'For the Joy Set Before Him'
Mean in Hebrews?
"For the joy set before him"
is a strange verse when you think about it. How could crucifixion be joyful?
There's more going on in this Hebrews passage than you might think.
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the pioneer and
perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him
scorning its shame, and sat down
at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Crucifixion was one of the most horrific
ways to die.
It was long and arduous,
and some people lasted days before their bodies gave out. We know Jesus endured this brutal death for the joy set before him, but what was that joy?
For the Joy Set Before Him… So, What Was That Joy?
What joy would motivate Jesus to go through
Some may think the joy was the glory of the throne of heaven. Some may think it refers to his position at the right hand of the Father. However, enduring the cross did not earn him this position because he already had this position from eternity past
You might also think the joy set before him was conquering Satan.
Well, Satan had made his play for the throne and had already been cast out of heaven. He is a defeated foe who is awaiting his final judgment.
While the cross further solidified his defeat,
that wasn’t the joy.
So, what was the joy set before him?
The joy which caused him to
endure the cross was you.
Jesus’ love for you was his
motivator when he went to the cross.
Jesus knew without his sacrifice,
would be available for your sins.
This was more than he could stand.
For this reason, Jesus endured the cross to
make a way
to be in a
relationship with you.
Imagine his greatest joy is being with you.
Will you please take a moment to allow this truth to
settle in your
heart and mind?
Jesus went through the horrors of the cross for the joy of
being able to redeem you
and call you his very own.
If there ever was a drop-the-mic moment,
this is it.
A Personal Perspective
of What 'the Joy Set Before Him' Means
To fully understand what “the joy set before him” means,
you must make it personal.
I want you to go with me
for a moment to the time of Christ’s death.
Before they arrested him,
prayed in the garden.
He was agonizing over what he was
about to face
even asked the Father for
Knowing this was impossible, he surrendered to
the will of the Father.
He did this for the joy set before him.
make it really personal.
I can imagine Jesus as he was being beaten, mocked, cursed at, spit upon,
and eventually nailed to a cross,
thinking about you and me.
With each scourge from the cat of nine tails that ripped his
flesh from his body.
With every insult he heard
and every drop of blood that spilled from his body,
here is what I can see Jesus thinking:
because one day,
a six-year-old boy in a church in Brooklyn
with tears in his eyes
will need my forgiveness.
One day Clarence Haynes will
call upon me for salvation,
and though this is painful now,
I will experience great joy when he calls my name, and
I can save him.
wash away all his sins
because of this blood
that is being spilled.
Yes, this hurts,
joy of his salvation is far greater
than any pain I must endure,
and it will be worth it all.”
Now, consider this: my story does not
differ from yours.
The parameters may differ, but you can easily replace my name with yours.
Just know through every moment of pain,
every experience of torment,
forsaking of the Father,
and ultimately his
death on the cross…
you were on his mind.
You are the joy that was set before him.
I must confess
as I wrote this and thought about what Jesus did for me,
I could not help but weep
over his great love and sacrifice.
Especially knowing he did it just for me.
need a moment to do the same,
I certainly understand.
How Does 'The Joy Set Before Him'
Change How We Perceive Suffering?
I want to shift this article from looking back at what Jesus did for us to looking forward to how we can apply this to our lives today.
There is one key lesson
I want to share with you:
future joy helps you endure present sufferings
Jesus set an example for us
when he endured the cross because we know
he did it for the joy set before him.
This is the same way
we must endure
challenges we face in life.
Focusing on the future joy helps you in the
rough moments of the present.
My wife returned to school a little more than a year ago. She was a business owner before and lost her business during the COVID-19 pandemic. This led her to go back to the classroom. I have watched her open the books, write papers, and study late. What is the purpose of her doing all this? For the joy set before her of finishing her degree and starting a new career. Please note I am not trying to say going back to school is like Jesus’ sacrifice. There is no comparison. However, I am applying the principle to everyday life. With that, let’s consider you for a moment.
- What are you pressing toward?
- What dreams and aspirations are you striving to achieve?
- What purpose has God placed in you that you see
but have not lived out yet?
- What situation are you praying for that
seems to get worse before it gets better?
You stay in the fight and
keep pressing forward
because of the joy you will receive
when you accomplish
what you have set out to accomplish.
