William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Let brotherly love continue.Hebrews Chapter 13
Next follow exhortations of a practical kind for holy brethren of a heavenly calling on the earth. And first the word is, "Let brotherly affection abide" (verse 1). This is very needful in the long run; and the Epistle was among not the early but the latest ones. It was easy enough in the glow of first love, and was strengthened instead of checked by prevalent persecutions for the sake of the faith. But when these trials do not so much press, the very nearness of the saints to each other, as God's family here below, exposes them to danger. For the less grace souls have personally for daily difficulties, the more they expect from others, and the harsher the judgments they hastily form. In the world there is distance kept up by mutual consent, and reserve is cultivated as to the affairs of one another, without which things could scarcely go on decently for any space; but the closeness of spiritual relationship, where it;.S loyally felt and in lively exercise, as it was and ought ever to be, soon brings to light self-will and worldliness at work, unless there be a walking according to the light into which we are brought in Christ. God is love; and he that abides in love abides in God, and God in him. When this fails in the practice of the saint, brotherly affection will ere long give way, and hasty speech engender variance, or suspicion cloud the light of love. In Hebrews 6:10 the love they had shown to His name was recorded in having ministered and still ministering to the saints. In Hebrews 10:34 we see how it wrought in deep trials and afflictions. Here the word is for the continuance of brotherly affection. There is much to try such love.
The verses that immediately follow give the direction that was more particularly needed. "Forget not hospitality; for by it some unawares entertained angels. Remember the prisoners, as bound with [them], the ill-treated, as being yourselves also in a body" (verses 2, 3). To entertain strangers is a happy form of exercising brotherly kindness. Yet is it especially liable to be imposed on, were it not that the Lord's over-ruling eye is over all, and He permits nothing that does not work for good to those that love God. The danger for the believer is that he should be vexed at advantage taken, and lest he should slacken in consequence. But if men abuse kindness thus, the Lord accepts the good and forgets it not. The encouragement assigned is that some, as Abraham and Lot of old, entertained angels unawares. To receive God's children now is assuredly no less honour in His eyes. Another mode of brotherly kindness is in active remembrance of those who, as early Christians, had to bear the stigma of public bonds or prison. If we failed to realise the uncomeliness of holding aloof from brethren thus put to shame, the affecting reference of the apostle to Onesiphorus in his own case at Rome, which we find in 2 Tim. 1 and with less detail elsewhere, may give a just sense of its sweet seasonableness and value before the Lord. Then again how many are the "ill-treated" though not in a prison! Let us not forget such, as being ourselves also in a body.* Compare Hebrews 10:32-34.
*The notion that this refers, not to the earthen vessel but to Christ's body, the church, is the more untenable, as this relationship is never once touched in the Epistle.
A new topic comes before us in verse 4: "[Let,] marriage [be] honourable in all things and the bed [be] undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." Here the Jewish Christian is called to stand the more on his guard, as the law allowed a latitude which the Lord showed to be far from God's mind. The A.V. is faulty in two respects. It is not a mere affirmative sentence stamping the relationship with dignity, but an exhortation in the imperative calling us to carry it on worthily, and to guard it from all taint of unchastity or impureness. And we are bid to set it in honour, not in this respect or in that, but "in all things." Thus it is in no way a certificate of respectability which all people possess because they are in wedlock, but a solemn charge to married saints that, their use of the relationship be thus pleasing to the Lord in every detail. To say it is honourable "in all men" overlooks, if it does not destroy, the force of the scripture for the Christian's conscience. and this is the more evident as we hear next that God will judge every violation of its sanctity whether in neglect or in misuse.
Then comes the call, "Let your course of life be free of avarice, contented with things present. For he hath said, I will in no wise leave thee, no, nor at all forsake thee; so that we say confidently, Jehovah [is] my helper, land] I will not fear: what shall man do to me?" (verses 5, 6.) Avarice, sordid and unworthy of moral men, is peculiarly beneath those called to follow Christ in faith and love, with their eyes opened to their better and enduring substance where Christ is. Discontent with things is natural to unbelievers. It is good and due that we confide in His word to one, although no less meant for all His own. The vulgar text falls far below the impressive promise and challenge the O.T. furnished: and God as a Father only gives it more force.
