Paraphrase with Commentary
The author of Hebrews encourages the Church to run the race (life) with endurance by looking to the legacy of faith (Hebrews 11), casting away hindrances, and looking to Jesus as an example and reward.
Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith 12 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and w sin which clings so closely, and x let us run y with endurance the race that is z set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, a who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising b the shame, and c is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Τοιγαροῦν καὶ ἡμεῖς διʼ ὑπομονῆς τρέχωμεν τὸν προκείμενον ἡμῖν ἀγῶνα
τοσοῦτον ἔχοντες περικείμενον ἡμῖν νέφος μαρτύρων,
ὄγκον ἀποθέμενοι πάντα καὶ τὴν εὐπερίστατον ἁμαρτίαν,
ἀφορῶντες εἰς τὸν τῆς πίστεως ἀρχηγὸν καὶ τελειωτὴν Ἰησοῦν,
ὃς ὑπέμεινεν σταυρὸν
ἀντὶ τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς
ἐν δεξιᾷ τε τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ κεκάθικεν.
I remember my first cross-country race. My dad thought running would be a good outlet for my young exuberant personality. So, I decided to give it a try. After a couple of practices, I thought I knew everything about running. I didn't. And when my first race approached, my dad offered some suggestions to help me with my running (he had been a runner himself). Instead of listening to his wisdom, I decided to lean on my own understanding. The morning of the race, I decided to eat a huge plate of pancakes for energy (mind you this wasn't a marathon, it was a 5k). I also decided to down the pancakes with chocolate milk because why not. Instead of wearing my new gently used and ugly colored cross-country cleats, I wore my Nike high-tops because I wanted to look good. Well, it turns out that there is a lot more to running than putting one foot in front of the other. After throwing up, tearing up my ankles, and finishing dead last in the race, I realized the penalty of my error. My dad graciously offered once again some tips on how to run with endurance in my future races. Those tips made me the runner I am today :) In this passage, the author of Hebrews presents the climax to several examples of faith in time's past in order to exhort his readers to persevere in life to reach faith's reward. There are three finite verbs in this passage (run, endured, and sits) and six participles. For this devotional, we are going to look mostly at one of the finite verbs and the three adverbial participles. The verb (run) is the main idea of the exhortation "Let us run with endurance". He uses three participles to describe how we are to accomplish his entreaty. First, we (have) a great cloud of witnesses to inspire us. Second, we need to get rid of any burden slowing us down, especially sin in our lives. Third, and most importantly, we need to look to Jesus Christ. In this third "how-to-endure", we get clarity with a relative clause showing us how Jesus endured. With this relative clause, we also gain two more "how-to-endure" suggestions as sub-categories to looking to Jesus. First, we also can look at the joy set before us to endure opposition, which I would suggest is rooted in the hope of glory. Second, playing off the first, we can discredit any shame against us because of the honor we have in Christ. In short, to run the race of life with endurance we should look to our legacy of faith, look at our own personal hindrances, and look to Christ as our reward and as an example of perseverance.
Paraphrase with Commentary
Therefore, because we have a God-wrought legacy of faith from those who have gone before us, who have fought the good fight looking to faith’s reward while refusing the fleeting pleasures of sin, since we have such a great cloud of testimony to the value of that which faith leads to, witnesses of whom the world is not worthy, let us run this race called life set before us with endurance. Let us champion this contest with perseverance! Let us drive onward through this obstacle course with tenacity. We will do this by casting away every burden that is an enemy to faith. We will do this by throwing away every sin that seeks to ruin us like prey. But even more so, we will run the race with endurance by looking to the one who has founded and perfected our faith, Jesus Christ our precious savior, who by the joy set before him to bring many sons to glory, conquered the cross that no one else could bear giving no validity to its crippling shame, who now sits victoriously on a glorious and honorable throne at the right-hand of God. Let us run the race with endurance by looking at the legacy, looking at ourselves, and looking to Jesus Christ.