Hebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) In these two verses (Hebrews 13:4-5) we have the same connection of thought as in Hebrews 12:16; Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:3. “Impurity and covetousness may be said to divide between them nearly the whole domain of human selfishness and vice” (Lightfoot on Colossians 3:5).

Conversation.—Literally, way of thought and life, character, disposition.

For he.—Rather, for He Himself hath said. As in many other places in this Epistle, the word of Scripture is regarded as directly spoken by God; but there is an emphasis here (“He Himself”) which well suits the remarkable impressiveness of the words quoted, “I will in no wise let thee go; no, nor will I forsake thee.” This promise of divine support and protection does not occur exactly in the same form in the Old Testament, but is clearly taken from Deuteronomy 31:6, “He will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” (Comp. also Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:5; 1Chronicles 28:20.) The appositeness of these words and those which follow (Hebrews 13:6) will be seen if we remember the trials which the Hebrew Christians had already endured (Hebrews 10:32-34). It is very probable that this thought supplies the link of connection between Hebrews 13:5-6, and Hebrews 13:7.

Hebrews

GOD’S VOICE AND MAN’S ECHO

Hebrews 13:5-6.

‘HE hath said’; ‘we may... say.’ So, then, here are two voices; or, rather, a voice and an echo - God’s voice of promises, and man’s answering voice of confidence. God speaks to us that we may speak to Him; and when He speaks His promises, the only fitting answer is to accept them as true in all their fulness fixed confidence.

The writer quotes two passsges as from the Old Testament. The first of them is not found verbatim anywhere there; the nearest approach to it, and obviously the source of the quotation, occurs in a connection that is worth noting. When Moses was handing over the charge of his people to his successor, Joshua, he said first to the people and then to Joshua, ‘Be strong and of good courage .... He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee.’ The writer of the Epistle falls back upon these words with a slight alteration, and turns ‘He’ into’ I,’ simply because he recognised that when Moses spoke, God was speaking through him, and countersigning with His own seal the promise which His servant made in His name. The other passage comes from the 118th Psalm. So, then, let us listen to the divine voice and the human answer.

I. God’s voice of promise.

‘He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ Now, notice that there is a distinct parallel between the position of the people to whom this Epistle was addressed, and that of the Hebrews to whom the original promise was made. The latter were standing on the verge of a great change. They were passing from under the leadership of Moses, and going under the leadership of the untried Joshua. Is it fanciful to recall that Joshua and Jesus are the same name; and that the difficulty which Israel on the borders of Canaan had to face, and the difficulty which these Hebrew Christians had to encounter, were similar, being in each case a change of leaders - the ceasing to look to Moses and the beginning to take commands from another? To men in such a crisis, when venerable authority was becoming antiquated, it might seem as if nothing was stable. Very appropriate, therefore, and strong was the encouragement given by pointing away from the flowing river to the Rock of Ages, rising changeless above the changing current off human life. So Moses said to his generation, and the author of the Epistle says after him to his contemporaries you may change the leaders, but you keep the one Presence.

This letter goes on the principle throughout that everything which belonged to Israel, in the way of institutions, sacred persons, promises, is handed over to the Christian Church, and we are, as it were, served heirs to the whole of these. So, then, to every one of us the message comes, and comes in its most individual aspect, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ Now, ‘to leave’ and ‘to forsake’ are identical, and the promise, if we keep to the Authorised Version, is a repetition, in the two clauses, of the same thought. But whilst the two clauses are substantially identical, there is a very beautiful variation in the form in which the one assurance is given in them. With regard to the first of them, ‘I will never leave thee,’ both in the Hebrew and in the Greek the word which is employed, and which is translated ‘leave,’ means the withdrawing of a hand that sustains. And so the Revised Version wisely substitutes for ‘leave thee,’ ‘I will never fail thee.’ We might even put it more colloquially, and approach more nearly the original expression, if we said, ‘He will never drop thee’; never let His hand slacken, never withdraw its sustaining power, but will communicate for ever, day by day, not only the strength, but the conscious security that comes from feeling that great, strong, gentle hand, closing thee round and keeping thee tight. No man ‘shall pluck them out of My father’s hand.’

