Hebrews 12:4
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
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(4) Ye have not yet resisted unto blood.—Still the general figure is retained, but for the footrace is substituted the contest of the pugilists. In Hebrews 12:1 sin was the hindrance which must be put aside; here it is the antagonist who must be subdued. It is interesting to note exactly the same transition in 1Corinthians 9:26. (See Note.) The contest has been maintained but feebly, for no blood has flowed in their struggle with temptation and sin; they have not deserted the arena, but have shrunk from the suffering which a determined struggle would have caused. It is possible that the writer goes beyond the figure in these words, and that the price of their resistance might indeed have been their “blood.”



Hebrews 12:4‘Ye have not yet resisted’ - then others had done so; and the writer bids his readers contrast their own comparative immunity from persecution from the fate of such, in order that they may the more cheerfully do the easier task devolved upon them. Who were those others?

If the supposition of many is correct that this Epistle was addressed to the Mother Church at Jerusalem, the fate of Stephen the first martyr, and of James the brother of John, who had ‘had the rule over’ that Church, may have been in the writer’s mind. If the date assigned to the letter by some is accepted, the persecution under Nero, which had lighted the gardens of the Capitol with living torches, had already occurred; and the writer may have wished the-Jerusalem Church to Bethink themselves that they had fared better than their brethren in Rome. But whether these conjectures are adopted or no, there is another contrast evidently in the writer’s mind. He has Been speaking of the long series of heroes of the faith, some of whom had been ‘stoned and sawn asunder,’ and he would have the Christians whom he addresses contrast their position with that of these ancient saints and martyrs. And there is another contrast more touching still, more wonderful and impressive, in his mind; for my text follows immediately upon a reference to Jesus Christ, ‘who endured the Cross, despising the shame.’ So Himself ‘had resisted unto blood.’ And thus the writer bids his readers think of the martyrs in the Mother Church; of the blood that had deluged the Church at Rome; of the slaughtered saints in past generations; and, above all, of the great Captain of their salvation; and, animated by the thoughts, manfully to bear and mightily to resist in the conflict that is laid upon them. ‘Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against Sin.’

I. So then, we have here, to begin with, the permanent condition of the Christian life, as one of Warfare and resistance.

The imagery of the whole context is drawn from the arena. A verse or two before the writer was speaking about the race. Now he slightly shifts his point of view, and is speaking rather about the wrestling or the pugilistic encounters that were there waged. And his point is that always, and everywhere, however the forms may vary in which the conflict is carried on, there is inseparable from the Christian life an element of effort, endurance and antagonism. That is worth thinking about for a moment. It is all very Well to sing of green pastures and still waters, and to rejoice in the blessings, the consolations, the tranquillities, the raptures of Christian experience, and to rejoice in the thought of the many mercies for body and soul which come to men through faith. That is all true and all blessed, but it is only one side of the truth. And unless we have apprehended, and have ¥educed to practice and experience the other side of the Christian life, which makes it a toil and a pain to the lower self, and a continual resistance, I venture to say that we have no right to the soothing and sweet and tender side of it; and have need to ask ourselves whether we know anything about Christianity at all. It is not given to us merely - it is not given to us chiefly - to secure those great and precious things which it does secure, but it is given to us in order that, enriched and steadied and strengthened by the possession of them. we should be the better fit for the conflict, just as a wise commander will see that his soldiers are well fed before he flings them into the battle.

But then, passing from that, which is only a side issue, let me remind you of what our antagonist is ‘striving against sin.’

Now some people would take my text to mean solely the conflict which each of us has to wage with our own evils, meannesses and weaknesses. And some, guided by the context, would take the reference to be exclusively to the antagonisms with evils round about us, and with the embodiment of these in men who do not share Christian views of life or conduct. But I think that neither the one nor the other of these two exclusive interpretations can be maintained. For sin is one, whether embodied in ourselves or embodied in men or in institutions. And we have the same conflict to wage against precisely the same antagonist when we are occupied in the task of purging ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and when we are occupied in the wider task of seeking to bring every man to recognise the power of Christ’s love, and to live in purity by obedience to Him.

