The Challenge For Spiritual Vision: An Exegesis Of Hebrews 12:1-3 -- By: Frederic R. Howe

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 13:1 (Spring 2000)
Article: The Challenge For Spiritual Vision: An Exegesis Of Hebrews 12:1-3
Author: Frederic R. Howe

The Challenge For Spiritual Vision:
An Exegesis Of Hebrews 12:1-3

Frederic R. Howe

Cincinnati, OH

I. Introduction

Some years ago, Art Farstad wrote an article entitled “Go for the Gold!”1 In that article he encouraged his readers to strive for excellence in living the Christian life. He explained the meaning of 1 Cor 9:24 and its usage of the term brabeion, “prize,” in light of the Greek athletic games. The background for this appeal to “go for the gold” certainly was the imagery of the foot race as a vivid portrayal of progressive sanctification in Christian life. Because this was a favorite theme in the life and ministry of Art Farstad, it seems fitting to pay tribute to him with a study of a remarkable passage in the New Testament, wherein the challenge for the Christian is set forth in terms of the Greek athletic contests. We shall examine Heb 12:1–3, seeking to understand and apply some of the key terms in this passage. Unless otherwise noted, all references are from the New King James Version.

II. The Context of Hebrews 12:1-3

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews begins chapter 12 with a highly descriptive particle, toigaroun. The first part of 12:1 states, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…” The word “therefore,” toigaroun, a triple compound inferential particle, can as well be translated “consequently.” It points the reader back to chapter 11 and the recounting of the faithful deeds of the “hall of faith” individuals. William L. Lane explains the link between chapters 11 and 12:

In 11:39–40 the writer comments upon the recital of past faithfulness, bringing the catalogue of chap. 11 into direct

relationship with his audience. The “attested witnesses” who died without receiving the ultimate fulfillment of the promise are juxtaposed to “us,” the Christian community for whom God had planned something better. In 12:1 the same two groups are mentioned for a second time: “we” Christians are to demonstrate our faithfulness, knowing that we are surrounded by the host of attested “witnesses” survey...

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