The writer starts his conclusion with some rules which are in the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). He also has some requests.
My translation and notes of Hebrews 13:1-19
Hebrews Chapter 13
Various Rules and Requests
1 Let brotherly love continue.
[This love already existed; the writer reminded all readers to continue. The Greek word for ‘brotherly love’ is φιλαδελφία philadelphía (G5360). It means to love with family loyalty. Love is a choice. The actions of love are found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. It is characterized by a love that esteems (finds value in and holds a favorable opinion) others greater than ourselves (Romans 12:10). It is something God teaches us (1 Thessalonians 4:9). God showed love to us when He cleansed our hearts from sin, so we are now to show love to our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Peter 1:22). This love is genuine, not faked. Since God has given us new birth though faith alone in Christ alone, we are now to exercise that faith and become stronger in it. God’s gives us the strength to do so. These ‘exercises’ are found in 2 Peter 1:3-8)].
2 Do not forget to be hospitable to strangers, because in doing so some have unknowingly been hospitable to angels.
[Not just anyone, but to brothers and sisters known perhaps only by name who come for fellowship and a safe place to sleep].
3 Remember those who are in prison, as though youp were in prison with them. [Remember] those who are mistreated, as though yourp body is being [mistreated] also.
[These are believers who are in prison for the faith. It is not only in prayer support (as for Peter in Acts 12:6-16), but as often the case to bring needed supplies (as for Paul in Acts 24:23 and Acts 28:)].
4 Let marriage be honored by all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
[If believers wish to marry, it is not sin. If they marry, they are under the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). Sexual purity is the only norm for Christians].
5 Let yourp conduct be without covetousness. Be satisfied with what youp have, because he has said, “I will never leave yous, nor forsake yous.”
[Quotes are from Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, and 1 Chronicles 28:20. ‘Conduct’ is our character and lifestyle. The Greek word for covetousness is ἀφιλάργυρος aphilárgyros (G866). It means to love money, riches, and goods. People love money because it can bring influence, power, admiration, and lots of stuff. It becomes a god and a violation of God’s law. See Exodus 20:17, Romans 13:8-9, Colossians 3:5-6, and Luke 12:13-15. Being content with what we have is important to keep us from covetousness. If there is lack, God does provide our needs if it is His will. If not His will, there He will be with us regardless of our condition. He does not forsake us. Joseph Benson (COMMENTARY ON THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS) writes on this verse: Endeavour to bring your mind down to your circumstances, be they what they may. “The apostle did not mean by this to preclude the Hebrews, or any person, from using lawful means for bettering their circumstances; but that, having used such means, they were to be contented, although God did not make them successful.” For he — Rather, he himself, namely, God, who hath all the stores of nature at his command, and who owns the relation of a Father to us; hath said — To all believers, in saying it to Jacob, Joshua, and Solomon, (see the margin,) I will never leave thee nor forsake thee — The many negative particles, and their position in the original, render this passage extremely emphatical and beautiful. Doddridge renders it, I will not, I will not leave thee; I will never, never, never forsake thee; words from which all God’s people (his love to them being the same in all ages) may take a just encouragement in all the difficulties to which they may be exposed].
6 So then, we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper,” and “I will not be afraid of what anyone will do to me.”
[See Psalm 37:25, Psalm 27:1, and Psalm 118:6-7. Fear can be banished when blessed by God’s love].
7 Remember those leading youp, who spoke the word of God to youp. Imitate their faith. Carefully think about the outcome of their way of life.
[This is referring to the leaders at the time of the Hebrews writer ‘who spoke the word of God to you. Yet it can be applied to the leaders we have today. There are many false teachers and prophets who are ‘leaders’ but are very dangerous. There are two conditions here. First, is their teaching of the Scriptures in its plain, normal sense (2 Timothy 2:15). This is important because God communicates perfectly. If the passage is to be understood allegorically or symbolically, then it will be clear by the context. Second is their way of life. Does their worldview, lifestyle, words, and deeds align with the Law of Christ in public and private? Our authority is Christ, and Christ’s standard of truth and life is His Scriptures. It is OK to question authority. Consider these verses on corrupt leaders in the church/temple (Jeremiah 23:1-5, Isaiah 9:16, Ezekiel 34:2, and Malachi 2:7-8. In Matthew 5:19, the Lord Jesus is teaching the people about leadership. A teacher who teaches error is the least in the kingdom. Paul also warns of false teachers (1 Timothy 6:3-6, Acts 20:29-31, Romans 16:17-18, and Ephesians 4:14. All believers, teachers, pastors, and leaders included, are under the authority of Galatians 6:1. Peter reminds all (1 Peter 5:3), not to lord it over the people, so no toxicity, bullying, verbal (and other) abuse, stealing, corrupting, lying, etc.].
8 Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever!
[God’s character, worldview, lifestyle, and principles of His decisions never have changed, can changed, or will change. His doctrine, His love, His mercy towards those who trust Him is constant. God changes things, but He does not change. Compare Hebrews 1:12 and Psalm 33:11].
9 Do not be carried away with various and strange teachings. For [it is] a good thing that the heart be stabilized by grace, not with foods that have not benefited those who follow [those rules].
[The people to whom this letter is written were aware of false teachings in the church. The Hebrews writer then proceeds to correct it. Strange teachings as a lack of holiness (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), aberrant doctrines (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 1 Timothy 4:1-2, 1 Timothy 6:3, 2 Peter 2:1-3, and Isaiah 5:20), or false Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). The standard for Christians is the New Testament. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Grace is a gift given to us who believe. It is a gift because of God’s love, kindness, and compassion. It is not something we deserve or earn. ‘Foods’ stands for the regulations of the Law that are required to live rightly in God’s presence, which no one can live sinlessly (except Christ). Our hearts can be firm, enduring, steadfast, and faithful to the end because of God’s enabling grace. We cannot do something; we receive something. God give us this grace. See Acts 4:29, 2 Peter 3:18, Psalm 84:11, Hebrews 4:16, Ephesians 2:7, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 12:28, John 1:16, and 1 Timothy 1:14].
