What does Hebrews 12:12 mean?
ESV: Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
NIV: Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
NASB: Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,
CSB: Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees,
NLT: So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.
KJV: Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
Verse Commentary:
The writer continues using athletics as an analogy for spiritual growth. In prior verses, he mentioned that God's discipline was something to be expected from a good father, and especially from a heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:5–9). Discipline corrects us away from sin. It trains us to exhibit a deeper faith and to be more trusting of God. This chapter began with an encouragement: to "run the race" we're assigned by God (Hebrews 12:1). The prior verse mentioned how spiritual growth comes through "training," and used a Greek term specifically related to strenuous exercise.

Here, we see words which could easily be spoken to an athlete by his trainer. Spiritually, this passage encourages Christians to press on through hardships. Those experiences are certainly painful, at the time (Hebrews 12:11), but once we've been through them, we can see how God used those struggles to "train" us. Not only do these words serve as good athletic advice, and sound spiritual advice, they are also probably taken directly from the Old Testament. Isaiah 35:3 says almost the exact same thing, also in the context of encouragement and perseverance.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 12:3–17 builds from a description of heroes of the faith, culminating in Jesus Christ. Those who came before were loved by God and honored by God, and yet they suffered hardships in this world. In this passage, the writer makes it clear that suffering is often God's way of building us up and training us, not necessarily a sign of His displeasure. Christians who respond to trials by seeking God, in faith, can avoid the fate of less-faithful men, like Esau.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 11 explained the victories of some of the Old Testament's greatest heroes. It also explained their sufferings and persecution. This chapter uses those examples as a ''cloud of witnesses'' to prove that God does not abandon us when we suffer. In many cases, He uses those experiences to ''train'' us, as if we were athletes, to make us stronger. In other cases, it's the same kind of discipline that a child receives from a loving father. Unlike the old covenant, which rightly inspired fear and dread, the new covenant offers us peace. As with any other matter of truth or falsehood, we should cling to what's true, so that we can be part of ''a kingdom that cannot be shaken.''
Chapter Context:
Hebrews chapter 12 builds on the example of the heroes of the faith mentioned in chapter 11. The main point of this lesson is that these figures endured suffering and hardship, yet held to their faith in God, which allowed them to achieve victory. Chapter 12, in particular, points out that earthly hardship is not a sign of God's displeasure, or abandonment. Rather, it's part of living in a fallen, godless world. And, in many cases, it's a form of ''training'' the Lord uses to mold us into more powerful instruments. This, as with other passages in Hebrews, leads into another explanation of why we should take these ideas seriously, and sets up a few final practical lessons in chapter 13.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
Accessed 4/22/2024 4:04:00 PM
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