to joy and grace (Heb 12:1, 2, 15). Cease to "halt" between Judaism and Christianity [Bengel].

paths—literally, "wheel tracks." Let your walk be so firm and so unanimous in the right direction that a plain track and "highway" may be thereby established for those who accompany and follow you, to perceive and walk in (Isa 35:8) [Alford].

that which is lame—those "weak in the faith" (Ro 14:1), having still Judaizing prejudices.

be turned out of the way—(Pr 4:27); and, so missing the way, lose the prize of "the race" (Heb 12:1).

rather he healed—Proper exercise of itself contributes to health; the habit of walking straight onward in the right way tends to healing.

Make straight, smooth ways, such as have all stones of stumbling and rocks of offence removed, so as themselves may be set right in comfort, and duty, and walking; lest being lame or halting in their minds between Judaism and Christianity, because of the violent persecution of them by their infidel brethren, they should be turned aside out of God’s way, erring, and deviating from the truth of the gospel; but that they be restored to it, so as no sufferings upon that account, under God’s hand, might make them suppress the truth, or expose them to apostacy, or to walk as stumbling-blocks to others, and wounding their own souls, Acts 15:1 Galatians 2:11-15 6:12. And make straight paths for your feet,.... By "feet" are meant the walk and conversation of the saints, both in the church, and in the world, Sol 7:1 and there are paths made ready for these feet to walk in; as the good old paths of truth, of the word and worship of God, of faith and holiness: and to make these paths "straight", is to make the word of God the rule of walking; to avoid carefully joining anything with it as a rule; to attend constantly on the ordinances of Christ; to go on evenly in a way of believing on him; to walk in some measure worthy of the calling wherewith we are called, and by way of example to others.

Lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; a lame member, as the Syriac version, a lame member of the body of Christ, the church; or a lame person, as the Arabic version, a weak believer; one that is ready to halt, either through the corruption of nature, or through the weakness of grace, or through want of light and judgment, and through instability and inconstancy; lest such an one should, through the irregular walk and conversation of others, be stumbled and offended, and go out of the way, and leave the paths of righteousness and truth. God takes care of, and has a regard to such, and he would have others also, Micah 4:6. The Ethiopic version reads, "that your halting may be healed, and not offended": that you yourselves may not halt and stumble.

But let it rather be healed; the fallen believer be restored, the weak brother be confirmed, the halting professor be strengthened, and everyone be built up and established upon the most holy faith, and in the pure ways of the Gospel.

And make {e} straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

(e) Keep a right course, and so, that you show examples of good life for others to follow.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 12:13. Καὶ τροχιὰς ὀρθὰς ποιήσατε τοῖς ποσὶν ὑμῶν] and make straight tracks with your feet, i.e. advance with straight course upon the Christian path of life you have once entered upon, without bending aside to the right or to the left; that is to say, without mingling up that which is Jewish with that which is Christian, or suffering yourselves to be enticed to a relapse into Judaism. Incorrectly do Ebrard, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 789), Alford, Kluge, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, M‘Caul, Hofmann, and others explain τοῖς ποσὶν ὑμῶν: for your feet. For, apart from the fact that this interpretation destroys the harmony with the figure employed at Hebrews 12:12, that of the παρειμέναι χεῖρες and παραλελυμένα γόνατα, the author cannot possibly intend to say that the readers themselves have first to prepare the way for themselves. The way has already been prepared for them by Christ (Hebrews 10:20), and it is now only a question of their making advance upon the same in the right way.

For the expression, which accidentally forms a hexameter[118] (see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 595), comp. LXX. Proverbs 4:26 : ὀρθὰς τροχιὰς ποίει σοῖς ποσί.

