Run the Race With Endurance: What Does Hebrews 12:1 Mean?

Hebrews 12:1 reads, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” King James Version (KJV)

TranslationHebrews 12:1
ESVTherefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
NASBTherefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
NIVTherefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
NLTTherefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Also, see the meaning of Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth in the Bible.

Run the Race With Endurance: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

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.

Also, see the meaning of God Will Give You the Desires of Your Heart in the Bible.

Hebrews 12:1 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Wherefore seeing; he introduceth it with an illative particle, toigaroun seeing all those worthies finished their course through faith, and received not the promise since made good to us, therefore is there something to be inferred.

We also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses; we, I Paul, and you Hebrews, having enjoyed the better things provided by God for us, we are so much the more obliged; as also having such a multitude of witnesses of so vast worth and dignity, as all the Old Testament believers were, distilling, like a cloud, abundant influences, from their example, in doing and suffering for God, through faith, on our souls, to make us persevering in the faith to the end, as they did; and so compassing us about, as we cannot want either direction or encouragement to it, whenever we look into their histories for it.

Let us lay aside every weight; like the Grecian and Roman racers, who laid aside their cumbersome garments, so as they might more easily and lightly run their race; in allusion to which, it is the concern of every Christian to lay aside, or put away, all his worldly cumbrances, which would clog him in his race, his corrupt self, the world, &c., Matthew 16:24 Luke 21:34 1 Timothy 6:9-11 2 Timothy 2:4.

And the sin which doth so easily beset us: the evil weight inward is the old man, the corrupt nature, which remaineth in every Christian, styled by Paul, the body of death, Romans 7:24; but especially each Christian’s own personal iniquity, which sticks and cleaves nearer to him than his garments, and which made David so careful about it, in Psalm 18:23; that which is so compassing and clasping him about, that he is so far from running, he cannot move for it, 1 Corinthians 9:27 Colossians 3:5. This they are to mortify in them.

And let us run with patience the race that is set before us; how distant soever the goal is, which finisheth the race of a Christian’s life, yet the way passing to it, though it be troublesome and long, and being set to us by God himself, must be patiently, strenously, and constantly run, that they may obtain it, Psalm 119:32,33 Lu 13:24 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Galatians 5:7 Philippians 3:13,14 2 Timothy 4:7. The cloud of witnesses have so run it before them for their direction and encouragement.

Also, see the meaning of Sing to the Lord A New Song in the Bible.

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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