‘The Lord upholdeth all that fall,’ says one Psalm, and another of the psalmists puts it even more picturesquely; ‘When I said my foot slippeth, Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up,’ To Say ‘my foot slippeth,’ with a strong emphasis on the ‘my’ is the sure way to be able to say the other thing: ‘Thy mercy held me up.’ ‘He shall not fall, for the Lord is able to make him stand.’ Suppose a man on some slippery glacier, not accustomed to ice- work, as he feels his foot going out from under him, he gets nervous, and nervousness means a fall, and a fall means disaster and sometimes death.

So he grips the guide’s hand, and then he can walk. There is Peter, out on the sea that he had presumptuously asked leave to walk on, and as he feels the cold water coming above his ankle, and sees it rising higher and higher, he begins to fear, and his fear makes him heavier, so that he sinks the faster, till the very extremity of need and paroxysm of terror strike out a spark of faith, and faith and fear are strangely blended in the cry: ‘Lord, save me.’ Christ’s outstretched hand answered the cry, and its touch held Peter up, made him buoyant again, and as he rose, the water seemed to sink beneath his feet, and on that heaving pavement, glistening in the moonlight, he walked till he was helped into the boat again. So will God do for us, if we will, for He has said: ‘I will never relax My grasp. Nothing ‘shall ever come between My hand and thine.’ When a nurse or a mother is holding a child’s hand, her grip slackens unless it is perpetually repeated by fresh nervous tension. So all human helps tend to become less helpful, and all human love has its limits. But God’s hand never slackens its grip, and we may be sure that, as He has grasped He will hold, and ‘keep that which we have committed unto Him.’

But mark the other form of the promise. ‘I will never drop thee’ - that promises the communication of sustaining strength according to our need:’nor forsake thee’ - that is the same promise, in another shape.

The tottering limbs need to be held up. The lonely heart walking the way of life, lonely after all companionship, and which has depths that the purest human love cannot sound, and sometimes dark secrets that it durst not admit the dearest to behold - that heart may have a divine companion. Here is a word for the solitary, and we are all solitary. Some of us, more plainly than others, are called upon to walk a lonely read in a great darkness, and to live lives little apprehended, little sympathised with, by others, or perchance having for our best companion, next to God, the memories of those who are beside us no more. Moses died, Joshua took his place; but behind the dying Moses-buried in his unknown grave, and left far away as the ties crossed the Jordan - and behind the living Joshua, there was the Lord who liveth for ever. ‘I will not forsake thee.’ Dear ones go, and take half our hearts with them People misunderstand us. We feel that we dare not open out our whole selves to any. We feel that, just as scientists tell us that no two atoms of the most solid body are in actual juxtaposition, but that there is a film of air between them, and hence all bodies are more or less elastic, if sufficient pressure be applied, so after the closest companionship there is a film. But that film makes no separation between us and God. ‘I will not drop thee’ - there is the of strength according to our need. I will not forsake thee,’ there is companionship in all our solitude.

But do not let us forget that all God’s promises have conditions appended, and that this one has its conditions like all the rest. Was not the history of Israel a contradiction of that glowing promise which was given them before they crossed the Jordan? Does the Jew to-day look as if he belonged to a nation that God would never leave nor forsake? Certainly not. And why? Simply because God’s promise of not dropping us, and of never leaving us, is contingent upon our not dropping Him, and of our never leaving Him.

‘No man shall pluck them out of My Father’s hand’ No; but they can wriggle themselves out of their Father’s hand. They can break the communion; they can separate themselves, and bring a film, not of impalpable and pure atmosphere, but of poisonous gases, between themselves and God. And God who, according to the grand old legend, before the Roman soldier flung his torch into the Holy of Holies, and’ burnt up the beautiful house where our fathers praised Him with fire,’ was heard saying, ‘Let us depart hence,’ does say sometimes, when a man has gone away from Him, ‘I will go and return to My place until they seek Me. In their affliction, they will seek Me early.’

And now let me say a word about the second voice that sounds here.

II. The human answer, or the echo of the divine voice.

If God speaks to me, He waits for me to speak to Him. My answer should be immediate, and my answer should embrace as true all that He has said to me, and my answer should build upon His great faithful promise a great triumphant confidence. Do we speak to God in the strain in which He speaks to us? When He says, ‘I will,’ do our hearts leap up with joyful confidence, and answer, ‘Thou dost’? Do we take all His promises for our trust, or do we meet His firm ‘assurance with a feeble, faltering faith? We turn God’s ‘verily’ into a peradventure, often, and at best when He says to us ‘I will,’ we doubtingly say ‘perhaps He may.’ That is the kind of faith, even at its highest, with which the best of us meet this great promise, building frail tabernacles on the Rock of Ages and putting shame on God’s faithfulness by our faithlessness. ‘He hath said,’ and then He pauses and listens, whether we are going to say anything in answer, and whether when He promises: ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,’ We are bold to say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do unto me.’ Now, I do not suppose that I am’ keeping too slavishly to the mere words of the text if I ask you to look at the beautiful sequence of thought in these three clauses which make the response of the man to the divine promise. There is a kind of throb of wonder in that word. ‘The Lord is my helper.’ That is the answer of faith to the divine promise, grasping it, never hesitating about it, laying it upon the heart, or on the fevered forehead like a cooling leaf, to subdue the hot pulsations there. And then what comes next? ‘I will not fear.’ We have the power of controlling our apprehension of peril, but it is Of no use to screw ourselves up to a fictitious courage which consists mainly in the ostrich’s wisdom of hiding its head from the danger, and in saying, ‘Who is afraid?’ Unless we can say ‘The Lord is my helper,’ it is folly to say, ‘I will not be afraid, I will brace myself up, and be courageous to meet these difficulties. That is all right, but it is not all right unless we have laid the right foundation for courage. Having our purged ears opened to hear the great, strong, sweet divine promise, we are able to coerce our terrors, and to Banish them from our minds By the assurance that, whatever comes, God is with us. ‘The Lord is my helper ‘ - that is the foundation, and built upon that - and madness unless it is built upon it- is the courage which says to all my fears,’ Down, down, you are not to get the mastery over me.’ ‘I will trust,’ says the Psalmist, ‘and not be afraid.’ Faith is the antagonist to fear, because faith grasps the fact of the divine promise.

Now, there is another thought which may come in here since it is suggested by the context, and that is, that the recognition of God thus, as always With us to sustain us, makes all earthly conditions tolerable. The whole of my text is given as the ground of the exhortation: ‘Be content with such things as ye have,’ for He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee.’ If Thou dost not leave me, then such things as I have are enough for me, and if Thou hast gone away, no things that I merely have are of much good to me. And then comes the last stage in our answer to what God says, which is better represented by a slight variation in translation, putting the last words of my text as a question: ‘What can man do unto me?’ It is safe to look at men and things, and their possibly calamitous action upon our outward lives, when we have done the other two things, grasped God and rested in faith on Him. If we begin with what ought to come last, and look first at what man can do unto us, then fear will surge over us, as it ought to do. But if we follow the order of faith, and start with God’s promise, grapple that to our heart, and put down with strong hand the craven dread that coils round our hearts, then we can look out with calm eyes upon all the appearances that may threaten evil, and say, ‘Come on, Come all, my foot is on the Rock of Ages, and my back is against it, No man can touch me,’ So we may boldly say, ‘What can man do unto me?’

