Hebrews chapter 13, class 17-18

Selected instructions

May 20, and June 3, 2009

Tod Kennedy

Main points to emphasize in Hebrew 13

  1. Our relationships, fellowship, and service with and for other believers are central to the application of God’s word in our lives. We are a brotherhood of Christ-believers, a fellowship of saints. When Bible teachers, missionaries, or other believers come and need housing, food, fellowship, encouragement, or other help it is our privileged duty to provide this hospitality to them.
  2. We should look outside of ourselves to the Lord first (occupation with Christ), and then to other believers who suffer, who are in prison, and who are in honest need and we ought to provide honest help for them. Occupation with self is foreign to the Christian life.
  3. Marriage is honorable. It is a good thing. God instituted marriage with Adam and Eve. Sex in only to be practiced within a marriage. Throughout history marriage has been attacked through sex before marriage, adultery, homosexuality, poor leadership, poor followership, lack of a biblical worldview, and outright rejection of known Bible doctrine.
  4. God is constantly with us. He is our constant helper. Since this is true we should strive to live in His will and therefore be content with His will. And, Jesus our savior, mediator, high priest, and leader never changes His nature or character or love for us. He is the foundation and leader of the faith. We can always follow Him and depend upon Him.
  5. God has given spiritual leaders to the church. They are to teach God’s word, to live out God’s word and so model the faith (Christian way of life), and to guard our souls or lives from spiritual enemies, bad doctrine, and bad application. Their authority and leadership must be biblical. They will answer to God. We are to listen to them, obey them, and submit to them as long as their leadership is in accord with Scripture. They are not heavy handed dictators. Compare Acts 14:12, 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Ephesians 4:11-13, and Acts 20:28-31.
  6. Right doctrine, right attitudes, and right service follow from good spiritual leadership. When leaders teach and live God’s word the congregations have an opportunity to learn and live God’s word.
  7. It is a comfort and encouragement to know that Jesus’ character never changes. He is always sovereign, holy, just, righteous, love, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, immutable, and truthful. He is dependable. He continues to be our savior, high priest, leader, and great shepherd—just what Hebrews emphasizes
  8. The believer who understands God’s word and therefore God’s grace and blessing will have his life characterized by thankfulness and thanksgiving to God. This is the normal response to God. If this is lacking, our Christian life is stagnant.
  9. Pray for those who study, teach, write, and lead you in the Christian life. Spiritual leaders lead us in the spiritual war. They are under much pressure from the demon forces, from the world, from other believers, and from their own sinful natures. The spiritual battle can lead to discouragement and failure. Support them by prayer.
  10. God wants to equip each of us in His spiritual resources to do His will. God gives gifted men for the equipping of the saints so the saints will do the work of the ministry and the body of Christ will be built up. This can only start and then we carried out through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, His headship and leadership of the church, His giving of spiritual gifts, and His now intercessory work on our behalf.
  11. We should listen closely to the biblical instruction from our spiritual leaders—pastor and teachers, teachers, and evangelists. It is for our encouragement. If they accurately teach the Scripture and that teaching seems difficult or convicting we should bear up under it so we may learn and grow and serve.

Outline

  1. Hebrews 13:1-4. Personal and social responsibilities.
  2. Hebrews 13:5-19. Christian life responsibilities.
  3. Hebrews 13:20-25. Closing reminders.

Notable word forms in Hebrews 13.

There are 15 clear imperatives in this chapter. If the translation is close, I have left it as it is.

