Hebrews Chapter Thirteen
I. Content of the Chapter
The Life of Love
A. The life of love toward men (v.1-3);
1. Let brotherly love continue (v.1);
2. Do not forget to entertain strangers (v.2);
3. Remember those who are mistreated (v.3);
B. The life of love toward oneself (v.4-6);
1. Honor marriage (v.4);
2. Let one’s conduct be without covetousness (v.5-6);
C. The life of love toward God (v.7-16);
1. Imitate the example of faith, and do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines (v.7-9);
2. Go forth to Jesus outside the camp and bear His reproach (v.10-14);
3. Offer the sacrifice of praise to God and doing good and sharing (v.15-16);
D. The life of love toward preachers (v.17-19);
1. Obey those who rule over you (v.17);
2. Pray for them (v.18-19);
E. The blessings and greetings of love (v.20-25);
1. Blessings (v.20-21);
2. Exhortation and fellowship (v.22-23);
3. Greetings (v.24-25);
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Heb. 13:1 “Let brotherly love continue.”
YLT: “Let brotherly love remain;”
Meaning of Words: “continue”: abide, remain, keep;
Literal Meaning: “let …”, it is a command. “Continue”, it suggests that such love has been in the danger of being cut off.
These Hebrew believers did not have no brotherly love (see 6:10), but their love grew cold because of over-emphasis on knowledge or doctrines.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The great manifestation of faith is the life of love. Believers’ love one another is truly practicing the life of faith.
2) Love is the bond of perfectness (
3) The Lord Jesus has given us a new commandment, that we love one another. By love only all will know that we are the Lord’s disciples (John 13:34-35).
4) One who really loves God must love his neighbor as himself (see Matt. 22:37-40). On the contrary, one who does not love brothers, the love of God must be not in his heart (see 1John 3:17).
5) The passing love is of no value, for it is of no difference with unbelievers. The brotherly love “continues” and does not change because of any condition of brothers.
6) Some believers who keep extreme views upon one aspect of the truth cannot bear those whose views are different from them and even hate them and treat them eviler than unbelievers. In fact, if we keep the basic truth of faith, we shall bear the different views of everyone upon other truth. Anyway, let brotherly love continue and abide.
7) Since it is called “brotherly love”, the
only condition is that both are brothers. Once we are brothers, we shall love
one another without the distinction of race, language, region, wealth,
education or social status, etc. (Gal. 3:28;
Heb. 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”
YLT: “of the hospitality be not forgetful, for through this unawares certain did entertain messengers;”
Meaning of Words: “entertain strangers”: hospitality; “unwittingly”: unconsciously;
The Background: “do not forget to entertain strangers”, since there were few hostels in the ancient times, and many harlots were infested with the limited inns, hospitality had become an important part of the Jewish family life.
Literal Meaning: “do not forget to entertain strangers”, “do not forget”, do not forget any more; “entertain strangers”: this command appears in many times of the New Testament (Rom. 12:13; 1Pet. 4:9; John 3:5-6).
“For by so doing some have unwittingly”, “entertained angels”, it is recorded in the Book of Genesis (18:2-3; 19:1-2).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Entertain the strangers is to help them and provided the accommodation. “For by so doing some have unwittingly”, it is to bring heavenly blessings to oneself. He who gives shall be given.
2) The original meaning of the word “angel” is the one who is sent. All the travelers in the name of the Lord are the representatives of Christ. If we receive them, we have received the angels (see Matt. 10:40-42; 25:40).
3) Someone only pleases to receive strangers, but refuses those whom he is familiar with and is unwilling to open his heart to receive them. We should know that reception starts from one’s “heart”, not from those who are around us.
4) When the author wrote this epistle, the object of believers’ reception is mainly the brothers who went on a journey for the sake of the Lord’s name. And through entertaining them, believers would have part in their works (see 3John 7-8). Hospitality makes us fellowship-workers with the strangers. Therefore, we shall never accept those who preach false teachings (e.g. Jehovah’s Witness, the Mormons etc.) lest we become partakers in their wicked works (2John 10-11).
Heb. 13:3 “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated--since you yourselves are in the body also.”
YLT: “be mindful of those in bonds, as having been bound with them, of those maltreated, as also yourselves being in the body;”
Meaning of Words: “remember: recall, remind; “chain”: be shut up together; “mistreat”: torment, maltreat;
Literal Meaning: “remember the prisoners as if chained with them”, remember them to a degree as if we are also bound with them. The Lord Jesus identified with the smallest brother in the prison. If we look on a brother, it is looking on the Lord Himself (Matt. 25:39-40).
