Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Scripture References

Scripture references on this site can be viewed by hovering your mouse cursor over the reference to see a pop-up window with the verse displayed. If you wish to use a different version of the Bible, you can make that selection below.

 

Bible Options

 

If you have Logos Bible Study Software installed, you can check Libronix to bring the scripture reference up in Logos.

Hebrews 12:6-10 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:55 mins 54 secs

Hebrews Lesson 202    June 24, 2010

 

NKJ Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

 

Open your Bibles to Hebrews 12. What I want to start with this evening is just a review as we think our way through what the writer of Hebrews is saying.  He starts off in verse 1 (which really should be linked more to chapter 11) with presenting a conclusion from all of these Old Testament examples cited in chapter 11. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also,

 

That is in addition to all these great Old Testament examples.

 

since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

 

We have a race metaphor here, an athletic contest. The imagery here is of a contest taking place before witnesses. This is all metaphorical just by way of illustration that because there are those who've gone before us who have also run the same race then we too need to do the same thing. You set aside the sin through confession of sin. This is not clean up your life, pull yourself up by your own spiritual or moral bootstraps, clean everything out and then run the race because you can't do that. The picture is of a positional cleansing or forgiveness - rather experiential cleansing that occurs when we confess our sins. 

 

The focus is verse 2, occupation with Christ. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author

 

…who is the pioneer

 

and finisher of our faith,

 

The completer.

 

..the one who fulfills all the Old Testament examples, types and everything comes together.

 

who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

So endurance – the Greek word here hupomone is the key idea that we can trace all the way through this - endurance and discipline in a sense of training. So Jesus is able to endure the cross by focusing on the end result, which is the joy set before Him. The joy set before Him is what comes when He is accepted into the presence of the Father and sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Then again we're the challenged to think about Jesus.

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him

 

Or, meditate on Him.

 

who endured such hostility

 

Reflect! Take time to think about what must have been involved in Jesus endurance there at the end, everything that He faced: the physical beatings, the rejection, the hostility, the physical torture involved in the whipping and everything else prior to being put on the cross, the physical pain of the cross; all of which was really nothing compared to the pain and the horror that occurred when the sins of the world were imputed to Him. 

 

from sinners against Himself,

 

So think about that as an example.

 

lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

NKJ Hebrews 12:4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed,

 

…as He did.

 

striving against sin.

 

Then verse 5 comes back to the key principle in 5 to 11which deals with training, training, training. 

 

Now I'm not going to use the chart tonight, but I did have some more of those charts we passed out last time in case anybody didn't get one of these flowcharts? That maps out sort of the general plan, the general procedure that God has for every believer, sort of a flowchart so that as you go forward in obedience walking by the Spirit then God produces through endurance maturity. When we're in disobedience living according to the flesh then that produces human good. It has no long term, (no eternal value, no spiritual value) and ends up where we basically can destroy our lives in self-induced misery and by discipline.

 

The principle of divine discipline is introduced in verse 5. As I pointed out last time this is not the idea we normally think of as divine discipline only in terms of the negative, which is how this is translated: "the chastening of the Lord". That is a negative concept that we see here, but this is not the word that we find in the original. The word that we find in the original is the word in the right hand box there, paideia, which has to do with upbringing, training, instruction and discipline in that sense, not discipline in the punishment sense. It may include that. It's the broader sense that includes both the positive for motivation to do well and motivation or encouragement when you have done well plus the negative punishment when we haven't done well. For the most part as I pointed out, for the most part when you read through Hebrews 12, but chastening in the KJV is usually the word the author chose to translate paideia

 

Hebrews 12:5-6 as I pointed out last time is a quote from the Old Testament in Proverbs 3:11-12. The same idea is found in both places that we are not to reject or despise (belittle, have disrespect) for the discipline of God. I really like this idea that we have in the Old Testament verse – the word musar indicating this binding: that the purpose of discipline is to bring a control into life. It's the idea of self-control. It's the idea of self-discipline. 

