Hebrews 13:20-25

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 6, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly.
I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.
Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.
Grace be with you all.”
-Hebrews 13:20-25

We have made it to the end of the book of Hebrews! This is is the final section of verses, and it serves as a conclusion through the use of a doxology and some greetings from the author to his audience.

Verses 20-21 serve as a doxology. A doxology is simply praising God; the word doxology comes from the Greek word doxa, meaning glory. It’s interesting that the author calls God “the God of peace” here, as that’s a phrase often used by the Apostle Paul. Some scholars do suspect that Paul wrote this letter, but there is also support for the fact that Paul did not write it. (See this post for more on this letter’s author.) The peace referred to here is not just an absence of conflict but it’s a sense of well-being, reminding the audience that all of life depends on God.

“The blood of the eternal covenant” is one of the main themes of this letter, so it’s fitting that the author brings it up here. Much of the letter has compared and contrasted the old covenant that God had with the nation of Israel with the new covenant that all people now have through Jesus Christ.

However, this is the first place in the entire letter where Jesus is referred to as a shepherd, though there are many other times in the Bible where the shepherd imagery is used – Psalm 23, Isaiah 63:11, John 10, and 1 Peter 2:25 just to name a few. Jesus as a shepherd showcases His care for people; sheep are pretty helpless (and dumb) without their shepherd. Shepherds also had complete sovereignty over their flocks, which is something that we tend to gloss over today. Jesus should have complete rule over our lives, as He is our great shepherd.

The author’s prayer for his audience is that God would equip them with what they need. The verb for “equip” has the idea of mending something that is broken. His prayer is that God will make right whatever is not right in the spiritual lives of the readers and that they will lack nothing.

It’s interesting to see the idea of doing God’s will right next to the phrase of “may he work in us.” We are to desire to do God’s will, but doing so is only possible as a result of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We do good works because we have faith in Jesus, and it’s that faith that allows us to do good things that are unselfish in nature (see James 2 for more on that). When we love God and desire to follow Jesus with our entire lives, our desire should be to do exactly what this doxology says – “what is pleasing to Him.” We should love God so much that our own desires are not worthwhile to dwell on, but our focus should be on pleasing God.

The last few verses of this letter are greetings to its readers, which is one way that we know it is a letter that was sent by an author to a group of people.

Verse 22 shows that the author calls this letter an “exhortation.” Exhorting simply means to communicate with emphasis, urging someone to do something. The author has clearly spent a lot of time on this letter, so he wants his readers to take it to heart. It is interesting in that the author says that he has written “quite briefly.” A 13-chapter letter like this one definitely does not fit my definition of “brief”! Some scholars take this to mean that perhaps the last chapter or two was a separate document initially that was attached to the rest of the book at some point in history.

The Timothy referred to in verse 23 is very likely the Timothy to whom Paul wrote the letters of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, as there is no record of any other Timothy associated with the early church in this time period. The word “released” is curious, as its meaning is unclear whether Timothy is being released from prison, released from some other obligation, or released as in starting on a journey of some sort. The Greek word could mean any of these. But whatever the situation, the writer is clearly expecting Timothy to arrive at the place where he is, and then the two of them would journey on to see the recipients of this letter.

The author has written about leaders a couple of times already in this chapter, so it’s no surprise that he encourages the greeting of the leaders in verse 24, along with all the Lord’s people. It is unclear what the author means by “Those from Italy send you their greetings.” Scholars do not know enough about the author or his geographic location to make sense of that.

Finally, the author ends with, “Grace be with you all” in verse 25. This is very appropriate given that the author spent much of this letter talking about the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice and how we are freely given the gift of God’s grace. He does not exclude anyone who might read this letter from receiving God’s grace, just as God excludes no one.

I thank you for joining me on this journey through the letter to the Hebrews! It has been quite an adventure over the past year to write through this entire book, and if you haven’t read through all the posts, I continue to go back and do so.

And on that note, I’ll end as the author does: Grace be with you all!

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