Hebrews
1-6 Love and Confidence 7-13 Let Us Go Out To Him 14-25 Exhortations, Blessings and Greetings
Love and Confidence

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. 5[Make 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,” 6so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

This concluding chapter contains a number of exhortations for the Christian life. They fit in the sphere of the whole letter, for that is indeed about the path of the Christian on earth. The main theme of this chapter is the theme of love. It directly starts with the brotherly love, which is followed by love for strangers, for prisoners and in marriage.

Although the word ‘love’ is not mentioned anymore thereafter, you can taste that in the following section it is also about love, like the love for the Lord Jesus and for God and for the leaders in the midst of believers and for all saints. If you imagine that in chapter 11 it is about faith, in chapter 12 it is about hope and in this chapter it is about love, then you will surely discover in these concluding chapters the great riches for the life of the Christian.

V11Let love of the brethren continue.. At the end of the previous chapter your focus is on an everlasting ‘unshakable kingdom’ (Heb 12:2828Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;). That’s something to look forward to. But there is one more thing that remains unshakable to eternity and that is “love of the brethren”. That is what the writer starts his exhortations with here. The reason why the writer exhorts to do that, may be because of the disappearing of the brotherly love.

The company of believers to whom he was writing, was constantly living under pressure. Each of them felt the pressure personally. That can ultimately be that burdensome that one may feel to be left alone. In such a case you feel no solidarity anymore with your fellow believers. In that case it is important not to accuse your brothers of unwillingness to help you. They might be facing hardships just like you. Just continue to love your brothers and sisters in that case. If they cannot give you what you would love to have, then perhaps you may give them what they need.

V22Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.. The next form of love is “hospitality”. ‘Hospitality’ literally means ‘love for strangers’. Brotherly love is love that is inwardly focused, while love for strangers is love that is outwardly focused, both to believers and unbelievers. That exhortation is also needed, because in time of tribulation or need the inclination is present to withdraw. You have enough troubles yourself. What could therefore be the sense of being interested in the worries of others and yet of strangers? This could be the reason for you to withdraw. But that is not right.

Have you ever felt to be a stranger, helpless and looking for someone who cares about you? Anyway, God has cared about you in Christ. Because of that you are obligated to show love to strangers (and those are not only asylum seekers). You can do that by offering them a meal, a bed or another form of help.

In this way you possibly even accommodate angels. That’s what Abraham (Gen 18:1-81Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.2When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw [them], he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth,3and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.4Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree;5and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.”6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead [it] and make bread cakes.”7Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave [it] to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it.8He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed [it] before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.) and even Lot (Gen 19:1-31Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw [them], he rose to meet them and bowed down [with his] face to the ground.2And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.”3Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.) experienced. And what about the two who went to Emmaus? Of course the Lord Jesus is not an angel, but to them He at first was certainly a stranger Whom they urged to abide with them. Without knowing that they took the Lord Jesus into their house (Lk 24:29-3129But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is [getting] toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them.30When He had reclined [at the table] with them, He took the bread and blessed [it], and breaking [it], He [began] giving [it] to them.31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.). And is it not the Lord Who says that if you welcome anyone who belongs to Him, He acknowledges that as though you have welcomed Him (Mt 25:35,4035For I was hungry, and you gave Me [something] to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me [something] to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;40The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, [even] the least [of them], you did it to Me.’)? Hospitality is an attitude, a spiritual mind that more often adorns women than men.

It should make no difference whom we welcome. In the world people often want to welcome others for their own benefit. It may deliver you some regard when you welcome somebody in your home who has a high status or a person of influence. But our love should be expressed to people whom we do not know and who are in need of help. That applies in a general sense and certainly also to those who went forth for the sake of the Name of the Lord Jesus (3Jn 1:5-85Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially [when they are] strangers;6and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.7For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.8Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.). We can also apply that to strangers who step into the church. How do we welcome them? Do we talk with them or do we look hazily at them? Do we want them to feel accepted and at home or does their presence make us feel uncomfortable?