Hebrews 13:5-6. From particular duties the apostle proceeds to one which is more general, relating to our whole course of walking with God. Let your conversation — Greek, τροπος, your behaviour, or manner of living; be without covetousness Αφιλαργυρος, without the love of money; or an inordinate desire of, and endeavour after, more of this world’s goods than you have, or than God is pleased to give you, proceeding from an undue esteem of them, and attachment to them. See on Colossians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:6-10. And be content with such things as ye have — And which God affords you by his providence in a lawful way. The original expression, τοις παρουσιν, is, with the things that are present. Endeavour to bring your mind down to your circumstances, be they what they may. “The apostle did not mean by this to preclude the Hebrews, or any person, from using lawful means for bettering their circumstances; but that, having used such means, they were to be contented, although God did not make them successful.” For he — Rather, he himself, namely, God, who hath all the stores of nature at his command, and who owns the relation of a Father to us; hath said — To all believers, in saying it to Jacob, Joshua, and Solomon, (see the margin,) I will never leave thee nor forsake thee — The many negative particles, and their position in the original, render this passage extremely emphatical and beautiful. Doddridge renders it, I will not, I will not leave thee; I will never, never, never forsake thee; words from which all God’s people (his love to them being the same in all ages) may take a just encouragement in all the difficulties to which they may be exposed. So that we may boldly say Ωστε θαρρουντας ημας λεγειν, taking courage, we may say, with the psalmist, The Lord is my helper — He is my helper, whose wisdom, power, and goodness are boundless; I will not fear what man shall do unto me — However subtle, mighty, or malicious he may be. God’s promises to Jacob, Joshua, David, &c., and their expressions of trust in God, being applied by the apostle to the believing Hebrews, teach us that God’s promises to individuals, and their exercises of faith and trust built thereon, are recorded in Scripture for the encouragement of the people of God in every age.

13:1-6 The design of Christ in giving himself for us, is, that he may purchase to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; and true religion is the strongest bond of friendship. Here are earnest exhortations to several Christian duties, especially contentment. The sin opposed to this grace and duty is covetousness, an over-eager desire for the wealth of this world, with envy of those who have more than ourselves. Having treasures in heaven, we may be content with mean things here. Those who cannot be so, would not be content though God raised their condition. Adam was in paradise, yet not contented; some angels in heaven were not contented; but the apostle Paul, though abased and empty, had learned in every state, in any state, to be content. Christians have reason to be contented with their present lot. This promise contains the sum and substance of all the promises; I will never, no, never leave thee, no, never forsake thee. In the original there are no less than five negatives put together, to confirm the promise: the true believer shall have the gracious presence of God with him, in life, at death, and for ever. Men can do nothing against God, and God can make all that men do against his people, to turn to their good.Let your conversation - Your "conduct" - for so the word "conversation" is used in the Scriptures; notes, Philippians 1:27.

Be without covetousness - Ephesians 5:3 note; Colossians 3:5 note.

And be content with such things as ye have - see the Philippians 4:11-12 notes; Matthew 6:25-34 notes. The particular reason here given for contentment is, that God has promised never to leave his people. Compare with this the beautiful argument of the Saviour in Matthew 6:25 ff.

For he hath said - That is, God has said.

I will never leave thee nor forsake thee - see Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20. Substantially the same expression is found in each of those places, and all of them contain the principle on which the apostle here relies, that God will not forsake his people.

5. conversation—"manner of life." The love of filthy lust and the love of filthy lucre follow one another as closely akin, both alienating the heart from the Creator to the creature.

such things as ye have—literally, "present things" (Php 4:11).

I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee—A promise tantamount to this was given to Jacob (Ge 28:15), to Israel (De 31:6, 8), to Joshua (Jos 1:5), to Solomon (1Ch 28:20). It is therefore like a divine adage. What was said to them, extends also to us. He will neither withdraw His presence ("never leave thee") nor His help ("nor forsake thee") [Bengel].

Contentation with our state and condition is a fifth duty charged on the subjects of Christ’s kingdom, and this is expressed privatively and positively, yet both propositions without a verb, which is best supplied by an imperative.

Let your conversation be without covetousness: O tropov strictly signifieth a turning, but here it sets out the motion or turning of a man up and down in the actions of this life, which in common speech is called conversation; not any motion of the heart, nor turn of the eye, nor action of any member, after money or riches, with a sinful, inordinate love to them, or pursuit of them; forbidden, Matthew 6:25,31 1 Timothy 6:9,10 Jas 4:13 1Jo 2:15. The studious endeavour and labour night and day, turning and winding every way, to be scraping together and hoarding up worldly wealth, and lading themselves with thick clay, Ecclesiastes 4:7,8 Hab 2:6,9, must not be the case or condition of any Christian, Ephesians 5:3,5 Col 3:5 2 Peter 2:3-15.

And be content with such things as ye have; but having a heart acquiescence and satisfitction with that portion or pittance of earthly things which God at present doth allot us, whether more or less, and not with that only which we may think enough to serve our turn, Philippians 4:11,12 1 Timothy 6:8.

