Hebrews 12:18 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 12:18, NIV: You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm;

Hebrews 12:18, ESV: For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest

Hebrews 12:18, KJV: For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

Hebrews 12:18, NASB: For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,

Hebrews 12:18, NLT: You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai.

Hebrews 12:18, CSB: For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm,

What does Hebrews 12:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The overall theme of the book of Hebrews is that the new covenant in Christ is superior to the old covenant of rituals and sacrifices. The passage just prior to this verse explained how even suffering and persecution should be viewed in light of that benefit. Those who live under the new covenant have good reasons, and God's power, to help them "hold fast" to this faith. This blends into the writer's next topic, which is that the new covenant gives us a better, easier, and more inviting way to interact with God.

Here, the writer points out another advantage of the new covenant. When God delivered written laws to Moses, He did so through ominous, frightening signs. This included fire, sounds, and a holy mountain that neither man nor animal was allowed to touch (Exodus 19:9–20). These miraculous events proved God's words to the people. At the same time, as upcoming verses will explain, they also inspired very understandable fear. God is holy, and part of this display was to underscore His holiness and the inability of man to approach God through his own efforts. Comparing the fear-inducing, physically-grounded origins of the old covenant to the welcoming, spiritually-grounded origin of the new covenant should give believers all the more reason to be faithful and confident.