The writer to the Hebrews now has a few parting words for the Hebrews in connection with his letter, or perhaps doctrinal teaching with fit and necessary exhortations. Now that he has written all that which is contained in this letter there is but one thing left. This letter must be “received,” it must be read, digested, and the “word of exhortation” must be followed up by a conformable conduct and life. They must not be “carried about by divers and strange doctrines.” (Heb. 13:9) So the writer appeals to the brethren in this final word of exhortation to receive this entire letter which he characterizes as a “word of exhortation.”
AN APPEAL TO THE BRETHREN TO RECEIVE THE WORD OF EXHORTATION (Hebrews 13:22)
The Hebrews are not only addressed as brethren, but each time that the writer would make special appeal to the sanctified consciences of these saints, he calls them “brethren.” This means that the Word of God here comes to the very people of God whom Jesus is not ashamed to call brethren. He views them in their connection with Christ, Who has sanctified them, for both Christ, who is the sanctifier, and the congregation which is sanctified by Christ, are all out of one father, Adam. (Hebrews 2:10, 11) The Hebrews belong to the “many sons” which the eternal God brings to glory through the sufferings of Christ and His sitting at God’s right hand. These Hebrews are not merely brethren of one another and of the writer, but they are brethren of the Lord and of the entire church. In the midst of the congregation Christ will praise the Lord. (Hebrews 2:12;Psalm 22:23) Hence, there is a mighty appeal in the term “brethren.” Compare: Hebrews 3:1 where the Hebrews are called “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling.” Only as such partakers can they consider the Apostle and High Priest of their profession, Jesus Christ. This puts the usage of the term “brethren” in a special light in such passages as Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 10:19;Hebrews 13:22.
The readers are asked to receive, as brethren, the word of exhortation. This is really an exhortation which appeals to the new relationship in Christ. Thus inPhilippians 2:1, 2 a very special appeal is made to the “consolation in Christ, fellowship of the Spirit, comfort of love and bowels and mercies.” Here is an appeal to the new man in Christ Jesus. Here is the only “point of contact” for the exhortations in Christ Jesus. If one cannot appeal here he has nothing to which to lay hold on in the sanctified conscience. Then either the word is altogether rejected, or it is not received because the flesh prevails, and men do not put off all malice, envy, evil speaking, hypocrisy and desire the pure milk of the word to grow thereby. (I Peter 2:1-3)
A close look at this letter will indicate that the entire argument from the Scriptures of the Old Testament areat every point “exhortative.” The writer therefore gives the readers the key of knowledge here. They must not throw it away as did the evil Jews in Jesus’ day. These were men who took away from the people the “key of knowledge,” failed to enter themselves into the kingdom, and hindered them to enter who would. Such is not the case with this writer. (Luke 11:52) Hence, they must receive this word of exhortation which is, so deeply, broadly, and Scripturally anchored. They must not fall away from the living God as revealed in all the Scriptures. We have but to look at such passages asHebrews 2:1, 2, 3 and Hebrews 10:26-31 to see the mighty urgency of the writer’s “exhortation.” Was there reason for heeding the teaching given in the Old Testament dispensation which was given by angels to Moses at Sinai, far more reason it is to heed the word spoken first by the Lord Jesus Himself, and which was confirmed by those who heard him, and which were followed by the testimony of signs and wonders and divers (manifold) miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost according to his own will! And if a man died without mercy who despised Moses’ law on the word of two or three witnesses, how much worse will it be for those in the New Testament, “who have trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and have done despite unto the Spirit of grace”?
That is the constant caliber of the admonitions here. They are very strong throughout. But the situation among the Hebrews called for it. They were living in Judea in the very shadow of the Old Testament temple. The beautiful stones were still not yet thrown down by the Romans. The sacrifices were still in full swing. (Hebrews 13:9) There was a tremendous appeal in this all. For thus it had been since the time of Moses. However, they must not return. The situation called for strong medicine of the Word. It is an either-or situation!
