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Hebrews 13

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Service Well-Pleasing to God Concluding Moral Directions Concluding Admonitions How to Please God Final Recommendations
13:1-6 13:1-6 13:1-6 13:1-3 13:1-6
      13:4  
  Concluding Religious Directions   13:5-6  
13:7-16 13:7-17 13:7-16 13:7-9 13:7-16
      13:10-16 Obedience to Religious Leaders
13:17   13:17 13:17 13:17-19
  Prayer Requested Personal Messages    
13:18-19 13:18-19 13:18-19 13:18-19  
Benediction and Final Greetings Benediction, Final Exhortation, Farewell Benediction Closing Prayer News, Good Wishes and Greetings
13:20-21 13:20-25 13:20-21 13:20-21 13:20-21
    Postscript Final Words  
13:22-25   13:22-25 13:22-23 13:22
        13:23-25
      13:24  
      13:25  

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Several things do not fit the "supposed" historical setting.

1. Christian leaders

2. Admonishment apparently to pagans, not Jews

 

B. This last chapter has several Pauline features.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 13:1-6
  1Let love of the brethren continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. 4Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, 6"so that we confidently say,
 "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
 What will man do to me?"

13:1

NASB"Let love of the brethren continue"
NKJV"Let brotherly love continue"
NRSV"Let mutual love continue"
TEV"Keep on loving one another as Christians"
NJB"Continue to love one another like brothers"

This is a present active imperative (not a subjunctive, as NASB translates), meaning "abide" or "continue." The thing the readers are to continue is "brotherly love" (philadelphia, cf. Rom. 12:10; I Thess. 4:9; I Pet. 3:8). They have done this in the past (cf. 6:10; 10:32-35) and are encouraged to continue. It is a clear sign that one knows God (cf. John 13:34-45; 15:12,17; I John 2:10; 3:11,14,17-24; 4:7-21; II John 5).

There are several philoō compounds.

1. brother love, v. 1

2. stranger love, v. 2

3. money love, v. 5

 

13:2 "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers" This is a present middle (deponent) imperative. It is a compound of "phileō" and "stranger" i.e., "love of strangers." There were no motels in those days except immoral inns and they were very expensive. Christians are called on to open their homes to itinerant ministers (cf. Matt. 25:35; Rom. 12:13; I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; I Pet. 4:9; II John; Didache 11:4-6).

▣ "entertained angels without knowing it" This is an allusion to Genesis 18, where Abraham meets three angels who looked like men (cf. also Tobit chapters 4-7). Angels also appeared to Gideon (Judges 6); Manoah (Judges 13); Lot (Genesis 19); Hagar (Genesis 21). This does not mean that Christians may have angels visit; as men of old helped strangers and received a blessing, so too, are believers to do.

13:3 "Remember the prisoners" This is a present middle (deponent) imperative. These readers had followed Christ's words of Matt. 25:44-45, for in Heb. 10:32-36 they had helped other believers. Their imprisonment was not for evil deeds, but for their faith in Christ (cf. I Pet. 4:14-15). Imprisonment was a real possibility for all early believers, as it is for many believers in today's world also.

▣ "since you yourselves also are in the body" This could refer to (1) the physical body (cf. II Cor. 12:2, same Greek structure), susceptible to persecution and imprisonment or (2) the body of Christ (although the text does not have the expected Greek article), the Church, which was the object of persecution.

13:4 "Marriage is to be held in honor among all" There is no verb. If one supplies an indicative, "is," then the statement is against false teaching (cf. I Cor. 7:38, which made marriage morally inferior to celibacy or I Tim. 4:3). If one supplies an imperative, "Let. . .be. . .," as in NASB of v. 1, then it is an encouragement against the immoral tendencies of pagan culture (v. 4 favors this option).

▣ "the marriage bed is to be undefiled" Marriage is a gift from God and the norm for all (cf. Gen. 1:28; 9:1,7). It is not sinful or shameful. The Greek philosophical concept of asceticism, the view that the body is evil and that to deny its wants and needs show a superior spirituality, affected the early church! And still does! The term "undefiled" is used in 7:26 to describe the sexual purity of Jesus, our high priest. It was used in the Septuagint to refer to adultery.

