Advice, Memories, Prayers, Greetings
The Epistle concludes with various exhortations in regard to the social life (Hebrews 13:1-3), private life (Hebrews 13:4-6), the religious life (Hebrews 13:7-17), in which connexion the readers are exhorted to follow steadfastly the example and doctrine of their former teachers (Hebrews 13:7-16), and to respect the authority of their present rulers (Hebrews 13:17). The writer requests their prayers (Hebrews 13:18-19); he prays himself on their behalf (Hebrews 13:20-21); he sends greetings, and utters his benediction (Hebrews 13:22-25).
1-3. Duties of social life, viz. brotherly love, hospitality, and sympathy with those who suffer for Christ's sake.
2. Strangers] Christian brethren from other places are meant: cp. Hebrews 6:10. Angels unawares] cp. Genesis 18, 19; Judges 6:11-24; Judges 13:2-23.
3. Yourselves also in the body] and liable therefore to the same sufferings: cp. Hebrews 10:32-34.
4-6. Duties of the private life, viz. chastity and contentment.
4. Marriage is] RV 'Let marriage,' etc: the words are an exhortation.
5. Conversation] i.e. manner of life. RV simply, 'be ye free from the love of money.'
7-16. Duty of steadfastly adhering to the doctrine of their departed teachers.
7. Which have the rule] RV 'that had the rule.. which spake.' The words end of their conversation (see Hebrews 13:8) indicate that they were no longer living. RV renders, 'issue of their life.'
8. AY suggests that the 'end of their conversation' was Jesus Christ, but He can hardly be called the 'issue of their life.' This V. is a distinct sentence, and is introduced as an argument for steadfast adherence to the faith of the former teachers. Christ is the same now as when their teachers first taught them, so that they have no reason to go after divers and strange teachings (Hebrews 13:9).
9. Carried about] RV 'carried away.' The strange doctrines seem to have been connected with the ritual of 'meats,' or sacrificial meals (Hebrews 13:10).
10-14. We Christians have certainly an altar, the Cross of Christ, but as on the Day of Atonement the blood of the sacrifice was carried into the Most Holy Place, while the flesh of the victim was not eaten but burned outside the camp, so those who wish to participate in the benefits of the Christian sacrifice must not remain within the camp of Judaism, but utterly renounce all its 'carnal ordinances,' even though that entail bearing reproach for Christ's sake. We may be rendered homeless here below, but we have an abiding city above (Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 12:22).
15, 16. Christ having offered Himself once for all as the great sacrifice of atonement, the only sacrifice Christians can now offer is that of thanksgiving (cp. Psalms 116:17; 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:11), the fruit of lips (cp. Hosea 14:2) which make confession of his name, and also that of mercy with which God is well pleased (Hosea 6:6).
The sacrifice of praise or thanksgiving had been the highest form of peace-offering under the Levitical Law (Leviticus 7:12; Leviticus 22:29 the words in the LXX which our author used are exactly quoted by him here), and the Psalmists had adopted the term to describe that truly spiritual worship which the atoning sacrifice of Christ does not supersede, but deepens and assures (Psalms 107:22; Psalms 116:17). His sacrifice of atonement shall never be repeated; but an offering to God is, in its highest form, sacrifice or sacred service, whether it be of words or charity (cp. Hosea 14:2; Hosea 6:6), or of the duties of ordinary life (Romans 12:1 : cp. 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:11). Such sacrifice of thanksgiving is now to be offered continually, not as of old at merely ceremonial times or after separate acts of imperfect atonement; and through the one true High Priest, who has really opened the way for such worship to be brought to God, by the one real sacrifice of atonement which is effectual for ever.
17. Duty of obedience to present rulers.
Watch for (i.e. in behalf of) your souls] like sleepless shepherds who feel their responsibility to God for the flock. Do it with joy] i.e. watch with joy, feeling their duty to be a delight not a burden, for in the latter case the flock would suffer.
18. Pray for us] The plural denotes that the writer identifies himself with the rulers of the Church, on whom some suspicion has fallen, and he therefore in their name protests their integrity.
19. The singular number indicates that the writer stood in some special relationship to his readers from whom he is for the present separated for some reason not given. It seems not to have been imprisonment (see Hebrews 13:23), and the separation is regarded as only temporary.
20, 21. Prayer for the readers.
20. God of peace] i.e. the God who makes peace: cp. Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9, and see on Hebrews 13:14. Brought.. from the dead] The words refer not so much to the Resurrection of Christ as to His entrance into the heavenly sanctuary 'with the blood of the everlasting covenant,' and His exaltation as Head over the household of God (Hebrews 3:1-6): cp. Isaiah 63:11.
21. Cp. Philippians 2:12, Philippians 2:13.
22. Word of exhortation] the whole Epistle. The apologetic tone indicates some doubt as to the manner of its reception (cp. Hebrews 13:18), and also a consciousness that the subject has been treated more briefly than it deserves ('in few words').
23. Our brother Timothy] The reference does not point conclusively to St. Paul as the writer, but indicates that he was intimately connected with the Pauline circle. “We have no other knowledge of Timothy's imprisonment. If he come] Timothy is elsewhere at present.
24. The salutation shows that the Epistle was not addressed to the rulers, but primarily to the whole community. They of Italy] i.e. those from Italy, those belonging to Italy. The phrase is most naturally taken to indicate that the Epistle was written outside Italy at some place where Italian Christians had settled. If the Epistle was sent to Rome, these Italian Christians would naturally wish to join in the salutation. See Intro. § 3, 'Recipients and Probable Date.'
25. Cp. Colossians 4:18; 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 4:22; Titus 3:15.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 13". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany