HEBREWS: DIVISION VI
THE SUPREME MARKS OF CHRISTIAN CONDUCT, 13:1-25
Front Matter Book Intro
Detailed Outline Index
A. Mark One: Controlling One's Personal Behavior, 13:1-8
(13:1-8) Introduction: What are the supreme marks of Christian conduct? This begins the last section of the Book of Hebrews a very practical section. Note the marks of personal behavior.
1. Mark 1: brotherly love (v.1).
2. Mark 2: hospitality (v.2).
3. Mark 3: helping the prisoners and the mistreated (v.3).
4. Mark 4: purity in marriage (v.4).
5. Mark 5: contentment (v.5-6).
6. Mark 6: remembering your leaders (v.7).
7. Mark 7: remembering your Source of life and power Jesus Christ (v.8).
1. (13:1) Love Brotherhood: there is the mark of brotherly love. "Let brotherly love continue."
1. Note that the love existing among believers is a special kind of love. It is a "brotherly love" (philadelphia PWS: 454), the very special love that exists between brothers and sisters within a loving family, brothers and sisters who truly cherish one another. It is the kind of love...
that binds each other together as a family, as a brotherly clan.
that binds each other in an unbreakable union.
that holds each other ever so deeply within the heart.
that knows deep affection for each other.
that nourishes and nurtures each other.
that shows concern and looks after the welfare of each other.
that joins hands with each other in a common purpose under one father (Leon Morris. The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians. "Tyndale New Testament Commentary," ed. by RVG Tasker. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956, p.80).
How can people possibly love one another like this when they are not true blood brothers and sisters? Here is how. The Greek word "brother" (adelphos) means from the same womb. The word used for "love" is phileo which means deep-seated affection and care, deep and warm feelings within the heart. It is the kind of love that holds a person near and dear to one's heart. Now note: the two Greek words are combined together by the writer to convey what he means by brotherly love.
People who have brotherly love have come from the same womb, that is, from the same source. They have been born again by the Spirit of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And when they receive this new birth, God gives them a new spirita spirit that melts and binds their hearts and lives in love for all the family of God.
Believers may not even know each other. They may even be from different parts of the world, but there is a brotherly love between them because they have been given a new birth and a new spirit of love by God. They are brothers and sisters in the family of Godthe family of those who truly believe in God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christthe family who have received a new spirit that binds them together in brotherly love.
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:34-35).
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
"These things I command you, that ye love one another" (John 15:17).
"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love" (Galatians 5:22).
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abidetn in death" (1 John 3:14).
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him" (1 John 3:18-19).
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him" (1 John 5:1).
2. Note that the Hebrew Christians were showing their love for one anotherat least most of them were. This is clearly seen in Hebrews 6:10, "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."
However, there was great danger that the Hebrew Christians were going to lose their brotherly love for one another. Why?
Because some had backslidden and were slipping away from Christ (Hebrews 10:25).
Because false teaching had seeped in among them and was influencing some (Hebrews 13:9).
These problems along with other problems were apparently discouraging the faithful and mature believers. They were beginning to cool off and back off instead of facing and handling the problems in the love and strength of Christ.
This is the reason for the exhortation. The believers needed to continue in love, to love enough to forget self. They needed to love enough to sacrifice themselves and to tackle the problems and continue to proclaim and teach the truth of Christ.
Thought 1. Brotherly love is the great need of the houra love that will love so much that it will not give up, no matter the problem or opposition. People need to be reached and grown for Christ no matter how contrary they are or how lost and depraved they are. They are without Christ. If believers do not love enough to reach them, they will never be reached. "Let brotherly love continue."
"Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (Romans 12:9).
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" (Ephes. 4:1-2).
"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness" (Col. 3:12-14).
"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you" (1 Thes. 3:12).
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Peter 1:22).
