Hebrews 13:1-25 - Outline of Hebrews (MENU page)
Chapter 13 deals with practical aspects of -
-- living by faith (ch. 11) in perilous times (ch. 12).
Acceptable service towards God (12:28,29) is described -
A. In regard to our brothers (v.1-3).
B. In regard to marriage (v.4).
C. In regard to wealth or want (v.5-6).
D. In regard to Truth (v.7-14).
E. In regard to worship (v.15-19).
A. Acceptable service... in regard to our brothers (v.1-3)--
13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
brotherly love- lit. "brother love."
We are not merely to love like brothers, but we are to love other believers because we are brothers. 1Pet 1:22; Heb 10:25,32-34
13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
entertain strangers- GK=philoxenia, lit., love of foreigners.
Our brothers, in the faith, are "strangers & pilgrims on the earth" (11:13,38).
entertained angels...- The word angels can refer either to spirit beings,
or to earthly (human) messengers of God. Examples of both in scripture:
-- Abraham interacted with the former (Gen 18:2-5).
-- The widow of Zarephath gave hospitality to Elijah, a messenger of God (1Kin 17:10-16).
Acceptable service meets the needs of our brothers in exile for the sake of the Gospel.
cp. 1Tim 5:10; 1Pet 1:1; 4:9
13:3 Remember {be mindful of} them that are in bonds, as bound with them;
Our brothers, in prison for Christ's sake, are to be on our hearts... (cp. Mat 25:36)
as bound with them- as if we were in their place (10:33,34),
(or) since you also are in bonds (to Christ). 1Cor 7:22
[and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Our brothers under persecution-
which suffer 'adversity'- ie., "those who are evil entreated."
This word is translated "tormented" in 11:37.
as being...in the body- (or) since you also are in the body,
(and therefore, candidates for such adversity).
B. Acceptable service... in regard to marriage (v.4)--
13:4 Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled:
{or, "Let your marriage be honorable in all..." [Wuest] }
honorable- GK=timios, precious, valuable.
in all- in every way, in every aspect.
the bed 'undefiled'- GK=amiantos, free from contamination, pure.
cp. this word in Heb 7:26; Jam 1:27; 1Pet 1:4
Sexual intimacy, in the context of marriage, is a good thing,
since it is according to God's design. Gen 1:27; Mat 19:4-6
but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. {1The 4:3-7; 1Cor 6:9-11}
C. Acceptable service... in wealth or in want (v.5-6)--
13:5 [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness;
[and be] content with such things as ye have:
conversation- ie., way, manner of life.
without covetousness- GK=aphilargous, not loving money (lit., without love of silver).
Luk 12:15; Col 3:5; Eph 5:3
content- to be sufficed, to have enough.
Mat 6:25,26; Php 4:11-13; 1Tim 6:6-10
for he {himself} hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. {quotes Deu 31:6}
This statement is very emphatic, containing a triple negative.
"I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you,
I will not, I will not, I will not let you down." [Wuest]
What more could we have?
13:6 So that we may boldly say,
{or, "So, being of good courage, we say..." [Wuest] }
The Lord [is] my helper,
and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
{quotes Psa 118:6}
{or, "...what shall man do unto me?"}
Man may: exile (v.2), imprison (v.3), rape (v.4), rob (v.5)...
But the Lord is sufficient for us. He is present with us.
cp. Psa 23:4,5; Rom 8:31
D. Acceptable service... in regard to Truth (vs. 7-14)--
a. the true doctrine (vs. 7-9).
b. the true altar (vs. 10-12).
c. the true city (vs. 13-14).
13:7 Remember them which have {had} the rule over you,
who have spoken unto you the word of God:
whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation.
remember them which had the rule over you- 'the rule' is GK=hegeomai, guidance, leadership.
The church leaders are not to rule over the people, but rather to lead as a shepherd.
Such men lead like Christ (eg. Psa 23:1-4) and to Christ.
They lead by the Word, by the example of their faith, and way of life. 1Pet 5:1-4
Note the past tense: they have led, they have spoken.
God will hold us accountable for how we hear, and how we follow.
His Word does not become invalid when His servant is removed. We are responsible for remembering and applying the Word which our spiritual shepherds have taught.
considering the 'end' of their {manner of life}-
Their life purpose was to know & serve Christ. (v.8). cp. Php 1:20,21; 3:10
13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
the same- This refers to His unchanging character, person, and attributes.
It does not refer to His place or performance. Those, who fail to make this distinction, fall into error by assuming that Jesus must act today, just as He did during His earthly ministry (eg., with healing & miracles). Consider...
His person & purpose -
Jesus- the eternal Son of God, who became Son of man.
Christ- the anointed One who fulfills the promises of God, and accomplishes the salvation of God.
