Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. brotherly love--a distinct special manifestation of "charity"
The Church of Jerusalem, to which in part this Epistle was addressed,
was distinguished by this grace, we know from Acts (compare
Heb 6:10; 10:32-34; 12:12, 13).
continue--Charity will itself continue. See that
it continue with you.
7. Two manifestations of "brotherly love," hospitality
and care for those in bonds.
Be not forgetful--implying it was a duty which they all
recognized, but which they might forget to act on
(Heb 13:3, 7, 16).
The enemies of Christianity themselves have noticed the practice of
this virtue among Christians [JULIAN,
entertained angels unawares--Abraham and Lot did so
(Ge 18:2; 19:1).
To obviate the natural distrust felt of strangers, Paul says, an
unknown guest may be better than he looks: he may be unexpectedly found
to be as much a messenger of God for good, as the angels (whose
name means messenger) are; nay more, if a Christian, he
represents Christ Himself. There is a play on the same Greek
word, Be not forgetful and unaware; let not the
duty of hospitality to strangers escape you; for, by
entertaining strangers, it has escaped the entertainers that
they were entertaining angels. Not unconscious and forgetful of the
duty, they have unconsciously brought on themselves the blessing.
3. Remember--in prayers and acts of kindness.
bound with them--by virtue of the unity of the members in the
body under one Head, Christ
suffer adversity--Greek, "are in evil state."
being yourselves also in the body--and so liable to the
adversities incident to the natural body, which ought to dispose you
the more to sympathize with them, not knowing how soon your own turn of
suffering may come. "One experiences adversity almost his whole life,
as Jacob; another in youth, as Joseph; another in manhood, as Job;
another in old age" [BENGEL].
4. is, &c.--Translate, "Let marriage be treated as
also is an exhortation.
in all--"in the case of all men": "among all." "To avoid
fornication let EVERY MAN have his own wife"
Judaism and Gnosticism combined were soon about to throw discredit on
marriage. The venerable Paphnutius, in the Council of Nice, quoted this
verse for the justification of the married state. If one does not
himself marry, he should not prevent others from doing so. Others,
especially Romanists, translate, "in all things," as in
But the warning being against lasciviousness, the contrast to
"whoremongers and adulterers" in the parallel clause,
requires the "in all" in this clause to refer to persons.
the bed undefiled--Translate, as Greek requires
"undefiled" to be a predicate, not an epithet, "And let the bed
God will judge--Most whoremongers escape the notice of human
tribunals; but God takes particular cognizance of those whom man does
not punish. Gay immoralities will then be regarded in a very different
light from what they are now.
5. conversation--"manner of life." The love of filthy lust and
the love of filthy lucre follow one another as closely akin, both
alienating the heart from the Creator to the creature.
such things as ye have--literally, "present things"
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee--A promise tantamount
to this was given to Jacob
(De 31:6, 8),
It is therefore like a divine adage. What was said to them, extends
also to us. He will neither withdraw His presence ("never leave
thee") nor His help ("nor forsake thee") [BENGEL].
6. may--rather as Greek, expressing confidence actually
realized, "So that we boldly (confidently) say"
(Ps 56:4, 11; 118:6).
Punctuate as both the Hebrew and the Greek require, "And
(so) I will not fear: what (then) shall man do unto me?"
7. Remember--so as to imitate: not to invoke in prayer,
as Rome teaches.
have the rule--rather, "who have had the rule over you":
your spiritual leaders.
who--Greek, "the which": such persons as.
have spoken unto you--"spake" (so the Greek aorist means)
during their lifetime. This Epistle was among those written later, when
many of the heads of the Jerusalem Church had passed away.
whose faith--even unto death: probably death by martyrdom, as in
the case of the instances of faith in
Stephen, James the brother of our Lord and bishop of Jerusalem, as well
as James the brother of John
in the Palestinian Church, which Paul addresses, suffered martyrdom.
considering--Greek, "looking up to," "diligently
contemplating all over," as an artist would a model.
the end--the termination, at death. The Greek, is used of
of their conversation--"manner of life": "religious walk"
Considering how they manifested the soundness of their faith by
their holy walk, which they maintained even to the end of
that walk (their death by martyrdom).
8. This verse is not, as some read it, in apposition with "the
end of their conversation"
but forms the transition. "Jesus Christ, yesterday and to-day (is) the
same, and (shall be the same) unto the ages (that is, unto all ages)."