2. (13:2) Hospitality: there is the mark of hospitality. An open door is to be the mark of a believer: the believer is to open the doors of his home. The Christian believer is to open his home and reach out...
to the travelling salesperson
to the college student
to the homeless, hungry, cold, and needy
to the lonely
to the young
to the aged
to the college student
to the out of towner
to church ministries and groups
The idea is that the home of the believer is to be used as an outreach ministry for the Lord. The home of the believer is to be used to meet the needs of people. Note the exhortation: do not forget hospitality, especially to entertain strangers. The Amplified New Testament says this:
"Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood]being friendly, cordial and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generouslyfor through it some have entertained angels without knowing it. [Genesis 18:1-8; Genesis 19:1-3.]"
Thought 1. If believers really practiced this, think how many needs would be reached throughout the community. Think how many people would be reached for Christ.
What is needed is this: ministers must lead their people to set up an open-home ministry: to use their homes to reach out to people on a regular basis. What an impact would be made for Christ! Remember: home evangelism was what Christ stressed so much (see Deeper Study #1Luke 9:4; note Luke 10:5-6).
"Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality" (Romans 12:13).
"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).
"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach" (1 Tim. 3:2).
"Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work" (1 Tim. 5:10).
"But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate" (Titus 1:8).
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2).
"Use hospitality one to another without grudging" (1 Peter 4:9).3. (13:3) Ministering Prisoners: there is the mark of helping the prisoners and the mistreated. As long as the earth is standing, people are going to suffer all kinds of problems.
Some people are lawless, and other people are falsely accused, even believers. The end result is the suffering of imprisonment.
All people at one time or another suffer adversity of some sort. The result is such experiences as pain, emptiness, questioning, insecurity, loss, hunger, homelessness, poverty, disability, helplessness, and sometimes even hopelessness.
Believers are to minister to the needs of prisoners and to those who suffer adversity. Prisoners are not to be forgotten; those who suffer adversity are not to be forgotten. Note this verse: they are to be remembered. Remember the imprisoned! Remember those who suffer adversity. But this is not all that Scripture says:
"Remember them...as bound with them": remember and minister to them so much that it is as though you are imprisoned with them.
"Remember them...as being yourselves also in the body [suffering adversity with them]."
Thought 1. What a challenge to believers and to the church! Ministers must take the lead; they must lead their people to set up...
a ministry to the prisoners.
a ministry to those who suffer adversity.
"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15).
"Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" (Isaiah 58:7).
"I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, Is is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
"We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves" (Romans 15:1).
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).
"Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body" (Hebrews 13:3).
"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).4. (13:4) Marriage Sex: there is the mark of purity in marriage and morality. This is an absolute essential for believers. Note three significant points.
1. Marriage is to be honored by all believers. The word "honor" (timios PWS: 2002) means highly esteemed, counted as the most precious, warm and tender bond, held as the most valuable of bonds, as being the dearest of relationships.
"Let marriage be held in honor" (Marcus Dods. The Epistle to the Hebrews. "Expositor's Greek Testament," Vol. 4, p.375).
"Let marriage be held in honoresteemed worthy, precious, [that is], of great price and especially dearin all things" (Amplified New Testament).
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephes. 5:25).
"For this cause shall man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh" (Ephes. 5:31-32).
2. The bed is undefiled. The word "undefiled" (amiantos PWS: 4127) means that the bed is unstained by sin, absolutely free from all moral impurity, uncleanness, and defilement. This is saying at least three things.
First, husband and wife are free and encouraged to be close in bed. Closeness and intimacy are a gift from God; it is even a type of the church (cp. Ephes. 5:22f).
Second, the closeness in bed between husband and wife will prevent unfaithfulness.
Third, the bed is to be kept undefiled. Only husband and wife are to be close in bed, and only with each other. There is absolutely no place for anyone else in the bed.
The importance of the bed in marriage cannot be overemphasized. God's Word says that it is so important that husband and wife are not to separate for any period of time except for fasting and prayer, and even then separation is not to occur unless it is by mutual consent.
"Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency" (1 Cor. 7:5).
"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband" (1 Cor. 7:2).