“Those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body”, “you yourselves are in the body”, to identify with them as suffering with them together;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We shall not only receive those who find help positively (strangers) but also help those who are in need (the prisoners). It is the brotherly love of looking upon the prisoners and remembering as well as taking care of one another.
2) The best way of remembering those who are imprisoned and are mistreated is prayer for them, just as the Lord Jesus who sympathizes with our weakness (see 4:15) and make intercession for us before God (see 7:25).
3) The members should have the same concern one for another. And if one members suffers, all the members suffer with him (1Cor. 12:25-26). Rejoice with those what rejoice (Rom. 12:15).
4) The church is a bog family ---- we have to realize that all brothers and sisters in Christ have to enjoy the grace together and suffer the bear the afflictions together.
5) To those who are bound and mistreated, it seems to be difficult to identify with them, for we lack the same experience and are unable to know their pain. Therefore, if we have some experience of sufferings, it is profitable to us and we shall give thanks to God.
Heb. 13:4 “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
YLT: “honourable the marriage in all, and the bed undefiled, and whoremongers and adulterers God shall judge.”
Meaning of Words: “fornicator”: sexual sinner, debauchee; “adulterer”: paramour;
Literal Meaning: “marriage is honorable among all”, “honorable”, the marital relations cannot be destroyed.
“And the bed undefiled”, “bed” indicates the sexual life. “Defiled”, it refers to the unlawful sexual behavior.
“But fornicators and adulterers God will judge”, “fornicator”: the sexual practice outside marriage (including premarital sex), no matter heterosexuality or homosexuality; “adulterer”: sex outside marriage because of unfaithfulness toward one’s spouse;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Marriage is honorable among all”. Marriage is not a defiled thing. Someone misunderstands the Scriptures and proposes virginity all one’s life, thinking that those who are married are outside those who overcome (see Rev. 14:4).
2) Let each have his “own” wife and each have her “own” husband (1Cor. 7:2). The sexual relationship in marriage is holy (1Cor. 7:2).
3) One who is faithful to his or her spouse loves the spouse as well as himself or herself. It is the true love of loving others by self-respect.
4) If marriage is defiled, it shows that the love between the husband and the life is lost.
5) Even though the fornicators and adulterers may escape the judgment of the law, they cannot escape the ultimate judgment of God.
Heb. 13:5 “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."”
YLT: “Without covetousness the behaviour, being content with the things present, for He hath said, `No, I will not leave, no, nor forsake thee,'”
Meaning of Words: “conduct”: conversation, way of life, manner; “as you have”: present; “content”: be enough, suffice, be sufficient; “leave”: loose, forbear; “forsake”: abandon, let remain over, desert;
Literal Meaning: “let your conduct be without covetousness, be content with such things as you have”, “covetousness” means: 1) one can never be satisfied by anything (see Eccl. 5:10). 2) one relies on money instead of money (see 1Tim. 6:17).
“For He Himself has said”, it is believed in the world that “dissatisfaction” is the motivation of social progress, so men in the world struggle more and better endlessly. However, Christians take “content” as the secret of our conversation (see Phil. 4:11-13). Satisfaction with physical conditions will drive us to seek more things in the spiritual realm.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you”, the following words are quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy (31:6, 8).
“I will never leave you or forsake you”, it means that the Lord will not leave you in a needy condition and disregard you.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If man has lost faith and hope and love toward God, he must be covetous and rely on himself rather than God.
2) Every time fornicators and adulterers are mentioned together in the Scriptures (see 12:16; Deut. 5:21; Mark 7:22; Eph. 5:5 etc.), for both of them are characterized by dissatisfaction with what is of their own.
3) God leave and forsake those who are unwilling to rely on Him. And He never leaves those who commit them to Him and trust in Him, but keeps them (2Tim. 1:12).
4) “Our heavenly Father knows that we have need of all these things” (Matt. 6:32). This promise of God has provided a perfect answer to the physical need of Christians.
5) If we are willing to give money to support the brothers who are poor and not leaven them, God will also not leave us but affords us all things richly (see 1Tim. 6:17).
Heb. 13:6 “So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"”
YLT: “so that we do boldly say, `The Lord to me a helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.'”
Meaning of Words: “boldly”: with confidence, with boldness;
Literal Meaning: “so we may boldly say”, the following words are quoted from the Book of Psalm (118:6).
“The LORD is my helper, I will not fear”, “helper”: it is not only physical support but also spiritual maintenance. Since God is our stronghold in daily life, we need not to fear in any situation.