  1. Verse 1. Let continue, present active imperative third singular of meno.
  2. Verse 2. Do not neglect, present middle imperative second plural of epilanthanomai.
  3. Verse 3. Remember, present passive imperative second plural of mimneskomai.
  4. Verse 4. honorable, predicate adjective to marriage; undefiled, predicate adjective to bed.
  5. Verse 5. Make sure is not in the text, but read an understood imperative of “to be.” Being content is a participle with the force of an imperative. Has said is a perfect active indicative. I will never desert and I will never forsake are both aorist subjunctives with ou me—very strong and definite negation about the future.
  6. Verse 6. The Lord is my helper. The word is is not in the text but is understood. This is a strong statement.
  7. Verse 7. Remember, present active imperative second plural of mnemoneuo. Those who led, present middle participle genitive plural of hegeomai and the direct object of the verb remember; hegeomai is also used in verses 17 and 24. Spoke is aorist active indicative third plural of laleo. Considering is present active participle, masculine plural nominative of anatheoreo. Once you consider the outcome, then imitate present middle imperative second plural of mimeomai their faith (if it is worthy after consideration).
  8. Verse 8. The same is predicate adjective to Jesus Christ.
  9. Verse 9. Do not be carried away, present passive imperative second plural of paraphero.
  10. Verse 13. Let us go outside, present middle subjunctive first plural of exerchomai. Subjunctive of exhortation.
  11. Verse 16. Do not neglect, present active imperative second plural of epilanthanomai and the negative.
  12. Verse 17. Obey, present passive imperative second plural of peitho (be persuaded, listen to, obey in the passive). Submit, present active imperative second plural of hupeiko, to yield, give way.
  13. Verse 18. Pray, present middle imperative second plural of proseuchomai.
  14. Verse 19. I urge, present active indicative first singular of parakaleo.
  15. Verse 21. Equip, aorist active optative (expresses a wish) third singular of katartizo.
  16. Verse 22. I urge, present active indicative first singular of parakaleo. Bear, present middle imperative second plural of anecho.
  17. Verse 23. Take notice, present active imperative second plural of ginosko.
  18. Verse 24. Greet, aorist middle imperative second plural of aspazomai.

