Category Archives: HEBREWS 13

The writer concludes his epistle with exhortations in the light of the coming of Christ.

HEBREWS 13

NOTES ON HEBREWS CHAPTER 13

Summary of the chapter

It may be that this closing chapter of the epistle up to verse 22 is the end of the word of exhortation, with verses 23 and 24 being the “letter…in few words” referred to in verse 22.

This phrase “word of exhortation” is only used elsewhere in the New Testament when Paul was invited to address the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, Acts 13:15. But the style of this epistle is said to be not that of Paul. For instance, in the first few verses of the epistle there are nine forms of expression that are said to not fit with Paul’s way of writing, even allowing for the special character of the epistle.

It is possible that the epistle is the record of addresses Apollos gave in some synagogue as he “mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ”, Acts 18:28. If this is the case, then there is a sense in which we owe the Epistle to the Hebrews to Aquila and Priscilla, who had expounded unto Apollos the way of God more perfectly, verse 26. These two, in their turn, would have learned much from the apostle Paul as he lodged with them, and also as he preached in the synagogue in Corinth every sabbath day, Acts 18:1-5. Interestingly, the same phrase is used of Paul’s preaching as is used of Apollos’, with Paul “testifying to the Jews that Jesus was Christ”, verse 5, and Apollos “shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ”, verse 28. Perhaps there is a sense in which the apostle Paul is, in a sense, the author of Hebrews after all!

We may even go further, and say that since Paul heard the seed-thoughts of the Epistle to the Hebrews from Stephen in his last address, the epistle is Stephen’s, and he, being dead, yet speaketh. The Lord Jesus told in parable form of those who would reject Him even after He had “gone into a far country to receive a kingdom and return”, Luke 19:12. After His departure His people would send a message after Him, saying, “we will not have this man to reign over us”. This message Israel sent when they stoned Stephen, who testified of Jesus that He was at the right hand of God, His journey from earth to heaven complete. But He was standing there, as if ready to return, if the nation would repent. Every stone hurled at Stephen was a sentence in the message. Yet it is very possible that, by God’s grace, through Stephen there was planted in the mind of Paul, and through him into the mind of Aquila and Priscilla, and through them into the mind of Apollos, the truth of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which became, so to speak, God’s response to the stoning of Stephen.

Chapter 12 finishes with the mention of a kingdom that cannot be moved, verse 28, and in chapter 13 we have some of those unshakeable principles which govern the unshakeable, unmoveable kingdom to which believers have come. As chapter 12 also said, we have not come to Mount Sinai, for that mountain moved, but we have come to Mount Zion, the stronghold of God’s unshakeable kingdom. Hence the exhortation to leave the camp of Judaism represented by Jerusalem, verse 13, and seek the city to come, verse 14.

The principles selected are especially those that will be important during the stressful times that were ahead for the Christians who had been Jews. They would be in difficult situations, because the Jewish nation was to be dispersed, and they would be caught up in this unwittingly. In the stress caused by these circumstances they would need to remember basic principles set out in this chapter. These were unique situations, hence the letter is an appendix to the main body of the epistle, whilst being at the same time a logical extension of it.

Luke also brings together the ideas of an unshakeable kingdom, and yet hardship and rejection, for in chapter nine of his gospel he not only records the Mount of Transfiguration experience, verses 28-36, but goes on to record the Lord’s words that “the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head”, verse 58. The King Himself is in rejection, (as David was for a long time, even though anointed), and is deprived of the comforts of life.

All this serves to illustrate the fact that the kingdom is in a form which is not apparent to men. As the parables that unfold the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven show, the kingdom is established, not by the sword of war, but the sword of the Word, for the seed is the word of the kingdom, Matthew 13:19. It is not a fighter going to slay, but a farmer going to sow. As men respond appropriately to the word of God, they enter the sphere of profession, the kingdom of heaven. Those amongst them who prove themselves to be genuine, are in the kingdom of God, and submit to the rule of God before Christ comes to impose His rule on the world. According to the writer to the Hebrews, believers have received the kingdom, and are expected to live by its principles.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 13:

13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. 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.

13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

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.

13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

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.

13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

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.

13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

13:19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

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 glory for ever and ever. Amen.

13:22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.

13:23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

13:24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

13:25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

Let brotherly love continue- Scripture says that “a brother is born for adversity”, Proverbs 17:17, and in the times of trouble they are about to pass through, they need to strengthen one another in the bonds of brotherly love. Just prior to the parables of the kingdom of Matthew 13, Matthew records that Mary and her family sought to see the Lord when He was teaching inside a house. His response was, Who is My mother? And who are My brethren? And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother'”, Matthew 12:48-50. A new relationship was going to be established, not now on the basis of common descent from Abraham, but on that of new birth. The Lord had hinted of this to His mother when He had said at the wedding in Cana, “What have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come”, John 2:4. The “hour” was Calvary, so in resurrection the Lord said to Mary Magdalene, “Go to My brethren, and say unto them, ‘I ascend to My Father and their Father; and to My God and their God'”, John 20:17.
Not only would there be a brotherhood supporting them, but One who had ascended back to God and His Father, to succour and support them in their trials. In times of stress we may become irritable, but the exhortation is to let love continue, or abide. Let it not lapse or wane. The kingdom remains, so should their brotherly love.
They would have ample opportunity to show brotherly love when persecution was the order of the day. Then the words of John would apply in full measure, “But whoso hath this worlds good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”, 1 John 3:17. This quotation comes before the mention of Cain’s hatred of his brother Abel. In similar vein James writes, “If a brother or sister be naked, or destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, ‘Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;’ notwithstanding ye give them not those things that are needful for the body; what doth it profit?” James 2:15,16.