“What can man do to me”? Even those who do not mean well to us can do nothing (see Gen. 15:1).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If we have God who is our helper, even though we are seemingly poor, we are actually abundant (see Phil. 4:12). And even though we are alone, we can overcome thousands of enemies (see 2King 6:15-16).
2) True faith makes us rely on God in peace and not fear with boldness, even though we are in difficulties and temptations. On one hand, God will not leave or forsake us (see v.5; Is. 49:15). And on the other, He will helps us (Rom. 8:31).
Heb. 13:7 “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”
YLT: “Be mindful of those leading you, who did speak to you the word of God, whose faith -- considering the issue of the behaviour -- be imitating,”
Meaning of Words: “rule over”: lead, be chief; “remember”: remind, be mindful, make mention, consider; “consider”: look again, behold; “conduct”: conversation, walking; “outcome”: way to escape, end;
Literal Meaning: “those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you”, “rule over”: it emphasizes the guidance in conduct; “spoken the word of God”: it focuses on the teaching of word;
“Remember … whose faith follow”, it means that all their faith, and words, works and love and purity etc. out of faith can be set as an example to believers (1Tim. 4:12; Gal. 5:6). The more we consider them, the more shall we be encouraged to imitate them.
“Considering the outcome of their conduct”, “conduct”: one’s life and conduct according to his manner of life and attitude toward life; “outcome” carries two meanings: 1) the end of one’s life; 2) the success or result of one’s conversation;
The whole verse means that when we “consider” the end of their keeping God’s word and faithfulness unto the end, we will be sufficiently encouraged to keep the word of God and walk in His word and even be martyrs.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The words and deeds of the preacher who preaches the word of God and leads believers should be set as examples for believers. In other words, he must be a man who consistently matches his words with his action, not a man “who can say but cannot do” (Matt. 23:3).
2) A preacher has to take heed to himself and to his teaching and continue in them until the Lord comes, for doing this, he shall save both himself and those that hear him (see 1Tim. 4:16).
3) If we consider a man, it is better to see his “outcome”. That is so called “to praise a fair day at night”. Many people run well in the beginning, but their end is not good.
4) Biographies of spiritual giants are of great help to believers. If we can read more and meditate upon their good examples, our heart and spirit will be gradually and subtly influenced by them.
Heb. 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
YLT: “Jesus Christ yesterday and to-day the same, and to the ages;”
Literal Meaning: “Jesus Christ” is the object of our faith, as well as the connotation and center and theme and of all teachings and knowledge.
“The same yesterday, today, and forever”, since He never changes, all teachings and knowledge concerning Him will also never change.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We live in this world in which all men and things are variable, so we shall look upon Jesus who never changes. He is the steady rock and eternal foundation.
2) Jesus Christ whom we believe never changes. Such a fact indicates that all the truth concerning Him in the Scriptures will also never change. We may dig up some truth that the elders had not found in the Scriptures, but we cannot despise the truth that was found out. Some haughty preachers declare that the truth of Christ that others have seen is too superficial and only the truth seen by their own is noble. Such kind of view is unworthy of reception.
3) Note that Jesus Christ “is” always the same, and it is not He “does” the same. His nature and principle are always the same, but His works are not the same (see 3:9-10; Ps. 103:7). Therefore, we shall not preserve the appearance of things only, and yet ignore the true meanings behind.
Heb. 13:9 “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.”
YLT: “with teachings manifold and strange be not carried about, for good that by grace the heart be confirmed, not with meats, in which they who were occupied were not profited;”
Meaning of Words: “various”: manifold; “strange”: foreign; “carry about”: convey around, transport hither and thither; “be established”: be confirmed; “be occupied”: walk about, tread all around; “profit”: be useful, prevail;
Literal Meaning: “do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines”, “various and strange doctrines”, it refers to all the doctrines that are not cut in a straight line (2Tim. 2:15). Here, several examples are listed as follows for reference:
1) One iota or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, so believers have to keep the Sabbath.
2) If one cannot speak the tongues, he has not been filled with the Spirit. If one has not been filled with the Spirit, he has not been saved.
3) The letter kills and the Spirit quickens. The searching and explaining the Scriptures in the gatherings make men dead, so the practicing and working and manifestation of the Spirit are more important.
4) The word of the cross has become out of season, so believers need only to release their spirits to enjoy Christ.
5) The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus took place two thousands years ago, and now He has been raised from the dead and lives in believers. Therefore, what is the most important is not the remembrance of His death, but enjoyment of His risen life.
