Hebrews 12:13 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 12:13, NIV: Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Hebrews 12:13, ESV: and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

Hebrews 12:13, KJV: And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

Hebrews 12:13, NASB: and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is impaired may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

Hebrews 12:13, NLT: Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

Hebrews 12:13, CSB: and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.

What does Hebrews 12:13 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This section of the book of Hebrews is meant to encourage Christians to persevere through hardships. The experiences of most Christians are not nearly so dire as those of martyrs of the faith (Hebrews 11:35–38; 12:4). That doesn't mean suffering is enjoyable (Hebrews 12:11), but it does have a purpose. Discipline is something all good fathers use to train their children. So, when we experience discipline from God, that's a sign that He's taking care for our spiritual growth. It can also mean God is correcting us, by using those struggles to convince us to turn away from sin. This section relies heavily on athletic imagery, including the concept of "running the race" we're assigned by God (Hebrews 12:1). Prior verses also compared God's discipline to athletic training (Hebrews 12:11) and encouraged the readers to be strong and active in their faith (Hebrews 12:12).

Here, sports terminology is again blended with spiritual instruction. Old Testament Scriptures such as Proverbs 4:26–27 warn about straying from the path God has given to us. "Turning aside," rather than keeping to the straight path, is often used as a metaphor for sin and disobedience (1 Samuel 12:20–21; Psalm 125:5; Isaiah 30:11). Other New Testament authors also use this idea to represent the difference between sin and righteousness (Romans 3:12; 2 Peter 2:15). In terms of running, staying on the right path is crucial. It not only means progressing towards the destination, it means avoiding dangers which lurk off of the intended route.

The writer again refers to the idea of God's discipline being used to "train" a Christian believer. In modern terms, this verse echoes something like physical therapy—sport-like training meant to strengthen a weakened body part. By keeping to the correct path, spiritually, that which is weak can be healed. In contrast, running off of the path can lead to harm, or making an existing injury even worse. This applies in both a personal and a corporate sense. The Bible makes it clear that we're meant to experience spiritual growth alongside other believers (Hebrews 10:25). Growing maturity in one believer ultimately benefits those with whom he fellowships, as well.