The climax of the exposition on faith really arrives with Jesus in Hebrews 12. Paul starts the letter with Jesus, who is the “coming one” and who “will not delay” (Heb. 10:37, ESV), and then concludes it with Jesus the “perfecter” of our faith (Heb. 12:2, ESV). Jesus is the “author and perfecter of faith” (NASB). This means that Jesus is the One who makes faith possible and is the example who perfectly embodies what a life of faith is all about. With Jesus, faith has reached its perfect expression.
Jesus is the “founder” (or “author,” or “pioneer”) of our faith in at least three senses.
First, He is the only one who has finished the race in its fullest sense. The others talked about in the previous chapter have not yet reached their goal (Heb. 11:39, 40). Jesus, however, has entered God’s rest in heaven and is seated at the Father’s right hand. We, together with these others, will reign with Jesus in heaven (Rev. 20:4).
Second, it was actually Jesus’ perfect life that has made it possible for these others to run their race (Heb. 10:5–14). If Jesus had not come, the race of everyone else would have been futile.
Finally, Jesus is the reason we have faith. As one with God, He expressed the faithfulness of God toward us. God never gave up in His efforts to save us, and that is why we will reach the reward in the end if we don’t give up. Jesus ran with patience and remained faithful, even when we were faithless (2 Tim. 2:13). Our faith is only a response to His faithfulness.
In the end, Jesus is the “perfecter” of faith because He perfectly exemplifies how the race of faith is run. How did He run? He laid aside every weight by giving up everything for us (Phil. 2:5–8). He never sinned, ever. Jesus held His sight firmly on the reward, which was the joy set before Him, that of seeing the human race redeemed by His grace. So, He endured misunderstanding and abuse; He stared down the shame of the cross (Heb. 12:2, 3).
Now it is our turn to run. Though we can never achieve what Jesus did in our own strength, we have His perfect example before us, and so by faith in Him, and keeping our eyes on Him (as have the others before us), we press on ahead in faith, trusting in His promises of a great reward, and by His grace are assured of finishing the race and claiming the victor’s crown of life.