And so, the first field on which every Christian is to win his spurs, to prove his prowess, and to exercise his strength is the field within, where the lists are very narrow, and where self wages war against self in daily conflict. Every man of us carries his own worst enemy inside his own waistcoat. We have all lusts, passions, inclinations, desires, faults, vices, meannesses, selfishnesses, indolences, - a whole host of evils lying there like a nest of vipers within us, and our first task and our lifelong task, is to take the sting and the poison out of these, and to throttle them and to east them out.

And then, and only after that, there comes the next thing - viz., the antagonism in which Christian men must permanently stand to a world which does not sympathise with their views, which is strange to the maxims that rule their lives, and which renders no fealty to the King whom they are sworn to obey. And that antagonism runs out into various forms. First of all, it is the solemn duty of every Christian to wage war so as to prevent himself from being caught up in the current of godless living which prevails round him. We have to fight to keep ourselves from being harmed by the world and the worldly communities amidst which we dwell What would become of the captain of a ship who did not take care to have his compass corrected so as to neutralize the effects of all the mass of iron in his vessel? You walk as in the wards of a hospital. If you do not take precautions you will catch the disease that is in the air. It is as certain that careless Christian people who do not ever keep on guard against impending and surrounding evil shall be infected by it, as it is certain that if an Englishman goes out, say to the United States, he will come back with the intonations of our brethren on the other side of the Atlantic slipping unconsciously from his tongue. The first duty, imperative upon Christian people, is to realise that they live in the midst of an order of things that is not in accordance with the Master’s principles, and so to beware that they do not catch the infection.

I do not need to say a word about the other form of antagonism, which is equally imperative, and which will prevent us from caring much about the judgments that may be formed of us by the people round us. ‘With me it is a very small matter that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment.’ But the resistance against sin, which is the Christian man’s merciful warfare in the world, is not completed either by his keeping himself from complicity with surrounding evils or by his refusing to let antagonism divert him from his course. There is something more that is plain duty, and that is, that every Christian should be Christ’s soldier in the attempt to get Christ’s commandments recognised, and the principles of His word obeyed, in the world.

Society is not organised on Christian principles. You have only to look around you to see that. I do not need to dwell upon the various discordances between the plain teachings of this Book and every community, and every nation, and every individual; but let me remind you that until the Sermon on the Mount is the law for individuals and communities, the Christian man, if he is loyal to his Lord, must be ‘striving against sin’ in the endeavour to get established Christ’s kingdom, which is the kingdom of righteousness. That sermon does not contain all Christian truth, but it is the Magna Charta of an applied Christianity; the laws of the kingdom from the lips of the King Himself.

So, brethren, I come to you with this for my message, that no Christian man is doing his work as Christ’s soldier, ‘striving against sin,’ until he is seeking, with the best of his strength, to get Christ’s law, which is righteousness, established on the face of the earth.

Talk of dynamiters and explosives, why, there is explosive power enough in Christianity to shatter to pieces the corruptions which make so large a part of modern social life. But, alas! the Christian Church has too long and too generally been employed in damping down the gunpowder instead of firing it, and seeking to explain away the large and plain commandments of the Master, instead of seeking to apply them.

There is a new spirit springing up around us to-day, for which we should be devoutly thankful, whilst at the same time we must forget that, like all new move-merits, it is apt to be one-sided and exaggerated. Much harm is done, I believe, in many directions by Christian teachers seeking to apply the principles of Christ’s commandments to various phases of social iniquity without a clear knowledge of the facts of the case. But that being fully admitted, I still rejoice to believe that Christ’s men round about us are waking up, as they never did before, to the solemn obligation laid upon Christian churches, if they are not to perish of inanition and inactivity, to proclaim and seek to have recognised Christ’s laws for the individual and Christ’s law for the community.

