A Verse by Verse Look at the Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 13

The Changeless Christ

Hebrews 13 is a mixture of warnings, requests and final exhortations. It is a reminder to the fellowship of Christ, to let love remain, show hospitality and honor each other. As well as remembering to pray for leaders in the church. This book ends on a wonderful note by reminding us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Keep On Loving Each Other As Brothers (Hebrews 13:1-2)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 13

Hebrews 13 1-2"Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” ( Hebrews 13:1-2 )

Loving our brethren is the mark of a true believer. In fact this is so important that many of the New Testament writers gave instructions on this very thing. Paul said, Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” ( Romans 12:9-10 ). He went on to say, “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” ( Romans 12:13 ). The Apostle John also mentioned this several times throughout all his writings. Perhaps I John 4:7 says it best, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” ( I John 4:7 ).

This is important because loving each other, considering others before one’s self summarizes the heart of God. When asked which commandment was the greatest “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” ( Matthew 22:37-40 ). It is amazing that once the first is achieved and practiced the second happens as a result. God is love ( I John 4:8 ), therefore abiding in that love will overflow into our own lives, affect our own relationships and it is makes us complete ( I John 4:11-12 ). Which is why Paul said, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” ( Galatians 5:14 ).

If we practice loving our brothers, not forgetting to entertain strangers, then we are caring for God’s people and being good stewards of what He has entrusted to us. As in the examples of Abraham and Lot from the book of Genesis we are encouraged by the fact that God gives us opportunities to care for people in need and represent His loving kindness to them ( Genesis 18:1-8, Genesis 19:1-3 ). Because of their hospitality both Abraham and Lot entertained angels. The result for Abraham was word that Sarah would conceive within the year. Because of Lot’s actions, he and his family were delivered from Sodom before it was destroyed. Both received blessings from their generosity.

Jesus also referred to this when teaching, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” ( Matthew 25:34-40 ). What a beautiful reminder that everything we do, we do for the Lord.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” ( I John 4:11-12 ).

Remember Those Who Are Mistreated As If You Were Suffering (Hebrews 13:3)

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Hebrews 13 3"Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering" ( Hebrews 13:3 )

All over the world intense persecution happens because of Christ. Jesus himself said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" ( John 16:33 ). He did not want us to be unprepared that bearing His name will bring trouble, persecution and hardship.

Just as in the days of the apostles all over the world, our brothers and sisters in Christ are locked up and tortured because they stand for Him. Many bear death sentences simply because they follow Christ. Many risk their lives and their families to meet, read a Bible if they can get one and encourage one another. Women are burned in the streets, men are locked up in prison and children suffer atrocities at the hands of others.

What should our godly response be? We need to stand together with these precious people praying for their strength and endurance. We need to give our resources when opportunities arise. We need to unite our voice together in outrage at their treatment demanding change! We need to bear with their suffering as if it was us that were suffering. The church needs to act on their behalf.

These are the people who will stand before the Throne of God crying out for the Lamb to avenge their blood ( Revelation 6:9-11 ). They are given a long flowing and festive robe to wear honoring them for their sacrifice and asked to wait a little longer until the full number comes in ( Revelation 6:11 Amp ). This scene from scripture is very powerful, these individuals are very precious in the sight of the Lord. So we too must remember their suffering and act with conviction for those who cannot act for themselves.

How can believers unite and make a difference? Voice of the Martyrs is the best place to start. VOM speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves. They not only provide real-time information for the church to understand what is going on, they respond to situations offering prayer, resources and encouragement. They have several opportunities to give which include, supplies, Bibles to captive nations, support for families whose loved ones are imprisoned or have been martyred, ministry supplies, medical resources among other highly needed things. They have a long history of caring for the persecuted Church throughout the world.

Start by visiting their newsroom to read stories that are currently taking place around the globe.

I encourage you to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer tremendously because they bear the blessed name of our savior. Remember to pray and stand with them knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and will in the end right every wrong! Amen!

Marriage Should Be Honored By All (Hebrews 13:4)

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Hebrews 13 4“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” ( Hebrews 13:4 )

God created marriage. In fact, marriage existed in the perfect paradise of the garden. It was instituted from the very beginning to bless us. Paul gives further insight into this wonderful covenant in the book of Ephesians. The main point for his encouragement on marriage is to illustrate the type of relationship that we have with Christ as His bride. He uses the relationship between a husband and wife so we can understand the intimacy that we can experience with the Lord.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. ( Ephesians 5:31-31 ).

When we are united with Christ we become one with him. We are his bride, we are his wife. We belong to Him. This truly is a profound mystery! Which is why we must continually honor our earthly marriages as well, because they are also holy unions. It is a covenant relationship which means that God blesses it and puts His stamp of approval on it. We are to take this commitment very seriously and honor it above all. We should remain faithful to our spouses in both word and deed.

