For our God is a consuming fire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 4:24. There these words follow a solemn warning against idolatry. This passage then belongs to the same class as Hebrews 10:27-28; Hebrews 10:30. (See the Notes.)Deuteronomy 4:24. "For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God." The object of the apostle here seems to be, to show that there was the same reason for fearing the displeasure of God under the new dispensation which there was under the old. It was the same God who was served. There had been no change in his attributes, or in the principles of his government. He was no more the friend of sin now than he was then; and the same perfections of his nature which would then lead him to punish transgression would also lead him to do it now. His anger was really as terrible, and as much to be dreaded as it was at Mount Sinai; and the destruction which he would inflict on his foes would be as terrible now as it was then.
The fearfulness with which he would come forth to destroy the wicked might be compared to a "fire" that consumed all before it; see the notes, Mark 9:44-46. The image here is a most fearful one, and is in accordance with all the representations of God in the Bible and with all that we see in the divine dealings with wicked people, that punishment; as inflicted by him is awful and overwhelming. So it was on the old world; on the cities of the plain; on the hosts of Sennacherib; and on Jerusalem - and so it has been in the calamities of pestilence, war, flood, and famine with which God has visited guilty people. By all these tender and solemn considerations, therefore, the apostle urges the friends of God to perseverance and fidelity in his service. His goodness and mercy; the gift of a Saviour to redeem us; the revelation of a glorious world; the assurance that all may soon be united in fellowship with the angels and the redeemed; the certainty that the kingdom of the Saviour is established on a permanent basis, and the apprehension of the dreadful wrath of God against the guilty, all should lead us to persevere in the duties of our Christian calling, and to avoid those things which would jeopard the eternal interests of our souls.
our God—in whom we hope, is also to be feared. He is love (1Jo 4:8, 16); yet there is another side of His character; God has wrath against sin (Heb 10:27, 31).Deu 4:23,24:
The Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. He that was so respecting the transgression of the legal, will much more be so as to this gospel covenant. God Almighty, the most gracious, and yet the most just Being, their own God by covenant obtestation; yet will be to them, if they break his covenant, and do not, through Christ, acceptably serve him with reverence and godly fear, as fire consuming them. His gospel law, in the contempt of it, will be as the fiery law at Sinai, adjudging such sinners unto fire unquenchable, Hebrews 10:27-31; compare Matthew 3:12 25:41 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Hebrews 8:10, what is here said of him, that he is a consuming fire, may be understood of his jealousy in matters of worship, Deuteronomy 4:23, and so carries in it a reason why he is to be served acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. God, and he only, is to be worshipped; and he is to be worshipped in a way suitable to himself; and he has the sole right of fixing the manner of worship, both as to the external and internal parts of it: under the legal dispensation, he was worshipped in a way he then pitched upon, and suitable to it; and under the Gospel dispensation he is to be worshipped in an evangelical way; and he is to have all the glory in every part of worship; and the ordinances of Gospel worship are immovable; nor are they to be altered, or others put in their room, without recurring his displeasure. Moreover, this phrase may be expressive of the preservation of his people, and of the destruction of their enemies, Deuteronomy 9:1. We commonly say, that God out of Christ is a consuming fire; meaning, that God, as an absolute God, is full of wrath and vengeance; and it is a truth, but not the truth of this text; for here it is our God, our covenant God, our God in Christ; not that he is so to the saints, or to them that are in Christ: he is indeed as a wall of fire in his providences, to protect and defend them, and as fire in his word to enlighten and warm them, to guide and direct them, but not a consuming fire to them; this he is to their enemies, who are as thorns, and briers, and stubble before him: and so the Jews interpret Deuteronomy 4:24 of a fire consuming fire (o); and observe, that Moses says, thy God, and not our God (p); but the apostle here uses the latter phrase. For our God is a consuming fire.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 12:29. Warning justification of the μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέονς. The words cannot, however, signify: for our God too (the God of Christians), even as the God of the Old Covenant, is a consuming fire (so still Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Bisping, and others). For to this end καὶ γὰρ ἡμῶν ὁ θεὸς κ.τ.λ. must have been written. Just as little may καὶ γάρ, with Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 60, Obs.), Alford, Moll, and Kurtz, be weakened into the mere notion of “etenim.” For καί is the enhancing “more than this,” and belongs to the whole clause, in connection with which it would be a matter of indifference (against Delitzsch) whether the author should write καὶ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν πῦρ καταναλίσκον or καὶ γὰρ πῦρ καταναλίσκον ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, since in either case the main emphasis in connection with the few words would fall upon πῦρ καταναλίσκον. According to the order of the words, and by reason of the intensive force of καί, the sense can therefore only be: for our God is also a consuming fire, i.e. He is not merely a God of grace, but likewise a God of punitive righteousness. A diversity, consequently, of the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New, which would also have been an unsuitable notion, the author does not by any means assert. Moreover, comp. LXX. Deuteronomy 4:24 : ὅτι κύριος ὁ θεός σου πῦρ καταναλίσκον ἐστίν.29. for our God is a consuming fire]. The reference is to Deuteronomy 4:24, and the special application of the description to one set of circumstances shews that this is not—like “God is light” and “God is love”—a description of the whole character of God, but an anthropomorphic way of expressing His hatred of apostasy and idolatry. Here the reference is made to shew why we ought to serve God with holy reverence and fear.Hebrews 12:29. Καὶ γὰρ, for) A very important Epiphonema.—ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν πῦρ καταναλίσκον, our God is a consuming fire) Deut. above, at Deuteronomy 12:18-19, several times quoted, in ch. Deuteronomy 14:24, LXX., ὅτι Κύριος ὁ Θεός σου πῦρ καταναλίσκου ἐστί, Θεὸς ζηλωτής; comp. ibid. ch. Hebrews 9:3. Our God, in whom we hope, is at the same time to be feared.
 An exclamation appended after a weighty demonstration.—ED.
See Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 9:3; Malachi 3:2; Malachi 4:1. The verb N.T.o, a few times in lxx. Often in Class., especially Xenophon. Originally to use up, spend, lavish, as property: thence to consume as with fire. The simple verb ἀναλίσκειν to expend occurs Luke 9:54; Galatians 5:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν is not our God as compared with the God of the Jews. He is the God of both covenants (see Hebrews 1:1, Hebrews 1:2, and notes); but though now revealed in Jesus Christ, and offering all the privileges of the new covenant (Hebrews 12:22-24), his anger burns against those who reject these privileges.
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