Bible: What Does Hebrews 13 Teach Us About Christian Conduct?
Abraham and Family
Hebrews 13: Christian Conduct
In his initial concluding section, the author presents a series of exhortations related to Christian practice and conduct (vv. 1-6).
First, he encourages his readers to continue to show love toward other believers (v. 1; cf. John 13:34-35; Rom. 12:10).
Possibly related to this general directive, his reminder to show hospitality to “strangers” follows (v. 2a).
[In this cultural context, “strangers” seem to be people traveling through an unfamiliar country who need a meal and a bed for the night.
This entertainment requires that the host exercise some faith in the character of his visitors, as well as be willing to expend some resources to help others.]
Such people may happen to be actual angels journeying incognito, as in the case of the three strangers who visited Abraham (v. 2b; cf. Gen. 18:1-8).
As a possible sub-point under showing love to brethren, the writer notes that the act of visiting falsely convicted prisoners requires both empathy and courage (v. 3).
Two Church Offices
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Be Faithful to Your Spouse
One also demonstrates brotherly love by keeping marriage sacred and by not coveting someone else’s spouse.
Being content with one’s marital circumstances shows trust in the LORD as one’s Companion and Helper; people who transgress into sexual sins (“fornicators and adulterers”) betray their brethren and fall under God’s judgment (vv. 4-6; cf. Ps. 27:1).
[Verses 4-5 may not connect in the way suggested above; verse five may be a general exhortation for the Hebrews to be content with whatever God has given them.]
Honor Your Spiritual Leaders
The second concluding part (vv. 7-17) directs the Hebrews to respond righteously in their religious commitments.
First, the author reminds them that since Christ does not change in His character, they should honor those spiritual leaders and teachers whom God has placed over them by endeavoring to follow their godly example (vv. 7-8).
Second, the Hebrews should not follow spiritually unprofitable doctrines based on dietary regulations, because these teachings do not have a grace foundation (v. 9).
The writer reminds them that unbelieving Jews (“those who serve the tabernacle”) have no right to fellowship with true Christians at the Lord’s Table (v. 10).
On the one hand, the Jews burned carcasses of sacrificial animals “outside the camp” (v. 11); on the other hand, Jesus shed His own blood outside the walls of Jerusalem (“outside the gate”) in order to set apart believers to Himself (v. 12).
[“Outside the camp” signifies a place of defilement.]
Despite their opponents’ abuse, Hebrew saints should willingly follow Jesus there; believers in Christ look to the New Jerusalem, not to the old city that will pass away (vv. 13-14).
The Great Shepherd
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Sing Praises, Give Thanks, and Pray
In light of this fact, the author exhorts them to sing praise and give thanks to God continually through the Lord Jesus (v. 15).
True Hebrew believers should always do good works and give sacrificially to those in need, knowing that such deeds please God (v. 16).
Rounding out his exhortations, he commands the Hebrews to obey their church leaders by submitting to their spiritual authority.
He argues that they would not profit spiritually if they grieve their pastors, for God has not only charged the latter to protect His sheep, but also to testify about their conduct (v. 17; cf. 13:7).
The author asks his readers to pray for us; he and his companions want to maintain a good conscience and to continue to live honorably.
Above all, he wants them to pray because he would rather his jailer release him to them sooner than later (vv. 18-19).
A Weighty Benediction
Finally, the writer composes a weighty benediction, asking that the “God of peace” who resurrected “that great Shepherd of the sheep” through His blood (“the blood of the eternal covenant”)—that which “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” shed— might fully work in them and provide them with all that they need to please Him, to do His will in every good work, and to honor Jesus forever (vv. 20-21).
He pleads with the Hebrews to pay heed to this short communication (v. 22), for he hoped to visit them with the newly released Timothy (v. 23).
The writer sends his greetings to the pastors of the Hebrews and to the rest of the believers among them, and then adds that the saints in Italy greet them (v. 24).
He prays that God’s grace might remain upon them (v. 25).
© 2013 glynch1