CONSIDER JESUS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Swindoll's Chart, Interesting Pictorial Chart of Hebrews, Another Chart
See ESV Study Bible "Introduction to Hebrews"
(See also MacArthur's Introduction to Hebrews)
Borrow Ryrie Study Bible
Hebrews 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: hina dia duo pragmaton ametaqeton, en ois adunaton pseusasthai (AMN) [ton] Theon, ischuran paraklesin echomen (1PPAS) oi kataphugontes (AAPMPN) kratesai (AAN) tes prokeimenes (PMPFSG) elpidos
Amplified: This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: so that by two unalterable things, in which it is impossible that God should lie, we, who have fled to him for refuge, might be strongly encouraged to lay hold upon the hope that is set before us. (Westminster Press)
KJV: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
NLT: So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: So that by two utterly immutable things, the word of God and the oath of God, who cannot lie, we who are refugees from this dying world might have a source of strength, and might grasp the hope that he holds out to us. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: in order that through the instrumentality of two immutable facts in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might be having a strong encouragement, we who fled for refuge for the purpose of laying fast hold of the hope which is lying before us
Young's Literal: that through two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, a strong comfort we may have who did flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us,
IN ORDER THAT BY TWO UNCHANGEABLE THINGS: hina dia duo pragmaton ametatheton:
- Heb 3:11; 7:21; Psalms 110:4; Matthew 24:35
- Hebrews 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
In order that - Always pause to prayerfully ponder and peruse this poignant term of purpose or result (so that, in order that, that, as a result) and you often glean helpful insights from your Teacher the Holy Spirit. You can always ask at least one question "What is the purpose or result?"
Hebrews 6:16-20 is the context and deals with the explanation of God's oath.
Two unchangeable things - God's promise (word) and His oath. In other words, what God promised and what he vowed cannot change and thus will most surely happen.
Isaiah records God's testimony regarding His Word, declaring…
So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth. It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. (Isaiah 45:22-23)
Comment: Isaiah 45:22 was the text that the Spirit used to save young Charles Spurgeon - see C H Spurgeon's Testimony
Joshua testified of the certainty of God's Word shortly before he fell asleep…
Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. (Joshua 23:14)
Luke records a similar testimony writing…
For no promise from God will be impossible of fulfilment. (Weymouth Translation, Luke 1:37) (Literally, "No word of God can fail.") (Comment: Beloved, do you believe this statement?)
Two (1417) (duo) is a cardinal number. Is this not an act of God's grace? One "yea and amen" from the Almighty God would have been enough, but He deigns to give His doubting saints two firm planks on which they can walk forth as emboldened disciples of Christ.
KJV Bible Commentary - Since God accompanied His promise with an oath, the author seeks to show the value of an oath. Even when men take an oath, swearing by someone greater than themselves, others regard it as a confirmation (Greek bebaios) of the promise. This is a technical usage involving a legal guarantee. God desired that His people should fully understand the certainty of His promises, and so He established them by His oath. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
Unchangeable (276) (ametathetos from a = without + metatíthemi = change condition or place, transfer, put in another place) literally never changing, not to be transferred. The idea is that which is fixed, unalterable or immutable. This word was used in secular Greek in the context of wills and contracts and signified a stipulation that could not be disregarded or annulled. Once properly made a will was ametathetos unchangeable by anyone but the maker. The writer of Hebrews uses this word (in the only 2 uses in Scripture in Hebrews 6:17 [note] and Hebrews 6:18 [note]) with powerful, well known forensic (legal) ramifications (immutability of a legally written will) to add to the force of the encouragement he extended to his readers.
Things (4229) (pragma from prásso = to do, perform where suffix –ma = the result of; English = pragmatic [dealing with things in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations: practical as opposed to idealistic]; derivative words = pragmateia = affairs in 2 Timothy 2:4 (note), pragmateuomai = trade, do business, put capital to work, Lk 19:13) describes that which has been done or that which happens (a happening), and thus a deed, a thing, an event, an occurrence or an accomplished fact. In this meaning pragma speaks of something in the past. When speaking of something in the present or future, pragma means that which occurs as a result of activity -- the thing being done or to be done (in secular Greek in the phrase "great undertakings", "the tasks of everyday life"), matter, business, affair.
