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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Hebrews 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-6

CONCLUSION OF THE EPISTLE

A

Moral exhortations of a more general character

Hebrews 13:1-6

1Let brotherly love continue 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares 3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and [om. and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in 4 the body. Marriage is honourable in all [Be marriage held in honor in all things], and the [be its] bed undefiled: but [or for][FN1] whoremongers and adulterers God will Judges 5 Let your conversation [disposition, or mode of life] be without covetousness; and be [being] content with such things as ye have: for he [himself] hath said, I will never6[by no means] leave thee, nor [will I at all] forsake thee. So that we may boldly [with confidence] say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me [I will not fear; what shall a man do unto me?].

[ Hebrews 13:2.—τῆν φιλοξενίαν, hospitality.—διὰ ταύτης, by means of this.—ἔλαθον ξενίσ., escaped notice entertaining=entertained unawares; the Aor. pointing back historically to the time of the event.

Hebrews 13:3.—Is more forcible with the asyndeton of the original; the and is unnecessary and enfeebling.—τῶν κακουχουμένων, those in distress.

Hebrews 13:4.—The Imperat. is (with Moll, Del, Alf, etc.) much better than the Ind. construction of the Eng. ver. We might hesitate to supply the Imperat. rather than the Indic, but we must do so in Hebrews 13:5, and there is no difficulty here, because the imperative idea which belongs to all the preceding clauses, would naturally be transferred to this, in the absence of the verb.—Ἐν πᾶσιν in all things; with persons παρὰ πᾶσιν, would be more natural (Moll, Alf.).

Hebrews 13:5.—ὁ τρόπος, habit, disposition; Moll: Sinnesart; Alf.: mode of life.—ἀρκούμενοι τοῖς παροῦσιν, being contented, with what ye have.—αὑτος γάρ, for he himself.—οὐ μή σε ἀνῶ, οὐδ’ οὐ μή σε, etc, much more emphatic than the construction of the Eng. ver, “I will by no means leave thee, nor will I by any means abandon thee.”

Hebrews 13:6.—θαρροῦντας, with confidence.—καὶ οὐ φοβηθήσομαι: Sin. follows Vulg, etc., in omitting καί; Alf, Del, Moll etc., retain it. But all agree in reading the following clause, as an independent question, τί ποιήσ., etc, what will a man do unto me?

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 13:1. Continue.—The form of the injunction shows that the brotherly love, once so prevalent in the church, i.e., the mutual love of Christians, must, at the time of the composition of our Epistle, have still been active in it, as indicated also at Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 10:32 ff.; while Hebrews 10:26 shows the necessity of their being exhorted to the practice of this virtue. This brotherly love φιλαδελφία) which, according to 2 Peter 1:7, constitutes a specific form of the broader virtue of ἀγάπη was designated by the Lord Himself as a special characteristic of His disciples ( John 13:35. Also Tertullian paints in the liveliest colors its prevalence in the church of his time; and even the scoffer Lucian is obliged to pay an unwilling tribute to its power when he says (de morte Peregrini): “Their principal Law-giver has inspired in them the sentiment that they are all mutually brethren so soon as they had passed over, i.e., had denied the Grecian Gods, and devoted themselves to the worship of that crucified sophist, and were living in accordance with his precepts.” Moreover, Julian (epistle49) says that “kindness toward strangers ( περὶ τοὺς ξένους φιλανθρωπία) had been a principal means of propagating the ἀθεότης of the Christians.

Hebrews 13:2. Forget not.—Λανθάνω, with the participle, is a familiar Greek construction. The reference is to the experiences of Abraham and Lot ( Genesis 18:19). Perhaps also to Matthew 25:44-45. Substantially parallel are Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9. Whether λἔαθον forms a paronomasia with ἔπιλανθάνεσθε (Lun.) is doubtful.

Hebrews 13:3. As bound with them—as being yourselves also in the body.—It is neither necessary nor admissible, in order to give to ὡς the same signification in both clauses, to understand, with Böhme, and others, the bound with them, of life and sufferings in the ecclesia pressa, [“travelling too far from the context.”—Alf.], or, with Calvin, and others, to understand the “body” of the church as the body of Christ. We may, with Œc, give ὡς in the first clause, also the causal significance, which it unquestionably has in the second; but his translation, “inasmuch as we are closely connected with them,” merely involves the idea that, by virtue of our membership and communion with our imprisoned brethren, we should feel ourselves under obligation to remember them in loving sympathy. It is more advisable, therefore, to take the first ὡς as a particle of comparison. [“As being your selves also in the body,” i.e., as being yourselves in a body which exposes you to like suffering with them, and might therefore be expected to secure your sympathy for the sufferer.—K.].

Hebrews 13:4. Marriage in all.—In the New Testament γάμος means, elsewhere, the wedding and its celebration; here, as in classical Greek, wedlock. [Alf. takes it here as “wedding,” and renders it “your marriage”]. Ἐν πᾶσιν means not with all nations (Pesh, Beza, Grot, and others, who, with τίμιος, erroneously supply ὅτι); but, “in every respect, in all respects.” Were the injunction intended to be that marriage should be held honorable with all persons. (Luth, etc.), or that no unmarried person should regard it with contempt (Böhme, Schultz, etc.), or that it should be forbidden to no Prayer of Manasseh, the form would probably be παρὰ πᾶσιν.

Hebrews 13:5. He himself has said.—Not Christ (Bez, Böhm, Klee), but God, in the Scripture. These words are found in full, Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8, and repeated, 1 Chronicles 28:20. But God is there spoken of in the third person. Individual elements of this consolatory address, representing God as speaking in the first person, are found, Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:5; Isaiah 41:17. It is found, in precisely the same terms as here, in Philo, Ed. Mang., I:430. That the author has drawn immediately from Philo, (Bl, De W.), is scarcely to be supposed. We may rather conjecture that the saying had in this form already become a proverb (Beng.), or that it originated in the liturgical and homiletical usage of the Hellenistic Synagogue from the confounding of kindred expressions with the original passage, Deuteronomy 31:6 (Del.). The double negation in the first, and the triple negation in the second member, serve for emphasis. The mention of the persecutions of the church, suggests the trustful declaration cited from Psalm 118:6.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Brotherly love stands preëminent among the distinguishing marks of the children of God ( 1 John 3:1), and if genuine, never ceases ( 1 Corinthians 13:8). Its purity, power, and permanence, however, depend upon the nature of our relation to Christ, and with this, upon that of our faith. It can therefore, on the one hand, never dispense with nourishment, culture and discipline; and on the other cannot do without exercise.

