Hebrews 13/ June 29
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)
The book of Hebrews concludes in a manner typical of Paul, with practical instructions and greetings. The mention of Timothy in v23 and that the writer is in Italy (v24), likely Rome, indicates it as being from the apostle. It has been suggested that Paul didn’t use his name in this letter so to not detract from the subject matter, for this was not written to a church but the nation as a whole, so Paul didn’t want the reader to be impressed by the contents simply due to it coming from him.
Most of these thoughts are hit with only one verse as if being given in last minute thoughts. It begins in similar manner as to how the letter opened- with the mention of angels. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (13:2). Is it of literal angels being spoken? Yes. Would we ever be aware of them as being angels? No, likely the revelation would not be revealed for that would create a false reason within us in helping out the stranger. It will remain a mystery to us, with God using it as an opportunity to reveal how sensitive we are to His leadership and the using of gifts He has provided.
Next, we are to be mindful of those who suffer for the sake of our Savior (13:3), since we all form the body of Christ. Keep marriage sanctified (13:4) between husband and wife. He mentions fornicators and adulterers as being judged of God- both having sex outside of the two who are united in marriage, which is the only acceptable way for sexual contact.
The writer warms against the love of money (13:5) but to be content with what you have, due to God always being with us and will make certain we have what we need. (13:5,6).
Be sure to be mindful of those who brought you up in spiritually and imitate their conduct. (13:7). The dropping in of the encouraging thought “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (13:8) is placed here to connect with the previous verse to encourage us that the believers conduct, as with Christ, is to be constant. We are not right be on-again/off again in our behavior for Christ. We are to imitate Christ at all times.
Continuing with the subject of behavior the writer teaches us to watch what we believe (13:9), “do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings”. Beginning in v9 the subject of food is addressed, which in that time was significant due to the eating of animals which were being sacrificed to please gods. The Christian is not trapped by these teachings, teachings which focus on man trying to please their gods for wrong reasons. As for us, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.” (13:10). The One whom we worship was sacrificed on an alter in a tabernacle not of this world. Christ is the greater sacrifice than animals offered on the earth, as v12 points out that Christ has sanctified people by His own blood. Because of the blood of Jesus the sacrifice we now continually offer up is that of praise (13:15) and not of animal blood.
The writer asks for prayers (13:18) on behalf of him and those with him, particularly to be reunited with the believers (13:19) and then closes with a benediction, a blessing, on those who read his letter, “Now 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, equip 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.“ (13:20,21). The blessing asks that they be equipped to do all that pleases God, a prayer that we need to ask for God to indeed fulfill in us.