V33Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, [and] those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.. Again a different form of love is that for prisoners. Of course it is about those who are imprisoned for the sake of the Name of the Lord Jesus. You may show your love to them by paying them a visit. In that way Onesiphorus sought Paul out when he was imprisoned in Rome. He made efforts to find Paul (2Tim 1:1616The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains;; cf. Phil 1:77For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.). Such an opportunity is not reserved for everyone. What all believers surely are able to do is what is said here: to remember them. That doesn’t mean that you just occasionally pray from them, but that you try to imagine yourself in their situation. Paul also asks the Colossians to remember his imprisonment (Col 4:1818I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.).

In remembering those who are mistreated you go a step further. You not only remember the circumstances, but also the suffering of pain. For you to really empathize with the situation and with the suffering of another person is often difficult. You then have to put your mind to committing yourself to it. It’s about practicing what is true for the body of Christ, namely that when one member suffers, all members suffer together with him (1Cor 12:2626And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if [one] member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.). Now we live in a time of individualism, whereby everyone lives for oneself. This should not be the case among believers. How is your confidence in your brothers and sisters? Do you allow them to get to know you? Are you open for others out of the solidarity you have with them?

Maybe your problem is not so much in this sense, but it is more the multitude of activities. Because of that you are not able to take a closer look at what others are enduring. Or you are not able to consider others, because you think that you also need some recreation. Still the command is to remember others. We receive on a regular basis reports from believers who are imprisoned and/or are mistreated. Take notice of them; try to imagine what they are going through and pray for them.

An application I would want to make, is with the view to those who are captured in a certain way of thinking. In this way they cannot truly be freed in Christ. If you encounter such people you should try to sympathize with them and stand beside them, in order to help them to get out of it together.

V44Marriage [is to be held] in honor among all, and the [marriage] bed [is to be] undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.. After the brotherly love and the welcoming home, the writer points at the importance of marriage. He wants marriage and all things to “be honorable among all”. It goes without saying there is no brotherly love and neither a welcoming home when marriage is a farce. Marriage being honorable means that there is faithfulness to the institution and the practice of it.

Therefore the writer focuses on the sexual intercourse. Marriage should be honorable to both married and unmarried people. To the married people this means that the bed (said in other words: the sexual intercourse) should only be shared with the man or woman a person is married to. To the unmarried people this means that there should be no sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse before marriage is fornication; sexual relation by married people outside their own marriage is adultery. Both are an abomination in the sight of God.

In the world marriage has been degraded to a form of living together. The order for you is to keep marriage in its original intention and to give it substance. You are not to adjust God’s standard to that of the world. To be able to keep God’s standard, you are to continually give it the right place in your thinking and in your heart. If you feel the inclination rise not to take it too seriously, you must judge that. Let yourself be reminded to remain clean in this and also remind others continually of it. Holding on to this institution of God brings blessing; abandoning it brings curse. Fornication and adultery often begin secretly, hidden from others. But God sees it and nobody who commits them escapes from His judgment.

V55[Make 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,”. Then a warning follows to beware of another form of love that is not of God and that is “the love of money”. Sexual covetousness often goes together with financial covetousness (Eph 5:33But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;; Col 3:55Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.). The love of money is a root of all evil (1Tim 6:1010For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.).

The love of money is present when you want more than the Lord gives you. That is for example the case when you participate in strikes for more wages. The order is that you are “content” with the things you have. Isn’t it often the case that you want to have the Lord Jesus together with some earthly securities, like a certain bank account balance and a well paid job? Do you really trust in the Lord alone? You are heartily invited by the writer to do so. Therefore he reminds you of the promise of the Lord that He will never desert you, nor ever forsake you.

V66so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”. Yet that promise only becomes reality when you say: ‘The Lord is my Helper.’ God is saying something on the one hand and you can say and proclaim that the Lord is your Helper. Do you dare to say that loudly to the people around you? You don’t have to seek for nice words. You can, just like it is said here, boldly testify with words that come from the Word, words that God puts in your mouth. When you are being attacked you may say what is written in God’s Word.

Still, you may often not dare to do that, because you’re afraid to be punished for your bold confession. But still it remains true. When people say: ‘Where is that God, why does He allow this in your life?’, then you can still say confidently: ’The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

Now read Hebrews 13:1-6 again.

Reflection: Which forms of love (both positive and negative) appear in this section? What do they mean to you?


Let Us Go Out To Him

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 benefited. 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.

V77Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.. After the exhortations about the conduct of the Hebrews towards those who surround them and about being content with the things they have, they are being reminded of encouraging examples. Already in chapter 11 a line of examples was presented to them. Those are the believers from a distant past. Now the writer points at those who led who are neither alive among them, but whom they actually have known among them. Those are men who had spoken God’s Word to them.

They could remember these believers as people who really lived up to what they said and who died in the faith wherein they lived. The writer tells his readers that they should carefully consider the outcome of their walk. They persevered till the end. Now the Hebrews are to follow their faith. In their faith the Lord Jesus was centered.

It is also significant for you to follow the faith of people who have ministered the Word of God to you. Thereby you could think of the explanation of the Bible by believers who are now with the Lord. Because of their commentaries you have spiritually grown. Just follow their faith. It is not the intention that you should parrot or imitate them. You are not a copy. What you should follow is what was in them, their motive.

V88Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today and forever.. The ones who led who have spoken God’s Word to you may not be there anymore, but Who still is, is “Jesus Christ”. He was there yesterday. I write ‘was’, but it is said that He ‘is’ the Same yesterday and today. He is also the Same tomorrow and through all eternity (Heb 1:10-1210And, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands;11They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment,12And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.”; Psa 102:2828“The children of Your servants will continue,
And their descendants will be established before You.”
). With ‘yesterday’ you may think of the past, of the days of the Old Testament, but also of the days that He was on earth. Just like He committed Himself ‘yesterday’ for His people, just like that He now also does and just like that He will always do.

When you will be with Him you will not encounter a Christ Who will suddenly act differently. We change, our thoughts change, but He does not change. You really do need Him Who is the unchangeable One in a society wherein everything always changes.

V99Do 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 benefited.. Changes also cause unrest. How good is it to have a source of rest in Somebody Who is always perfectly stable in the midst of all those changes. Christ is the Rock Who remains perfectly firm and untouched through all kinds of doctrines. If your heart finds no sufficiency with Christ anymore you will open yourself for “various and strange doctrines”. You will be carried about with them, which may result that you are more and more separated from the Rock. Finally you will lose every connection with Christ and therefore without any hold become a victim of false teachings. The end will be horrible.

Wrong teachings are teachings that are strange to the new things that has come in Christ. They are there in many varieties. Those are errors or traditions that are attractive to the flesh (Mk 7:3-83(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, [thus] observing the traditions of the elders;4and [when they come] from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)5The Pharisees and the scribes *asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”6And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
7‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’
8Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
) and with which people can achieve honor. In such teaching Christ is indeed good, but not sufficient. Christ alone is then too limited, too little. Isn’t life much broader with many interesting things?

If this reasoning takes a grip on you, you will get carried away from the steadfastness that you have in Christ. You may open yourself for new forms of faith experience that is led by mainly or only emotions. What you actually need is that your “heart is being established by grace”. If you are deeply aware of that, it is a great liberation from each own effort. If you think that it is about the experience in itself, the kick that you get out of it will not make your heart be established. In this way you are only satisfying your religious emotions. It really is not easy to be dependent on grace alone.

Grace means that nothing is expected from you, but that you expect everything from God. Is that too meager, too easy or meaningless to you, then you will seek your salvation in “foods”. ‘Foods’ stand for things that will perish (1Cor 6:1313Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.), what only has a temporal and no permanent value. Here it is about walking in foods and is therefore a reference to the Jewish tangible, temporal worship service. This worship service had brought no profit at all. That’s what became clear from this letter. It didn’t bring man to God, but it has only proved stronger the distance from Him.

V1010We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.. If I clearly understand this verse, you may read it like this: We, Christians, have a place of worship service where we are allowed to approach God to have fellowship with Him, while those who still think that they have to serve God according to Jewish tradition, are totally excluded from that. Here it is about ‘eating from the altar’. ‘Eating’ is a symbol of having fellowship. The ‘altar’ is a picture of Christ. Those, who hold on to the Old Testament worship service, have no part in Christ and therefore have no right to ‘eat from the altar’.

V1111For 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.. In this verse we find the explanation for that. The writer points at a ritual that these Hebrews were familiar with. When they were still Jewish, they were entirely involved with this ritual. This ritual was yearly being performed before their eyes on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:2727But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire.). Now they actually are thoroughly taught by the writer through this letter about the reality of the sacrifice of Christ that they definitely understood that he now also speaks about Christ.

What happened on the Day of Atonement with the blood and the body of the offering animals, shows what happened to Christ. First of all the blood was brought into the sanctuary for the purgation of sins. Christ Himself entered the sanctuary with His blood (Heb 9:1212and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.). As a result of that the access to the sanctuary has also been opened for both Hebrews and Christians and now for you and they and you are allowed to enter it freely (Heb 10:1919Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,). Something also happened to “bodies” of the animals. Those were “burned outside the camp”.

V1212Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.. The writer gives the explanation of that now. The burning of the bodies of the animals outside the camp indicates what happened to the Lord Jesus outside the gate, that is the gate of Jerusalem.

It might have been quite shocking to the readers to see this. They must have realized that what the writer showed, makes a murderers’ city of Jerusalem. They were still having difficulties with separating themselves from that city. It still had such a great place in their thinking. Now they understood that it was that very city that cast its King outside and killed Him. That means that that city means nothing anymore to God and it should also be like that for the them.

At the same time that place “outside the gate”, is the place where Christ has sanctified the people “through His own blood”. Therefore that place has a double meaning. It shows what people (and especially religious people) did to the Lord and that in that place God’s counsel, concerning His people, has been fulfilled (cf. Acts 2:2323this [Man], delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put [Him] to death.).

V1313So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.. And just like the shedding of the blood of Jesus had the consequence that the way to the sanctuary was made open for His people (Heb 10:1919Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,), the blood of Jesus that He shed outside the gate also has consequences for His people. Those consequences are sounding in the call: “So, let us go out to Him outside the camp.” You show true respect for the work of the Lord Jesus when you, on the one hand enter the sanctuary to draw near to God and when you, on the other hand take the place of reproach on earth.

To go outside the camp (or outside the gate), means outside an organized system of religion. Formerly the camp was the place where God was dwelling and where He ordained everything in the laws and commandments. But when Christ came there, they casted Him out. He who now wants to belong to Him cannot stay in a religious system that is established after an Old Testament model. This is strongly characterized in the roman-catholic church.

The call also implies a warning not to allow anything in the Christian worship service that, by outward rituals, gives the appearance of a better way of drawing near to God. There is an essential difference between the Christian worship service and the way God was being served in the Old Testament according to His commands. That difference is caused by the fact that the Lord Jesus is now in heaven and the Holy Spirit dwells in the church on earth. Ever since the Holy Spirit dwells on earth the Christian worship service is not characterized by an earthly place and earthly means of praise, but by worshipping God in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:21-2421Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.24God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”).

The outward fuss that is still found in protestantism has no right of existence. However, the reality is that more and more elements of the Jewish religion are reintroduced in the Christian worship service. Therefore the call to go out outside the camp should sound louder. Bearing the reproach of Christ goes together with abandoning the organized Christianity after the Old Testament model.

In Christianity at large you are irrelevant if you do not cooperate with them. But is there a better place on earth than with the Lord Jesus, even if it is a place of reproach? Asaph puts it this way: “Whom have I in heaven [but You]? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth” (Psa 73:2525Whom have I in heaven [but You]?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
). If you want to be with the Lord Jesus in heaven then you will surely want to be with Him on earth also.

Now read Hebrews 13:7-13 again.

Reflection: Have you gone forth to Him outside the camp?


Exhortations, Blessings and Greetings

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 25Grace be with you all.

V1414For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking [the city] which is to come.. The writer substantiates the call to go out to Him by pointing again at the aim of their pilgrimage. The Hebrews didn’t have to consider it as a loss when they turned their back on the earthly Jerusalem and the whole religion that was performed there. It had all come to an end because of the rejection of the Lord Jesus. Every desire for it was wrong. Jerusalem was not a permanent city. The city was soon to be destroyed (Lk 21:2020“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.). That was also the case with the temple (Mt 24:1-21Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.2And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”).

They should not look back, but had to look forward (Heb 11:15-1615And indeed if they had been thinking of that [country] from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.16But as it is, they desire a better [country], that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.). They were seeking the future city. That was what they continually had to look forward to wholeheartedly, even though it seemed so far away and even though the way was that difficult. If they would let themselves be distracted by what they left, they would go astray.

V1515Through 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.. When the writer has drawn their attention on the right aim again he gives them a wonderful exhortation. Were they thinking that their unbelieving fellow countrymen were better off with an offering service with literal offering animals? Then that thought had to be corrected. In fact it was a great privilege for them not to, just now and then with special occasions, bring offerings to God, but they were able to do that “continually”. And it had nothing to do with tangible offerings at all, but they were allowed to bring “praise to God”, that is “the fruit of lips”. That goes much deeper, it comes out of the heart and goes to the heart of God.

This is all because of Christ and His work. Through Him you also are able to praise and worship God. That doesn’t happen with outward appearance, but by speaking out about what you have found in the Lord Jesus. God loves to see you coming to Him to tell Him something about His Son. He loves it when you confess His Name to the people in the world, but it is an exceptional joy for His heart when you continually praise Him with the fruit of your lips which is meant for Him.

V1616And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.. God also loves it when you think of others. Beside spiritual offerings He also wants you to bring material offerings. You may bring the spiritual offerings to Him, the material offerings to others. “Doing good” is to provide somebody with something good, to do a good deed. That is not only giving goods, but it can also be a gesture or a word. “Sharing” has the meaning of sharing your goods with others who are in need of them.

It is actually doing good in a general sense and sharing everything with one another. You see that wonderfully in practice with the first Christians (Acts 2:4444And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;; 4:3434For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales). I am afraid that that state of mind is hardly to be found now, but God still finds pleasure in it. In that way earthly possessions get such a rich meaning and a deep satisfaction. If you are willing to do these sacrifices, you yourself will be refreshed (Pro 11:25b25The generous man will be prosperous;
And he who waters will himself be watered.
). God is a giving God. Isn’t it a privilege to follow Him, regarding this?

V1717Obey 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.. Thus, with regard to giving, you may follow God. On earth there are people you should follow, that means whom you should obey. Those are the ones who lead you. Do you see that it is in plural sense? Therefore it is not about a pastor, a person who is theologically trained or somebody who makes himself a leader. It is about mature, spiritual believers who are taught and formed by God and whom He has given to His church. Those are the ones you should obey when they explain to you, based on God’s Word, how things should happen. Then they will not do their work “with grief”, but “with joy”. You are to submit yourself to them. Although this is not in line with the current world, it is fully biblical and it brings blessing.

Many Christian families are reflecting the spirit of this age. Children do not obey anymore and being submissive is out of the question. Instead of obeying, children are negotiating with the parents. That possibly delivers the child the result it had wanted, but it is an enormous loss for the parents. In most cases it also becomes clear in future that such a relationship with each other is an obstacle for a radical conversion of the child. On the contrary, the call to obey and to be submissive is actually not an order to exert rigid discipline.

Thank God for the brothers who lead you. That will make it easier for you to obey them. If you do not listen to them, it is “unprofitable” for you, and it will be harmful for you.

V1818Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.. Pray for leaders whom you know. They need your intercession. When those who rule ask for intercession, they can only do that when they are confident that they “have a good conscience”. For if they do not have a good conscience they cannot stand right before God and they can therefore be of no help to others. They must first take away the burden from their conscience. Regarding the writer, this was not the case.