2. The practice of hospitality may very easily prove disagreeable; one may exercise it unwillingly, sullenly, and enviously; may limit it by caprice and selfishness; may regard and treat it as a burden and a plague. We must therefore be kindly reminded of this duty, as a duty of love, and learn to give heed to the blessing it brings with it, in order that the offerings which we are required to bring, and the privations which we impose upon ourselves, may not fall too heavily or incite us to self-glorification. And this blessing transcends our knowledge and conception. We may receive into our house messengers of God; nay, may receive Christ Himself, in His humblest servants ( Matthew 25:35 ff.).

3. The connection, which, in a two-fold way, we have with sufferers, viz., by spiritual and by natural ties of friendship, must make itself be recognized by compassionate and effective sympathy, in every individual case; and inasmuch as this is deficient, and often inconvenient, we are reminded, on the one hand, of the law in accordance with which, if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it ( 1 Corinthians 12:26); and on the other, of our own liability to suffer, a liability inseparable from our bodily life.

4. The character belonging to marriage, as an ordinance instituted and blessed of God, and the purity which, according to the will of God, befits the marriage bed, and the rites of matrimony, need special attention and care. “The terrible sentence pronounced on fornicators and adulterers is one which pays no heed to the false reasonings and cavilling interpretations, which will plead in excuse for such impurities the fierce lusts of Prayer of Manasseh, the course of the world, and the difficulties of ordinary wedlock. At the judgment of God it will also be made manifest how much power and light the knowledge of God and of our Lord, Jesus Christ, have imparted to each one, by which to escape from this corruption of the world; nay, it will also become manifest that the majority have fallen, not from an irresistible power of their nature, but from lusts wilfully indulged, and nurtured and heightened by the reading of mischievous books, and by profligate intercourse; nay, that frequently they have themselves inflamed, and urged on anew the nature which had been wearied out in the service of sin, and had withdrawn from it with loathing. Then, too, it will become evident what evasions men have resorted to, in order to escape the judgments of men, and why many have so aided others, and how many a one has chosen rather to carry his lusts with him to the bar of God, than to free himself from them upon the dying-bed” (Rieger).

5. Pleasure and licentiousness lead not only to extravagance, but also to discontentment, thence to covetousness, and finally, not unfrequently to miserly niggardliness. Yet even apart from this, an insatiable and covetous habit of feeling and action stands in direct antagonism to the Christian temper and conduct ( Matthew 6:19-34; Colossians 3:5; Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6), and plunges one into severe temptations and great dangers ( 1 Timothy 6:9 ff). An effective weapon against this, as against the fear of human wickedness and violence, is the use of the word of God, by which confidence in the living God, who has promised that He will withdraw from us neither His presence, nor His help, is awakened and nourished.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

What most hinders, and what most promotes the exercise of Christian love.—We have in suffering and assaults, not merely the sympathy of the brethren, but also the comfort of the word of God, and the help of the Lord.—Faith, the mother of all virtues.—The characteristics of true Christianity.—How, while living in the world and in the flesh, we conquer world and flesh.—We are either judged or saved of God; there is no alternative.

Starke:—Love is a cardinal virtue, which embraces in itself all others ( Romans 13:10), and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, in which faith becomes active ( Galatians 5:6).—Brotherly love must not be love in words, but must evince itself in Acts, especially toward those who are, for the sake of the Gospel, imprisoned, or otherwise suffering persecution, so that we may extend to them counsel, aid and refreshment ( 1 John 3:18).—It is a gracious provision of God that although the ungodly would gladly see all the righteous destroyed at once, or at least oppressed, still sufferings pass but gradually from one to another, in order that those who as yet have been spared, may be able to receive and succor the oppressed ( Revelation 12:12).—He who is prudent will let the consideration of the righteous judgment of God hold him back from sin ( Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).—Sin, the sin of fornication and adultery, cannot be too sharply rebuked before the world. Hence God has pledged Himself to punish them.—The little which a righteous man hath, is better than the great possessions of the ungodly.—A Christian must faithfully apply to himself what he reads in the Holy Scriptures, according to the, exigencies of the case.—Human weakness fears before men, as if they could disturb its pleasant repose and satisfaction. But comfort! who shall be able to harm those whom God has taken into His protection? ( Romans 8:31; 1 Peter 3:14).

Rieger:—It belongs to the nature and power of faith to receive promptly and interpret for itself every word of God, but along with this to set to its seal, that God is true. He who makes God alone his goal, has in God a rich consolation.—This is the holiest feature of the book of the Psalm that in it the Divine promises are placed before us, transformed already into pure nourishment for faith, and into living power.

Hahn:—A guest has frequently an invisible companion, and thus the cost of his entertainment is richly repaid.—Worldlings leave one another in the lurch; but believers all stand firm for a man.—Brotherly love has two hinderances, the unchaste flesh, and avarice.—God makes a marvellous distribution of suffering; one suffers early, another late. Thus what has no yet arrived, may still come. Hence, both in prayer and in benefactions remember the miserable.—Man is always anxious lest his supplies may fail; but God is good for all our deficiencies.

Schleiermacher:—On Christian hospitality. (Sermons on the Christian household).

Heubner:—The dearer to us is our faith, the dearer to us are our kinsmen in the faith.—In Christianity purity has a religious ground.—Confidence in God is the best preservative against anxious care for food, and makes us free from the fear of men.