God considers marriage especially dear and holds it in high esteem which is why He blesses this union with children through intimacy. So we too must consider this relationship worthy of great price and continually honor and nurture it. Next to our relationship with God we must honor our marriage above all.

Paul gives further insight on how to do this, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” ( Ephesians 5:33 ). Love and respect is the secret to experiencing a happy marriage. Amazingly this attitude will also overflow and bless your union with the Lord as well. Marriage is a great illustration of our relationship with the Lord which is why it is to be greatly honored above all else.

Keep Yourself Free From the Love of Money and Be Content (Hebrews 13:5-6)

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Hebrews 13 5-6“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” ( Hebrews 13:5-6 )

I went through a period in life where I was obsessed with material possession. I worked a lot and spent everything I had on clothes, shoes and purses. While it is not wrong to own nice things, trouble arises when our focus switches from heavenly things to materialism. After a while I realized that this was not the path for me, so I wrote this verse on a notecard and put it in my wallet. Every time I opened it to purchase something I had to come face to face with this truth, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” ( Hebrews 13:5 ).

This worked for me. Sometimes I would re-evaluate whether I really needed it or just wanted it. Sometimes, I would remember that there were more important things to spend my time and money on. But mostly, it would make me angry because I wanted to continue shopping and buying things. However, through this process I always had to acknowledge this simple truth, and it continued to make an impact.

God has promised to never leave us. The Amplified Bible records it this way, “Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God]  Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” ( Hebrews 13:5 Amp) . Pay special attention to the the fact that He says three times, “I will not, I will not, I will not!” In the passage, three negatives precede the verb, this is added so that we can understand God’s resolve in this matter. He will not in any circumstance leave us helpless or let us down.

So what should our response be? The writer of Hebrews gives us the answer in the next verse, “So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” ( Hebrews 13:6 Amp ).  We use the truth of God’s unfailing love and grace to combat the desires for worldly possessions.

Wealth is not a bad thing as long as we have a healthy godly perspective of it. We are to keep our lives free from the love of money, always realizing that it is God who takes care of us and provides for our needs. Knowing this will gives us the right perspective concerning money. We are to use it not to love it. We are God’s stewards of it and through us He can use it to bless and care for others which is greater by far than any worldly possession.

Remember Your Leaders and Imitate Their Faith (Hebrews 13:7)

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Hebrews 13 7“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” ( Hebrews 13:7 )

Growing up, there was a lady in our church who took the time to disciple me. She invited several of the youth age girls into her home on a weekly basis where she spent time with us in the Word and in prayer. It was a special time as her love for Jesus was unmistakable. The impact that this dear lady made on me has affected my entire life because I learned how, from an early age to spend time with the Lord.

Since then, the Lord has sent a few others to come beside and mentor me in the Word. Showing, teaching and explaining His truths until they’ve taken hold. These precious people have spoken truth into my life in a way that cannot be measured. As such, this pattern has propagated as I, in turn have also discipled young friends, teaching them from the Word and showing them who the Lord is as they start to grow in their faith.

The people who teach the Word of God to us are very dear so we should honor them and imitate their faith. We should consider their lives, how they live and do our best to emulate them. Paul also gave similar instruction about this, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” ( Philippians 3:17 ). The Word of God is life-changing so it makes sense that those who spend a lot of time in it will think and act differently. We are to live according to that pattern.

Amazingly, the Lord will always send people to us to encourage and build us up in our faith as we grow in the grace and knowledge of God. We are never left to our own; He will surround us by a fellowship of believers. We can use their example of faith and obedience to pattern our lives after. The result will be unity just as Paul encouraged the Philippians, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” ( Philippians 1: 27 ). Not only will we imitate the faith of those who went before us, our lives will be worthy of the gospel that saved and redeemed us!

Jesus Christ is the Same Yesterday and Today and Forever (Hebrews 13:8)

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Hebrews 13 8“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” ( Hebrews 13:8 )

If there was ever a scripture to draw encouragement from, this would be it. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” ( Hebrews 13:8) . This is a foundational truth written in heaven, Jesus does not change. He will not recant His words. He will not revoke His offer of unconditional love and grace. As the world gets increasingly worse, Jesus is the anchor that keeps us safe until the end.

In fact, one of the main points in the book of Hebrews is that Jesus is the guarantor of God’s promise of redemption. Chapter 6 speaks volumes about this, “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” ( Hebrews 6:17-20 ).

