Sunday: Hebrews 13:1, 2
Verse 1: As he moves toward closing his letter the author speaks bluntly to his readers about several areas of personal holiness where too many believers were falling short. The first area he addresses is “brotherly love” (philadelphia). He says, “let it remain,” meaning don’t allow your practical care of one another to erode. Verse 2: In particular, one area of brotherly love which was being forgotten was “hospitality.” The Greek word literally means “love of strangers” which would certainly include welcoming traveling apostles and evangelists into their homes since few inns were available in ancient times. But in light of the type of persecution many were experiencing at that time (Heb 10:32-34) the “strangers” he was encouraging them to welcome must have also included homeless believers. As we saw earlier many had been ostracized from their families or lost their homes and property (Ac 2:44-46; 4:33-37; 6:1; 1Ti 5:3). In the early years following Pentecost there had been a strong sense of responsibility to care for one another, but apparently the practice of “koinonia” had begun to wane.
Monday: Hebrews 13:2
Verse 2 (continued): As a way of motivating his readers to restore this practice the author reminds them that “some have entertained angels without knowing it” referring, most likely, to the unexpected arrival of the Lord and two angels at Abraham’s tent in Hebron (Ge 18:1-18) and later of the angels’ encounter with Lot in Sodom (Ge 19:1-3). Such surprise encounters served to test people, exposing their attitude toward God Himself. Furthermore, Jesus taught His disciples that He would observe how they were treated when in need (Mt 25:31-46). He said He would consider their reception or rejection as equal to someone receiving or rejecting Him personally. So those who care for His followers do even more than care for angels. They minister to the Lord Himself: “…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” (Mt 25:35).
Tuesday: Hebrews 13:3
Verse 3: Next, the author tells his readers to “continually remind yourselves of the prisoners” by thinking of themselves as “having been bound with them.” In other words, when a fellow-believer is arrested we should be as concerned for them as if we were in jail with them. He also described these prisoners as “the ones being evilly treated” referring to the tortures and deprivations which frequently occurred in such jails. Believers who still had their liberty should remember that they too were “in the body” and might someday suffer the same hardships. With this in mind they ought to care for their imprisoned brothers and sisters just as they would wish to be cared for if they were the ones in prison. Such care would certainly include visiting them and bringing blankets, food, clean clothes and of course, prayer. Again Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 come to mind, “(I was) naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you
visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” (Mt 25:36).
Wednesday: Hebrews 13:4
Verse 4: The second area of personal holiness where too many believers were falling short was sexual sin. He tells his readers they must maintain a deep respect for the covenant of marriage. This certainly means no one should violate a marriage by sleeping with someone else’s spouse, but it also means no one should encourage a person to divorce so he or she can marry that person afterward. A marriage vow is to be honored in all situations and the marriage bed is to be undefiled (lit: “unstained”) by people who aren’t married having sex there. Then he adds a warning in case anyone might think God won’t bother to judge such sin: “…for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (1Co 6:9, 10, 15-20; 1Th 4:3-8; for definition of “vessel” see 1Sa 21:4, 5). Where possible God will first apply discipline in order to press a person to repent (1Co 5:5), but if repentance does not come this behavior will lead to being disqualified from going to heaven (1Co 6:9, 10; 2Co 12:21; Gal 5:19-21).
Thursday: Hebrews 13:5
Verse 5: The third area of personal holiness where too many believers were falling short was the love of money. Their lives revealed a pattern of pursuing or clinging to wealth rather than being satisfied with what they had. These words certainly apply to anyone who ambitiously seeks to become wealthy, but given the loss of wealth many were experiencing because of persecution (Heb 10:34) the author’s foremost concern may be to encourage them to be content in their impoverished condition. In other words, he may be saying, “Don’t let your financial losses cause you to regret following Jesus, nor the prospect of future financial loss keep you from pursuing Him.” Jesus had made it plain to His disciples that He and wealth were two very different masters, headed in two very different directions and that it is impossible to serve Him and pursue money at the same time (Mt 6:24). Yet, He also went on to assure them that serving Him would not lead to destitution because God will miraculously provide for them (Mt 6:25-33).
Friday: Hebrews 13:5, 6
Verses 5, 6: It is this truth to which the author is pointing when he reminds his readers of Moses’ words to Israel as they prepared to enter the promised land, “He will not forsake you, nor desert you” (Dt 31:6; Jos 1:5). Like ancient Israel, these followers of Jesus were facing some fierce battles, yet the God who had cared so faithfully for their ancestors would just as faithfully care for them as well. This is why they could face the future with bold confidence. To reinforce his words he adds a quotation from Psalm 118:6, “The Lord is my helper (Greek: one who comes running when I cry for help) I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” This psalm pictures someone whom God has already delivered from a severe attack telling others how God saved him or her. It speaks of being violently assaulted and yet of being delivered because God intervened to rescue. It concludes with a glorious description of the Messiah entering the Temple to offer thanks for the supreme authority God has given Him over His enemies (Ps 118:19-29). Surely the author wanted his readers to remember all of Psalm 118, but by quoting verse six he focuses them on the main point of the psalm which is to tell believers to not be afraid because God is greater than those who attack them.
Saturday: Hebrews 13:7
Verse 7: This letter was apparently written during the mid to late AD 60s, just before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (AD 70), so most of the original disciples of Jesus had already gone to be with the Lord. Yet, there must have been many believers scattered throughout the churches who remembered them and may even have been converted by their preaching. So when the author says, “remember those who led you” he almost certainly meant the leaders of the early church. In fact, he has already pointed to those apostolic leaders in chapter two, verse three when he reminded his readers that after the gospel they had received “was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard.” In other words, “Jesus taught the gospel to His disciples and they taught it to us.” Then in the next verse (Heb 2:4) he goes on to say, “God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit…,” meaning “many of us saw with our own eyes God confirm what they preached by doing miracles and sending the gifts of the Spirit.” He wants his leaders to recognize the impact of those apostolic lives. The way they lived and ministered produced great spiritual results and therefore should be looked to as a model for later generations. He says, “imitate their faith,” which means pattern your own lives after theirs. Their faith made them bold and caused them to move in the power of the Holy Spirit and made them willing to suffer and die for Christ.