Hebrews 13:23
Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
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(23) It is clear that the Hebrew Christians knew of the imprisonment of Timothy, but had not heard the news of his release. In 2Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1, Timothy is spoken of as “the brother;” in 1Thessalonians 3:2, and here, as “our brother” (for the word “our” printed in italics in the Authorised version, belongs to the true text). With him, the writer adds, “if he come shortly [sooner than the date at which he himself must depart], I will see you.”

13:22-25 So bad are men, and even believers, through the remainders of their corruption, that when the most important, comfortable doctrine is delivered to them for their own good, and that with the most convincing evidence, there is need of earnest entreaty and exhortation that they would bear it, and not fall out with it, neglect it, or reject it. It is good to have the law of holy love and kindness written in the hearts of Christians, one towards another. Religion teaches men true civility and good breeding. It is not ill-tempered or uncourteous. Let the favour of God be toward you, and his grace continually working in you, and with you, bringing forth the fruits of holiness, as the first-fruits of glory.Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty - Or, is sent away. So it is rendered by Prof. Stuart and others. On the meaning of this, and its importance in determining who was the author of the Epistle, see the Introduction section 3, (5) 4, and Prof. Stuart's Introduction, section 19. This is a strong circumstance showing that Paul was the author of the Epistle, for from the first acquaintance of Timothy with Paul he is represented as his constant companion, and spoken of as a brother; 2 Corinthians 1:1 note; Philippians 1:1 note; Colossians 1:1 note; Philippians 1 note. There is no other one of the apostles who would so naturally have used this term respecting Timothy, and this kind mention is made of him here because he was so dear to the heart of the writer, and because he felt that they to whom he wrote would also feel an interest in his circumstances. As to the meaning of the word rendered "set at liberty" - ἀπολελυμένον apolelumenon - there has been much difference of opinion whether it means "set at liberty from confinement," or, "sent away on some message to some other place." That the latter is the meaning of the expression appears probable from these considerations.

(1) the connection seems to demand it. The writer speaks of him as if he were now away, and as if he hoped that he might soon return. "With whom, if he come shortly, I will see you." This is language which would be used rather of one who had been sent on some embassy than of one who was just released from prison. At all events, he was at this time away, and there was some expectation that he might soon return. But on the supposition that the expression relates to release from imprisonment, there would be an entire incongruity in the language. It is not, as we should then suppose, "our brother Timothy is now released from prison, and therefore I will come soon with him and see you;" but, "our brother Timothy is now sent away, and if he return soon I will come with him to you."

(2) in Philippians 2:19, Philippians 2:23, Paul, then a prisoner at Rome, speaks of the hope which he entertained that he would be able to send Timothy to them as soon as he should know how it would go with him. He designed to retain him until that point was settled, as his presence with him would be important until then, and then to send him to give consolation to the Philippians, and to look into the condition of the church. Now the passage before us agrees well with the supposition that that event had occurred - that Paul had ascertained with sufficient clearness that he would be released, so that he might be permitted yet to visit the Hebrew Christians, that he had sent Timothy to Philippi and was waiting for his return; that as soon as he should return he would be prepared to visit them; and that in the mean time while Timothy was absent, he wrote to them this Epistle.

(3) the supposition agrees well with the meaning of the word used here - ἀπολύω apoluō. It denotes properly, to let loose from: to loosen; to unbind; to release; to let go free; to put away or divorce; to dismiss simply, or let go, or send away; see Matthew 14:15, Matthew 14:22-23; Matthew 15:32, Matthew 15:39; Luke 9:12, et al.; compare Robinson's Lexicon and Stuart's Introduction, section 19. The meaning, then, I take to be this, that Timothy was then sent away on some important embassage; that the apostle expected his speedy return; and that then he trusted that he would be able with him to visit those to whom this Epistle was written.

23. our brother Timothy—So Paul, 1Co 4:17; 2Co 1:1; Col 1:1; 1Th 3:2.

is set at liberty—from prison. So Aristarchus was imprisoned with Paul. Birks translates, "dismissed," "sent away," namely, on a mission to Greece, as Paul promised (Php 2:19). However, some kind of previous detention is implied before his being let go to Philippi. Paul, though now at large, was still in Italy, whence he sends the salutations of Italian Christians (Heb 13:24), waiting for Timothy to join him, so as to start for Jerusalem: we know from 1Ti 1:3, he and Timothy were together at Ephesus after his departing from Italy eastward. He probably left Timothy there and went to Philippi as he had promised. Paul implies that if Timothy shall not come shortly, he will start on his journey to the Hebrews at once.

