Christian love 13:1-6
v1 Go on loving each other as brothers. v2 Do not forget to receive as guests the strangers who come to you. Some people have had *angels in their homes and they did not know it. v3 Remember to help those who are in prison because they are Christians, as if you were in prison with them. Remember those who suffer, as if you have the same troubles as they have. v4 All should respect marriage and must not have wrong sex. God will be the judge of all who have sex with the partner of another and all who have wrong sex. v5 Do not let the love of money control your life. Be satisfied with what you have. God has said, ‘I will never leave you or let you be alone’ (Deuteronomy 31:6). v6 So we can be bold and say, ‘The *Lord is my helper. I am not afraid of anything that people can do to me’ (Psalm 118:6).
Verse 1 All Christians have the same Father in heaven. We are all children of God. As we love God, we are to love his children. So we must love and help each other as brothers and sisters.
Verse 2 This love should extend to those whom we do not know. When strangers come to us, we should receive them into our homes. We should care for them while they are with us. We should do this because we are Christians and love the *Lord. However, some people have had *angels come to them and they did not know it. For example, *angels came to Abraham (see Genesis 18) and they went on to the house of Lot (Genesis 19).
Verse 3 At that time there were many who were in prison only because they were Christians. The readers of this letter had known this (see 10:32-34). Those in control of the prison did not give food or other help to those in prison. They had to depend on their friends to give them what they needed. In many parts of the world today there are Christians who suffer like this. If we know of Christians in prison, we should show them our love. We should try to understand what they suffer, as if we were there in prison with them. We should share with them in their need and do what we can for them.
Verse 4 Marriage is good and we should respect it. It is a contract for life between a man and a woman. Sex in such a marriage is pure and good. But it is wrong for either of them to have sex with someone else. It is wrong for anyone else to have sex with them. All acts of sex, other than in a marriage, are *sin. God will judge all who have wrong sex with another person.
Verse 5 The desire for wealth can be too strong. It can so easily take control of our lives. We cannot love money and love God. One of them has to take the first place in our lives. The love of money is the cause of much that is wrong in the world. While we do need money, we need God more, and he knows what is good for us. He has promised us that he will never leave us. He loves us and we can depend on him to take care of us. What we have should satisfy us and we should trust God for what we need. We may have to work for it, but if we love God first, money will not control us. (Jesus spoke about this, see Matthew 6:25-34).
Verse 6 The writer uses a verse from the Psalms (118:6). We can be confident in what it says. The *Lord God is our helper. He has done so much for us and he has promised to be with us. With such a helper we cannot fail, if we love and trust him. Then we shall not fear anything. Who can be afraid when they have with them such a powerful God? Love for God takes away all fear of other things. Even if men are against us, they will not be able to do us real damage. Our life is in the care of our God. We know that we live with him and that our life with him will never end. So we can be bold and say, ‘The *Lord is my helper’.
The example of leaders 13:7-8
v7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Look at the results of their lives and copy their trust in God. v8 Jesus Christ does not change. He is the same yesterday and today and always.
Verse 7 Christian people had taught these Hebrews about Jesus. They had shown from the Bible that Jesus is the Christ. It was not only by what they said that they taught them. They were also a practical example by the way that they lived. Now it seems that they had died. It may be that they had died because of their *belief in Jesus. We should remember such people and see how they lived. They put their trust in Jesus and obeyed God to the end of their days. We should follow their good example of *faith and live as they did.
Verse 8 *Human leaders come and go, but Jesus is always here. ‘Yesterday’ means the past, and Christ was there even before God made the world. ‘Today’ is the present, and Jesus is alive and here now. ‘Forever’ is the future, and he will always be there. He died once for our *sins, but now he will never die again. He never changes, as he was, he will always be. So we can trust him with total confidence for our lives now and for the future.
Call to *sacrifice 13:9-16
v9 Do not let all kinds of strange things that some people teach lead you away from God. It is good to make our hearts strong by the goodness of God. Rules about food do not make hearts strong. Those who obey rules about what they should eat do not gain anything by it. v10 We who have trust in Jesus have an *altar from which those who minister in the special tent on earth have no right to eat. v11 The chief priest took the blood of animals to the most holy place. There he gave it to God as an offering for *sin. They burned the bodies outside the camp. v12 So Jesus had to suffer outside the gate of the city. He died to make the people holy by his own blood.
v13 So let us go to him outside the camp, and share his shame. v14 Here on earth we do not have a city that will last. We are looking for the city that is to come. v15 Let us offer a *sacrifice of praise to God at all times. That is the fruit of our lips as we give thanks to his name. v16 Do not forget to do good and to share what you have. Such sacrifices please God.
Verse 9 There have always been many who teach strange things that did not come from God. These teachers may be from other religions or from groups that claim to be Christian. They seem to teach that we must do what they say before God will accept us. They say in effect that we must work to be good enough for God. But we Christians know that we cannot please God by what we do. We can only come to God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He died for our *sins, so that God will accept us. We need to be strong in our *belief in Jesus, for that is what God asks of us. In most of these other religions and groups, there are rules that people have to obey. There are the ceremonies that all must come to. They can only eat certain foods or they have to prepare their food in special ways. The religion of the *Jews had become like that. Doing such things did not help those who did them to come to God. Our trust must not be in what we can do, but in what Jesus has done on our behalf.
