Hebrews 13:1-25 - Outline of Hebrews (Book Notes menu page)
Chapter 13 makes practical applications for -
-- living by faith (ch. 11) in perilous times (ch. 12).
Acceptable service towards God (12:28,29) is described...
A. In regard to our brothers (v.1-3).
B. In regard to marriage (v.4).
C. In regard to wealth or want (v.5-6).
D. In regard to Truth (v.7-14).
E. In regard to worship (v.15-19).
A. Acceptable service... in regard to our brothers (v.1-3)--
13:1 Let brotherly love continue {abide, remain}.
brotherly love {GK=philadelphia, tender affection of brothers}
We are not to love fellow believers as though they were brothers, but because we are brothers.
A stronger word for love {GK=agape, love which gives itself for the sake of the one loved} is used in 1Pet 1:22 (second occurrence); 1Joh 5:1 (both occurrences).
A practical example: Heb 10:25,32-34
13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
to entertain strangers {GK=philoxenia, lit., to love foreigners}
Our brothers, in the faith, are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb 11:13,38; 1Pet 1:1,2).
entertained angels...- The word 'angel' {GK=aggelos, messenger} can refer either
to spirit beings (eg., Heb 1:7,14; Mat 28:1-6), or to human 'messengers' (eg., John the Baptist and his disciples, Luk 7:24,27).
A few examples of those who entertained {hosted, lodged) both kinds of messengers:
  • Abraham and Lot both unexpectedly hosted angels (Gen 18:1-5; 19:1-f).
  • The widow of Zarephath lodged Elijah, a messenger of God (1Kin 17:10-16).
  • Early Christians lodged traveling preachers of the Gospel. 3Joh 1:5-8
    Readers of this epistle should 'be not forgetful' {not neglect} such hospitality ministries.
Acceptable service meets the needs of our brothers who are strangers for the sake of the Gospel.
cp. 1Tim 5:10; 1Pet 4:9
13:3 Remember {be mindful of} them that are in bonds, as bound with them;
     Our brothers, in prison for Christ's sake, are to be on our hearts... (cp. Mat 25:36)
as bound with them - as if we were in their place (Heb 10:33,34),
(or) since you also are in bonds (to Christ). 1Cor 7:22
[and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
     Our brothers under persecution...
which suffer 'adversity' {maltreatment} -
This word is translated "tormented" in Heb 11:37.
as being...in the body - (or) since you also are in the body,
(and therefore, candidates for such adversity).
B. Acceptable service... in regard to marriage (v.4)--
13:4 Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled:
{or, "Let your marriage be honorable in all..." [Wuest]}
honorable {GK=timios, precious, valuable}
in all {ie., in every way, in every aspect}
the bed 'undefiled' {GK=amiantos, free from contamination, pure}
See this word in Heb 7:26; Jam 1:27; 1Pet 1:4
Sexual intimacy, in the context of marriage (between one man and one woman),
is pure and good, because it is according to God's design. Gen 1:27,28; Mat 19:4-6
but whoremongers {GK=pornos, fornicators} and adulterers God will judge.
1The 4:3-7; 1Cor 6:9-11
C. Acceptable service... in wealth or in want (v.5-6)--
13:5 [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness;
[and be] content with such things as ye have:
your 'conversation' {ie., your manner of life}
without covetousness {GK=aphilargous, not loving money (lit., without love of silver)}
Luk 12:15; Col 3:5; Eph 5:3
be content - to be sufficed, to have enough.
Mat 6:25,26; Php 4:11-13; 1Tim 6:6-10
for he {himself} hath said, I will never leave {desist toward} thee,
nor forsake
{desert, abandon} thee. {quoting Deu 31:6}
In the GK text, this statement is very emphatic, containing a double and a triple negative:
"I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you,
I will not, I will not, I will not let you down." [Wuest]
What more could we have?
13:6 So that we may boldly say,
{or, "So, being of good courage, we say..." [Wuest]}
The Lord [is] my helper,
and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
{quotes Psa 118:6}
{or, "...what shall man do unto me?"}
Man may: exile (v.2), imprison (v.3), rape (v.4), rob (v.5)...
