Hebrews 12:22 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 12:22, NIV: But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,

Hebrews 12:22, ESV: But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,

Hebrews 12:22, KJV: But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

Hebrews 12:22, NASB: But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,

Hebrews 12:22, NLT: No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering.

Hebrews 12:22, CSB: Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering,

What does Hebrews 12:22 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Prior verses referred to the moment when the nation of Israel approached Mount Sinai, where they received the old covenant. That incident was accompanied by a fearsome display of God's power and authority (Exodus 19:9–20), including smoke and fire and trumpet sounds. It also came with a dire warning: anything that touches this holy mountain must die. Even Moses, chosen by God and allowed to approach the mountain, was afraid at the sight of these things (Deuteronomy 9:19). The purpose of these signs, as with the old covenant itself, was to guide mankind's understanding. By grasping the nature of our own sin, we would prepare to accept Christ and the new, superior covenant (Hebrews 9:8–12; Galatians 3:23–24).

This verse begins to describe how believers approach the new covenant in direct contrast to the way Israel approached Mount Sinai. Mount Zion features heavily in end-times prophecy, and is often used specifically as a reference to the hill where the temple of Jerusalem stood. In other cases, it is a reference to the city of Jerusalem itself. This verse encompasses this meaning, as well as a reference to the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1–4), the ultimate destiny of all who have faith in Christ. Rather than a smoky, flaming, forbidden mountain, the new covenant presents us with heaven.

As with the rest of the letter, the purpose of this contrast is twofold: to show that the new covenant is superior to the old covenant, and to encourage Christians to "hold fast" to their faith despite hardship. References to angels, celebrations, and such contrast the mood of Sinai, where God's holiness was displayed through fearful signs, showing that we could not approach Him in our sin. Through Christ, on the other hand, the barrier has been removed (Hebrews 9:24) and we can have confidence in coming to God (Hebrews 4:16).