There is joy waiting for you
on the other side of the struggle.
Focusing on that joy
motivates you to keep going,
even when you feel like giving up.
What Did Paul Know about
'The Joy Set Before Him'?
The apostle Paul
said something that has a similar tone
to what was written in Hebrews.
“We are hard pressed on every side,
but not crushed;
but not in despair;
but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.”
(2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
knows something about
suffering and enduring
as he faced
commitment to Christ.
he could keep his priorities in order
because he focused on the
instead of his
Just a few verses later, here is what he wrote.
“For our light and momentary troubles
achieving for us
that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen, since
what is seen is temporary,
but what is
unseen is eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Paul was doing
exactly what Jesus did.
He could endure
this life’s temporary troubles by focusing on eternal glory or joy.
He recognized the joy outweighed
Rather than focusing on today’s pain,
he set his
sights on tomorrow’s joy.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
glory that will be revealed
What About the Joy Set Before You? Where are you right now? What are you going through? Some of you may be facing tough challenges that have you thinking about throwing in the towel. Please don’t. First, settle in your heart that Jesus having a relationship with you was the joy set before him. Whatever he is asking you to do. Whatever trial you are experiencing.
Even the things you are striving for and reaching for today,
there is joy on the other side.
I will leave you with one final encouragement. Go back to Hebrews 12 and do what the verse says.
Fix your eyes on Jesus, remembering
all he did just to be with you,
proving how much he loves you.
When you do this, regardless of what you face, you will not give up.
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross… Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you
will not grow weary and lose heart.”
14Therefore, beloved, as you anticipate these things, make
every effort to be found at peace—spotless and blameless in
15Consider also that our Lord’s patience brings salvation, just as our
beloved brother Paul
wrote you with the
wisdom God gave him
He writes this way in
all his letters,
speaking in them about such matters.
Some parts of his letters are
hard to understand,
which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the
rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17Therefore, beloved, since you
already know these things,
be on your guard so that you
will not be carried away by the
of the lawless and fall from your secure standing.
But grow in the
grace and knowledge
of our Lord
Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and
to the day of eternity.
Author: 2 Peter 1:1 specifically states that the apostle Peter was the author of 2 Peter. Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter has been challenged more than that of any other book in the New Testament. However, the early church fathers found no good reason to reject it. We find no good reason to reject Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter.
Date of Writing: The Book of 2 Peter was written toward the end of Peter’s life. Since Peter was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero, his death must have occurred prior to A.D. 68. He very likely wrote 2 Peter between A.D. 65 and 68.
Purpose of Writing:
Peter was alarmed that false teachers
were beginning to infiltrate the churches.
He called on Christians to
grow and become strong in their faith so that they could detect and combat the spreading apostasy.
He strongly stressed
the authenticity of
the Word of God
and the sure
return of the Lord Jesus.
2 Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:18: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
The key word is "knowledge," with its related words, occurring at least 13 times in the Book of 2 Peter.
Brief Summary: Knowing that his time was short (2 Peter 1:13-15) and these churches faced immediate danger (2 Peter 2:1-3), Peter called upon the readers to refresh their memories (2 Peter 1:13) and stimulate their thinking (2 Peter 3:1-2) so that they would remember his teaching (2 Peter 1:15). He challenged the believers to become more mature in their faith by adding to it specific Christians virtues, thereby becoming effective and productive in their knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-9). The Old and New Testament writers were set forth as their
authority for their faith
(2 Peter 1:12-21, 3:2, 3:15-16).
Peter desired they become strong in their faith to withstand the false teachers that had crept in and adversely affected the churches.
In his denunciation of them, he described their conduct, their condemnation, and their characteristics (2 Peter chapter 2), and also that they ridiculed the Lord’s Second Coming (2 Peter 3:3-7). For the Christians, Peter taught that the Second Coming is the incentive for holy living (2 Peter 3:14). After a final warning, Peter again encouraged them to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He concluded with a word of praise to his Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18).
Connections: In his denunciation of false prophets, Peter repeats a prevalent Old Testament theme that must have been very familiar to his readers. Many of the early Christians were converted Jews who had been well taught in the law and the prophets. When Peter referred to the “word of the prophets” of the Old Testament in 2 Peter 1:19-21, he at one time denounced false prophets and
affirmed that true prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit who spoke through them
(2 Samuel 23:2). Jeremiah was equally forceful in his criticism of false prophets, asking, “How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?” (Jeremiah 23:26). Clearly, the same deluded false teachers who plagued God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments are still with us, making Peter’s second epistle as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.