The hearts of the brethren are next recalled to their departed guides, who, as they had been remarkable for their faith, had closed their course faithfully to the Lord's praise.
"Be mindful of your leaders, who were such as spoke to you the word of God and, considering the issue of their course, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today and for ever. By teachings various and strange be not carried away; for [it is] good that the heart be established with grace, not meats; in which those that walked were not profited" (verses 7-9).
It is well that we should distinguish in our tongue what the Holy Spirit had distinguished in verses 3, 7: the former (compare Hebrews 2:6) is practical remembrance of need, trial, and suffering; the latter is calling to mind those apt to be forgotten who had passed away. Hence the text of the A.V. is not in accordance with the truth; nor is the margin though more literal. But in this case we must say were, not "are," your guides, for their course was closed, as the verse itself intimates. They had been "leading" men among the brethren like Judas Barsabbas and Silas (Acts 15:22), whether elders or not, for those so named had a larger and higher sphere than a local charge. And the saints are exhorted to hold them in honoured memory; as the clause that follows characterises them as having spoken to them the word of God, not the bare fact that they had so spoken in their day. It is probable that some of their "leaders" had the rule among the saints; but this is not the force of the word here employed, which is of a more general import, and may not have been other than prominence in teaching and exhortation.
There is another word it is well to observe (προι>στάìåíïι) of similar import, as we may see in Romans 12:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, which these scriptures show not to have been restricted to elders, though of course applicable to the exercises of their office. It means "presiding," and has its importance in its due place. But the great present value, as in the past, is that it depended on the spiritual strength which God supplies, and not on official position to which an apostle or an apostolic delegate had appointed: a thing also to be fully owned where the fact was so, as Scripture clearly proves. However this may have been, they had been their leaders, and the brethren are told, considering the issue of their course of life (in old English "their conversation"), to imitate their faith. Some among the Hebrew confessors were in danger of drawing back, as others seem to have actually done. There had been in earlier days a noble stand and severe endurance for it; and here they are exhorted to that which shone in departed guides, some at any rate of whom, it would appear, had resisted to blood.
But a far higher object follows: the great Sufferer, He of all glory who always abides. "Jesus Christ [is] yesterday and today the same, and for ever (unto the ages)." Such is the true meaning. There is no real ground for viewing it in apposition with "the end (or, issue) of the conversation" that precedes, which not only violates grammar but destroys the bearing of both clauses. It does beautifully introduce Him who not only remains alive again for evermore, but changes not. It is the creature's weakness to change. And of all creatures none more given to change than man, though he be head of all and endowed beyond all on earth; yet most changeable, like a reed bending to every wind through his will and his passions. But here we have real man, and tried as none other ever was, yet the Unchanging One, as indeed He was and is God no less really. What a stay for our faith! For we who believe on Him have still the fallen nature; and who so competent as He to deliver us from our liability to swerve from the good, holy, and true into some snare of the enemy! To look to Him, depend on Him, delight our souls in Him, follow Him, is an immense safeguard, given of grace to this end; and He knows how to keep and hold the least stedfast of saints that wait on Him. Truly He is the rock that never moves, to sustain such as without Him must be the sport of wind and wave.
Of all men the Hebrews had shown themselves of old the most ready to adopt the strange and false gods of the nations. So their own prophets reproached them with a folly beyond example; yet were they the only people favoured with the living God, Jehovah of Hosts, deigning to be their God. But they rebelled against Him, people, priests, and kings, till there was no remedy; and except He had left them a very small remnant, they had been as Sodom and like Gomorrah. None but the Messiah could meet their desperate case, when they had become Lo-ammi, and even He only by the sacrifice of Himself when they had rejected and crucified Him. But now He was risen from the dead and glorified, crowned with glory and honour, and all things put in subjection under His feet, as David sung in spirit. True, now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we behold Himself exalted on high, the pledge of all that will surely be displayed at His appearing. To this blessed object of faith and hope are the eyes of these believing sons directed, that they might cleave to Him with purpose of heart, as their fathers never did, through unbelief no more tossed to and fro. "Be not carried about by various and strange doctrines." Such is the connection of thought, such the preservation in fact from that great danger. By this all saints may be blessed. "For it is good that the heart be established with grace not with meats," however much the lovers of tradition discuss and commend them, "in which those that walked were not profited." How indeed could it be? Meats perish in the using, as those do who look not to the Highest. He is now dealing in nothing but sovereign grace, that the weakest may be sustained, and that the most wicked be saved through Christ and His redemption.