The Jesus Christ (the full name being given, to mark with
affectionate solemnity both His person and His office)
who supported your spiritual rulers through life even unto their
end "yesterday" (in times past), being at once "the Author and
the Finisher of their faith"
remains still the same Jesus Christ "to-day," ready to help you also,
if like them you walk by "faith" in Him. Compare "this same Jesus,"
He who yesterday (proverbial for the past time) suffered and
died, is to-day in glory
"As night comes between yesterday and to-day, and yet night itself is
swallowed up by yesterday and to-day, so the "suffering"
did not so interrupt the glory of Jesus Christ which was of yesterday,
and that which is to-day, as not to continue to be the same. He is the
same yesterday, before He came into the world, and
to-day, in heaven. Yesterday in the time of our
predecessors, and to-day in our age" [BENGEL]. So the doctrine is the same, not
variable: this verse thus forms the transition between
and Heb 13:9.
He is always "the same"
The same in the Old and in the New Testament.
9. about--rather, as oldest manuscripts read, "carried
aside"; namely, compare
divers--differing from the one faith in the one and the same
Jesus Christ, as taught by them who had the rule over you
strange--foreign to the truth.
established with grace; not with meats--not with observances of
Jewish distinctions between clean and unclean meats, to which ascetic
Judaizers added in Christian times the rejection of some meats, and the
use of others: noticed also by Paul in
1Co 8:8, 13; 6:13;
an exact parallel to this verse: these are some of the "divers and
strange doctrines" of the previous sentence. Christ's body offered once
for all for us, is our true spiritual "meat" to "eat"
"the stay and the staff of bread"
the mean of all "grace."
which have not profited--Greek, "in which they who walked
were not profited"; namely, in respect to justification, perfect
cleansing of the conscience, and sanctification. Compare on "walked,"
namely, with superstitious scrupulosity, as though the worship of God
in itself consisted in such legal observances.
10. Christianity and Judaism are so totally distinct, that "they
who serve the (Jewish) tabernacle," have no right to eat our spiritual
Gospel meat, namely, the Jewish priests, and those who follow their
guidance in serving the ceremonial ordinance. He says, "serve the
tabernacle," not "serve IN the tabernacle."
Contrast with this servile worship ours.
an altar--the cross of Christ, whereon His body was offered. The
Lord's table represents this altar, the cross; as the bread and wine
represent the sacrifice offered on it. Our meat, which we by faith
spiritually eat, is the flesh of Christ, in contrast to the typical
ceremonial meats. The two cannot be combined
That not a literal eating of the sacrifice of Christ is meant in the
Lord's Supper, but a spiritual is meant, appears from comparing
with Heb 13:10,
"with GRACE, NOT with
11, 12. For just as "the bodies of those beasts whose blood is
brought into the sanctuary by . . . are burned without the
camp," so "Jesus also that . . . suffered without the gate"
of ceremonial Judaism, of which His crucifixion outside the gate of
Jerusalem is a type.
for--reason why they who serve the tabernacle, are excluded from
share in Christ; because His sacrifice is not like one of those
sacrifices in which they had a share but answers to one which was
"wholly burned" outside (the Greek is "burnt completely,"
"consumed by burning"), and which consequently they could not eat of.
gives the general rule, "No sin offering whereof any of the blood is
brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in
the holy place, shall be eaten; it shall be burnt in the fire." The sin
offerings are twofold: the outward, whose blood was sprinkled on
the outward altar, and of whose bodies the priests might eat; and the
inward, the reverse.
the sanctuary--here the Holy of Holies, into which the
blood of the sin offering was brought on the day of atonement.
without the camp--in which were the tabernacle and Levitical
priests and legal worshippers, during Israel's journey through the
wilderness; replaced afterwards by Jerusalem (containing the temple),
outside of whose walls Jesus was crucified.
12. Wherefore Jesus--In order that the Antitype might fulfil the
sanctify--Though not brought into the temple "sanctuary"
His blood has been brought into the heavenly sanctuary, and "sanctifies
(Heb 2:11, 17),
by cleansing them from sin, and consecrating them to God.
his own--not blood of animals.
without the gate--of Jerusalem; as if unworthy of the society of
the covenant-people. The fiery ordeal of His suffering on the
cross, answers to the burning of the victims; thereby His mere
fleshly life was completely destroyed, as their bodies were; the second
part of His offering was His carrying His blood into the heavenly
holiest before God at His ascension, that it should be a perpetual
atonement for the world's sin.
13. therefore--This "therefore" breathes the deliberate
fortitude of believers [BENGEL].
without the camp--"outside the legal polity"
[THEODORET] of Judaism (compare
"Faith considers Jerusalem itself as a camp, not a city"
[BENGEL]. He contrasts with the Jews, who serve an
earthly sanctuary, the Christians to whom the altar in heaven stands
open, while it is closed against the Jews. As Jesus suffered without
the gate, so spiritually must those who desire to belong to Him,
withdraw from the earthly Jerusalem and its sanctuary, as from this
world in general. There is a reference to
when the tabernacle was moved without the camp, which had become
polluted by the people's idolatry of the golden calves; so that "every
one who sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the
congregation (as Moses called the tabernacle outside the camp),
which was without the camp"; a lively type of what the Hebrews should
do, namely, come out of the carnal worship of the earthly Jerusalem to
worship God in Christ in spirit, and of what we all ought to do,
namely, come out from all carnalism, worldly formalism, and mere
sensuous worship, and know Jesus in His spiritual power apart from
worldliness, seeing that "we have no continuing city"
bearing--as Simon of Cyrene did.
his reproach--the reproach which He bare, and which all His
people bear with Him.