 

I remember when I was in elementary school. Back in those days (some of you remember) this) they had certain subjects like geography and arithmetic and language were all graded. You got A through F in those subjects. But on the other side of the page they had a variety of character traits one of which was self- discipline. You got a check, plus or minus. My dad had his old K-bar Marine Corps knife that he had with him in World War II. He said I could have that if for three six weeks in a row if I would get a plus in self-discipline. Teachers must have been a lot harder in elementary school because I had to wait until I got into junior high. I think in elementary school their view is everybody starts with a minus and has to work their way up; but in junior high everybody starts with an E and he has to do something overt to drop down to something less. I had to wait until I was in the seventh grade before I got that K-bar knife.  Now I hope I find it when I go through all my dad's stuff. I've been doing that recently just to bring some order into things. Just recently I went out to his garage and pulled out his Marine Corps trunk. It had been opened maybe twice since 1945. I found a little New Testament in there that my grandmother had given him when he went into the Marine Corps, plus two or three other maps that he had and some other things - various insignia and things like that that he had in the Marine Corps. It has been interesting to go back through that material.

 

But the idea there for discipline is that idea of self-management, self-control. That means that there's a restriction put on our desires. We're not just going to do anything we want to whenever we want to without any sense of self-control. That's same idea that you get in terms of discipline as I pointed out last time in Proverbs that foolishness is bound up in the heart of the child.

 

Now when we come to Hebrews 12:6, the New Testament uses the term mastigao for scourging which is parallel to chastening. So you have the two sides there. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,

 

Disciplines - paideuo

 

And scourges every son whom He receives."

 

So that intensifies the idea of the discipline. It focuses on the negative side - mastigao which means to chastise, to whip, to scourge – a very harsh word for the negative of divine punishment.

 

Then in verse 7 – I think here we're moving into some new territory. You have an unusual construction in the Greek. In the English for some reason this is translated as if it's a conditional clause and there's no conditional clause in the Greek at all. In fact it's almost an incomplete sentence. It's as if the writer's moving fast; and he drops something out. All you have is the object. The verb is an indicative mood verb. It's not a command to endure chastening, it is an indicative mood which merely descriptive – "you endure chastening". It is simply a descriptive statement not a prescriptive statement. "You endure discipline" or "you endure training." There's no "if" there at all. I'm not at all convinced that that should be supplied. It is simply a basic statement and very likely could be indicated or translated as purpose clause, "that you endure training" indicating the reality that the believer will endure training. 

 

Again this brings us to the key word here – hupomene. Hupomene is the noun. Hupomeno is the verb.  Meno is the verb here – same meaning which means to endure. It's a compound word from the preposition hupo meaning under and meno meaning to remain. Now when we come under a lot of adversity, the last thing we want to do is stay in that position. Most of us want to somehow try to get away from the difficulty, change the circumstances - operating on a false assumption that if we have the right circumstances we'll be happy. Happiness biblically speaking, real happiness is above the circumstances. So we are to be happy in the circumstances whatever they are and to remain in them because of our mental attitude and our focus. Jesus is able to maintain joy even in the midst of the suffering on the cross because His focus is on the joy set before Him. He's thinking about the endgame. 

 

So the idea of endurance is to remain under without caving in to sin.  It is staying in the adversity without converting it to stress in the soul by trying to handle it through various human viewpoint techniques, which simply in the language of stress management, all it does is manage stress (move it around a little bit rather than conquer and deal with it). So we are enduring discipline. 

 

Then the next phrase that is stated there is that God (the way it's translated) deals with you as with sons." Some passages translate it "God treats you", "God deals with you as with sons." It's an interesting word here. As far as I can find it's the only place that this word is used in the New Testament with this particular meaning. 

 

So let me back up here. "We endure chastening."  The word chastening there again is paideuo for upbringing or training.  We endure training.  Then God deals with you as with sons. So we have the Greek verb prosphero, which means to bring something or to offer something and every other use that we have in the New Testament is related to offering. We talk about Christ's offering of Himself on the cross. Many times it was used in Hebrews 8, Hebrews 9, Hebrews 10 talking about how the high priest offers a sacrifice in the Temple.  All of those have to do with some sort of ritual offering. This is the primary word to describe that. But there is a classic meaning of the word that is not found in the New Testament though it was a common use in older Greek. 

 

Now the writer of Hebrews is known for writing more in a style where he's influenced by more of an older classical form of Greek. He's still writes Koine.  Everybody spoke Koine Greek in the New Testament era. Nobody's walking around speaking antiquated Greek. They're not speaking Attic Greek. They're not speaking Boeotian. They're not speaking any of these other ancient forms of Greek. But there were certain idioms that had come into the language a hundred or two or three hundred years earlier that still continued. We have the same thing in English. Because of the endurance of the King James translation, there are certain idioms that are still in use even though most people don't know what they mean because we live in an era where people really don't know their Bibles anymore. So they hear these sayings that come out of the Bible, but they don't know what they mean. They don't know it has its origin in the Bible. It's Elizabethan English, but it still has a meaning as idiom in modern English. The same thing was true about Greek. You had idioms and words that had a much older history in the Greek language, but it had meaning in the current time period of the first century. 