Small wonder that there was need of this earnest plea that the Hebrews suffer the word of exhortation. The word “suffer” is a very telling word in the Greek. The term is “aneschesthe.” We believe that it is imperative, expressing an exhortation. It sometimes means “endure patiently” (I Cor. 4:2; Matt. 17:17) to bear with the weakness of the brother. (Ephesians 4:2) It also means to “hold oneself back” as did the Corinthians with Paul. (II Cor. 11:1, 19) But here it means to receive and place oneself patiently under the teaching of the entire Old Testament. Scriptures as interpreted here and as shown fulfdled in Christ, the Son of God in these last days.
THE BREVITY 0F THE BOOK OF HEBREWS (Hebrews 13:22b)
At first sight of this matter of the writer’s assertion that he has “written with few” words, one is a bit mystified. For surely this letter is not a short one compared with many of the other letters in the New Testament. Besides, this is a rather long letter, comprising thirteen chapters.
Upon closer and more careful consideration it is quite evident that the writer can speak of “writing in few words” when he compares the vastness of the subjects which he has been considering in this writing to the Hebrews. It covers the entire field of the shadows and types as they are related to the promises of old to be realized in Christ Jesus. The writer could have expanded each of these facets in the instructive argument to a larger treatise. It would have perhaps been easier then to grasp. Now they will need to study and think, and be as the Berean brethren, who “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11) They must needs do this very painstakingly for their very life’s sake. If this is done they will not take offense at what the writer exhorted but will thankfully receive this letter as the key of knowledge. What a joy it has been for the writer of these lines to have engaged in this study, and by God’s grace to be a faithful and more noble “Berean!”
THE WRITER’S INTENTION TO VISIT THE HEBREWS (Hebrews 13:23)
It is not the intention of the writer in mentioning the fact that Timothy has been released, (apolelumenon) to tell us in a vague way that he is Paul; Perhaps he was. However, when reading such writers as Phillip Schaff and T. Rees and a host of others, perhaps it is best to follow the judgment of Origin who wrote “Only God knows who the author of Hebrews is.” (Compare Vol. I,International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, pages 1355-1362, History Of The Christian Church, Vol. I, pages 808-824. We heartily concur with the judgment of B.F. Westcott, Page lxxix, where he writes, “. . . We acknowledge the divine authority of the Epistle, self-attested and ratified by the illuminated consciousness of the Christian Society: we measure what would have been our loss if it had not been included in the Bible; and we confess that the wealth of spiritual power was so great in the early church that he who was. empowered to commit to writing this view of the fulness of the truth has not by that conspicuous service even left his name for the grateful reverence of later ages. It was enough that the faith and the love were there to minister to the Lord (Matt. xxvi 13)”
What the writer intends to tell the readers is that God has brought forth Timothy from prison, so that now he is free to accompany him to them very shortly. The situation called also for a visit to the Hebrew saints. And we can well understand that such a visit was indeed fruitful. How grand to have had the visit of such a servant of God in our midst. Perhaps this letter is written from near Rome in Italy. The view that those “of Italy” were perhaps people of Italy living elsewhere, where the writer is, seems a bit unnatural, although this is possible. It might have been such people as Aquila and Priscilla. (Acts 18:2) Had the Bible intended this as something important, we would have been told. We shall, therefore, pursue this matter no farther.
FINAL GREETINGS (Hebrews 13:24, 25)
This is the salutation from the writer. It is for the entire congregation. It is something which the readers must do for the writer. They must “salute” the brethren which have the rule over them. That first of all. It is proper that they should have this respect for them as they who must give account for their souls. (Heb. 13:17) However, they must bring the writers salutation to all the saints in Jerusalem, which possibly numbered in the hundreds. And the peace of the writer must not return to him. Thus the way is paved for a fruitful visit by the writer in their midst, Paul or whoever he was.
To this is added the greetings of the congregation of “those of Italy.” Here is an expression of the fellowship of the saints. Here is the bond of unity from the one “synagogue” to the other, the tie that binds in Christian love, which is like “the fellowship from above.” Psalm 133.
And finally there is the greetings “Grace be with you all.” This is the grace which edified the heart and not meats. It is to be with each of the members of Christ. The whole congregation of Christ receives the grace of Christ and the peace of God which passes all understanding.
Thus it shall truly be. The writer ends with “Amen.” All that he had written was concerning Him from whom, by whom, and unto whom all things are. It behooved Him, in bringing many sons to glory to perfect the captain of our salvation through sufferings.
Amen, so let it be!