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Divers admonitions, as to charity, to honest life, to avoid covetousness, to regard God's preachers, to take heed of strange doctrines, to confess Christ, to give alms, to obey governors, and to pray for the apostle. The conclusion.
Anno Domini 63.
THIS chapter begins with an exhortation to the Hebrews to exercise love to the brethren, hospitality to strangers, and compassion to the imprisoned and afflicted: charity likewise is recommended, together with disinterestedness, and a careful imitation of their teachers, whose trial was ended, and who had shewn great fortitude in suffering for their faith, Hebrews 13:1-8.
Next, the Hebrews were desired to beware of being tossed about with those discordant doctrines, disagreeing with each other, and the great standard of truth in the divine revelation; especially those pernicious doctrines concerning the efficacy of the Levitical sacrifices to procure the pardon of sin, which the Judaizing teachers inculcated with great earnestness. Their giving heed to these errors the apostle was anxious to prevent, because, if they trusted to the Levitical atonements for pardon, they would lose the benefit of the sacrifice of Christ. This, the apostle told them, their own law taught them figuratively, by forbidding the priests and people to eat of those sacrifices, whose blood was carried into the holy places to make atonement. And being unwilling to quit the subject, he added, that because the carcases of the sin-offerings were ordered to be burnt without the camp as things unclean, Hebrews 13:11.—so Jesus,who sanctified the people with his own blood, suffered as a malefactor or unclean person without the gates of Jerusalem, Hebrews 13:12.—These particulars the apostle mentioned, to shew that all the Levitical sin-offerings were types of Christ, whoseexample in suffering ignominy and punishment for men, he desired the Hebrews to imitate from gratitude, by willingly suffering reproach and persecution for his sake, Hebrews 13:13.—And this they might do the more easily, as they knew they had no continuing city here, but were seeking one in the life to come, Hebrews 13:14.—In the mean time, he exhorted them to worship God, not in the Jewish but in the Christian manner, by offering, through Christ, the sacrifice of praise to God continually, Hebrews 13:15.—and to be zealous in doing good works, because worship and praise accompanied with such works as proceed from the operation of divine grace, are sacrifices far more pleasing to God, than the sacrifices of beasts, Hebrews 13:16.
Again, because the Hebrews, through the prejudices of their education, were in danger of not hearkening to their teachers when they inculcated the true doctrines of the gospel, he ordered them to be obedient to their spiritual guides, and to esteem them highly as persons who watched for their souls, Hebrews 13:17.—and requested them to pray for him, because he assured them, that he had maintained a good conscience in all things he had written to them, Hebrews 13:18.—Then he gave them his apostolical benediction in a most elegant form, Hebrews 13:20-21.—and besought them to take in good part the instruction contained in this letter, which he acknowledged was a short one, considering the variety and importance of the subjects that he had handled in it, Hebrews 13:22.
Having thus finished his exhortations, the apostle informed the Hebrews that he had sent away Timothy on some important business; but promised, if he returned in time, to bring him with him when he visited them, Hebrews 13:23.—In the mean while, he desired them to present his salutation to all the rulers of their church; meaning, I suppose, the apostles and elders at Jerusalem; also in his name to salute all the brethren and saints; and sent them the salutation of the brethren in Italy, Hebrews 13:24.—Then he concluded, with giving them his apostolical benediction in a more short form, Hebrews 13:25.
Hebrews 13:1. Let brotherly love continue.— By this exhortation the apostle plainly implies, that they did already love their Christian brethren; accordingly, he commended them before, (ch. Hebrews 6:10.) for their ministering to the saints: consistently with this, he exhorted them (ch. Hebrews 12:14.) to follow peace with all men, which implies, that they were defective as to this duty of charity towards the Gentile Christians. There is a difference between φιλαδελφια, brotherly love, and αγαπη, charity, or love in the general; according to what St. Peter says, 2 Ephesians 1:7.—add to brotherly love, charity. Brotherly love signifies men's loving those whom they esteem to be their brethren, answerably to that relation; but the word αγαπη expresses the love which men bear to such also as they do not own to be their brethren, even those who are not of the Christian religion,—and even to enemies. Dr. Heylin reads, Let brotherly love ever remain; and he observes, that in the progress of religion there is a vicissitude of states, of which the apostle had just beforetreated: but whatever our inferior state be, brotherly love is an invariable duty.