13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers- in time of pressure the tendency might be to think of one’s own survival, and forget the plight of others. Many believers would be fleeing persecution and war, and would need the congenial atmosphere of a Christian home to revive their spirits. Even though they were strangers to them, they were not to hold back.
In such circumstances, of course, there needs to be caution, for there are those who “creep into houses”, 1 Timothy 3:6. And the apostle John warned the lady to whom he wrote not to allow into her house those who denied the person of Christ, because they might take advantage of her vulnerability and lead her astray, 2 John 7,10.
For thereby some have entertained angels unawares- Abraham had this experience, Genesis 18:22; 19:1. But it was not limited to him, for the word here is “some”. If these heavenly visitors had come as angels, then their unwitting hosts might not have been able to stand before the sight. This goes to show that the time of sending forth of the angels is still with us, Hebrews 1:14, and the time of the full gathering of the angels on Mount Zion, their task done, is not yet come, 12:23. Angels seem particularly concerned with the physical safety of believers, and as the siege of Jerusalem drew near, great dangers would present themselves, and so the angels might be especially active.
This is another sign that the kingdom is not yet manifest; sign, also, that God is working out His purpose towards that end, and believers may further that cause even in this way. The angels came in splendour at the giving of the Law at Sinai, but now they take character from their Lord and Head, who came in lowliness, making Himself of no reputation.
This goes to show that angels are able to accommodate themselves to human conditions where necessary, and this should be borne in mind by those who reject the idea that the sons of God in Genesis 6 were angels.
Why should angels wish to be entertained at all? Perhaps they are attracted to those who love their Lord and Head, and delight to be in their company as those who further the cause of the kingdom that they also look for. Perhaps, also, they are highly sensitive to the evil conditions in the world in which they operate for God, and enjoy the holy atmosphere of a Christian home. This is a challenge, of course, for the believer’s home should be a haven from the wickedness of the world, so that angels will come to it without reluctance. Angels came to Lot’s house because it was the only one in Sodom that contained believers; it was the only option on that occasion, and they entered it hesitantly, as we see from Genesis 19:2,3. The question is, if angels had the choice, would they come to our house rather than another believer’s?

13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them- this highlights the fact that the kingdom is not yet in its manifest form, and the power of the enemy is very evident. As the Lord Jesus said, in connection with the imprisonment of John the Baptist, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force”, Matthew 11:12. This was a great mystery to John, for he had high hopes that the Messiah he heralded would set up His kingdom immediately, and liberate the nation from the oppression of Rome. It was not to be like that, however, for God had the Gentiles in mind for blessing. But the kingdom will certainly come.
Before that Millenial Kingdom, Satan will be bound, so that his activities may be ended for a thousand years, Revelation 20:1-3. We see this illustrated in what is said of the beginning of Solomon’s kingdom, when “there was no adversary, or evil occurrent”, 1 Kings 5:4. The word for adversary in that verse is “Satan”. This shows that David the man of war had been successful, so that Solomon his son was able to inherit a kingdom in peace. So also the Lord Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, will prevail, Revelation 5:5, and in righteousness will judge and make war, Revelation 19:11.
It is not like this now, however, and many of God’s true people are in prison for their faith at this present moment. We should not forget them, and constantly bear them up before God. And we are exhorted to do this, not in any casual way, but as if we were in the same prison cell as they are, “bound with them”. We often think how the ascended Christ told Saul of Tarsus that to persecute believers was to persecute Him. We should capture that spirit and say, “to imprison these believers is to imprison me”.
And them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body- some are persecuted but not yet imprisoned; we should remember them as well in our thoughts and, most importantly, in our prayers. And if there is opportunity to relieve their suffering and hardship by material help, we should be exercised to do so.
In verse 23 we learn from our writer that Timothy had been set at liberty. This opens up the great and mysterious subject of the will of God. Why is Timothy set free and many others not? We know that in a day to come the mystery of God will be finished, Revelation 10:7, and all those difficult questions will be answered.

