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Hebrews 12:17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

< Hebrews 12:15
Hebrews 12:17 >

      17. afterwards--Greek, "even afterward." He despised his birthright, accordingly also he was despised and rejected when he wished to have the blessing. As in the believer's case, so in the unbeliever's, there is an "afterwards" coming, when the believer shall look on his past griefs, and the unbeliever on his past joys, in a very different light from that in which they were respectively viewed at the time. Compare "Nevertheless afterward," &c. Heb 12:11, with the "afterward" here.
      when he would--when he wished to have. "He that will not when he may, when he will, shall have nay" (Pr 1:24-30; Lu 13:34, 35; 19:42).
      he was rejected--not as to every blessing, but only that which would have followed the primogeniture.
      he found no place of repentance--The cause is here put for the effect, "repentance" for the object which Esau aimed at in his so-called repentance, namely, the change of his father's determination to give the chief blessing to Jacob. Had he sought real repentance with tears he would have found it (Mt 7:7). But he did not find it because this was not what he sought. What proves his tears were not those of one seeking true repentance is, immediately after he was foiled in his desire, he resolved to murder Jacob! He shed tears, not for his sin, but for his suffering the penalty of his sin. His were tears of vain regret and remorse, not of repentance. "Before, he might have had the blessing without tears; afterwards, no matter how many tears he shed, he was rejected. Let us use the time" (Lu 18:27)! [BENGEL]. ALFORD explains "repentance" here, a chance, by repenting, to repair (that is, to regain the lost blessing). I agree with him that the translation, instead of "repentance," "no place for changing HIS FATHER'S mind," is forced; though doubtless this is what was the true aim of the "repentance" which he sought. The language is framed to apply to profane despisers who wilfully cast away grace and seek repentance (that is, not real; but escape from the penalty of their sin), but in vain. Compare "afterward," Mt 25:11, 12. Tears are no proof of real repentance (1Sa 24:16, 17; contrast Ps 56:8).
      it--the blessing, which was the real object of Esau, though ostensibly seeking "repentance."

JFB.


Questions Related to this Verse

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Hebrews Images and Notes

The Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 1:1-3 - God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 8:6 - But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Hebrews 11:1-3 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews in The New Testament - A Brief Overview

Painting of the Apostle Paul by Rembrandt - 1657
Painting of a Hebrew Scribe

Introduction to The Book of Hebrews

Brief Summary. The Main theme of the book of Hebrews can be found in the opening verses. Jesus Christ is clearly greater than anything that the Old Covenant had produced. Jesus is the great high priest, the eternal mediator between God and man who never stops mediating, and is the perfect fulfillment of all prophecies and types and shadows pointing to the Hebrew Messiah within the Old Covenant. The book of Hebrews unveils Christ as the One who is greater than each of the types and shadows that were pointing to him in the Old Covenant. Moses was the great lawgiver, but Christ was the perfect fulfillment of the law. The high priest in the Old Testament offered sacrifices each year, Jesus the eternal high Priest offered himself once and for all. The promises contained in the Old Covenant were for a season, but the New Testament is  built on better promises that are forever written on men's hearts.

Summary of The Book of Hebrews

Purpose. The main purpose of the epistle is to establish Christianity as being superior to the Law. The writer exalts the superiority of Christ to angels, to Moses and Joshua, and to the Levitical high-priesthood. The book of Hebrews also makes a contrast between the tabernacle and its sacrifices and the sacrifice of Christ. The write strongly warns the Hebrew Christian to remain faithful to the Christian religion and its principles and to separate from Judaism, which had served its purpose and which was about to lose their rituals, sacrifices, and Temple.

Audience. The writer titles his epistle "To the Hebrews" and every chapter and verse of the book is clearly designed to instruct and encourage those who were Hebrew in blood and had become followers of Jesus Christ. It appears that the Temple was still standing at the time this epistle was written because it is often alluded to.

Author. Unknown, evidence points to Paul. There has been much controversy regarding the authorship of the book of Hebrews. Some say that it was written by Barnabas, others say it was Luke, or Apollos. The author of the book does not state his name, but it is definitely Pauline in style. A greater number of scholars have attributed this book to Paul than any other author. The writer refers to "our brother Timothy" (Hebrews 13:23) and "they of Italy" (Hebrews 13:24). It also appears that the writer was imprisoned, from his request for prayers that he might be restored to his readers. Paul was imprisoned several times and this could refer to any of those. The only absolute conclusion is that which Origen expressed: "God only knows who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews."

Date. The book of Hebrews was probably written shortly after AD 60.

Place Written. It says in Hebrews 13:24 "They of Italy salute you" and this phrase indicates that the letter was written from Italy. It is probable that the Epistle was written near his second Roman imprisonment, about 60-62 AD.

Outline of the Book of Hebrews

Christ Greater Than the Prophets and Angels - Chapters 1-2
Christ Greater Than Moses and Joshua - Chapters 3-4
Christ Greater Than the Aaronic Priesthood - Chapters 5-8
Christ's New Covenant Greater Than the Old - Chapters 8-10
Faith in Christ Greater Than the Law - Chapters 11-13

Jesus written in Hebrew
The Name Jesus In Ancient Hebrew Text
"Yeshua" in First Century Hebrew Text. This is how the name "Jesus" would have been written in ancient Hebrew documents. The four letters or consonants from right to left are Yod, Shin, Vav, Ayin (Y, SH, OO, A). Jesus is the Greek name for the Hebrew name Joshua or Y'shua which means "The LORD or Yahweh is Salvation".

Hebrews Maps and Resources

Map of the Roman Empire (14 A.D.) - This map reveals the Roman Empire during the time shortly after the birth of Jesus, in 14 AD at the time of the death of Augustus. The order which prevailed in this extensive empire, the good military roads, and the use of Koine Greek as the general language of culture throughout the area were among the factors which multiplied the rapid spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Color Map)

Map of Paul's First Missionary Journey (48 A.D.) - This map reveals the areas in Asia Minor where Paul visited in his first missionary journey. Around 48 AD, in the springtime, Paul and his companions Barnabas and Mark were sent on a mission from the church in Antioch. This would be the first of Paul's Missionary Journey's. (Color Map)

Map of Paul's Second Missionary Journey (51 A.D.) - This map reveals the areas in Asia and Greece where Paul visited in his second missionary journey. Paul re-visits a couple cities in Asia, one of which was Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead a few years earlier. He later has a vision that leads him over to Greece and Paul and his companions travel and minister in various cities in Greece (Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth. Later Paul returns to Ephesus and finally to Caesarea and Antioch. (Color Map)

Map of Paul's Third Missionary Journey (54 A.D.) - This map reveals the areas in Asia and Greece where Paul visited in his third missionary journey. On Paul's third missionary journey he returned to the cities he had first visited on his first missionary journey. During this time he decided to remain in Ephesus for about 3 years, and this city was the main focus of his activities and an important Christian community (Acts 19). (Color Map)

Map of the New Testament World - This map reveals the "Nations" within the ancient world during the first century A.D., the time of the New Testament. The map includes the areas of Israel, Asia, Greece, and Italy. (Color Map)

Map of New Testament Greece This map reveals the cities within Greece in the ancient world during the first century A.D.,The map includes the principal cities of Greece like: Athens, Corinth, and Thessalonica, and provinces like Macedonia and Achaia. (Color Map)

Map of New Testament Asia - This map shows the cities within Asia Minor during the first century A.D., the time of the New Testament. The map includes the principal cities of Asia including Tarsus, Ephesus, and Colossae, and provinces like Galatia and Pamphilia. (Color Map)