ἵνα μὴ τὸ χωλὸν ἐκτρπῇ, ἰαθῇ δὲ μᾶλλον] that not (even) that which is lame may turn aside from the way, but rather he healed. τὸ χωλόν denotes not the suffering member in an individual, but within the larger community, thus the member of the Christian communion who is lame or halting, i.e. who makes only a tottering progress in Christianity, and falls away from the same if he does not gain a support in the rest of the community advancing in a straight course [Galatians 2:14]. On τὸ χωλόν, as figurative designation of the wavering between two different bents of belief, comp. LXX. 1 Kings 18:21 : ἕως πότε ὑμεῖς χωλανεῖτε ἐπʼ ἀμφωτέραις ταῖς ἰγνύαις; how long do ye halt upon both knee-joints (sides), i.e. do ye hesitate between the service of Jehovah and that of Baal?

To the verb ἐκτρέπεσθαι, Fr. Junius, Grotius, Wolf, Carpzov, Heinrichs, and many others, finally Bleek, de Wette, Ebrard, Kurtz, Ewald, on account of the opposition ἰαθῇ δὲ μᾶλλον, assign the passive signification: to be dislocated. But justified by the usage of the language (see Wetstein at 1 Timothy 1:6) is the middle signification alone: bend aside (from the way), turn aside. This signification is therefore to be maintained here also, and ἰαθῇ δὲ μᾶλλον continues in an abbreviated form the figure employed, in that its meaning is: but rather through the animating example given by the whole body, may he cured of his wavering, and briskly advance with the rest.

[118] Quite improbable is the supposition of Ewald (pp. 139, 172), that the words consist of a verse which “was derived from some one of the many Hellenistic poets (?), whose books were at that time greatly read even by Christians.”13. lest that which is lame be turned out of the way] Lit. “that the lame (i.e. lameness) may not be quite out of joint, but may rather be cured.” The verb ἐκτραπῇ may mean “be turned out of the way,” as in 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 5:15; 2 Timothy 4:4; but as it is a technical term for “spraining,” or “dislocation,” it may have that meaning here, especially as he has used two medical terms in the previous verse, and has the metaphor of “healing” in his thoughts. The writer may have met with these terms in ordinary life, or in his intercourse with St Luke, with whose language he shews himself familiar throughout the Epistle. Intercourse with the beloved physician is perhaps traceable in some of the medical terms of St Paul’s later Epistles (see Dean Plumptre’s papers on this subject in the Expositor, iv. 134 (first series)).

let it rather be healed] Isaiah 57:17-19.Hebrews 12:13. Καὶ τροχιὰς) paths, tracks, which are conspicuous. A Hexameter verse, very appropriate. Proverbs 4:26, ὀρθὰς τροχιὰς ποίει σοῖς ποσίν, make straight paths for thy feet.—[77] τοῖς ποσὶν, for the feet) The dative suitably answering to the Hebrew genitive in Prov., quoted above. The feet, because they are lame, require help, not less than the hands and knees.—τὸ χωλὸν) This, in the case of the feet, is what πάρεσις, hanging down, is in the case of the hands. Cease to halt between Judaism and Christianity. Comp. 1 Kings 18:21, and Isa. already quoted, Hebrews 12:6.—ἐκτραπῂ, be turned out of the way) to the right or left hand from the straight path; Prov. already quoted, Hebrews 12:27. Τὸ ἐκτρέπεσθαι adds a new defect to lameness.—ἰαθῇ, be healed) Proper exercise of itself contributes to health.