13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Marriage is honourable in all- marriage is a Divine institution, set up by God our Creator in our best interests, and for His glory. This is why marriage is honourable, for it honours God and honours those who marry. As the Lord Jesus said, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”, Mark 9:6-9. To maintain this Divine arrangement is to be honourable; to rebel against it is to be dishonourable. Note the words “no more twain”, so the two persons concerned would always be one flesh, and never again would be separate entities. Any action is a divorce court is irrelevant in this regard. Man may claim to put asunder, but God does not recognise that claim, and nor should we.
In the turbulent times that would accompany the destruction of Jerusalem (just a few short years ahead when the epistle was written), the believers would be thrown together in the turmoil of persecution. They must not forget they are on the “Way of Holiness”. And we who perhaps live in more peaceful times should not be lulled into a complacent attitude to marriage, influenced by the rampant immorality in the world around. The Lord Jesus prayed that His own might be kept from the evil in the world, John 17:15, so we know what His attitude to the evil in the world was, and should act accordingly.
And the bed undefiled- this is a discreet way of indicating that the physical side of marriage is holy, too. The writer is referring to the marriage bed, not a bed where persons are engaging in fornication.
We should remember that a man and a woman are joined in flesh before they are joined in body. And if they have been joined in flesh at a marriage ceremony duly, legally and publicly enacted, they are joined in flesh whether they ever join in body or not. To be joined in flesh is to start a process whereby two lives constantly merge. Adam distinguished between Eve being “of his bone”, which she was literally, and “of his flesh”, which she was not physically, but was morally, for she now shared his nature, what he was as a man in his entirety, Genesis 2:23. She gained her physical frame from Adam’s bone, and her moral identity from Adam’s nature. This is why Adam could say, as he was presented with Eve, and before their physical union, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh”.
We should note that Joseph and Mary were legally married before the birth of Christ, and it was only after this that they came together physically. Matthew writes, “Then Joseph being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called His name Jesus”, Matthew 1:24,25. Mary is called Joseph’s wife, for that was her status since she was already betrothed to him when they were married.
This injunction rebukes the doctrine of demons referred to in 1 Timothy 4:1,3, where the apostle refers to those who sought to forbid marriage. Much of the gross immorality and child abuse rampant within the Roman Catholic system stems from this doctrine of demons.
Of course we know that marriage is not the best state for everyone, for the apostle Paul makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 7:7, as did the Lord Jesus when He spoke of the unmarried in these terms, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it”, Matthew 19:12. That said, it is one thing to forbid to marry, and quite another thing to say that the unmarried state is allowed if that is the proper gift of God to a person.
But whoremongers and adulterers God will judge- those who are truly in the kingdom of God by new birth are subject to the laws of that kingdom. Those who transgress those laws may expect to be judged, or else the kingdom has lost all credibility. That means whoremongers, (otherwise known as fornicators), and adulterers will certainly be judged in a future day, as having besmirched the holiness of the kingdom. When Peter wrote of his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, where he and James and John were given a preview of Christ’s coming kingdom, he called it a holy mount, 2 Peter 1:18, reminding us of the character of Christ’s kingdom.
We should remember the words of the last verse of Hebrews 12, “For our God is a consuming fire”. Note the word “is”, not “was”, as if that characteristic of God was only for Old Testament times. He is a consuming fire still.
Note the important distinction that is made here between fornication and adultery. Fornication is illicit sexual activity on the part of two persons, one or both of whom are unmarried. Adultery is illicit sexual activity on the part of persons, one or both of whom are married. Both sorts of immorality are condemned here.
The Lord Jesus made it very clear in His doctrine that, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery”, Mark 10:11,12.
The apostle Paul used the figure of marriage on two occasions to illustrate doctrine. In Romans 7 he used it to show that just as a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, so those who are linked to Christ are linked as long as He lives, which, because He is raised from the dead, means for ever. Also, that only when a husband has died is a woman free to marry another man without risking being called an adulteress. Now if there are exceptions to the rules governing marriage, so that a woman may legitimately be divorced in certain circumstances, then the apostle’s use of the illustration falls down, for he used it as if there were no exceptions. Applying this to the teaching of Romans 7, we would have to conclude that Christ’s relationship with believers is not, after all, a permanent one, for He may divorce us if we are unfaithful. This cannot be, because in the next chapter we learn that believers are, as far as God is concerned, already glorified, Romans 8:30.
The apostle also used the figure of marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the church, in Ephesians 5:22-33. Now if there are certain circumstances in which it is allowable for divorce to take place, then the relationship between Christ and the church is possibly not a permanent one- He may divorce us at any time! This cannot be, either.

13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Let your conversation be without covetousness- our conversation is the way we make our way through this world. We need to constantly ask ourselves in what direction our life is going. Having given an exhortation to brotherly love in verse 1, to love of strangers, verse 2, to sympathetic love towards those who are imprisoned in verse 3, to holy marital love in verse 4, he now warns against love of money, for this is the literal meaning of the Greek word used. But our translators have rightly judged that the exhortation is wider than just money. Anything that draws the heart away from God and His Son is covetousness. This is why the apostle Paul wrote, “covetousness, which is idolatry”, Colossians 3:5. Covetousness can harm brotherly love, love of strangers, love of those oppressed, love of one’s spouse, for love of these will result in the exercise of giving in some way, whereas a covetous man always wants to be receiving for himself.
And be content with such things as ye have- the immediate application is to those who in a short while will be deprived of the necessities of life at the siege of Jerusalem. Deprived of goods, they should not hanker after them. They need to prepare themselves for that time of austerity, and not be dependant on seen things, but the unseen things of faith. And we who perhaps are not in straits, should be prepared to help those who are. Paul wrote to Timothy “godliness with contentment is great gain”, 1 Timothy 6:6. In Old Testament times, these Jewish believers would expect God’s blessing upon them in the form of material prosperity, their reward for faithfulness to Him. Now things are different. So different, that a person who says “gain is godliness” is to be turned away from, 1 Timothy 6:5.
For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee- our writer supports his exhortation with a quotation from the Old Testament, found there in similar form in three places, and given to three people. In Genesis 28:15 the promise is given to Jacob, to encourage the life of faith. In Joshua 1:5 the promise is to those who would enter into blessing in the form of the land of promise. And then again, the promise was given to Solomon, to encourage him in connection with the work of the sanctuary, 1 Chronicles 28:20. These three things, the life of faith, entry into blessing, and the work of the sanctuary, are the leading themes of the epistle.
The readers do not have to be told who the “He” is, for they will know the text. But they also know that the Lord Jesus is equal with God, and so it is a promise to us from Him. The words are literally, “In no wise thee will I leave, nor in any wise thee will I forsake”. So He pledges that He will in no wise leave, and in no wise forsake. A bird may leave its nest to gather food for its chicks, and then return. But woe to those chicks the mother forsakes! The Lord here gives us His word that He will neither leave nor forsake. He will never leave temporarily, and make us wonder whether He is coming back. He will never forsake us temporarily or permanently. This being the case, we can surely rest content with present circumstances, for we know He is in them with us.

