Hebrews 13:1-6

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 9, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'
So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'”
-Hebrews 13:1-6

This final chapter of the book of Hebrews contains more advice on how to live righteous living, continuing that theme from the last section of chapter 12. The theme of these first few verses is love and how we should live out the love of Christ for one another.

Verse 1 starts out with a clear command: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” If you don’t have a great relationship with your siblings, perhaps that command sounds easy to follow – if you don’t feel like you love your brothers and sisters, then maybe this Christian love thing is not that hard! But “brothers and sisters” in this verse refers to our brothers and sisters in Christ – all of our fellow believers. We are not linked by close blood relations, but we are all linked thorugh the blood of Christ that was shed for us.

In Greek, however, verse 1 is just 3 words. The idea of it is simply to remain in brotherly love for one another. In English, we just have the word “love,” but in Greek there are actually 8 words that refer to different forms of love (though just a few of them are used in the Scriptures). We most often see agape love, which refers to the unconditional, sacrificial love of God. This occurrence, however is the phileo love, which is the friendship love. The actual Greek word used is philadelphia which does literally mean “brotherly love.” We should strive toward having that brotherly, friendship love with all believers, because we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

How do we show this brotherly love to one another? One way is to show hospitality to others, as in verse 2. The reference to unknowingly showing hospitality to angels looks back at the narratives of Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18 and 19. God is pleased when we show hospitality to others, which can take on many forms. It could mean providing lodging for a fellow believer in your home, providing a meal for someone, or serving someone in any way.

In the context of the time period of the letter to the Hebrews, hospitality was one thing that truly helped spread the gospel throughout the known world. As the early Christian preachers traveled from place to place, they were able to do so because of fellow believers providing them with lodging and meals. Many of the inns of the day were expensive, and they did not have great reputations as being reputable places, so believers showing hospitality to others facilitated the mission of Jesus Christ to spread the gospel.

In verse 3, the author turns his attention to showing love specifically to those in prison. A person would need to actively seek out those who were imprisoned in order to help them; obviously, prisoners won’t just come knocking on our door asking for a place to stay or for a meal. In that time period, prisoners often did not receive much (if any) food, so they would depend on the love of others for their basic necessities. It was dangerous to help prisoners, as anyone seen sympathizing with prisoners could be imprisoned themselves, but the author encourages them to help prisoners anyway.

This verse goes along with the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:26 where he wrote about all believers being the body of Christ: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” We are encouraged to care for those who are suffering in prison and those who are suffering in other ways or other places. We share in their suffering as the body of Christ.

The author turns to upholding marriage and discouraging sexual sin in verse 4. Marriage should be kept pure, not only for the sake of the marriage but because committing any sort of sexual sin will be judged harshly by God. The author specifically calls out adultery but also the general “sexual immorality.” For more on what the Bible says about these topics, check out this post and this post.

Verse 5 addresses sins of greed and coveteousness. Anyone who covets after something pursues that thing selfishly, regardless of what it does to other people. When we love money and all the possessions and security it can provide for us, we are trusting money and the things of this world more than we are trusting God. When we are content with what God has given us, we will not love money and desire after other things. For more on what the Bible says about money, check out this post.

The quotation in this verse is interesting, as it is not an exact quotation from any verse in the Old Testament. It is similar to Deuteronomy 31:6 where it says that God “will never leave you nor forsaken you.” Or it could refer to Joshua 1:5 where God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It is suspected that the author is quoting from a manuscript that has since been lost. But even if we don’t have those exact words recorded elsewhere in Scripture, the idea rings true. We can fully trust in God that He will never leave us nor forsake us, therefore we do not need to trust in the material things of this world.

Finally, in verse 6, we see the author quoting Psalm 118:6-7. This emphasizes that we can confidently count on the Lord for all things. There is no reason to fear, because we have God on our side! Nothing that goes against God’s plan for our lives will succeed.

While these verses read almost like proverbs in that each verse seems to contain a different encouragement for how to live this Christian life, they really are all tied together in love. When we love one another, we will show them hospitality. When we love prisoners, we will care for them and remember them. When we love our spouse, we will honor our marriage. When we love other people, we will not commit any sexually immoral acts with them. When we love God, we will not love money nor the things that it can buy. We need not be afraid of anything in this world, because God loves us and He will protect us.

Live out the love of Christ today by loving others just as God has loved us!

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