Original Research

Hebrews 12:9 revisited: The background of the phrase ‘and live’

Albert J. Coetsee
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a5863 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5863 | © 2020 Albert J. Coetsee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 October 2019 | Published: 12 March 2020

About the author(s)

Albert J. Coetsee, Unit for Reformed Theology and the Development of the SA Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


In this article, the background of the phrase ‘and live’ in Hebrews 12:9 is investigated. Although most scholars are silent on the matter, the majority of those who venture to propose a possible background vaguely refer to Proverbs 6:23b. Only a handful of scholars propose other backgrounds. This article aims to fill this lacuna. The first part of the article gives an overview of the argument of Hebrews 12:9 in its context to determine a baseline for the interpretation of the phrase ‘and live’. This is followed by investigating eight possible backgrounds of the phrase and weighing arguments for and against each proposal. Next, the article integrates the findings and concludes that, of all the proposed backgrounds, Deuteronomy 8:1–5 fits the best. If this is correct, the writer uses the phrase ‘and live’ in Hebrews 12:9 to positively exhort his hearers to live life as their heavenly Father intended it, now up to eternity, by wholeheartedly obeying his revelation in his Son.


Hebrews; Hebrews 12:4–13; Hebrews 12:9; Deuteronomy 8:1–5; Proverbs 3:11–12; Proverbs 6:23; live; life


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