THE PASSAGE – HEBREWS 12:5-11
Hebrews 12:5-11 is the classic passage in the Bible about “the discipline of the Lord.” This is the second post in a series of studies covering this section of Scripture. The last post established a basic interpretation of the passage, but also revealed that there is still work to do to see how this interpretation works itself out in life. What I mean is that we understand what the discipline of the Lord does, but we have not yet made clear what the discipline of the Lord is. This part of our study will dig deeper into the meaning of the passage.
5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. – Hebrews 12:5-11
WHAT IS THIS “DISCIPLINE”?
What is the “discipline” in the discipline of the Lord? This is a crucial question for understanding this teaching, and so we will take some time to consider the meaning and the definition of this “discipline.” Here is our approach:
- What can we learn about “discipline” from the passage itself?
- Find dictionary definitions for the Greek and English words.
- How is “discipline” been understood by other Christians?
WHAT DOES THE PASSAGE ITSELF TEACH US ABOUT “DISCIPLINE”?
By carefully reading these verses, we can learn a lot about what “discipline” is and what it is not.
- The Lord loves those whom He disciplines (12:6). We can therefore conclude that the Lord does not discipline in anger and that the Lord’s discipline is not intended to punish. (See 1 John 4:18.)
- All believers will receive the discipline of the Lord as evidence that they are His children (12:6, 7, 8). But if all the Lord’s children receive His discipline, then the discipline of the Lord is not sent to correct or punish specific occurrences of sin or misbehavior in particular believers. Instead, the Lord’s discipline is sent, at the Lord’s discretion and providence, upon all believers universally to bring about the same result in all; namely, that they would share the Lord’s holiness (12:10) and would produce the peaceful fruit of righteousness (12:11).
- Discipline is “sorrowful” (12:11). The disciple must “endure” the discipline of the Lord (12:7). The quote from Proverbs tells us “not to faint” and declares that the Lord “scourges” (The Greek word is understood figuratively, but literally means “beat with a whip.”) every son He receives. Thus, we conclude that the discipline of the Lord involves pain and affliction and suffering.
- The discipline of the Lord has a purpose. The Lord “disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (12:10). This discipline is for training in holiness and has no retributive component.
FROM THE PASSAGE ITSELF
Just by studying the passage carefully we have gained a good understanding of what this discipline of the Lord is. The Lord disciplines in love all believers so that they will be trained to walk in greater holiness and to produce the fruit of righteousness. Nevertheless, this discipline of the Lord requires endurance (or “perseverance”) because it is administered by the Lord through suffering and pain and affliction.
FIND DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS FOR GREEK AND ENGLISH WORDS
Now that we have grasped the meaning of “discipline” from the context of the passage, our next task will be to learn what we can from dictionary definitions for the Greek and English words. That will be tomorrow’s post.
SDG rmb 2/17/2022 #489