6) The Lord Jesus quoted the word in the Scriptures that “those to whom the word of God came were called gods” (John 10:34-35), so He agreed with the view that “man might become god”.
7) God loves the world and desires that all men should be saved and does not wish that any should perish. Therefore, all human beings shall be saved and not perish.
All the doctrines like this are really strange. However, the stranger the doctrines are, the more popular they are among men. Today, in the Christianity, the church that is the most prosperous with the largest number of people is such kind of church. Note that the strange doctrines are not totally irrelevant to the Scriptures, nor utterly wrong, but are half wrong. Therefore, it is difficult to discern them.
“For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods”, “by grace”, it is by grace to achieve the goal of our faith; “with foods”: to please God by keeping the rules of food; here it suggested that the false teachers in Judaism at that time brought the rules of the law into the church and spread the wrong teachings to believers and let them keep, e.g. the rules concerning food and the eating of the sacrifices (see Col. 2:20-23).
“Which have not profited those who have been occupied with them”, “those who have been occupied with them”: the legalists of the Judaism, who pay attention to the rules of food only;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If we want to avoid the enticement of the wrong doctrines, we have to be grown up in life so as to distinguish both good and evil (see 5:14). Otherwise, a child is easy to be tossed and carries about with every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14).
2) It should be known that one is saved “by
grace”, not by letter (Acts 10:28; Col. 2:16). The
3) The Lord Jesus has fulfilled all the requirements of the law for us. Therefore, believers in the New Testament need not to keep the rules of the letter of the law, but keep the principles of the requirements of the law (e.g. loving God, loving neighbor as oneself, doing immoral things etc.)
4) To believers in the New Testament, the distinction between clean and unclean of food has been destroyed by the Lord Jesus, so there is no longer so-called unclean food (see Acts 10:14-15). Actually, meat does not comment us to God. Neither if we should not eat do we come short, nor if we should eat have we an advantage (1Cor. 8:8).
Heb. 13:10 “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.”
YLT: “we have an altar, of which to eat they have no authority who the tabernacle are serving,”
Meaning of Words: “altar”: where the sacrifices are offered; “tabernacle”: tent; “serve”: minister, worship;
Literal Meaning: “we have an altar”, “we”: the Hebrew believers; in the following verses (v.10-14), it mentions from the rules of the law of the Israelites in the Old Testament to the New Testament, showing the differences and similarities of the two testaments and the response that the Hebrew believers are supposed to have. “Altar”: where the priests offered the sacrifices (see 7:13), and it in the New Testament refers to the cross, namely, the altar of the Lord.
“From which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat”, “from which”, it refers to the offerings on the altar (see 8:3; 10:11); “those who serve the tabernacle”: the children of the Levites who had obtained the ministry of priest (see 7:5); “have no right to eat”: the offering of the sin-offering should be burnt out (Lev. 4:8-12) to be an offering by fire to God, and man could not eat them.
The sin-offering of the Old Testament was not for men to eat. But now the offering of the New Testament, the Lord Jesus, His flesh is truly food (John 6:55). If man eats Him, he just enjoys Him as the provision of life.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) All those who worshipped God according to the customs of the Old Testament could not enjoy the offering ---- the Lord Jesus ---- together with believers of the New Testament. The enjoyment of Christ cannot be mingled with the worship by letter (see Rom. 2:25-29).
2) The salvation of Christ to men can only be obtained by the law of faith, not the law of work (see Rom. 3:27-28).
Heb. 13:11 “For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.”
YLT: “for of those beasts whose blood is brought for sin into the holy places through the chief priest -- of these the bodies are burned without the camp.”
Meaning of Words: “burn”: burn down;
Literal Meaning: “for … whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin”, in the Old Testament, the high only once a year went into the sanctuary with blood for himself and for the errors of the people (see 9:7). In the New Testament, the high priest has entered in once for all into the holies by his own blood, not by blood of goats and calves and found an eternal redemption (see 9:12).
“The bodies … are burned outside the camp”, “camp”: a clean place
outside the camp of the Israelites (4:12); “burned outside the camp”: the
sacrifice of sin-offering should be burned outside the camp (Ex. 29:14; Lev.
4:11-12; 6:30; 16:27). The body of Jesus, the High Priest of the New Testament
was sacrificed for us outside the gate of
Heb. 13:12 “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”
YLT: “Wherefore, also Jesus -- that he might sanctify through own blood the people -- without the gate did suffer;”
Meaning of Words: “sanctify”: separate, hallow;
Literal Meaning: “therefore, Jesus also that He might sanctify the people with His own blood”, “therefore”, it continues verse ten and eleven, which shows that some principles of the Old Testament can also be applied in the New Testament; “with His own blood”, it responds to “the blood of the animals” (see v.11), and “sanctify” responds to “…for sin” (see v.11).
