1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a large crowd of spectators [Note: Christians are pictured here as being in a crowded arena, performing in the games], we should lay aside every [excessive] weight and sin that so easily entangle us, and with perseverance, we should run the race [of life] that lies before us. 2 We should fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and completer of the [or, "our"] faith. [Note: Jesus is here pictured as the one who completely fulfills the life of faith, or who provides us with the ability to live such a life]. [And] because He could look forward to joy, He endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right side of God's throne.
3 Now think about how Jesus endured such opposition against Himself from sinners, so that you do not grow weary and become discouraged [yourself]. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of [shedding] blood in your struggle against sin. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that was addressed to you as sons? [Prov. 3:11f says], "My son, do not take the discipline of the Lord lightly, and do not get discouraged when He rebukes you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and punishes every child He accepts."
7 [For the suffering] you are enduring [is] for your discipline. God is dealing with you as He does with [His] children, for what child is not disciplined by his father? 8 But if you do not receive [such] discipline, like all of us do, then you are illegitimate children and not true children. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them [for it]; should we not much rather submit to the Father of our spirits [i.e., God], so we can live [spiritually]? 10 For our human fathers disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them; but God disciplines us for our [spiritual] good, so that we may share in His holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant, but painful, at the time [it is received], yet later on it produces a crop of peace and righteousness in [the lives of] those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, [Prov. 4:26 says], "Strengthen your limp hands and weak knees; 13 make straight paths for your feet," so that crippled limbs will not remain [permanently] disabled, but rather will be healed. [Note: The idea here is "remove all barriers to spiritual growth so you can live a faithful life"].
14 Actively seek to live in peace with all people. And be dedicated to God, because no one will see God without this. 15 Look carefully [at how you are living] so that no one falls away from God's unearned favor, and that no "poisonous plant sprouts up" to cause trouble and corrupt many people [Note: This is an analogy from Deut. 29:16-18 being used as a warning against the evil influence of wicked people], 16 and that no one becomes immoral or ungodly, like Esau, who sold his right to the firstborn son's inheritance for a single meal. 17 For you recall how, even after he [later] wanted to inherit the blessing, Esau was rejected [by his father Isaac. See Gen. 37:35-40]. For he was not able to get his father to change his mind, even though he tearfully begged him [or, "he was not able to change the situation, even though he shed tears over his loss"].
18 [Unlike the Israelites at Mount Sinai] you [Christians] have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that burned with fire [See Ex. 19:12, 16-19; 20:18-21; Deut. 4:11]; to [a place of] darkness, gloom and wind; 19 to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words [from God] that the hearers begged not to have to listen to [anymore]. [See Ex. 20:19]. 20 For those people could not stand [hearing] the command [Ex. 19:12f], "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned [to death]." 21 And the sight [of all these things] was so terrifying that Moses said [See Deut. 9:19], "I tremble with fear." 22 But you [Christians] have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. [Note: These terms describe people who have entered a spiritual relationship with God as part of the church]. [You have come] to a praise gathering of innumerable angels [Note: Christians are here pictured as assembled in worship of God, along with angels], 23 and to the church of the firstborn ones [i.e., those who have received an inheritance from their Father], whose names are recorded in heaven. [See Luke 10:20]. [You have come] to God, who is the Judge of all people, and to the spirits of righteous people who have become [morally] perfect [i.e., that great company of God's people who have gone on to their heavenly reward], 24 and to Jesus, the Mediator of a New Agreement [between God and mankind], and to the sprinkled blood [of Jesus], which says better things [to us] than [the blood of] Abel did. [Note: The contrast seems to be that "Abel's blood called for vengeance and death (See Gen. 4:10) whereas the blood of Christ provides mercy and life"].
25 Pay careful attention so that you do not refuse [to hear] God when He speaks to you. [See verse 9]. For if those people [i.e., the Israelites] did not escape [judgment] when they refused [to hear] Him who warned them on earth [i.e., God speaking through Moses at Mount Sinai], how much less [likely] will we escape [judgment] if we reject Him who warns from heaven [i.e., Christ]? 26 God's voice shook the earth at that time, but now He has promised, saying [Hag. 2:6], "I will cause not only the earth to shake once more, but also heaven [as well]." 27 Now the words, "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken --- that is, the created universe --- so that those things which cannot be shaken will remain. [Note: These "things" have been variously interpreted to be eternal truth, the heavenly kingdom, the new heavens and earth, etc.]. 28 Therefore, we should be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken [i.e., the church. See Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6, 9]. So, with reverence and awe, we should serve God in a way that pleases Him, 29 for our God is truly a consuming fire.