In Romans 16:2 (note) Paul's uses pragma to speak of an obligatory activity to be done for another (task, business, undertaking). Pragma was used by the Romans for the legal representative of a foreigner. In Jewish communities pragma meant the legal representative or wealthy patron.
In first Corinthians (1Cor 6:1) he uses it with the sense of a legal process (lawsuit, dispute). In 1Thessalonians 4:6 (note) Paul uses pragma to refer to a thing which is disgraceful.
Pragma is used 54 times in the (Ge 19:22; 21:26; 44:15; Ex 1:18; Lev. 5:2; 6:5; 7:21; Nu 20:19; 22:8; 31:23; Deut. 17:10; 22:26; 23:14, 19; 24:1, 5; Jos. 9:24; Jdg. 19:19; 1 Ki. 9:15; 11:27; 1 Chr. 21:7, 8; 2 Chr. 23:19; Esther 2:4; 3:13, 15; 7:5; 8:12; Job 1:1, 8; Ps. 64:3; 91:6; 101:3; Prov. 11:13; 13:13; 16:20; 25:2; Eccl. 3:1, 17; 5:8; 8:6; Isaiah 25:1; 28:22; Jer. 40:16; 44:4, 22; Dan. 1:20; 2:8, 10, 48, 49; 4:1; 6:17; Amos 3:7) and 11 times in the NT (note concentration in Hebrews)…
Matthew 18:19 "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything (pas = all + pragma = thing) that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
Luke 1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,
Acts 5:4 "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God."
Romans 16:2 that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. (Louw-Nida says this use refers to "an activity involving a measure of complexity and responsibility" - ref)
1Corinthians 6:1 Does any one of you, when he has a case (lawsuit, legal matter, legal action taken in a court of law against someone) against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
2Corinthians 7:11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter (or affair)
1Thessalonians 4:6 (note) and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter (difficult verse but this matter could refer to sexual matters) because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.
Hebrews 6:18 (note) in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.
Hebrews 10:1 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good [things - added by translators] to come and not the very form of things (pragma), can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.
Hebrews 11:1 (note) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
F B Hole writes that…
His Word and His Oath. These are two immutable things — things that never change, never shift, never shake. They establish for us the immutability of His counsel. Never, never, NEVER, will He fail in any promise He has given, in anything which He has said that He will do.
And all this, you notice, is valid for us today. Verse 18 makes this very clear. What God was for Abraham He is for us. This is the beauty of these Old Testament unfoldings of God. What He is, He is in all times and places, and to all. The strong consolation flowing from these two immutable things is to be enjoyed by us who have embraced the Christian hope.
The Hebrews are said to have "fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope." Why put it thus? Because it would at once carry their minds back to the regulations given concerning the cities of refuge, in Numbers 35.
Those regulations had a typical significance which was exactly fulfilled in the case of the converted Jew. He was just like the manslayer who had fled to the nearest city of refuge.
Had Israel's national sin, in crucifying their Messiah, been reckoned as murder by God there would have been absolutely no hope. All must have fallen before the avenger of blood. The prayer of Jesus on the cross was however, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." That was just as if He had said, "Father, account this sin of theirs to be manslaughter and not murder." God heard that prayer, so there was hope even for those who encompassed His death. Consequently on the Day of Pentecost Peter preached forgiveness for those who would turn in faith to the risen and exalted Jesus. That day the heavenly city of refuge was opened and there fled to it three thousand souls.
Multitudes of course did not believe, and consequently did not flee for safety, and they fell before the avenging Romans when Jerusalem was destroyed. Their unbelieving descendants in a future day have to face the great tribulation, and the judgment of God. But those who have entered the city of refuge have a hope set before them. It is connected with the moment when Jesus shall come in His glory; when He will cease to exercise His priestly functions after the pattern of Aaron and do so after the pattern of Melchizedec. Thus will be fulfilled the type as to the change of the priest (See Numbers 35:25). When that takes place our hopes will be realized with Him in glory, and on earth it will be the time of jubilee, when every man will go back to his own proper inheritance. (Hebrews Commentary Notes)
IN WHICH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE: adunaton pseusasthai (AMN) ton theon:
- Numbers 23:19; 1Samuel 15:29; Romans 3:4; 2Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2; 1John 1:10; 5:10
- Hebrews 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Impossible (102) (adunatos from a = w/o + dunatós = possible, able, powerful) means incapable of happening or being done, incapable of occurring. In other contexts it can mean impotent (without strength), which clearly is not the meaning in this verse. Adunatos is used figuratively to describe Christians whose faith is not yet quite firm (Romans 15:1 - note) He will not allow His word to fail, and what He says in His Word, He will accomplish in His perfect timing.