His place & performance have changed. [adapted from JVMcGee]
  • Once He was a baby in Bethlehem.
    He is no longer a baby, nor is He in Bethlehem.
  • Once He was subject to Mary in Nazareth.
    He is no longer in Nazareth, nor is He under Mary's influence.
  • Once He suffered & died on the cross.
    He is no longer on the cross, nor is He suffering for our sins.
  • Now He is risen, ascended, and exalted at the Father's right hand.
  • Now He is the one Mediator between God & man.
  • Soon He will come from heaven to judge the living & the dead.
    cp. Heb 1:10-12; Rev 1:8
13:9 Be not carried about with divers {ie., various} and strange doctrines.
strange doctrines- foreign teachings. (ie., those not rooted in the Word of God).
cp. Eph 4:14; 2Tim 4:2-4
For [it is] a good thing that the heart be established with grace;
not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
'grace' versus 'unprofitable meats'-
Man tends toward a religion of works, featuring things which must be done by, applied to, or imbibed by the flesh. Judaism became focused on such external ceremonies of religion. But ritual could not accomplish redemption. The religion of Christianity also has its share of unprofitable rites (eg., indulgences, special diets, holy water, the Mass, etc.). Rom 14:17; Heb 9:9-12; Joh 6:54, 63
That which is "established with grace" rests totally on God's working.
Salvation, sanctification, acceptable service...must be all of grace.
cp. Eph 1:6,7; Gal 1:6-9; 2:21 - 3:3
13:10 We have an altar,
whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
an altar... no right to eat-
The OT priests were partially supported by partaking of the altar. That is, they had the right to eat portions of the sacrificial animals. However, they were forbidden to eat of the sin offerings, especially that offered on the Day of Atonement. Lev 6:29,30
  • Christ's one sacrifice superseded the many Temple sacrifices (10:11,12).
  • Christ's all sufficient sacrifice is an offense to fleshly ritual,
    because it accomplished "once for all" what the flesh could never do.
  • Those, who continue to "serve the tabernacle" (ie., the OT system),
    cling to shadows which speak of Christ, but they do not partake of His reality (10:1).
  • We who believe in Christ are identified with Him.
    He belongs to us, as we to Him. 1Cor 10:16-18
13:11 For the bodies of those beasts,
whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin,
are burned without the camp.
On the Day of Atonement, the blood sprinkled, on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies, made atonement (a covering) for sinful people before a Holy God. Meanwhile, the body of the sacrificial animal was burned "outside the camp," symbolizing the putting away of sin by the consuming fire of God's presence. cp. 12:29; Ex 29:14 (for details of OT procedures, see- Lev 4:3-21; 16:23-34)
13:12 Wherefore Jesus also,
that he might sanctify the people with his own blood,
{Heb 2:11,17; 10:10}
suffered without the gate. {Joh 19:17,20}
Why 'outside the gate' (outside the camp, vs.11,13)?
Because -
-- He was despised and rejected of men... Isa 53:3
-- He bore our sin... away... cp. Isa 53:4-6; Psa 40:12; 69:9,19-21
13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
let us go...unto Him- If we would be identified with Him in His sanctification (v.12),
we will also be identified with Him in His rejection by men.
without the camp- We are to separate ourselves: from fleshly religion, and unto Christ.
The original readers did not want to leave the temple or its ritualistic religion. But since that institution rejected and dishonored Christ, they must separate, if they would be true to Him.
Separation comes at a price:
(1) Reproach- Mat 5:11; Acts 5:41; 1Pet 4:14,15
13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
(2) Dispossession- The earthly Jerusalem & its temple, though considered sacred (cp Psa 137:5), must not hold us back from following Christ. Unknown to the original readers, earthly Jerusalem would continue only a few years before its destruction in 70 A.D.
Our citizenship is in the eternal Heavenly City. cp. 11:13-16; 12:22-24; Col 3:1-3; 2Pet 3:13,14
E. Acceptable service... in regard to Worship:
a. Our sacrifices (vs.15,16).
b. Our obedience (v.17).
c. Our prayer (vs.18,19).
13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.
sacrifice- This is analogous to the OT Thank Offerings. Lev 7:12; Psa 119:108
Four Sacrifices of the NT priesthood [JVMcGee]:
1. Your person (v.13) Rom 12:1
2. Your praise (v.15) -
  • "the fruit of our lips" alludes to Hos 14:2 where "the calves of our lips," implies the costliness of sacrifice.
    Changing circumstances may make "giving thanks" seem burdensome.
    But God remains ever constant in His person & promises. Col 1:12; 1The 5:18
  • Praise is: "...the fruit of lips that make confession of His name." [vs.15b as translated by Wuest]
Note that our priestly service has Godward aspects (points 1 & 2 above),
and manward aspects (points 3 & 4 below).
13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not:
for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
3. Your purse (v.16b)
"to communicate"- GK=koinoneo, to share, to have in common.
cp. 2Cor 8:1-5; Gal 6:6; 1Tim 6:18
4. Your performance (vs.16a, 17)- "to do good." cp.1The 5:15; Heb 6:10
13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:
for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account,
that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:
for that [is] unprofitable for you.
obey- GK=peitho, be won over by persuasion (cp. the Bereans, Acts 17:11; 2Cor 5:11).
submit- GK=hupeiko, yield under (their leadership).
them that have the rule- ie., 'those who are your guides & leaders' (as in v.7).
V.7 tells us to "remember them who have spoken the Word unto you."
Here, we are to obey & submit according to the teaching of the Word.
'It would be better not to hear the Word, than to hear & not obey.' [JVMcGee]
they that watch...must give account-
The spiritual leaders, as shepherds of God's people, are responsible to Him.
-- They must teach God's Word fully.
-- They must lead according to that Word. Eze 3:17-19; Acts 20:28; 1Pet 5:1-5
The sheep are also responsible to hear & to heed God's Word fully.
joy...not grief {lit., groaning}- Godly leaders yearn for God's best for His people.
Php 4:1; 1The 2:19,20; Php 3:17-21
13:18 Pray for us:
for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
Pray- The request may be specific: for the writer & his companions,
or general: for all who bear responsibility as church leaders.
cp. Col 4:3; 1The 5:25; 2The 3:1-5
we have a good conscience- The phrase suggests that
the writer was under attack by those who misunderstood and/or misrepresented his motives. cp. Acts 24:14-16; 2Cor 1:12 (eg. Rom 3:8; 1Cor 16:9; Php 1:15-18)
13:19 But I beseech [you] the rather to do this {ie., to pray},
that I may be restored to you the sooner.
cp. Paul's similar prayer requests: Rom 1:10-12; Phm 1:22
A closing Prayer and a final Exhortation--
13:20 Now the God of peace, {Rom 5:1,2,10}
that brought again from {among} the dead our Lord Jesus, {Acts 5:30,31; Rom 4:24,25}
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
...that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus...-
  • The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep. Psa 22:1-3; Joh 10:11
    His blood is the basis of the new covenant, by which we have peace with God.
    Our Lord Jesus took our sin & death upon Himself, in order to destroy their power over us.
    He Himself leads the exodus from their realm.
    Zech 9:11; Col 1:18-22; 2:10-14
  • The Great Shepherd perfects & matures His sheep,
    leading them to the place of refreshment & nourishment (the Word of God).
    Psa 23:1-3; 80:1; 1Pet 2:25; 5:4
13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ;
to whom [be]
{the} glory for ever and ever. Amen.
make you perfect-
The Shepherd accomplishes the perfection of his sheep:
  • "through the blood of the everlasting covenant," which was shed once for all (v.20).
    See 9:9 and 10:14 where "perfect" is GK=teleio, to make complete, to finish.
  • and through His active working within each believer.
    Here in v.21, there is a different word for 'perfect' {GK=katartizo}. Elsewhere, this word is translated as "prepared" (10:5), or "framed" (11:3). Here, the meaning is "to make fit, to prepare fully" for His specific purposes.
working- GK=poieo, to do, to bring forth (see note at 12:27)
Rom 12:2; Php 2:12,13
through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory-
The glory is His, not only because this Son of man is God the Son, but also because through His sacrifice, He completed God's purpose in establishing the everlasting covenant, by which we not only have peace with God, but are also made 'well pleasing' in the sight of Him who looks on the heart. cp. 1:1-3; Psa 115:1; Joh 1:14; Gal 1:3-5; Rev 5:9-13
13:22 And I beseech {ie., exhort} you, brethren,
{ie., allow, bear with} the word of exhortation:
for I have written a letter unto you in few words.
few words- This profound epistle is brief enough
to be read at one sitting of the assembled church.
But, we dare not discount or minimize its message.
13:23 Know ye that [our] brother Timothy is set at liberty;
with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
The reference to Timothy may be an indication of Pauline authorship. cp. 2Cor 1:1; 1Tim 1:1,2
13:24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.
They of Italy salute you.
them that have the rule- ie., those who guide & lead (as in vs.7,17).
all the saints- ie., those who are sanctified in Christ (eg., 6:10; 13:12).
Italy- apparently the place of writing. cp: Acts 28:16,30,31
13:25 Grace [be] with you all. Amen.
Paul closed many of his epistles similarly.
But we should not think that these words are merely a polite formality.
Here, the author expresses his prayerful desire that his readers would enter fully into God's grace in Christ, as described in this letter. cp. Titus 3:5-7,15

This concludes the study in Hebrews.
Return to Hebrews - MENU page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from www.theBookWurm.com

Go to The Book opening page.