13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

So that we may boldly say- the writer is not content with afflicted saints whispering fearfully that the Lord is their helper. They may say it with confidence because of His promise to never leave them when the way is hard.
The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me- these words are a citation from Psalm 118:6 that our writer has adapted for his own purpose, as he has every right to do, being inspired by the same Spirit that inspired David to write the original words.
Psalm 118 is part of that series of psalms called the Great Hallel, sung on Passover night. So when the Lord sang a psalm, and then left the upper room, Matthew 26:30, these words were most likely on His lips. In Psalm 118:6 the words are, “The Lord is on My side; I will not fear: What can man do unto Me?” Not only was the Lord near the Messiah as He drew near to the cross, (“the Father is with Me”, John 16:32), but He was on His side. It is one thing to have a companion, but will that companion be loyal? Judas was by His side, but he was treacherous. Needless to say the Father is not treacherous. As a result, Messiah says, “I will not fear”, then asks the question, “What can man do unto Me?” He knew full well what they could and would do to Him, but He also knew that no hand could be laid upon Him without His Father’s permission. As He said to Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above”, John 19:11. He also knew that whatever men would do to Him, although agonising and cruel, would only touch His body, and that only for a few traumatic hours. Compared to the glory in eternity that He would win, this was as nothing. This is not to belittle His sufferings, but it does serve to put them into context.
This attitude to suffering should become their attitude, for just as Christ knew His Father’s help, nearness, and support, so they will know the same, so they may triumphantly say, “I will not fear what man shall do unto me, for they have inflicted far worse things on my Saviour, and He triumphed over them”. Our writer has already urged them to consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself”, so that they may be strengthened to endure physical sufferings too, 12:3,4.

13:7 Remember them which have 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 have the rule over you- the latter part of the epistle emphasises the kingdom, rather than the sanctuary. It is fitting therefore that elders should here be called those who have the rule. They are responsible to give a lead in troubled times, and show the way by example, (“remember them”), and teaching, (“spoken unto you”).
Who have spoken unto you the word of God- when the law was given the people pleaded with Moses that the word be not spoken to them anymore, for they realised the strictness of the law they had pledged to keep, Deuteronomy 18:15,16. In response, God promised them a prophet, and this was fulfilled in Christ, who spoke to the people in grace, Acts 3:22-26. So it is that these leaders speak in grace to those who have been delivered from the law.
Whose faith follow- the Eastern shepherd went in front of the flock, and the sheep confidently followed where he led. So the leaders amongst the Hebrew believers were living examples of the truth they gave from the word of God. God’s ideal king is a shepherd king, and while they wait for Christ to come in that capacity, their leaders filled the role. Not, indeed, in any autocratic, dictatorial sense, but with shepherd hearts and firm rule.
Considering the end of their conversation- the words “remember”, and “spoken”, (past tense), may suggest that some, at least, of these leaders had passed off the scene. Those left behind should recall the end or the outcome of their conversation, or manner of life. They continued in faith until they left this scene. The Hebrew believers should tread the same path of faith they had seen in their leaders. They may have made mistakes, and not always moved in faith, but when they did they should be imitated. It is their faith that is to be followed, not their mistakes. We should never despise those of a past day and think of them as old-fashioned and out of touch. They were not out of touch with the Lord, and that is the main thing.

13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Jesus Christ the same- this verse could be looked at as a stand-alone, or as a pivotal verse. Thinking of it at first as self-contained, it reaffirms what is stated in chapter 1, where the end of the current heavens and earth is in view, and in contrast to that it is said by God, to Christ, “And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands: They shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail”, 1:10-12. So when the universe is folded up, Christ shall remain the same as He ever is; there is no change with Him.
But that quotation in chapter 1 is God’s word to Him as Lord, emphasising His Deity, the subject of the chapter. Here the subject is His manhood, for He was named Jesus at His birth, and the angels said that the one born was Christ the Lord. So the Sameness of His Deity is true of Him in His manhood, and He lost nothing of His unchanging Being. God declared in the Old Testament, “I am the Lord, I change not”, and this is true of Christ. Not only does His eternally unchanging character mark Him as a man, but it affects His office as Priest, for He has an unchangeable priesthood, 7:24.
Yesterday, and to day, and for ever- what He was when He was on earth, and what He is in heaven, He will ever be. The support He gave to men of former generations is the support He gives today, and He will support His people for ever. So the verse is a statement as to His person, but it is also in the context of leaders who one day will pass off the scene, but Jesus Christ remains. The next verse speaks of evil doctrine, and the test of that is always the person of Christ.

13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. 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.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines- in contrast to the steadfastness of Christ, who is “The Same”, the Hebrews were in danger of being influenced by doctrines that are diverse and strange. Many religious theories were abroad at the time, and the believers needed to be grounded in their faith. Any doctrine that is contrary to the Christian faith is strange or alien. It does not come from heaven, the believer’s country. Satan has a system of thought to appeal to every sort of man, hence the word divers, or diverse. The antidote to being carried about with every wind of doctrine is to heed the ministry of the apostles as set out in the New Testament, as Ephesians 4:11-16 tells us. The Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, declared that true sheep in His flock will not follow strangers, for they know not their voice, John 10:5. A stranger will speak with a different voice to the Good Shepherd, hence the need to constantly hear the voice of the One who will not lead us astray.
For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace- the contrast to being carried about is to be established; but only grace can do this. The writer is going to sum up Christianity and Judaism in two words, “grace”, and “meats”. Notice the emphasis on the heart. The Lord Jesus declared that the rulers in Israel drew near with their lips, but their hearts were far from God, Matthew 15:8. It is the word of God that exposes the thoughts and intents of our hearts, Hebrews 4:12, so if we neglect the word of God, perhaps it is because we are afraid it will expose our faults.
Not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein- the word “meats”, refers to the bodies of the animals laid upon Israel’s altar. If the writer can prove that that these meats have not profited the worshippers, then he will have proved that the whole tabernacle system had not profited them. And if he can prove it by pointing out something inherent in it, and not something brought about by human failure, then his proof will be all the more significant. In chapter 7:18,19 he proved that the tabernacle system is unprofitable to God, in that it did not bring worshippers right into His presence; now it is proved to be unprofitable to man also. Those who were wavering in Israel, (those who were in danger of being “carried about”), are now clearly told that if they revert to Judaism they will lose the profit and blessing of Christianity.