10 We have an altar from which those serving The Tabernacle have no right to eat.
[Our altar is our remembrance of His death until He returns—the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The Lord Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Tabernacle is served by priests who do not or have not placed their faith in their Messiah—Jesus Christ].
11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the Holy Place by the High Priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.
[Leviticus 16 gives the instructions for the Day of Atonement. Day of Atonement (Hebrew יוֹם הכִּפּוּרִים, Yom ha-Kippurim) or as usually spelled (Yom Kippur). It is a day of mourning and confessing one’s sins. This is the summary, so please read Leviticus 16 for yourself:
Aaron enters the Holy Place with a young bull and a ram. The bull is for the sin offering, and the ram is for a burnt offering. Then, he bathed in water. Next, he needed to dress in his holy linen tunic with linen undergarments next to his body, secure the linen sash, and put on the linen turban. Then, from the community of Israel, he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. After that, he takes the two goats and presents them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. He casts lots on the goats. One goat is for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. At that time, he was ready to sacrifice the bull in the Holy Place to atone for his and his family’s sin. Next, he takes a censer with coals from the altar and places two handfuls of incense. Then, he enters the Holy of Holies on the other side of the curtain. The incense makes smoke so to conceal the mercy seat on the ark. Taking some of his bull’s blood on his finger, he sprinkles this blood seven times in front of the mercy seat. He leaves the Holy of Holies for the Holy Place where he slaughters the goat that was chosen by lot for the Lord, takes its blood into the Holy of Holies behind the curtain, and sprinkles that blood seven times for atonement for the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites. While doing these steps, no one is in the Tent of Meeting except him. Taking the live goat, he lays both hands on the goat’s head and confesses the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites and afterward sends this goat (in the care of a man) into the wilderness to never return. Then, he takes a bath with water and puts on his regular clothes. He takes the ram for his own sin and the ram of the people and offers the burnt sacrifice for himself and the people. The fat of the sin offering is burned on the altar. The complete bull and goat from which the blood was brought into the Holy of Holies is then carried out of the camp and burned. The people were then sanctified].
12 For this reason, Jesus also, so he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.
13 Therefore, let us go out to him, outside the camp, and sharing his reproach.
[We identify with Christ. See Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:3, Romans 6:6, and 1 Peter 1:2. A comment from the Pulpit Commentary: By a happy turn of thought Christ’s having suffered without the gate is viewed as representing his exclusion from the Jewish Church and polity, outside which we are now to follow him, though we with him be reproached by the Jews as outcasts. There may be a tacit reference, such as Bengel sees in the word φέροντες, to our bearing our cross after him].
14 We have no permanent city here, but we are looking for one to come.
[Robertson (WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT) notes here: Jerusalem has lost its charm for followers of Christ. Vincent rightly argues that the Epistle must have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem else a reference to that event could hardly have been avoided here. We are now where Abraham was once (Hebrews 11:10). Compare Hebrews 11:10, Hebrews 12:22, and Revelation 21:2 which speak of the heavenly, permanent Jerusalem where God lives].
15 Therefore, through him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of [our] lips confessing [this] to his name.
[The Law of Christ has no sacrifices of materials as animals, food, or drink. Our sacrifices are praising God, our bodies (and minds) to live and serve Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2), gifts to assist other Christians (Philippians 4:18), and serving God in various ways (Philippians 2:17). The Greek word for ‘confessing’ is ὁμολογέω homologéō (G3670). It means agreeing and saying the same thing. It can mean ‘confess’ as when asked if I believe Jesus is the Messiah, I respond, “Yes, I believe Jesus is the Messiah].”
16 Do not forget to do good and share, because with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
17 Be persuadable by those who lead youp and yield yourselvesp, because they watch over yourp souls as those who must give an account [and] so that they may do it with joy and not grieving, because that would not be profitable for youp.
[See note at Hebrews 13:7. The Greek word for ‘account’ is (G3056) λόγος logos. It means an answer or explanation in reference to judgment—Thayer. Being a pastor or religious leader has accountability to God regarding doctrine, worldview, lifestyle, and actions. The Greek word for ‘rule’ (KJV) and ‘lead’ is ἡγέομαι hēgéomai (G2233). It means being in front leading the way being deliberate and careful. God’s style of leadership is as a shepherd, not a toxic controlling bully. Compare the good (Paul—Acts 20:26-27; Epaphras—Colossians 1:7; Demetrius—3 John 1:12 with the evil (Diotrephes—3 John 1:9; Judas Iscariot—Acts 1:18). 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus give the qualifications and duties of an elder].
18 Pray for us, because we are confident that we have a good conscience and are always wanting to live doing what is right.
[The writer and his companions are confident, not arrogant, that they are teaching and living as pastors according to God’s standards. Our conscience can be at peace for it has been cleansed by the blood of Christ and their faith in Jesus alone. Christians are mindful of our failures, so we pray often to be forgiven our daily sins (1 John 1:9, Mark 11:25, and Luke 11:4). Concerning the conscience, compare Hebrews 9:9, Hebrews 9:14, and Hebrews 10:22. Note, how he asks prayers to continue to live doing what is right—according to God’s standards (Colossians 3:5-10, 2 Corinthians 6:17, and 1 Peter 2:11-2)].
19 I beg [youp] even more to do this, so that I may be quickly restored to youp.