Hebrews 13 Bible study

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Chapter 13

 

Various Instructions for Christian Living.

 

In his usual manner, Paul concludes his letter with various exhortations.

 

1. Let brotherly love continue.

 

The Hebrew believers had been taught by God to love each other as brothers (1 Thess. 4:9), for they had been born of the same father (1 John 5:1). God's love is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5) but we must work to keep it alive (1 Pet. 1:22).

 

2. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

 

Love is to be demonstrated in practical ways. The giving of hospitality (lit. Love of strangers/fellow company) was an eastern custom, but is also a Biblical principle. By showing hospitality for Christ's sake, some had actually entertained angels without knowing it, who then reported to God the Christian love shown them.

 

3. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated--since you yourselves are in the body also.

 

In Paul's time as today, Christians were persecuted for their faith and many were held in prison. We are to remember them (in prayer) as if we ourselves were chained, mistreated and in prison with them. We should feel for them as our equals since this could be any of us - and I'm sure that if we were in jail we would want all the prayers we could get.

 

4. Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

 

Marriage is an institution honoured by virtually all peoples of the world, being ordained by God the creator in the beginning (Gen. 2:21-24). The sexual intercourse within marriage was blessed by God in the beginning as a pure, not sinful act (Gen. 1:27-28). Fornicators are those who have sexual intercourse outside the marriage relationship, and adulterers have a sexual relationship outside of their own marriage. These will all be held to account for their actions by God (Rev. 22:15).

 

5. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU."

 

Our way of life should be free of the love of money and characterized by contentment in God. This is not so much being content with the things you have, as being content because we have the Lord, who is more than all things. He has promised "I will never leave you nor forsake you." As a hymn by Charles Wesley says,  "I have Christ, what want I more?"

 

6. So we may boldly say: "THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?"

 

As we depend entirely on God, we can have complete confidence that "the Lord is my helper." If we have no money, property or future inheritance, we do have a relationship with the Lord Himself. He will provide for us and protect us in such a way that nothing men can do will actually harm us. We may lose all our money in the banks, but we have eternal riches in heaven which no stock market fall can touch. Men may be allowed to take our life we have life that will never end: "so what can man do to me?"

 

7. Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.

 

Those who have instructed us in the Christian faith should be remembered as examples. Their godly way of life is a living lesson never to be forgotten, a pattern for us to follow.

 

8. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 

The Lord who led and guided our elders will be the same to us as he was to them. He does not change, for he cannot change. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is an eternal Saviour, forever the same. Never aging or diminishing in his love, purpose or power. No Christian should ever say "God has shown me a new thing", since with Jesus Christ it is always the "same" thing.

 

9. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

 

Paul does not want the Hebrews to allow themselves to be caught up with the variety of "strange" or "foreign" doctrines. He does not mean any teaching that comes from outside Israel, but simply any teaching which is outside the true doctrines of Christ's gospel. These true doctrines of the grace of God are able to establish us in the faith. On the other hand, those who have been taken up with rules about ceremonial eating have not benefited from their preoccupation.

 

10. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

 

Those who were taken up with the matter of ceremonial foods and sacrifices were not aware that as Christians we have a holy altar in which the priests serving have the tabernacle have no part. At this spiritual altar, we have fellowship with the Lord Jesus, who gave his life for us.

 

11,12,13. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

 

According to the law, the body of the sin offering is burned outside the camp. This was a picture of the Lord Jesus, who was despised and rejected by men, especially his own religious leaders, and crucified outside the Jerusalem wall. He did this that he might make us holy (sanctify) with his own blood. Since our Saviour was thus rejected, we have no hope of being accepted if we side with him. Hence we must "go out to him" bearing the shame of rejection for his sake, which Jesus regarded as great reward (Matt. 5:11-12).

 

14. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.

 

Since we are, as Christ's people, rejected from the earth, we do not have our home here. Instead, we walk this journey of earthly life as pilgrims looking for a better, a heavenly city, which God has assured us will one day be ours.

 

15. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

 

Having contrasted the now useless (devoid) temple sacrifices with Christ's (eternally efficacious) sacrifice, Paul now contrasts them with the spiritual sacrifices believers are to offer. Since God has promised us an eternal home, we should continually offer Him a sacrifice of praise. I have heard it said that we can praise God in many ways, by our lives and by our service - but here Paul is very specific - God wants his children to praise him out loud - giving audible thanks to his name.

 

16. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

 

However, our spirituality is not to end there. Practical ways of showing God's love are always high on the list of Paul's exhortations. Good works take many forms, but all of them show the nature of him who "went around doing good" (Acts 10:38). We are to share what we have with others in need, for this kind of offering pleases God fully.

 

17. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

 

Those who rule over the church (have command, through teaching of word), are to be obeyed and yielded to and their authority respected, since it has been given to them so that they might fulfill their commission. They have been entrusted with the spiritual care of the church and will answer to God for every believer in their charge. By obedience and submission to their authority we will make their task a joy, not a burden and we ourselves will grow in the faith.

 

18. Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.

 

Paul as always coveted the prayers of the Christians wherever he went. His urge to prayer is coupled with a testimony of his conscience. He would not ask them to pray for God's blessing on what was not good and upright.

 

19. But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

 

He especially asked for their prayers that he might be released from prison and be able to visit them again soon. Although Paul was resigned to the will of God, he yet considered that with the help of their fervent prayers, the answer would come sooner. After all that had happened to him in that region, Paul was still prepared to return if God were willing, to minster to the saints there.

 

20,21. Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

Paul describes God as the God of peace, who has peace in his own being (tranquil) and who has brought us into a relationship of peace with himself by the blood which the Lord Jesus shed on the cross for us. Through that blood we are pardoned, reconciled and born again to eternal life - this is the eternal covenant. Having accomplished this through the cross (it is finished) God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, the power that brings us from death to life. Paul's prayer for the saints is that God would work in them by this power to produce all that is well pleasing in his sight, enabling them to live utterly for him and to constantly do his will.

 

22. And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words.

 

Paul has dealt with a huge range of theological issues in a comparatively brief letter. A modest consideration of how many sermons, studies and books have since been printed on the subject of Hebrews is sufficient to show this. Paul urges his readers to accept the letter as a sufficient commentary, knowing that the subjects could be developed more fully.

 

23. Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.

 

Since Timothy had been released from prison, Paul, still hopeful of his own release, would wait for him so that they might set off for Judea again together.

 

24. Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

 

The letter ends with greetings to all the elders and saints, and greetings from the saints in Rome.

 

25. Grace be with you all. Amen.

 

May the unmerited favor of God remain with all his saints. Amen.

Hebrews 1  2  3 4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13 

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