Practical Application: Certainly, as Christians in the 21st century, we are nearer to our Lord’s return than the first-century Christians to whom this epistle was written. Through television and other means of mass communications, mature Christians are aware that many charlatans are parading as true Christian leaders, and that immature Christians have been “taken in” by their quackery and false interpretation of Scriptures.
It behooves all born-again Christians
so grounded in the Word
that we will be able
discern truth from error.
The same prescription for growth in faith that Peter gave
(2 Peter 1:5-11),
when applied to our lives, will assure us also a rich reward
"into the eternal kingdom of
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
(2 Peter 1:10-11).
The foundation for our faith
is and always will be
the same Word of God
that Peter preached.
Second Peter 3:18 tells us to
"grow in the grace and knowledge
of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
To grow in grace is to mature as a Christian.
We are saved by grace through faith
and we mature and are sanctified
by grace alone.
We know that grace is a blessing that we don’t deserve.
It is God’s grace that justifies us, sanctifies us, and eventually
glorifies us in heaven.
The sanctification process, becoming more like Christ, is synonymous with growing in grace.
We grow in grace by reading God’s Word and letting it “dwell in us richly” (Colossians 3:16) and by praying.
To grow in grace does not mean gaining more grace from God. God’s grace never increases; it is infinite, it cannot be more, and according to the nature of God, it could never be less. He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him should be saved (John 3:16). How much more grace could there possibly be than that?
But to grow in grace is to
grow in our understanding
of what Jesus did and
to grow in our appreciation of the grace
we have been given.
The more we learn about Jesus,
the more we will appreciate all He has done,
and the more we appreciate
His love and sacrifice for us,
the more we will perceive
grace of God.
Peter also confirms that we need to grow in our knowledge of Jesus and to have that intimate relationship with Him because the more we know of Him, the more of Him will be seen in our lives.
Paul said in Colossians 3:1–4:
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
your minds on things above,
not on earthly things.
For you died,
and your life is now hidden
Christ in God.
When Christ, who is your life, appears,
then you also will appear
with him in glory.”
The Scriptures contain all the knowledge we will ever need to learn of God, His Son, and His Spirit, at least in this life. God`s desire for those He has saved is their sanctification and transformation. He wants us to become more holy like Himself. He wants to transform us into the image of His Son.
The way to do this is by meditating on the Scriptures and applying their principles to our lives as we yield to the conviction and
power of the Holy Spirit
who dwells within us.
Then we will prove 2 Corinthians 3:18: “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord.”
Second Peter 1:10–11 says, “Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (KJV). The clear command is to “make your calling and election sure,” or, as the NIV puts it,
“make every effort to confirm your calling and election.”
A believer’s “calling” is God’s drawing him to salvation. Peter alludes to this calling earlier in the same chapter when he speaks of God
“who called us by his own glory and goodness”
(2 Peter 1:3).
A believer’s “election” is God’s selection of him to be saved
from before time began.
The doctrine of election or predestination is taught elsewhere in the Bible, too (see Romans 8:29–30; Ephesians 1:5, 11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; and 2 Timothy 2:10). God is the one who calls and elects, so the believer’s calling and election are already “sure” from God’s point of view; therefore, the command for believers to diligently make their calling and election sure must refer to the believers’ point of view. God wants us to have assurance of our salvation, and the best way to do that is to be pursuing godly virtues and actively growing in the Christian life.
Second Peter 1:5–7 lists godly qualities that believers should add to their faith—goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. Those qualities are the “these things” of verse 10, and the reader is urged thereby to “make your calling and election sure.” In doing “these things,” one will never stumble and is promised “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom” (verse 11).
On the surface 2 Peter 1 seems to affirm that one’s salvation depends on having the qualities listed in verses 5–7. On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that Peter is addressing those who already have “faith,” which he lists as the first (and foundational) quality. Also, Peter presumes that some of those who did not demonstrate these qualities had in fact been saved, for “whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins” (2 Peter 1:9). So, being cleansed from past sin does not automatically mean a person will grow in goodness, knowledge, etc., but, if he doesn’t “possess these qualities in increasing measure” (verse 8),
he is spiritually myopic and forgetful of God’s grace.
