Hebrews 12:14
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
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(14) Follow peace.—More clearly (as our word “follow” is somewhat ambiguous), follow after peace. There is a manifest allusion to Psalm 34:14 (quoted also in 1Peter 3:11). This charge is general (Romans 12:18), and must not be limited to peace with fellow Christians (Romans 14:19). The two admonitions of this verse were admirably suited to a period of persecution. Let all make peace their aim, yet not so as to sacrifice purity. (Comp. James 3:17.)

And holiness.—Better, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord. In Hebrews 9:28 we have the promise that “Christ . . . shall be seen” by them that wait for Him: hence it might be supposed (especially as in the next verse we read of “the grace of God”) that “the Lord” is here, as in Hebrews 2:3, a designation of our Saviour. As, however, this Epistle especially brings Him before us as the Sanctifier (Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 13:12), who leads us into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:19), we must rather look on these words as akin to Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Revelation 22:4).

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.Follow peace with all men - Do not give indulgence to those passions which lead to litigations, strifes, wars; see the notes on Romans 14:19. The connection here requires us to understand this mainly of persecutors. The apostle is referring to the trials which those whom he addressed were experiencing. Those trials seem to have arisen mainly from persecution, and he exhorts them to manifest a spirit of kindness toward all - even though they were engaged in persecuting them. This is the temper of the gospel. We are to make war with sin, but not with people; with bad passions and corrupt desires, but not with our fellow-worms.

And holiness - Instead of yielding to contending passions and to a spirit of war; instead of seeking revenge on your persecutors and foes, make it rather your aim to be holy. Let that be the object of your pursuit; the great purpose of your life. Men might in such cases counsel them to seek revenge; the spirit of religion would counsel them to strive to be holy. In such times they were in great danger of giving indulgence to evil passions, and hence, the special propriety of the exhortation to endeavor to be holy.

Without which no man shall see the Lord - That is, shall see him in peace; or shall so see him as to dwell with him. All will see him in the day of judgment, but to "see" one is often used in the sense of being with one; dwelling with one; enjoying one; see the notes on Matthew 5:8. The principle here stated is one which is never departed from; Revelation 21:27; Isaiah 35:8; Isaiah 52:1; Isaiah 60:21; Joel 3:17; Matthew 13:41; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. No one has ever been admitted to heaven in his sins; nor is it desirable that anyone ever should be. Desirable as it is that lost people should be happy, yet it is benevolence which excludes the profane, the impious, and the unbelieving from heaven - just as it is benevolence to a family to exclude profligates and seducers, and as it is benevolence to a community to confine thieves and robbers in prison. This great principle in the divine administration will always be adhered to; and hence, they who are expecting to be saved without holiness or religion, are destined to certain disappointment.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but God will not admit one unrepenting and unpardoned sinner to heaven. It was the importance and the certainty of this principle which made the apostle insist on it here with so much earnestness. Amidst all their trials; when exposed to persecution; and when everything might tempt them to the indulgence of feelings which were the opposite of holiness, they were to make it their great object to be like God. For this they were to seek, to strive. to labor, to pray. This with us in all our trials should also be the great aim of life. How deeply affecting then is the inquiry whether we have that holiness which is indispensable to salvation! Let us not deceive ourselves. We may have many things else - many things which are in themselves desirable, but without this one thing we shall never see the Lord in peace. We may have wealth, genius, learning, beauty, accomplishments, houses, lands, books, friends - but without religion they will be all in vain. Never can we see God in peace without a holy heart; never can we be admitted into heaven without that religion which will identify us with the angels around the throne!

14. follow peace with all men—with the brethren especially (Ro 14:19), that so the "lame" among them be not "turned out of the way" (Heb 12:13), and that no one of them "fail of the grace of God" (Heb 12:15).

holiness—a distinct Greek word from God's "holiness" (Heb 12:10). Translate here "sanctification." His is absolute holiness: our part is to put on His holiness, becoming "holy as He is holy," by sanctification. While "following peace with all men," we are not so to seek to please them, as to make God's will and our sanctification a secondary object; this latter must be our first aim. (Ga 1:10).

without which—Greek, "apart from which."