Hedinger:—Love has extraordinary impulses; the best love gladly entertains guests. Whom? Those who are unable to render any temporal recompense.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Hebrews 13:4.—The particle δέ is found in C. D***. J. K.; on the contrary, γάρ in Sin. A. D*. M. The Pesh. follows the former reading; the It. and Vulg. the latter. [Tisch, Del, Moll retain δέ. Alf. substitutes γάρ.—K.].


Verses 7-17

B

Special admonitions regarding their inclination to apostasy

Hebrews 13:7—17

7Remember them which have the rule over you [your leaders], who [as those who] have spoken [spoke] unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the 8 end of their conversation [contemplating the issue of their walk]. Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, to-day, and foreHebrews Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about [aside, παραφέρεσθε][FN2] with divers [various] and strange doctrines [teachings]; for it is a good thing [is good] that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied[FN3] therein 10 We have an altar, whereof [wherefrom] they have no right to eat which [who] serve the tabernacle 11 For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin,[FN4] are burned without the camp 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate 13 Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without 14 the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we have no continuing city [have not here 15 an abiding city], but we seek one to come [are seeking that which is to come]. By [Through] him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that Isaiah, the fruit of our [om. our] lips giving thanks [making acknowledgment] to his name 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased 17 Obey them that have the rule over you [them that lead you, Hebrews 13:7], and submit yourselves: for they watch for [are watching on behalf of] your souls,[FN5] as they that must give [render] account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief [sighing, στενάζοντες]; for that is unprofitable for [unto] you.

[ Hebrews 13:7.—τῶν ἡγουμένων, those who are (or in this case, were) leading you, who, it appears from what follows, were now dead, and are to be remembered and followed in their Christian example. “Them that have the rule over you,” of the E. V, therefore, is not strictly warrantable.—οἵτινες, characteristic, of the kind who (the which, Alf.).—ἐλὰλησαν, not have spoken, but, spoke, historically—it is now over.—ἀναθεωροῦντες, surveying back, going backward in your contemplations over the entire series. Difficult to express by one word in English. “Considering,” however, which does duty here as for so many other words, is needlessly inadequate. Better with Alf, “surveying.” “Considering” which, marks a purely intellectual Acts, loses entirely the external imagery of ἀναθεωροῦντες. This is retained in “surveying,” partially also in “contemplating.” Moll, “hinschauend.”—πῆς ἀναστροφῆς, their conduct, walk (E. V, conversation).

Hebrews 13:8.—Ἰησοῦς χριστὸς, “not common with our writer; only elsewhere at Hebrews 13:21,” (Alf.).—understand εστὶν, is—εἰςτοὺς αἰῶνας, stands emphatic, “is yesterday and to-day the same—and forever.”

Hebrews 13:9.—μὴ παραφέρεσθε, be not carried aside, not περιφ., “carried about”—the παραφ., much more forcible and pertinent to the author’s purpose, as not referring to Christian instability in general, but to being borne away from Christianity itself.

Hebrews 13:9.—ἐν οἵς, “in which they who walked, were not profited.”

Hebrews 13:10.—ἐξ οὔ, from, which, wherefrom.—ἐξουσίαν, right, authority, privilege—rarely well rendered by power, as by E. V, as at John 1:13—τῆ σκηνῆ, Beng. (cited by Alf.), “est aculeus quod dicil, τῆ σκηνῆ non ἐν τῆ σκηνῆ.”

Hebrews 13:11.—ω̇͂ν ζώων, of what animals=of those animals of which.—περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτἰας, for sin; Moll, though marking it doubtful in his critical note, retains it in his version. Alford rejects it.—διὰ τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, through, by means of the high, priest, regarded as acting for the people, or for God.—κατακαίεται, are burned up, consumed; E. V, are burned, not quite adequately.—τῆς παρεμβολῆς, the encampment in the wilderness; the old tabernacle imagery carried through to the last.

Hebrews 13:14.—μένουσαν πόλιν, an abiding city.—τὴν μέλλουσαν ἐπιζητοῦμεν, we are seeking after (ἐπί, direction toward hence implies yearning after, Hebrews 9:14), that which is to be—the future abiding city.

Hebrews 13:15.—ἀναφέρωμεν, let us be offering up.—καρπὸν χειλ., the fruit of lips (fruit or offering rendered by lips) making acknowledgment to his name.

Hebrews 13:17.—τοῖς ἡγουμ., them that lead you, your leaders.—αὐτοὶ γάρ, for themselves they in turn, or on their part.—ἀγρυπνοῦσι, are sleepless, keep vigilant watch, the meaning stronger than is suggested by the simple English term watch.—ὑπὲρ, on behalf of.—ὡς ἐπιδωσ., having, being destined, to render an account.—ἵνα τοῦτο ποιῶσιν, that they may be doing this, viz, watching.—στενάζοντες, sighing, groaning. Moll, seufzend; Alf, lamenting, viz, “over your disobedience.”—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 13:7. Your leaders.—The term ἡγούμενος which is found Acts 15:22, with the Rom. Clem. (ad Cor1,37), and in the martyr St. Ignat. § 4points to no other than the ordinary form of church government (Dav. Schultz). Chrys. explains the word, although at this time, it already had the special signification of abbot, by ἐπίσκοποι. Of kindred nature is the designation of the heads of the Church, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, by προιστάμενοι.

Issue of their walk.—Ἔκβασις τῆς ἀναστροφῆς expresses not the development, (Œc, De Dieu), and not the result of the walk, in respect to others, (Braun, Cramer) or, in respect to the perfected ones themselves, in heaven (Storr, etc.), but, in the connection, their death by martyrdom.