Lie (5574) (pseudomai from pseúdo = to cheat, defraud, falsify) means to utter an untruth, attempt to deceive by falsehood or to speak deceitfully. Since God does not lie and since He is all-powerful, He will fulfill all of His promises. (See related resource on the Attributes of God - specifically His Immutability)
Moses testifies that…
God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
Samuel adds that…
the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind. (1 Samuel 15:29)
WE MAY HAVE STRONG ENCOURAGEMENT: ischuran paraklesin echomen (1PPAS):
- Isaiah 51:12; 66:10-13; Luke 2:25; Romans 15:5; 2Corinthians 1:5, 1:6, 1:7; Philippians 2:1; 2Thessalonians 2:16,17
- Hebrews 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Strong encouragement comes from God’s vow, which gives proof of the reliability of God’s promise. This dual witness brings to mind the standard for legal proof in ancient Israel which required at least two witnesses to agree, Moses recording that…
A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed. (Deut 19:15)
Jesus reaffirmed this standard declaring…
But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. (Mt 18:16)
We may have (2192) (echo) means to possess or hold and in the present tense pictures the believer's potential of continually possessing this encouragement, which is a great need for all saints as we are in a spiritual war with invisible forces in which there is never a moratorium! (see Ephesians 6:10, 11, 12, 13, 14-15, 16, 17, 18 -notes)
Strong (2478) (ischuros from ischus= ability, might) implies indwelling strength embodied or put forth either aggressively or as an obstacle to resistance; as an army or a fortress.
The root word ischus refers to “power as an enduement.” Ischus is the inherent ability which stresses the factuality of the ability, not necessarily the accomplishment. Ischus is inherent power or force. A muscular man’s big muscles display his might, even if he doesn’t use them. It is the reserve of strength. Ischus therefore conveys the sense of endowed power or ability.
Vincent writes that "strong implies indwelling strength embodied or put forth either aggressively or as an obstacle to resistance; as an army or a fortress. (Hebrews 6: Word Studies)
Wuest (partially quoting Vincent) - “Strong” in the Greek text is ischuros which speaks of indwelling strength embodied or put forth either aggressively or as an obstacle to resistance, as an army or a fortress. Thus the encouragement which God’s promise and God’s oath afford is a strong army or a fortress against doubt and discouragement. God’s promise and God’s oath should keep these Jews from apostatizing through the encouragement they give. (Hebrews Commentary)
Encouragement (3874) (paraklesis from pará = side of + kaléo = call) literally describes a calling near or calling to one's side. This picture conveys the ideas of solace, consolation, exhortation, encouragement. It describes the act of emboldening another in a particular belief or course of action.
Why should believers have as strong an encouragement as Abraham possessed in his day? The writer explains that believers can be encouraged because Jesus has already entered into the presence of God and this assures us of our entrance into heaven as well. Christ has gone ahead into heaven, and as our Hope and our Anchor, though He is at present not seen by sight, He is seen with eyes of faith and He holds us secure in the storm.