For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee: the reason enforcing it is, God’s giving by promise a special engagement to provide for them. This God solemnly made to Jacob, Genesis 28:15, then to Israel, Deu 31:6,8, then to Joshua, Joshua 1:5, and to all believers as well as them; for God will not let any such see the miseries of his absence, but will vouchsafe to them his presence, with all the blessings which attend it, Psalm 46:1,5 Isa 41:10 43:2 63:9.

Let your conversation be without covetousness,.... Which is an immoderate desire, of riches, an over anxious care for worldly things, attended with dissatisfaction, and discontent with their present state: it discovers itself many ways; in preferring the world to religion; in laying up treasure for a man's own self, without being any ways useful to others; in withholding from himself the necessaries of life, and in making no use of his substance for the glory of God, and the interest of religion: this is a very great evil; it is called idolatry, and is said to be the root of all evil; and is very pernicious to true religion: a believer's conversation should be without it; in his family, for whom he should provide things convenient and honest; and in the world, where he should deal uprightly, and not defraud and overreach; and in the church, where he should be liberal, and generously communicate, upon all occasions; and such a conversation is becoming the Gospel, which is a declaration of things freely given to us of God. The reason of the apostle's mentioning this sin of covetousness is, because the Jews were prone to it, and these believing Hebrews might be inclined to it, and be dissatisfied with their present condition, in which they suffered the spoiling of their goods; and besides, unless this was avoided, the above mentioned duties could not be performed aright, as brotherly love, hospitality, remembering and relieving persons in bonds, and adversity.

And be content with such things as ye have; or with present things; with present riches, or with present poverty; with present losses and crosses; with present reproaches and afflictions; and contentment with these things shows itself by thankfulness for every mercy, and by submission to the will and providence of God in every state of life: and there are many things which may move and engage unto it; as the consideration of the state and condition men are in, when they come into the world, and will be when they go out of it; the will of God, and the disposition of his providence according to it, which is unalterable; a sense of: their own unworthiness; a view of interest in God and Christ; and an eye to the recompense of reward; as well as the many promises of God to support and supply his: and among the rest, what follows,

for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee; which is a promise made to Joshua, and belongs to all believers, Joshua 1:5 which may regard things temporal, as that God will not leave his people in the hands of their enemies, nor forsake them in distress, nor withhold any good thing from them needful for them, but will supply them with the necessaries of life, with which they should be content: and this passage is very pertinently cited for this purpose, and could be easily understood in this sense by the Hebrews; for the Jews explain such places as speak of God's not forsaking men, of the sustenance of them, as Psalm 37:25 and observe that the word "forsaking", is never used but with respect to "sustenance" (u); though the words may also relate to things spiritual, as that God will not leave them to themselves, to their own corruptions, which would overpower them; nor to their own strength, which is but weakness; nor to their own wisdom, which is folly; nor to Satan, and his temptations, who is an over match for them; nor to the world, the frowns and flatteries of it, by which they might be drawn aside; nor will he leave them destitute of his presence; for though he sometimes hides his face, and withdraws himself, yet not wholly, nor finally; nor will he forsake the work of his own hands, in them, but will perform it until the day of Christ; he will not leave or forsake them, so as that they shall perish; he will not forsake them in life, nor at death, nor at judgment.

(u) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 69. fol. 61. 4. Vajikra Rabba, sect. 35. fol. 175. 2. Yalkut, par. 2. fol. 103. 2.

{3} Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for {b} he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

(3) Covetousness is condemned, against which is set a contented mind with that which the Lord has given.

(b) Even the Lord himself.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 13:5-6. Warning against covetousness; exhortation to contentedness.

Ἀφιλάργυρος] free from greediness of money, from covetousness and avarice, 1 Timothy 3:3. Comp. Hebrews 6:2-4 ff.

ὁ τρόπος] sc. ἔστω: let the mind and comportment, the character, be.

ἀρκούμενοι τοῖς παροῦσιν] sc. ἔστε: be contented with that which is present. τὰ παρόντα here, as Xen. Sympos. iv. 42 (οἷς γὰρ μάλιστα τὰ παρόντα ἀρκεῖ, ἥκιστα τῶν ἀλλοτρίων ὀρέγονται), and often with the classic writers, of the earthly possession which one has.