The Holy Spirit is not content with repudiating various and strange teachings, and such ordinances of flesh as He had already shown to characterise an imperfect system and a provisional time. (Hebrews 9:9-10) when the way into the sanctuary had not yet been made manifest. He affirms for the Christian the positive realities which the Jews might have thought non-existent. So He had proved throughout the Epistle. What Judaism had in form and shadow, in an earthly measure, those who are Christ's even now possess as heavenly truth in unfailing and abiding virtue, while ample scope was still left for the power of hope. The purification of sins was already made (Hebrews 1:3), the great salvation confirmed unto us by most ample and excellent witness, God Himself deigning to testify in the powers of the Spirit (Hebrews 2:3-4). He even declares that, though we see not yet all things subjected to Jesus, the Son of man, as we surely expect, we do behold Himself, because of the suffering of death too, crowned with glory and honour (Hebrews 2:8-9). We are invited to consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Jesus indeed (Hebrews 3:1), but Jesus already shown to be unique, Son of God and Son of man (Heb. 1, 2), passed through the heavens (Hebrews 4:14), a high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10).
O the folly, if we have Him, of hankering after a blasphemer like Caiaphas, or a Sadducean persecutor like Ananias. Nay, was there to be ever so ideal an heir of Aaron, "such a high priest became us" (said He, Hebrews 7:26), "holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become higher than the heavens." For He has sat down on the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens, as befits the surpassing glory of His person and His office, thus proved incontestably superior to Aaron's at his brightest; as He is become surety of a better covenant, which the prophets declared was to supersede the first and faulty one (Hebrews 8:13) of which the Jews boasted. Now only was the work of God done by the Son, and witnessed by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 10), but also God provided for us some better thing (Hebrews 11:40). So He speaks now:-
"We have an altar of which they, have no right, to eat who serve the tabernacle." So run the words, not only because the Epistle ever looks at the wilderness way and its accompaniments, but because they were to know that "these great buildings" had no longer glory but shame, and that shortly should be left not one stone upon another. What altar of copper or gold can compare with Him through whom we draw near to God and approach boldly even unto His throne of grace?
Let them understand better the figures of the true. "For the bodies of the beasts, whose blood is brought for sin into the holies by the high priest, are burned without the camp." It is only in Christianity that the two-fold truth is realised; in Judaism. it was unknown, still less enjoyed. The two extremes meet in the true sin-offering, which points to the blood which fits for the holiest, and to the body burnt in the place of rejection outside. The Christian has access into the sanctuary, but along with this he shares the place of scorn here below. So it was with the Master and Lord. "Wherefore also Jesus, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without the gate." Here is not type only but fact, the ground of the exhortation so needed then by the Jewish confessors, so needed at all times by the Christian: way we not add more urgently now, when men revive Jewish elements in that disguise?
Therefore let us go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach; for we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the coming one" (verse 14). We are not of the world, as our Lord was not; and as He never sought its ease or honour, but accepted its shame, so are we called to follow His steps "outside the camp," the scene of religious respectability; as Hebrews 10:19, etc., sets forth our boldness to enter the holies by the blood of Jesus. We are now constituted meet to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. The Jewish system by its nature not only offered no 'such privilege but denied it to all, even to the high priest who could approach but once a year its figure, and then with awful fear lest death should avenge any failure on his part. It was the then via media.
And where are God's children now as to all this? Are they not in general, as far from availing themselves in practical ways of approach to the holies, as they run after man's mind and the world's honours? In fact, as in doctrine, the two things are closely tied together. And as grace makes us first free of the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, we are the better strengthened next to obey the call to go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.
Soon the unbelieving or half-believing Jew had to learn that here he had no abiding city. But this should be ever true to a Christian's faith, if he dwelt in Rome or in London, as then in Jerusalem. Like Abraham we look for the city which rests not on sand but "hath the foundations." But it is "to come," and will never be built of human hands, let men vaunt as they may. Its architect and maker is God; and Christ has prepared us for it. "Through him therefore let us offer sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is, fruit of lips making confession to his name. But of doing good and of communicating be not forgetful, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (verses 15, 16).
