Heb.12:1-2—Do my eyes need fixing?

When I read about “fixing my eyes on Jesus,” I picture myself repairing or getting my eyes fixed through eye surgery. Is the writer of Hebrews telling me that my eyes have problems with sight? I would prefer either focus (God’s Word) or keeping (NLT, HCSB). And to fix (T/NIV, NASB) sounds like I have a medical problem, and it’s a little outdated. Looking (ESV, NRSV) sounds rather weak and inadequate describes the context. But according to the underlying definition in the Greek, all our translations are still inadequate.

The underlying Greek word, aphorao, and it means: “to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something” (used 2 times in NT). The writer didn’t use a similar word, atenizo, which has a slightly different meaning, which is: “to fix the eyes on, gaze upon” (used 14 times in NT). The word

aphorao implies that we look away from all other things that distract or has distracted one from Jesus and to refocus or re-fix our eyes on Jesus. What is implied is that we turn our eyes away from the former things that caused us to be trapped in sin. None of our current translations that use fix, focus, keeping, and looking adequately describes the real meaning of the word aphorao. We need to translate this better.

  • We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith (God’s Word)
  • And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (TNIV)
  • and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (NIV)
  • and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (NASB)
  • And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith (NLT2)
  • and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith (HCSB)
  • and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (ESV)
  • and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (NRSV)
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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

5 thoughts on “Heb.12:1-2—Do my eyes need fixing?”

  1. Kevin, perhaps “concentrate” would be a better word for it, though I personally don’t have that problem with “fixed”. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but “fixing our eyes on Jesus” makes perfect sense to me. Isn’t that where we get our word “fixate, fixated, fixation”? It’s concentrating, but more.

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  2. I wonder if there is also a sense of using blinders to block out everything except what is in front of you. Sounds like a good idea for a sermon illustration…

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  3. Gary:

    “Concentrate” is an alternative to the four we already have. What came to my mind was something to express the idea of turning away from distractions and refocussing one’s gaze on Jesus. English is limited and we don’t have a word to express this fully unless we use many words. Sometimes I think the Amplified Bible is helpful when the English language falls short in providing an adequate expression.

    Elshaddai:

    Now that IS another way of defining this idea of fixing, focus, or “concentrate”. Sounds like you may have a good sermon idea coming up.

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  4. Sounds like you may have a good sermon idea coming up.

    Oh no, not me. I’m just a layman sitting in the pews (when I’m not blowing on my trombone). But I did post a “song of the day” on my blog inspired by this article.

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