But the Lord is sufficient for us. He is present with us.
cp. Psa 16:5,6; 23:4-6; Lam 3:24; Rom 8:31
D. Acceptable service... in regard to Truth (v.7-14)--
a. the true doctrine (v.7-9).
b. the true altar (v.10-12).
c. the true city (v.13-14).
13:7 Remember them which have {had} the rule over you,
who have spoken unto you the word of God:
whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation.
remember them which had the rule {GK=hegeomai, guidance, leadership} over you -
The church leaders are not to 'rule' over the people, but rather to lead as shepherds.
Such men lead the flock, like Christ (eg., Psa 23:1-4) and to Christ.
They lead by the Word and by the example of their faith and way of life. 1Pet 5:1-4
Note the past tense: they have led, they have spoken.
God will hold us accountable for how we hear, and how we follow.
His Word does not become invalid when a godly pastor is removed. We are responsible for remembering and applying the Word which our spiritual shepherds have taught.
considering the 'end' {ie., issue, outcome} of their conversation {manner of life} -
Their life purpose (stated in v.8) was always to know and serve Christ. cp. Php 1:20,21; 3:8-12
13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
the same - This refers to His unchanging Person, character, and attributes.
It does not refer to His place or performance. Those, who fail to make this distinction, fall into error by assuming that Jesus must act today, just as He did during His earthly ministry (eg., with healing and miracles). Consider...
His person and purpose -
Jesus - the eternal Son of God, who became the Son of man.
Christ - the anointed One who fulfills all the promises of God, including our salvation. 2Cor 1:20
His place and performance have changed. [adapted from JVMcGee]
  • Once He was a baby in Bethlehem.
    He is no longer a baby, nor is He in Bethlehem.
  • Once He was subject to Mary in Nazareth.
    He is no longer in Nazareth, nor is He under Mary's influence.
  • Once He suffered and died on the cross.
    He is no longer on the cross, nor is He suffering for our sins.
  • Now He is risen, ascended, and exalted at the Father's right hand.
  • Now He is the one Mediator between God and man.
  • Soon He will come from heaven to judge the living and the dead.
    cp. Heb 1:10-12; Rev 1:8,17-18
13:9 Be not carried about with divers {ie., diverse, various} and strange doctrines.
strange doctrines - ie., 'foreign' teachings (ie., those not rooted in the Word of God).
     cp. Isa 8:20; Eph 4:14; 1Tim 4:1-3; 2Tim 2:15,16; 4:2-4
For [it is] a good thing that the heart be established with grace;
not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
'grace' versus 'unprofitable meats'-
Man tends toward a religion of works, featuring things which must be done by, applied to, or imbibed by the flesh. Judaism became focused on such external religious ceremonies. But ritual could not accomplish redemption (Heb 9:9-12).
     The religion of Christianity is also encumbered with unbiblical and unprofitable rites, which cannot establish a relationship with God. The truth is:
  • Salvation is not conveyed via water baptism,
    but must be received by personal faith in Christ.
    Acts 8:36-38; 1Pet 3:18-22 [For more, see the Book Notes at 1Peter 3:21.]
  • Spiritual life is not merited by partaking of the 'eucharist,'
    but it is offered as God's free gift, which must be assimilated directly from Christ,
    through faith in His Person and work.
    Joh 6:35-58,63 [For more, see the Book Notes at John 6:63.]
  • God's favor does not depend on 'holy water' on the skin or 'holy' foods in the belly,
    but acceptance before God requires a new heart which is born of His Holy Spirit.
    Joh 3:5-7; 4:23,24; Rom 14:17,18
The heart which is "established with grace" rests totally on God's gracious work in our behalf.
Salvation, sanctification, and acceptable service... must be all of grace.
cp. Eph 1:6,7; 2:8-10; cf. Gal 1:6-9; 2:21- 3:3
13:10 We have an altar,
whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
an altar... no right to eat...-
The OT priests were partially supported by partaking of the altar. That is, they had the right to eat portions of the sacrificial animals (1Cor 9:13). However, they were forbidden to eat of the sin offerings, especially those offered on the Day of Atonement. Lev 6:29,30
  • Christ's blood was shed for our sin. Heb 9:14,24-28
  • Christ's one sacrifice superseded the many Temple sacrifices. Heb 10:11,12
  • Christ's all sufficient sacrifice is an offense to fleshly ritual,
    because it accomplished "once for all" what the flesh could never do. Gal 5:11
  • Those, who continue to "serve the tabernacle" (ie., the OT system),
    cling to foreshadows of Christ, but they do not partake of His reality. Heb 10:1
  • We, who believe in Christ, are identified with Him.