However serious our souls may well be, as we justly estimate the enmity of the world to God, His grace, truth, word, and ways, as well as our own danger of compromise or of sin in any form, we are exhorted to offer sacrifice of praise continually to Him. It is through Christ. This prepares and accounts for it. For He is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever; and our blessing through Him is as complete as it is everlasting: salvation (Heb. 5), redemption (Heb. 9), inheritance (Heb. 9), and covenant (Heb. 13), all everlasting. No wonder we are called to praise God, not as Jews now and then, but "continually." So in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 the apostle bids us "in every thine, give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning, you." Here it is appropriately said to be a sacrifice of praise which we offer to God continually. Is it, can it be so, where souls are under law? Are we not under grace? It is making confession to His name, and in no way our own righteousness any more than a form. But the Holy Spirit carefully reminds "of doing good and communicating" (i.e. of our substance to others in need). It is a real exercise of love and in faith, that it be a sacrifice, if of a lower sort than praise to God. "Forget not"; for there was danger of overlooking. These acts were also acceptable: "with such sacrifices God is well pleased," although those of praise have the higher place.
In verse 17 it is no question of remembering the dead leaders (as in verse 7), but of the attitude which becomes the saints to their living guides. And this is shown by an obedient and submissive spirit.
"Obey your leaders and submit, for they watch for your souls as having to render an account; that they may do this with joy and not groaning, for this [would be] unprofitable for you. Pray, for us; for we are persuaded* that we have a good conscience, desiring in all things to behave well. And I more abundantly beseech you to do this that I may more quickly be restored to you" (verses 17, 18).
*The common reading πεποίèáìåν, followed by the Vulgate, Armenian, the A.V., etc., has numerous support, but of inferior antiquity and weight as compared with πειθόìåèα which is more suited to a subjective state.
Reaction from new truth is a danger at one time, and at another a return to old ways when the new become irksome. So these Christian Jews are exhorted to that which is a constant duty for us no less than for them. Self-will increasingly characterises this present evil age; and self-will is always sin. Elsewhere, as in Rom. 12, 1 Tim. 3, Titus 1, those called to preside or take the lead, elders or not, are exhorted how to fulfil their work in the Lord. Here, as in 1 Cor. 16, and 1 Thess. 5, the saints are reminded of what God looks for on their part. Scripture sanctions neither assertion of human right nor arbitrary claim of divine authority in the church of God. All are bound to serve, all responsible to obey the Lord who has made His will sure and plain in the written word. But there is such a thing as spiritual wisdom, and experience which grace forms by the word of righteousness; there is practical power which faith gives by the action of, the Holy Spirit, which is eminently serviceable to those less exercised in discerning the path of Christ
Hence as one must feel in the intricacies which so frequently beset the saints in such a world as this, and with a nature on which the enemy can readily act through present things, there is ample room for constant need of godly counsel, serious admonition, or even sharp rebuke: and as to all this the word is "obey your leaders and submit." How often a real guide can point out what a perplexed saint saw not before it was set before him, but, when so set, at once perceives to be of God! For if there be a word of wisdom given to the one through the Spirit, the same Spirit dwelling in the other appreciates the true and the right, through the grace of Christ which sets independence aside as well as worldly lust or any other evil thing. Thus is the Lord honoured in the chiefs no less than in those who submit to them. Sacerdotal claim is now excluded; and lawlessness is judged as hateful to God. Christ Himself led the way here below in this path of invariable and unswerving obedience; and those that guide will only guide aright if walking in the revealed ways of God which they urge on others; as these are only blessed as they walk in obedience and submission, instead of a vain clamour for their own rights, which if realised would be Satan's slavery. We are, every one of us, bondsmen of the Lord Jesus.