Hebrews 13:8. Jesus Christ, yesterday.—Inasmuch as the subject is the God- Prayer of Manasseh, we need not extend the ἐχθές. (so read in Sin. A. C*. D*.) to the time before the appearance of Christ (Beng, etc.), and thus neither to the entire time of the Old Covenant, (Calv, etc.), nor at all to the preëxistence of Christ, (Ambrose, Seb. Schmidt, etc.). Luther, following the Vulg. And Œc, falsely puts a stop after σήμερον. It is not the eternity (Ambrose, Cyrill. Alex, Calov, etc.), but the eternal unchangeableness of Christ on which emphasis is laid. Hence, αὐτός is the predicate applicable to all the three divisions of time. The sentence thus abruptly introduced, (without the usual connection) serves undoubtedly to assign a reason for the following warning, yet nothing authorizes the supposition that it stands in an intended antithesis to the Jewish expectation of a still future Messiah (Œc.). It is possible that it, at the same time, furnishes the ground for the preceding exhortation, (Bl. Ebr, etc.), or encourages to its fullfilment (Theoph, Grot, etc.). Nothing in the passage requires us to take it as explaining the substance of the faith of the ἡγούμενοι (Calov, Carpz.).

[For the reasons (1) “that βρώματα is a word not found in the law when offerings are spoken of, but in the distinction of clean and unclean, Leviticus 11:34; 1 Maccabees 1:63; (2) that in all New Testament places where βρω̈μα is used in a similar connection, it applies to clean and unclean meats: (3) that διδαχαῖς ποικίλαις—παραφερ., must refer not to meats eaten after sacrifice, but to such doctrines in which there was variety and perplexity, as to those concerning clean and unclean.”—(Alf.)]. In the classics, also, ξένος does not always indicate something foreign, but sometimes, something strange and surprising. The antithesis in the two clauses is overlooked by Böhme, who, following Castalio, understands χάρις of gratitude to God, and by Bisping, who refers it to the Lord’s Supper, as the Christian sacrificial meal [a “monstrous interpretation,” Alf.].

Hebrews 13:10. We have an altar, etc. θυμιαστήριον is not Christ Himself, (Bugenhagen, Biesenthal, etc.) nor the table of the Lord’s Supper (Böhm, Ebr. Bisp, etc.), nor an expiatory arrangement in general, (Michael, Stier, Thol, Hofm, etc.), but the cross upon Golgotha (Thom. Aquin, Este, Beng, Bl, De W, Lün, etc.), of which Christians eat, in that the atoning victim that was offered upon it, is the food of their souls (Riehm), comp. John 6:51 ff. The question is not merely of the enjoyment of the spiritual blessings resulting to believers from the sacrificial death of Christ (Bl, Lün.), but communion with the personal Christ crucified on our behalf. The τῇ σκηνῇ λατρεύοντες are not Christians (Schlicht, Schultz, Hofm, etc.), but either as Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:2 the Israelites (Lün, Kluge), or, as Hebrews 8:5, the Jewish priests (Bl, De W, Del, Riehm), who, above others, had access to the typical dwelling-place of God, and had a right to partake of the food that had been consecrated to God.

Hebrews 13:11. For the bodies of those animals whose blood, etc.—Of many sacrifices, the priests obtained either the entire flesh, Leviticus 5:9; Leviticus 23:20; or the breast, and shoulder, Numbers 7:34; or the whole with the exception of the fat pieces, Numbers 4:26 ff.; comp. Numbers 6:19; Numbers 6:22; Numbers 7:7. But of the sin-offerings whose blood was brought into the inner tabernacle, Leviticus 4:5-7; Leviticus 4:16-18; Leviticus 4:16. the fat pieces were brought to the altar, and all the rest was consumed by fire without the camp. This burning was only a means of getting rid of the things burned, and was called שָׂרַף, a word never used to denote burning on the altar. The emphasis lies, therefore, not upon the burning, but on the fact that this mode of dealing with the flesh of the victims, from which the priests derived no enjoyment, took place without the camp. This is regarded by the author as typical. Lün, following Bähr, (Stud, und Krit., 1849, i13:936, ff.) regards the capital point of the argument of Hebrews 13:10 as appearing in Hebrews 13:12, and regards Hebrews 13:11 as containing a preliminary idea that is merely auxiliary to the proof. But it is more natural to take Hebrews 13:11 as containing the proof of Hebrews 13:10, while again, the idea of Hebrews 13:12 is suggested by Hebrews 13:11, and corresponds, therefore, in substance to Hebrews 13:10 (Riehm). [The typical image is simple and forcible. Christ as a sin-offering, suffered without the gate whither the bodies of the animals that were slain as sin-offerings under the Old Covenant were carried to be burnt. As then the priests of the Old Covenant, and also the people, had no right to partake of that sacrifice, so they who now adhere to that Covenant, who minister to that tabernacle, have no right to partake of that great victim that is slain and disposed of outside of the encampment, and which is the antitype of the Old Testament sin-offering. In order to eat of this sacrifice, as Christ Himself requires, they must break away from their adherence to the system which forbade them to eat of the type, and can, therefore, of itself, give no authority to eat the antitype.—K.].

Hebrews 13:13. Wherefore let us go forth to Him, etc.—This is an exhortation based on the preceding passage. It is not, however, an exhortation to refrain from sacrificial meats (Retschl.), or from worldly pleasures (Chrys, Primas, etc.); nor to a voluntary following into the sufferings of Christ (Œc, Limb, etc.);nor to a withdrawal from Jerusalem on account of its impending destruction (Clericus); but to a complete separation from Judaism, (Theod, Beng, Bl, Thol, Lün, etc.). To a willing endurance of exclusion from the Jewish Theocracy (Schlicht, Grot, etc., and recently, Thiersch), there is not the slightest allusion; and the passage contradicts in the most decisive manner Schwegler’s position, that to our Author Christianity is still in a transition state from Judaism.—It is only, [or rarely,] except in later writers and sometimes in the Sept, that τοίνυν stands, as here, at the beginning of the sentence. Does ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς involve a reference to the speedily following destruction of Jerusalem? At all events, the following verse could not but suggest to the mind of the readers, the city whose foundations are not moved, Hebrews 11:10.