13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

We have an altar- Christianity has no physical altars; that is the mark of Judaism. Any religious organisation which claims to have a physical altar is clearly wrong and spurious, whatever the claims of the clergy who officiate at it. To pretend to have a physical altar now is to manifest ignorance of the true nature of Christianity. No wonder the people are led astray by such blind leaders of the blind!
Since there are no true physical altars now, this altar must be a spiritual one. When we notice the structure of this section it becomes evident what, or who, this altar is. Verse 10 has two parts, the first being an assertion that we have an altar, and the second, that those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat of that altar. The second assertion is proved in verses 11-14, the first is proved by verses 15 and 16. So verse 15 continues from where verse 10 left off. “We have an altar…by Him let us offer”. So Christ is the means whereby we offer sacrifices to God, so He must in some sense be the altar.
The various tabernacle vessels were the support of something else. So the table held up the bread, the lamp-stand held up the lamps, the altar of incense held up the censer, the ark held up the mercy-seat. And in the court the laver held the water and the altar held up the sacrifices as they burnt. So the person of Christ is the support and ground upon which He served God in His sacrficial death. But He serves still, and in this instance He is the means whereby His people are able to offer to God.
Whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle- to continue with the tabernacle rituals of Judaism is to forfeit the right to enjoy Christian things, for the latter have replaced the former and rendered them obsolete. God has indicated very clearly that He has no pleasure in the old sacrifices, 10:6,8. To continue with them and to serve the interests of an obsolete tabernacle is to be out of line with God’s will.

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.

For the bodies of those beasts- what beasts they are is told us in the next phrase. Here we are pointed to bodies of animals, which will, in certain circumstances, provide meat to eat for the priest and offerer. The bodies of animals will be set in direct contrast to “Jesus” in the next verse.
Whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin- so the particular beasts in mind are now defined. It is those sin-offerings whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest. In other words, the blood of the sin-offerings on the day of atonement, the day that has been the background of the whole epistle. At other times, the blood of sin-offerings was to be sprinkled on the altar, but not on the day of atonement, for it was taken right in to the presence of God. Instead of being for the eye of man, at the altar, it was for the eye of God, in the sanctuary.
Are burned without the camp- here is the main point of the argument. The sin offering that was so critical to Israel’s continuance before God as a nation, and His presence among them, is the offering that neither people nor priest could eat. It “did not profit” those who were occupied with it. The priests could eat sin offerings on other occasions, but not on this day. The reason they could not eat was because the bodies were burned without the camp. The significance of the place where it happened will come out in the next verse. To our writer this is conclusive proof that God had embedded into the tabernacle ritual the sign that it was not His final mind, and that it withheld the best from the people.

13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.

Wherefore Jesus also- in connection with this fact that the sin offering was burnt without the camp.
That He might sanctify the people with His own blood- to sanctify in the context of the Epistle to the Hebrews means to make fit for the Divine Sanctuary. We have already been shown that by His offering the Lord Jesus has sanctified His people, and those thus sanctified are perfected for ever, 10:10,14. The high priest on the day of atonement sprinkled the blood of an animal on the mercy-seat. Christ’s blood sanctifies without any literal sprinkling, for what He did at Calvary was noted and approved of in heaven. It is indeed the “blood of sprinkling”, Hebrews 12:24, but in a moral and not a physical sense.
Suffered without the gate- the animals carried outside the camp on the day of atonement were dead when it happened, so they did not feel the fire that burned up their carcases. With Christ it was far different. He suffered the reality of what the fire of old time spoke, nammely the wrath of God. Perfectly aware, with His faculties not at all dulled by sin, or even by the stupifying drink offered to Him, (which He refused), He bore the unrelenting force of the wrath of God against sin, and He did it when He was alive. The hours of darkness on the cross when these things happened are clearly marked as to their beginning and their end in Mark 15:33,34. Luke tells us that before the sixth hour Jesus addressed His Father as Father, Luke 23:34, and also after the ninth hour, 23:46. At the ninth hour, however, He addressed His Father as “My God”, telling us He was speaking from the viewpoint of a dependant and submissive man. He was still the Son, or course, for that is not a relationship that can end. For those three hours, therefore, there was the enduring of the wrath of God. But He emerges out of it, addresses God as His Father, and then dies. So He did not die under the wrath of God.
One of the main points the writer is making here is that all this happened without (meaning “outside”) the gate of Jerusalem. So He was not only abandoned by God, but He was rejected by the nation as they took Him to the place of execution. The correspondence between being outside the gate and without the camp is important to the line of reasoning in these verses.

13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.

Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp- instead of being like the majority of Israel who thrust Him from them and banished Him to the outside place, true believers will heed the exhortation to go to Him. But they must remember that as far as Israel is concerned, He is still outside. The last they saw of Jesus of Nazareth was when He was hanging on a cross. Allegiance to Him demands that they take the outside place too. But as they do so they will be comforted by the fact that He is there also, morally speaking. The word for camp has to do with an army in battle array. In fact it is translated “armies” in 11:34. Judaism is militant, fighting against God by fighting against Christians. As the Lord said to His own, “If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you”, John 15:20. But He went on to say, “if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also”. So those who responded in faith to Christ would also respond in faith as the apostles continued to set forth the truth He had taught.
Note the difference between without, or outside, the camp and without the gate. To be without the gate is the physical position the Lord Jesus took up when He endured the cross outside the city of Jerusalem. But it had a spiritual meaning, and those who grasp this meaning will take up a moral position in harmony with His moral position as one still rejected by organised religion. If we were exhorted to go outside the gate, we would have to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. As it is, outside the camp is a position we take up in our hearts, and translate into practice as we meet with those of like mind in the assembly. It is not that we should distance ourselves from the doctrinal error of the denomonations, but that we shaould distance ourselves from the error of Judaism.
Bearing his reproach- on the day of atonement one of the last ceremonies was the carrying of the carcases of the sin offerings, (the bullock and the goat), outside the camp to be burnt. Our writer asks us to fulfil that role in its spiritual meaning, and associate with the one who suffered the Divine Fire for us in the outside place. The sin offering had had imputed to it the sin of the people, being made sin. It was a detestable thing, therefore. To carry it was to associate closely with it. Now Christ is not a detestable person as far as God is concerned, but He is detested by the religious world, despite what they seem to say about Him. When the full force of Christianity confronts them, they come out in their true character, and deny Him. And so does Judaism. To cleave to Christ, and take the outside place with Him is a place of reproach, yet we should not flinch to do it.