Hebrews 13:2. Be not forgetful, &c.— The apostle seems to refer to the reception given to angels by Abraham and Lot. See Genesis 18:19 :
Hebrews 13:4. Marriage is honourable in all,— Let marriage be held in esteem by all: thus many critics would render this clause; as the context, in their judgment, shews that the passage is exhortatory. The connection, however, of the latter clause introduced by the particle but, is thought by others to vindicate our version.
Hebrews 13:5. Be content with such things as ye have:— The reason here given why there should be no discontent at the various cross accidents of life is, for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee; which was an assurance given to Joshua. See Deuteronomy 31:8. Joshua 1:5. The apostle had just before proved, that the kingdom set up by Christ was not to be shaken; therefore, in the language spoken to Joshua, it was true that God would never leave it, nor forsake it, till all was fulfilled. The consequence of which is, that his providence extends to every member of his kingdom; that every one may depend upon it; and every one may say with the Psalmist, The Lord is my helper. And as to the particular topic for contentedness in the present station, this is founded on the nature of God, and the government of the world; but above all, on themerit and intercession of Christ, and his mediatorial reign over the universe, for the church which is his body: and the words spoken to Joshua are applicable to all the faithful children of God, That we ought to cast all our care upon him, who is sufficient to guard us from all harm; or, if we do suffer here, can fully recompense us hereafter. The application of a particular promise to such general purposes, opens a noble hint for the improvement of the Old Testament, upon this great and solid principle, That God, who is no respecter of persons, intends that expressions of his favour to this or that eminently good man, should be used for the encouragement of all others of the like character.
Hebrews 13:7. Remember them which have the rule,— Who have had the rule. Bishop Lloyd thinks that this may refer to James the apostle, and to James commonly called the first bishop of Jerusalem, both of whom had been put to death there before this epistle was written. Dr. Heylin renders this and the next verse as follows: Remember those who have been your spiritual guides, and preached to you the word of God; consider well how they ended their lives, and imitate their faith: Jesus Christ is still the same; what he was yesterday, he is to-day, and shall be through all ages. "Several of the persons here referred to (says he,) died martyrs, as may be seen in Theodoret upon the place. What Jesus Christ had been to them in the time past, supporting them in their trials, the same he would be to the faithful Hebrews in the time then present; and the same he will be to those who serve him, through all ages, with an undiminished energy."
Hebrews 13:9-10. Be not carried about, &c.— Be not seduced or led away. Heylin. The connection of this verse is thus: "Remember the faithful pastors you have had, the end and object of that faith which they have taught,—the eternal and immutable power of Jesus Christ; and, in this view, see to it that you be not led away by such doctrines relating to Christianity as are different from what your deceased pastors taught you, and are new and strange among Christians; as 'there is no virtue in meats offered on the Jewish altar:' for it is better that the heart should be established in the grace of the gospel, than in a regard to such meats; inasmuch as they who have paid a regard to them, have not thereby received any advantage (see Acts 15:13; Acts 15:41.). Nor let them boast (Hebrews 13:10.) of their having an altar at Jerusalem, whereof no Gentile has a right to partake: for we have, what is infinitely better than this,—an altar of which the Jewish priests who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat; that is, their Jewish worship gives them no interest in the sacrifice of Christ."
