Study Notes

Hebrews 13:1-7


The writer of Hebrews has figured that after twelve chapters, he's more than sufficiently made his point: Jesus is higher than angels or Moses. The New Covenant is far better than the Old. Faith is better than works. The peace of Mount Zion is better than the shaking and quaking of Mount Sinai. The grace of Christ is superior to the Mosaic Law in every way.

He figures that he doesn't need to address this topic any more, and assumes that they're going to stay put in Christianity and not revert back to Judaism. And so, he will spend this final chapter exhorting them to pursue those things which a Christian's life should contain.

13:1-2 Friend To Christians And Aliens

When read in English, these two verses sound like they are giving two individual commands. But in Greek, there is an interesting tie-in. "Love of the brethren" is "fil-ad-el-FEE-ah," while "hospitality to strangers" is "fil-ox-en-EE-ah." Both are words that stem from the Greek word "FEE-los" which means "to be a friend."

You can see now how the two ideas are connected. The author is saying, "Hey guys, you need to be a friend to all - both to fellow churchgoers and strangers."

Love Of The Brethren

Loving and being friends toward each other is infinitely important in any church, but it doesn't always seem to happen. There are divisions and strife, hurt feelings and broken hearts.

How can we be sure that we are loving each other? After all, the church in Thessalonica managed to do it. Paul said,

1Ths. 4:9-10 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for {anyone} to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia...

God had taught them to love one another. They were famous for their love.

So, if we don't seem to have a handle on loving and being friends to all the people in the church, should we blame God? "Well, after all, He hasn't taught me to do it!"

But if God doesn't seem to have taught us this, the Word makes it clear that it is not God's fault. Peter wrote to his readers,

1Pet. 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart

The fact is that if you don't have a love for other Christians, it's because you haven't been obedient to the truth. The truth is what tells us to purify our souls.

Now, if, in obedience to the truth, you do purify your soul, God is then free to teach you to have love for - and be friends with - all the brethren.

So the answer is not to try and work on loving people in the church. It's simply to purify our souls, and then love for the brethren will come supernaturally, as we are taught by God.

Hospitality To Strangers

We are also to be loving and friends to strangers: to show hospitality to them.

It is always interesting to me when someone is credited with having "a gift of hospitality" when they can make a nice dinner, throw a good party, or keep a neat house. But in reality, since "hospitality" literally means "a friend to strangers," then someone who really has a gift of hospitality is inviting new church families to lunch, being friendly to someone that they don't know, or caring for the needs of someone on the street.

In Genesis 19, we read that the Lord sent two angels to Sodom to bear witness that the reports He was getting about their immorality was true. As they approached the gate, they were met by a man named Lot. He was a truly hospitable man, as concerned for their welfare as he would be about a close friend.

Gen. 19:2 And he said, "Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant's house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way." They said however, "No, but we shall spend the night in the square."

Lot knew that this was a very bad idea for anyone in Sodom. In that city, gangs of homosexual men would roam the streets, looking for victims - people to rape. Lot insisted that these men - that he did not know were angels - stay at his house that night.

I often wonder, "In all my years of ministry, with the traveling strangers that we've put on the bus, the stranded strangers we've put in motel rooms, and the hungry strangers that we have fed, could any of them have been angels? If so, how many?" Of course, not all of them were angels - I don't think God would let angels get away with some of the behavior I've witnessed or profanity I've heard from some of them. But then I remember that Jesus said,

Matt. 25:40 "...Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, {even} the least {of them,} you did it to Me."

When I remember this, I realize that everyone I've helped, whether or not they were an angel, was a representative of Jesus to me.

13:3 Remember The Prisoners

I have visited many people in jail, and corresponded with several former churchgoers that ended up in prison. And one thing is universal among them: they feel like those in the church have forgotten them. That they don't enter our minds, and that we don't care. Much of the time, they are right - we are so busy with our own lives that we don't take the time to remember them, write to them, or visit them.

I think it would be a living nightmare to be locked in prison and be forgotten by my loved ones. Is it time to make that visit you've been neglecting? Or write that letter you've been putting off?

13:4 Honor Marriage

Another area that Christians are to be aware of is regarding marriage. Whether you're single or married, divorced or widowed, you're commanded to hold marriage in honor.

The word for "honor" is translated at various times "respected, precious, and dear." In our society, marriage is not held in honor. More than half of marriages now end in divorce - and believe it or not, Christians have actually exceeded the national average.

But what is forgotten is the spiritual miracle that happens when two people are married: God makes it so that...

Matt. 19:6 "...they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

Your husband might be a big jerk. Your wife might be a nag. You both may have nothing in common. But since God has miraculously made you to be one flesh, your marriage must be viewed as precious and priceless - it is to be honored by all.

Since it is to be honored by all, don't listen to those who say, "You ought to leave her. You ought to split up with him. You deserve better than that." Those people are in sin, for they are not honoring your marriage, and you should not be giving them an ear.


Secondly, the marriage bed is to be undefiled by fornication or adultery. Pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex weakens, defiles, and ruins marriages - both present and future ones.

We've all heard the commercials - "It's up to you when you choose to have sex." What a lie of the devil! If you are a Christian, it's not up to you, because it's not your body. You let Jesus buy it - so now it's up to Him when you have sex. And He will never allow it outside of the bonds of marriage.

Pre-marital sex, even with someone you end up marrying, is destructive to your soul. Every time you have sex, you are losing a piece of yourself, and hardening your heart against God.

Similarly, the sin of adultery is also horribly grievous. It is also among the most difficult to forgive. So much so that, in spite of the miracle of God making two people one in marriage, Jesus actually allowed a divorce if adultery was committed (Matt. 19:9).

We are surrounded by images of adultery in movies, the daytime shock talk shows, and the tabloids. But it is still as devastating a sin as it ever was. And if the fear of hurting your spouse doesn't keep you in line, the author bets that fear of God will. He very specifically says,

Hebr. 13:4 ...let the {marriage} bed {be} undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Don't be deceived into thinking, "Since I'm a Christian, I can just be forgiven. I'll repent for this sexual sin later, and everything will be okay." It won't be okay, for you can clearly see that there are no loopholes in this promise: that God will judge you for this sin.

13:5-6 Free From The Love Of Money

Then he addresses the issues of money. We should be free from the love of money and be content. Interesting, isn't it, that we always want more than we have. And yet, are you happier than you were before your last raise? Are the people you know that make more than you any more content than you are?

Instead, our satisfaction should come from the Lord. He knows what we need, and always provides. Jesus said not to worry about our "stuff," or about our income.

Matt. 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

Paul reminded Timothy,

1Tim. 6:7-11 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. But flee from these things, you man of God...

Are you content with what you have right now? What if it all blew away? If you lost everything and only had the Lord, is He enough for you?

13:7 Remember Your Leaders And Teachers

The final exhortation in this section is that we are to remember our Christian teachers and leaders.

I think of the Christian men and women that God has used throughout my life to grow me up, disciple me, and make me who I am today.

- The women who prayed that I would be saved.

- The man who faithfully witnessed to me for years.

- The Bible College student that led my first New Believers Discipleship Class.

- The guys I worked with that taught me to pray out loud.

- The boss that challenged me to reconsider my secular music career.

- The worship leader that demonstrated to me what real worship was.

- The pastors who taught me the Word and how to study it.

Saints, we all have these sorts of Christians in our lives, who have affected us in radical ways. Consider the results of their conduct, what it meant to you, and then imitate it. Because you can become this kind of influence on others!

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