Let’s examine the command to “make your calling and election sure” within the context of what Peter says before that:
1:3. The readers’ “godly life” is somehow being threatened by their circumstances, and we know from Peter’s previous epistle
that they have been suffering
(1 Peter 1:6);
the apostle is therefore providing reassurance
that they have all the resources they need to
persevere within their knowledge of God
(the One who called them).
1:4. Peter adds that God’s “glory and goodness” entails “very great and precious promises” through which his readers “may participate
in the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” God’s goal is to produce a holy people for Himself (see 1 Peter 1:15–16). Believers should have the same goal to become that holy people.
1:5–7. It is clear that Peter presumes that his readers have already exercised faith and that these qualities are to be added to their faith. These same virtues allow believers to participate in the divine nature (verse 4) and thus distinguish themselves as a holy people. In his epistle, James explains how these qualities “add” to faith and enable one to become “a friend of God”
1:8. Here is mentioned a fruitful “knowledge” of Christ (compare verse 3) that will enable believers to display God’s character effectively. This comes through maintaining a close relationship with Christ—Jesus called it “abiding” in Him (John 15).
1:9. When the qualities listed in verses 5–7 are not present in a believer, it betrays the fact that he’s forgotten his true identity in Christ. Believers have been “cleansed from . . . past sins,” and we must not forget it. By persisting in sin, believers are “blinded” to their new identity as a holy people for God (compare 1 Peter 4:1–6 and Romans 6:1–2).
1:10. In light of all that comes before, we should see the exhortation to “make your calling and election sure” as a call to “shore up” our righteous character as a holy people. The compound verb translated “to make sure” can mean either to “verify” (in the sense of assuring oneself of something that may not be true) or to
"guarantee” or “protect” something that is
It is the latter meaning in view here: we are told to “shore up” our “calling and election” to be holy as God is holy by exhibiting the list of behaviors in verses 5–7, so we do not “fall” (compare 2 Peter 3:17) into past sinful behavior
(see 1 Peter 4:1–6).
Those who successfully display the qualities
in verses 5–7 are the ones who are assured of their salvation
and can go through this world confident
that they will
“receive a rich welcome” as friends of God and co-heirs with Christ.
one’s calling and election sure
is to live out the Christian life
power of the Holy Spirit.
They will know they have eternal life
(see 1 John 5:13);
they will be living testimonies of the
power of God
“Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
"Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Just as he was speaking,
The Lord turned and looked
straight at Peter.
Then Peter remembered the word the
Lord had spoken to him
rarely agrees with
.Listen, my beloved brethren:
Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith
and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to
those who love Him?
But you have dishonored the poor man.
Do not the rich oppress you and
drag you into the courts?
Do they not blaspheme
that noble name by which
you are called?
a. Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom: Though it is easy for man to be partial to the rich, God isn’t partial to them. In fact, since riches are an obstacle to the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24), there is a sense in which God specially blesses the poor of this world.
i. They are chosen… to be rich in faith because the
poor of this world simply have
more opportunities to
Therefore they may be far more
rich in faith
than the rich man.
"The rich man may trust Him; but the poor man must… the poor man has
no fortress in which to hide,
except the two strong arms of God.”
ii. “This seems to refer to Matthew 11:5:
And the poor have the
preached to them.
These believed on the Lord Jesus, and
found his salvation;
while the rich
despised, neglected, and persecuted him.”
b. Has not God chosen: The poor are chosen in the
sense that the poor
more readily respond to God in faith,
fewer obstacles to the kingdom.
i. “Church history demonstrates that comparatively more poor people than rich
have responded to the
ii. When we choose people by what we can see on the surface,
we miss the mind of God.
Remember that Judas appeared to be
leadership material than Peter.
iii. What is more, we can say that God has chosen the poor in the sense that when
He added humanity to His deity and
came to earth,
He came into poverty.
"There is nothing that men dread more than poverty. They will break every commandment in the Decalogue rather than be poor.
But it is God’s chosen
He had one opportunity only of living our life,
He chose to be born of parents too poor to present more than
two doves at his presentation
in the temple.”