 

It's not as if the writer knew older forms of Greek. He just comes out of a culture (a background, an education) where he used more of an upper class aristocratic form of Greek that had more idioms in it related to Classical Greek. So he uses this word here not in the way he's used it previously in terms of bringing an offering, but using it here in the sense of a person's conduct or how someone would treat another person or deal with another person. The 20 times that the word is used in Hebrews; this is the one time where it has the idea of God dealing with somebody (treating somebody); how God behaved toward an individual. 

 

Here we have the simple statement: not "if", but simply "you endure chastening. "God is dealing with you as with sons." So it's a statement with a purpose that you endure chastening, endure discipline. 

 

Then a second statement: God deals or God is treating you. It's a present and so I think the idea of ongoing action; God is treating you as sons is a better way of understanding that. God is treating you as sons. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:7 … for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?

 

He is going to bring in the idea here of legitimacy. This is a common thing. If you were in a family, it is the role of the role of the father to train the children.  It's the role the father to teach the children and to train them and prepare them to be adults. The role of parenting is to train children to be adults. Don't train children to be able to socialize and work with their peers. The goal is to teach and train children to be able to function and operate with adults. So parents should think through a training procedure for how they're going to teach their children everything from manners to the Bible to helping them go beyond whatever it is they're being taught in school. Either you have children in public school, then you need to be aware of the fact that the education standards and curricula have been dumbed-down so much over the last hundred years or so that if you just rely on what is happening in the public school classroom, then your children are going to miss out on a tremendous amount. 

 

I'll never forget the first time I really came to understand that was when I was in my first church.  We had taken the old quarterlies that Betty Thieme and Ursula Kemp had written. I was trying to find copies of those and put those together to use in the in our Sunday school class. I called up Ursula Kemp. We were talking. 

 

She said, "Robby I don't think you can use those today," because in her experience the children (this was about 1981) children at that time weren't as well educated in the school classroom in public school as they had been 20 years earlier. So it was more difficult to teach the kids in Sunday school. That's even truer today. This is again one of the big problems facing evangelical churches especially churches like ours that are more focused on teaching at a greater level teaching the Word and teaching doctrine to kids and getting them to think because no place else in their environment does that happen. Parents have to be teaching their children to think and to think critically. They won't learn critical thinking skills from anyone else. If they don't get in the home, they won't get it. They'll become the products of the typical state sponsored education system and come out the other end and not be very well educated or be able to think very well. 

 

So the universal truth though has been that it is the role of the father to train the children. Too often what happens in our society is that somehow it gets delegated to the mother, and that's true. Certain things can be handled and probably should be handled by the mother but ultimately the children need to know that the father is the one who is in charge and the father is the one who sets the standard. Even though he may not be involved in everything, he needs to be involved a lot more than is usually true in most homes.

 

The other day I was having lunch with Joe Wall who I've known for many, many years. Joe was the pastor of Spring Branch Community Church a couple different times. I first met Joe back when I was going off to college. He was a frequent speaker at Camp Peniel. I knew several people who went over to Spring Branch Community Church. Well about a month or so ago Joe and I were having lunch together up in Tomball and we were talking.  Somehow we got off on to this subject of the role of fathers. 

 

He said, "You know I had a deacon at Spring Branch back in the 70's who would get up every morning an hour earlier than he needed to. He got up every morning at 4:30; and he would study the Bible – not just listen to a tape, not just listen to somebody teach – but study the Bible on his own for about an hour and a half. Then he would – he did that every morning. Then every evening he had a Bible study with his three children to teach them the Bible. He clearly understood the role of a parent.

 

I said, "Well Joe, who was that?"

 

He told me who it was and I remembered him. One of his sons was a little bit younger than me. We had counseled together at Camp Peniel. He also had a daughter who married a guy who graduated from Dallas Seminary and had gone on. They have been on the mission field for about 35 years now. The oldest son had also been involved in on some sort of ministry for many years and just recently died of cancer. But the ministry that those children have had and had throughout their lives is the direct result of that training from a father who understood what his mission was; that he needed to be in the Word, learning the Word and then teaching it to his children especially terms of their own context and their own situation.