This warning against sexual promiscuity is surprising if this book is written to Jewish people. The Gentile culture of the first century was characterized by sexual exploitation, but not the Jewish community. There is so much about the historical setting and recipients of Hebrews that is uncertain.

▣ "fornicators" The term in the OT means sexual relations between two unmarried people, but in the NT it has the wider connotation of sexual immorality of any kind. We get the English word "pornography" from this Greek term.

▣ "adulterers"This refers to sexual relations between people, one or both of whom are married to other people. Sexual sins were a major concern of the early church because of the rampant immorality and worship practices of pagan culture (cf. Gal. 5:19-21).

▣ "God will judge" God's judgment of improper human sexuality can be seen in Rom. 1:24-32; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:19; Col. 3:5; Rev. 21:8; 22:15. However, there are other passages like I Cor. 5:5 and I Tim. 1:9-11, which relate to believers who commit these immoral acts. The early church had to face immorality in the lives of believers and try to draw some guidelines.

1. they need to repent

2. other believers are to help them (cf. Gal. 6:1; James 5:16,19-20)

3. believers are not to be "best" friends with immoral believers (cf. I Cor. 5:9-13).

The Christian witness of morality, strong marriages, hospitality, and brotherly love are as crucial today as in the first century.

13:5

NASB"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money"
NKJV"Let your conduct be without covetousness"
NRSV, TEV"keep your lives free from the love of money"
NJB"Put avarice out of your lives"

There is no verb, again an imperative is implied. The noun is a compound of

1. an alpha privative

2. phile ō ( the third compound with phile ō since v. 1), to love

3. a silver coin

It means "not a lover of money." The problem is not the money, but the love of money (cf. Luke 12:15; 16:14; I Tim. 3:3; 6:10,17-19; II Tim. 3:2).

▣ "being content with what you have" This is a present passive participle used in an imperatival sense. This is a key issue for happiness. It is a worldview that does not focus on the physical and the immediate. Contentment is a wonderful gift from God that must be accepted by faith and lived out daily (cf. II Cor. 9:8; Phil. 4:11-12; I Tim. 6:6-10).

▣ "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" This is a loose quote with two emphatic double negatives, taken from God's promises to His leaders and people. God is with us and for us (cf. Deut. 31:6-7; Josh. 1:5; I Chr. 28:20; Isa. 41:10,13,14,17). Believers do not have to fear for daily provisions (cf. Matt. 6:19-34).

13:6 "The Lord" This is a quote from the Septuagint of Ps. 118:6, but this same truth is also found in Psalm 56:4,11.

▣ "The Lord is my helper" Psalm 118 is a powerful word of confidence in God's love, forgiveness, presence, and help.

The noun "helper" is used only here in the NT (but the verb is in Heb. 2:18), but is used often in the LXX. It means "to give aid," "to come to one's rescue."

"What will man do to me" This great truth (cf. Ps. 56:4,11; 118:6) is also stated in slightly different terms in Rom. 8:31b and then illustrated in 8:32-39.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 13:7-16
  7Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefitted. 10We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. 15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

13:7 "Remember" This is a present active imperative. The implication is to pray for the leaders and honor them! This is a different, but similar, word from v. 3. Believers need to be conscious of the need for praying for and honoring their leaders' loving service to the body of Christ (cf. v. 3) and her leaders (cf. vv. 7,17,24; I Thess. 5:12-13).

▣ "those who led you" Verses 17 and 24 deal with current leaders, so v. 7 must refer to those leaders who first preached the gospel, but are now dead.

"who spoke the word of God to you" This is the task of Christian leaders. They do not teach or preach their discoveries or personal/cultural preferences, but the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this we honor them, respect them, and pray for them.

▣ "considering the result of their conduct" This is a present active participle used as an imperative. These leaders, like those in the roll call of the faithful in chapter 11, remained faithful during life and until death. Their lives witnessed to the validity of their messages.

"imitate their faith" This is a present middle (deponent) imperative. Our author is calling on his readers to mimic the faith of their leaders. Paul often encourages believers to imitate his faith (cf. I Cor. 4:16; 11:1-2; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; I Thess. 1:6; II Thess. 3:7,9).