But it is well to note that the Vulgate has fallen into the perversion, so natural to the official mind, that the guides will have to give an account of the souls under their supervision. Such is the strange reading of the Alexandrian MS. followed by Lachmann in his Greek Testament of 1831. Tischendorf who noticed this should have seen that L. corrected the error in his larger ed. of 1840-50. Certainly there is no excuse for anyone failing to recognise the overwhelming testimony in favour of the ancient copies as well as of the Received Text, which speak of the guides exercising their wakeful care on behalf of the souls of the saints, as having to render an account. But this means not of other men's souls, but of their own conduct in relation to them. For each shall bear his own burden; and whatever, or whoever, comes between the conscience and God is of the enemy. Herein Romanism is the chief but far from the only offender in availing itself of a transparent error, and pursuing its most evil consequences. As the saints are shown the solemn responsibility of their leaders, they are told to cultivate a gracious readiness to obey and submit, that the guides might do their watchful work with joy, and not with groans over their refractoriness, which would be profitless for the saints. Compare for the other side 1 John 2:28, and 2 John 1:8 and for this side 3 John 1:4.
There is a fine link of connection in the request of the next verse: "Pray for us; for we are persuaded that we have a good conscience," etc. How many more ask prayer because their conscience is bad! But the inspired writer could ask that the hearts of his brethren might plead with God for sustainment in his work, as the Spirit was leading him on without the sad need of getting morally restored from this or that evil which burdened him. For the fact is that of all saints none more need prayer - their own and of others - than such as are very prominent and active in the Lord's work. Habitually 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? The apostle, in writing to his brethren, does all the more ask their prayers, because he exercised himself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men, as he could say before the governor Felix and the high priest Ananias, both of them grievously and notoriously far different in this respect.
There is added an appeal to their affection. "But I more abundantly beseech you to do this, that I may be more quickly restored to you" (compare Philem. 22). It is beautiful and cheering to know that he counted on the love of the saints in the evil day, and that their prayers were so highly valued as efficacious with God.
The closing prayer is as worthy of this great Epistle as it corresponds with its character.
"Now the God of peace that brought up from [the] dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, in [virtue of] blood of an eternal covenant,, perfect you in every good work to the doing of his will, doing in you what is well pleasing before him through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] the glory, for the ages of ages. Amen" (verses 20, 21). There is no blessing of the gospel, no need of the unbeliever, more characteristic than peace. As to the Roman saints peace with God was assured, so here to the believing Jews as well as the believing Greeks of Philippi, God is proclaimed as the God of peace. The peace of God has its suited limits; the God of peace is illimitable. The departure of some disheartened others. Ere long, city and temple would be destroyed. But wants, difficulties, and dangers only furnish Him the occasion to bring His children through, purged of earthly associations and more than conquerors. The proof and pledge they see in our Lord Jesus, whom God brought up from the dead, not only the "good" and "chief" but "the great Shepherd of the sheep," whose blood is of no temporary covenant but of an eternal, avails not only for the present redemption and heavenly nearness of those who believe, but as their sure title to be similarly brought up from death at His coming.
Nothing can move such a Saviour, standing, and hope. The "better thing" we possess rests on the God of peace and a Shepherd so great that those of Israel are utterly small and weak in comparison. And God is no otiose or capricious being such as pagans feigned, but active unceasingly according to the perfect and perfecting work of His Son. He lends an ear to His own in their perilous pilgrimage, and is ready to fully adjust them in ever good work to the doing of His will, even as Christ has shown us the example unfalteringly. Thus only can be what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; as He is the One who does all the good in His saints who deny self and depend on Him by faith. To Him then be the glory for ever and ever, Amen. For an end so holy, what can others, what can self do? "There is none good but One, God." And the Son is the way to the Father, the truth, and the life. So the Holy Spirit works in glorifying Him, whom the Father will have all to honour even as they honour the Father. Thus only is His will done in principle and in detail.
"Now I exhort you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation; for also in few words have I written to you. Know that our brother Timothy hath been set at liberty, with whom if he come soon, I will see you. Salute all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy salute you. Grace [be] with you all, Amen" (verses 22-25).
The Epistle as a whole abounds in exhortation, based as ever on the truth of Christ, His work, and His offices, drawn from the. O.T. with a skill and power and simplicity which the Holy Spirit alone could give the inspired vessel; yet vast and profound and far-reaching as the result is, in what few words comparatively has all been conveyed! What scope for others to enlarge and enforce in their exhortations! and without controversy how subversive of all that Rabbinism loves to hear, not only hiding the waste to which their unbelief has reduced "the pleasant land," but shutting out from their disciples the more than fulfilment of their highest aspirations in Him, who as concerning flesh came of Judah and of David's lineage doubly, but is infinitely more, for He is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen.
The Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets are seen in a N.T. setting, self-evidently intended to be so understood when the due time came, which also saw the blotting out even of the returned remnant, and most righteously; for had they not hated and rejected their own Messiah? Marvellous is the way in which all the unfolding of His person and work and offices is turned to practical profit in detail; so that it is with the best right styled "the word of exhortation," about to yield unfailing subjects and varied appeals for the ministry of His servants, whose eye is simple to His glory, whose heart appreciates His grace, whose faith in the crucified Christ follows Him on high and approaches God in the holiest. And this is Christianity, the present living truth. with its heavenly and everlasting issues. By-and-by a remnant in the latter day shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah; and the Lord Jehovah too shall say to the dry bones in the open valley, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. Yes, they shall surely live, those dry bones of Israel in that day, stand up an exceeding great army, and be placed in their own land. Yea more, the twelve tribes shall be one in Jehovah's hand, one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all; and that king the trite Beloved, great David's greater Son. and there shall they dwell for ever, and the Beloved, Jehovah's Servant, their prince for ever. This will be His kingdom, for His world-kingdom is not yet come but will assuredly. But those who now share His rejection and wait for heavenly glory have "the better thing."
The reference to Timothy suits the apostle Paul fully, while the omission of his own name is quite intelligible, as writing outside his province of the uncircumcision, yet just the expression of his heart always toward his brethren after the flesh, and characterised by the knowledge of Christ dead, risen, and ascended as became him beyond other men. The allusion in 2 Peter 3 is decisive that the apostle Paul wrote an Epistle to the believers of the circumcision, to whom Peter addressed both his Epistles. That letter of Paul can only be the Epistle to the Hebrews, unless we suppose God allowed such a unique document to perish and someone else to do that work over again for a permanent place in the canon of scripture. Only speculative rationalism could receive suppositions so harsh, capricious, and unworthy; but those who do not give its true value to God's word as it is are proverbially credulous of fancies such as these.
No doubt the style differs strikingly; but even men of genius only have often shown themselves equal to some such difference in their works. But here all concurred to give a new and deep character, if indeed the apostle Paul was the one employed by the Holy Spirit for this great Epistle to the saints in Jerusalem, in view of the impending catastrophe, as well as their defective apprehensions which exposed them to such serious danger spiritually. We can understand how this and more must call out his heart who reciprocated God's mingled pain and pity over Israel, as well as the grief of the Spirit over their comparative insensibility to the superiority of their Christian privileges, and to the glory of Christ in the heavens above any Davidical hopes, bright as they surely are. Who can wonder that duly weighs all this, that a final divine message from one who so tenderly loved them, and who felt for the honour of Christ in person, work, and office, faintly seen by true yet feeble saints, should engage his heart profoundly, and give scope, elevation, and power to his language in a way as uncommon as the occasion which drew it forth?
No doubt the absence of the writer's name is quite sufficient to show that God is here pointing to the importance of the teaching rather than to the teacher. And the blessedness of the truth, if the most prejudiced of the Hebrew Christians heard to the end, would so disarm him of such unworthy feelings that he could not but own that he had never realised the gospel and Christ Himself and his Christian standing as he did now. Thus he would be fitted, and enabled to thank God heartily for what the apostle of uncircumcision wrote to them of circumcision. The sore point would be thoroughly healed; and as faith and hope were strengthened, love would prevail to the praise of grace.
It is probable enough that the Epistle was written in Rome. But if so, we may admire the wisdom that withheld any such mention to swell the pride of a later day. The saints there had a great and suited Epistle written to them; and well had it been if the truth conveyed had ever been their confession in deed and in word. But the silence here precluded a boast of the emptiest kind in Rome's fall from the truth. But from the end of verse 24 it would appear that saints from Italy, not of Rome only, were with the writer when and where he wrote. They would be sure to flock round him before his departure; and he would rejoice to communicate the salutation of love to Jews, no longer despised but beloved in the Lord, from such a centre of the world's pride and selfishness.
The greeting here desired embraces "all your leaders and all the saints." This was emphatically called for then, but seasonable always. How many are apt to be narrow, if not alienated! Not so was his heart who wrote, "Grace be with you all, Amen."
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
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.
So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.
Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.
Grace be with you all. Amen.