[It seems, by no means, improbable that this passage does have a double reference; that while its external and obvious import is to warn its readers to a complete withdrawal from the entanglements and bondage of Judaism, another import may have lain beneath its guarded language, viz., a record by the Holy Spirit, through the inspired writer, of the warning and injunction formerly given by him to the Christians of Palestine, and especially of Jerusalem through the lips of the Lord. So interpreted, the terms have special significance. The τῆς παρεμβολῆς persistently kept up, still harmonizes with the primary and figurative import of the passage, while the οὐ μένουσαν πόλιν, in contrast with the τὴν ἐπιμέλλουσαν shows that the writer has clearly in mind the earthly Jerusalem.—K.].

Hebrews 13:15. The sacrifice of praise.—θυσια αἰνέσεως means, in the Old Testament, the voluntary, whether promised or freely undertaken offering of praise (thank-offering), זֶבַח תּוֹדָה Numbers 7:12-15, which, however, even at Psalm 50:14; Psalm 50:23; Psalm 116:17, is a symbol of the thanksgiving of the heart and mouth, and is here explained according to Hosea 14:3; yet after the LXX, that, instead of פָּרִים reads פְּרִי. Wetstein adduces the Rabbinical saying: “In the future all sufferings will cease; but the thank-offering ceases not;” and Philo (ed. Mangey, II:253) styles this the best offering. According to a favorite Old Testament representation, thoughts are branches, and the words blossoms and fruits, which, taking root in the Spirit, and by him impelled through mouth and lips, sprout forth and ripen (Del, Bibl. Psychologie, p142). The last αὐτοῦ is not to be referred to Christ (Sykes), but to God.

Hebrews 13:16. But to do good and to communicate, etc.—The Subst. εὐποιΐα is found in the New Testament only here. The verb, Mark 14:7. Κοινωνία in the same sense as here, Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Philippians 1:5, of evincing our fellowship in communicating of our temporal possessions. Εὐαρεστοῦμαί=to be satisfied with any thing, is entirely classical. Theophyl, Schlicht, Beng, etc., erroneously refer ταιαύταις γάρ to Hebrews 13:15, also.

Hebrews 13:17. Unprofitable.—Either as hindering the influence of the readers (Bl.), or as rendering them dispirited and inactive (Calv, Grot.), or best, per μείωσιν (Gerh, Thol, Lün.). The leaders must have been esteemed by the author as reliable men, and been known by him in their most favorable aspects. The first τοῦτο in Hebrews 13:17 refers to ἀγρυπνεῖν, the second to στενάζειν.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Examples worthy of imitation are furnished specially by those leaders in the churches, and publishers of the Gospel, who, by the grace of God in Christ, were able to give such an expression to the faith which they have professed and taught, that their dying corresponded with their life, and their death proved a living voucher of their faith. The memory of these should be held in honor, and exercises a blessed influence on all who behold it.

2. Exalted above all change in fortune and in feeling, as above all personal vicissitudes, is Jesus Christ, the unchangeable and abiding Head of the Church, whether its members are already in heaven, or are still living upon the earth; and by virtue of His relation to God, He intercedes for, protects, blesses, and rules it eternally.

3. With the pure word, and the all-sufficient grace of God is given to us all that we need. To this there need, and should be added nothing drawn from other religions. Instead of producing steadfastness and satisfaction of heart, such a mixture of foreign elements, would rather disturb and weaken the purity, certainty, joy, and power of faith, and would bring with it the danger of a turning away, to unfruitful and perplexing ordinances, usages, and strifes.

4. Inasmuch as we have the only valid and efficient expiatory offering in Christ, who outside of the city of legal worship, was crucified for us, and have in him at the same time, the true Passover ( 1 Corinthians 6:3), we are enabled to partake of an atoning banquet which to the Levitical priests was made legally impossible. It becomes therefore the duty of Christian churches that are still entangled in Judaism, entirely to abandon the Jewish camp.

6. On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which admits no repetition, and sets aside the whole system of sacrificial worship, we are alike laid under the obligation, and endowed with the capacity of offering acceptable and permanent sacrifices of thanksgiving and of well doing, with which we praise God, who, rich in grace, glorifies himself in sinners, and we serve one another according to the will of God as good stewards of the manifold gifts of God.

7. The prosperity of the church is best promoted when its leaders, mindful of their great responsibility before God, watch on behalf of souls, and the members of the church facilitate the fulfilment of this duty by docility and obedience, and render it fruitful of benefit to themselves.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The blessing of faithful teachers before and after their departure.—We owe to pious ancestors a grateful remembrance and faithful imitation.—How our departure from the world becomes an entrance into heaven, and a precedent for a following and imitation that is acceptable to God.—A firm heart is a precious thing and a rare treasure; but it is a work of grace and an abiding good.—What comfort lies in the fact that Jesus Christ is always the same; and in like manner, what warning and what encouragement! How the cross which separates us from the world, unites us with God and with one another.—The offerings of Christians are, 1. prayer; 2. well doing; 3. obedience.—What we have to bring to the altar, and what we have to take from it.