[77] Ὀρθὰς, straight) leading by a straight road to joy and grace, Hebrews 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:15.—V. g.Verse 13. - And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but that it rather be healed. The ideas in this verse correspond to, and may be suggested by, those that follow in Isaiah the passage above referred to. For there too the prophet goes on to speak, among other things, of the lame leaping, and of a way of holiness along which none should err. But the words themselves are suggested by Proverbs 4:26, Αοτὸς δὲ ὀρθὰς ποιήσει τὰς τροχιάς σου (LXX.), the verb διαστρέφεσθαι having been previously used for turning out of the way. It is observable that the words, καὶ τροχιάς, etc., are arranged so as to form an hexameter line. This may have been unintentional, but it is at any rate effective. Delitzsch remarks on it. "The duty to which the writer urges, his, readers is courageous self-recovery m Gods strength. The tone and language are elevated accordingly, and ver. 12 is like a trumpet-blast. It need not surprise us, then, if our author here turns poet, and proceeds in heroic measures." With regard to the purport of this verse, we observe that, while the figure of running is still continued, a new idea is introduced - that of pursuing a straight course with a view to others who are to follow on the same track. "That which is lame (τὸ χωλόν)" denotes the weak and wavering brethren - the ἀσθενοῦντες, such as are referred to in Romans 14. and 1 Corinthians 8. The expression well suits (specially those among the Hebrew Christians who halted between two opinions - between the Church and the synagogue (cf. 1 Kings 18:21, Ἕως πότε ὑμεῖς χωλανεῖτε επ ἀμφοτέραις ταῖς ἰγνύαις;). The strong in faith ought to desire and aim at the healing of such lame ones, i.e. their being strengthened in the faith, rather than expose them to the risk of apostasy by any wavering of their own. Make straight paths for your feet (τροχιὰς ὀρθὰς ποιεῖτε τοῖς ποσὶν ὑμῶν)

After the lxx of Proverbs 4:26. The corresponding Hebrew means to tear, to cut into: hence to cut through as a path; to make firm or plain. Ὁρθός N.T. Only here and Acts 14:10; commonly straight or upright, but also right, safe, happy. Comp. Proverbs 8:6; Proverbs 15:14; Proverbs 21:8. here, not in the sense of straight as distinguished from crooked, but more generally, right, plain, by implication even or smooth. Τροχιά N.T.o is literally a wheel-track (τροχός a wheel). Very rare in profane Greek. Τοῖς ποσὶν ὑμῶν "for your feet," not with. That is, exert yourselves to make the course clear for yourselves and your fellow Christians, so that there be no stumbling and laming.

That which is lame (τὸ χωλὸν)

Χωλός lame, halting, only in Synoptic Gospels and Acts. Mostly in the literal sense. Proverbial in Isaiah 33:23. Metaphorically here, and partly Matthew 18:8; Mark 9:45. The verb χωλαίνειν to be lame or to make lame (not in N.T.) is used metaphorically in lxx, Psalm 18:45; 1 Kings 18:21, where the A.V. "how long halt ye between two opinions" is ἕως πότε ὐμεῖς χωλανεῖτε ἐπ' ἀμφοτέραις ταῖς ἰγνύαις how long do ye go lame on both your hams? Τὸ χωλὸν here signifies the lame part or limb.

Be turned out of the way (ἐκτραπῇ)

Rend. "be put out of joint." The A.V. is according to the more usual meaning of the verb, which, in N.T., is confined, with this exception, to the Pastoral Epistles. See 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 5:15; 2 Timothy 4:4. lxx only Amos 5:8. But it is also used by medical writers in the passive, with the meaning to be wrenched or dislocated. There is nothing strange in the use of this word in a medical sense by our writer, whose work bears the stamp of Alexandria. The Greeks received their knowledge of surgery from the Egyptians, and mural paintings and documents, and even hieroglyphic symbols, prove that that people had attained remarkable proficiency in the science. Herodotus (ch. iii. 131) mentions a medical school at Cyrene in Africa, and says that the pupils of that school were regarded as the second best physicians in all Greece. At the time of Galen (163 a.d.) the medical school of Alexandria was the most famous in the world, and Galen himself studied there. Celsus (first half of the first century a.d.), in the 7th book of his treatise De Artibius, treats of surgical operations according to the views of the Alexandrian schools. The commonly accepted rendering of the A.V., besides giving a conception which is very tame, presents two incongruities: the association of going astray with lameness, and of healing with straying. The other rendering gives a lively and consistent image. Make the paths smooth and even, so that the lame limb be not dislocated by stones or pitfalls. Do everything to avoid aggravating the weakness of a fellow-Christian. Rather try to heal it. Τὸ χωλὸν may refer either to an individual or to a section of the church which is weak and vacillating.

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