13:8 "Jesus. . .same" The OT characters of chapter 11 were good examples; the former and current leaders were good examples; Christ is our supreme example. His character and faithfulness never change (cf. Ps. 102:26-27, quoted in Heb. 1:12). This same theological statement is made concerning YHWH in Mal. 3:6. God's character and mercy are constant and, so too, are Jesus Christ's.

13:9 "Do not be carried away" This is a present passive imperative with a negative particle which usually means to stop an act already in process. Some of the hearers were contemplating "shrinking back" (cf. 2:1; 10:38). The passive voice implies the activity of Satan or the demonic.

▣ "by varied and strange teachings" Exactly what this involved is uncertain, but a similar combination of Jewish and pagan practices is condemned in Col. 2:16-23.

It almost seems to me that parts of chapter 13 are a Pauline close added to a letter to a synagogue. Parts of this chapter (i.e., vv. 4-5) fit a mixed-church setting, not a synagogue.

NASB"for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace"
NKJV"For it is good that the heart be established by grace"
NRSV"for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace"
TEV"It is good to receive inner strength from God's grace"
NJB"it is better to rely on grace for inner strength"

This is a present passive infinitive. These hearers need to be firmly established, not on ritual, animal sacrifice or food laws, but on the undeserved, unmerited grace of God in Jesus Christ (i.e., the gospel, cf. v. 7). They were vacillating between Moses and Jesus. Jesus, the unchanging Word of the Father, is far superior to the procedures and words of the first covenant.

Understanding God's unchanging character and love, so clearly expressed in the life, teaching, and death of Jesus (the gospel), is what gives believers encouragement. Believers' hearts and minds are strengthened through a knowledge of the gospel and a personal relationship with the Great Shepherd, not through external rituals and procedures (the old Mosaic covenant).

This author often addresses the spiritual issue of the "heart" (see Special Topic at 3:8). He quotes several OT texts.

1. 3:8,15; 4:7, "do not harden your hearts" (Ps. 95:8)

2. 3:10, "go astray in their hearts" (Ps. 95:10)

3. 8:10, "write them upon their hearts" (Jer. 31:33)

He then summarizes these truths in 3:12; 4:12, and 10:22. The heart represents the mental, emotional, and volitional aspects of mankind. Christianity deals with the internal needs of fallen humanity, whereas Judaism could not.

"heart" See Special Topic at 3:8.

▣ "not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefitted" This is an obvious reference to Leviticus 11. The food laws had passed away in Christ (cf. Matt. 15:11; Mark 7:18-23; Acts 10; Col. 2:16-23). They were no longer binding on believers for salvation (cf. Galatians 3; Acts 15), but in a church setting, believers were still to be conscious of "weaker brothers" (cf. Acts 15:19-20; Rom. 14:1-15:6; I Corinthians 8; 10:23-33) and to try not to offend their weak consciences.

13:10 "We have an altar" The analogy seems to be a spiritual (heavenly) tabernacle, not a physical altar and, therefore, it refers to Jesus' sacrificial work on behalf of believers. It is a powerful metaphor of our access to God through Christ.

▣ "no right to eat" This is another allusion to Leviticus 16.

13:11 "as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp" This is another allusion to the procedures of Lev. 16:27 — the Day of Atonement.

13:12 "Jesus. . .suffered outside the gate" This is a rabbinic word play as the OT sacrifices were taken outside of the camp, Jesus was taken outside the city of Jerusalem to be crucified.

13:13 "So, let us go out to Him" This is a key verse in the book. It is a present middle (deponent) subjunctive, which speaks of continuous action and adds an element of contingency (this is the final admonition and warning against "shrinking back"). Believers need to publicly identify with Him and bear His reproach regardless of the consequences. This is the clear call for these "sheltered" synagogue believers to move into the full light of Great Commission Christianity (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

13:14 "the city" This is a metaphor for heaven using the Israelite capital of the Promised Land (cf. 11:10,16; 12:22; John 14:2). This same type of metaphor is seen in 11:14, "a country."

