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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Hebrews 13

Verses 1-6


Hospitality, marriage and wealth (13:1-6)

Before closing his letter, the writer gives instruction on a variety of matters that need attention. First, Christians should act with love, not only towards those within their church, but also towards strangers. Some of these visitors may be messengers God has sent to them (cf. Genesis 18:1-8; Genesis 19:1-3). They should also help fellow Christians who are imprisoned or in some other way suffering ill-treatment (13:1-3).

Second, Christians must remember that sexual relations are honourable only between husband and wife. God will deal severely with those who behave otherwise (4). Third, the desire to be wealthy shows a lack of faith, for God has promised to help and provide for his children. He will not leave them to face life alone (5-6).

Verses 7-16

Sacrifices, Jewish and Christian (13:7-16)

Some of the Jewish members of the church had an additional misunderstanding concerning the offering of animal sacrifices, and as a result faced a further temptation to return to their old religion. Misguided Jewish teachers had apparently taught them that because they no longer offered animal sacrifices, they no longer received the special benefit that came through eating the food of those sacrifices. The writer bluntly warns his readers not to listen to such teaching, but to follow the teaching of those who first taught them the gospel. The gospel has not changed, and Jesus Christ whom their leaders follow has not changed. He is the same now as he was when they first believed, and he will still be the same in the future (7-9).
Sacrificial feasts belong to the old Israelite religion and cannot be introduced into Christianity. If people join in eating sacrifices offered on the Jewish altar, they cannot join in receiving benefits from the sacrifice offered on the Christian ‘altar’, meaning the death of Christ (10).

In those Israelite sacrifices where the blood was brought into the tabernacle, the remains of the sacrifice were not eaten, but were burnt outside the camp (Leviticus 4:5-7,Leviticus 4:11-12; Leviticus 6:30). The writer sees this as a picture of Jesus who was crucified ‘outside the camp’ (i.e. outside Jerusalem), and whose blood was used to bring forgiveness and cleansing of sin (11-12). Those Jews who still wish to be members of the earthly Jerusalem (i.e. the old Jewish religion) cannot belong to Christ and his heavenly kingdom. They must come out of the ‘camp’ of Judaism and share the shame of Christ through being insulted by their fellow Jews as Christ was (13-14). The sacrifices they then offer will not be dead animals, but sincere praise to God and practical kindness to their fellows (15-16).

Verses 17-25

Personal messages (13:17-25)

The writer repeats that the Christians must not be turned from the faith by these strange ideas. Rather they should follow the teaching given to them by their leaders, and so encourage the leaders in their difficult task (17). In asking the believers to pray for him, the writer emphasizes that he has written this letter out of a genuine desire to help their faith. He hopes to return to them soon (18-19).
Meanwhile he prays that God, who has established the new covenant through Christ’s sacrificial death, will help his people to enjoy the blessings of that covenant (20-21). He trusts that they will gain encouragement from his letter, and from the news that Timothy has just been released from prison. Some Christians from Italy join him in sending greetings (22-25).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Hebrews 13". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.