no man shall see the Lord—no man as a son; in heavenly glory (Re 22:3, 4). In the East, none but the greatest favorites are admitted to the honor of seeing the king (compare 2Sa 14:24). The Lord being pure and holy, none but the pure and holy shall see Him (Mt 5:8). Without holiness in them, they could not enjoy Him who is holiness itself (Zec 14:20). The connection of purity with seeing the Lord, appears in 1Jo 3:2, 3; Eph 5:5. Contrast Heb 12:16 (compare 1Th 4:3). In Mt 24:30; Re 1:7, it is said that all shall see the Lord; but, that shall be as a Judge, not as their lasting portion and God, which is meant here. The Greek verb does not denote the mere action of seeing, but the seer's state of mind to which the object is presented: so in Mt 5:8 they shall truly comprehend God [Tittmann]. None but the holy could appreciate the holy God, none else therefore shall abide in His presence. "The bad shall only see Him in His form as Son of man [compare Re 1:13, with Re 1:7; and Mt 24:30; Ac 1:11; 17:31]; still it will be in the glory in which He shall judge, not in the lowliness in which He was judged. His form as God, wherein He is equal to the Father, without doubt the ungodly shall not see; for it is only 'the pure in heart who shall see God'" [Augustine]. "He shall come to judge, who stood before a judge. He shall come in the form in which He was judged, that they may see Him whom they pierced: He who was before hidden shall come manifested in power: He, as Judge, shall condemn the real culprits, who was Himself falsely made a culprit."

Here begins the second head of counsel in this chapter. That seeing the gospel church Officer, the great Reconciler of sinners to, and Sanctifier of them for, God, was fully revealed to them, it did now concern them to promote peace with men, and perfect holiness towards God: this is pursued to the end of the chapter.

Follow peace with all men: diwkete imports such a fierce, unwearied, unsatisfied pursuit, as persecutors make after the innocent servants of Christ, till they have their purposes on them; and so sets out the real, earnest, violent, unwearied, constant pursuit and labour after peace, i.e. concord, unanimity, and comfortable consociation in all things, good and lawful, to all sorts of persons, in thought, word, and deed, as far as it is possible for us, Psalm 34:14 1 Corinthians 10:32 1 Corinthians 13:4,5,7 1 Peter 3:10,11.

And holiness: agiasmon is all that habit and frame of heart, which becometh souls to have towards God, enjoying all purity from spiritual uncleanness, and a conformity to the holiness peculiar to God, Ephesians 4:24. The result and quintessence of all the graces of the Spirit, is holiness, 1 Peter 1:15,16 1Jo 3:2,3: labouring to the perfection of this within our kind, Psalm 110:3 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Without which no man shall see the Lord: a soul destitute of holiness is in no capacity, either of faith or sight, to

see the Lord; they can have no union to, communion with, or fruition of, God in Christ, neither in grace nor glory; implying and assuring them, that with holiness they may see and enjoy him, Matthew 5:8 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 1 Corinthians 12:13 Galatians 5:21 1Jo 3:2,3.

Follow peace with all men,.... That are in a natural and domestic relation to one another, being of the same family; and that are in a civil and political one, being of the same nation, city, or society; and that are in a spiritual one, being members of the same church; or, if not, yet being saints, and though in some things different in judgment; yea, even peace is to be followed with enemies, as much as in us lies: and perhaps by "all men", the Gentiles may be more especially designed, whose peace the Hebrews thought they were not to seek, Deuteronomy 23:6 mistaking the sense of the text, by applying it to the Gentiles in general: to "follow peace", signifies an eager pursuit after it, in the use of proper means; exerting the utmost of a man's power to attain it, in all things possible: many things serve to enforce this upon the saints; this is most agreeable to all the three divine Persons; to God, who is the God of peace; to Christ, the Prince of peace; and to the Spirit, one of whose fruits is peace; and to the characters of the saints, who are sons of peace, and who are called to peace, and who make a profession of the Gospel of peace; and to the privileges they enjoy, being interested in the covenant of peace, partaking of spiritual peace now, and being entitled to eternal peace hereafter: and this agrees with the sayings and counsels of the ancient Jews. It was a saying of Hillell (r), who lived about the times of Christ;

"be thou one of the disciples of Aaron, who loved peace, , "and followed peace".''

This is said of Aaron in the Talmud (s), that

"he loved peace, and followed peace, and made peace between a man and his neighbour, as is said, Malachi 2:6.''

They recommend peace on many accounts, and say, great is peace, and among the rest, because it is one of the names of God (t):

and holiness: this being added to peace, shows that peace is no further to be followed than is consistent with holiness; and holiness here does not design any particular branch of holiness, as chastity of the body and mind, but the whole of holiness, inward and outward; and intends true holiness, in opposition to ceremonial holiness, which the Hebrews were fond of, and pursued after: it means even perfect holiness; for though holiness is not perfect in this life, yet it will be in heaven; and there is a perfection of it in Christ; and it is to be followed after, by going to Christ for more grace, and exercising faith upon him, as our sanctification; and by eager desires that the Spirit of God would sanctify us more and more, and enable us, by his grace and strength, to walk in the way of holiness, till we get safe to heaven:

without which no man shall see the Lord; or "God", as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read; that is, with the beatific vision in heaven: or the Lord Jesus Christ, "our Lord", as the Syriac version reads; even in this life, so as to have communion with him; and hereafter, so as to behold his glory, both intellectually and corporeally: to such a sight holiness is necessary; for God is holy, and Christ is holy, and so is heaven, and so are the angels, and the souls of men in it.