Vincent has a lengthy note on paraklesis writing that it is derived "From para, to the side of, and kaleo, to call or summon. Literally, a calling to one’s side to help; and therefore entreaty, passing on into the sense of exhortation, and thence into that of consolatory exhortation; and so coming round to mean that which one is summoned to give to a suppliant — consolation. Thus it embodies the call for help, and the response to the call. Its use corresponds with that of the kindred verb parakaleo, to exhort or console. In its original sense of calling for aid the noun appears in the NT only in 2Cor. 8:4: with much entreaty. The verb appears frequently in this sense, rendered beseech, pray (Mt. 8:34; 14:36; Mk 1:40; 5:12, etc.). In the sense of consolation or comfort the noun occurs in Luke 2:25; 6:24; 2Cor 1:3; 7:4; Philemon 1:7. The verb, in Matt. 2:18; 5:4; Luke 16:25; 2 Cor. 1:4. In some instances, however, the meaning wavers between console and exhort. In the sense of exhortation or counsel, the noun may be found in Acts 13:15; Rom. 12:8; Heb. 13:22. The verb, in Acts 2:40; 11:23; 14:22; Rom. 12:8; Titus 2:15. Neither the noun nor the verb appear in the writings of John, but the kindred word parakletos, the Paraclete, Comforter, or Advocate, is peculiar to him. (see on John 14:16). It should be noted, however, that the word comfort goes deeper than its popular conception of soothing. It is from the later Latin confortare, to make strong. Thus Wycliffe renders Luke 1:80, “the child waxed, and was comforted in spirit” (A. V., waxed strong); and Tyndale, Luke 22:43, “there appeared an angel from heaven comforting him” (A. V., strengthening). The comfort which Christ gives is not always soothing. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is to convince of sin and of judgment. Underlying the word is the sense of a wise counsel or admonition which rouses and braces the moral nature and encourages and strengthens it to do and to endure. When, therefore, Christ says “they that mourn shall be comforted,” he speaks in recognition of the fact that all sorrow is the outcome of sin, and that true comfort is given, not only in pardon for the past, but in strength to fight and resist and overcome sin. The atmosphere of the word, in short, is not the atmosphere of the sick-chamber, but the tonic breath of the open world, of moral struggle and victory; the atmosphere for him that climbs and toils and fights. (Hebrews 6: Word Studies)
Wuest - The writer says that this encouragement is for those of his readers who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before them. (Hebrews Commentary online)
WE WHO HAVE FLED FOR REFUGE (TAKEN REFUGE = NAS 95): hoi kataphugontes (AAP):
- Heb 11:7; Genesis 19:22; Numbers 35:11, 12, 13-14, 15; Joshua 20:3; Ps 46:1; 62:8; Isaiah 32:1,2; Zechariah 9:12; Matthew 3:7; 2Corinthians 5:18,19, 20, 21; 1Thessalonians 1:10
- Hebrews 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Phillip's paraphrase - So that by two utterly immutable things, the word of God and the oath of God, Who cannot lie, we who are refugees from this dying world might have a source of strength, and might grasp the hope that He holds out to us. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Have fled for refuge (2703) (katapheugo from katá = intensifier or down + pheugo = flee) means to flee down or away. To flee away to some place for refuge.
The only other NT use of katapheugo is by Luke in Acts describing the results of Paul's preaching of the gospel in Iconium (2 Timothy 3:12-note)…
And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and to stone them, 6 they became aware of it and fled (katapheugo) to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region and there they continued to preach the gospel. (Acts 14:5-7)
Vincent on katapheugo - Only Heb 6:17 and Acts 14:6. The cpd verb is well rendered by KJV, since, as distinguished from the simple pheugein = to flee, it expresses flight to a definite place or person for safety. Hence often used in connection with an altar or a sanctuary. The distinction between the simple and the compound verb is illustrated in Hdt. iv. 23, where, speaking of the barbarous tribe of the Iyrcae, he says, “Whoever flees (pheugon) and betakes himself for refuge (kataphuge) to them, receives wrong from no one.” So Xen: “Conon fled (eppeuge) in swift vessels, and betakes himself for refuge (katapheugei) to Mitylene.” (Hebrews 6: Word Studies)
Katapheugo is used in the Septuagint (LXX) to describe fleeing to cities of refuge (Dt 4:42;19:5; Jos 20:9).
Then Moses set apart three cities across the Jordan to the east, that a manslayer might flee there, who unintentionally slew his neighbor without having enmity toward him in time past; and by fleeing LXX = katapheugo) to one of these cities he might live (Deut 4:41-42)
"Now this is the case of the manslayer who may flee there and live: when he kills his friend unintentionally, not hating him previously-- as when a man goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down the tree, and the iron head slips off the handle and strikes his friend so that he dies-- he may flee (LXX = katapheugo) to one of these cities and live (Deut 19:4-5)
And beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plain from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh. These were the appointed cities for all the sons of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them, that whoever kills any person unintentionally may flee (LXX = katapheugo) there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stands before the congregation. (Joshua 20:8-9)
In the OT God had provided not one but several cities of refuge to assure that one could find refuge in the time of need. In the same way today, God sent His Son to provide refuge for any and all who are needy and would seek Him in simple trust.