Starke:—The teachers of the church, are leaders, conductors, guides; they must therefore so point the way to blessedness, as themselves to lead the way therein, and conduct their hearers to blessedness, not only with their doctrine, but also by their life and example ( Philippians 3:17; 1 Peter 5:3).—It is one of the hidden ways of God that upright teachers of whom there are so few, and to whose preparation so much belongs, are removed by an early death. Disciples who have such teachers should follow them faithfully be times, and hold them as all the dearer and more worthy ( 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Isaiah 57:1-2).—Righteous, faithful teachers shine in life and in death. Happy they who dwell in memory, upon their holy walk, and edifying death, and thus secure their own preparation for a future blessed departure ( Matthew 5:14 ff.). The world frequently forms erroneous judgments of this or that man; but his death testifies of his faith and life; so that many are obliged to wonder and acknowledge that he was a pious man ( Luke 23:4; Luke 23:7).—Doctrine and grace belong together; pure doctrine, and the grace, causing by means of it, that the heart become established.—We eat Christ spiritually in faith ( John 6:35), and sacramentally in the Holy Supper ( Matthew 26:26).—Would we have part in Christ and be sanctified by Him, we must renounce this world and bear His reproach.—The confession and the Reproach of Christ are fellow-travellers.—Reproach is a proof whereby God tests the softness and humility of the heart.—For the sake of the truth of the gospel, we must give up land, city, house, goods, and all ( Matthew 19:29).—If thy praise is to please God He must Himself produce it within thee ( Philippians 1:11).—Christians also are under obligations to sacrifice, yet not a Mass, but a sacrifice of praise, and themselves ( Romans 12:1). With this God in His grace, allows Himself to be well pleased.—No hour of the morning is too early, no noon too high, no evening too late, no day too hot, no night too dark, no place too solitary—thou canst always praise God ( Psalm 4:2, 9; Psalm 119:55). The praise of God belongs properly to the heart; yet must at certain times, also employ the body with its members, particularly the mouth ( Psalm 34:2).—Faith makes us willingly and readily serve and suffer, for the love and praise of God.—It is the mark of a righteous teacher, when he best satisfies himself in reaping the fruits of his office in the heart of his hearers.

Rieger:—Jesus Christ has an honor and glory which He can share with no other. The Cross of Jesus ever frees us more and more from all that is upon earth, from all that would establish itself in the love of our hearts, and would weigh down the upward tendency of our spirit; and draws us with our love, regard and hope, away thither where Jesus has entered on our behalf.—Let no hour pass without praise and love.—One of the two things must weigh upon us, either duty now, or conscience hereafter.

Heubner:—If the world were our eternal dwelling-place, and to remain among the people of the world were our everlasting destiny, it would be hard to bear reproach; but we have here but a brief sojourn.—God, Himself, must work in us, through Christ, the fruits which shall please Him.—To load ourselves with the sighs of the pious, robs us of bliss.

Ahlfeld:—Confirmation is a sacred Acts, by which the child is to be established in its baptismal covenant. The obligations which it imposes1. on the servants of the church, 2. on those to be confirmed, 3. on the church, in particular, the parents and god-parents of the child.

Molenaar:—(New-Year’s Sermon, Ohly, 1863, III:1). Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today, and the same also forever. We ponder this, 1, for our consolation, and for our quiet, since also in this year Jesus is the same, a. in His Word, as our Teacher and Prophet; b. in His grace, as our Mediator and High-Priest; c. in His power, as our King and Lord; 2. for instruction and warning; a. for unbelievers; b. for believers.

Hedinger;—Grace must confirm the wavering reed.—To waver is already to have half fallen; but to fall from grace is worse than never to have been therein.

Footnotes:

FN#2 - Hebrews 13:9.—Instead of περιφέρεσθε read παραφέρεσθε, after Sin. A. C. D, and the majority of minusc.

FN#3 - Hebrews 13:9.—Instead of περιπατήσαντες, Sin. A. D*., read περιπατοῦντες. The former has been introduced into Sin. by a later hand.

FN#4 - Hebrews 13:11.—The words περὶ ἁμαρτίας, are wanting in A.; they stand in Sin. D. K, before εἰς τὰ ἅγια.; in C*., after these words; and in14, 47, they become περὶ ἁμαρτιων, for which reason they are regarded by some as an interpolated gloss.

FN#5 - Hebrews 13:17.—The authority of A. and Vulg, is not sufficient to warrant the removal of the words ὑτὲρ τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν, and placing them after ἀποδώσοντες, where D*. again adds ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν.


Verses 18-25

C

Personal communications

Hebrews 13:18-25

18Pray for us: for we trust[FN6] [persuade ourselves] we have a good conscience, in all 19 things willing to live honestly [wishing to conduct ourselves honorably]: But [And] I beseech you the rather [the more abundantly beseech you] to do this, that I may be 20 restored to you the sooner. Now [And] the God of peace, that brought again [back] from the dead our Lord Jesus, that [the] great Shepherd of the sheep, through [in] the blood of the [an] everlasting covenant, 21Make you perfect in every good work[FN7] [in order] to do his will, working in you [himself][FN8] that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever.[FN9] Amen 22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer [bear with][FN10] the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words 23 Know ye that our[FN11] brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will [shall] see you 24 Salute all them that have the 25 rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen.[FN12]

[ Hebrews 13:18.—πειθόμεθα, we persuade ourselves; Moll, wir sind der Ueberzeugung, we are of the conviction; Alf, we are persuaded. Rec. πεποίθαμεν, we trust. Πεπείσμεθα is elsewhere rendered, we are persuaded, Hebrews 6:9.—ἀναστρέφεσθαι, to conduct ourselves.

Hebrews 13:19.—περισσοτέρως δέ, and I the more abundantly beseech you. The Eng. ver. weakly renders rather, which it seems to attach to ποιῆσαι. The Rec. ver, and Alf. both improperly render δέ adversatively but. The German aber, thrown in after several introductory words, is less objectionable. The adversative force of σέ is often, as here, too slight to admit of its being indicated in English.

Hebrews 13:20.—Ὁ δὲ θεὸς and the God: Eng. ver, now the God; Alf, but the God.—ὁ ἀγαγών, who brought back; or, perhaps, as Moll, Alf, etc, who brought up. I prefer the former, and back to again.—τὸν μέγαν ποιμ the (not, that) great shepherd.—ἐν αἵματι, in (not by) the blood, refers to ἀγαγών—διαθήκης αἰων, of an (not the) everlasting covenant.

Hebrews 13:22.—παρακαλῶ δέ and I beseech, not, but I beseech.—ἀνέχεσθε, bear with.ἔγραψα, I wrote: “the epistolary A mandabam, ἔγρψα. frequently in St. Paul” (Alf.).

