“Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord!”

“Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord!”


Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV)

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:


A problem arises when we attempt to read a text, especially from the Bible, and conclude for the writer. This is extremely dangerous. Many have read texts of Scripture in an eisegetical manner and have hence arrived in error. One of these texts is Hebrews 12:14. Many have used this verse to scare believers into thinking that what Christ did ALONE is not enough to save a man and keep him saved— you have to pursue peace with all men and holiness if you want to “see the Lord” Very few have tried to find out what the writer was REALLY saying? An honest exegesis will let us understand better.


We see from numerous antecedent texts that the writer SUPPORTS the doctrine of eternal salvation.


Hebrews 5:9 (NKJV)

9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey (hupakouo— respond to by believing in) Him


Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV)

25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.


Hebrews 8:12 (NKJV)

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”


Hebrews 10:14 (NKJV)

14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.


He’s not asking believers TO BE holy in order to “see” God. He ALREADY tells you that you are.


Hebrews 10:10 (NKJV)

10 By that will we have been SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.


The word “sanctified” as used here is the Greek word “hēgiasmenoi” which means to be made holy, that is, set apart. To be free from the guilt of sin, to be purified by expiation. The word in the Greek is in the perfect passive participle which means that our holiness is ALREADY a done deal. It’s happened ALREADY. We are not in the PROCESS of becoming holy, we ALREADY are. The passive tense means that we did not make ourselves holy, the action was performed ON us. How? By the offering of the body of Jesus Christ! His offering made us holy! We are holy once for all!


Remember that this is an ENTIRE letter and the SAME pattern of thoughts permeates the entire letter. It wasn’t chapterized and versed at the writing. Chapterizing and versing the Bible was a human conjecture. It was originally a WHOLE letter. So, the writer CANNOT begin with eternal security and end on eternal insecurity.


Now, follow closely..


What’s the context of Hebrews 12:14?


See what came before


Hebrews 12:12-13 (NKJV)


12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.


Before this, the writer talks about the discipline of God, that is, persecution which believers face because of their faith. He encourages them to stand strong in vs. 12-13. It speaks of the CONDUCT of the believer not his STATE. After writing about the STATE of the Man in Christ, the writer goes on to talk about our conduct with one another and with the world (which persecutes us). The whole context speaks of CONDUCT.


Now to the text


Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV)


14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord


In the original Greek, “people” is not present. It simply says: Pursue peace with all. It is italicized in the KJV and NKJV. Italicized words in the Bible means that they were not in the original Greek (or Hebrew) manuscript but were added there by the translators for easy understanding. To make the passage more comprehensible. Do you get that?


Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV)


14 Pursue peace with all people, AND holiness, without which no one will see the Lord


Now, the word “and” used here is the Greek word “kai” It doesn’t necessarily mean “and” in ALL cases. There are some peculiar cases in the Greek (such as this) where it means “that is.” It is a DESCRIPTIVE conjunction. It is used to give further explanation to something. It is called the TSKS (The-Substantive-Kai-Substantive) rule in Bible interpretation. God bless Granville Sharp for his work on this rule in his monograph trying to proof the divinity of Jesus. It denotes farther description of the first-named person or thing.


For example:


This is Josh.


Which Josh?


Kai (that is) Banks

The Josh we are referring to is the one Banks.


It is used to further describe a word. Do you follow? It is the same Greek word used in John 3:5


5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water AND the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.


Many have tried to use this to justify the doctrine of water baptism. They say unless you are born of water, that is, baptized by immersion, you cannot see the kingdom of God. Some even say that there is no salvation without immersion in water. This is interesting because water in that text is simply metaphorical. i.e. unless a man be born of water, THAT IS, the Spirit! The water referred to is THE SPIRIT! This speaks of the New Birth not water baptism! Do you see that? The succedent text proves it


John 3:6 (NKJV)

6 That which is BORN of the flesh is flesh, and that which is BORN of the SPIRIT is SPIRIT.


Not referring to water baptism but being born again of the Spirit.


John 3:5 (NKJV)

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and (kai- that is) the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.


Hear Paul,


1 Corinthians 1:13 (NKJV)

17 For Christ did not send me to BAPTIZE, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.


He didn’t send us either. We are to preach the Gospel. Simple!


Further examples include


2 Corinthians 1:3 (NKJV)


3 Blessed be the God and (kai- that is) Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort


2 Corinthians 3:11 (NKJV)


31 The God and (kai- that is) Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.


Further describing the Father.


Luke 20:27 (KJV)


Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and (kai- that is) the God of Isaac, and (kai-that is) the God of Jacob.


Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not have different gods. The God of Abraham is the God of Isaac and the God of Isaac is the God of Jacob. One and the same. He is the God of both the living and the dead. All are alive TO Him.


Acts 13:9 (NKJV)


9 Then Saul, who also is called (kai- that is) Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him


Saul who is also Paul, further describing who Saul is.


Hebrews 3:1 (NKJV)


3 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and (kai- that is) High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,


The Apostle of our confession is further described as our High Priest, Jesus Christ. The Apostle is not Paul, Peter or John. The Apostle referred to is Jesus Christ. Do you get that?


Good, so “kai” applies to Hebrews 12:14 as well.


14 Pursue peace with all people, and (kai-that is) holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:


The holiness being referred to in the context is “pursuing peace with all.” To pursue peace with all men is “holiness” in that context. Now, WHO are the men that will not see the Lord and HOW will they not see the Lord?


Pay attention carefully..


There are different words in the Greek for “see.” There is “idou” which means “to look.” Then there is “ide” which means “to see or behold” But do you know that NEITHER is used here?


The word “see” as used here is a different Greek word. It is the Greek word “horaó.” Horaó means “to experience, to see with the mind, to perceive.” So, what is the writer of Hebrews saying?


In your CONDUCT, live peaceably with all men for if you don’t, men CANNOT experience God in your life. You are the means by which men PERCEIVE Christ. In other words, let others see Jesus in you. This is not a SALVATION verse but a CONDUCT verse.


We could interpret the verse thus


Live peaceably with all men, this is holy conduct. For if you don’t, men cannot experience God, whom you profess, in your life. You are the only means by which men can perceive the invisible God. Make Him evident and visible in your conduct. (Hebrews 12:14, Josh Banks Version)


And yes, this interpretation is consistent with the post text.


Hebrews 12:15 (NKJV)

15 LOOKING CAREFULLY lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any ROOT OF BITTERNESS springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;


See that? Look at your conduct to ensure that in your CONDUCT no man falls short of the grace of God, that is, is deficient in showing unmerited favor to all men. Prevent bitterness in your heart, for this causes trouble amongst yourselves. This trouble will defile many. The word “defile” is the Greek word “miainó” which simply means “to corrupt.” Bitterness will corrupt. Thayer defines the word as “to dye with another colour” Strong defines it as “to contaminate morally.” Bitterness in the heart will cause you to act contrary to yourself, you will be contaminated MORALLY, hence, watch it cause men are watching! They can only experience God via their experience with you.


Do you see it now? A poor interpretation of Scripture will ALWAYS lead to error but a proper and diligent interpretation will help us understand things better.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2016.


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