Hebrews 13:11-12. For the bodies of those beasts, &c.— The connection of these words with the foregoing seems to be this: The thing to be proved, ver.10 is, that the Jewish priests have no right by the law to partake of the Christian altar. The reason of which is, because the sacrifice offered upon the Christian altar of the cross, was offered without the gates of Jerusalem; which shews that it was of the same nature with the old propitiatory sacrifices, whose bodies were ordered to be burned without the camp; of which therefore it was unlawful and impossible for the Jewish priests to partake: so that the law which forbad them to eat of propitiatory sacrifices, denied them a right to partake of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. From all which it is to be inferred, that they should forsake the law, and become Christians, and have their hearts established in grace, not in meats. The priests who served the tabernacle, were allowed to partake of some sacrifices which were offered within the tabernacle; (Leviticus 6:26.) but they had no right to partake of those sacrifices which were propitiatory, as appears from the order given relating to the service of the great day of propitiation, to which the apostle here undoubtedly refers;—The bullock for the sin-offering, and the goat for the sin-offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung. Leviticus 16:27. As therefore the priests had no right, according to the law, to partake of expiatory sacrifices, the law could not give them any right to partake of Christ's sacrifice, which is of the same expiatory kind figured and represented by them, as appears from his sufferingwithoutthegatesofJerusalem, in conformity to their being burnt without the camp. The apostle speaks of these things in the language of Moses, in whose days there was no temple built for the Jewish worship. He describes the people as living in a camp in the wilderness, only because he had respect to the words of Moses just quoted, which he recites almost verbatim. As, during the time of the tabernacle in the wilderness, the bodies of these sacrifices were to be burnt without the camp; so when the temple was built at Jerusalem, the bodies of those sin-offerings were burnt without the gates of Jerusalem; for which reason Jesus was to suffer, as he actually did, without the gate of the same city. Luke 23:33.
Hebrews 13:13. Let us go forth therefore— This practical conclusion is drawn from the words immediately preceding the apostle's argument, and may be thus expressed: "Since, as I said, Jesus suffered without the gate of Jerusalem as a propitiatory sacrifice to atone for the sins of all mankind, and to consecrate them as a peculiar people unto God, let us go forth out of Jerusalem to him, and not think ourselves any longer obliged to observe the ceremonies and worship of the Jewish temple of Jerusalem; but let us adhere to Christ alone, and patiently bear the reproach of trusting in a crucified Saviour, as he bore the reproach of crucifixion." See chap. Heb 11:26 and the next note.
Hebrews 13:14. For here we have no continuing city,— When the apostle said, Let us go forth unto him without the camp, he speaks as if we were in our wilderness state, travelling toward the place of our rest. In the wilderness the Jews were obliged to dwell in tents, and had no fixed place of abode; we who believe in Christ, are but strangers here, travelling to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Hebrews 13:15. By him therefore, &c.— "Since Jesus therefore hath suffered that he might redeem us with his blood, let us apply ourselves to God the Father, throughhim as the Mediator, and continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God through his mediation,—not the Jewish sacrifices of the fruits of the earth, of the flocks and herds, but the fruit of our lips; giving thanks to his name. Besides this sacrifice of praise, let us also offer the sacrifice of good works, &c. Hebrews 13:16." As the apostle was now writing to the Jews, he chose to speak of Christian duties and privileges in Jewish language, in order to convince them, that Christianity has all the advantages of which the Jewish church used to boast. As they had an altar, so have we; as they had an high-priest, through whose hands their sacrifices became acceptable to God, (which they would not have been, if they had been offered to God immediately by their own hands;) so we also have a great High-priest, who, as the Mediator between God and man, offers up our sacrifices of prayer and praise to God; who accepts these our sacrifices at Christ's hand, though he would not accept them, if we should offer them up immediately to him without a Mediator. The apostle here also teaches us the general form and method of Christian worship, which is, to offer up our prayers to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Mediator;—as the apostle says we must do continually, and as the precepts and examples recorded in the New Testament universally teach us. See on Hosea 14:2.
