In Heb. 12:1 , Paul is mentioning an 'easily entangling' kind of sin.

What is this meaning of this sin?

According to Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers, there is no exact answer to this.

Whatever view be taken of the one peculiar word, it does not seem possible that the phrase can point to what is known as a “besetting sin,” the sin which in the case of any one of us is proved to possess especial power.

But maybe some of you has an hermeneutic approach to this?

  • ESV "sin" as opposed to "the sin".
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 17:14

5 Answers 5


Paul Ellingworth (The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, page 102) says "apart from passing references to adultery and the love of money (13:4f), Hebrews says little about individual sins". Thus, we can not expect to find clear evidence in the text of a particular sin the author had in mind. However, Ellingworth goes on, to say "The fundamental sin for Hebrews is that of unfaithfulness to God". We can certainly see unfaithfulness to God as an entangling sin, so this would fit the context of verse 12:1 nicely.

On page 637, Ellingworth tells us that verses 12:18-24 form the rhetorical climax of the entire book so I believe this context requires the sin of verse 12:1 must be a momentous sin. Once again, this leads to concern about unfaithfulness to God.


In Chapter 11, the writer of Hebrews defines faith and states why it is important (ESV):

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (11:1)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (11:6)

Throughout the "Faith Hall of Fame" the writer makes the point that it is not faith in general, or faith in God, they are describing; rather it is faith that God will fulfill His promises even though those who received the promises did not live to see the fulfillment:

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised... (11:13)

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised (11:39)

Anything that is not of faith is sin:

... For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

So I think the sin which so easily entangles (12:1) is a lack of faith that God will will not only fulfill His OT promises, but that He has better promises for NT believers that will also be fulfilled:

since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (11:40)


In Hebrews 12:1, what is the 'easily entangling sin'?

In chapter Hebrews 11, Paul comments sixteen faithful men of faith and defines faith as follows.

Hebrews 12:1 (NASB)

" Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."

The Lack of faith is "The Sin That Easily Entangles Us"

The apostle Paul referred to lack of faith as “the sin that easily entangles us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Paul included himself and so likely admitted to his own tendency to get ‘easily entangled’ in episodes of momentary weakness of faith.

Two episodes of momentary loss of faith are:

Is that of Zechariah when he did not believe the angel who informed him that his wife would become pregnant. (Luke 1:18-20) And the occasion when Jesus’ apostles were unable to perform a cure because of their "little faith."(Mat. 17:18-20 ) Since it was only a momentary loss of faith, these individuals continued to enjoy God’s approval.

The Bible also includes examples of people who lost their trust in God and suffered serious consequences. For instance, many Israelites who left Egypt were barred from entering the Promised Land because of their lack of faith. In one incident they even spoke directly against God, saying:

Numbers 21:5, 6 (NASB)

5 The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”

As a sign of his displeasure, God sent poisonous snakes to punish them.

6 "The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died."

The inhabitants of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, missed the privilege of seeing more miracles performed in their territory because they lacked faith.

Matthew 13:58 NIV

"And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith."

Paul warns fellow Christians of the peril of lack of faith

Hebrews 3:12 (NASB)

" Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God."



Let us lay aside every weight (every burdensome yoke of the commandments of men) and THE Sin….the judging of others using that weight….the doctrines and commandments of men… as a basis for.

The sin does easily beset us when we serve the carnal commandments of men as we easily become judgmental of others who do not serve them. We want to be seen as “wise” by the keeping of certain doctrines and commandments of men and the using of them to judge others who do not keep them.

Hebrews 12:1 KJV (1) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Christ has made us free and so we are to lay aside the handwritings of church dogmas (what one thinks is true or believes –such as the handwriting of the tenets of faith) which are burdensome to keep.

They entangle us with the yoke of bondage as many serve THE sin by the judging of others (supposedly in God’s authority) with those handwritings. We must not be in bondage to the sin as Christ has freed us.

Again, THE sin …the judging of others…does easily beset us when we serve the handwritings of church dogmas as we easily can become judgmental of others who do not serve them. Judge not lest we be judged.

Galatians 5:1 KJV (1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

He made us free from the handwritings of the church scribes of things that many “believe” are true as our trespasses have been forgiven by the nailing of them to His cross.