"That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour" (1 Thes. 4:4).
"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones" (Proverbs 12:4).
3. Whoremongers and adulterers will be judged by God. These two words include all forms of sexual vice: premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, and abnormal sex. Note several stated facts.
God knows who commits these vices. He has to know them for Him to judge them, and He has to know them by name. He knows every single person who is immoral. He sees every immoral act, exactly what is done. No onenot a single immoral personcan hide from Him. There is not a closed door or any darkness anyplace that blocks His sight. God knows.
God calls every sexual vice by its proper name. Men may call it love and care and exciting and stimulating. They may call it an act of manhood and womanhood, of gallantry and of conquest. But not God. God calls it by its real name: whoredom and adultery (Matthew Henry. Matthew Henry's Commentary, Vol. 6, p.962). God knows what immorality causes:
loss of innocence
The list could go on and on, but such devastation and destruction of life and emotions are the reasons why God pulls no punches with sexual vice. Sexual vice is one of the most destructive vices on earth, no matter what men may say. It is so by the very nature of man. God made man's very nature for the love of a spouse and a family. And any refusal to live by his nature as God made him can only damage man. (See Deeper Study #11 Cor. 6:18 for more discussion.)
The great tragedy with sexual vice is this: it always involves others, not only the illicit partner but the parents and family including children, brothers and sisters, and often grandparents, other relatives, friends, and neighbors. It involves all those who care for and look up to the immoral person.
The point is this: whoremongers and adulterers shall be judged by God. There will be no escape.
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication. uncleanness, lasciviousness....they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19, 21).
"For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Ephes. 5:5).
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).
"And there shall in no wise enter into it [heaven] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev. 21:27).
"For without [heaven] are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" (Rev. 22:15).5. (13:5-6) Contentment Covetousness: there is the mark of contentment. Note what it is that brings contentment:
living life without covetousness.
being satisfied with what one has.
knowing God personally: experiencing His constant companionship and care, knowing that He never leaves or forsakes us.
1. "Covetousness" (aphilarguros PWS: 825) means a lover of money or possessions. A person can love money, property, estates, houses, carsanything on earth. Thomas Hewitt points out that the Greek word for "conversation" (tropos PWS: 778) means manner of life, or the way of thought and life (The Epistle to the Hebrews. "Tyndale New Testament Commentaries," p.206). The believer's very thoughts are to be free from covetousness. His thoughts are to be focused upon Christ and the glorious hope of eternity, not upon this passing world and its possessions. The believer is to have no secret lust for the things of this world.
"He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live" (Proverbs 15:27).
"He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity" (Eccles. 5:10).
"As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool" (Jeremiah 17:11).
"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Tim. 6:10).
"Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days" (James 5:3).
"And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15).
"Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:10).
"Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5).
"Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness" (Psalm 119:36).
2. A believer is to be content with what he has. This does not mean that a believer is not to improve himself, nor that he is not to work and make money and be wise in investments. Scripture teaches the very opposite: we are to work and invest and make money. We are to make enough so that we can meet the needs of the world. What this passage means is that we are...
to be satisfied with our lot in life: our ability, capacity, job, position, opportunities, and on and on.
to be satisfied with the home, possessions, clothing, goods and everything else we have, whether it is little to nothing.
to be satisfied with our present conditions.
Again, this does not mean that we do not plan and focus upon improving everything around usranging from our personal possessions over to the world's ecomony and environment. Believers are to work and labor more diligently than anyone else in the world. But while we labor, we know...
that God never leaves us or forsakes us (Job 1:5).
that God is our helper, and we are secure no matter what men may do to us (Psalm 118:6).
Even if the world's ecomony and peace collapsed, believerstrue believerswould be secure in God. God provides for His dear followers until He is ready to take them home to heaven (Matthew 6:33). Matthew Henry sums it up well:
"This promise contains the sum and substance of all the promises. I will never, no, never leave thee, nor ever forsake thee. Here are no fewer than five negatives heaped together, to confirm the promise; the true believer shall have the gracious presence of God with him in life, at death, and for ever" (Matthew Henry's Commentary, Vol. 6, p.962).
