NKJV Study Notes by Bob Caldwell
Concluding Moral Directions
v. 1 Let Brotherly Love - This statement begins a series of short exhortations and closing comments by the author. His first admonition reaffirms the centrality of love for one another. This call to love was referred to by Jesus as the "new commandment" that more than anything else should typify His disciples.
v. 2 Entertain Strangers - The call to show love to fellow believers should also extend to those who are strangers. This would include those traveling, those who were poor, and those that were fleeing persecution.
Entertain Angels - This refers back to events recorded in Genesis 18:3 and Genesis 19:2 where Abraham and Lot are referred to as serving food and giving lodging to strangers who turned out to be angels. The motivation here is obviously to encourage them to treat all strangers as special.
v. 3 Remember the Prisoners - Several Christians had been imprisoned because of their faith in Jesus Christ during the time of the writing of this letter. To remember them would include prayer for them, working towards their release, visiting them and caring for the family members of the imprisoned Christians.
v. 4 The Bed Undefiled - Marriage is proclaimed as an honorable relationship before God and the sexual intimacy within marriage is to be held as pure and right before God. This seems to be directed towards a common, but false notion, that sensuality is in and of itself defiling to a truly spiritual life. This form of asceticism is removed by declaring that sensuality expressed within God's ordained boundaries is pure.
Fornicators - There are several different words relating to sexual sin. This one is pornos (Gk.) and comes from the root word piprasko which is to sell, thus referring to various forms of involvement with prostitution. Other words usually translated into English as fornication include porneia (Gk.) which is a general term for any sexual sin, and porneuo (Gk.) is to act as a harlot or lust towards either sex.
Adulterers - This refers to the specific sexual sin of a married person having sexual intercourse with someone other then their spouse.
God Will Judge - The sexual lives of these early believers would have been in many instances strongly influenced by the Roman culture that found just about any sexual behavior as acceptable. This is why the writer seems to feel it necessary to remind the believers that they will be held accountable for their sexual lives as much as they will for the other areas of practical life that are referred to in chapter 13. This judgment would be at the judgment seat of Christ where we are told believers will be judged for their faithfulness to God's Word and Will. Their lives will be judged "as by fire" and only the things that are specifically of value, in God's eye, "gold and silver" will remain as a point of reward and glory to their Savior Jesus Christ (Rom. 14:10, 1 Cor. 3:11 - 15, 2 Cor. 5:10). The nonbeliever's judgment is referred to as the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11 - 15).
v. 5 Without Covetousness - Having addressed the proper direction of sexuality, there is now a call to not allow the desire for the temporary pleasure of material things to rob a person of the joy found in contentment with their present circumstances. Because many of these Hebrew Christians had lost much of their material possessions through persecution.
Never Leave You - The basis for their contentment is in the commitment of God to remain involved in their lives forever (Rom. 8:31 - 39).
v. 6 I Will Not Fear - Quoting from the Old Testament, they are shown that there is no real reason to fear what their foes will do because God is able to help as needed to counter the attacks of their enemies.
v. 7 Those Who Rule - The authority of those who spiritually led these believers was based upon the Word of God and their lives that revealed the fruit of obedience to the Word of God. These leaders were to be role models that the believers should look to as examples for their own actions.
v. 8 Jesus Christ Is the Same - Jesus is declared to be essentially and eternally the same as God, who is eternally perfect.
Heart Be Established By Grace - The assurance that a person can be acceptable before God is to be maintained solely on the basis of the doctrine of God's grace that is fully realized in Jesus Christ. This truth is in contrast to the endless man - made doctrines that place the grounds of God's acceptance upon personal merit. The grace of God, the unmerited favor of God, gives a person the gift of righteousness before God by humbly accepting the sacrifice of Christ as a just payment for humanity's sin. It is this same grace that becomes the means of receiving and living out God's will in the Christian life (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 12:9; Eph. 1:7, 2:8, 4:7).
v. 10 We Have An Altar - This would refer to the altar in the "true sanctuary" not made with hands earlier referred to in 8:1 - 2.