The handwritings (the churches’ documents: constitutions, tenets, ordinances, by-laws, etc) are against us and are contrary to us but He blots them out and frees us from the serving and worshipping of them which in turn serves the sin when we judge others. He sets us free from them.

Colossians 2:13-17 KJV (13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

People JUDGE others using their handwritings of church “dogmas”… of what they think are true in their own minds to keep (their church tenets of faith, etc.) and are serving THE Sin by doing so.

The wages of THE Sin is the death. Our mortal body dies because of the serving of the sin…the judging of others as “evildoers” when they do not keep the handwritings of church dogmas.

Men desire to be teachers of the Law but do not keep the whole law with their picking and choosing of what commandments is included in their respective handwritings. They wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction.

(16) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (17) Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

The Sin is the same Sin from the beginning.

Desiring to be seen as “wise”, many serve the sin in the lie. They love and practice the lie and have the delusion of "peace and safety" in doing so.

Genesis 3:1-6 KJV (1) Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (2) And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

The woman changes the truth of God IN the lie by adding a carnal commandment…. “neither shall you touch it” ….to God’s commandment and then presented it as though God had commanded it when He did not.

(3) But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Professing themselves as wise, they become fools as they changed the truth of God in THE lie and worship and serve the “creature”…that is, the formation of the carnal commandment (ordinance)…more than the Creator.

“Neither shall you touch it” was added and changed the truth of God in the lie. This changing of the truth of God with an added carnal commandment then becomes a basis for speaking evil of others in judgment. They judge others who do not keep the carnal commandment.

Romans 1:25 KJV (25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

“You shall not surely die” = “Killing, you shall not die”. There is supposedly peace and safety for “killing” another….being judge, jury and executioner by evil speaking of them.

Genesis 3: (4) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

“For God does know”….that is, you are supposedly doing the “killing” another (judging another) with evil speaking in God’s authority.

“then your eyes shall be opened”….that is, you shall be seen as “wise”. Professing themselves as “wise” is being desirous of their own vain glory.

“you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”……that is, be as judges (supposedly for God in His authority) which know what or who is good and evil and judge accordingly.

(5) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Professing themselves as wise, they became fools.

(6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the using of the mouth to speak evil of others in the judging of them. We use the mouth to both bless God and to curse others ….which should not be.

If we speak evil of our brothers (who do not follow our handwriting of our church dogmas), then we are JUDGING (“you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”). We are then not a doer of the law of Christ (love your neighbor as yourself) but are being a judge when there is only One Judge of another. Judging is not loving your neighbor as yourself.

James 4:11-12 KJV (11) Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

All of the judging of others to “hell” is being done by the use of the handwriting of the church scribes as a basis for. This is the serving and worshipping of the “creature”….the ordinances of men….more than God.

We are told there is only One Lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy. Who are we to judge another using the added carnal laws….the commandments of men?

(12) There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

We cannot eat from that “tree”. Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing of God (good) and also the cursing of men (evil)…speaking evil of them in judgment. Either make the tree good or make it bad as it cannot be both. the fruit of that "tree" is death.

James 3:9-18 KJV (9) Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (10) Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Can a fountain send forth from the same place sweet water and bitter?

(11) Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (12) Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

The woman in the garden desired to be seen as wise (being desirous of vain glory) took of that tree.

Yet who is the wise man and endued with knowledge among us? It is shown by good behavior his works with meekness of wisdom not by speaking evil with the mouth wanting to been seen as wise motivated by the envy and strife in the heart.

(13) Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (14) But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. (15) This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (16) For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (17) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (18) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.


So the way Hebrews 12:1 is translated is quite interesting, reason being is that the word we find G266 hamartia "to miss the mark" doesn't ever seem to be translated as THE Sin, as if it was one sin that stands out from the rest.

Matthew 1:21 - “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Luke 1:77 - To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins

Act 5:31 - “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

It's possible we might be misunderstanding what Hebrews 12:1 was trying to say because of the word "The" placed in the context, the EXB Bible does seem to explain it a little better though.

Heb 12:1 EXB "let us run the race that is before us ·and never give up [with endurance/perseverance]. ·We should ·remove from our lives [get rid of; cast aside] anything that ·would get in the way [impedes/hinders us] and the sin that so easily ·holds us back"

It seems to be saying The Sin in General that holds us back, rather than One Sin in particular.

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