    He belongs to us, as we to Him. 1Cor 10:16-18
13:11 For the bodies of those beasts,
whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin,
are burned without the camp.
On the Day of Atonement, the blood sprinkled, on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies, made atonement (a covering) for sinful people before a Holy God. However, the body of the sacrificial animal was burned "outside the camp," symbolizing the putting away of sin by the consuming fire of God's holiness. cp. Heb 12:29; Ex 29:14 (for details of OT procedures, see Lev 4:3-21; 16:23-34)
13:12 Wherefore Jesus also,
that he might sanctify the people with his own blood,
{Heb 2:11,17; 10:10}
suffered without the gate. {Joh 19:17-20}
Why 'outside the gate' ('outside the camp', in v.11,13)?
-- He was despised and rejected of men... Isa 53:3
-- He bore our sin... away... cp. Isa 53:4-6; Psa 40:12; 69:9,19-21
13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
let us go... unto Him - If we would be identified with Him in His sanctification (v.12),
we will also be identified with Him in His rejection by men. Joh 15:18-21
without the camp - We are to separate ourselves: from fleshly religion... unto Christ.
The original readers were hesitant to leave the temple and its ritualistic religion. But since that institution rejected and dishonored Christ, they must separate, if they would be true to Him.
Separation comes at a price:
(1) Reproach - Mat 5:11; Acts 5:41; 1Pet 4:14-16
13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
(2) Dispossession - The earthly Jerusalem and its temple, though considered sacred (cp Psa 137:5), must not hold us back from following Christ. Unknown to the original readers, earthly Jerusalem would continue only a few years before its destruction (in 70 AD).
Our citizenship is in the eternal Heavenly City. cp. Heb 11:13-16; 12:22-24; Col 3:1-4; 2Pet 3:13,14
E. Acceptable service... in regard to Worship:
a. Our sacrifices (v.15,16).
b. Our obedience (v.17).
c. Our prayer (v.18,19).
13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.
the sacrifice of praise - This is analogous to the OT 'thank offerings.' Lev 7:12; Psa 119:108
Four Sacrifices of the NT priesthood [JVMcGee]:
1. Your person (v.13) Rom 12:1,2
2. Your praise (v.15) -
  • "the fruit of our lips" alludes to Hos 14:2 where "the calves of our lips," implies the costliness of sacrifice.
    Changing circumstances may make "giving thanks" seem burdensome.
    But God remains ever constant in His Person and promises. Col 1:12; 1The 5:18
  • Praise is: "...the fruit of lips that make confession of His name." [v.15b, Wuest]
    {'giving thanks' is GK=homologeo, lit., saying the same thing; ie., confession.}
    eg., Psa 63:1-8
Note that our priestly service has Godward aspects (points 1 and 2 above),
and manward aspects (points 3 and 4 below).
13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not:
for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
3. Your purse (v.16b)
"to communicate" {GK=koinoneo, to share, to have in common}
cp. 2Cor 8:1-5; Gal 6:6; 1Tim 6:17-19
4. Your performance (v.16a,17)- "to do good." cp. 1The 5:15; Heb 6:10
13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:
for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account,
that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:
for that [is] unprofitable for you.
obey {GK=peitho, be won over by persuasion (cp. the Bereans, Acts 17:11; 2Cor 5:11)}
submit {GK=hupeiko, yield under (their leadership)}
them that have the rule - ie., 'those who are your guides and leaders' (as in v.7).
Verse 7 tells us to "remember them who have spoken the Word unto you."
Here, we are to obey and submit according to the teaching of the Word.
"It would be better not to hear the Word, than to hear and not obey." [JVMcGee]
they that watch...must give account -
The spiritual leaders, as shepherds of God's people, are responsible to Him.