 

It's the father's role to do the spiritual training in the home. It's not the mother's role. It's not the Sunday school role or the prep school role or the church's role. It is specifically the father's role to make sure those children understand the Word and to train them and prepare them for life.

 

So the writer of Hebrews asks this rhetorical question.

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:7 …for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?

 

Then he answers it in verse 8. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

 

Here he uses a first class condition, but he's using it in the sense of a debater's technique or assuming it to be true for the sake of argument. If you're without chasing (assuming that you are and he would not be saying that of the recipients) if you are without chastening of which all have become partakers.

 

That phrase contradicts the nuance there of the first phrase. He's saying:

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:8 But if you are without chastening,

 

But we know you're not. I'm just assuming it's true for the sake of argument. On the other hand he then states in the next clause:

 

of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

 

All of us as believers have become participants in divine training. He uses the word paideia again. 

 

If you are without training of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons."

 

This is the only example I know of in Scripture where we have any kind of an idea of a way to qualify whether or not you are really saved. When you get into the whole debate with free grace versus Lordship, the lordship gospel advocates say that you're not saved if you have certain kinds of sin in your life. That's just not true. Every Christian sins. Everybody still has a sin nature. What this verse is saying is that the evidence you're not really saved is if you don't go through divine discipline. 

 

Now nobody else can look in your life and say whether or not you're going through divine discipline. Now you can look in your life and decide whether or not God's ever disciplined. If you think that "Well you know God never has disciplined me for disobedience", then maybe you're not saved. That's what the author's saying. But I would say looking at the audience here, most of you I know well enough to know you've gone through a little divine discipline. That sort of validates the fact that you are indeed a believer. 

 

That is what the writer of Hebrews is saying here is that someone who is a believer (someone who is in the royal family of God) will go through divine discipline. He is stating that in sort of a negative way but the force of his argument is that if you're a believer – he's talking to these Jewish background believers (probably priestly believers who were who were saved and have been going through persecution and rejection from the families and other things) and what he's telling them is the fact that you're going through this kind of adversity and hostility and rejection is part of God's training program that validates and affirms the fact that you are saved. He is stating a positive principle that if you're a believer you are going through training. Therefore you are a believer.  This is exactly what you can expect in order to affirm the reality of their situation: that they haven't been forgotten by God.

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:8 But if you are without chastening,

 

Discipline

 

of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

 

So what does he mean when he comes to speak of sons? 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?

 

Here he's raising the analogy that just as in a human home and human family we expect fathers to correct us, how much more should we expect the Father (our heavenly Father) to correct us?

 

Then verse 10:

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us

 

That is, they being the human fathers. Paideuo - brought that discipline and training into our lives.

 

as seemed best to them, but He

 

That is a heavenly Father.

 

for our profit,

 

That would be a spiritual profit. 

 

that we may be partakers of His holiness.

 

That brings in the whole principle of sanctification. Hagiotes is the Greek word there for holiness. The point that he is making is that God disciplines us so that that builds experiential sanctification into our lives – experiential growth.

 

Then he comes to a conclusion in verse 11. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening

 

Training.

 

seems to be joyful for the present, but painful;

 

Why? Because you're learning to do what you don't naturally want to do and not do what you normally want to do. It seems painful.

 

nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

Now the doctrine that underlies this whole section from verse 3 down to verse 11 is a doctrine related to the doctrine of adoption and being a member of the royal family of God. So I want to look at one other key verse in relationship to that which is Galatians 4:6 and then go into the review of the doctrine of adoption.

 

NKJ Galatians 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"

 

That initial statement there "because you are sons" assumes the reality of regeneration in every believer. As a mark of regeneration every believer is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. At the instant of salvation (at the instant of regeneration) God sends the Holy Spirit into (to indwell) every single believer.

 

The cry here (Abba) is the diminutive form of awb, which is the Hebrew word for Father, the Aramaic word for father. Ab would be comparable to saying father, a little more formal term. But a more informal word and a much more intimate word would be "daddy." That's the equivalent to Abba. So it's emphasizing the intimacy and the closeness of the relationship between the believer and the Father. 

 

So up what Paul is saying here is God sends forth His Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells us and this is part, the sign, of our adoption that brings us into the family of God and is the mark of our close intimate relationship with the Father who in turn is now going to be engaged in a training program for us.

