Our God Is A Consuming Fire: What Does Hebrews 12:29 Mean?

Hebrews 12:29 reads, “For our God is a consuming fire.” King James Version (KJV)

TranslationHebrews 12:29
ESVfor our God is a consuming fire.
NASBfor our God is a consuming fire.
NIVfor our “God is a consuming fire.”
NLTFor our God is a devouring fire.

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Our God Is A Consuming Fire: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

12:18-29 Mount Sinai, on which the Jewish church state was formed, was a mount such as might be touched, though forbidden to be so, a place that could be felt; so the Mosaic dispensation was much in outward and earthly things.

The gospel state is kind and condescending, suited to our weak frame. Under the gospel all may come with boldness to God’s presence.

But the most holy must despair, if judged by the holy law given from Sinai, without a Saviour. The gospel church is called Mount Zion; there believers have clearer views of heaven, and more heavenly tempers of soul.

All the children of God are heirs, and every one has the privileges of the first-born.

Let a soul be supposed to join that glorious assembly and church above, that is yet unacquainted with God, still carnally-minded, loving this present world and state of things, looking back to it with a lingering eye, full of pride and guile, filled with lusts; such a soul would seem to have mistaken its way, place, state, and company.

It would be uneasy to itself and all about it. Christ is the Mediator of this new covenant, between God and man, to bring them together in this covenant; to keep them together; to plead with God for us, and to plead with us for God; and at length to bring God and his people together in heaven.

This covenant is made firm by the blood of Christ sprinkled upon our consciences, as the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled upon the altar and the victim.

This blood of Christ speaks in behalf of sinners; it pleads not for vengeance, but for mercy. See then that you refuse not his gracious call and offered salvation.

See that you do not refuse Him who speaketh from heaven, with infinite tenderness and love; for how can those escape, who turn from God in unbelief or apostacy, while he so graciously beseeches them to be reconciled, and to receive his everlasting favour!

God’s dealing with men under the gospel, in a way of grace, assures us, that he will deal with the despisers of the gospel, in a way of judgment. We cannot worship God acceptably, unless we worship him with reverence and godly fear.

Only the grace of God enables us to worship God aright. God is the same just and righteous God under the gospel as under the law.

The inheritance of believers is secured to them; and all things pertaining to salvation are freely given in answer to prayer. Let us seek for grace, that we may serve God with reverence and godly fear.

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Hebrews 12:29 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

The motive enforcing this duty is no less terrible than that given to Israel under the law, obliging their obedience to that covenant dispensation, 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.

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Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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