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Summary —A Life of Love. Purity. Regard for Rulers. Stability. Christ Our High Priest and Example. Benedictions. Closing Salutations.
1–3. Let brotherly love continue. The love which binds brethren in the church together. 2. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers. Hospitality is a duty often emphasized in the New Testament. Here it assumes the form of receiving stranger saints. Often they were driven from their homes by persecution, and the church elsewhere was wont to open its homes to them. Some have entertained angels unawares. See Gen. 18:1–3. Also Matt. 25:35. 3. Remember them that are in bonds. Another manifestation of brotherly love. The prisoners referred to are those imprisoned for Christ's sake. The Christian must enter into full sympathy with all his suffering brethren.
4–6. Marriage is honorable. Let it be held in honor, but licentiousness God will judge, even though men may tolerate it. 5. Let your conversation. Your life. Without covetousness. Without manifesting a stingy or grasping spirit. For he hath said (Josh. 1:5). With such an assurance we may well be content with what we have. 6. So that we may boldly say. The words which follow are quoted from Psalm 118:6.
7–15. Remember them that had the rule over you. As the past tense is used, the rulers named, it is thought, were dead. At the date of this epistle, James the brother of John, and “James the brother of our Lord,” both so closely connected with the Jerusalem church, had suffered martyrdom. The last named, whose martyrdom is recorded by Josephus, was put to death in a.d. 63. Whose faith follow. Imitate it. 8. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, etc. He is named as the end or object of the lives of the rulers just referred to. With them the unchangeable Christ was the all in all. Since he remains the same, he is as able to help you as he was to help them. 9. Be not carried about, etc. Suffer no false teachers to delude you. It is a good thing, etc. Though more than thirty years had passed since the church was founded the temple service still continued, though the apostle has shown that it was done away in Christ. No doubt some of the Hebrew Christians had continued to observe its ceremonials. There were even teachers who taught “divers strange doctrines” concerning the need of keeping the law. The apostle, however, enjoins that the heart be established with grace, instead of resorting to sacrificial meats which had proved profitless to make the conscience perfect. 10. We have an altar. We have no need of the temple altar for we have an altar, that on which Christ offered himself, to which those who cling to the tabernacle service have no right. Christ's altar implies the abolition of the tabernacle and the old covenant. Those who cling to these show their lack of faith in Christ. 11. The bodies of those beasts. The sacrifices slain for a sin offering on the day of atonement. This blood was carried by the high priest before the mercy seat, but the bodies were burned without the camp (Lev. 16:27), thus representing the penalty of sin. They were held to be accursed. 12. Wherefore Jesus also. In order to cleanse his people by becoming the complete atonement he was willing, as an accursed thing, a sin offering, to be led without the gate and to suffer there. 13. Let us go forth therefore unto him. Go forth from the unbelieving and rebellious camp which sent him forth to die. Let us follow him. Bearing his reproach. The reproach of the cross of Christ. 14. For here have we no continuing city. The temple itself, and Jerusalem the city of their race, were about to be destroyed. They were all pilgrims seeking a city as their fathers did (11:13–16). They should then go forth like their fathers. 15. By him. Through Christ. Let us offer the sacrifice of praise. We need no bloody victims, but let us bring the sacrifice of praise continually for our great salvation.
16–21. But. Thanksgiving is not all: there must be good deeds. Communicate. Give of our goods. Such sacrifices. These givings for God's purposes are sacrifices that please him. 17. Obey them that have the rule over you. Your elders or bishops. They watch for your souls. Give them deference on this account, and because they must give account to the Master of those committed to their trust. 18. Pray for us. Paul often makes this request. He refers to his uprightness of life perhaps because he had been arrested as an evil doer in Jerusalem. 19. I beseech you the rather for your prayers that I may be the sooner released and returned to you. Paul had been torn away from Jerusalem, and finally sent to Rome as a prisoner. The language here implies the imprisonment of the writer. 20. The God of peace, who gives us peace. That great Shepherd. Christ, “the Good Shepherd.” Through the blood of the everlasting covenant. The blood of Christ on the cross sealed the everlasting covenant of the Gospel of which the resurrection of Christ from the dead was the surety. 21. Make you perfect in every good work. By supplying what is defective. Working in you. See Phil. 2:13. God works in us by his Spirit.
22–25. Suffer the word of exhortation. Though the epistle in part is argumentative, even the argument is used to point the exhortation. Written … in a few words. Few with what might be said on such great themes. 23. Our brother Timothy is set at liberty. How intimately Timothy was associated with Paul all his epistles show. Timothy too joined him at Rome during his imprisonment. This language implies that Timothy had been arrested and afterwards set free. Of this imprisonment, or just where it occurred, there is no other history. 24. Salute all them, etc. Salute for me the elders, and saints, at Jerusalem and in Judea. They of Italy salute you. The epistle was, therefore, written from Italy, which harmonizes with Paul's long imprisonment there.
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