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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Hebrews 13

 

 

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Verses 1-7

Practical godliness

Hebrews 13:1-7

The Apostle Paul, having finished the doctrinal part of this epistle, closes it with practical exhortations to brotherly love, godliness, unity in doctrine and spirit, and words about various graces.

Hebrews 13:1. ‘Let brotherly love continue’ in you and among you. We are to love all men, even our enemies; but the love Paul is speaking of here is a special family love between people who are in a spiritual relationship to one another through Christ. We pray for one another, bear one another's burdens, forbear and forgive one another, and meet together to encourage and exhort one another. Without this love, professing faith in Christ is useless (1 Peter 2:17; 1 John 3:14-18). This love is to continue (without failure) as a fixed practice and grow as our love for Christ continues and grows.

Hebrews 13:2. Do not forget, neglect, nor refuse to extend hospitality to strangers in this brotherhood. Be friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts and provisions of your home generously; for in doing this, some have entertained unawares angels or special messengers of the Lord. Examples: Abraham (Genesis 18:1-8), LOT (Genesis 19:1-3), disciples (Luke 24:28-31). Our Lord said that entertaining his people is entertaining him (Matthew 25:38-40).

Hebrews 13:3. Remember them that are in prison (not for criminal action but for the sake of Christ and the gospel) as if you were a fellow prisoner with them and remember those who are afflicted, who suffer in the body, who want food and clothing, since you also are liable to the same bodily needs. If we love as brothers and sisters, we will see that missionaries, old people, needy people, sick people, and people out of work do not lack for that which we can supply.

Hebrews 13:4. Let marriage be held in honor. Marriage was instituted by God (Genesis 2:22-25). Marriage was honored with the presence of Christ at the marriage feast (John 2:1-2). Marriage was chosen by Paul as a symbol of Christ's union with the church (Ephesians 5:22-25). Sexual love between husband and wife is honorable, holy, and ordained of God. It is encouraged by the Apostle Paul to prevent sin (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). But God will judge and deal with those who are promiscuous and unchaste. Married believers shall live together in love, compassion, and submission, protecting and building their marriages and homes for the glory of God and the good of themselves and the gospel.

Hebrews 13:5. Let your character and conduct be free from love of money, free from craving wealth and worldly possessions, free from greed and lust for material things. Be content with what God has given you. Be content with your present position and circumstance; for God has said, ‘I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up, nor leave you without support.’ ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.’ (Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:6; Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6-8.)

Hebrews 13:6. ‘So that we may boldly say...,’or so that we can be confident and not alarmed over what man can do. The Lord is our helper (Philippians 4:19). He will meet my every need--spiritually, materially, and physically (Matthew 6:24-34).

Hebrews 13:7. Remember them that are guides and authority over you. Christ is our King; but pastors are subordinate leaders who point the way to Christ, teach the word of God, guide you in an understanding of the Scriptures, and are responsible to see that the church continues in the way of Christ. To remember them is to respect them, to follow their leadership, to pray for them, to provide for their material needs, and to honor them for Christ's sake. Imitate the faith of a true pastor; that is, his gospel, his conviction that Christ is the only Redeemer and the giver of life. We are not to imitate any man (only Jesus alone). You can follow that and do well, considering that the goal and object of their ministry is the glory of Christ and your eternal good (Hebrews 13:17).


Verses 8-14

Let us go forth unto him

Hebrews 13:8-14

Hebrews 13:8. In verse seven, Paul exhorts us to respect, acknowledge, and follow the faithful pastors and spiritual guides whom the Lord has been pleased to give to us. Consider the subject and object of their ministry–Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. A faithful pastor will preach Christ. The goal of his life and ministry will be to know Christ. The glory of Christ is the object of his conversation and conduct.

1. Christ is the same in his glory, his offices, his purpose, and his work yesterday (not the day immediately past but ancient times). In the beginning of the world, he was the everlasting I AM, the Lamb slain, the surety of his people. In Old Testament times, he was the substance of the sacrifices, the types, and the promises.

2. Today, (under the gospel dispensation) in his person, he is the God-man; in his offices, he is Prophet, Priest, and King.

3. Forever he is the same, for he never dies. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and his priesthood an unchanging one. His love and care for his people never change (Malachi 3:6; Romans 11:29; Philippians 1:6).

Hebrews 13:9. Let our hearts ‘be established with grace.’ There are three key words here.

1. Heart –conviction, repentance, faith, and a right knowledge of Christ are heart works, not just mental acceptance of facts and doctrines (Romans 10:9-10).

2. Established –convinced, persuaded, and settled in our hearts regarding the righteousness of God and the way to God.

3. Grace –we understand that salvation, justification, and eternal happiness are the results of God's grace to us in Christ Jesus, not by deeds of the law nor works of the flesh (Titus 3:5-7; 2 Timothy 1:8-11).

Be not unsettled, tossed about, and carried away from this grace by the variety and multitude of strange doctrines which come your way from the lips of men. They are called ‘strange doctrines’ because they are not taught in the word of God, because they are not in agreement with the person and work of Christ, and because they are contrary to the doctrine of salvation by grace.

Those who are occupied with the ceremonial law, eating certain meats, keeping certain days, or engaging in certain ceremonies have not profited in their souls by such conduct. These things cannot sanctify, justify, establish the heart, nor give peace to the soul (Colossians 2:16-22; Romans 14:17).