Verse 10 To eat at an *altar means to take part in the *sacrifice that the priest has made on it. Those who serve at the *altar in the old agreement cannot take part in the *sacrifice of Jesus. We who are Christians by our trust in Jesus, share what he did when he died on the cross. His *sacrifice was for us and God accepts us in him. Those who depend on what they do at their *altars do not share what Jesus has done.
Verses 11-12 The Hebrews were 40 years in the desert. While there, God gave them the law and the rules for sacrifices. On one day in the year the chief priest brought the blood of animals into the most holy place. They burned the bodies outside of the camp. This was the *sacrifice for *sin in the old agreement. They made these sacrifices each year for the *sins of the *Jews. They were to do this until Jesus came and made the one great *sacrifice. He was both the chief priest and the one great *sacrifice. He died for the *sins of all people. He died just once and it was enough for all people and for all time. As they burned the bodies of the sacrifices away from the camp, so they killed Jesus outside the city (*Jerusalem).
Verse 13 The fact that Jesus died there shows that the people had refused him. He was the Christ, but they would not accept him. They cursed him and killed him, as if he were a criminal. What they did to Jesus then, so people may do the same to those who follow him now. Let us be bold and say that we belong to Jesus. Let us be ready to suffer for him. Let us never deny that we are his, even if we have to die for him.
Verse 14 Nothing in this life lasts forever. We Christians are like strangers here on earth. We are not at home here any more. We are going home to be with our *Lord in heaven. Like Abraham, we look for the city that is to come. That will be the place where we shall live and where we belong.
Verse 15 We do not now have to give blood sacrifices to God. We no longer need the old priests to go to him on our behalf. Jesus is the one and only chief priest and he is always with God. The only *sacrifice that we can bring to God is our praise. We can praise him at all times and not just at the special times of the old sacrifices. The ‘fruit of our lips’ means what we say about God. We praise him when we tell of his greatness, power, might and love. We praise him when we thank him for who he is and for what he has done. We praise him when we give ourselves to him. We praise him through Jesus, for there is no other way to come to him.
Verse 16 While we are praising God, we must not forget the needs of others. It pleases God when we share what we have with those who are in need.
Obey and follow what is right 13:17
v17 Obey your leaders and do what they say. They watch over you as men who have to give an account of their service for God. Let their task be a joy to them and not a pain, for that would do you no good.
Verse 17 God has given us leaders in the church. It is their responsibility to help us to grow as Christians. One day they will have to give an account to God for how well they have done this. We should obey what they teach and follow as they lead. If we do this, their task will be a joy to them. If we do not, it will be hard for us and will make them sad. If we make the task of the leader hard in this way, it will do us no good and the church will suffer. Jesus is for us the leader above all others. We must obey and follow him at all times.
Pray for us 13:18-19
v18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a good conscience as we always want to do what is right. v19 I want you to pray hard for me to be able to come to you soon.
Verses 18-19 The writer urges his readers to pray for him and for those with him. This is not for just one prayer. He asks that they will continue to pray. He wants them to pray especially for God to help him in his situation. He always tries to do what is right. He is sure that he has a good conscience. This means that he does not know of any *sin in his life that he has not asked God to forgive. He really wants to come and see them. But there is some reason why he cannot come yet. He believes that as they pray for him, God can make it possible.
The end of the letter 13:20-25
v20 God is the God of the quiet heart. He raised our *Lord Jesus from the dead, by the blood of the new agreement that lasts always. Jesus is the great *shepherd of the sheep. v21 May God give you everything good that you need to do what he wants. May God do all that he wants to do in our lives through Jesus Christ. To him there will be honour for all time and always. *Amen.
v22 My brothers, I appeal to you to accept the words I have written to help you. This is only a short letter that I have written to you. v23 I want you to know that our brother *Timothy is out of prison. If he comes soon, I shall bring him with me when I come to see you. v24 Say hello for me to your leaders and to all who belong to Christ. The *believers from *Italy who are here greet you. v25 I pray that the goodness of God will be with you all.
Verses 20-21 Now, as the writer comes to the end of the letter, he prays for his readers. He prays to the God of the quiet heart. There may be troubles all about us. We may have problems in our lives. Yet in all our difficulties, God can give us that quiet heart. God has made that possible for us in Jesus. He raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is the great leader of the sheep (John 10:1-5). The ‘sheep’ is a picture of his people. By his blood, that is, by his death, Jesus has made the new agreement on our behalf. By that agreement, all who belong to Jesus will receive the life that never dies. God will give them a quiet heart that will last for all time and forever. The writer’s prayer is that God will make them able to do his will while they live here on earth. He prays that God will do all that he wants to do in their lives. God will do this for us through Jesus Christ, as we obey and follow him. All the praise and all the honour belong to Jesus forever.
Verse 22 In this letter there is much advice on how to live as a Christian. It warns us about many things that could lead us to *sin. It asks us to make many decisions and shows us the right answers. The writer wrote his letter to help us. He asks us to accept it and learn from it.
Verse 23 *Timothy was a man who often travelled with the *apostle Paul. He was a leader in the churches. The readers knew that he had been in prison. The writer tells them that *Timothy is now out of prison. He promises that if *Timothy arrives soon, he will bring him to visit them.
Verse 24 The writer sends greetings to his readers, from himself and from ‘our Italian friends’.
Verse 25 This is a final prayer for all his readers.