 

NKJ Galatians 4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

 

Now in this context what Paul was talking to the Galatians about was the problem of the Judiazers who were coming in. 

 

These were those of the Jewish background who were saying, "No, it's okay to believe Jesus is the Messiah; but you don't really get it all by trusting in Jesus as Messiah. If you really want to get the second blessing, you have to also obey the Torah. You have to obey all of the Law. You have to be circumcised, go through all the rituals, all of these, everything else in order to have a real relationship with God."

 

He is using adoption here to show that there is a difference between the relationship of the believer to God in the Old Testament because of the Law and the believer in the New Testament. He uses the Roman form of adoption. The Romans had one form of adoption; the Greeks had another form of adoption. As I'll point out, Paul relates to both. He uses both analogies depending on what he is trying to teach. 

 

This is what the Holy Spirit is doing through the writers of Scripture. They will take various things that are going on in the culture and then just bring them over as an illustration or a metaphor to describe a spiritual truth. Sometimes the emphasis in the New Testament is on more of a Roman form and other times it's on the Greek form. The Greek form of adoption focuses more on an intimate relationship whereas the Roman form emphasizes more on the legal aspect of adoption. 

 

What Paul had said in this particular context is that as a child (an adopted heir) is under the tutelage of someone called a pedagogue. This is a slave whose responsibility it was to train the young child until he reaches the age of adulthood (the age of maturity) at which point he goes through a formal ceremony and he's recognized as an adult son. But when he is young, he's treated like a slave even though he is the heir. The analogy that Paul is using in Galatians 4 is that in the Old Testament it's like the young child in the Roman system who is under a pedagogue who is training through certain standards but then when you reach adulthood (equivalent to the Church Age believer) then there is a different (may be similar in many ways but a different) set of standards and responsibilities because now you're treated as an adult child. You have a completed canon of Scripture, the indwelling and filling of God the Holy Spirit, baptism of the Holy Spirit, things of this nature. The emphasis then in the background of this is on the discipline that God brings into our life as part of that training within the household. 

 

Let's start the Doctrine of Adoption

 

  1. The basic problem we have is that of natural birth. Every human being is born into the family of Adam.  We all trace our lineage back through Noah and ultimately back to Adam so that there is a unity in the human race. That's why Jesus as the Messiah has to become a human. It was so that He was connected (physiologically, biologically) to the rest of the human race. Therefore He can die as a substitute for the human race. An angel couldn't do it. God couldn't create some other creature to take on the sin penalty. A substitute has to be of like kind. This goes back various analogies that you see in the Old Testament. For example you see the kinsman redeemer (the go-el) that's the background for understanding the book of Ruth. The problem of natural birth is we're all born spiritually dead. 

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

 

  1. The second point is that because of Adam's original sin, every human being is born physically alive and spiritually dead. This affects every single human being. We're born physically alive, spiritually dead. This is seen in Ephesians 2:1.

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

 

We are born that way. Now that doesn't mean that we're all evil; but that means that because of the sin nature there is that trend of the sin nature.  We're spiritually dead. We're separated from God. That doesn't mean we're going to do things as bad as we can do them. But it does mean that we are oriented that way. We can choose to do good as well as to do bad. But none of that is a good that would bring credit with God because the fact is that we are born spiritually dead. A spiritually dead person can't do anything to gain God's merit or gain God's favor. 

  1. So point three is where every human being is a born alive in one sense; but they're dead in another sense. They're like the living dead. They are walking around. They're breathing. They're talking. They have a semblance of life. They're happy, joyful.  But the real essence of their relationship with God (going back to how God created Adam initially) has been defaced because of sin. There has to be a correction. Now we call that spiritual death; that they are born without this component (this element) in their makeup that we call the human spirit that has a relationship to God. That is lost with Adam's sin so there has to be a recovery of that. That is what is meant by spiritual rebirth. 
  2. Now this is clearly taught in the Old Testament and was understood as an issue in the Old Testament. Ezekiel 36:24-27 is the key passage for that.  This is another one of those New Covenant passages. The primary passion for the New Covenant was Jeremiah 31:31-34. But there are several other passages that are similar and that while they don't use the words "New Covenant", they expand that idea and are related to the New Covenant.  Ezekiel 36:24-25. God is talking to Israel and He says:

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:24 "For I will take you from among the nations,

 

Future - this will take place at the end of the Tribulation, at the beginning of the kingdom. 