14. here--on earth. Those Hebrews who clung to the earthly
sanctuary are representatives of all who cling to this earth. The
earthly Jerusalem proved to be no "abiding city," having been destroyed
shortly after this Epistle was written, and with it fell the Jewish
civil and religious polity; a type of the whole of our present earthly
order of things soon to perish.
one to come--
(Heb 2:5; 11:10, 14, 16; 12:22;
15. As the "altar" was mentioned in
so the "sacrifices" here (compare
namely, praise and doing good,
By him--as the Mediator of our prayers and praises
(Joh 14:13, 14);
not by Jewish observances
(Ps 50:14, 23;
69:30, 31; 107:22; 116:17).
It was an old saying of the rabbis, "At a future time all sacrifices
shall cease, but praises shall not cease."
of praise--for salvation.
continually--not merely at fixed seasons, as those on which the
legal sacrifices were offered, but throughout all our lives.
fruit of our lips--
giving thanks--Greek, "confessing." BENGEL remarks that the Hebrew, "todah," is
beautifully emphatic. It literally means "acknowledgment" or
"confession." In praising a creature, we may easily exceed the truth;
but in praising God we have only to go on confessing what He
really is to us. Hence it is impossible to exceed the truth, and here
is genuine praise.
16. But--But the sacrifice of praise with the lips
is not enough; there must be also doing good (beneficence) and
communicating (that is, imparting a share of your means,
to the needy.
with such--and not mere ritualistic sacrifices.
17. Obey them that have the rule over you--(Compare
Heb 13:7, 24).
This threefold mention of the rulers is peculiar to this
Epistle. In other Epistles Paul includes the rulers in his
exhortations. But here the address is limited to the general body of
the Church, in contrast to the rulers to whom they are
charged to yield reverent submission. Now this is just what might be
expected when the apostle of the Gentiles was writing to the Palestine
Christians, among whom James and the eleven apostles had exercised a
more immediate authority. It was important he should not seem to set
himself in opposition to their guides, but rather strengthen their
hands; he claims no authority directly or indirectly over these rulers
themselves [BIRKS]. "Remember" your deceased
"Obey" your living rulers; nay, more, not only obey in cases
where no sacrifice of self is required, and where you are
persuaded they are right (so the Greek, for "obey"), but
"submit yourselves" as a matter of dutiful yielding, when
your judgment and natural will incline you in an opposite direction.
they--on their part; so the Greek. As they do their part,
so do you yours. So Paul exhorts,
1Th 5:12, 13.
watch--"are vigilant" (Greek).
for--Greek, "in behalf of."
must give account--The strongest stimulus to watchfulness
CHRYSOSTOM was deeply struck with these words, as
he tells us [On the Priesthood, 6], "The fear of this threat
continually agitates my soul."
do it--"watch for your soul's eternal salvation." It is a
perilous responsibility for a man to have to give account for others'
deeds, who is not sufficient for his own [ESTIUS,
from AQUINAS]. I wonder whether it be possible
that any of the rulers should be saved [CHRYSOSTOM]. Compare Paul's address to the elders,
where also he connects ministers' responsibility with the account to be
hereafter given (compare
with joy--at your obedience; anticipating, too, that you shall
be their "joy" in the day of giving account
not with grief--at your disobedience; apprehending also that in
the day of account you may be among the lost, instead of being their
crown of rejoicing. In giving account, the stewards are liable to blame
if aught be lost to the Master. "Mitigate their toil by every office of
attention and respect, that with alacrity, rather than with grief, they
may fulfil their duty, arduous enough in itself, even though no
unpleasantness be added on your part" [GROTIUS].
that--Grief in your pastors is unprofitable for
you, for it weakens their spiritual power; nay, more, "the
groans (so the Greek for 'grief') of other creatures are
heard; how much more of pastors!" [BENGEL]. So God
will be provoked to avenge on you their "groaning" (Greek). If
they must render God an account of their negligence, so must you for
your ingratitude to them [GROTIUS].
18. Pray for us--Paul usually requests the Church's
intercessions for him in closing his Epistles, just as he begins with
assuring them of his having them at heart in his prayers (but in this
Epistle not till
Heb 13:20, 21),
"Us," includes both himself and his companions; he passes to himself
we trust we have a good conscience--in spite of your former
jealousies, and the charges of my Jewish enemies at Jerusalem, which
have been the occasion of my imprisonment at Rome. In refutation of the
Jews' aspersions, he asserts in the same language as here his own
conscientiousness before God and man,
Ac 23:1-3; 24:16, 20, 21
(wherein he virtually implies that his reply to Ananias was not sinful
impatience; for, indeed, it was a prophecy which he was inspired at the
moment to utter, and which was fulfilled soon after).
we trust--Greek, "we are persuaded," in the oldest
manuscripts. Good conscience produces confidence, where the Holy
Spirit rules the conscience
honestly--"in a good way." The same Greek word as
"good conscience." Literally, "rightly," "becomingly."
19. the rather--Greek, "I the more abundantly
to do this--to pray for me.
that I may be restored to you--
It is here first in the letter he mentions himself, in a way so
unobtrusive, as not to prejudice his Hebrew readers against him, which
would have been the result had he commenced this as his other Epistles,
with authoritatively announcing his name and apostolic commission.
20. Concluding prayer.
God of peace--So Paul,
Ro 15:33; 16:20;
The Judaizing of the Hebrews was calculated to sow seeds of discord
among them, of disobedience to their pastors
and of alienation towards Paul. The God of peace by giving unity
of true doctrine, will unite them in mutual love.
brought again from the dead--Greek, "brought up," &c.:
God brought the Shepherd; the Shepherd shall bring the flock. Here only
in the Epistle he mentions the resurrection. He would not conclude
without mentioning 'the connecting link between the two truths mainly
discussed; the one perfect sacrifice and the continual
priestly intercession--the depth of His humiliation and the height
of His glory--the "altar" of the cross and the ascension to the
heavenly Holy of Holies.
Lord Jesus--the title marking His person and His
Lordship over us. But
"through Jesus Christ." His office, as the
Anointed of the Spirit, making Him the medium of communicating
the Spirit to us, the holy unction flowing down from the Head on the
shepherd of the sheep--A title familiar to his Hebrew readers,
from their Old Testament
Septuagint): primarily Moses, antitypically
Christ: already compared together,
The transition is natural from their earthly pastors
to the Chief Pastor, as in
and Jesus' own words,
Joh 10:2, 11, 14.
through the blood--Greek, "in," in virtue of the
it was because of His bloody death for us, that the Father raised and
crowned Him with glory. The "blood" was the seal of the everlasting
covenant entered into between the Father and Son; in virtue of the
Son's blood, first Christ was raised, then Christ's people shall be
seemingly referred to here;
everlasting--The everlastingness of the covenant
necessitated the resurrection. This clause, "the blood of the
everlasting covenant," is a summary retrospect of the Epistle (compare
21. Make you perfect--properly said of healing a rent; join
you together in perfect harmony [BENGEL].
to do his will, working in you--
rather as Greek, "doing in you." Whatever good we
do, God does in us.
well-pleasing in his sight--
through Jesus Christ--"God doing (working) in you that
. . . through Jesus Christ"
to whom--to Christ. He closes as he began
with giving glory to Christ.
22. suffer the word--The Hebrews not being the section of the
Church assigned to Paul (but the Gentiles), he uses gentle entreaty,
rather than authoritative command.
few words--compared with what might be said on so important a
subject. Few, in an Epistle which is more of a treatise
than an Epistle (compare
On the seeming inconsistency with
compare Note, see on
23. our brother Timothy--So Paul,
is set at liberty--from prison. So Aristarchus was imprisoned
with Paul. BIRKS translates, "dismissed," "sent
away," namely, on a mission to Greece, as Paul promised
However, some kind of previous detention is implied before his
being let go to Philippi. Paul, though now at large, was still
in Italy, whence he sends the salutations of Italian Christians
waiting for Timothy to join him, so as to start for Jerusalem: we know
he and Timothy were together at Ephesus after his departing from Italy
eastward. He probably left Timothy there and went to Philippi as he had
promised. Paul implies that if Timothy shall not come shortly,
he will start on his journey to the Hebrews at once.
24. all--The Scriptures are intended for all, young and
old, not merely for ministers. Compare the different classes addressed,
1Pe 3:8; 5:5.
He says here "all," for the Hebrews whom he addresses were not all in
one place, though the Jerusalem Hebrews are chiefly addressed.
They of Italy--not merely the brethren at Rome, but of other
places in Italy.
25. Paul's characteristic salutation in every one of his
other thirteen Epistles, as he says himself,
1Co 16:21, 23;
It is found in no Epistle written by any other apostle in Paul's
lifetime. It is used in
written subsequently, and in CLEMENT OF
ROME. Being known to be his badge, it is not used
by others in his lifetime. The Greek here is, "The grace
(namely, of our Lord Jesus Christ) be with you all."