13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

For here have we no continuing city- it is probable that the epistle was written about AD 68, just two years before the fall of Jerusalem. How solemn is this statement, therefore, that Jerusalem, the centre of Judaism, is not to continue. Jacob prophesied that Simeon and Levi would slay a man in their anger, Genesis 49:6. He also said that in their anger they would dig down a wall. And so it came to pass, for with the words “His blood be on us, and on our children”, Matthew 28:25, they slew the Man Christ Jesus, and by so doing, passed sentence on their city and nation, destining it to destruction in AD 70.
The Lord Jesus spoke the parable of the marriage of the king’s son, and the refusal to come of those first invited to the marriage feast. They not only refused to come, but murdered the messengers of the king who had brought the invitation. In response the king sent his armies and destroyed the murderers, and burned up their city, Matthew 22:1-7. Having rejected the messengers of the king as described in the Book of the Acts, their city is burned up just after that book closes.
But we seek one to come- as far as believers are concerned, they are not occupied with earthly cities, even Jerusalem. The fact that their Saviour was crucified outside its walls does not endear it to them. They have a better city in view, “Jerusalem which is above” as Paul calls it, Galatians 4::26. The treatment meted out to Christ at Jerusalem has brought out its true character, and Christians are not interested in the centre of Judaism.

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.

By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually- this marks a return to the subject introduced by the words “we have an altar”. It is by means of the Person of Christ that we are able to offer sacrifices to God. The particular sacrifice in view is the peace offering, which was the offering brought by a worshipper who was in the good of the other offerings, and as a consequence had peace of conscience. As a result he brought a sacrifice with which to praise God.
But the Christian, having been brought into the fullness of the sacrifice of Christ, brings, in deep thankfulness, not an animal, but the expression of his heart’s appreciation. In the book of Leviticus the offerings are first detailed, then there is given the law of the offerings, and the last of the offerings dealt with was the peace offering, as if to reinforce the idea that the peace offering is the response of one who is in the good of all the other offerings. So when the writer exhorts us to offer the peace offering so to speak, he is also implying that we should be in the enjoyment of the other offerings as well.
When a leper was healed in Israel in Old Testament times, he was to bring all the offerings except the peace offering. When the Lord Jesus healed a leper, and commanded him to go and offer the gifts that Moses commanded, he started to go to the priest, but then, when he realised he had been healed, came back and “glorified God, and fell down at His feet giving Him thanks”, Luke 17:15,16. Now one of the categories of peace offering was one for thanksgiving, Leviticus 7:12. And this is what this healed leper is offering, for with the coming of Christ true thanks can be offered to God, and the need to offer literal sacrifices has gone, hence the leper turned back before he reached the priest. He had found a superior way of worshipping.
This sacrifice of praise is to be continual. As the psalmist said, “His praise shall continually be in my mouth”, Psalm 34:1. Believers of this age have even greater reason to do this, now that the work of Christ is over; they have so much more for which to praise God. There is a suggestion here with the word continual that this praise goes on for ever, for we have just been told we have no continuing city but we have one to come. So in that continuing heavenly city continual praise will be offered to God. Even after Jerusalem has been destroyed these sacrifices can still be offered, for they are not presented on a Jewish altar, but by means of Christ.
That is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name- these offerings are defined for us, lest any should confuse them with the animal peace offerings for thanksgiving of the former age. In the prophet Hosea’s day the people of Israel were engaging in idolatry, like their forbears who had made the molten calf at the foot of Sinai. Hosea quotes their words, “Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves”, Hosea 13:2. Hosea also prophesies that in a future day, when the nation has repented and returned unto the Lord, they will say unto Him, “Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips”, 14:1,2. So instead of lips kissing the calf-idols, their lips are used in praise to God, thus showing their true repentance. The literal meaning of the Greek word “proskuneo”, to worship, is “to kiss towards”.

13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

But to do good and to communicate forget not- the priesthood of believers is modelled on that of the Lord Jesus, for it is holy and royal. As holy priests believers offer sacrifices to God in the form of worship and praise. As royal priests they show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness, (the darkness of Sinai), into His marvellous light, (the light of the glory of His grace), 1 Peter 2:9. The word praises is a translation of the word rendered virtue in 2 Peter 1:3. The idea is that the praiseworthy virtues manifest in Christ when He was down here are to mark believers too. He “went about doing good”, and so should those who profess to follow Him. Doing good can involve giving that which money cannot buy, such as spiritual and practical help. Communicating may involve giving money itself, although it is not limited to this. There are many ways in which these spiritual exercises manifest themselves.
For with such sacrifices God is well pleased- we have learnt from chapter 10 that God is not well-pleased with animal sacrifices, but that does not mean that He cannot be pleased with material offerings of the sort describes here as the doing of good and sharing. Those who offer such gifts to believers and unbelievers may rest assured that they are in fact also offered to God, and He is well-pleased with them, for they remind Him of His Son when He was here.