V1919And I urge [you] all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.. He desired to meet the believers to whom he wrote this letter. He also knew the power of intercession, for he exhorts them to intercede abundantly, so that he may be able to be with them the sooner.

V2020Now 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,. The writer comes to his conclusion. He guides your attention to “the God of peace”. A wonderful, soothing expression: the God of peace. He has perfect peace and provides this peace anyone who trusts in Him. There is nothing that confuses Him. His peace can be your peace, He wants to give that to you (Phil 4:77And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.; Jn 14:2727Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.). Through the work of the Lord Jesus He is able to give peace to all who believe in His Son. That peace is everlasting. It is also the peace that will be all over the world in the millennial kingdom of peace. The letter was written with this kingdom of peace in prospect.

Here at the end of the letter you read once more about the basis of that kingdom. That basis is that God “brought up from the dead … the Lord Jesus”. In that way a new covenant could be made, which also is everlasting. It cannot possibly fail, because it is based on the blood of Christ, which eternally holds its value.

Isn’t it beautiful to read about the Lord that He is “the great Shepherd of the sheep? As ‘the great Shepherd’ He was raised from the dead and guides His flock through the world, on the way to that other world, where He already is. It has become His flock, because He has been for them “the good Shepherd”, Who gave His life for them (Jn 10:1111“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.). And when He comes to establish the millennial kingdom of peace, He will do that as the “chief Shepherd” (1Pet 5:44And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.).

Note that the writer speaks about the Lord Jesus as “our Lord Jesus”. Therein you taste his love for Him, a love that he also assumes to be with the readers by the word ‘our’.

V2121equip 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.. The wish of the writer is that the God of peace will “equip you [the believers] in every good thing to do His [this is God’s] will”. Nothing less will satisfy him because you cannot ascribe less to God. You are on earth to do good in such a way that nothing is lacking. That will be the case when you are executing God’s will. God’s will is that you are on earth to His honor. He wants you to be with Him in glory. On your way to that He wants you as a sheep of His flock to stay close to the flock and with the Shepherd.

In the light of the letter His will has got to do with bringing into practice what you have become, namely a son and a priest. He wants you to behave like a son and that you honor Him as priest.

I can imagine that you may ask yourself how to do that, for you will not succeed, will you? That’s how I feel too. God knows about that question. He also has the answer to it. That answer consists of the promise of His help. He is “working in us that which is pleasing in His sight” (cf. Phil 2:12-1312So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;13for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for [His] good pleasure.)! Therefore you only have to open yourself to Him and fill your heart with His Word. Then it will become full of Christ and He will work in you what is well pleasing in God’s sight. When everything of yourself has disappeared to the background in that way and God and Christ are great before you, you cannot but only shout: “To whom [be] the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

V2222But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.. In the light of that shout the remark of the writer is to be put, that he wrote “briefly”. Although the letter is quite a long one, he dealt with items that are inexhaustible. He could only touch lightly on all his items (cf. Heb 11:3232And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,). Only the essential ones were addressed, which was needed for the Hebrews and for us too. We may discover more and more in them.

The total of what he has written, has the form of an exhortation. He exhorts them or encourages them to bear with it. The bearing with the exhortation is important when you want to grow spiritually. It doesn’t mean that you just listen to it in a friendly way and then do nothing about it, but that you take the exhortation to heart.

V2323Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you.. The writer also has news about Timothy. He knew that they were interested in him and that they would be delighted if he would come together with him. It is nice to inform your brothers and sisters about other believers because you know that they are interested.

V2424Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.. The bond of the writer with the company to whom he writes, also is expressed in his greetings. He asks his readers to greet the “leaders and all the saints”. The bond of the believers has no borders, but is international.

From Italy the believers greet their fellow believers in Israel through the writer. The connection is through the Lord Jesus; through Him all believers are a unity, a family.

V2525Grace be with you all.. The writer says goodbye with the wish that grace be with them all. Only by grace it is possible to finish the path of faith.

Now read Hebrews 13:14-25 again.

Reflection: What is the will of God for your life? How can you learn to know that will?