The blood of the animals in the Old Testament could not put away sin, so they should be offered year by year continually (see 10:1, 4). In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus has perfected in perpetuity them that are sanctified by His own blood (see 10:10, 14).
“Suffered outside the gate”, “outside of gate”: outside the gate of
Heb. 13:13 “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
YLT: “now, then, may we go forth unto him without the camp, his reproach bearing;”
Meaning of Words: “bear”: endure; “reproach”: rebuke;
Literal Meaning: “therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp”, “outside the camp”: escape from the religion forsaking the Lord, and go outside of the religious atmosphere, way and view etc., “go forth to Him”: hear Him only and rely on Him and enjoy His presence;
“Bearing His reproach”, walk on the way of the cross and suffer with Him;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Lord Jesus was forsaken and even
crucified by the chief priests and elders that reigned in the city of
2) The Israelites made the golden calf and worshipped idols and ate and drank in the camp on that day (1Cor. 10:7; Ex. 32:6), and Moses went outside of the camp and pitched the tent (Ex. 33:7). Likewise, today, there is full of worship of idols, upholding spiritual giants and various activities of the flesh and soul. Therefore, we shall also go outside of the camp and pursue righteousness and faith and love and peace with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart (2Tim. 2:22).
3) Christians who really know the principles of God’s will not be preoccupied with apparent religious things, which have become the vacant “city” or “camp”, for our Lord is not there and He is calling “us to flee out of Jerusalem” (Jer. 6:1). Let us go outside of the camp, for the Lord is there and that is the right place.
4) The right way tends to be the way that calls for the endurance of reproaches, as well as the “straitened way with narrow gate” (Matt. 7:13-14). We shall not judge according to the number of people, for only a few number of people know about the pursuit of the spiritual way that the Lord has ordained (see Luke 13:23-24).
Heb. 13:14 “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”
YLT: “for we have not here an abiding city, but the coming one we seek;”
Meaning of Words: “continuing”: enduring, abiding;
Literal Meaning: “for here we have no continuing city”, “here” refers to the earthly or religious realm; “continuing city” refers to the place where we will dwell forever;
“But seek the one to come”, “the one to come”: the city which has foundations, of which God is artificer and constructor (see 11:10);
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Things that are made on the earth shall be shaken, and that what is not shaken may remain (see 12:27). Believers shall not pay much attention to the houses, physical possessions, reputation or status that cannot remain, but know how to be temperate and spend more time and energy in seeking the city to come.
2) We shall not only “desire” (see 11:16) and “wait” (see 11:10) and see (see 11:13), but also “seek”. Here, it means that we shall not only keep the things we hope for in our hearts but also seek them.
Heb. 13:15 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
YLT: “through him, then, we may offer up a sacrifice of praise always to God, that is, the fruit of lips, giving thanks to His name;”
Meaning of Words: “continually”: always; “sacrifice”: offering;
The Background: it was traditionally taught among the Jewish rabbis that all the Mosaic offering would be ended except for the offering of thanksgiving. All prayers shall be stopped one day except for the prayers for thanksgiving.
Literal Meaning: “therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God”, “by Him”: salvation is in none other than Jesus (Acts 4:12). Man can only draw near to God through Him only. “The sacrifice of praise”: it is of sweet odour before God.
“That is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name”, “the fruit
of our lips”, it is from the Book of Isaiah (57:19). The phrase there is used
to preach the works of Jehovah’s healing are preached. In the fourth year after
the Israelites had entered into the
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Praise is a kind of “offering” to burn all the “honor and dishonor and evil report and good report” (2Cor. 6:8) of oneself on the altar to God without withdrawing anything for oneself. Such offering must please God.
2) The offering of praise should be “offered to
God”. Believers may mostly supplicate God but seldom praise God. Don’t you know
that God dwells amid the praises of
3) The offering of praise shall be offered “continually”. No matter in favorable or unfavorable conditions, we shall praise all the same. The secret of surpassing tribulations and adverse situations is praising God (see Acts 16:25-26).
4) The offering of praise shall be offered “by Jesus”. If we do it by ourselves, it is difficult to praise in tribulations. However, by the Lord Jesus, no matter in what kind of circumstance, we can do all things (see Phil. 4:12-13).