God promised our redemption on oath and swore by Himself to make it absolutely certain (Hebrews 6:13-14). Jesus ratified this oath by His blood shed on the cross (Matthew 26:28, I Corinthians 11:25, Hebrews 6:16-20, 7:21-22, 13:20). Now we are reminded that Jesus never changes, He will be the same throughout the ages. This is an encouraging word for us whose entire faith and hope rest on Him.

Scripture tells us over and over that God will not change His mind, “I the Lord do not change” ( Malachi 3:6a ). James also spoke of this, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” ( James 1:17 ). He does this to make His intentions very clear to us so we can rest in those promises. In fact, in Numbers 23, when Balaam was paid to curse Israel, God did not allow it, instead He pronounced a blessing on them through the oracle and this was part of it, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” ( Numbers 23:19 ). What was meant to harm them, turned out as an encouraging word to them because God wanted them to know He will not change.

In the same way, we can let this truth penetrate deep into every thought process we own. Jesus is the same, He will not change. He will not recant His Word. He will always prove Himself faithful from beginning to end with every moment in between testifying to it. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” ( Hebrews 13:8 ), what an amazing truth!

It is Good For Our Hearts To Be Strengthened By Grace (Hebrews 13:9-10)

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Hebrews 13 9-10"Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat” ( Hebrews 13:9-10 )

A few years ago a couple came to our church, started getting involved and after a while started sharing with others that Christians were supposed to live like Jesus lived, a mixture of grace and Jewish rituals and customs. They started teaching that since Jesus lived that way, we too were supposed to. Needless to say, this teaching caused problems as it confused people and caused conflict within the church body.

This couple avoided the leadership team every Sunday and when they were finally confronted to address the situation, they left quickly and never returned. This same thing has happened over and over throughout the centuries. In fact this is the exact teaching that bewitched the church at Galatia shortly after Paul had moved on from the church ( Galatians 3 ).

This is why we are to remain strengthened and steadfast in grace, because understanding grace combats strange doctrine such as this. John said, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” ( John 1:16-17 ). Jesus came with the message of grace, God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing heaped on us through Him. The grace message says that what we cannot do, God did through Jesus. He has reconciled us back to the Father so that we may know and experience Him. In fact, there is not one thing that we can add to what Jesus did, so why try?

When we are established in grace then this truth combats anything contrary to it. If someone tells us we must live holy by keeping the law, then the grace of God shows us that He has already made us holy as we are fashioned after Him in righteousness and holiness ( Ephesians 4:24 ). If someone tells us that we must adhere to Jewish dietary laws, then the grace of God shows us that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, joy and peace ( Romans 14:17 ). If someone tells us that we must keep the Sabbath then the grace of God shows us that the true Sabbath Rest for the people of God is Jesus Christ ( Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 4:9-11 ). Grace is able to keep us in the truth.

In the final exhortations from Hebrews we see this amazing truth; grace is what strengthens and encourages us throughout this life. We begin by grace and we end in grace, it is a constant that will never change. Amazingly, this grace received by faith gives us privileges that those under the Old Covenant never had right to. Just as these verses say, “We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat” ( Hebrews 13:10 ).

We Are Looking For a City That Is To Come (Hebrews 13:11-14)

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Hebrews 13 11-12“The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” ( Hebrews 13:11-14 )

Jesus was the lamb of God’s appointment ( I Peter 1:19-20, Revelation 13:8 ). He was sent as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the entire world ( I John 2:2 ). He came to His own people, His own kind and was rejected and despised by them ( John 1:11, Acts 4:11, I Peter 2:6-8 ). However, His blood was given just the same. It was given to make peace and bring us back into fellowship with God.

While all of this was taking place in the heavenly realm ( Hebrews 9:11-12 ), Jesus’ body was carried outside of the Levitical sacrificial system, taken to calvary and crucified; fulfilling scripture saying that it must be done this way ( Leviticus 16:27 ). He bore the shame and disgrace reserved for criminals, murderers and thieves.

This shows that Jesus was the true fulfillment of everything the sacrificial system pointed to ( Hebrews 10:1-5 ). Because of this, we should constantly consider Jesus, and disregard anything that keeps us from Him ( Hebrews 3:1, 12:2 ). Just as He did, we should go outside of the norm, willing to accept abuse, shame and ridicule by others because of our associating with Jesus. Why? Because this is not our home, we are looking forward to a city and a permanent home that is to come. 

The previous verses give instruction on how to stay steadfast, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat” ( Hebrews 13:9-10 ). 

Through His grace we have received so much more that those who serve according to the illustration of Christ and not the real thing. So, if we continue, steadfast and strengthened in grace, reminding ourselves over and over what Jesus did for us. Then we will not be carried away by other things. This grace will also produce a passion and desire for us to follow wholeheartedly after Christ Jesus even in the midst of persecution and disgrace.