Hebrews 13:10. The reference is to the eating of the sacrifice by the priests (Leviticus 6:14-16). The sacrifice was offered, burned upon the altar, and eaten by the priests. We have an altar –not the cross, nor the Lord's Table, nor a bench at the front of the church, but Christ himself. He is altar, sacrifice, and priest. We have the right to come to Christ and, therefore, to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood (John 6:53-57). Those who persist in being saved by works and duties of the law have no right to come to Christ (Galatians 5:2-4).

Hebrews 13:11-12. On the day of atonement, the bullock and goat were slain and the blood was brought into the holy of holies and sprinkled on the mercy-seat to make an atonement. The bullock and goat were then taken outside the camp and burned (Leviticus 16:15-17; Leviticus 16:27-28).

In order to sanctify us with his blood and to fulfill this type of himself, Christ was crucified outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem, which answered to the camp of Israel in the wilderness. The flesh, skin, and dung of the sin-offering were unclean before God and had to be carried outside the camp to be disposed of. Even the men who handled it were unclean. We see in this not only the suffering of our Lord for sin, but the shame and reproach he endured as our sin-offering. Bearing our sins, he was unclean and must die outside the camp.

Hebrews 13:13. ‘Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp.’ The key words here are ‘unto him.’ He is our sin-offering, our hope of redemption, and our Redeemer. Where he is, there we must be; whether in the camp or outside the camp, there are we (John 14:3). In his shame and reproach, he suffered without the camp. So, being one with him, we quit the camp of ceremony, legalism, human works, worldliness, or whatever to be identified with our Lord. Whatever reproach we incur from the natural or religious world is welcomed, because we find in him all we need (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:9-10).

Hebrews 13:14. The world and everything in it are unstable and temporary. The riches, honors, pleasures, the persons in it, and the fashion of it pass away. And though we are in this world, we are not of it; and when the will of God is done, we will be taken out of it to heaven where all is peace, perfect love, and eternal (1 John 2:15-17).


Verses 15-25

Outward evidence of inward grace

Hebrews 13:15-25

Hebrews 13:15. By Christ (through Christ) ‘let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.’

1. There is no coming to God but through Christ. All of our mercies and blessings come through him, and our praise and thanksgivings are only acceptable to God on account of Christ (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:19-22).

2. Being made priests before God by Christ and all legal, typical sacrifices having been fulfilled and abolished by Christ, our High Priest, Paul points out what sacrifice we are to offer to God. It is the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:19-20).

3. ‘Continually.’ In every condition the believer has much for which to be thankful (Psalms 150:1-6).

4. It is called ‘the fruit of our lips’ in reference to the offering of first-fruits in the Old Testament, to distinguish it from ceremonial sacrifices, and to show in what way we are to praise God; namely, with our lips.

Hebrews 13:16. Do not forget nor neglect to be kind and generous, contributing and distributing to the needy and underprivileged. The sacrifices of praise and of love are pleasing to God. Helping others with a generous spirit shows the work of grace in our hearts and is glorifying to God (Matthew 25:34-40; 1 Timothy 6:17-18; Philippians 4:15-18).

Hebrews 13:17. ‘Them that have the rule over you’ are the pastors and leaders of the church as mentioned in Verse Seven.

1. How do we obey them? By attending to the word preached by them, by receiving the word preached, by regarding and respecting their counsel, advice, and rebukes, and by recognizing their God-given authority and leadership.

2. True pastors are not concerned about worldly gain, fame, and possessions, but for the spiritual welfare of their hearers (John 21:15-17). They must give an account to their own consciences that they remain faithful. They must give an account to the church to whom they minister. They must also account to the Lord for whom they speak (Acts 20:28).

3. If you receive his message and are faithful to Christ, the faithful minister goes about his work with joy and not grief, his prayers before the throne of grace are born of joy and not grief, and in the great day of Judgment (when he shall be a witness of your final end) that, too, will bring Joy and not grief. To refuse to hear the gospel from true ministers is to refuse to hear Christ (Ephesians 5:11-16) and will certainly grieve him and be unprofitable to you.

Hebrews 13:18-19. Pray for those who minister the word. The work of the ministry of the gospel is so important and you have such a concern in it, that you ought to be moved to pray that God will give the pastor and the missionary his word for you and for the church. If the pastor is blessed, the people will be blessed. If he is not anointed, the people suffer. ‘I trust,’ says Paul, ‘that as a minister of the gospel I am faithfully preaching the word of God without regard to the favors or frowns of men,’ as a good steward of the grace of God (Acts 20:25-27). The ministers of Christ are sometimes hindered by Satan and his emissaries who create trouble; but God will see them through, and for this we pray to him (1 Thessalonians 2:14-18).

Hebrews 13:20-21. The epistle concludes with a prayer for the Hebrews. Paul asked them to pray for him; he in turn (and by way of example) prays for them.

(Amplified Version) ‘May the God of peace, who is the author and giver of peace, and who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed and ratified the everlasting testament, strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be, and equip you with everything good that you may carry out his will; while he himself works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, the Messiah; to whom be the glory forever and ever.’

Hebrews 13:22-25. The children of God are sometimes sluggish and need to be stirred up; so Paul calls on them to listen to the message of exhortation, warning, and encouragement which he has written. Timothy has been released from prison. ‘If he comes here soon, I will see you along with him.’

‘Give my greetings to all your spiritual leaders and all believers. The Italian believers greet you.’ Paul was probably writing from Rome.

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 13:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/hebrews-13.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 6th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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