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Hebrews 12:28

ESV Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
NIV Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
NASB Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let’s show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
CSB Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe,
NLT Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.
KJV Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
NKJV Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

What does Hebrews 12:28 mean?

The writer of Hebrews has compared the scene at Mount Sinai, where God gave the old covenant (Exodus 19:9–20), to the nature of the new covenant, depicted in heaven (Hebrews 12:18–24). The old covenant's introduction came with an earthquake, and the earth itself is destined to one day be undone and remade (Revelation 21:1). Heaven, and the new covenant, on the other hand, are part of the eternal plan of God that will never be undone. Unlike the fallen world, and the temporary old covenant, heaven, and the new covenant, are those things which "cannot be shaken," and so they will remain, forever.

The original Greek of this verse carries some details which are mostly lost in English translation. This is reflected in the way various English versions use different phrasing, attempting to fully capture the thought behind these words. The Greek phrase echōmen charin is variously presented as "let us be grateful" (ESV), "let us be thankful" (NIV), "let us have grace" (KJV), or even "let us hold onto grace" (HCSB). While the English phrasing seems to only refer to gratitude, the Greek seems to be relating our obtaining this kingdom with the notion of grace. This would be consistent with the Bible's entire view of salvation, which is presented as something available solely on the basis of God's grace (Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8–9).

Likewise, this verse uses the Greek construction di' hēs, which is translated as "and thus" (ESV) or "and so" (NIV), or using some concept of "by", such as the KJV, NASB, and HCSB. This ties the phrase echōmen charin—the reference to grace—to the following mention of offering God an acceptable sacrifice. Combined, this creates an overlapping impression: that we obtain membership in this unshakeable kingdom, by grace, and by that same grace we are able to offer eternally acceptable sacrifice to God (Hebrews 10:14; Romans 12:1). The Greek word used for the idea of "sacrifice" is related to both service and worship.

This ties various themes of the book of Hebrews into a single basic statement. We might reject God (Hebrews 2:3), but we cannot escape Him or His judgment (Hebrews 4:13), so membership in His eternal kingdom (Hebrews 12:27) is offered to those who trust in Christ (Hebrews 6:11–12), who is both the means (Hebrews 2:10) and the reward (Hebrews 12:28) of the only ultimate salvation offered to mankind (Hebrews 9:24–28).
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