Not Right To Eat - Because those who serve the earthly tabernacle do not come to God through the sacrifice of Christ they have no right to enjoy fellowship, etc. in the true tabernacle not made with hands.
v. 11 Burned Outside the Camp - This refers to sacrifices that were not to be eaten by those making the offering or the priests. This most likely refers to the bodies of the sacrificial animals from whom the blood was taken to ceremonially cleanse and sanctify the people on the Day of Atonement.
v. 12 Therefore Jesus Also - Jesus Christ was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, on the hill called Calvary (Latin). This is shown to be a fulfillment of the events referred to in verses 10 - 11.
v. 13 Bearing His Reproach - The believers are encouraged to see any criticism they are presently experiencing because of their identification with Christ as sharing in the "sufferings of Christ."
v. 14 No Continuing City - The believers need to see themselves as living outside the realm of this fallen world. They belong to heaven.
v. 15 Therefore By Him - Based upon what Jesus has done for us (v. 12), we are called to lift up worship and praise with grateful hearts. This praise is to be offered in and by what Jesus has done for us by the work of the cross, not our own merit.
Continually Offer - The sacrifice that the believers offer now would not provide cleansing from sin, but praise for the finished work of salvation we have received by faith in Jesus Christ.
v. 16 Do Good And Share - God is well pleased with acts of love directed towards others.
v. 17 Obey Those Who Rule - To obey with submission refers to a heart condition that willingly defers to the guidance of spiritual leaders rather than an attitude that may outwardly obey but does so with a rebellious, grumbling heart.
They Watch Out For - The prophets in the Old Testament were sometimes called watchmen (Jer. 6:17; Eze. 3:17, 33:1). In ancient times, watchmen were like modern policeman on patrol. They looked for anything that may threaten or endanger the people in the city. The spiritual leadership was called to do the same. When a leader saw a situation or person that could bring harm, he was to warn the believers under his care.
Must Give Account - The responsibility of a spiritual leader is to warn believers of any danger that may harm their progress in God's will. They are also responsible to lead believers in a path that will produce success in their journey towards God's temporal and eternal best for their lives. Each spiritual leader must keep this responsibility in light of being accountable to the Chief Shepherd of their souls, Jesus Christ.
Pray For Us - Prayer for those who minister to us is vital. God has ordained the relationship between all believers to be interdependent and supported by praying for one another.
v. 18 Good Conscience - It was not God's hand of discipline that kept the writer of this letter from coming to the church himself. Those who received the letter were not to view his troubles as justification for questioning his legitimate spiritual authority.
v. 19 Especially Urge - This shows the vital link between prayer and the outworking of our lives in the will of God. God's providential sovereignty over the affairs of this world doesn't remove His ordained will that prayer be part of how His will is accomplished.
v. 20 May the God - This verse lists some of the foundational truths about God that make the expectation of verse 21 possible. He reminds them that God brings His peace, His power, His new covenant by Christ's sacrifice, and the watchful care of their lives by their awesome Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
v. 21 Make You Complete - Because of who God is and what He does, the writer is confident that their lives can become whole and complete by the inner work that God does within the believer.
To Whom By Glory - Jesus Christ alone, as the source of the believer's victory over sin, deserves the credit and the glory.
v. 22 Bear With the Word - The writer knows that if these people do not carry these exhortations within their hearts, there will be no spiritual benefit to them.
Few Words - This is stated in light of how important and deep each area has been. There remains a great depth of truth to be discovered.
v. 23 Our Brother Timothy - This reference makes it appear that Paul was the unidentified author of this letter since Paul and Timothy had worked so closely.
v. 24 Those From Italy - Some of those who were in fellowship with the writer of this letter were from Italy. Because they are singled out to greet those who received this letter, it may be concluded the letter was sent to a church in Italy, most likely in Rome.
v. 25 Grace Be With You - This is a common greeting or ending in New Testament writing. However, it should not be treated as an empty formality. It is a statement at the root of all the believer holds dear in his relationship with God. Grace, or God's unmerited favor and blessing, is the source of our salvation, our Christian calling, the power of the Holy Spirit, and our eternal destiny.