Hebrews 13:17. Obey them that have the rule over you,— Obey your spiritual guides, and submit to them; that as they are vigilant over your souls, for which they are accountable, they may discharge their office with alacrity, and not with despondence, which would be to your prejudice. When a minister, zealous for those under his care, is discouraged by their apparent non-proficiency, that damps his spirits, and abates the vigour with which he would exert himself upon more probable hopes of success. See Hebrews 13:7. From the present verse, Hallett observes, we may form this general rule, suited to all ages; namely, that where pastors, in all respects, behave themselves as Christians; where they are qualified with sufficient gifts, and faithfully perform the duties of their pastoral office; where they do not lord it over God's heritage, but are examples of all holiness and virtue to the flock, and heartily labour to promote the salvation of their people, under a lively apprehension that they must hereafter give a strict account of their management to the great Shepherd, who will either reward or punish them, according as they promote or hinder the salvation of those souls for whom he died:—where pastors act in this manner, the people are bound to obey them; that is, to hearken to their good advice, to submit to their just reproofs, as to men who, like parents, have a right to exhort and reprove them: and no one who at all considers things, can think it any manner of evil or hardship to submit to pastors of such a character, by attending to their good and friendly admonitions, and earnestly seeking their own salvation through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:18. For we trust we have a good conscience,— For we are confident that we have a good conscience, determined in all things to behave honourably. It is reasonable to think that the apostle particularly meant, that he took care to act up to the rules of the apostolical office which he had received, labouring to promote the salvationbothofJewsandGentiles;wherefore the Hebrews should not disregard him, upon the account of his labouring to convert the Gentiles through grace, as some of the Jews were apt to do; for he could not honestly discharge his office without this: they therefore should pray to God to give him good success.
Hebrews 13:19. But I beseech you the rather to do this— that is, to pray for me: From what the apostle says in these two verses, it is evident that the Hebrews knew who was the author of this Epistle; and that his design in not setting his name, could not be to conceal himself from them: what his design herein was, we cannot pretend to assert. He would have thempray that success might attend his ministry where he now was, that he might sooner be at leisure to come to them. The case was probably the same as he describes, Romans 15:20-24.
Hebrews 13:20. Now the God of peace, &c.— The Gentile world is commonly described as at enmity with God and his kingdom; as alienated from him, and in a state of rebellion against him; and God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and by Christ offering to them the terms of reconciliation. Hence he is stiled the God of peace, Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20. 2 Corinthians 13:11.Philippians 4:9; Philippians 4:9. The Jews too, coming to Christ, and being justified by faith, were reconciled in God to all mankind: therefore he is also called the God of peace. The next clause may be rendered, That Shepherd of the sheep, great by the blood of the everlasting covenant.
Hebrews 13:21. Make you perfect— May the God of peace suit you to; (καταρτισαι, ) make you ready to do every good work. Hence it comes to signify to join perfectly, to finish, to complete, to bring to perfection any thing: "God in his good providence so ordering and disposing things, and by his grace so aiding you, that you may do what is well pleasing in his sight." See Ephesians 3:16-17. Philippians 2:13.Colossians 1:11; Colossians 1:11.—Through Jesus Christ. They had the opportunity, through the gospel and grace of Christ, to work out their own salvation; and the wish is, that God would so direct and govern things, as to let them always have opportunity of doing what was acceptable in his sight, and always enable them so to do.
Hebrews 13:22. Suffer the word of exhortation— Take in good part the exhortation I here send, which is but a brief one. The apostle seems to have concluded his epistle in the preceding verse, and to add these words by way of postscript. He begs them to accept what he had written with kindness, on account of the importance of the subject, and the conciseness of the manner; informs them, with some degree of exultation, of Timothy's being set at liberty; proposes to come with him to see them; sends his salutations to all of them; and wishesthem an increase of grace, in a manner like that observable in St. Paul'sformer epistles, and which is an authenticating proof, among innumerable others, that this epistle likewise came from him. We may also infer the same from the appellation of our brother, given to Timothy in the next verse; which is peculiar to St. Paul. See Col 1:1. 2 Corinthians 1:1. 1 Thessalonians 3:2.Philemon 1:1; Philemon 1:1. He is often spoken of in other places as a fellow-labourer with St. Paul, but taken notice of by no other of the apostles: whence it is obvious to conclude, that as St. Paul mentions him in every one of his epistles except those to the Galatians and to Titus; the mentioning him in this epistle to the Hebrews is a good concurring circumstance, that St. Paul was the true author of it.