13:15 "through Him" This refers to Jesus, mentioned by name in v. 12, who sanctified His people by the sacrifice of His own blood outside the gate of Jerusalem. All spiritual benefits come through Him!

▣ "let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise" This is a present active subjunctive. The sacrificial system, given to Israel to promote fellowship with God by dealing with the sin problem, involved five types of sacrifices.

A. Two were mandatory

1. the "sin offering"

2. the "trespass or guilt" offering

B. Three were voluntary

1. wholly burnt offering

2. grain/meal offering

3. fellowship, or peace, offering

It is in connection with these last three that the concept of thanksgiving and praise are mentioned (cf. Lev. 7:12). These sacrifices are described in detail in Leviticus 1-7. The Psalms mention this aspect of adoration often (cf. Ps. 27:6;50:14; 69:30; 107:22; 116:17). The phrase "sacrifice of praise" comes from the Septuagint (cf. Lev. 7:2,3,5; II Chr. 29:31; 33:16; Ps.49:14,23; 106:22).

▣ "the fruit of lips" This phrase reflects Isa. 57:19 and Hosea 14:3 from the Septuagint. Passages like this were used by the Israelites in exile to substitute verbal praise in place of animal sacrifices because the Temple had been totally destroyed in 586 b.c. by Nebuchadnezzar II, the neo-Babylonian king. It was destroyed again by Rome in a.d. 70. The date of the writing of this book is uncertain.

NASB"that give thanks to His name"
NKJV"giving thanks to His name"
NRSV"that confess his name"
TEV"that confess him as Lord"
NJB"those who acknowledge his name"

For believers our praise to God is our confession (homologēo) of Jesus (using His name as in Matt. 28:19-20 or Rom. 10:9-13) as Lord (cf. TEV, which reflects Phil. 2:6-11).

13:16 "and do not neglect doing good" This is a present middle imperative with a negative particle, which usually means to stop an act in progress. God is pleased when His children love and help each other (cf. Phil. 4:18).

In a Jewish context this "good things" (koinōnia) probably refers to almsgiving (cf. Matt. 6:1), a weekly gift of money given by members of the synagogue to purchase food for the needy. The Jews considered this an act of righteousness.

▣ "sharing"

SPECIAL TOPIC: KOINŌNIA

▣ "for with such sacrifices God is pleased" Notice in v. 15 the acceptable sacrifice was professed faith in Christ; now it is Christlike living. The gospel is surely both!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 13:17
 17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

13:17 "Obey. . .submit" This is a present passive (A. T. Robertson lists it as a middle voice) imperative and present active imperative. Although individuals are free in Christ we must yield ourselves to spiritual authority for growth and service (cf. v. 7; I Cor. 16:16; I Thess. 5:12-13).

This word of encouragement to submit to Christian leaders is much needed in our day of disrespect for authority of any kind, and an overemphasis on the rights and powers of the individual. God has placed some as leaders among His people (note Num. 16:3-5). We honor them because of their call, training, commitment, and service. However, there is an opposite "ditch." God's calling has been abused by some authoritarian personalities. There must be a balance, a mutual respect, a co-operative spirit between God's people and God's leaders. All believers are called to be subject to one another out of respect for Christ (cf. Eph. 5:21).

▣ "they keep watch" This term means "to be awake," "to be vigilant" (cf. Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36; Eph. 6:18), which is a metaphor for diligent watchfulness and service (cf. Isa. 62:6; Ezek. 3:17; 33:7-9).

▣ "as those who will give an account" Leaders are responsible for their ministry and will give an account to God (cf. I Cor. 3:10-15). They are stewards!

▣ "Let them do this with joy and not with grief" The attitude of the congregation does not determine the ministry, but it does make the process enjoyable or painful.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 13:18-19
 18Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. 19And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.

13:18 "Pray for us" Prayer by leadership and for leadership is crucial (cf. Eph. 6:18-19; Phil. 4:6; I Thess. 5:25; I Tim. 2:1-2,8). The plural may refer to a ministry group including Timothy (cf. v. 23).

▣ "for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things" Attitude and lifestyle set the foundation for leadership. The author of Hebrews has mentioned the "conscience" several times (cf. 9:9,14; 10:2,22; 13:18). The power of Jesus' redemption and the indwelling Spirit has removed the fear of God and shame of past sins and replaced them with a joy, peace, confidence, not in human performance, but in the gospel! This knowledge of the gospel is the helmet of salvation (cf. Eph. 6:17; I Thess. 5:8).

Some commentators have seen this verse as relating to some type of accusations being leveled at the author (similar to Paul's situation in I Corinthians and Galatians).

13:19 This is a rather cryptic verse. Somehow the author's coming was related to their prayers. This sounds so much like Paul (cf. Philemon 22). Prayer releases God's effective power for ministry. Believers' prayers affect God and others.

Some commentators (e.g., H. E. Dana's Jewish Christianity, p. 268) have assumed this refers to the author's sickness, or even imprisonment (the term "sooner" is also used of Timothy in v. 23).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 13:20-21
 20Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

13:20 "Now the God of peace" This title for God the Father is used only here and in Paul's writings (cf. Rom. 15:33; 16:20; I Cor. 14:33; II Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; I Thess. 5:23; "Lord of Peace" II Thess. 3:16).

"who brought up from the dead" The NT normally depicts God the Father as raising Jesus from the dead (cf. Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30,33,34,37; 17:31; Rom. 6:4,9; 10:9; I Cor. 6:14; II Cor. 4:14; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; I Thess. 1:10). This shows the Father's acceptance of Jesus' life, teachings, and sacrifice. However, there are other texts which assert the agency of the resurrection was the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:11) or the Son Himself (cf. John 2:19-22; 10:17-18). Theologically speaking, all three persons of the Trinity are active in all the redemptive acts.

▣ "the great Shepherd" The term "shepherd" is an OT metaphor for

1. YHWH (cf. Gen. 49:24; Ps. 23:1; 78:52; 80:1; Eccl. 12:11; Isa. 40:11; 63:11; Jer. 31:10; Ezek. 34)

2. the leadership of His people (cf. Jer. 10:21; 50:6-7; Ezek. 34:2-3; Zech. 11:3,5,15,17)

3. the coming Messiah, son of David (cf. Ps. 78:70-72; Ezek. 34:23-24; 37:24; Micah 5:4; 7:14; Zech. 13:7; John 10:2,11,14; I Pet. 2:25; 5:4)

Several times in the OT (cf. Num. 27:17; I Kgs. 22:17; II Chr. 18:16; Ezek. 34:5; Zech. 10:2) God's people are described as scattered and without a shepherd, but now the Great Shepherd has come. He has delivered us and is with us!

"through the blood" This refers to His life given which inaugurated the new covenant (cf. Zech. 9:11; Mark 14:24; I Cor. 11:25).

"the eternal covenant" It is difficult to sort out the different "eternal" covenants because, as Hebrews shows, the Mosaic covenant was conditional and because of human weakness, not eternal. The OT records conditional and unconditional covenants (i.e., the Exodus, Gen. 15:17-21). The covenant with Abraham, whereby all the nations would be blessed, is unconditional (i.e., everlasting covenant), and thereby, eternal (cf. Genesis 17:7,13,19; Psalm 105:9-10). The covenant with David, first revealed in II Samuel 7, is a foreshadowing of the Messiah, son of David, which is unconditional, and thereby, eternal (cf. Ps. 89:3-4). The new covenant is mentioned as a promised new day of righteousness (new age of the Spirit) for God's people (cf. Isa. 55:3; 59:21; 61:8; Jer. 31:33; 32:40; 50:5; Ezek. 16:60; 37:26). One can see how the Jews of Jesus' day were shocked at His message. He had always been God's plan of redemption, but the failure of Israel to keep God's law given to Moses showed the need of another way of salvation than human performance (cf. Galatians 3). See SPECIAL TOPIC: ETERNAL at 6:2.

SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER ('OLAM)

13:21

NASB"equip you in every good thing"
NKJV"make you complete in every good work"
NRSV"make you complete in everything good"
TEV"provide you with every good thing"
NJB"prepare you. . .in every kind of good action"

This verb (katartizō, a rare aorist active optative, which is an expressed wish or desire) means to make someone or something completely adequate, sufficient, or fully qualified (cf. Luke 6:40; I Cor. 1:10; II Cor. 13:11; I Thess. 3:10; I Pet. 5:10). Theologically this is parallel to Eph. 2:10. God's will is that believers are conformed to the image of Jesus (cf. Rom. 8:29), resulting in godly living which attracts the lost to Christ.