Hebrews 13:23.—γινώσκετε, not so clearly indicated as imperative, by standing at the beginning of the sentence, as Alf, Moll, etc., deem. Its position rather determines the emphasis; and it is by no means certain that the Indic, form might not be quite as emphatic as the Imper. Bl, De W, etc., take it as Indic. We can hardly decide positively.—ἀπολελυμένον, taken predicatively, the Part, for Inf, with verbs of knowing, etc.; also undoubtedly released, not dispatched—K.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hebrews 13:18. Pray for us.—In the same way as Paul ( Romans 15:30; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1), the author now begs the prayers of the church on his own behalf, and appeals, against the suspicion of his enemies, to the testimony of his good conscience, as Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:12. Many, as recently Feilmoser and Bisping, assume for this reason, and because in the following verses the style seems more than hitherto to resemble that of Paul, that Paul has accompanied the letter of a pupil and confidential fellow-laborer, with this brief postscript, and thus adopted as his own the entire epistle. Others regard the plural περὶ ἡμῶν as embracing still other persons than the “author,” either Timothy (Seb. Schmidt, etc.), or the “leaders” mentioned, Hebrews 13:17 (Carpz.), or the co-workers who with the author are announcing the Gospel in heathen countries remote from the Hebrew Christians.

We persuade ourselves, etc.—The πεποίθαμεν of the lect. rec.=we have confidence, or trust, Beng, Böhme, etc., take absolutely, and then regard ὅτι as causal (“because”). According to the true reading πειθόμεθα, the author says [and substantially the same meaning might be educed with the reading πεποίθαμεν]; We persuade ourselves, i.e., we hold it as matter of conviction that, etc. He assigns a reason for his claim to their prayers, and expresses himself modestly on account of his relation to the readers. The participial clause following, is by some connected with πειθόμεθα assigning the ground on which he rests his persuasion; by others better with ἔχομεν thus stating the thing to which his conscience bears testimony. Ἐν πἄσιν belongs not to ἔχομεν (Œc. Theophyl.), and is not masc. (Chrys, Luth, Thol, etc.)

Hebrews 13:19. And I the more abundantly beseech you, etc.—Περισσοτέρως is connected by Seb. Schmidt, Ramb, Beng, with ποιῆσαι; by Lün, and the majority with παρακαλῶ; by Del. with both. Calov. and others have without reason inferred from this an imprisonment of the author. For although ἀποκαθιστάνειν τινἀ τινι points naturally to the removal of some serious hinderance, yet it by no means necessarily refers to the specific idea of imprisonment. Nor do the words shed any light on the specific relation which the author has previously sustained to the church in question.

Hebrews 13:20. And may the God of peace, etc.—This expression which is also familiar to Paul, is referred by many with Chrys, to a discordant relation between the author and his readers, which they conceive to be indicated in Hebrews 13:18; by Grot, Böhm, De W, Bisp, and others to dissensions among the readers, alluded to Hebrews 12:14; by Schlicht. and Riehm, to Paul’s mode of designating God as the dispenser of salvation. The words ἐν αἵματι αἰωνίου διαθήκης, and by Œc, Calv, Beng, Bl, Bisp, etc., connected with ἀναγαγών; by Baumgart. and others with μέγαν; but better by Bez, Grot, Este, Lün, Riehm, etc., are taken instrumentally as more exactly defining the collective clause τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν. could we refer the ἀναγαγών to the ascension (Bl, De W, Bisp.), we might easily take ἐν in the sense of accompaniment as Hebrews 9:25 (Calv, Bl, Bisp, V. Gerlach, Kahnis). But the words ἐκ νεκρῶν restrict the participle to the resurrection, the distinct mention of which in our epistle is confined to this single passage. [“This is the only place where our author mentions the resurrection. Everywhere else he lifts his eyes from the depth of our Lord’s humiliation, passing over all that is intermediate, to the highest point of His exaltation. The connection here suggests to him once at least to make mention of that which lay between Golgotha and the throne of God, between the altar of the cross and the heavenly sanctuary, the resurrection of Him who died as our sin-offering,” Del, cited by Alf.]. Perhaps the author had Isaiah 63:11, or also Zechariah 9:11, floating before his mind. The Doxology is less naturally referred to the very remote θεός as being the principal subject of the sentence, (Limb, Beng, Chr. F. Schmidt, Del, Alf, etc). than to the immediately preceding Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ (Calv, Grot, Bl, Thol, Lün. and the majority).

Hebrews 13:22. In few words.—The expression διὰ βραχέων=δι’ ὀλίγων, 1 Peter 5:12, furnishes no reason for referring the λόγος τῆς παρακλήσεως barely to the exhortations interspersed through the Epistle (Dind, Kuin.), or barely to the section from Hebrews 10:19 (Grot, Calov, etc.), or exclusively to the last chapter (Semler). Theophyl. rightly places the brevity of the Epistle in contrast with the fulness of thought and emotion which swells the breast of the writer who stood in no official relation to the readers, and employs the gentlest and tenderest forms of speech when he comes to speak in his own person. Ἐπιστέλλειν=writing a letter, as Acts 15:20; Acts 21:20.

Hebrews 13:23. Know that Timothy, etc.—There is no reason for taking γινώσκετε as Indic. (Vatabl, Bl, De W, etc.); and the absence of the article before ἀπολελυμένον is decisive against the rendering of Schultz=ye know our brother Timothy, the one who has been set free, as well as against the rendering of Storr, etc.: Hold in honor, or Receive kindly. The interpretation of ἀπολελυμένον, absent from, viz, the author (Este, Limb, Carpz, etc.), is forced and unnatural. The translation, sent away, viz., with the letter to the Hebrews (Theod, etc.), is possible ( Acts 13:3; Acts 15:30; Acts 15:33; Acts 19:41; Acts 23:22); and to this explanation of the participle conforms the subscription of the Epistle in many minusc. and ancient versions: Ἐγράφη ἀπὸ Ἰταλίας διὰ Τιμοθέου. The old interpreters, Chrys, Theoph, Œ., refer it, although hesitatingly, to a being freed from imprisonment. Since Beza, this has been decidedly the prevalent view.