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
"Let your conversation [behavior] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).
"And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of" (Genesis 28:15).
"And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest" (Exodus 33:14).
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation" (Psalm 68:19).
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, said the lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10).
"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them" (Isaiah 41:17).
"For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, and shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the walls" (Isaiah 25:4).
Thought 1. There are two ways for a person to go about taking care of himself in this world.
1) Working and seeking in his own strength: depending upon his own ability and energy alone; fighting and struggling to make it through life and fretting and worrying about succeeding.
2) Working and seeking in both God's strength and his own strength: trusting and acknowledging God while doing all he can; putting his hand to the plow and plowing; working and working and not looking back, and while working, trusting the results to God. God says He will see to it that such a trusting person will always have the necessities of life.
Thought 2. The believer whose work fails in the eyes of the world can know four sure thingsif he has really put God first.
1) His failure is temporary. God will help and strengthen and even teach him through the trying times.
2) God will work all things out for good, for the believer loves God and has been called by God (Romans 8:28f).
3) God will see to it that the necessities of life are given him.
4) God has much better things in store for himeternally. The believer has been faithful in his work, so God will reward him as a faithful servant, even if his labor has failed in the eyes of the world.
The believer who goes through a failure needs to remember just one thing: be faithfulcontinue to be faithful. If you put God first, God will lift you up now and eternally.
Thought 3. God made man a spiritual being. Therefore, the only way man can ever be satisfied is to seek God and His righteousness first. This world and the things of this world will not satisfy.
Thought 4. Man's major mistake is this: material things can only make a person comfortable. The things of the world can only look good, taste good, and feel good; but this is all they can do. Think about it! They are external, outside man, and this is just the problem. The need that man senses within is not to be externally comfortable, but to be inwardly satisfied and spiritually satisfied (see note Ephes. 1:3).
1) Material things cannot touch the inside of man. They can only make him comfortable outside.
2) Man really knows down deep within that all material things pass away, even himself. He subdues the knowledge, pushes it out of his thoughts, yet he knows it.
Thought 5. Man can have the necessities of life; but he has to do one thing: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness...."
"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Luke 11:9-10).
"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5).
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul" (Deut. 4:29).
"For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall" (Isaiah 25:4).
"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them" (Isaiah 41:17).6. (13:7) Leaders: there is the remembering of leaders. "Remember" (Mnēmoneuete PWS: 3240) means to be mindful; to keep in mind. The idea is continuous remembrance. Leaders are never to be forgotten. But note who the leaders are that are to be remembered: those who have proclaimed the Word of God. If a person has been faithful in proclaiming and teaching God's Word, we are to remember them and never forget them. Note why: so that we can follow their faith. A leader who faithfully proclaims God's Word is a leader to follow. As the Amplified New Testament says:
"Remember your leaders and superiors in authority, [for it was they] who brought to you the Word of God. Observe attentively and consider their manner of livingthe outcome of their well-spent livesand imitate their faith [that is, their conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ; and their leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness]."
This is a power-packed verse. Note what it says when it is broken down in outline form: follow your leaders...
in their conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things.
in their conviction that God is the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ.
in the leaning of their entire personality on God.
in their absolute trust and confidence in God's power, wisdom, and goodness.
Note that both living and dead leaders are to be followed, those who have ended their work on earth as well as those who are now laboring. Matthew Henry says:
"Remember them their preaching, their praying, their private counsel, their example.
"Follow their faith; be stedfast in the profession of the faith they preached to you, and labour after the grace of faith by which they lived and died so well. Consider the end of their conversation [behavior], how quickly, how comfortably, how joyfully, they finished their course!" (Matthew Henry's Commentary, Vol. 6, p.963.)
"Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me" (1 Cor. 4:16).
"Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you" (Phil. 4:9).