"to do His will" Jesus did the Father's will in coming as the Suffering Servant (cf. 10:7). Now His followers are called on to also do His will (cf. 10:36).

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE WILL (thelēma) OF GOD

"to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" This phrase, so common in Paul's and Peter's writings, is ambiguous. Sometimes it refers to God the Father (cf. Rom. 11:36; Eph. 3:21; I Pet. 4:11; 5:11; Jude 25; Rev. 1:6; 7:12), sometimes to Jesus the Son (cf. II Tim. 4:18; II Pet. 3:18) and sometimes to both (cf. Rom. 16:27; I Tim. 1:17; Rev. 5:13 and here). Often NT authors use the same titles, actions, and phrases to describe both the Father and the Son as a way of asserting the equality and deity of Jesus of Nazareth.

▣ "Amen" The original Hebrew term meant "to be firm." This developed into the metaphorical sense of faithfulness, dependability, and trustworthiness (cf. Hab. 2:4). It came to be used in the sense of "I affirm" or "I agree with" a particular statement.

SPECIAL TOPIC: AMEN

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 13:22-24
 22But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you. 24Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

13:22-24 The closing verses, 22-24, are similar to the way Paul closes his letters penned by a scribe, where he takes the pen and adds a small personal note and blessing.

13:22 "I urge you" The author calls his book "a word of exhortation." He urges his readers often (cf. 3:13; 10:25; 12:15; 13:15,22). They are brothers (and sisters) in Christ, but they must cling to Him, follow Him, serve Him!

▣ "bear with this word of exhortation" This is a present middle imperative, which emphasizes the involvement of the subject and commands continual listening. The phrase "word of exhortation" is used in Acts 13:15 for a synagogue sermon. Many believe this is what Hebrews originally was, but was modified to become a letter.

13:23 "brother Timothy" When Paul uses "brother," the person's name always comes first (cf. Rom. 16:23; I Cor. 1:1; 16:12; II Cor. 1:1; 2:13; Phil. 2:25). This is a key evidence against Paul's authorship. The mentioning of Timothy reveals a time frame for the book's composition, during Paul's lifetime or soon after his death (a.d. 68), before Timothy's death.

▣ "has been released" This is a perfect passive participle. We know nothing from Scriptures or elsewhere of Timothy being in prison. In his Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 451, A. T. Robertson asserts that Timothy was put in prison when he came to visit Paul, mentioned in II Tim. 4:11,21. The word "released" (perfect passive participle) is used in (1) Matt. 27:15; John 19:10; Acts 3:13; 4:21,23; 5:40 for release from prison and (2) Acts 13:3, metaphorically for a release from a ministry assignment, and it may mean that here.

▣ "if he comes soon, I will see you" This may imply that the author of Hebrews worked and traveled with Timothy.

13:24 "saints" See Special Topic at 6:10.

▣ "those from Italy greet you" This phrase could mean

1. the author is in Italy

2. the author is from Italy

3. part of the author's missionary team was from Italy

4. the author is writing to Italy

In Jewish Christianity, H. A. Dana says that this verse implies that the letter was written to the Jewish faction of the church at Rome. The first mention of the book of Hebrews was by Clement of Rome about a.d. 97 (p. 270). However, I think it was sent to a Jewish synagogue (possibly in Rome) that had believers as members. The warnings are directed to two groups, the believing Jewish group (the "you" of chapter 6), for them not to "shrink back" (cf. 10:38) and to the unbelieving group (the "those" of chapter 6) to profess/confess Jesus as the Messiah and for both groups to fully embrace Christianity.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 13:25
 25Grace be with you all.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. If Hebrews is a letter, which appears certain from chapter 13, why is there no opening greeting?

2. Does chapter 13 reflect the Jewish unbelievers or false teachers?

3. What does this chapter say about Christian "leaders"?

4. How does verse 23 date the book of Hebrews?

 

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