19/02/17 Hebrews 13:14-25 “The sacrifices of praise, good works, and fellowship”
Hebrews 13:14 – For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
continuing – abiding; remaining; continuing – see Hebrews 13:1. That is, this city currently exists but won’t continue to exist.
seek – to enquire for; seek for; search for; seek diligently. See Hebrews 11:14 – “they seek a country”.
Because this epistle must have been written perhaps a few years before the fall of Jerusalem and the temple, it must have been almost prophetic. For the Hebrew Christians, life was probably very uncertain, full of strife and persecution, with nothing much to hold them to their current life, in particular, in Jerusalem. They were the sojourners among what used to be their people, yet weren’t now, because their citizenship had been transferred to heaven. What they had here on earth wasn’t worth keeping; all their hopes were of their heavenly future.
Hebrews 11:9-10 – 9 By faith he (Abraham) sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.
Philippians 3:20 – For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
From the context, it probably relates to going outside the camp (here the city of Jerusalem) bearing the reproach of the One who bore the reproach of the world. Note Hebrews 13:13 – Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
Going outside the city in some way signified their step of leaving the past behind and pressing onto that which was ahead.
Philippians 3:13-14 – 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
As Tozer said in Man – The Dwelling Place of God,
The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human
being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said goodbye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.
Hebrews 13:15 – By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.
sacrifice – sacrifice, especially the victim sacrificed. It generally means the giving up of something of value for the sake of something else.
King David refused to sacrifice with that which hadn’t cost him anything.
2 Samuel 24:24 – And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy [it] of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
Therefore the sacrifice of praise is that praise which costs you to offer it! There will be times when you just don’t feel in a praising mood, but the Bible says we are to give thanks always for all things (Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;).
Or Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice.
However, if you are being persecuted for your faith, it might be easy to forget to rejoice sometimes! Or to be thankful always for all things! It says above to offer this praise continually as a sacrifice; it must have been a sacrifice for these persecuted Hebrews, especially if they were also told that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). Try praising God one day when everything is going wrong!
giving thanks – confessing; praising; celebrating. Thus, the fruit of our lips confessing (making confession) to His name.
Isaiah 57:19 – I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to [him that is] far off, and to [him that is] near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.
The context of Vs 15 above also assumes that the offering of the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips making confession to His name, is associated with the altar of Hebrews 13:10 – We have an altar. This will be the altar where we lay down our sacrifices, the altar we partake of, that of Jesus Christ. However, also see Revelation 8:3-4 where the altar is noted as being that golden altar before the throne of God.
Hebrews 13:16 – But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
communicate – fellowship; association; community. The word signifies the things that the group holds in common with one another, such as their beliefs and probably also their trials. For these Hebrews it must have been a sacrifice to just be a Christian; the old covenant Jews would have persecuted them, as did Paul when he was a pharisee named Saul.
They weren’t being told to just praise God and that was it! Of course, that was a difficult request under the circumstances. They were also being told not to forget that there were others with them in the same boat. Trying to put a brave face on your tribulations might have been stressful at times, but then having to actually encourage the others as well – this might have sometimes seemed like doing the impossible for them. To be brave in the face of strife is one thing; to be brave for the others with you is even harder! Their sacrifice of praise, especially in tribulations, would be an incense before the throne of God.
Revelation 8:3-4 – 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
Hebrews 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.
This is similar to the exhortation to “remember them which have the rule over you” in Hebrews 13:7. Here it goes into greater detail: to submit themselves (yield to the authority of) those who were required to keep care of them, their overseers.
Note “Looking diligently” – episkopeo (Hebrews 12:15) which spoke of the care of the church which rested upon the elders. This is now the response of the church to that “looking diligently” care of the elders.
The word “submit” seems to have come from the stadium or fighting arena or even from fighting a battle (see running the race as in Hebrews 12:1, or even turning away from the battle as in Hebrews 12:25). Here submit was used to describe the giving up of resistance in a fight, to give way or yield to another combatant or soldier who was then treated as the one who had to be served, while the vanquished became the servant of the victor. It can mean the submission to one of higher rank.
It is clear that the pastors/elders were called to keep care of the souls of those under their authority, and would be called to give account one day, in much the same way as any person who is given authority must account for his actions, including. for instance, the general who makes decisions for his men in battle or war.
(Like British First Sea Lord Pound’s decision to remove all protecting warships from a convoy in 1942 because they might have been damaged or sunk by the Tirpitz which never appeared anyway! He died a year later from a brain tumour, but still goes down in history as a leader who made one of the most idiotic decisions in WW2. The higher your authority, the greater your responsibility to give account for your decisions!)
Pastors and elders were called to give a positive account on the progress of those under their authority, for this would be a joyous occasion (full of rejoicing). However, if they had to give a negative account, it would be a grievous occasion (with groaning) instead. The church leaders had to fulfil their calling properly before God, but even if they did their best, they could still have to give a bad report because of the rebelliousness of those under them. It wasn’t always the fault of the leadership of the pastors.
If Christians were rebellious and disobeyed the exhortation of their pastors (because they wouldn’t submit to their authority), then the pastor would have to give an account with grief, and this wouldn’t do any good (be unprofitable) to those who had rebelled, for it appears that the consequences bounced back upon those who rebelled against the pastor’s authority.
Acts 20:28-31 – 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Hebrews 13:18 – Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
we trust – we are persuaded, confident.
willing – intend; desire; wish for; take delight in; determined.
live – to conduct oneself; behave.
honestly – honourably; rightly, so that there shall be no room for blame.
Pray for us, for we are confident (persuaded) that our conscience is clear (good), desiring (willing; determined) in all things to behave (conduct) ourselves honourably (rightly, so that there shall be no room for blame). That is, as far as we are able to know, we are confident that we have not done the wrong thing by any of you. Our consciences are clear. We have tried hard to do our best for you. Yet pray for us because we have need of the guidance of God in this matter.
Hebrews 13:19 – But I beseech [you] the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
beseech – to beg, entreat, beseech. A pleading. Used in Hebrews 3:13; 10:25; 13:22
the rather – more abundantly; more in a greater degree; more earnestly, more exceedingly; especially, above others.
It suggests that the writer once lived among them, but is currently not among them. This may have meant that he was in prison; the context suggests this. His pleadings appear to relate to the praying for him (and others with him), people who are in great need of prayer to assist with their needs. The writer considers that he might be restored to them sooner through the power of prevailing prayer, because he (and those with him) have done their best according to their consciences. Their consciences are clear (Vs 18).
Hebrews was probably written between 63-65 AD, but could have been as late as 67 AD. Paul was imprisoned in Rome around 66-67AD and probably beheaded in 68AD, so it could be in line with Paul having written this epistle here. However, Paul was probably in prison in Rome between 60-62 AD and then again 66 or 67-68 AD, which could mean that Hebrews was written in between his two imprisonments in Rome, or possibly written during Paul’s second and final imprisonment at Rome.
Of course, there is no certainty that Paul actually wrote Hebrews, yet it can be demonstrated that he could have done so.
Philemon 1:22 – But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
(Written by Paul from Rome)
2 Timothy 4:6-7 – 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith:
(Written by Paul not long before he was executed)
Hebrews 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,
It is probably significant that the writer is now proclaiming God to be a God of peace, One who has provided for their eternal futures even if they currently lacked peace from the world around them.
John 16:33 – These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The things they needed most (physically, that is) were mostly things they couldn’t have (physically). So, what they were being promised is that once the whole trial of life on this earth was finished, they would have their eternal peace (their Sabbath-rest) in heaven, that is, not physical but spiritual.
Romans 8:17-18 – 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Hebrews 4:9 – There remaineth therefore a rest (Sabbath-rest) to the people of God.
Many of the Hebrews were facing physical torture and death, and their pastors were probably doing a reasonable job of caring for them, yet what they really needed was something more sure, more definite. What they desired was to know that somehow this suffering was worth it all. If Jesus’ blood sacrifice were sufficient to buy them all back from spiritual death through the blood sacrifice of the new covenant (here called the eternal or everlasting covenant, the one which was always the real thing), and if Jesus Himself had already risen from the dead to prove His power over life and death, then whatever they had to endure here on earth would be only a short time of sorrow for an eternity of joy.
Psalm 30:5b – weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.
Hebrews 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.
perfect – to mend (what has been broken or torn); to repair; to complete; to strengthen, perfect, make one what he ought to be.
wellpleasing – acceptable. Being acceptable to God required the perfecting of Christ.
The trials they were enduring would perfect (mend; repair) them, be well-pleasing in the sight of God; it would be to His glory through Jesus Christ. This was important to these Hebrews who probably at times struggled to understand the purpose of what they must have been enduring. It was also important for them to know that by enduring the persecutions, they were serving God and His calling for them, their ministries.
2 Timothy 3:11-12 – 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of [them] all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
1 Peter 2:20-21 – 20 For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Hebrews 13:22 – And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.
The writer pleads with them (see vs 19 above) to put up with the exhortations he has thrust at them; even though he says it is a letter of only a few words, the writer has made an effort to spell out everything he believed they should understand (see Hebrews 5:11).
Hebrews 13:23 – Know ye that [our] brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
He would like to see them soon. Timothy has been set free. The writer (probably Paul) has hopes of a similar outcome, and, if so, hopes to come and see them personally because it is always easier to say something without confusion if it is said in person.
Hebrews 13:24 – Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.
salute – Used by people when meeting with or departing from acquaintances – a salutation was made not merely by a slight gesture and a few words, but generally by embracing and kissing, and a journey could be retarded frequently by saluting.
The writer was probably writing from Italy (of which Rome was the leading state).
Salute (greet) the pastors and all the church under them.
Romans 16:16 – Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
Because no names are recorded here, it may be that the writer didn’t have as much personal contact with these people, or perhaps it was because, by naming them, he may have exposed them to further persecution.
Hebrews 13:25 – Grace [be] with you all. Amen. Written to the Hebrews from Italy by Timothy.
Grace – that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness; good will; loving-kindness; favour; good will; loving-kindness; favour (of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues)
A typical closing greeting, just as an opening greeting might have included the word “peace”. According to this, Timothy has been the actual scribe, but not the one who said the words. However, the original manuscripts may not have had such an inscription; this may have been added later on. Thus, it is not certain that Timothy actually wrote this out.
(This brief closing benediction is also found in Titus 3:15, and, with the omission of “all,” in Colossians 4:18; 1Timothy 6:21; 2Timothy 4:22.)
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