5) The offering of praise is “the fruit of the lips of those who confess the name of the Lord”. The best way of confessing the name of the Lord is to outpour the praise of God out of our mouth. Of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34). If believers are filled with the grace of God, he cannot help but praise God.
Heb. 13:16 “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
YLT: “and of doing good, and of fellowship, be not forgetful, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased.”
Meaning of Words: “share”: fellowship, intercourse, communion;
Literal Meaning: “but do not forget to do good and to share”, “share”: share materials or wealth with others; doing good is to contribute one’s strength and sharing is to contribute one’s money. However, Christians do not do either of them, but both.
“For with such sacrifices God is well pleased”, “such sacrifices” mean that doing good and sharing are sacrifices before God and are of sweet odor to God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Let us not offer the sacrifices in word,
neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1John 3:18). The fruit of lips is
not enough, and we shall also seek the fruit of works, namely, the fruit of
good works (
2) Though the object of our good works and sharing is men, we have offered the sacrifices to God. The Lord counts all things that we have done for the sake of His name as that are done unto Him (see Matt. 25:40).
Heb. 13:17 “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
YLT: “Be obedient to those leading you, and be subject, for these do watch for your souls, as about to give account, that with joy they may do this, and not sighing, for this unprofitable to you.”
Meaning of Words: “obey”: trust, believe, assure; “submissive”: obedient, surrender; “watch out”: not sleep; “grief”: sorrow, groaning; “unprofitable”: harmful;
Literal Meaning: “obey those who rule over you, and be submissive”, this is a command; “obey … be submissive”: the two necessary attitudes of believers toward their leaders; the former emphasizes that they are taught and persuaded by the words of the leaders, and the latter emphasizes that they respect and submit to the leaders from heart. Note that this command shall be obeyed in normal condition. If the leaders are wrong in teachings or doings, there are also other instructions in the Bible for balance.
“For they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account”, “your souls”, soul represents the whole person of a man; “watch out”, it includes intercessions and practical attendance; “give account”: fulfill the mission given by the Lord and be responsible to the Lord; the whole verse shows that the leaders are much regardful of the conditions of all believers and do their best to fulfill the missions the Lord had entrusted to them.
“Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable”, if the leaders are grievous, it shows that problems arise among those who are being ruled over and it is unprofitable to such believers.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Obedience to the Lord may be easier than that to men. The problem lies in the differences of men’s views and ways of doing things. If someone always does not appreciate the views and ways of others, it is difficult to be submissive. This verse provides the secret of overcoming such difficulty. Do the leaders seek the profits for “men” or “things”? If they are for the profit of “men”, just let them do.
2) Those who start with the fruit of works instead of the profit of believers are unworthy of ruling over the church. Everything that is profitable should not be held back, but announced to all the saints (Acts 20:20). And this is the necessary attitude of the Lord’s workers.
3) Generally, this verse in the Christianity is often used to teach believers to obey the authority, but seldom to teach leaders. Actually, if those who rule over believers regulate themselves according to this principle, believers shall be definitely convinced.
Heb. 13:18 “Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.”
YLT: “Pray for us, for we trust that we have a good conscience, in all things willing to behave well,”
Meaning of Words: “confident”: persuaded; “honorably”: full well;
Literal Meaning: “pray for us”, “us”, it refers to the author and the brothers and sisters with him. According to the following words, it more relates to the author’s fellow workers.
“For we are confident that we have a good conscience”, “confident”, it is a kind of confidence after self-judgment and self-proof; “a good conscience”: be innocent of their teachings and their works.
“In all things desiring to live honorably”, “desiring”: aspire and do one’s best to do something; “in all things … live honorably”: be honorably motivated to do all things;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Not only do common believers need
intercessions, but also the preachers also need our intercessions (see Eph.
2) Apparently, the preachers are not controlled by anybody or any assembly and are able to go any place as they wish and choose the proper place to preach the Lord’s word. However, in fact, every preacher has a common principle that should keep, namely, keeping a good conscience toward God and men (see Acts 24:16).
Heb. 13:19 “But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.”
YLT: “and more abundantly do I call upon to do this, that more quickly I may be restored to you.”
Literal Meaning: “but I especially urge you to do this”, “I” refers to the author of this epistle.
“That I may be restored to you the sooner”, “the sooner”, it suggested that he was bound because of some conditions so that he could not walk as he wished. “Be restored”, it showed that the author had ever been together with the receivers of this epistle.