Only remember the limitations and the antecedents about which I have already spoken a word. No man has any business to go crusading among other people until he has cleansed himself. And the first task of the Christian reformer is with his own heart. And again, it is useless to deal with institutions unless you deal with the men who live under them. The main work of the Christian Church must ever be with individuals, and through their improvement the improvement of society will be most fully secured. But the error of many good and earnest men to-day is in thinking that if you set the ‘environment,’ as they call it, right you will get the men right. It is a mistake. Take a pack of drunken wastrels out of the slums and put them into model lodging-houses, and in a fortnight the lodging-houses. will be as dirty, as the sties from which the men were dragged. Mend the men, and then you may hopefully Set them in new environment; mend the men, and society will be mended. And, mend yourselves first, and then you will be able to mend society. Resist your own sin, and then go out to fight with the sin of others.

II. Notice the brunt of the battle which has been borne by others.

I have already said that the immediate context suggests two contrasts between the comparative immunity from persecution of the readers of the letter and certain others.

The first is that suggested by all that glorious muster-roll of heroes and martyrs of the faith which precedes this chapter. And I may say without dealing in rhetoric, or dilating on the subject, that Christian men in this generation may well bethink themselves of what it was that their fathers bore, and did, that has won for them this ease.

I remember an old church, on the slopes of one of the hills of Rome, which is covered over on all its interior walls with a set of the most gruesome pictures of the martyrs. There may be an unwholesome admiration and adoration of these. I think modern Christianity, in its complacency with itself, and this marvellous nineteenth century, of which we are so proud, would be all the better if it went back sometimes to remember that there were times when ‘young men and maidens, and old men and children,’ had to resist to blood; and when they went to their deaths as joyfully as a bride to the altar.

Ah, brethren I you Nonconformists in this generation, who have an easy- going religion, do not always remember how it was worn Think of George Fox and the Friends. Think of the early Nonconformists, hunted and harried, their noses slit and ears cropped off, their pillories and exile, and then be ashamed to talk about the difficulties that you have to meet. ‘Ye have not resisted unto blood.’

There is a far more touching contrast suggested, and apparently mainly in the writer’s mind, because just before he has said, ‘Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners.’ The word that he employs for ‘consider’ might be rendered ‘compare, weigh in the balance,’ Christ’s sufferings and yours. He has borne the heavy end of the Cross of which He lays the light end upon our shoulders. Of course the more mysterious and profound aspects of Christ’s death, in which He is no pattern for us, but the propitiation for our sins, do not come into view in this contrast. They are abundantly treated in the rest of the letter. But here the writer is thinking of Jesus Christ in His capacity of the Prince of sufferers for righteousness’ sake, who could have escaped His Cross if He had chosen to abandon His warfare and His witness. Jesus Christ is a great deal more than that. And the differentia of His sufferings and death is not touched by such a consideration. But do not let us forget that He is that, and that whatever else His death is, it stands also as being the very climax of all suffering for righteousness. He is the King of the martyrs as well as the Sacrifice for the world’s sin. Let us turn to Him, and mark the heroic strength of character, hidden from hasty observation by the sweet gentleness in which it was enshrined, like the iron hand in a velvet glove.

Let us understand how His pattern is held forth to us, and how the Cross is our example, as well as the ground of all our hope. ‘Ye have not yet resisted ... Consider Him.’

III. And now, lastly, note the lighter warfare incumbent upon us.

The resistance changes its form, but in essence it continues. In old days warfare consisted in men bludgeoning each other, or engaging in hand- grips foot to foot and face to face. Nowadays it is artillery duels - a great deal more scientific, a great deal less coarse; but it is warfare all the same. The world used to burn Christians, to hang them, to stone them. It does not do that now, but it fights them yet. The world has become partially Christianised, and the principles of Christianity have, in a certain imperfect way, infiltrated themselves through the mass, so that the antagonism is not quite as hot as it once was. And the Church has weakened its testimony and largely adopted the maxims of the world. So why should the world persecute a Church which is only a bit of the world under another name? But let any man for himself honestly try to live a life modelled on Christ’s maxims, and let him cast himself against some of the clamant evils round about him, and seek to subdue them, because Christ has bidden him, and he will see whether the old antagonism is not there yet. What a chorus of select epithets will immediately be discharged! ‘Impracticable,’ ‘fanatical,’ ‘one-sided,’ ‘revolutionary,’ ‘sour visaged,’ ‘Pharisee,’ ‘hypocrite.’ These will be the sweet, smelling flowers in the garland that will be woven Depend upon it, a Christian man who is bent on living out Christianity for himself, and on seeking to apply it around him, will have to fight and endure.

But all that is. as nothing - nothing - to what the front rank had to go through, and went through, joyfully. They fell in the trenches and filled them up, that the rear rank might pass across. They bore sword stabs; we have only to bear pin pricks. Stones were flung at them, as at Stephen outside the wall; handfuls of mud are all that we have to be afraid of.

So, brethren, accept thankfully to-day’s form of the permanent conflict, and see that you do unmurmuringly, cheerfully, and thoroughly the task that is laid upon you. And do not think much of the discomforts and annoyances. For us to speak about sacrifices for Christ is as if a bargeman on a canal were to dilate on the perils of his voyage in the hearing of an Arctic explorer; or as if a man that went in a first-class carriage to London were to speak to an African traveller about ‘the perils of the road.’ ‘Ye have not yet resisted unto blood. ‘Consider Him’; and take up your cross, and follow Him.

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.Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin - The general sense of this passage is, "you have not yet been called in your Christian struggles to the highest kind of sufferings and sacrifices. Great as your trials may seem to have been, yet your faith has not yet been put to the severest test. And since this is so, you ought not to yield in the conflict with evil, but manfully resist it." In the language used here there is undoubtedly a continuance of the allusion to the agonistic games - the strugglings and wrestlings for mastery there. In those games, the boxers were accustomed to arm themselves for the fight with the caestus. This at first consisted of strong leathern thongs wound around the hands, and extending only to the wrist, to give greater solidity to the fist. Afterward these were made to extend to the elbow, and then to the shoulder, and finally, they sewed pieces of lead or iron in them that they might strike a heavier and more destructive blow. The consequence was, that those who were engaged in the fight were often covered with blood, and that resistance "unto blood" showed a determined courage, and a purpose not to yield. But though the language here may be taken from this custom, the fact to which the apostle alludes, it seems to me, is the struggling of the Saviour in the garden of Gethsemane, when his conflict was so severe that, great drops of blood fell down to the ground see the notes on Matthew 26:36-44. It is, indeed, commonly understood to mean that they had not yet been called to shed their blood as martyrs in the cause of religion; see Stuart Bloomfield, Doddridge, Clarke, Whitby, Kuinoel, etc. Indeed, I find in none of the commentators what seems to me to be the true sense of this passage, and what gives an exquisite beauty to it, the allusion to the sufferings of the Saviour in the garden. The reasons which lead me to believe that there is such an allusion, are briefly these:

(1) The connection. The apostle is appealing to the example of the Saviour, and urging Christians to persevere amidst their trials by looking to him. Nothing would be more natural in this connection, than to refer to that dark night, when in the severest conflict with temptation which he ever encountered. he so signally showed his own firmness of purpose, and the effects of resistance on his own bleeding body, and his signal victory - in the garden of Gethsemane.

(2) the expression "striving against sin" seems to demand the same interpretation. On the common interpretation, the allusion would be merely to their resisting persecution; but here the allusion is to some struggle in their minds against "committing sin." The apostle exhorts them to strive manfully and perseveringly against; sin in every form, and especially against the sin of apostasy. To encourage them he refers them to the highest instance on record where there was a "striving against sin" - the struggle of the Redeemer in the garden with the great enemy who there made his most violent assault, and where the resistance of the Redeemer was so great as to force the blood through his pores. What was the exact form of the temptation there, we are not informed. It may have been to induce him to abandon his work even then and to yield, in view of the severe sufferings of his approaching death on the cross.

If there ever was a point where temptation would be powerful, it would be there. When a man is about to be put to death, how strong is the inducement to abandon his purpose, his plans, or his principles, if he may save his life! How many, of feeble virtue, have yielded just there! If to this consideration we add the thought that the Redeemer was engaged in a work never before undertaken; that he designed to make an atonement never before made; that he was about to endure sorrows never before endured; and that on the decision of that moment depended the ascendency of sin or holiness on the earth, the triumph or the fall of Satan's kingdom, the success or the defeat of all the plans of the great adversary of God and man, and that, on such an occasion as this, the tempter would use all his power to crush the lonely and unprotected man of sorrows in the garden of Gethsemane, it is easy to imagine what may have been the terror of that fearful conflict, and what virtue it would require in him to resist the concentrated energy of Satan's might to induce him even then to abandon his work. The apostle says of those to whom he wrote, that they had not yet reached that point; compare notes on Hebrews 5:7.

(3) this view furnishes a proper climax to the argument of the apostle for perseverance. It presents the Redeemer before the mind as the great example; directs the mind to him in various scenes of his life - as looking to the joy before him - disregarding the ignominy of his sufferings - enduring the opposition of sinners - and then in the garden as engaged in a conflict with his great foe, and so resisting sin that rather than yield he endured that fearful mental struggle which was attended with such remarkable consequences. This is the highest consideration which could be presented to the mind of a believer to keep him from yielding in the conflict with evil; and if we could keep him in the eye resisting even unto blood rather than yield in the least degree, it would do more than all other things to restrain us from sin. How different his case from ours! How readily we yield to sin! We offer a faint and feeble resistance, and then surrender. We think it will be unknown: or that others do it; or that we may repent of it; or that we have no power to resist it; or that it is of little consequence, and our resolution gives way. Not so the Redeemer, Rather than yield in any form to sin, he measured strength with the great adversary when alone with him in the darkness of the night, and gloriously triumphed! And so would we always triumph if we had the same settled purpose to resist sin in every form even unto blood.

4. not yet resisted unto blood—image from pugilism, as he previously had the image of a race, both being taken from the great national Greek games. Ye have suffered the loss of goods, and been a gazing-stock by reproaches and afflictions; ye have not shed your blood (see on [2595]Heb 13:7). "The athlete who hath seen his own blood, and who, though cast down by his opponent, does not let his spirits be cast down, who as often as he hath fallen hath risen the more determined, goes down to the encounter with great hope" [Seneca].

against sin—Sin is personified as an adversary; sin, whether within you, leading you to spare your blood, or in our adversaries, leading them to shed it, if they cannot through your faithfulness even unto blood, induce you to apostatize.

Ye have suffered ranch for Christ already, but there is more that he requires from you, and is yet behind, Hebrews 10:32-34; the condition he fixed with you as his disciples, in Luke 14:26, to lay down your life as well as your relations and goods for him. You may yet be called to testify to him, by suffering a violent and bloody death from his and your enemies, as other martyrs had done for him: consider him who hath suffered a worse death for you, to sweeten yours to you, that you do not faint, fail, or turn apostates from him and his truth; resisting with agonies whatsoever men or devils use to entice or force us to apostatize from Christ, since there will be neither arts nor powers wanting to it. Watch you, pray, and strive to the utmost against them, Luke 22:31,32 1 Peter 5:9.

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood,.... They had resisted sin, and Satan, and the world, the men of it, and the lusts of it, and its frowns and flatteries, and also false teachers, even every adversary of Christ, and their souls; but they had not, as yet, resisted unto blood, or to the shedding of their blood, as some of the Old Testament saints had done; as some in the times of the Maccabees, and as James the apostle of Christ, and as Christ himself: wherefore the apostle suggests, that they ought to consider, that they had been indulged; and what they had been engaged in, were only some light skirmishes; and that they must expect to suffer as long as they were in the world, and had blood in them; and that their blood, when called for, should be spilled for the sake of Christ:

striving against sin; which is the principal antagonist the believer has, and is here particular pointed out: sin is here, by some, thought to be put for sinful men; or it may design the sin of those men, who solicited the saints to a defection from the truth; or the sin of apostasy itself; or that of unbelief; or rather indwelling sin, and the lusts of the flesh, which war against the soul. Now this is said, to sharpen and increase the saints resentment and indignation against it, as being their antagonist, with whom they strive and combat, and which is the cause of all the evils in the world, exposes to wrath to come, and separates from communion with God; and to encourage them to bear their sufferings patiently, since they are not without sin, as Christ was; and since their afflictions and sufferings are for the subduing of sin, and the increase of holiness.

{4} Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

(4) He takes an argument from the profit which comes to us by God's chastisements, unless we are at fault. First of all because sin, or that rebellious wickedness of our flesh, is by this means tamed.

Hebrews 12:4 ff. The sufferings which have come upon the readers are only small, and a salutary chastisement at the hand of God.

Οὔπω μέχρις αἵματος κ.τ.λ.] Not yet unto blood, i.e. to such extent that bloodshed should result, that a martyr’s death[115] among you should be a necessity (as such death had but just now been mentioned of the O. T. saints, chap. 11, and of Christ Himself, Hebrews 12:2), have ye offered resistance in your contest against sin. The author has, as Hebrews 10:32 ff., only the present generation of Palestinian Christians, to whom he is speaking, before his eyes. It is otherwise at Hebrews 13:7.

πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν] belongs to ἈΝΤΑΓΩΝΙΖΌΜΕΝΟΙ (against Bengel, who conjoins it with ἈΝΤΙΚΑΤΈΣΤΗΤΕ), and Ἡ ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑ stands not in the sense of ΟἹ ἉΜΑΡΤΩΛΟΊ, Hebrews 12:3 (Carpzov, Heinrichs, Stuart, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Maier, Kluge, Grimm in the Ztschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1870, p. 43, al.),—for there would exist no reason for the avoiding of this concrete expression,[116]—but is the inner sin, conceived of as a hostile power or person, which entices the man (visited with sufferings and persecutions) to an apostasy from Christianity. Comp. ἀπάτῃ τῆς ἁμαρτίας, Hebrews 3:13.

In ἀντικατέστητε ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι—both verbs in the N. T. only here—the author has, what is wrongly denied by de Wette and Maier (in like manner as Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:26), passed over from the figure of the race to the kindred one of the combat with the fists.

[115] Wrongly is it supposed by Holtzmann (Stud. u. Krit. 1859, H. 2, p. 301; Ztschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1867, p. 4) that a reminder of a martyrdom not yet endured is remote from the connection. The discourse is said to be of a resistance πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν. Sin, in this conflict with the flesh, would not allow it to be continued unto blood. For this very reason it is necessary to resist sin μέχρις αἵματας, ever anew to reanimate the weary limbs for the continuance of the conflict (Hebrews 12:12). In the same manner, too, does Kurtz find only a proverbial figurative expression for an earnest, decided, and unsparing resistance to the sinful desire in μέχρις αἵματας. But though in German “bis auf’s Blut” (even to blood) has proverbial figurative acceptance in the sense of “to the very uttermost,” yet assuredly neither αἷμα nor yet sanguis is anywhere else employed in this proverbial sense.

[116] At least no one will recognise as apposite that which Ebrard adduces as such,—to wit, that in ver. 3 “the whole (!) of mankind as the sinners (the class of sinners) might be opposed to Christ; whereas to the readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who were themselves ἁμαρτωλοί, the enemies of Christianity could not be opposed as the sinners.

Hebrews 12:4. Οὔπω μέχρις αἵματος.… “Not yet unto blood have ye resisted in your contest with sin.” Bengel says: “a cursu venit ad pugilatum”. Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. But this is doubtful μέχρις αἵματος [Theoph., ἄχρι θανάτου, cf. Revelation 12:11.] Does this mean, Ye have not yet become a martyr church, suffering death in Christ’s cause; or does it mean, Ye have not yet resisted sin in deadly earnest? The interpretation is determined by the connection. Jesus endured the ἀντιλογία of sinners even to blood, the death of the cross; the Hebrews have not yet been called so to suffer in their conflict, a conflict which every day summons them to fresh resistance against the sin of failure of faith and apostasy. “ ‘Sin’ is not here put for sinners, nor is it sin in their persecutors; it is sin in themselves, the sin of unbelief, which is here regarded as their true antagonist, though of course the excesses of their persecutors gave it its power against them” (Davidson and Weiss).

4–13. Fatherly chastisements should be cheerfully endured

4. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood] If this be a metaphor drawn from pugilism, as the last is from “running a race,” it means that as yet they have not “had blood drawn.” This would not be impossible, for St Paul adopts pugilistic metaphors (1 Corinthians 9:26-27). More probably however the meaning is that, severe as had been the persecutions which they had undergone (Hebrews 10:32-33), they had not yet—and perhaps a shade of reproach is involved in the expression—resisted up to the point of martyrdom (Revelation 12:11). The Church addressed can scarcely therefore have been either the Church of Rome, which had before this time furnished “a great multitude” of martyrs (Tac. Ann. xv. 44; Revelation 7:9), or the Church of Jerusalem, in which, beside the martyrdoms of St Stephen, St James the elder, and St James the Lord’s brother, some had certainly been put to death in the persecution of Saul (Acts 8:1).

striving against sin] “in your struggles against sin.” Some from this expression give a more general meaning to the clause—“You have not yet put forth your utmost efforts in your moral warfare.”

Hebrews 12:4. Οὔπω, not yet) A spirited Asyndeton.—μέχρις αἵματος, even unto blood) unto wounds and death. The writer goes from the race to the pugilistic contest, as Paul does in the passages formerly quoted. You have, says he, spent your wealth, you have not shed your blood: Hebrews 10:34. Set before your minds more important trials, [namely, such as you have not hitherto experienced; 1 Corinthians 10:13.—V. g.]—ἀντικατέστητε, you have resisted) Because contradiction is taken in a bad sense, he uses the word, ἀντικαταστῆναι, to resist, in a good sense. See the LXX. in a passage which is presently to be quoted.—πρὸς) Construed with ἀντικατέστητε. Deuteronomy 31:21, καὶ ἀντικαταστήσεται ἡ ᾠδὴ αὓτη ΚΑΤΑ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν μαρτυροῦσα, and this song will answer against them as a witness.—ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι, striving against) Sin excites a strife: it is our duty to strive against it.

Verse 4. - Ye have net yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Here (as in 1 Corinthians 9:26) there is a transition of thought from a race to a combat. Your trials have not yet reached the point of dying in the good fight of faith, as has been the case with some of your brethren before you, who have followed their Leader to the end (cf. Hebrews 13:7). Hebrews 12:4Unto blood (μέχρις αἵματος)

Your strife against sin has not entailed the shedding of your blood, as did that of many of the O.T. worthies, and of Jesus himself. See Hebrews 11:35, Hebrews 11:37. Of Jesus it is said, Philippians 2:8, "he became obedient to the extent of death (μέχρι θανάτου). Comp. 2 Macc. 13:14.

Striving against sin (πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνταγωνιζόμενοι)

The verb N.T.o. lxx, 4 Macc. 17:14. Sin is personified.

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