12:14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, 1 for without it no one will see the Lord. 12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up 2 and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled. 12:16 And see to it that no one becomes 3 an immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 4 12:17 For you know that 5 later when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance, although he sought the blessing 6 with tears. 12:18 For you have not come to something that can be touched, 7 to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind 12:19 and the blast of a trumpet and a voice uttering words 8 such that those who heard begged to hear no more. 9 12:20 For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 10 12:21 In fact, the scene 11 was so terrifying that Moses said, “I shudder with fear.” 12 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion, the city 13 of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly 12:23 and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator 14 of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does. 15
12:25 Take care not to refuse the one who is speaking! For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less shall we, if we reject the one who warns from heaven? 12:26 Then his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “I will once more shake not only the earth but heaven too.” 16 12:27 Now this phrase “once more” indicates the removal of what is shaken, that is, of created things, so that what is unshaken may remain. 12:28 So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. 12:29 For our God is indeed a devouring fire. 17
1 sn The references to peace and holiness show the close connection between this paragraph and the previous one. The pathway toward “holiness” and the need for it is cited in Heb 12:10 and 14. More importantly Prov 4:26-27 sets up the transition from one paragraph to the next: It urges people to stay on godly paths (Prov 4:26, quoted here in v. 13) and promises that God will lead them in peace if they do so (Prov 4:27 [LXX], quoted in v. 14).
sn An allusion to Deut 29:18.
5 tn Or a command: “for understand that.”
6 tn Grk “it,” referring either to the repentance or the blessing. But the account in Gen 27:34-41 (which the author appeals to here) makes it clear that the blessing is what Esau sought. Thus in the translation the referent (the blessing) is specified for clarity.
7 tn This describes the nation of Israel approaching God on Mt. Sinai (Exod 19). There is a clear contrast with the reference to Mount Zion in v. 22, so this could be translated “a mountain that can be touched.” But the word “mountain” does not occur here and the more vague description seems to be deliberate.
8 tn Grk “a voice of words.”
9 tn Grk “a voice…from which those who heard begged that a word not be added to them.”
11 tn Grk “that which appeared.”
12 tn Grk “I am terrified and trembling.”
sn A quotation from Deut 9:19.
13 tn Grk “and the city”; the conjunction is omitted in translation since it seems to be functioning epexegetically – that is, explaining further what is meant by “Mount Zion.”
14 tn The Greek word μεσίτης (mesith", “mediator”) in this context does not imply that Jesus was a mediator in the contemporary sense of the word, i.e., he worked for compromise between opposing parties. Here the term describes his function as the one who was used by God to enact a new covenant which established a new relationship between God and his people, but entirely on God’s terms.