Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Let brotherly love continue.CHAPTER 13
No comment is needed on the simple exhortations with which this concluding chapter of this Epistle begins. Brotherly love stands in the foreground. Hospitality and loving kindness to prisoners and those who suffer adversity is especially enjoined. The great high priest in glory sympathizes with such a condition of His saints and we too are to be sympathizers as well as intercessors with Him. The life is to be clean and undefiled. Walking in faith there should be not covetousness but happy contentment in view of His never failing promise.
The first exhortation in these verses is that they should remember their leaders who had spoken the Word of God to them, to follow their faith and to consider the issue of their walk. These leaders had passed away from the earthly service into the presence of the Lord. One abides the same. He must be exalted above everything and He alone can satisfy the hearts of His people. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” He is the unchanging Jehovah who had spoken of old “I am the Lord who changeth not.” What a One to follow and to trust. From Him and His gracious riches the enemy tries to lead away God’s people and ensnare them. Christ is the person whom Satan hates and all wicked and strange doctrines are invented by him to dishonor that worthy name and to spoil God’s children.
Then follows the call to separation, the great exhortation at which the Holy Spirit aimed from the beginning of this document and which He now presses upon the conscience. “We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat who are serving the tabernacle.” That altar is Christ for those who have left the shadow things behind and who have found in Him their all in all.
Those who still cling to the Jewish things have no right of access; they have no right to eat if they serve the tabernacle, for everything has passed away since the substance in Christ has come. They had put Christ outside. All had been done as foreshadowed by the legal sacrifices. “Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.” And now all is done and the whole Jewish system has no more meaning. To remain in it and practice the old things, which are gone, is a denial of Christ and His work as the sin-bearer. The camp is the people who continued in the things of the law, who denied thereby that the new sacrifice had been brought; who still used an earthly priesthood and denied thereby that the new and living way into the holy place had been made by the blood of Jesus, the rent veil.
Ritualistic Christendom with its man-made priesthood, its so-called “saving ordinances,” its legal principle, so prominent, not only in the worst form of apostate Christendom (the Romish church), but in other systems and sects, is but another camp in which the truth of Christ and His all sufficient work is denied. Outside of the camp is found the cross of Christ with all its grace and glory. And therefore the exhortation, which seems to us was the all-important message for these Hebrews (and for us as well) “let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” In other words, leave all behind, be separate from all, which denies the cross and the work accomplished there. And “outside the camp” must mean “inside the veil,” to enjoy the perfection in Christ, to be in God’s holy presence as a true worshipper. “For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).
This priesthood of which Peter speaks (1Peter 2:5) is mentioned here also. “By Him therefore (not by an earthly priest or in an earthly tabernacle) let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” And besides this, which is done inside the veil, there is another aspect to the sacrifice we bring in His name--”to do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
They were to obey the leaders and submit themselves. These leaders watched over their souls as those that shall give account in the coming day of Christ. And by obedience and submission they honored Him who has made them the overseers of the flock of God. Well it would be if all workers would never lose sight of the fact that they are accountable to the Lord. The writer of the Epistle, no doubt the apostle Paul, requests their prayers, “pray for us.” (“The fact is that none need the prayers of God’s people more than those who are active and prominent in the Lord’s work. Practically occupied with preaching and teaching others, how great the danger is of going on with a conscience not good about themselves! And what can more decidedly defile or harden?”) In true humility, so characteristic of Paul he writes “for we persuade ourselves that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honestly.” Most ask prayer because their conscience is bad. He beseeches them that they may do this, so that by their prayer of intercession he might be restored to them the sooner. (See Philemon 1:22.) He valued the prayers of the saints.
Then follows that blessed prayer so well suited to this epistle and its great truths. “Now the God of peace that brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, perfect you in every good work to do His will, working in you what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever (unto the ages of the ages). Amen.”
In the final words the apostle beseeches them to bear with the word of exhortation as contained in the letter. The mention of Timothy is another evidence that Paul wrote Hebrews. Brief salutations and the benediction closes this wonderful portion of the Word of God. “Grace be with you all. Amen.”