Wuest writes that in this passage katapheugo "speaks of the sinner fleeing for refuge from the penalty of sin, to the High Priest who has offered atonement for him and his sin. His only hope is in his High Priest, the Messiah. (Hebrews Commentary online)
In a sense Jewish believers could possibly have seen these cities of refuge as a shadow of their perfect Refuge, their High Priest, Who had entered within the veil as a Forerunner. We will never know whether God can hold us until in desperation we run to Him for refuge.
Numbers 35 describes an interesting spiritual parallel between the city of refuge and the High Priest in the OT and the strong encouragement we as partakers of Christ can experience through exercise of faith and patience. Note what happens when the manslayer went outside the boundary of the city of refuge!
And the congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he fled; and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil. 26 'But if the manslayer shall at any time go beyond the border of his city of refuge to which he may flee, 27 and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge, and the blood avenger kills the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of blood 28 because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession. (Numbers 35:25-28)
The first use of katapheugo is by Lot who in the context of the imminent destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah requested…
now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape (LXX = katapheugo) there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved." 21 And he said to him, "Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. (Genesis 19:20-21)
Christ is our Refuge. We have already been carried into court, and at the trial we were found guilty. We were all sinners and all sentenced to die. As believers, we can run into our Refuge (cf "cities of refuge") where we are safe, for He Himself has paid the penalty for our sins.
Dear saint, are you caught in the miry clay, the slough of despond, etc? Fear not, your Refuge is a firm foundation. You might consider reading (and singing) the songs of the great old hymn
by John Rippon
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake
IN LAYING HOLD OF THE HOPE SET BEFORE US: kratesai (AAN) tes prokeimenes (PMPFSG) elpidos:
- 1Kings 2:28; Proverbs 3:18; 4:13; Isaiah 27:5; 56:4; 64:7; 1Timothy 6:12
- Colossians 1:5,23,27; 1Ti 1:1) (Heb 12:1,2; Romans 3:25
- Hebrews 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Notice the balanced theology of the writer. In the first section this verse he lays a firm foundation (God's sovereignty and specifically His immutability) and in this section outlines the believer's responsibility to lay hold of these great truths. Practical theology! God has a refuge of hope for you to run into and be safe dear discouraged reader.
Laying hold (2902) (krateo from kratos) means to seize and cling to that which has been taken hold of. The idea is to hold in one's hand, holding fast so as not to discard or let go. In the context of the present verse, krateo could mean to hold on to something one already has or to reach out and grasp something one does not yet have. Which one is favored depends on whether one interprets hope as the act of hoping or the object hoped for.
Vine - The verb krateo, which is rendered “hold fast” in Hebrews 4:14 (see note = let us hold fast), is here in the aorist, or point, tense, and indicates a decisive act. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
The hope set before us - both a present and a future aspect. We can have confidence or absolute assurance that we will safely enter the into the Kingdom of Heaven. This certainty that God will do us good in the future (= "hope") should feed and renew our mind so that we hold fast no matter what storm the Lord is allowing us to go through, for our good and for His glory. Hope causes us to hang in there!
The Haven of Rest
Words by Henry L. Gilmour
My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea,
So burdened with sin and distressed,
Till I heard a sweet voice, saying,
"Make Me your choice";
And I entered the Haven of Rest!
I've anchored my soul in the haven of rest,
I'll sail the wide seas no more.
The tempest may sweep o'er the wild, stormy deep
In Jesus, I'm safe evermore.
Hope (1680)(elpis) in Scripture is not the world's definition of "I hope so", with a few rare exceptions (e.g., Acts 27:20) Hope is defined as a desire for some future good with the expectation of obtaining it. Hope is confident expectancy. Hope is the looking forward to something with some reason for confidence respecting fulfillment. And so in this same chapter Peter encouraged the suffering saints writing "Therefore (on the basis of the salvation and the "living hope" they now possessed) (to) gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope (elpizo - verb form of elpis) completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13-note)
Related Resource: Hope - See Dictionary Articles
Nave's Topic on Hope.
