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Third Millennium Study Bible
Notes on Hebrews 13:1-25

Exhortations, Benediction, and Greetings - Hebrews 13:1-25

The writer closed his letter with some exhortations, a blessing, and greetings. This closing divides into two parts: (1) final exhortations (Heb. 13:1-19) and (2) benediction and greetings (Heb. 13:20-23).

Exhortations - Hebrews 13:1-19

The author's main theme having been addressed, the writer turned to a number of smaller matters that concerned him; matter that impact the Church, relationships, etc.

Keep on loving - Hebrews 13:1

Referring to Hebrews 13, Hughes states, "the question that our text answers is this: understanding that God is both the consuming fire of Mount Sinai and the consuming love of Mount Zion, how ought we to live - especially in the church?"

True faith reveals itself by genuine action(s). We are saved "unto" (not "by") good works (Eph. 2:10). The author here commands saints to guard and encourage each other's perseverance in faith. See "The Perseverance and Preservation of Believers: Can I Lose My Salvation?" below.

True faith takes tangible forms. It is active, lively, relational, and obedient. Among other characteristics, it includes brotherly love to all fellow believers (Rom. 12:10; 1 Pet. 1:22), hospitality to those needing shelter or food (Heb. 11:38), identification with prisoners (Heb. 10:34). and compassionate support for those mistreated because of their confession (Heb. 10:33; 11:25; cf. Matt. 25:35-37). Poole says it this way:

Let love, a fruit of the Spirit, show forth itself and its existence in you, in pre-eminence, and in duration, by disposing always the inward man, mind, will, and affections, to seek the good, to speak all the good to and of, and to do all good to their Christian brethren, to all true Christians, eminently styled by the Spirit the brotherhood, Matt 12:50; 28:10; John 13:34, 35; 20:17; 1 Cor. 13:1-13; Eph 4:32; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 3:14, 16.

Do not forget - Hebrews 13:2

Abraham, a stranger in a strange land (Heb. 11:8-10) "entertained angels without knowing it" (Gen. 18:1-19:22). He showed them hospitality (Gen. 18:2-3). Lot entertained angels as well (Gen. 19:2). The examples of Abraham and Lot are rare - even the text uses the term "some." Lenski draws upon this fact and states, "The Old Testament incidents are too exceptional to admit of such a generalization. It is sufficient to say that, as some were unexpectedly blessed by receiving strangers, so we, too, may be thus blessed. We may go a bit farther: Christ identifies himself with his saints so that what we do for them we do for him, Matt. 25:38, 40." See "Angels: Are There Angels Around Us?" below.

Remember those in prison - Hebrews 13:3

Paul states "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor. 12:26). Paul's commendation of Onesiphorus, who "was not ashamed of [Paul's] chains" (2 Tim. 1:16-18), reflects the importance of this type of encouragement. Kistemaker states:

Earlier in his epistle, the writer commends the readers for their loving care of prisoners (Heb. 10:34). Visiting prisoners was a common practice in ancient times. Jesus refers to it in his discourse on the sheep and the goats: "I was in prison and you came to visit me" (Matt. 25:39, 43). And Luke writes about Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea and in Rome (Acts 24:23; 28:16). Paul was given much freedom, was allowed to have his own rented house in Rome, "and welcomed all who came to see him" (Acts 28:30).

Just from the example of Paul, who was indeed a great Christian, we see that not only Paul was blessed, but also those that visited Paul were blessed by both his words and deeds. Following Christ's Word is a blessing in more than one direction.

Marriage should be honored - Hebrews 13:4

Sexual immorality may tempt believers (cf. 1 Cor. 5, etc.). The antidote is a proper appreciation of the honor that God has bestowed on the marriage relationship (1 Cor. 7:3-5; Eph 5:22-33). See WCF 24.3; WLC 139; HC 108. Guthrie states:

In New Testament times even the Jews approached the matter with laxity if they followed Hillel's teaching, although the followers of Shammai were more strict. In pagan circles laxity and immorality were widespread. It was necessary for Christian teachers to give specific guidance on this theme. It has a strange relevance to our modern permissive society in which the institution of marriage is being increasingly challenged. The writer of this epistle has no compunction in stressing that marriage must be honoured. Moreover he makes no exception among Christians (among all). The contemporary world, then as now, has other standards. The defiling of the marriage bed is declared to be against Christian principles on the grounds that it is subject to God's judgment; God will judge the immoral and adulterous.

Today, specific guidance on the theme of biblical sexuality is still needed. Internet pornography, television, so-called reality shows, talk shows, soap (dirt) operas, road side bill boards, etc. all force illicit sexual situations of all types into the minds and hearts of those viewing them. Paul says, "Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you" (2 Cor 6:7) . . . "for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Heb 13:4). How do we do this? We continually keep our eyes "fixed" upon Jesus (Heb 12:2-3).

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