(r) Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 12. (s) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 6. 2. & Gloss. in T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 71. 2.((t) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 153. 1, 2.

{9} Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

(9) We must live in peace and holiness with all men.

Hebrews 12:14. Μετὰ πάντων] with all, even the non-Christians. Comp. Romans 12:18. For limiting the πάντες, with Michaelis, Zachariae, Storr, Bleek, Stein, de Wette, Tholuck, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, to the members of the Christian community, there exists no reason; and it has against it the mode of expression, since we should then have expected μετʼ ἀλλήλων.

καὶ τὸν ἁγιασμόν] the general virtue, of which the endeavour after concord is only a particular outflow. ἁγιασμός, namely, is here sanctification or moral purification in general; too restricted is the reference of Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Jac. Cappellus, Bengel, Bloomfield, and others, who explain it as—what at 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (see at that place) is certainly the correct explanation—the virtue of chastity.

τὸν κύριον] By this expression some understand God (comp. Matthew 5:8), others Christ (comp. Hebrews 9:28). A certain decision is impossible. The beholding represents in an emblematic manner the idea of innermost union, and the whole is a designation of the Messianic blessedness in the consummated kingdom of God.

Hebrews 12:14-17. Exhortation to concord and to growth in holiness.

14–17. Need of earnest watchfulness

14. Follow peace with all men] The word “men” is better omitted, for doubtless the writer is thinking mainly of peace in the bosom of the little Christian community—a peace which, even in these early days, was often disturbed by rival egotisms (Romans 14:19; 2 Timothy 2:22).

and holiness] Rather, “and the sanctification” (Hebrews 9:13, Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:29, Hebrews 13:12).

without which] We have here in succession two iambics:

οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὸν Κύριον

ἐπισκοποῦντες μή τις ὑστερῶν ἀπό.

Hebrews 12:14. Μετὰ, with) Construed with εἰρήνην, peace; comp. πολλοὶ, many, Hebrews 12:15.—καὶ τὸν) The article makes an emphatic addition (Epitasis), ch. Hebrews 11:38.—ἁγιασμὸν, sanctification) of which the principal parts are chastity and sobriety: comp. Hebrews 12:16.—οὐδεὶς ὄψεται, no one shall see) as a priest; Revelation 22:3-4, or as a son; comp. 2 Samuel 14:24.—τὸν Κύριον, the Lord) Who is holy, pure.

Verse 14. - Follow peace with all (i.e. as required by the context, with all the brethren; cf. Romans 14:19), and holiness (more properly, sanctification), without which no man shall see the Lord. Here the figure is dropped, and two cautions given, peculiarly needed, we may suppose, by the community addressed. The exhortation to "peace with all" reminds of the tone of St. Paul's admonitions both in Romans and in 1 Corinthians, where he so strongly warns against dissensions and party spirit, and enjoins tolerance and mutual allowance with regard to the weaker brethren. The word ἁγιασμὸς ("sanctification") need not be limited (as by Chrysostom) to the idea of chastity; the general thought implied may be (as expressed by Limborch, quoted by Alford), "No, dum pact studeat, nimis slits obsequendi studio quidquam contra sanctimonism Christianam delinquat;" but the special allusion to πορνεία in ver. 16 (as also in Hebrews 13:4) is evidence that chastity was especially in the writer's mind, with definite reference to which the word ἁγιασμὸς is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:3. The frequent and earnest warnings against fornication in St. Paul's Epistles are enough to show how slow even some in the Church were to recognize the strict code of Christian morality, unknown to the heathen world, and by the Jews very imperfectly recognized, in this regard; and the case of 1 Corinthians 5. illustrates how easily such vice might creep into and infect a Christian community without general reprobation. Hence probably the special warning here. Hebrews 12:14Follow peace (εἰρήνην διώκετε)

Comp. lxx, Psalm 23:14, and Romans 14:19; 1 Peter 3:11. The verb is used of the pursuit of moral and spiritual ends, Romans 9:30, Romans 9:31; Romans 12:13; 1 Corinthians 14:1; Philippians 3:12, Philippians 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22.

Holiness (ἁγιασμόν)

See on Romans 6:19.

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