Exposition of Hebrews 13

  1. Hebrews 13:1-4. Personal and social responsibilities. In this first section the author has listed responsibilities for believers in relationships to others, to strangers, to prisoners, and in marriage.
    1. Verse 1. This verse commands brotherly love, or love of other believers. The verb is μένω meno in the present active imperative. It means to stand fast, to stay, to remain, to abide. The word for love is φῐλᾰδελφία philadelphia, a word that indicates affection for fellow believers because of what is in common.
  2. The point is that believers are to think and act from what believers have in common. Therefore have affection or brotherly love for each other. We are a brotherhood of Christ-believers, a fellowship of saints.
    1. Verse 2. Hospitality to strangers is another philos word, φῐλοξενία philoxenia, love for strangers or foreigners and therefore it means hospitality. In some cases the strangers were angels as in Genesis 18 and 19. This is a concrete way to show Christian love. Third John 5-8 also comments on this. The translation “angels” may refer to those visiting pastors or evangelists or to actual angels. Either way, this is a privilege not to be rejected. When Bible teachers, missionaries, or other believers come and need housing, food, fellowship, encouragement, or other help it is our privileged duty to provide this hospitality to them.
    2. verse 3. We are to remember prisoners and those ill treated. These are prisoners because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Remember is μιμνῄσκομαι mimneskomai in the present passive imperative. The sense is active. Paul was one. He wrote Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:8 to not be ashamed of him as a prisoner. Physical is in view. We all are vulnerable to physical suffering (in the body). We should look outside of ourselves to the Lord first (occupation with Christ), and then to other believers who suffer, who are in prison, and who are in honest need and we ought to provide honest help for them. Occupation with self is foreign to the Christian life.
    3. Verse 4. Marriage is honorable. It is a good thing. God instituted marriage with Adam and Eve. Throughout history marriage has been attacked through sex before marriage, adultery, homosexuality, poor leadership, and poor followership, lack of a biblical worldview, and outright rejection of known Bible doctrine. The marriage bed is the word κοίτη koite. It refers to sex in marriage. The command is to keep it pure ἀμίαντος amiantos, without defilement, pure. The author then summarizes what the Bible has many places: God will judge fornicators and adulterers. These acts are sin. They destroy lives, families, nations, and cultures. God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman.
    4. Hebrews 13:5-19. Christian life responsibilities. The author then gives Christian life responsibilities in Hebrews 13:5-19. These include 1. good character (Hebrews 13:5), 2. spiritual contentment (Hebrews 13:5-6), 3. imitate the faith of leaders who have passed close scrutiny (Hebrews 13:7), 4. do not accept false teachings (Hebrews 13:9), 5. maintain loyalty to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:10-14), 6. give thanks to God through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:15), 7. do good works and share with hurting believers (Hebrews 13:16), 8. follow your spiritual leaders in spiritual matters and do this in such a way that the leaders joyfully lead you (Hebrews 13:17), and 9. pray for spiritual leaders (Hebrews 13:18-19).
    5. Verse 5. character with contentment in Hebrews 13:5. This verse talks about character—your strengths and weaknesses. One’s genuine character shows when no one is watching. Greed is one expression of an evil or sinful character. Greed shows up in the craving for more and more money—craving that is beyond normal ambition. This craving demonstrates discontent and dissatisfaction with what God can and does provide. All believers can be content because God will never forsake us. Moses first used these words when he delivered his final message to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:7-8. Hebrews uses them for all the readers. We have this promise also, no matter what happens.
    6. Verse 6. Spiritual confidence in Hebrews 13:6. The author then uses the words of Psalm 118, a thanksgiving Psalm, to further his point. With the Lord as our helper, what are we afraid of? The answer is nothing.
    7. Verse 7. Remember your spiritual leaders—those who taught God’s word to you. The point of remembering them is so that we can learn how to live out the faith. When we have closely observed the outcome or accomplishment of their lives, only then are we to imitate the faith or their faith. ἔκβᾰσις, ekbasis—the end or outcome, completion, or accomplishment. We imitate their faith (what they believed and how they applied what they believed); we do not imitate them. Right doctrine, right attitudes, and right service follow from good spiritual leadership. When leaders teach and live God’s word the congregations have an opportunity to learn and live God’s word. Their authority and leadership must be biblical. They will answer to God. We are to listen to them, obey them, and submit to them as long as their leadership is in accord with Scripture. They are not heavy handed dictators. Compare Acts 14:12, 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Ephesians 4:11-13, and Acts 20:28-31. There may be many teachers and leaders in a church, though the authority in a local church has been vested in the pastor (elder, oversee). If a church has a number of elders, the pastor is the authority leader.
    8. Verses 8. Jesus Christ never changes. Both we and our leaders should imitate Him. He is “the author and perfecter” of the faith (Hebrews 12:2). It is a comfort and encouragement to know that His character never changes. He is always sovereign, holy, just, righteous, love, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, immutable, and truthful. He is dependable. He continues to be our savior, high priest, leader, and great shepherd—just what Hebrews emphasizes.