The sheep are also responsible to hear and to heed God's Word fully.
that they may do it with joy...not with grief {lit., groaning}.-
Godly leaders yearn for God's best for His people. eg., Php 4:1; 1The 2:19,20; Php 3:17-21
13:18 Pray for us:
for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
Pray for us - The request may be specific: for the writer and his companions,
or general: for all who bear responsibility as church leaders.
cp. Col 4:3; 1The 5:25; 2The 3:1-5
we have a good conscience...- The phrase suggests that the writer was under attack
by those who misunderstood and/or misrepresented his motives.
cp. Acts 24:14-16; 2Cor 1:12 (eg. Rom 3:8; 1Cor 16:9; Php 1:15-18)
13:19 But I beseech [you] the rather to do this {ie., to pray},
that I may be restored to you the sooner.
cp. Paul's similar prayer requests: Rom 1:10-12; Phm 1:22
A closing Prayer and a final Exhortation--
13:20 Now the God of peace, {Rom 5:1,2,10}
that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, {Acts 5:30,31; Rom 4:24,25}
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
...that brought again from {ie., out from among} the dead our Lord Jesus...-
  • The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep. Psa 22:1-3; Joh 10:11,15,17,18
    His blood is the basis of the New Covenant, by which we have peace with God.
    Jesus Christ took our sin and death upon Himself, in order to destroy their power over us.
    He Himself leads the exodus from their realm.
    Zech 9:11; Col 1:18-22; 2:10-14; 1Pet 2:24
  • The Great Shepherd perfects and matures His sheep,
    leading them to the place of refreshment and nourishment (the Word of God).
    Psa 23:1-3; 80:1; 1Pet 2:25; 5:4
13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ;
to whom [be]
{the} glory for ever and ever. Amen.
make you perfect...-
The Shepherd accomplishes the perfection of his sheep:
  • "through the blood of the everlasting covenant," which was shed once for all (v.20).
    See Heb 9:9 and 10:14 where "perfect" is GK=teleio, to make complete, to finish.
  • and through His active working within each believer.
    Here in v.21, there is a different word for 'perfect' {GK=katartizo}. Elsewhere, this word is translated as "prepared" (10:5), or "framed" (11:3). Here, the meaning is "to make fit, to prepare fully" for His specific purposes. (cp. 2Tim 3:16,17, where 'throughly furnished' is a related word)
...in every good work {GK=ergon, endeavor, occupation} to do His will.-
Eph 2:10; Php 1:11; 2The 2:16,17
working {GK=poieo, doing, bringing forth} in you...
...that which is well pleasing {ie., acceptable} in His sight, through Jesus Christ - Joh 15:4,5
cp. v.16; Rom 12:1,2; Php 2:12,13
through Jesus Christ to whom be {the} glory...-
The glory is His, not only because this Son of man is God the Son, but also because through His sacrifice, He completed God's purpose in establishing the everlasting covenant, by which we not only have peace with God, but are also made 'well pleasing' in the sight of Him who looks on the heart. cp. Heb 1:1-3; Psa 115:1; Joh 1:14; Gal 1:3-5; Rev 5:9-13
13:22 And I beseech {ie., exhort} you, brethren,
{ie., allow, bear with} the word of exhortation:
for I have written a letter unto you in few words.
few words - This profound epistle is brief enough
to be read at one sitting of the assembled church.
But, we dare not discount or minimize its message.
13:23 Know ye that [our] brother Timothy is set at liberty;
with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
The reference to Timothy may be an indication of Pauline authorship. cp. 2Cor 1:1; 1Tim 1:1,2
13:24 Salute {ie., greet} all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.
They of Italy salute you.
them that have the rule - ie., those who guide and lead God's flock (as in v.7,17).
all the saints - ie., those who are sanctified in Christ (eg., v.12; Heb 6:10).
Italy - apparently the place of writing.
At Paul's first imprisonment in Rome, he presented the Gospel to the Jews there. Their varied response may have motivated the writing of this epistle to professing Hebrew Christians. cp. Acts 28:16-31
13:25 Grace [be] with you all. Amen.
Paul closed most of his epistles similarly.
But we should not think that these words are merely a polite formality.
Here, the author expresses his prayerful desire that his readers would enter fully into God's grace in Christ, as described in this letter. eg., v.9; Heb 4:15,16; 12:28; cp. Titus 3:5-7,15

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