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 them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves- as previously noticed, the end of the epistle emphasises the kingly side of things, beginning with the prophecy from Habakkuk about the return of Christ to reign. Let us not forget that He is a King-Priest. His priestly ministry is to the fore in the first ten chapters of Hebrews, whereas now we are in a section that deals with kingly things. We have received a kingdom that cannot be moved, 12:28 has told us, so the principles of the coming kingdom should be in evidence in our lives as believers.
It is fitting that elders should be describes as those who rule, therefore. This is not to say that their rule is that of kings, but rather that of shepherds; always remembering that the ideal king is a shepherd of his people. This is the word that is used for the rule of Christ in Matthew 2:6, “Rule My people Israel” is “rule as a shepherd”. When the Old Testament prophet was predicting the demise of a king, he said, “I see all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep not having a : and the Lord said, ‘These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace'”, 1 Kings 22:17.
This, then, is the pattern for those entrusted with leadership amongst the Lord’s people. They do not have to drive or coerce, but genuine sheep will follow where they lead because the path they take is the path of righteousness, Psalm 23:3. Those who wish to follow in that pathway will submit to their wisdom and guidance, based as it is on the word of God. For these same rulers spoke unto them the word of God, verse 7, and their pathway of faith may be followed safely.
This rule will be especially needful in the turbulent times that were ahead for Christians who were formerly Jews, for many of them would be carried away from Israel. The spiritual rule of the elders will give them stability. The years around the carrying away of Judah into captivity in Babylon were marked by great instability, with their kings only reigning a few months in some cases. The persevering leadership of true elders will be invaluable to scattered believers.
For they watch for your souls, as they that must give account- an elder in a Christian assembly is also called a bishop, as we see from 1 Timothy 3:1. The word bishop is the Greek word “epi-skopos”, meaning a person who looks over. This has nothing in common with the so-called bishops in the organisations of men.
A believer is an elder as to his maturity in spiritual things, and an overseer as to his watchfulness over the flock. He takes up a position so that he can watch over the saints, and see to their welfare. Their soul-progress is his great concern. He is aware that one day he will have to give account to the Lord for his work. The apostle Peter spoke of a crown of glory for elders who were faithful, despite the things they might have to suffer as a result of that faithfulness, 1 Peter 5:1-4. The healing of the blind man of John 9 is followed by the Jews taking up stones to stone the Lord, who then speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd. So Peter speaks of the sufferings of Christ in connection with those who had oversight of the flock of God. Their eyes were open to the dangers that threatened the flock, and far from fleeing as a hireling would, they stood firm and resisted the Devil as he went about seeking to devour the sheep. True overseers will recognise the attacks of the enemy and resist them, remembering he may use even believers to further his aims.
That they may do it with joy, and not with grief- ideally the elders will be able to give their account with joy, having been successful in caring for the flock. However, they may have to do it with grief, or sighing, as they recount how their efforts did not prove successful, for the sheep under their care were not responsive to their shepherding.
For that is unprofitable for you- the shepherds will not forego their reward if the sheep did not follow where they led them, for the shepherd who gives account with sighing will still receive his reward, but the sheep who rebelled will not be rewarded for their rebellion and waywardness.

13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

Pray for us- this would indicate that the readers knew who the writer was. We do not need to know in order that our attention might be focussed on Christ alone, so that we “consider Him”, 12:3.
For we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly- as far as the past was concerned, he had a good conscience about it. There was nothing in his past life that needed to be put right. As far as the future was concerned, his will was to conduct himself honestly, in a way that is morally beautiful.
Notice that sin on the part of the one asking for prayer may hinder the prayers of others for him, so our writer assures his readers that they may pray for him in confidence. It is also true that sin on the part of the one praying may hinder prayers too, for the psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”, Psalm 66:18. And the apostle Peter exhorted married believers to live in harmony, “that your prayers be not hindered”, 1 Peter 3:7.

13:19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

But I beseech you the rather to do this- “the rather” means, literally, “more superabundantly”, giving us the idea that earnest and abundant prayer is being requested.
That I may be restored to you the sooner- he does not ask to be restored soon, but sooner, showing that the more earnest and constant the prayer for him is, the sooner he will be brought back to them again. We should not adopt a fatalistic attitude to prayer, being half-hearted about it, thinking, “whatever will be, will be”. God is clearly prepared to respond to the earnestness of the prayers of His people, and answer according to their asking. It is sometimes said that God answers according to His will, and not according to our asking. This passage teaches us that in a sense God’s will is defined by the attitude of those praying, and the answer is according to their asking in a very real sense.

13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Now the God of peace- the recipients of this letter will soon be embroiled in the turbulence of AD 70, with its destruction of Jerusalem. Even if they do not live there, they will be affected emotionally. “Jerusalem” means “foundation of peace”, but it will not live up to its name, since it has cast out the Prince of peace. These Hebrew believers need peace of heart in such circumstances, so God is presented to them in this capacity. He is not affected by the turmoil, but He is affected by the upsets His people endure. He has the answer, for He is the Divine author and bestower of peace.
That brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus- we now learn why God is called the God of peace. It is, firstly, because He has brought Christ back from the dead. This is God’s clear signal that the work Christ did at Calvary in connection with sins is completely satisfactory, and secures His people’s standing before Him. As the apostle Paul writes, “therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”, Romans 5:1. God is, first of all, the author of judicial peace, and this is known by the one who has exercised faith in Christ. It is through Him and His work that peace is gained. The apostle has already told us that Lord Jesus “was raised again for our justification”, Romans 4:25, meaning that He was raised from the dead because His work of laying the basis of justification at the cross was completely pleasing to God. This is why being the God of peace and also being the bringer again of the Lord Jesus from the dead are connected. And knowing the God of judicial peace is the secret of peace of heart. It was the man who was in the good of the burnt offering and the meal offering that brought a peace offering, for the three are connected. And the peace offering concentrated on the inward parts of the animal, and the Hebrews believed that the inward parts of a man are the seat of his emotions.
That great shepherd of the sheep- the chapter refers three times to those who have a role as leaders amongst them, and those who read the epistle are exhorted to “remember them”, verse 7; “obey them”, verse 17; “salute all them”, verse 24. Now we are introduced to the great shepherd, whose greatness derives from His ability as shepherd to care for the flock.
There may be an allusion here to the words of Isaiah 63:11, where Isaiah writes, “Then He remembered the days of old, Moses, and His people, saying, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? God is represented as calling upon Himself to act again like He did when He brought the people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea under the leadership of Moses. Except that now a greater shepherd than Moses is in view, and a greater crossing that that of the Red Sea. It is the crossing from death to resurrection. The God of peace brought the great shepherd from the dead in order that He might lead His people as they go their pilgrim way to heaven.
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant- the children of Israel were bound to God by the covenant of law at Sinai, which, because of their failure to keep its conditions, was ended. The new covenant is eternal, however, for God says through Ezekiel, “And David My servant shall be a king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgements, and observe My statures, and do them”, Ezekiel 37:24. Of course this refers to the nation of Israel in the future, but believers of this age come into the good of the new covenant now, a thing they recall weekly when they drink the cup of the new covenant at the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:25. That the blood of the everlasting covenant is accepted by God is seen in the fact that Christ was brought again from the dead because of its value and character. If it was effective to do that, it is effective to secure the well-being of God’s people.