 

gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.

 

This is that restoration of Israel to the land when they are spiritually regenerate when the Messiah comes. What happens at that time? I believe they're already individually regenerate; but as a nation they're not. 

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean;

 

It is a national cleansing that takes place. 

 

I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

 

That is from all of their sin. This is the national cleansing, national forgiveness. 

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;

 

This is a picture of the national regeneration, recognizing that there is something missing before that has to be added in terms of the spiritual regeneration for the nation. 

 

I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

 

This then is an Old Testament recognition of a need for a spiritual change from death to life; from being spiritually unclean to spiritually clean. 

  1. This is the background for understanding what Jesus says to Nicodemus in the 3rd chapter of John when Jesus came to Nicodemus and Nicodemus asked Jesus, "What must we do to be born again?" 

 

Jesus answered and said to him, 

 

NKJ John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

 

Well Nicodemus said, "Well wait a minute; born again?  Does that mean I have to go back into my mother's womb and go through that process all over again? 

 

NKJ John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

 

Now Jesus is talking to Nicodemus in that chapter. In the next couple of verses Nicodemus is still confused and Jesus said: 

 

NKJ John 3:10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?

 

The implication is that Nicodemus ought to understand this. Well, where would Nicodemus get the idea of rebirth from water and the Spirit? Well we must have gotten that from someplace like Ezekiel 36:26-27 where we have this picture of cleansing that takes place. In the broader context of Ezekiel 36, God is going to wash them with water and cleanse them and He's going to give them a new heart and new spirit, remove the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. That is the location for understanding the background with Jesus is saying to Nicodemus in John 3:5-6. From the Old Testament to the New Testament there is this emphasis on the need for an inner cleansing and a new birth; that man is born spiritually dead and must be spiritually alive. Now what we see in the New Testament is that this new birth is based on accepting Christ. We have passages such as John 1:12. 

 

NKJ John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

 

So becoming a child of God is based on accepting or receiving Jesus as Messiah. 

 

NKJ Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

So they way to become and to enter into the family of God is by faith in Christ Jesus. Another verse that we could add to this would be Titus 3:5. 

 

NKJ Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

 

…tying regeneration to the work of the Holy Spirit in that verse. And it's not by works of righteousness which we have done. 

  1. Then under point 6 every believer is in the family of God at the instant of belief in Christ. 1 John 3:2 says: 

 

NKJ 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

 

So the first statement is now we are children of God.  At the instant of salvation it's clear you've become a child of God. 

  1. Now the very statement here is that now we are children of God; that implies that there was a time when we weren't children of God. There are many people since the rise of theological liberalism in the 19th century believe that everybody is born a child of God.  Everybody's a child of God. Now I never heard that growing up. I was never taught that growing up. When I was in my first church I was teaching this and I got a lot of pushback from people who had come out of some liberal denominations and they said, "But isn't everybody a child of God?" So I had to stop and take the time to go back and go through these verses as well as verses like John 11 when Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees and says:

 

NKJ John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, …

 

… because you are a liar and that we're not born children of God a physical birth. We're born children of God only by spiritual birth and trusting in Him. Spiritual birth (or regeneration) refers to the rebirth. The placing in the family of God comes under the term adoption. So adoption is the term then that is used to describe the admission of the believer into the family of God and his legal relationship to God. So it describes his admission into the family of God and is distinct from regeneration. Regeneration describes the rebirth; adoption describes the act of being placed into the family. 