Hebrews 13:24. Salute all, etc.—We cannot infer from this passage either that the Epistle was directed to a plurality of churches, or to mere private persons. Large churches had a number of leaders, and these must receive the salutation without exception, and so also the entire Church in all its members. May it perhaps also include all Christians with whom the receivers of the Epistle come into contact, independently of a connection with the Church? (Del).

They of Italy.—Since Semler, the majority of expositors have assumed that the οἱ ἀπὸ Ἰταλίας must have designated persons who had come from Italy, and were with the author outside of the limits of that country. They have been supposed in particular to be fugitives from the persecution under Nero; sometimes, however, simply, in general, Italian fellow-laborers with the author, perhaps in Corinth or Ephesus (Bl.), or in Asia Minor (Schwegler), or in a place where no Christian Church as yet existed (Lün.), which latter supposition would explain the absence of any greeting addressed to the Church. Cod66 names Athens, but adds ἄλλοι δὲ ἀπὸ Ἰταλίας. Special emphasis is laid upon the fact that the author, if Hebrews, while living in Italy, were conveying greetings from Italian Christians, would certainly have written οἱ ἐν Ἰταλίᾳ ( 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Peter 5:13); but we might explain the expression of our Epistle from an elliptical mode of expressing relations of place according to ( Matthew 24:17; Luke 11:13; Luke 16:26); as=οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἰταλίᾳ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰταλίας, as formerly Winer, but see, on the other hand, Alex. Butt. Gramm. of the New Test. dialect, p323); and not only Song of Solomon, but many with Thol, Wieseler, Del, maintain that ἀπό as well as ἐκ is used to express paraphrastically independent substantive ideas, so that the expression in question merely indicates that the persons sending their greetings originated from Italy, without intimating any thing with regard to their present residence. We may not, therefore, either, from this expression, deduce with i certainty that the Epistle was written in Italy (Cod. K. and other Greek MSS. and versions with Tisch, Nov. Test., ed711,596) or even that it must have been written in Rome (with Primas. and the ancients generally, as also Cod. A.)—The closing benediction is precisely identical with Titus 3:15.—It may, however, be argued for the writing of the Epistle in Southern Italy (Wetstein) that Christian churches already existed, Acts 28:13 (Thol.), and that Timothy, who apparently was in a different place from the author of our Epistle, and yet not far removed from him, could probably at this time have been imprisoned nowhere else than in Rome (Wieseler).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. From the endeavor, in all our relations, to walk in the right way, in the right manner, we are permitted to derive the assurance of a good conscience. Such an assurance we are all permitted to express, and to find in this moral condition a commendation which draws us all the nearer into the love and sympathy of Christian friends, that we may become especially valuable to them, and awaken, quicken, and strengthen the desire for closer communion, and for personal intercourse.

2. We need prayer on our behalf, not merely in weakness, and under assaults, but also for the fulfilment of our hopes and wishes in the attestations of our joy, and our gratitude for the living and powerful exhibition of our faith, of our love, of our communion in the Lord. This sense of need we must not repress, but cherish, give utterance to, and satisfy.

3. The best thing that we can wish and pray for one another is the continuance of the work of God in ourselves, in order that through Jesus Christ we may attain to perfection of life in God.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

True Christians need, demand and render mutual intercourse on behalf of each other.—The value of a good conscience in difficult situations in life.—The greatness of Jesus, as the Shepherd of the fold of God, mirrors itself1. in the greatness of the sacrifice by which He became Shepherd of this flock; 2. in the extent of the flock which He has to gather and to feed; 3. in the exaltedness of the position to which He has been elevated.—The new covenant is an eternal covenant, because1. it has been concluded by the eternal Mediator; 2. it is stamped with eternal validity, and3. it imparts eternal blessings.

Starke:—A good conscience is a great comfort, and gives us a good confidence before God and men; before God, to whom we are permitted filially to turn in all need and anxiety; before men, that we need not be shamefaced, but may be able to encounter with joyfulness the eyes of every man.—The standard of good works is not men’s self-will, but God’s will. This will believers must not only know, but also do.—God works both the willing and the accomplishing; therefore, we must, by all means, give ourselves up to Him for spiritual renewal.—Teachers must respect highly their fellow-laborers in the gospel of Christ, and desire for them the like blessings as for themselves.—We should, indeed, bless even our enemies, but greet preëminently those who are the friends of God, and our friends.

Rieger:—From the dealings of God with His saints, we shall observe how wonderfully He brings them out of suffering, how wonderfully He conducts them into it.

Heubner:—The grace of God, the highest wish for ourselves and others ( Psalm 106:4). Lord, remember me according to Thy grace, which Thou hast promised to Thy people. Amen!

Footnotes:

FN#6 - Hebrews 13:18.—Instead of πεποἰθαμεν, trust, we are to read with A. C*. D*. D, lat, 17, 53, πείθόμεα. In Sin, also, πεποίθαμεν, is introduced as a correction.

FN#7 - Hebrews 13:21.—The addition καὶ λόγω after ἔργῳ, in A, is a gloss from 2 Thessalonians 2:17.

FN#8 - Hebrews 13:21.—The αὐτός, self, with Lachm. ed. ster, rests only on D. lat. and71; Wetstein also ascribes it to C, but erroneously. In his large ed. Lachm. reads αὑτῷ after A. C*., and Greg. Nyss. This reading is also found in Sin, but rejected by the corrector.

FN#9 - Hebrews 13:21.—C***. D. and many minusc. omit τῶν αἰώνων.

FN#10 - Hebrews 13:22.—The Imperf. ἀνέχεσθε is supported by Sin. A. C. B***. K, against the Infin. ἀνέχεσθαι, found in D*., 46, 67, Vulg, Pesh, Arm.

FN#11 - Hebrews 13:23.—The ἡμῶν is to be received after Sin. A. C. D*., 17, 31, 37, 39. In the Sin. it has been thrown out by the corrector.

FN#12 - Hebrews 13:25.—Ἀμήν Is found in Sin. only as a correction.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Hebrews 13:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/hebrews-13.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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