Exposition of Hebrews 13:4


Only those who hold to the faith in Christ Jesus have a reason for holding to the sanctity and honorableness of Marriage. Our faith in God is a faith in the “Creator” of heaven and earth. Those who do not worship the Creator must needs worship the creature. (Rom. 1:25) These change the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, birds, four-footed beasts and creeping things. They do not hold to marriage as an institution of God as it was from the beginning. (Matthew 19:8) It is the Christian who finds his rock-bottom joy in knowing that God in Christ always speaks concerning what was “from the beginning.” (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-3) That lays the foundations bare, the very foundations of God’s primordial ordinances in creation and in re-creation.

How honorable marriage is, is proven by the very contrasts which we see in all those who do not see that Christ has come to sanctify the institution of marriage and to make it a “mystery” of the basic relationship of Himself and the church which He has come to cleanse and make pure in His own blood, and to present her spotless to the Lord in the reconstitution of all things. (Ephesians 5:22-33) The less men live in the faith that “God was manifested in the flesh” (I Timothy 4:1-3) the more they will seek to find the solution to all the problems of sin connected with marriage and our earthly existence in “forbidding marriage”. Unless we see that marriage is of the Lord Himself, we shall never see the truth that marriage is honorable in all. Marriage, too, will seem like something which defiles the conscience. It will then be no different from the life of adultery. Fact is, that if the one, to wit, marriage defiles the conscience, and adultery defiles the conscience—then there is but one alternative left. It is to live the life of the ascetic which is then more holy than wedlock. But that is trying to be wiser than God. He has given to sinful man, also his sinful saints, an area where he can live honorably before God and man. No man thinks it dishonorable for a man to live chastely with the wife of his choosing, be she the wife of his youth or of his advanced years. And children, born in wedlock, have a deep sense of comfort that their parents are united in holy wedlock—till death do them part. And the child which is received into a family, where the parents are married, feels that he is now in a protected sphere where the Lord’s blessing rests upon him.

Do not forget that marriage is honorable in “all”. For “all” that is included in marriage, all the aspects and relationships of marriage are “in the Lord”. Yea, even the bed upon which the children are conceived, is honorable. That bed is so honorable that when another comes to this bed to lie with a man’s wile, then and then only is that bed “defiled.” Thus Jacob says in Genesis 49:3, 4: “Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defilest thou it: he wentest up to my couch.” Oh, the sanctity of the bed of wedlock even if it is but a “concubine wife” as was Bilhah, Rachel’s maid. Oh, the deep wound in Jacob’s soul for this; we hear it in the brief statement in Genesis 35:22, “and Israel heard it.” Even though Reuben was his “firstborn” son, he “heard it.” It passed deeply into his soul, a wound and a scar that will not heal. Reuben is forever in dishonor. He desecrated the sanctity of the “bed which was undefiled”. No doubt, Bilhah too is a desecrated woman. We do well to remind ourselves here of the words of the Proverbs of Solomon, “Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; but if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonor shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore will he not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard his ransom: neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.” (Proverbs 6:30-35


There is here a rather sharp contrast drawn between those who walk in the honorableness of marriage and those who walk in fornication and adultery. The term in the Greek for “whoremongers” is pournous, from which derives the term “pornography”, a description of “whores,” a glorification of whoredom. The Dutch translates this term as hoereerders, that is, giving honor to whores. One who gives his honor to such women has lost his honor and falls under the just judgment of God. In the Greek the term pornos is a fornicator, a male prostitute in all the forms of it. It is one who has a Caramite, a boy kept for the purpose of sexual perversion. Here we must refer the reader to the vivid and composite description which Paul gives of those who are given over by means of their sinful lust to all uncleanness in order that they may dishonor their bodies between themselves. (Rom. 1:24) These were they who changed the truth of God into the lie, and who worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen. Basically, pornography is here analyzed for what it is in its deepest essence, and the Word of God here is very sharp as a two-edged sword, dividing asunder even the marrow and bones, and is a searcher of the intents of our hearts. (Hebrews 4:12) The text also speaks of “adultery!” This is the sin against the holy bond of matrimony by bringing in another party, which alters the situation. It really breaks the sacred bond; it is a direct defiling of the bed which is “undefiled” as such. This is the only ground for divorce. It is really the most horrible aspect of the sin against the seventh commandment which warns against and forbids all uncleanness as being accursed of God. (H.C. Question 108) Now whoremongers and adulterers are placed in one class in the text. There is really no essential difference between these two; both dishonor the sanctity and holiness of God as this is expressed in the honorableness of marriage, as instituted by God. Neither has God in all his thoughts. They worship the creature rather than the Creator!

But God is not mocked. God will judge (krinei) such. This judgment of God may be to the final condemnation in hell. We read in Rev. 22:15, “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” That will be the judgment of God upon whoremongers and adulterers, who are not brought to repentance by grace. Paul says repeatedly concerning whoremongers and adulterers that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19-21; Col. 3:5, 6; Eph. 5:5)That is the way in which God will judge such sinners. He gives to each one according to his works. But God will also judge such sinners in this life. A life of whoredom entails untold (and told) woe for those who are enslaved in it. Think of the physical sicknesses which are the reward of the whoremonger. Ask the doctors and nurses in our hospitals. It is all the “due reward” for the uncleanness of lusts in which God delivers the wicked. This is God’s legal “retribution meted out to apostasy” from the living God for all sexual vice. It is God’s judicial infliction of His justice upon sin. Men got caught. in the snares of sin, but fell under the awful judgments of God. Thus we see women leaving the natural use to do what is against nature (Lesbianism) and men with men committing worse than bestial sodomy. (Today this is simply called: homosexualism.) And many an insane asylum is filled with those who would try to flee from the wrath of God upon their bestial sins. When man tries to drown out these fears and terrifying accusations of his conscience, he tries to find relief in drinking, and he becomes a drunkard. He had no sanity and sobriety before this. Then to save his face he calls this drunkenness with the euphemism: alcoholism. He saves neither his face nor his soul before the living God into Whose hands it is terrible to fall. For He is a consuming fire.

Now this is written for our warning, lest we should walk in these sins. It is good that our young people, too, be warned as well as our married fathers and mothers, yes, even those who are past the threescore-year span of their life. It is good to remember that the bed which is “undefiled” be, even kept so. God hates all uncleanness both inside and outside of wedlock. This is not some Calvinistic-Puritanic ethics and social strictures, but such is the word of God as written by Paul in I Thess. 4:3-8, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth (this), despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given us his Holy Spirit.” Let us then work out also the good work of our marriage with fear and trembling. We must also here perfect sanctification in the fear of God. (II Cor. 7:1)

The Hebrews evidently needed this warning from the writer. They had been told that they were come to Mount Sion, the city of the living God. They were no longer under the terrible darkness, tempest of Sinai before which even Moses exceedingly feared and trembled. Now they hear the law as a rule for their life of thankfulness; however, they hear it read to them by the minister in quiet prose, without this thunder of Sinai. They are under the blood of sprinkling. Now they must also walk as such who are under this blood of the covenant, who have their consciences purified from dead works to serve the living God in spirit and in truth. They must cease from such sins, as did evidently the Samaritan woman who was told of her sin in one short sentence “Go call thy husband.” She had no husband. She was walking in adultery. Now she sees her sin and says, “Come see a man that told me all I ever did!” The woman taken in adultery is told, “Go and sin no more”. And that is what the Hebrew Christians, too, are told. And we are told this here by the writer. God will judge fornicators, whoremongers, and adulterers. Depart from wickedness. Arise, thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light. Ye were darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.