I’ve just been translating Hebrews 12.1-3 from biblical Greek to English and thinking what a magnificent, encouraging bit of scripture it is. The thing is, when we constantly read a passage in the same translation, it becomes very easy to skip over the familiar old words and not pay much attention to what they’re really saying. But when we read them in a new way, a new translation, a new language, they become new and vivid.
New Testament Greek is particularly vivid, I find. This is going to be a bit weird, but I’m going to put my exact, word-for-word translation here, not smoothed out into reasonable English. Your brain may stumble on it, because Greek word order is very different from English. The way the writer organized things in the sentences puts emphasis on different things. It may make you see something you hadn’t seen before, or be reminded of something you hadn’t thought of in a long time. It might just make you go, “Huh?” (Bear in mind that this is by no means a definitive translation. It’s just me wallowing in Greek.)
“For that very reason [what very reason? read the end of chapter 11] therefore also we, so great having surrounding us a cloud of witnesses, every weight/hindrance putting off/getting rid of and the easily entangling sin, by/with endurance we should run the set/lying before us race/athletic contest, looking with undivided attention at the one [who is] of the faith a founder/originator and perfecter Jesus, who against/for the sake of the set/lying before him joy endured a cross of shame/disgrace despising/disregarding [either endured a cross of shame, despising it, or endured a cross, despising the shame], and on the right hand of the throne of God he has sat down. For consider attentively the one [who] so much having endured from the sinners against himself denial/hostility, so that not you may be weary/discouraged in your souls, being exhausted/giving up/losing heart.”
The end of this especially stood out to me. We *do* become weary and discouraged in our souls. But rather than giving up, we should look attentively at Jesus [that word indicates turning your eyes away from all else, thus fixing them on something in particular], who is the founder, the originator, the forerunner, the one who went through everything first, who endured the hostility [this word indicates the verbal attacks] of sinners and the utterly degrading shame of the cross. He was there first. He has already suffered what we suffer when we grow weary and discouraged. And He won out and took His rightful place of honor, where He is always interceding for us, His brothers, His fellow-heirs.
I adore Hebrews so much.
Here’s the Greek, if you’re interested:
Τοιγαροῦν καὶ ἡμεῖς, τοσοῦτον ἔχοντες περικείμενον ἡμῖν νέφος μαρτύρων, ὄγκον ἀποθέμενοι πάντα καὶ τὴν εὐπερίστατον ἁμαρτίαν, δι’ ὑπομονῆς τρέχωμεν τὸν προκείμενον ἡμῖν ἀγῶνα, 2 ἀφορῶντες εἰς τὸν τῆς πίστεως ἀρχηγὸν καὶ τελειωτὴν Ἰησοῦν, ὃς ἀντὶ τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς ὑπέμεινεν σταυρὸν αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας, ἐν δεξιᾷ τε τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ κεκάθικεν.
3 Ἀναλογίσασθε γὰρ τὸν τοιαύτην ὑπομεμενηκότα ὑπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν εἰς ἑαυτοὺς ἀντιλογίαν, ἵνα μὴ κάμητε ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν ἐκλυόμενοι.