Inferences.—While, from a view of the epistle before us, we consider as entirely abrogated the many ceremonies and expensive sacrifices of the Mosaic law; let it be an additional encouragement to every Christian, to abound more and more in those of brotherly love, unfeigned benevolence, and real charity; rejoicing that the God of our lives, who gives us all we are, and all we enjoy, will condescend to regard our humble oblations. And let our brethren in Christ be remembered with that distinguishing affection which suits the relation in which we stand to them: and in whatever bonds of affliction they may be bound, let us endeavour to make their fetters sit lighter upon them, by every thing which our compassionate assistance can do for that purpose; considering ourselves as in the body.
That we may be thus ready to all such kind offices, be it our care to subdue the love of money in our hearts, which is the root of all evil. May we learn, (and oh! that divine grace may effectually teach us,) to moderate our desires; to be contented with what Providence allots us, whether more or less; and to trust in God as to the supply of our future wants. Well may we not only trust, but even boast in him, when we consider in how endearing a manner he hath declared, and with such reiterated promises, that if we continue to trust in him, he will never leave us; that he will not, yea, he will not forsake us. Surely, the language of the most cheerful and courageous faith well corresponds to that of so gracious and soul-reviving a promise. Let faith then put a reality into it, or rather glory in it; especially as Jesus Christ, in whom this, and all the promises, are confirmed to his faithful people, is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
And let this thought support us, under those breaches which may be made on the church by death. Christ ever lives to guard and protect it, and to maintain those great truths, which in every age have been the joy and confidence of his people. Be our attachment to him therefore preserved inviolable, and the purity of our souls unspotted; nor let us ever fear to share in His reproach; but chearfully go, as it were, out of the camp to him, who suffered crucifixion for us without the gates of the city. Were we called to endure martyrdom for his sake, he would only lead us out of a mean and precarious tabernacle; for we have here no continuing city: but then, he will conduct us, if we are found faithful to him, to a city so durable, that its foundations are elsewhere represented by rocks of solid gems; so glorious, that its pavements are described as of gold, and its gates of pearl. May our faith be daily beholding it as near, and may we feel every day more of its attractive influence, to render us superior to all that earth can promise, and to all which it can threaten, while we are passing thither. Under his guardianship, let us daily be offering the sacrifice of praise,—the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name; as well knowing that while we are on our journey to the new Jerusalem, no mountain can be so steep and rugged, no valley so deep and gloomy, as not to admit of the songs of Sion.
Let those, whom God in his providence hath called to preside over the souls of others, remember to watch over them with a becoming diligence, considering that an impartial account will shortly be required;—considering, that if they do not properly conduct themselves in this important office, the blood of those who perish by their neglect, must be required at their hands; and let the people committed to their care, be concerned that the faithful servants of Christ may discharge their office with joy, and not with grief; that they may not from time to time be sent with groanings and with tears to the presence of their great Master, to lament the obstinacy, perverseness, and rebellion of those, over whom God hath made them watchmen and shepherds. The grief indeed would now sensibly affect the minister; yet, on the whole, as he would be to God a sweet savour in Christ, in them that perish, as well as in them that believe, the greatest detriment would fall on those who have made such ungrateful returns to the divine goodness, and to their fidelity.
That all other duties may be more regularly and properly discharged, let private Christians pray earnestly for their ministers; for those especially who make it apparent that they desire to maintain always a good conscience; and that, whatever sacrifices they may be called to make to it, they are determined in all things to live reputably and honourably; so that the ministry may not be blamed, but rather the Christian profession in general adorned and dignified. And God grant that none but persons of such a character may be introduced into the ministry, or supported and countenanced in it!
Let pastors and people be often looking to Him, who is the great Shepherd of the sheep, and who has bought us all with the blood of the everlasting covenant. Ever may the thoughts of that blood engage us to regard him with all due veneration and love: ever may we be looking to him, who, through this blessed Saviour, appears as the God of peace, for every blessing we respectively need; that, being faithful unto death, we may eternally reap all the blessings of that everlasting covenant!
We all need his gracious influence to implant in us the first principles of the divine life; and we need these principles to make us perfect to do his will, and to work in us those things which may render us more completely pleasing in his sight. Let therefore a humble dependance on his grace be daily maintained and zealously expressed; considering of what infinite importance it is to be acceptable in the sight of God, and to approve ourselves at all times to him.