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 glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Make you perfect in every good work to do His will- it is the God of peace who does this, not the God of law; the outcome is sure, therefore, for the everlasting covenant is not conditional on our obedience, as the Sinai covenant was, although obedience is expected. To be made perfect means the same as when it is used of Christ in chapter 2, where He is said to be made perfect through sufferings; the idea is of being fully-equipped and fully-qualified. We are to be made full-equipped to be fully-occupied in every good work. For being saved by grace does not exclude the doing of works, but is the very highest incentive to do them in gratitude to God. We are not saved by works, but we are saved so as to do them, as Ephesians 2:9,10 explains. The fact that we are fully-equipped means that we are fully-instructed as to what God’s will is, as guided by the scriptures. In Matthew 12:50 the Lord said, “For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother”. But in Luke 8:21, where the same incident is recorded, He said, “My mother and My brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it”. Very clearly, then, the hearing and doing of the word of God is the same as the doing of the will of God.
Working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ- here we learn that we are fully supplied, for it is God that works within us so that we may do what pleases Him. It is who and what Jesus Christ is to God that guarantees these great benefits to us. Apart from Him and His work we would be powerless to please God. These are similar words to those found in Philippians 2:13, where having given to us the great example of humility, service and obedience in the person of Christ, the apostle writes, “it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”. So God first works in us so that our will desires to do His good pleasure, and then, when we are thus prepared, we are given the ability to do what pleases Him.
To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen- one of the features of the new covenant is that its glories never fade, as the apostle Paul wrote, “For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious”, 2 Corinthians 3:11. But is only like this becasue of the one whose blood was shed to establish it. Glory will ever be givne to Jesus Christ for what he did at Calvary.

13:22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.

And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation- as suggested above, this may well be the end of the address as given in a synagogue. “Word of exhortation” was the technical term for such an address. It was completely different to what was normally spoken in the synagogue address, for usually there was a rehearsal of God’s dealings with the nation, with an emphasis on their sufferings and difficulties. The Epistle to the Hebrews is the answer to their difficulties.
The epistle is interspersed with exhortations, in which the writer encouraged his readers in various ways:
“Let us therefore fear”, 4:1.
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest”, 4:11.
“Let us hold fast our profession”, 4:14.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace”, 4:16.
Let us go on unto perfection”, 6:1.
“Let us draw near with a true heart”, 10:22.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith”, 10:23.
“Let us consider one another”, 10:24.
“Let us lay aside every weight”, 12:1.
Let us run with patience”, 12:1.
“Let us have grace”, 12:28.
“Let us go forth”, 13:13.
“Let us offer the sacrifice of praise”, 13:15.
If we should think it strange that there should be thirteen exhortations of this sort, (thirteen being the number of rebellion in scripture), then perhaps we should see the whole epistle as being an exhortation, thus making fourteen in all.
For I have written a letter unto you in few words- whilst we call the book the “Epistle to the Hebrews”, the title is not inspired, and could simply be “To the Hebrews”, being, as suggested above, the transcript of either one or many synagogue addresses, and distributed to a wider Hebrew readership. In that case the “letter of a few words” is verses 23-25, being the normal ending to a letter in those times. The epistle does not begin with the normal start to a letter.

13:23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty- in verse 3 he exhorts them to pray for those who are in bonds, and now he informs them that Timothy is set at liberty. The one situation was as much the will of God as the other. The apostle Paul did much when he was at liberty, but he did much, whether teaching by his written ministry, or evangelising amongst those in the palace, when he was in bonds, and the same would surely have been true of Timothy.
In Titus 3:3 Paul asks Titus to assist Zenas the lawyer and Apollos in their journey. Now if that journey was to visit Paul in Nicopolis, then they may very well have been with him when he was arrested and taken to Rome for his second trial. How useful a lawyer would be in that situation, and how encouraging for Paul to have a man like Apollos with him in his adversity.
With whom, if he come shortly, I will see you- the writer indicates that the original recipients of this letter were in one location.

13:24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints- by saying “all” in each case, the writer is encouraging all the company, whether rulers or saints, to be inclusive with one another, and not be divided into parties, so that some saints only recognised some rulers and not the others.
They of Italy salute you- how ironic that the system of religion that is based at Rome should, by its doctrines and practices, reject the teaching of this epistle. At the beginning it was not so, and true believers today will do what the apostle John exhorted, “Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning”, 1 John 2:24.

13:25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

Grace be with you all. Amen- thus the epistle closes with the characteristic word of Christianity. The law made nothing perfect, we have been told, 7:19, but we are also exhorted to “have grace”; that is, to take advantage of the privileges that grace brings into. May the Lord give us help to do so, to His glory.