Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Hebrews 13:1-5

Let brotherly love continue. 2 Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.

3 Remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. 4 Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.

5 Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, “I will never leave you or abandon you.”

The Original Intent

1) In its context, who is the writer addressing from verse 1 onward?

Much like the apostle Paul does in his letters, the unnamed author of Hebrews makes a shift from the direction of his letter leading up to this point as he prepares his closing. The transition of verse 1 signals an upcoming practical exhortation to believers.

As chapter 13 begins, the writer offers final encouragement to live in such a way that honors one another. In the previous verse, he referred to his audience as participants with him in the kingdom of God. He writes, “Since we receive it … let us be thankful.” (Hebrews 12:28) He begins by speaking to them regarding brotherly and sisterly (philadelphia) love.

The Scriptures teach that all the saints are to demonstrate a familial love for one another within their spiritual relationship. What we read about in verse 1 is an affectionate love among men and women who are connected to each other through Christ, therefore are unified spiritually just as a biological family is unified by blood. (John 17:21-23)

The reference to “brotherly love” is a combination of the Greek word phileo (Biblehub.com) with the Greek word adelphos (Biblestudytools.com). In its different forms, the word adelphos occurs several times in the New Testament with a variety of meanings which can be determined by looking at the context.

Adelphoi, the plural form of the word, is used by Paul in Galatians 3:27-29 to refer to siblings in the family of God who are heirs of promise. It identifies those who are in a sacred relationship with one another in Christ. There is to be a unique ‘kindredness’ of love and honor among those who are in the family of God through Jesus Christ. (Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:20)

The Everyday Application

1) In its context, who is the writer addressing from verse 1 onward?

Since the book’s author never names himself nor specifically designates his audience, both are an uncertainty for the Bible reader. Ancient theories suggest that the original recipients were Jewish Christians, hence the title Hebrews. (Hebrews 1:1: “Long ago, God spoke to our ancestors…)

If that is so, the reader would have understood the book’s many references to the Old Testament. Becoming familiar with the biblical traditions which were previously taught helps us interpret the writer’s mindset and possible meaning. It guides us to understand God and learn what He thinks about practical living.

For instance, reading the psalmist’s reflection in Psalm 133:1 provides us insight on his perspective of unity. His expression was possibly indicative of his own experiences of the hostile existence between those who should be kindreds. (1 Kings 15:3-6) David, the author of Psalm 133, knew it was better to have unity and love rather than disharmony and dishonor.

Continually demonstrating brotherly and sisterly love toward one another is essential for us as believers. Dear GT Sister, let’s pray for God to ignite within us a deep love for all our sisters in Christ. There are women in our sphere of influence who need our genuine compassion and care. I encourage you to look around within your own church family to find them. I assure you there’s someone who needs a caring friend.

May we prayerfully look toward others with our eyes and hearts open to God’s prompting to really see them and reach out to one of them today.

The Original Intent

2) What connection does the writer make in verses 2-3?

Family ties were common in Jewish culture with a rich heritage of honor running through their bloodlines. Psalms and Proverbs give us several examples of familial ties that would have existed within God’s people. (Proverbs 1:8, Proverbs 3:11, Proverbs 12:4, Psalm 127:3-5)

The Ten Commandments given by God indicate the vital role that family plays in His covenant with them as six of the ten handle relationships between people. (Deuteronomy 5:16-21) Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21), the writer of Hebrews is making sure the reader understands the responsibility they have beyond their physical family. (verse 1) He urges them to carry their hospitality into the realm of potentially uncomfortable.

His mention of angels in verse 2 in interesting. Was the writer remembering the strangers who appeared at the door of Abraham? (Genesis 18:1-8) We learn from that Old Testament story the magnitude of extending hospitality to needy strangers! The author then mentions in verse 3 the prisoner and the outcast.