To this blessed and important end, may grace be with us all,—and continue with us, from the first entrance on the Christian life, through the whole course of it, till finally it present us blameless in the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
* A List of the Writers referred to, or quoted, in the Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews:—Albert, Avery, Lord Barrington, Barrow, Bates, Bengelius, Beza, Blackwall, Bos, Bishop Burnett, Calamy, Calmet, Castalio, Chrysostom, Craddock, Diodati, Doddridge, Dunlope, Elsner, Estius, Bishop Fell, Bishop Gibson, Green, Grotius, Hallett, Hammond, Harris, Heylin, Hesychius, Bishop Hoadley, Bishop Hopkins, Jackson, Kennicott, Lardner, Leigh, L'Enfant, Limborch, Locke, Mangey, Markland, Justin Martyr, Mede, Michaelis, Millar, Mills, Owen, Parkhurst, Bishop Pearson, Peirce, Peters, Pyle, Raphelius, Saurin, Schmidius, Scott, Shaw, Bishop Sherlock, Bishop Smalridge, Spencer, Suicer, Sykes, Taylor, Tertullian, Archbishop Tillotson, Vitringa, Bishop Warburton, Watts, Wetstein, Whitby, Bishop Wilkins, and Wolfius.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Having warned them against apostacy, and set before them the excellency of the gospel dispensation, the apostle concludes with exhorting them to the practice of those duties which must adorn their holy profession.
1. To mutual and fervent love. Let brotherly love continue, cultivate this blessed temper, and abide and abound in the exercise of it towards each other.
2. To hospitality. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; those who travelled to preach the gospel; or by persecution were driven from their native homes; or whose distressed circumstances pleaded for this kind relief; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares, as Abraham and Lot.
3. To Christian sympathy with the afflicted. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them, and tenderly feeling for their miseries; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body, and liable to the same sufferings, and fellow-members in the same mystical body of Christ.
4. To chastity. Marriage is honourable in all, when entered into according to the divine prescription; and the bed undefiled by any forbidden and impure embraces: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge, and execute upon them condign punishment, if they repent not of the evil of their ways.
5. To contentment. Let your conversation be without covetousness, free from the immoderate pursuit of worldly wealth, inordinate care about it, idolatrous delight in, and reluctance to part with it; and be content with such things as ye have, satisfied in the portion which God's providence hath allotted you, and envying none their superior affluence: for he, who is able to supply all your wants, whilst in the way of duty and honest industry you depend upon him, hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee; for what was spoken particularly to Joshua, shall be fulfilled to all the faithful, respecting all their concerns, temporal and spiritual, who shall be under the divine blessing, guidance, and protection. So that we may boldly say, with the Psalmist, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me; greater is he that is for us, than all that are against us; and the devices of wicked men, or wicked devils, he can over-rule, and even make them work together for our good.
6. To imitate their deceased pastors, and to obey their living guides.
[1.] To imitate the good examples of their departed spiritual teachers. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God in time past, and have now finished their testimony: whose faith follow, hold fast the doctrines which they preached, and copy after the holy lives that they led, considering the end of their conversation, how singly they aimed at the glory of God in life, and what a happy exit they made at death; and well may we desire that our last end may be like theirs. And though the best of ministers are dying men, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls ever lives to feed his faithful flock; even Jesus Christ, the glorious object of our faith and hope, the same, unchangeable in his nature, yesterday, in all past ages, and to-day, and for ever, and the everlasting portion of his faithful saints, as your true spiritual guides have taught you. Be not therefore carried about with divers and strange doctrines, different from that unadulterated gospel which they preached to you: for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, and fixed in its dependence on the almighty power of God in Jesus Christ, as the foundation of all hope, and peace, and holiness, in time and eternity; and not seduced by Judaizing teachers with any pretences that the Mosaic ritual is still in force, and that a difference of meats and drinks, and such like things, is necessary to be observed in order to acceptance with God; all which are now abrogated, and have not profited them that have been occupied therein; even when they were in force, they were unable to purge the conscience, and make him who did the service perfect; and much less can they now profit, when they are abolished. We need none of the Levitical sacrifices to feast upon; we have one infinitely better; an altar and sacrifice, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle; for no part of the sin-offering under the law was to be eaten; but the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary, on the great day of atonement, by the high priest for the sin of the people, are burned without the camp. Wherefore, Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people, his spiritual Israel, with his own blood, suffered without the gate, before he went up to heaven, the true sanctuary, there to plead the atonement which he had made. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach; turning our backs upon the temple and all its ritual services, founding no expectations upon them, but cleaving in faith and love to Christ alone, content to be treated with insult, reproach, or cruelty for his sake, boldly carrying our cross to Calvary after him, and ready, if need be, to die for his sake. For here we have no continuing city; this polluted world is not our rest, nor do we desire to take up our rest here below; but we seek one to come, a city that hath abiding foundations, whose maker and builder is God, where saints and angels, and Jesus himself dwelleth. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, since all sacrifices of atonement are at an end, and praise and blessing for redeeming love are the services now required at our hands; that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name, an oblation well pleasing and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Not that we must rest merely in words, but our works also must testify our grateful acknowledgments of the divine mercy; therefore to do good, and to communicate of your substance to the needy, especially to those of the household of faith, according to your ability, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased, and for the Saviour's sake will bless the offerer.
