Hebrews 12:4-8

Hebrews 12:4‑8  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
From persecution causing saints to suffer the transition is easy to the needed discipline of our God and Father.
“Not yet did ye resist unto blood, contending against sin; and ye have quite forgotten the exhortation such as discourseth with you as with sons, My son, despise not (the) Lord's1 chastening, nor faint when convicted by him; for whom (the) Lord2 loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. For3 chastening ye endure: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son [is] he whom a father chasteneth not? But if ye are without chastening, of which all have been partakers, then ye are bastards and not sons” (Heb. 12:4-84Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12:4‑8)).
There is danger of relaxation and shirking the consequences of fidelity to the Lord and the truth. It was very far otherwise with Him, Who, when He had finished His work of living testimony, Himself the substance of it necessarily alike from His glory and His love in humiliation, gave Himself up the willing captive and victim that the will of God might be done in every way to His glory. But the saints were not yet resisting unto blood, whatever had been the case with some in early days of whom we hear in the Acts of the Apostles. And they had utterly forgotten the fatherly exhortation such as speaks to us in the Proverbs, as to sons expressly. It has a two-fold character that we should neither despise the divine chastening, nor faint when so dealt with. He never causes a needless tear; He acts towards us in perfect love. Can we not trust Him? Contending against sin in an evil world entails suffering, and in the same suffering without chastisement.
But they may and do sometimes coalesce; and in every case we wrong Him Who watches over us in love, if we either slight His hand or repine under it. How often His action which calls us to suffer is to guard us from what would grieve the Holy Spirit of God, rather than because we have sinned! And it is happy for us when it is so. He who was employed to write to these Christian Hebrews knew it in his own experience better than any other, though many in their measure have proved how true it is still. So in the Gospel of John our Lord speaks of His Father purging every branch of the Vine that bears fruit, in order that it might bear more fruit. We need to believe His word that we may interpret His dealings aright.
The commonly received text which substitutes the conditional “if” (εἰ) for the preposition “for” (εἰς) is an unquestionable mistake, resting on few and late witnesses opposed to weight and antiquity, and due apparently to a presumed simplifying of the clause. Tischendorf who had wavered returned to the true reading, as do all critics who adhere to diplomatic evidence, unless a motive for change were probable. Here the motive wrought the other way in the modern copies; for it seemed to balance the seventh verse better with the eighth. Whereas in fact the ancient reading preserves the application of the O. T. citation simply and with far more directness and energy. Erasmus led the way wrongly, following a Greek M.S. of not much value, and others followed the Dutch scholar. The Vulgate too had the mistranslation of “in disciplina,” which should of course have been the accusative as in its Fulgentian copy. The Velesian forgery made the Greek to match the error. The sense is, Not for harm but for good, for chastening ye endure. It is the unfailing portion and token of God's family here below. Therefore the challenge follows, What son is there whom a father chastens not? To be without such dealing, of which all have become partakers, would rather warrant the inference of being spurious, not legitimate sons.
(Note: εἰς ADKLP and some 50 cursives (the Vat. B. and Rescript of Paris, C, failing); εἰ has but some cursives, Euthal-God. and Theophylact, all the ancient Vv. and Ff. being adverse.)
How blessed for the believer that as grace saved, so it abides; not in the least to hinder the moral government of God, but to bind up inseparably His holy watchful oversight and discipline of our souls with His unfailing love! Easily might we all, as many a one through unbelief does, misunderstand His ways in chastening us, as if they indicated nothing but His displeasure and our own danger of course still; and the more, because of having tasted in a small measure that He is gracious. But such a doubt really wrongs both His love and His truth, and loses sight of the relationship He has established between Himself and us, and of His faithfulness if we have to mourn our faithlessness to Him. It is utterly a mistake that, where life is, a bright sense of His unchanging grace, even in scourging every son whom He receives, enfeebles our practical devotedness to His will. On the contrary, His word calls on every child of His to cherish confidence in His grace, as our standing before Him (Rom. 5:22By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2), Heb. 12:2828Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: (Hebrews 12:28), 1 Peter 5:1212By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. (1 Peter 5:12)), that we may the more deeply judge ourselves, our inconsistencies, and our failures. So even the irreverent and careless Corinthian saints are told that we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world; as all unbelievers are, for their works are only evil.