αὐτὸς γὰρ εἴρηκεν] for He Himself has said, namely, God, as He who is speaking in the scripture; not Christ (Beza, Böhme, Klee).

οὐ μή σε ἀνῶ οὐδʼ οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλίπω] I will in no wise fail thee, nor by any means forsake thee. To this citation the most similar passages are Deuteronomy 31:6 (οὔτε μή σε ἀνῇ, οὔτε μή σε ἐγκαταλίπῃ), ibid. Hebrews 13:8 (οὐκ ἀνήσει σε, οὐδὲ μή σε ἐγκαταλίπῃ), and 1 Chronicles 28:20 (οὐκ ἀνήσει σε καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐγκαταλίπῃ); although, in these passages, instead of the first person singular the third person is used. Less corresponding in point of expression are Joshua 1:5 (οὐκ ἐγκαταλιέψω σε οὐδʼ ὑπερόψομαί σε), Genesis 28:15 (οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλίπω), and Isaiah 41:17 (οὐκ ἐγκαταλείψω αὐτούς). On the other hand, there is found a citation entirely correspondent to ours in Philo, de Confus. Linguar. p. 344 C (ed. Mang. I. p. 430). It is possible that, as Bleek and de Wette suppose, the author adopted the same immediately from Philo. It is, however, also possible that the utterance, in the form in which we meet with it here and in Philo, had become proverbial. According to Delitzsch and Kluge, the utterance of Deuteronomy 31:6 assumed this form in the liturgic or homiletic usage of the Hellenistic synagogue, in that reminiscences of other similar O. T. passages blended with the original passage. [According to Piscator, Owen, and Tischendorf, the reference is to Joshua 1:5.]

Hebrews 13:5. As in Ephesians 5:5 and elsewhere impurity and covetousness are combined, so here the precepts of Hebrews 13:4 lead on to a warning against love of money: ἀφιλάργυρος ὁ τρόπος, “let your turn of mind [disposition] be free from love of money, content with what you have”. [ὁ τράπος frequently in classical writers in this sense, as Demosthenes, p. 683, αἰσχροκερδὴς ὁ τρόπος αὐτοῦ ἐστιν. Other examples in Kypke. ἀρκεῖσθαι τοῖς παροῦσι was also commonly used to denote contentment with what one has. Examples in Raphel and Wetstein.] This contentment has the firm foundation of God’s promise; αὐτὸς γὰρ εἴρηκεν, “for Himself hath said,” i.e., God. Οὐ μή σε ἀνῶ.… The quotation is from Deuteronomy 31:5, where however the third person is used. Similar promises, similarly expressed, occur in Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20. Philo (De Conf. Ling., chap. 32, not 33 as in Bleek and Davidson) gives the quotation literatim as in the text here. ὥστε θαρροῦντας ἡμᾶς λέγειν, “so that we boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear”. In Proverbs 1:21 wisdom at the gates of the city θαῤῥοῦσα λέγει. The words quoted under λέγειν are from Psalm 118:6, the first word Κύριος and the last ἄνθρωπος being brought into strong contrast.

5. your conversation] The word here used is not the one generally rendered by “conversation” in the N.T. (anastrophç as in Hebrews 13:7, “general walk” Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 2:3, or (“citizenship” politeuma, as in Php 1:27; Php 3:20), but “turn of mind” (tropos).

without covetousness] Aphilarguros not merely without covetousness (pleonexia) but “without love of money.” It is remarkable that “covetousness” and “uncleanness” are constantly placed in juxtaposition in the N.T. (1 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:3; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5).

be content] The form of the sentence “Let your turn of mind be without love of money, being content” is the same as “Let love be without pretence, hating” in Romans 12:9. The few marked similarities between this writer and St Paul only force the radical dissimilarity between their styles into greater prominence; and as the writer had almost certainly read the Epistle to the Romans a striking syntactical peculiarity like this may well have lingered in his memory.

he hath said] More literally “Himself hath said.” The “Himself” of course refers to God, and the phrase of citation is common in the Rabbis (הוא אמר). “He” and “I” are, as Delitzsch says, used by the Rabbis as mystical names of God.