He acquaints them with the good news of his dismissing Timothy to them, to acquaint them how it fared with him, as he dismissed and sent Tychicus to the Colossians, Colossians 4:7,8, Epaphroditus to the Philippians, Philippians 2:25,28, as he intended to have sent Timothy with them, Hebrews 13:19,23,24, but he stopped him to see the issue of his appearance before Nero Caesar; which being over, he despatched him with an account of it to these Hebrews, and the rest of the churches, and signifieth his purpose, that if he quickly returns from them again, then he would visit them together with him. That the word apolelumenov noteth, or signifieth, the dismission of a person about business, is seen, Acts 13:3. To which interpretation the subscription of the Epistle inclines; and the Scripture is silent of any troubles or restraint of Timothy at all, Philippians 2:19,20.

Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty,.... This is the same person to whom the Apostle Paul wrote two epistles, and whom he often calls his son, though sometimes his brother, as here, Colossians 1:1 of him he says, that he was set at liberty, or "dismissed"; either by the apostle, by whom he was sent into some parts, upon some business; or rather was loosed from his bonds, having been a prisoner for the sake of Christ and the Gospel; and, it may be; a fellow prisoner with the apostle, at Rome, as Aristarchus and others were; and this very great and useful person being known, very likely, to the Hebrews, since his mother was a Jewess, and he himself was well reported of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium, Acts 16:1 it was a piece of good news to them to hear of his release:

with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you; by which it seems that Timothy was now absent from the apostle, but that he expected him to come in a short time; when, if he should, they would both come together, and visit the Hebrews; which looks as if the apostle was at liberty himself, or at least had some hopes of his deliverance from prison; but whether he ever had his liberty after this, and saw the Hebrews any more, cannot be said; the contrary seems most probable.

Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
Hebrews 13:23. Communication of the intelligence that Timothy has been set free, and the promise, if the arrival of Timothy is not long delayed, in company with him to visit the readers.

γινώσκετε] is imperative (Peshito, Vulgate, Faber Stapulensis, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Junius, Owen, Bengel, Böhme, Stuart, Bleek, I. p. 278; Stein, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Kluge, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, M‘Caul, Hofmann, Woerner, and others), not indicative (Vatablus, Nösselt, Opusc. I. p. 256; Morus, Schulz, Bleek ad loc., and Einl. in d. N. T., 3 Aufl. p. 583; de Wette, al.). For, that the author would be obliged to communicate further details concerning the liberation of Timothy in the case that the readers had not yet known of it, cannot be maintained; while, on the other hand, upon the supposition of the indicative, the whole notice would become superfluous.

γινώσκετε ἀπολελυμένον] know as one released, i.e. know that he has been released. Comp. Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 324. Wrongly will Storr, Schleussner, Bretschneider, Paulus have γινώσκετε taken in the sense: hold in honour, or: receive with kindness, against which, equally as against the interpretation of Schulz: “ye know the brother Timothy, who has been set at liberty,” the non-repetition of the article τόν before the participle is in itself decisive.

ἀπολελυμένον] is to be understood of liberation from imprisonment. So Chrysostom, Oecumenius, and Theophylact (all three, however, with hesitation), then Beza, Grotius, Er. Schmid, Seb. Schmidt, Hammond, Wolf, Bengel, Sykes, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Stengel, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Maier, Kurtz, Ewald, M‘Caul, Hofmann, and others. Of an imprisonment of Timothy nothing is known to us, it is true, from other sources, but the possibility of the same cannot be disputed. The suppositions, that ἀπολελυμένον signifies: sent away to the Hebrews with our epistle (Theodoret, subscription of the epistle in many cursives: ἐγράφη ἀπὸ Ἰταλίας διὰ Τιμοθέου; Faber Stapulensis, al.), or: sent away somewhither, and consequently absent from the author (Estius, Jac. Cappellus, Limborch, Carpzov, Stuart, and others), have the simple signification of the word against them.

ἐὰν τάχιον ἔρχηται] if he very speedily (earlier, sooner than I leave my present abode) comes to me (incorrectly Grotius, Heinrichs, Stuart, al.: returns).

ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς] Oecumenius: ἐρχόμενος πρὸς ὑμᾶς.