  1. Now under point 8, adoption is a legal metaphor that Paul uses to describe this relationship. It is looking at the believers' new relationship not in terms of his new nature (the new birth) but which is real but in terms of a legal metaphor. Now we stopped and we go back all the way to Genesis 2.  The whole relationship that man has with God is always defined in legal terms. God establishes contracts with man. These are known as covenants.  So God always functions on the basis of these legal concepts. So we have ideas like imputation, righteous, justification; all of these are based on legal concepts. So adoption is another way of describing the relationship of the believer in terms of a legal metaphor. 
  2. Now as I indicated earlier in the introduction there are two forms of adoption that were known in the ancient world. So if you were living anywhere within the Roman Empire, you would have a familiarity with either Greek adoption or Roman adoption. Greek adoption would of course have dominated in the eastern empire and Roman adoption in the western empire; but both were culturally present and people would have been culturally aware of them. 
  3. In Greek adoption the emphasis is on the family relationship. In Greek adoption the emphasis is on family relationship. So a man during his life or by his will after his death could adopt any male citizen into the privileges of his own family but with the invariable condition that the adopted son would accept the legal obligations and religious duties of a real son. When Paul is emphasizing these family aspects of adoption (that would include inheritance), he has the Greek custom in mind. Now Paul didn't write Hebrews but whoever did write Hebrews understands this same thing. He's using adoption and sonship here though he doesn't use the word adoption he's using the concept of sonship and training in this kind of familial way because it's going to be connected in this way and it's being connected in this passage to inheritance. 
  4. Now on the Roman side, the Roman custom was much more demanding. Roman law emphasized the very harsh and severe authority of the father over the son. It was the patria potestas - the power of the father. He virtually rules the son as almost as a slave owner would rule a slave.  The son was little better than a slave until he reached the age of adulthood. The reason for this was to protect and preserve the aristocracy in Rome and to preserve the inheritance of the father as it's being passed on to the son. So depending on what the context is, Paul is usually of eluding to either the Greek concept to indicate a more intimate family relationship or uses some Roman ideas in order to emphasize the legal aspect. Now in the process of adoption it was initiated by a legal procedure that involved a ceremonial purchase. If the new son was a slave - remember there's a scene in Ben Hur after he is – if you've seen the film. Some of you may not have seen that for a long time. Charlton Heston is arrested; and he's sold into slavery.  He goes into the galley as a slave in a galley ship.  There's this huge battle and he saves the life of the one the commanders.  So he is taken back to Rome and he is formally adopted as the heir of Birenius (sp?).  So that's the same idea – that a slave could be adopted. Now if a slave is adopted as a son, the actual purchase price is paid for his freedom.  Now the word that you ought to be hearing (thinking of) when you hear the words "purchase price" is redemption. So you have the idea that redemption pays the price to buy the freedom of the slave prior to the adoption. If the man was not a slave then a symbolic purchase price was paid to indicate his purchase and his freedom. So this is used in a way to depict the redemption price paid to free the slave. Roman adoption emphasizes more inheritance rather than blood relationship and applies to both the blood son as well as the as an unrelated heir. Even the physical son has certain legal aspects invoked in order to secure the passing on of the inheritance. 
  5. Under point 12, in the Roman system for the first 14 years a son is put under a slave called the pedagogue. This is the term that Paul used in Galatians to refer to the role of the Mosaic Law. It's the slave who was the tutor who was responsible for training and instilling discipline into the young child and for training him - teaching him and all that he needs to learn so he can function as a responsible adult as the heir within the family.  So under point 12 the son had little more rights than a slave for the first 14 years. Paul uses that as an analogy to the role of Israel under the Mosaic Law prior to Christ. During his youth he would wear a toga of youth which would indicate his position. It was obvious to all that he was in a position of training. When he turned 14 then there's a family ceremony where the boy is designated as an adult.
  6. In that adoption ceremony the father would release the toga of youth from the shoulders of the boy. The father would take off his cloak then (which is the toga virilis) and wraps it around the new son. This is an indication that he is being adopted into the family. 
  7. That would be an analogy to the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer. You have an analogy with redemption that the redemption price is paid first. 
  8. Then there us the imputation of righteousness depicted in putting the robe (the toga virilis) around the adopted son. Then the father announces, "My son, you've now been adopted into the family." So in terms of the legal procedure, what happens is there's belief in Christ. 
  9. Then there is the imputation of righteousness, the declaration of our justification, our regeneration and then the adoption into the royal family of God. 
  10. Now with the Roman custom under point 17, the adoption meant that the boy was now an adult with all the rights and privileges of an adult and could enter into military service or manage his own finances, get married, vote in the republic, things of that nature. He gets to that point where he can function with those adult privileges. Why? Because he has been trained by the pedagogue who has been hired by the father to train, to discipline, to prepare the young child to function as an adult. 

 

That is the background for what we're reading here in these verses. That is, discipline – paideuo, the word for chastening in Hebrews 12:11. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

That second word for train again emphasizes of that discipline. 

 

Did you hear that thunder? I think we ought to close in prayer. Remember the last time we got stuck here and we got flooded in and we were here until midnight? Let's bow our heads in closing prayer and leave before we get flooded in.