I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee] These words are found (in the third person) in Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8; 1 Chronicles 28:20, and similar promises, in the first person, in Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:5; Isaiah 41:17. The very emphatic form of the citation (first with a double then with a triple negation) “I will in no wise fail, neither will I ever in any wise forsake thee” does not occur either in the Hebrew or the LXX., but it is found in the very same words in Philo (De Confus. Ling. § 32), and since we have had occasion to notice again and again the thorough familiarity of the writer with Philo’s works, it is probable that he derived it from Philo, unless it existed in some proverbial or liturgical form among the Jews. The triple negative οὐδ' οὐ μὴ is found in Matthew 24:21.

Hebrews 13:5. Ὁ τρόπος) daily life.—ἀρκούμενοι) The participle for the imperative: just as the ellipsis (Hebrews 13:4), for the sake of politeness, of the verb, let—be, so there is a similar ellipsis of the verb, be ye (in this verse).—τοῖς παροῦσιν, with present things) the present state. So Paul, speaking of himself, Php 4:11.—αὐτός) He.—εἴρηκεν, has said) What was said to Jacob, to Joshua and the people, and to Solomon, extends also to us.—οὐ μή σε ἀνῶ οὐδʼ οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλίπω) I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, Genesis 28:15; the LXX. omit the first clause, and have only, I will not forsake thee; Deuteronomy 31:6, He will not fail (leave) thee nor forsake thee: so also Hebrews 13:8; Joshua 1:5, I will not forsake thee nor overlook (ὑπερόψομαι) thee; 1 Chronicles 28:20, He will not fail thee nor forsake thee. It is therefore like a Divine adage. He will neither withdraw His assistance nor His presence.

Verse 5. - Let your conversation (i.e. manner of life, or disposition) be without covetousness; be content with such things as ye have: for he (αὔτος, emphatic) hath said, I will never (i.e. in no wise) leave thee, neither will I ever forsake thee. The reference seems to be to Deuteronomy 31:6, Κύριος ὁ Θεός σου... οὔτε μή σε ἀνῇ οὔτε μή σε ἐγκαταλίπῃ, the same assurance being repeated in ver. 8. But similar promises occur elsewhere in the Old Testament (see Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Isaiah 41:17; "Est igitur instar adagii divini," Bengel). Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness (ἀφιλάργυρος ὁ τρόπος)

Τρόπος originally turn or direction. Hence ways manner, fashion; way or manner of life. In this sense N.T.o. Elsewhere often in the phrase ὅν τρόπον or καθ' ὅν τρόπον in or according to the way in which. See Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34; Acts 1:11; Acts 15:11; Acts 27:25. The meaning here is character or moral disposition. Ἁφιλάργυρος without covetousness, only here and 1 Timothy 3:3, see note.

Be content with such things as ye have (ἀρκούμενοι τοῖς παροῦσιν)

Lit. being contented with the things which are at hand. For ἀρκεῖν to suffice, see Luke 3:14; John 6:7; 1 Timothy 6:8. On the compounds αὐτάρκης self-sufficient and αὐτάρκεια self-sufficiency, see on 2 Corinthians 9:8; see on Philippians 4:11.

For he hath said (αὐτὸς γὰρ εἴρηκεν)

Rend. for "he himself." God himself. For εἴρηκεν hath said, see Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 4:3, Hebrews 4:4; Hebrews 10:9.

I will never leave nor forsake thee (οὐ μή σε ἀνῶ οὐδ' οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλίπω)

Comp. Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:5; Deuteronomy 31:6. None of these, however, give the saying in the form in which it appears here. This appears to be a combination or general adaptation of those passages. For "never," rend. "by no means" or "in no wise." Ἀνῶ from ἀνίημι. In Acts 16:26; Acts 27:40, to loosen: Ephesians 6:9, to give up or forbear. Somewhat in this last sense here: "I will in no wise give thee up, or let thee go." I will not relax my hold on thee. For ἐγκαταλίπω forsake, see on 2 Timothy 4:10.

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