Heb. 13:20 “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,”
YLT: “And the God of the peace, who did bring up out of the dead the great shepherd of the sheep -- in the blood of an age-during covenant -- our Lord Jesus,”
Meaning of Words: “brought up … from”: raise…up;
Literal Meaning: “may the God the peace”, God is the origin of peace. Without God, man has no peace.
“That great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant”, “the blood of the everlasting covenant”, it means that the new covenant established by the blood of the Lord Jesus is always efficacious (see Matt. 28:28; Luke 22:20), for His blood has perfected the eternal redemption (see 9:12). Therefore, the new covenant is also called the everlasting covenant that never fails. “The great Shepherd of the sheep”, it means that the Lord Jesus feeds us and gives us more abundant life (see John 10:10).
“God … who brought up Lord Jesus from the dead”, “brought up…from the dead”, he became dead, and He is living to the ages of ages (Rev. 1:18).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The peace give by God is the true peace, which is free from any influence of the circumstances. Though we have tribulations in the world, we have the true peace in the Lord (see John 16:33).
2) The blood and death of the Lord Jesus have not only dealt with the problems of sins but also enabled us to be the vessels of God for the usage of God. Besides, through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, who is the great Shepherd of the sheep, we are given the power of life and provision of life to fulfill the will of God before the foundation of the world.
Heb. 13:21 “make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
YLT: “make you perfect in every good work to do His will, doing in you that which is well-pleasing before Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom the glory -- to the ages of the ages! Amen.”
Meaning of Words: “complete”: make…perfect, mend, prepare;
Literal Meaning: “make you complete in every good work to do His will”, it indicates that the will of God is creating us for good works (see Eph. 2:10). Therefore, He will not only give favor to save us but also equip us to perfect us to do His will.
“Working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ”, “work in you … through Jesus Christ”, the book always declares that the Lord is at the right hand of God or before God in the heaven till here. And only this verse suggests us that He also dwells in us. Therefore, Christ is not only in the heaven but also in our hearts. “What is well pleasing in His sight”, it is God who works in us both the willing and the working according to good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
“To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” “Be glory”, the primary purpose of believers’ walking on the earth is glorifying God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Before perfecting us, God has firstly perfected Jesus Christ and made Him perfect (see v.20). Today, God is working in us what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ who has been perfected so that we will also attain to perfection.
2) God gives favor to us and saves us and makes us complete in every good work so that we are enabled to keep the will of God and glorify God. For this purpose, we have to present us to God and be willing to receive the works of God and let the indwelling Christ reign in us so that we shall live out and manifest the glory of God.
Heb. 13:22 “And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words.”
YLT: “And I entreat you, brethren, suffer the word of the exhortation, for also through few words I have written to you.”
Meaning of Words: “few”: short; “bear”: hear, put up with, suffer, endure;
Literal Meaning: “and I appeal to you, brethren … for I have written to you in few words”, “written … in few words”, it indicates that this epistle was not so long, for the writer had deliberately passed over something and not given detailed descriptions (see 9:5; 11:32).
“Bear with the word of exhortation”, “bear”: entreat them to endure these words; “exhortation” refers to the words of encouragement and comfort and exhortation. This epistle is full of exhortations.
Heb. 13:23 “Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.”
YLT: “Know ye that the brother Timotheus is released, with whom, if he may come more shortly, I will see you.”
Meaning of Words: “shortly”: quickly;
Literal Meaning: “know that our brother Timothy has been set free”, “our brother Timothy”, some Bible expositors infer that this epistle was written by Paul according to this verse, but such proof was somewhat insufficient. “Set free”, be released from prison; it was not clearly mentioned in the Scriptures that when Timothy was imprisoned. Probably, it happened after Paul was secondly imprisoned and died for the Lord (see 2Tim. 4:6).
“With whom I shall see you if he comes shortly”, at that time, the Lord’s worker, at least two, often visited the churches.
Heb. 13:24 “Greet all those who rule
over you, and all the saints. Those from
“Salute all those leading you, and all the saints; salute you doth those from
Literal Meaning: “greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints”, “those who rule over you” refer to the fellow-workers and elders in the local church.
Heb. 13:25 “Grace be with you all. Amen.”
YLT: “the grace with you all! Amen.”
