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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Hebrews 13

 

 

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Introduction

Hebrews 13. Before bringing his epistle to a close the writer gives some practical admonitions, and takes occasion, in the course of them, to state once again his conception of Jesus as the one all-sufficient High Priest.


Verses 1-6

Hebrews 13:1-6. Emphasis is first laid on the duty of brotherly love—i.e. kindness towards fellow-Christians—which was all-important in a struggling community like the early Church. Three aspects of this duty are particularly mentioned—hospitality to travellers, care of prisoners, helpfulness towards those who are persecuted. The readers are to bear in mind that they also are "in the body"—i.e. sojourners in this world and liable to its troubles. They are warned against two forms of vice to which the heathen society of the day was especially prone—laxity in the marriage relation, and covetousness. Christians may well resist this latter temptation, for they have God's own promise that He will remember His people and provide for them. A promise like this ought to free them from all anxieties, and not merely from the fear of poverty (Hebrews 13:5 f.).


Verses 7-19

Hebrews 13:7-19. Admonitions concerning Church discipline. The brethren are to cherish the memory of their former leaders, who instructed them in the truth of God and exemplified it in their life and death. Jesus Christ, in whom those departed leaders found their strength, is the same still, and will be the same for ever (Hebrews 13:7 f.). The mention of those revered teachers who have passed away suggests a warning against forgetfulness of the doctrines they had taught. Some peculiar form of error was threatening the Church; the nature of it cannot be precisely determined, but it seems to have laid stress on certain rules of eating and drinking, like the heresy at Coloss (cf. Colossians 2:16-23). The writer declares that external devices of this kind have never helped those who trusted in them, and all strength must come from the grace of God (Hebrews 13:9). That Christianity is not concerned with matters of food is clear from this, that it depends on a sacrifice of which the priests were expressly forbidden to eat. For the rule is laid down (Leviticus 16:27) that the flesh of those animals which were offered on the Day of Atonement must not be divided among the priests, like that of other sacrificial victims, but must be carried outside the camp and burned (Hebrews 13:10 f.). Jesus, as the previous argument has shown, was the ideal counterpart of the victim of the Day of Atonement, and the analogy is further borne out by this, that He was taken outside the city to die (Hebrews 13:12). The service He requires, therefore, does not consist in any kind of ritual meal. It consists rather in suffering the world's scorn and rejection along with Him. He is to be found "outside the camp," and we must be willing to be thrust out in order to join Him. We belong to the heavenly city, and can expect nothing else than to be treated as strangers by the world.

Hebrews 13:7. the issue of their life: i.e. their death—which was in full accordance with their life.

Hebrews 13:10-13 are exceedingly difficult, and have been interpreted in a variety of ways. Some have explained them with reference to the Lord's Supper; others have taken them as a warning against all participation in the rites of Judaism. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that given above. The writer wishes to bring out the thought that ritual practices have nothing to do with Christianity, which has for its true service the imitation of Christ. In enforcing this truth he takes occasion to recall his conception of Christ as the final sacrifice, although he now dwells on a new aspect of it.

Resuming his practical admonitions, he exhorts his readers to be earnest in praise to God, offering this personal devotion as their daily sacrifice. And along with this sacrifice of praise they are to render Him that of active well-doing and beneficence (Hebrews 13:15 f.). They are to pay due reverence to the pastors set over them, who have made themselves responsible for their spiritual welfare. If all the members co-operate, the practical work will be done joyfully, and only when it is so done can it yield true results (Hebrews 13:17). In this connexion the writer, who is himself one of their pastors, makes request to his readers for their prayers; they are to pray especially that he may soon be restored to them after his enforced absence (Hebrews 13:18 f.).


Verse 20-21

Hebrews 13:20 f. A doxology which was probably intended to close the epistle. In this doxology we have the one reference in this epistle to Christ's resurrection; and it is closely connected with that idea of the heavenly High Priest which overshadows all others in the writer's mind. The readers are commended to the care of God, who has so amply proved His love to them by raising Jesus from the dead as their High Priest, who offers in God's presence the blood that has sealed the covenant.

Hebrews 13:20. with the blood: the idea seems to be that which has already been set forth at length in the epistle. Jesus ascended, bearing with Him into the heavenly sanctuary the blood of His sacrifice.


Verses 22-25

Hebrews 13:22-25. A postscript. The readers are asked to give patient attention to the foregoing epistle, which is described as a "word of exhortation,' thus clearly indicating its practical aim. Their patience is all the more necessary as the argument is "in few words"—i.e. highly condensed, and difficult at times to follow. They are informed of Timothy's release from prison, and of the writer's intention to visit them in his company. Greetings are sent from the Italian Christians. This is the only definite clue which is afforded us of the destination of the epistle, and unfortunately it can lead in two directions. The writer may be sojourning with an Italian church, whose members offer their greetings to brethren elsewhere; or he may be addressing an Italian church, whose exiled members join with him in his salutations (cf. Exp. Jan. 1917). A second and briefer doxology brings the epistle to a close.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Hebrews 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/hebrews-13.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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