It could be tempting to gather with family and never consider the unseen suffering of those beyond those we love. Not only were they to be ready to serve those who needed hospitality, but also those who needed their remembrance. (Greek: mimnesko) This was a call to share in the suffering of others by consistently being mindful of those who were in prison or were abused (likely because of their faith).

Whether it was tangible support, prayers, or simply reminding each other of those suffering, there was to be acknowledgment and love for the “unseen”! Jesus told His followers that when they refused to help “the least of these brothers and sisters”— they were refusing to help the Lord Himself. (Matthew 25:35-45) In verses 2-3, we learn genuine love isn’t neglectful of others’ needs!

The Everyday Application

2) What connection does the writer make in verses 2-3?

Friends, as women of Jesus, we should be consistently developing a heart of love for others. Some of them sit near us each week in our local churches. But there are more!

Maybe you’ve read in your church’s ministry announcements of opportunities to love the marginalized and often disregarded. Or maybe you can open your home to someone who needs shelter. Not everyone can serve in the same capacity or give the same amount of time to community ministries or local missions’ efforts, but we can probably do something to demonstrate Jesus’ love for all.

Maybe it’s helping someone who is helping someone. Some churches offer groups who work together to minister to prisoners, widows, orphans and the poor. Women can also lead the way by joining together with other women to form teams to serve alongside one another. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11)

There are many ways we can serve “the least of these.” Careportal.org serves kids and families by connecting believers to real-time needs in their own cities. See if it’s available in your area! Likely, you also know women who are striving to love Jesus well who may live across the world from us.

Gracefully Truthful is a great resource for finding and “meeting” women from other cities, states, and nations. We would love to increase our international opportunities to love and honor women all over the world who desire to follow Jesus in deeper ways.

Join a GT POD, register to study with us, or perhaps the Lord is calling you to join our team and write with us! Maybe you can’t move across the world and serve suffering believers. But we can ALL … 1) pray, 2) give and 3) remember those who are in need.

The Original Intent

3) Why might the writer include the subject of marriage in this passage? (verse 4)

The author of Hebrews continues his teaching on love by offering instruction on how to reflect God’s image as faithful, God-honoring wives. We may feel the subject is out of place as it can seem like it has been inserted in the middle of a thought without connection to its surroundings. So, we must ask ourselves if and how it connects.

The writer explains how marriage is to be honorable and “the marriage bed kept undefiled.” (verse 4) The Greek word translated “undefiled” (amiantos) is used three other times in the New Testament, and it carries the idea of being “set apart.” (Hebrews 7:26-27)

Just as it was essential to honor one another within community, the author commands the recipients to show honor within marriage by having an exclusive sexual relationship within marriage. An honoring kind of love in marriage guards against betrayal, specifically sexual unfaithfulness.

Notice the importance of honor in marriage: ONLY in verse 4 of our passage does the verse come with a warning of God’s judgment. We don’t always know God’s will about something. But in this we do! Scripture tells us it is God’s will we abstain from sexual immorality. (1 Thessalonians 4:2-5)

God does not take lightly dishonoring the marriage vow. The word for honor (timios) used in verse 4 means precious. Marriage was to be considered as precious. It’s the word used in 1 Corinthians 3:12 regarding precious stones and in 1 Peter 1:19 in reference to the precious blood of Jesus.

Considering marriage as precious and priceless should instill in the recipients the value God placed on marital faithfulness. It was a strong command and a lesson in the significance of honoring one another in marriage in a marked way.

The Everyday Application

3) Why might the writer include the subject of marriage in this passage? (verse 4)

We have read that loving others in the right way works for the good of everyone: for the brothers and sisters in Christ, for the strangers, and for the prisoners. But in the midst of these thoughts, we also learn how to please God in marriage.

Calling people to lifelong faithfulness was as counter-cultural then as it is today. Though seemingly a random mention, I believe the writer meant to include it here to indicate its significance. My friend, if you’re a wife as I am, may we understand that honoring our marriages is good for us and for society. Malachi 2:13-15, Proverbs 14;34,  Because this is God’s original plan, He would not be just if he did not judge those who disgrace marriage and treat it with contempt. (Psalm 89:14)

Yes, all Jesus-loving women are called honor others. But Jesus-loving wives are also called to honor our marriages. Scriptures teach us that our marriages are to be set apart as precious. If you are following along with our GT theme of “She”, we are considering the intentional delight of the Lord God who formed femininity and wrapped it in strength, courage, and dignity for the purpose of reflecting the image of the Lord who made “She”.

There are so many ways “SHE” can become involved in reflecting the image of the Lord. For wives, we have one particular way we are to reflect Him, by honoring our marriages in remaining faithful to our husbands and making marriage an exclusive sexual union. Friends, please know this: if you’ve failed, there’s grace. There’s always grace. (1 John 1:9)

You can walk in forgiveness, choose faithfulness, and trust God to provide you with strength to remain faithful.

The Original Intent

4) What essential truth is expressed in verse 5 to give the believer confidence and peace in all our circumstances?

We read in the previous passage how grace and thankfulness are to be lived out, knowing the reality of the unshakeable kingdom of God. (Hebrews 12:14-29)

With this in their minds, believers are to live with one another in loving and honorable ways within 1) faith relationships (verse 1), 2) local communities (verses 2-3), and 3) marriages (verse 4). In addition to these responsibilities, the author instructs believers to rightfully consider money matters. Again, the verse may seem to be an interruption of thought until we notice the contrast from the previous verses.

The perspective of a person who follows Christ is that our love is to be given to people, not money. We are to be content with what we have because of God’s faithful presence. (verse 5) There is no reason to place priority on keeping money for our security when we have God Himself.

The author’s goal was to communicate that what matters most in the kingdom of God was the forever relationships we’re creating. Believers are to honor others by sacrificially giving to them, honor marriage by being faithful, and honor God by not being consumed with self.

Jesus also addressed money issues in ways least expected. (Luke 12:13-21) The Jewish recipients of this letter had faced plenty of adversity, and they felt the sting of abuse, prison and need. (Hebrews 10:32-34) But they are reminded that God had made a promise to them just as He had to Moses (Deuteronomy 31:6) and to Joshua (Joshua 1:5).

This isn’t as much about money as it is about WHO God is. He is the believer’s confidence and contentment as He was the apostle Paul’s. (Philippians 4:11-13) They could graciously serve others, even if they had to sacrifice their own possessions.

The Everyday Application

4) What essential truth is expressed in verse 5 to give the believer confidence and peace in all our circumstances?

It is in the DNA of humanity to worry. (Matthew 6:19-34) But when we worry, it’s a sign that we believe something can go permanently wrong. So, we begin to make plans to save and gather all the things for ourselves to be “secure”. But, Sister, we don’t need to do this!

What a wonderful promise we read, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or abandon you.’” He Himself. That’s the Lord God of all creation. Even though this is probably a reference to Deuteronomy 31:6, God’s never-forsaking presence is a prevalent promise found throughout the Bible.

Long before Jesus promised His disciples His presence (Matthew 28:19-20), God promised to be with His people. The Old Testament believers were assured of God’s presence with them. The psalmist often declared the Lord’s nearness to him in days of distress or trouble. The prophet Isaiah spoke God’s promise to the people when he told them the Lord would give a sign of a baby born of a virgin whose name would be Emmanuel, meaning God with us.

One day, all true believers will be with the Lord forever and ever! (Genesis 28:15, Psalm 46, Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:21-23, and Revelation 21:3) So, my Friend, the end of verse 5 is really the key to obeying the rest of the instructions in this passage. We can love others and we can honor our marriages because God is faithful!

“Now, trusting anyone is risky. But the biblical story portrays a God who has been faithful all along and whose promises were fulfilled in the story of Jesus. And so, as we look out at the obstacles facing us and our world, we’re invited to take that same risk and join Abraham, David, and the people of God in trusting that God is overflowing with faithfulness.” (bibleproject.com)

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