    9. Verse 9. Hold right doctrine with right applications in Hebrews 13:9. False doctrine or doctrine out of context does not strengthen the heart by grace. It only leads to false living and legalism.
    10. Verses 10-14. Maintain loyalty to Jesus Christ in Hebrews 13:10-14.
      1. Verse 10. This is a difficult verse. The altar may refer to the brazen altar of the Levitical system. The priest did not eat that Day of Atonement sacrifice. Or, this altar may refer to the sacrifice of Christ which those who rejected Him have not right to relationship and fellowship with Christ as long as they have rejected Him as God’s final sacrifice.
      2. Verse 11. In the Levitical system on the Day of Atonement the animal was killed and the blood, not the animal was brought into the holy of holies. The animal body was not eaten. It was taken outside the Israeli camp and burned. The blood only was brought in. The blood signified life and then death.
      3. Verse 12. Jesus was rejected by the Jewish religious people. They did not want him in the temple or near the altar. Jesus was killed outside of the temple holy of holies. His blood was not carried anywhere. His death brought spiritual reconciliation between God and man.
      4. Verse 13. Jesus died outside the camp—outside the tabernacle and temple. He was rejected. We are to go to Him—align ourselves with Him as God and savior, as high priest, as author and perfecter of the faith. When we do that people will reject us as they rejected Him. Do we want to have fellowship with Jesus or are we embarrassed by Him and align with unbelievers?
      5. Verse 14. Since we align with Jesus we realize that our future is not with the present earth. Our future home is the eternal city, the new and heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:10, 16; 12:22). First the millennial Jerusalem and then the eternal city (Revelation 21:1-2).
    11. Verse 15. Give thanks to God through Jesus Christ in Hebrews 13:15. The believer who understands God’s word and therefore God’s grace and blessing will have his life characterized by thankfulness and thanksgiving to God. This is the normal response to God. If this is lacking, our Christian life is stagnant.
    12. Verse 16. Sacrificial good works and sharing material blessings with hurting believers in Hebrews 13:16.
    13. Verse 17. follow your spiritual leaders in spiritual matters and do this in such a way that the leaders joyfully lead you in Hebrews 13:17. Go back to verses 7 for further comments.
    14. Verses 18-19. Pray for spiritual leaders in Hebrews 13:18-19. Pray for those who study, teach, write, and lead you in the Christian life. Spiritual leaders lead us in the spiritual war. They are under much pressure from the demon forces, from the world, from other believers, and from their own sinful natures. The spiritual battle can lead to discouragement and failure. Support them by prayer.
  3. Hebrews 13:20-25. Closing reminders.
    1. Verses 20-21. This is a wish, a prayer, and a benediction that God will equip the readers and the author so they all can do God’s will. God wants to equip each of us in His spiritual resources to do His will. The author wants God to work in each believer whatever pleases Him. Equip is katartizw, and it means to adjust, put in order, restore, mend, furnish, prepare. Ephesians 4:12 has the noun form of this word. There God gives gifted men for the equipping of the saints so the saints will do the work of the ministry and the body of Christ will be built up. This can only start and then be carried out through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, His headship and leadership of the church, His giving of spiritual gifts, and His now intercessory work on our behalf.
    2. Verses 22-25. The author’s conclusion is one of encouragement in three areas.
      1. Verse 22. Bear up under what he has written. Bear up is ἀνέχω anecho, to hold up, endure, put up with in the present middle imperative. Though what he wrote may have seemed harsh or dogmatic, it was to help the readers in their spiritual lives. We should listen closely to the biblical instruction from our spiritual leaders—pastor and teachers, teachers, and evangelists. It is for our encouragement. If they accurately teach the Scripture and that teaching seems difficult or convicting we should bear up under it so we may learn and grow and serve
      2. Verse 23. The author tells them that Timothy has been released from prison. Possibly he was in prison because of his service to Paul. Timothy was a great help and encouragement to Paul. Philippians 2:19-24 contains Paul’s recommendation of Timothy. Timothy comes into biblical history in Acts 16. He is noted in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Philemon, and Hebrews.
      3. Verse 24. The author sends his greetings to the leaders and all believers. This reinforces the opening verse which commands them to maintain love and affection for the believers. The universal church is a brotherhood. The city church is a brotherhood. The local church is a brotherhood. All are related to God through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and the Melchizedek kind of high priest. We are a brotherhood of Christ-believers, a fellowship of saints.
        1. In Italy can refer to Italians outside of Italy sending greetings back to the believers in Italy or to those sending greetings from Italy to the recipients of this letter, probably in Jerusalem. The latter seems the best, due to the contents of this entire letter.
      4. Verse 25. God’s grace is the source of our lives and service. We cannot do without it. God’s grace is required for eternal salvation, for the Christian life, and for eternity.

End of Hebrews 13 study