The writer of Hebrews says Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NKJV). This is a powerful image that can deepen our understanding and appreciation of Christ and his place in the scheme of redemption.
The context of this passage is crucial. Hebrews is written to Jewish Christians who are contemplating a return to Judaism. Apostasy is discussed in 10:26-39 so they will understand what is at stake. In chapter eleven, they are reminded of the heroes of the faith who maintained their focus on God and remained faithful against great odds.
“Since they are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” they should never abandon the faith that sustained them (Hebrews 12:1). While these examples were in Judaism and they were contemplating a return to that faith, they should trust God above all. And if God is asking them to believe in and be obedient to his son, then they should do so. These heroes of the faith were not faithful simply to the Law of Moses alone, but to God. These Christians should see their duty demands no less in their day.
The writer of Hebrews uses a sports illustration to show that a runner must remove all the weight that can slow him down in the race. It is not a short sprint, but a marathon. In 12:3 the argument goes from the endurance of the disciples to that of the Lord. If those earlier disciples could endure the challenges on their faith, then surely they can in their day.
And since Christ endured the suffering for their very souls, they can stay in him until they can be with him forever. Heaven will be worth all the pain and frustrations. The same is true for Christians today. Jesus paved the way for our journey to heaven. He is the pathfinder.
We are to “focus” on Christ as the perfect example. To “focus” is to “turn our eyes away from other things and fix them on something; to turn one’s mind to” some task./1 When we turn our eyes and focus on Christ, we “fix [our] eyes trustingly” on Jesus./2 The Christ becomes our only source of salvation and hope (John 14:6; 1 Peter 2:21).
Using the analogy of running a race, we must never take our eyes off of the goal. We must not put our focus on the other runners nor the crowd. Someone walking the tightrope must not look down to examine the dangers. He also needs others there who will keep reminding him not to look down, but to stay focused on the goal ahead.
The “author” of our faith refers to “one who takes the lead in anything and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter.”/3 Or, “one who begins something and thus supplies the impetus for something.”/4
Christ is the originator and completer of our faith. He is also the pioneer who blazes the trail before us as the perfect example. Christ is the “only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16) who shows us the Father (John 14:9). He was sent to be the sacrifice for our sins and his blood remits sins (Romans 5:6-8).
Jesus is indeed the “author and finisher of our faith.” We have his grace (Ephesians 2:8,9), his plan (John 14:6), his blood (1 John 1:7), his church (Matthew 16:18), his doctrine (John 12:48; John 1:1) and his inevitable return to bring judgment and to retrieve his own (Matthew 25:31-33; John 14:1-6).
The only question is whether we will accept him and become a Christian so we can be saved and bear his name to all men (Romans 10:9,10; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
1/ Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman, 1977), 90.
2/ Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, Frederick W. Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 127.
3/ Thayer, 77.
4/ Bauer, 112.
Will we ignore Christ who offers everything for a world which offers nothing?