[Note also comments in notes regarding Hebrews chapter 11 in this collection as well]
Hebrews Chapter 12
The cloud of witnesses referred to in the opening verse of chapter 12 is the long list of heroes of the Jewish faith in Chapter 11 – and of course the other people who the readers would know from their daily life, because they were in the process of undergoing persecution themselves. Encouragement is drawn from the faithfulness of these people to living a higher quality of life despite the obstacles being placed in their path.
The author then continues on with a consideration of the role of discipline in life – disciple, the term for following Jesus, and discipline come from the same root word – the idea being that discipline is for the purpose of accelerating maturity in a person’s life.
Echoes of his ongoing theme (referred to under the section commenting on Chapter 11) of the Old Testament revelation being a shadow or foreshadow of the life of Christ, continues in this chapter.
I find it interesting that this passage comes under the heading of “When Out Of Sorts” – the implication being that when we are feeling out of sorts, sometimes reading literature which comes out of a period of intense persecution can help correct our perspective. Another example of this sort of literature is the book of Revelation, which to the casual reader today is somewhat obscure – partly because it was written in doubletalk so if anybody was caught with the literature, there is less risk of losing their life.
The author of this book seems to have a very strong encourager gift, which gives rise to statements such as in verse 12 and 13.