Literal Meaning: “grace”, the word appears many times in this epistle (see 2:9; 4:16; 10:29; 12:15, 29; 13:9). We believers need the grace of God throughout our life until we finish the race of life.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Signs of the
A. Let brotherly love continue (v.1);
B. Entertain strangers in love (v.2);
C. Remember the prisons and those who are mistreated (v.3);
D. Keep the marriage life holy (v.4);
E. Be satisfied without covetousness (v
F. Rely on the help of God with boldness (v.5b-6);
G. Imitate those who rule over believers and who have spoken the word of God (v.7);
H. Hold fast Jesus Christ (v.8);
The Manifestation and Restraint of Brotherly Love
A. The manifestation of brotherly love:
1. To brothers who travelled outside ---- entertain (v.2);
2. To brothers who were imprisoned ---- remember (v.3);
3. To brothers who were mistreated ---- remember (v.3);
B. The restraint of brotherly love:
1. Concerning the relations between male and female ---- be holy, and not commit fornication and adultery (v.4);
2. Concerning the giving and reception of money
---- be satisfied, and not be covetous (v
3. Concerning the interpersonal relationship ---- trust in God, and not fear (v.5b-6);
Lest We Forget…
A. Do not forget to entertain strangers (v.2);
B. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated (v.3);
C. Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to us (v.7);
D. Do not forget to do good and to share (v.16);
Jesus Christ is the Strength of Our Victory
A. The Lord will never leave us nor forsake us, so let us conduct be without covetousness, and therefore be content with such things as we have (v.5-6).
B. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and therefore do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines (v.8-9).
C. Jesus suffered outside the gate, and therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach (v.12-13).
D. The Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, who has been raised up from the dead, and therefore let us do what is pleasing in God’s sight through Jesus (v.15-16, 20-21).
“Rule Over” That Is Mentioned Thrice in This Chapter
A. Those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you (v.7);
B. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive (v.17);
C. Greet all those who rule over you (v.24);
The Distinctions between Good and Evil Preachers
A. Good preachers:
1. Who have the examples of faith, which are worthy of imitation (v.7b);
2. Who do not change and are good in beginning and in the end (v.7b-8);
3. Who watch out for believers’ souls and be responsible to give account to God (v.17);
4. Who have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably (v.18);
5. Who rely on our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep (v.20);
B. Evil preachers:
1. Who entice believers with various strange
2. Who focus on the rules of foods etc. (v.9b);
Do Not Be Carried about with Various and Strange Doctrines
A. Various and strange doctrines (v.9-11):
1. The strange doctrines will make believers
turn away from the grace of God (v
2. The strange doctrines emphasize the rules of foods etc. more than grace (v.9);
3. The strange doctrines have not profited men (v.9);
4. The strange doctrines are built on the wrong foundation of sacrifices (v.9);
B. Right doctrines (v.12):
1. Person ---- Jesus;
2. Purpose ---- sanctify the people;
3. Price ---- with His own blood;
4. Place ---- outside the gate;
C. Responsibilities (v.13-16):
1. Go forth to Him, outside the camp, and bear His reproach (v.13);
2. Seek the city to come (v.14);
3. Offer the sacrifice of praise of God and give thanks to His name through Jesus (v.15);
4. Do not forget to do good and to share (v.16);
The Comparisons between the Old Testament and the New Testament
A. The offering in the Old Testament:
1. There was an altar (v
2. The sacrifices on the alter could not be eaten (v.10b);
3. Set the blood of the goats and calves etc.
as the offerings (v
4. The bodies of those animals were burned outside the camp (v.11b);
B. The offering in the New Testament:
1. We have an alter (v
2. The flesh of the Lord Jesus is truly food and His blood is drink (see John 6:55);
3. The Lord Jesus sanctify the people with His
own blood (v
4. The Lord Jesus suffered outside the gate (v.12b);
Four Kinds of Sacrifices That God Pleases
A. Bearing His reproach (v.13) ---- suffer with Him (Phil. 3:10) ---- present the bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1);
B. The sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (v.15);
C. The sacrifice of doing good (v
D. The sacrifice of sharing (v.16b);
Prayer for Believers
A. The object of prayer:
1. God of peace (v
2. God who brought up Jesus from the dead (v
B. The reliance of prayer ---- Jesus Christ who established the new covenant by His blood and had been raised up again (v.20b);
C. The items of prayer:
1. Make believers complete in every good
2. Make believers do His will (v.21b);
3. Working in believers what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ (v.21b);
purpose of prayer ---- give glory to God forever and ever (v
The Ideal Spiritual Life
A. Enjoy the peace bestowed by God (v
B. Enjoy the protection and shepherding and risen life of Christ (v.20b);
C. Enjoy the perfection of God in every good
D. Be able to keep the will of God (v.21b);
E. Be able to let the Lord work in us what is pleasing in His sight (v.21b);
F. Be able to give glory to God forever and
G. Enjoy the presence of God by grace (v.25);
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou