Duties of Christians
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 from persecution and for the purpose of ministry. So hospitality was a needed grace because public places were not suitable to stay. So believers are encouraged to show hospitality to such people. The author refers to the Old Testament incidents to show the unexpected blessings hospitality brought to Abraham (Genesis 18, 19). They were also encouraged to remember those who are in prison for their faith. Their needs must not be forgotten. They are part of the same family and we must feel their pain in our own body.
Take your marriage vow seriously. 13:4-6.
Christians were also urged to take their marriage seriously and remain faithful to their wives. The author expresses God's approval of marriage and His blessing upon it (Genesis 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 cause disgrace to Christ. Tragically many people do not take marriage seriously. Husband and wife should grow in their relationship by walking with the Lord. They should keep friendship and romance within the marriage. They also should avoid dangerous relationships with others. A few moments of pleasure will result in a lifetime of regret. 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 fail you, nor forsake you"(Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5). Promise is a declaration that causes hope , expectation and assurance. They are part of everyday life. Only God is the ultimate promise keeper. When we have such assurance of care, we can confidently say "God is my helper and I will not be afraid"(Psalms 118:6). These instructions are important and applicable to all Christains. A Christ centered marriage and church will bring glory to God.
Remember them who taught you the Word of God. 13:7-13.
The readers are exhorted to remember and follow the example of those who taught them the Word of God (13:7). They probably had died but we must remember the outcome of their lives and ministry. 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 about food. They are useless. But your spiritual strength comes from God's grace. We have an altar. This is a reference to the sacrifice Christ offered on the cross. The Old Testament sacrifices are 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 and separation for Christ. When you put the will of God first and the needs of others above your own, you will find joy. They should look forward to the city which is yet to come.
Is our worship acceptable to God? 13:14-21.
The author introduces a new concept of sacrifice and calls upon the readers to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually (13:15). Also they were encouraged to do well as they 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. They 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. The writer adds the benediction which is addressed to the God of peace. This peace is the result of the 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 in His sight. This prayer ends with ascribing glory and praise to Jesus Christ (13:21).
Conclusion and last exhortation of this epistle. 13:22-25.
The writer ends this epistle with an appeal. He wants his readers to listen willingly to 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 together visit the readers to whom this letter was addressed. The readers are asked to greet their church leaders and believers. The phrase "Christians from Italy" may suggest that this letter was written to or from Italy or Rome. The author closes this epistle by wishing God's grace upon all the readers of this letter. May God bless you all! Amen!