Psa. 9:18; Psa. 16:9; Psa. 31:24; Psa. 33:18, 22; Psa. 38:15; Psa. 39:7; Psa. 43:5; Psa. 71:5, 14; Psa. 78:5-7; Psa. 119:74,81,116,166Psa. 130:7; Psa. 146:5; Prov. 10:23; Prov. 13:12; Prov. 14:32; Prov. 23:18; Prov. 24:14; Isaiah 38:18; Jer. 17:7; Lam. 3:21, 24, 26; Hos. 2:15; Joel 3:16; Zech. 9:12; Acts 23:6; Acts 24:14, 15; Acts 26:6, 7; Acts 28:20; Rom. 4:18; Rom. 5:2-3, 4-5; Rom. 8:24, 25; Rom. 12:12; Rom. 15:4, 13; 1 Cor. 13:13; 1 Cor. 15:19; 2 Cor. 3:12; Gal. 5:5; Eph. 1:18; Eph. 4:4; Phil. 1:20; Col. 1:5, 23, 27; 1Thess. 1:3; 1Thess. 5:8 Eph. 6:17. 2Thess. 2:16; 1Tim. 1:1; Titus 1:2; Titus 2:13; Titus 3:7; Heb. 3:6; Heb. 6:11, 18, 19; Heb. 11:1; 1Pet. 1:3, 13, 21; 1Pet. 3:15; 1John 3:3
Hope of the Wicked - Job 8:13; Job 11:20; Job 27:8; Job 31:24, 28; Prov. 10:28; Zech. 9:5; Eph. 2:12
Hope is a repeated theme in Hebrews. Study the 5 uses in context…
Hebrews 3:6 (note) - but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house --whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
Hebrews 6:11 (note) - And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
Hebrews 6:18 (note) - so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
Hebrews 7:19 (note) - (for the Law made nothing perfect ), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Hebrews 10:23 (note) - Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
Hope is Jesus Himself, and the gospel He has brought. Paul speaks of his Savior as “Christ Jesus, who is our hope” (1Ti 1:1). In Colossians he speaks of the gospel as our hope (Col 1:5).
- Hope: In depth survey of Biblical hope
- The Blessed Hope: Part 1
- The Blessed Hope: Definition
- The Blessed Hope: Source of
- The Blessed Hope: Part 2
- The Blessed Hope: Stabilizing Effect
- The Blessed Hope: Sanctifying Effect
- Other Resources on the Blessed Hope
Set (4295) (prokeimai from pros = in front of + keimai = lie outstretched) means to be set before one or in front of. Prokeimai means to exist openly or in an evident manner. To be placed before the eyes and so to lie in sight or be on public display. For example, in Jude prokeimai refers to destroyed cities exhibited as an example for all to see.
Figuratively prokeimai means to be present to the mind as an example or reward (as in the other 2 uses in Hebrews - Hebrews 12:1; 12:2 -- note v1; note v2). It means to be set before all, as the prize of a contest.
In 2Corinthians prokeimai means to lie or be before the mind of someone and so to be present before him.
The idea prokeimai is that of something lying before one, open to public view. It is like a road that stretches out before one’s gaze. Note the tense is present tense = it is continually set before us.
The idea of prokeimai in this verse is that the hope lies before us in full view in the sense that it is appointed or destined to be attained.
Prokeimai was used in secular Greek to describe corpses lying in state (in open view).
Prokeimai is used 8 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Ex 10:10; 37:10; 39:36; Lev. 24:7; Num. 4:7; Esther 1:7; 10:3) and five times in the NT…
2 Corinthians 8:12 For if the readiness is present (prokeimai = in this context speaks of an attitude of willingness which is present), it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.
Hebrews 6:18 in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (See notes Hebrews 12:1; Hebrews 12:2) (Comment: The idea of prokeimai is that of something lying before one like a road that stretches out before one’s gaze)
Jude 1:7 Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited (prokeimai) as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
Vincent notes that prokeimai means "literally, to lie exposed. Used of meats on the table ready for the guests; of a corpse laid out for burial; of a question under discussion. Thus the corruption and punishment of the cities of the plain are laid out in plain sight."
An example of hope set before a believer -- in 1934, when twenty-eight-year-old John Stam, missionary to China, was being led away to execution by the communists with his wife Betty, someone on the road asked, "Where are you going?" John laid hold on the hope set before him and said, "We are going to heaven."