[2.] They are enjoined, as to follow the examples of their departed pastors, so to obey their living guides. Obey them that have the rule over you, your spiritual teachers, who instruct you in the word of God; and submit yourselves meekly to their reproofs and admonitions: for they watch for your souls, to guard you from deceivers, to warn you from approaching dangers, to feed you in the pastures of ordinances, and to help you on your heavenly way; and this they do with all holy jealousy, zeal, and diligence, knowing the solemn reckoning which they must one day make, as they that must give an account: that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that would be not only grievous to them, but is most unprofitable for you, whose condemnation would be highly aggravated by all their fruitless labours bestowed upon you. Note; (1.) Ministers can never too often or too deeply consider the awful account which they must one day give before their eternal Judge. (2.) When we have delivered our souls, then it becomes our people's care to see that their profiting appears: if they trifle with our message, their blood lies upon their own heads.
2nd, The apostle,
1. Recommends himself to their prayers. Pray for us, that we may be wise, vigilant, zealous, successful; and this will be your own benefit; for the more our people pray for us, the more profiting will they receive from us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly, to discharge our awful trust with fidelity, and so to behave as to confute the calumnies of our enemies, approving ourselves to God, and enjoying the testimony of a good conscience. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner; and that you may again reap the fruit of my labours among you. Note; (1.) Every faithful minister, however maligned by wicked men, has the testimony of God and a good conscience, and that is his rejoicing. (2.) Mercies are doubly sweet, which come in answer to prayer.
2. He in return offers up his own prayers on their behalf. Now the God of peace, our reconciled God, that hath spoken peace to our consciences, and hath brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, in token of his perfect satisfaction in his undertaking, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, shed to procure our peace and pardon, and all the blessings of grace and glory for his faithful people, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, enabling you to go from strength to strength, till you arrive at the perfection of knowledge, holiness, and blessedness, in glory everlasting, working in you, by his own almighty grace, that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ, by whom alone every spiritual gift descends upon us; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen! to whom all the praise is to be ascribed. Note; God must have all the glory of our salvation from the beginning to the end; for we are nothing, and he is all in all.
3. He exhorts them very affectionately to attend to what he had said, and informs them of Timothy's release. And I beseech you, brethren dearly beloved, suffer the word of exhortation: take in good part what I have said, and receive the comfort which it is intended to communicate to you; for I have written a letter unto you in few words, when the subject would have admitted of great enlargement. Know ye, that our brother Timothy is set at liberty from his bonds for Christ; with whom, if he come to me shortly, I will see you.
4. He concludes with his affectionate salutations. Salute all then that have the rule over you, your faithful ministers, and all the saints in Christ Jesus. They of Italy salute you, wishing you the best of blessings. Grace be with you all. Amen! May the everlasting love of God in Christ, with all its transcendently blessed effects, be with you in time, and continue to influence and guide you, till you arrive at his kingdom of glory in eternity!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hebrews 13". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent