Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 12:14 - 12:17

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 12:14 - 12:17

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

A Warning against Apostasy on the Basis of the excellency of the New Covenant.

The warning example of Esau:

v. 14. Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,

v. 15. looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

v. 16. lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

v. 17. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

From the passage in Proverbs, to which the author has just referred, Pro_4:26-27, the author now takes another thought, namely, that of maintaining peaceful relations with others: Follow peace with all and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord. It seems that the characteristics of the Hebrews made them impatient of weakness, a feeling which might easily bring on alienation and lead to quarrels. But God wants His Church to be built up in peace, Rom_12:18; 2Ti_2:22, a peace based upon the unity of faith and making for holiness in general, for true consecration to the Lord and His cause, Eph_5:5; Mat_5:8. Sanctification grows out of faith from the same seed, the Word of God, and without this holiness it is impossible to see the Lord, to be accepted by Him as His child. Only he that has accepted the vicarious sacrifice of Christ in such a spirit as to make him a partaker of the mind which lived in Christ will finally stand in the presence of the Lord and see Him face to face.

This is not a matter to be taken lightly, for the author continues: Watching lest any man fall short of the grace of God, lest some root of bitterness growing anew trouble you and thereby many be defiled. Christians must ever be on the alert, always watch carefully, lest one of their number fall away from the grace of God. The danger is always there that the one or the other may turn aside to some sin. But the believers should always be a closed company, held closely together by their faith and fellowship in Christ. That one of their number should turn aside, should miss the grace of God, must be a matter of grave concern to them all. And as they thus keep to the path together, they also guard against such pollution, such defilement, as follows the springing up in their midst of roots of bitterness. The words at this place are borrowed from Deu_29:18. The introduction of evil, sinful practices in their midst would be much like that of a poisonous root and plant, through whose pollution they would not only be troubled, but through which they would also be rendered unfit to approach to God and to enter into fellowship with Him. See Gal_5:9.

In just what way this might happen the author now states: Lest there be any fornicator or a profane person, like Esau, who for a single meal sold his birthright; for you know that afterward, though he wished to inherit the blessing, he was repudiated, for he found no room for a change of mind (in his father), although he sought it earnestly with tears. Here are examples of the bitter roots, of the poisonous plants of sin and evil, as they may spring up in a Christian congregation. There may be someone that will be overcome and stricken down by the sin of fornication, against the Sixth Commandment. Or some person may be tempted and fall into the sin of profaning such things as are sacred in the eyes of God. When the rich feast of God's grace and mercy is spread in the same congregation for one or two generations, there is always danger that someone may become surfeited and barter away his salvation for the enjoyment of sin for a season. That was the sin of Esau, who considered the right of the first-born, though it included the fact that the first-born was also the bearer of the Messianic blessing, so lightly that he sold his birthright for a single meal, for a mess of pottage, Gen_25:29-34. His case illustrates the danger of missed or rejected opportunities. For when Esau afterwards made an attempt to get the blessing of the first-born for himself, he did not succeed, Gen_27:30-40. He made a very serious effort to get the blessing which had been given to Jacob for himself, beseeching his father with tears to change his mind. But Isaac remained firm; he realized that it was the will of God that Jacob should have the blessing of the first-born and the Messianic promise and therefore refused to change his decision. "I do not say that he was not saved, but that he could not obtain the blessing which he had once lost, in spite of all tears."