Setting

The epistle of Hebrews centers on Jesus Christ and His finished work of salvation. Following his instructions on the supremacy of Jesus Christ, the author teaches his readers how faith in Jesus Christ should be part of believers’ lives. Having cited numerous examples of faith and encouraged the readers to endure in the faith, he now gives us some practical teachings on love and holiness. This final chapter on life applications of faith, followed by some final greetings, brings the epistle to a close.

Key Verse

(13:8)

Did You Know...?

1. “Some have unwittingly entertained angels” (13:2): The author probably had Abraham and Lot in mind when he wrote this (cf. Gen 18:1-8; 19:1-3).
2. “Remember the prisoners” (13:3): “In the first century prisoners were not well treated, and they depended—often even for necessities like food—on sympathizers.” [ref]
3. “The bodies of those animals…are burned outside the camp” (13:11): For the OT regulation regarding burning the bodies of sacrificial animals, see Leviticus 16:27.

Outline

  • Exhortations on Love
    (13:1-6)
  • Exhortations on Persistence of Faith
    (13:7-9)
  • Exhortations on Sacrifice
    (13:10-16)
  • Going to Jesus outside the camp
    (13:10-14)
  • Sacrifices of praise and good deeds
    (13:15-16)
  • Obedience and Intercession
    (13:17-19)
  • Doxology and Benediction
    (13:20-21)
  • Personal Epilogue
    (13:22-25)

General Analysis

Segment Analysis

  • 13:1-6

    1.

    Who are the objects of love in this paragraph?

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    Brothers (1), strangers (2), prisoners (3), spouse (4), others (5-6; we should love others by not coveting their possessions)

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  • 2a.

    Who are the “strangers” and “prisoners” in your life? (cf. Mt 25:34-40)

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  • 2b.

    Based on the exhortations in this paragraph, how should you show your love to them?

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  • 3.

    Some people justify sexual sins by saying, “as long as two people truly love each other, what is there to stop them?” What is wrong with such a rationale?

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    True love between a couple must be based on a marriage relationship. A person who is involved a in sexual relationship before marriage is disrespectful to the other person’s body and soul, and is depriving his and the other person’s future spouse of a pure and undefiled relationship. A person who commits adultery is hurting not only himself and the other person, but he is also destroying his and the other person’s spouse and children. Adultery results in hatred, divorce, broken families, and eventually, serious problems in society.
    Most importantly, committing sexual immorality is dishonoring the divine marriage institution (4). God established marriage so that we may have wholesome lives and families. Anyone who does not respect the sanctity of marriage shows contempt for God, and God will judge him accordingly.

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  • 4a.

    How do the two quotations the author cites in verses 5 and 6 reinforce the admonition against covetousness?

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    One of the reasons that people covet wealth is to have financial security. But the Bible assures us that God will always be there for us no matter where life takes us. As believers, we have no need to covet because the Lord will always provide for us. We just need to be content with what we have.

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  • 4b.

    How can the words of these quotations help you personally in other areas of your life?

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  • 13:7-9

    5.

    What two types of teachers are contrasted in this paragraph?

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    The true teachers, who speak the word of God (7) and the false teachers, who persuade with various and strange doctrines (9).

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  • 6.

    Explain the exhortation to let “the heart be established by grace, not with foods…”.

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    As believers of Jesus Christ, our confidence before God is not based on outward observance of religious regulations, such as ceremonial laws concerning foods. Rather, we are justified freely before God through His grace. We have confidence before God because our conscience has been cleansed by the atoning work of Jesus Christ (9:14; 10:22).

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  • 7a.

    What is the purpose of verse 8?

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    In verse 7, the author exhorts us to follow the faith of those who rule over us and consider the outcome of their conduct. From their examples, we can see that our Lord never fails us when we put our trust in Him. Since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, what He has done for the faithful of the past He will also do for us today. Since Jesus lives forever and He does not change, we can have confidence when we build our faith upon Him.

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  • 7b.

    How can verse 8 help you in your life right now?

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  • 13:10-16

    8.

    What “altar” do we as believers have (10)?

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    The altar here is not an altar in the physical sense. Rather, it refers to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us (cf. 12).

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  • 9.

    How does this paragraph follow the command of verse 9?

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    Verse 9 teaches believers to have their hearts established on grace rather than on foods. Whereas regulations on ceremonial foods might have had their place in the old covenant, they have now been replaced by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. This paragraph continues this thought and teaches us the new meaning of sacrifice under the new covenant. Because Jesus Christ has established a new covenant through His personal sacrifice, the sacrifices believers offer today are not material, but a heart of thanks and a life of good deeds.

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  • 10.

    What comparison is made in verses 11 and 12?

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    The sacrifice of animals in the OT and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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  • 11.

    How should you go forth to Jesus outside the camp and bear His reproach?

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    In the OT, the one who was cursed was brought outside the camp and put to death (Lev 10:1-5; 24:10-23). Thus, being brought outside the camp was a gesture of rejection. Jesus Christ was likewise rejected by His own people, and in that sense, He also suffered outside the gate. Today, if we choose to be a follower of Christ, we will also have to face rejection from unbelievers, including our families, friends, and the society at large.

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  • 12.

    What sacrifices should Christians offer to God continually through Jesus Christ? How often do you offer these sacrifices?

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    1. Praising God with our lips and giving thanks in His name (15).
    2. Doing good and sharing (16).

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  • 13:17-19

    13.

    Based on this paragraph, what are our responsibilities toward our spiritual leaders?

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    We ought to obey and submit to them (17), and we ought to pray for them (18).

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  • 14.

    What reasons does the author give for obeying and submitting to our leaders?

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  • 13:20-25

    15.

    The doxology and benediction (20-21) encompass some basic truths of the Christian faith, some of which have been discussed earlier in the epistle. Record each of these truths.

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