Duties of Christian Faith that pleases God.
Continue in brotherly love.13:1-3.
In the final chapter of Hebrews, the author gives a series of exhortations for Christian living. The readers were exhorted to continue in their brotherly love. In the past they have demonstrated such love one to another (6:10). This love should not be limited to only brethren. They must demonstrate this love to strangers by showing hospitality. During that time Christians were traveling to escape persecution and for ministry. So hospitality was a needed grace at that time. The author refers to an Old Testament incidents to show that this would bring unexpected blessings from God (Genesis 18, 19). They were also encouraged to remember those who are in prison for their faith. Their needs must not be forgotten.
Take your marriage vow seriously.13:4-6.
The believers were also urged to take their marriage seriously and remain faithful to one another. The author expresses God's approval of marriage and His blessing upon it (Gen 2:18-25). They were reminded of the price they had to pay for adultery and immorality. It will bring shame, disgrace and distrust upon family as well as to the church. The author warns that God will judge them. They were also admonished against greediness. They are to be content with what they have. The basis of contentment is found in the promise of God. "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5). When we have such assurance of care, we can confidently say "God is my helper and I will not be afraid"(Psalm 118:6). We should keep ourselves free from the love of money (12:5). These instructions are applicable to all believers. Obedience is an essential component of faith.
Remember them who taught you the Word of God.13:7-14.
The readers are exhorted to remember their former leaders who ministered God's word to them. They should follow their example of faith in life and death (13:7). They displayed the faith that looked to the future and died. Even though they have died, their influence remains (11:4). Leaders will come and god bu the message they preached remains same. We are not to be led away by diverse and strange doctrines. Any teaching that rejects Jesus must be rejected. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. So be loyal to Him and to the new covenant. Do not be attracted to the ceremonial rules. They are useless. But your spiritual strength comes from God's grace. It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace (13:9). We are saved by grace. We also need this matchless grace to live a life that pleases God. We have an altar. This is a reference to the sacrifice Christ offered on the cross. The sacrifice on the Day of Atonement was a type of Christ' death on the cross. On the Day of Atonement, the bodies of animals were burned outside the camp. Priest was not allowed to eat of the sacrifice offered on the Day of Atonement. So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gate. Under the new covenant believers are privileged to partake of the blessings of Christ’s perfect sacrifice. The writer encourages his readers to go outside the gate bearing the reproach Christ bore (13:13). Christians must be prepared to suffer shame for Christ. Believers are strangers and pilgrims now and they seek the city that is to come (13:14).
Is our worship acceptable to God?13:15-21.
The author challenges his readers to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually (13:15,16). This is the fruit of their lips that acknowledge God's greatness. God's name speaks of His character. God is pleased with such sacrifices rather than with animal sacrifices. Also they were encouraged to do good and share what they have with those in need. In such sacrifices, God is well pleased. They are to obey their spiritual leaders. Such obedience makes it possible for them to fulfill their responsibilities with joy. Leader are accountable to God. The author requests prayer for himself and others who are with him. He is confident that their prayer will hasten his return to them soon.The writer prays that God will give believers the power they need to do God's will (13:21). God not only equips his people to obey him, he also generates the desire in us to do it ( Phil 2:12-13). Christ is the great shepherd of the sheep and he cares for the sheep. They are safe in his hands. The writer adds the benediction which is addressed to the God of peace (13:20). This peace is the result of new covenant which Christ has established once for all for us. He is our great shepherd who is able to keep us safe and produce in us that which is pleasing to him. This benediction ends with ascribing glory and praise to Jesus Christ (13:21).
The Final Exhortation and Conclusion:13:22-25.
The writer ends this epistle with an appeal. He wants his readers to listen willingly his word of exhortation about Christ who is the complete and final revelation from God. He wants his readers to know that Timothy has been set free from prison. Many scholars hold the view that, the mention of Timothy here suggests, perhaps Apostle Paul wrote the epistle of Hebrews. The author expresses the desire that he and Timothy may visit the readers soon. The readers are asked to greet their church leaders and believers there. The phrase "Christians come from Italy" may refer to the people who were from Italy living, where the author was writing from. The author closes this epistle by wishing God's grace upon all the readers of this letter. May God bless you. Amen.