Hebrews 13:23. γινώσκετε τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν.… “Know that our brother Timothy has been released” (ἀπολελυμένον, for example of this use of the participle, see Winer, sec. 45, 4 b). Evidently Timothy had been under arrest; where, when, or why is not known. The information is given because it would interest these Hebrew Christians, who were therefore friends of his, not Judaizers. μεθʼ οὗ … “with whom, if he come soon, I will see you”. He takes for granted that Timothy would at once go to them; and he speaks as one who is himself free or is immediately to be free to determine his own movements. [τάχειον, = θᾶττον, a comparative in the sense of a positive; a classical usage; and cf. John 13:27, ὃ ποιεῖς ποίησον τάχιον.] The usual greetings are added. Epistolary form required this (see the Egyptian papyri) but in view of what the writer has said regarding the rulers, and in view of the πάντας here expressed, it may be supposed that the formula was here filled with significant contents. Who was to convey the salutations? Or, in other words, who was directly to receive the letter? Probably one or two of the leading men representing the Church. This would account for the πάντας. The greetings were not on the writer’s part only. οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰταλίας, “they of Italy” joined in them. The form of expression is that which is ordinarily used to denote natives of a place, as in Luke 23:50; John 1:44; John 11:1; Acts 17:13, etc. Winer says (p. 785): “a critical argument as to the place at which the Epistle was written should never have been founded on these words”. Vaughan is certainly wrong in saying that the more natural suggestion of the words would be that the writer is himself in Italy and speaks of the Italian Christians surrounding him. The more natural suggestion, on the contrary, is that the writer is absent from Italy and is writing to it and that therefore the native Italians who happen to be with him join him in the salutations he sends to their compatriots.

The Epistle closes with one of the usual formulae, “Grace be with you all”.

23. Know ye] Or perhaps “Ye know,” or “know.”

is set at liberty] The word probably means (as in Acts 3:13; Acts 4:21) “has been set free from prison.” It is intrinsically likely that Timothy at once obeyed the earnest and repeated entreaty of St Paul, shortly before his martyrdom, to come to him at Rome (2 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 4:21), and that, arriving before the Neronian persecution had spent its force, he had been thrown into prison. His comparative youth, and the unoffending gentleness of his character, together with the absence of any definite charge against him, may have led to his liberation. All this however is nothing more than reasonable conjecture. The word apolelumenos may mean no more than official, or even ordinary, “sending forth” on some mission or otherwise, as in Acts 13:3; Acts 15:30; Acts 19:41; Acts 23:22.

if he come shortly, I will see you] Lit. “if he come sooner,” i.e. earlier than I now expect (comp. κάλλιον, Acts 25:10; βέλτιον, 2 Timothy 1:18).

Hebrews 13:23. Γινώσκετε) know ye, with joy.—τὸν ἀδελφὸν, our brother) So Timothy is called by Paul: see note on 1 Corinthians 4:17.—ἀπολελυμένον, set at liberty) He had therefore been in prison.—ἔρχηται, if he come) to me. Therefore they had been in different places.

Verse 23. - Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. This allusion to Timothy shows that the Epistle, whatever its exact date, was at any rate written in the apostolic age, before his death. Further, though not proving St. Paul's authorship, it supports the conclusion that the writer, if not himself, was one of his associates, Timothy having been peculiarly his disciple and companion. It seems that Timothy had been, as the readers were aware, in prison; and the joyful news is communicated of his release, and of the prospect of his visiting them. This again shows that the Epistle was addressed to a definite circle of readers. It is observable that the word ἀπολύεσθαι, which does not occur in St. Paul's writings, is, like so many expressions throughout the Epistle, one usual with St. Luke (Luke 22:68; Luke 23:16, etc.; Acts 3:13; Acts 4:21; where it expresses release from prison or captivity). He uses it also for dismissal of persons on a mission (Acts 13:3; Acts 15:30); and hence one view is that Timothy's having already set out to visit the Church addressed is all that is here meant. But the other meaning of the word is more likely. Hebrews 13:23Our brother Timothy (τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν Τιμόθεον)

Paul's habit, when using ὁ ἀδελφός brother with a proper name, is to put the proper name first. See Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 16:12; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 2:13; Philippians 2:25.

Set at liberty (ἀπολελυμένον)

Nothing is known of the fact referred to. Ἁπολύειν of releasing from confinement, Matthew 27:15; John 19:10; Acts 3:13; Acts 4:21, Acts 4:23; Acts 5:40.

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