Exhortation 5: Suffer with Jesus outside the camp (13:1-25)
Four Areas of Love (13:1-4)
He tells them to let brotherly love continue, by not neglecting to show hospitality and by showing
compassion on those from among them who are now in prison for Christ. In the past, they had been
hospitable (10:32), but now they were letting things slip, out of fear of persecution.
The first area of love is the mutual love in the body of Christ (v1), which they were neglecting, even
neglecting meeting together in fellowship. The second was showing hospitality to strangers (v2),
reminding them that they never know whether the strangers they entertain may be angels. Rahab showed
hospitality to the two Israelite spies (Josh 2), which saved her life when Jericho was destroyed. Itinerant Christian preachers and apostles were dependent on Christian hospitality. The third area of love was for them to remember those in prison for the gospel (v3). In the past, they had compassion on the prisoners (10:34), but now perhaps their hearts had grown colder out of fear of imprisonment. They were called to remember that they are all members of the one body of Christ, and not to separate themselves from those members who are in prison for the Gospel. The fourth is a call to husbands and wives (v4) to keep themselves morally pure, and for others to respect the sanctify of marriage.
Free from love of money, a call to contentment (13:5-6)
The next exhortation was to keep their life free from the love of money. This is especially true in times of persecution, when all their material possessions may be taken away. Their life cannot be bound up in material possessions. If a believer loves money, then they may be tempted to deny Christ in order that they might keep their money and possessions.
The challenge is to be content. We can be content because we have Jesus, who will not leave us or
forsake us. He will care for us. We can be content because we have great riches in Christ. In the past,
they were not concerned with this world’s goods, because they knew they had a better possession and
an abiding one (10:34-35). This world’s goods can be taken away, but you cannot take away a person’s
relationship with Jesus.
Jesus same forever (13:7-8)
There are several instructions about leaders in this chapter. They are to obey and submit to their leaders, so that it will be a joy for them to lead you (v17), and greetings are sent to the leaders (v24). Here they are urged to imitate the faith of their leaders (v7), and how they ended their lives in faith. It sounds that some of their leaders have already gone on to heaven. Perhaps he is referring to some of the original disciples.
Let us go outside the camp and bear abuse (13:9-14)
Jesus is the only true leader (v8), the same in the past, the present and the future. He is the only one in whom we can place total confidence. The readers are urged not to be distracted by false teachings,
especially laws concerning foods and other rituals, probably a reference to returning to Jewish legalism.
It is only the grace of God that strengthens the heart.
We have an altar (v10), the sacrifice of Christ, which was not available to the priests in the tabernacle. This altar is outside the camp, just as the bodies of the animals sacrificed on the Day of Atonement were burned outside the camp (v12). This parallels with Jesus who was crucified outside Jerusalem’s city gates. The red heifer (Num 19:3) was a sin offering that was slaughtered outside the camp. Jesus died in order to sanctify the people and bring them to God as worshippers with purified consciences.
The Hebrews are then urged, “let us go to him outside the camp, bearing the abuse that he bore” (v13). Outside the camp signified all that Jerusalem represented. The presence of God is 'outside the camp'. It is outside Judaism, because outside the camp is were Jesus is. The readers are urged to get out of Judaism and get out to Jesus.
Sacrifices pleasing to God (13:15-16)
If the OT sacrifices are no longer acceptable, then which sacrifices are now pleasing to God? The new
sacrifices are the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name (v15), doing good, and sharing what you have (v16).
Call to submit to leaders (13:17)
This is another exhortation about their leaders, encouraging people to submit to their leaders and not give them difficulties in their leadership. Leaders are accountable to God for the way they conduct their
leadership, and the way they treat those under them (v17).
Request for prayer (13:18-19)
The author asks for prayer. The details of the author’s identity and situation are unknown, but there may be hints here of some difficulty in relationship with his readers, plus the fact that he has been absent for some time, and is praying for restoration. It is also interesting that the pronoun changes from 'we' (v18) to 'I' (v19). Perhaps there is joint authorship of this letter.
He prays a blessing on his readers, that the God who raised Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, will
make them complete in everything good, and will be able to obey God’s will.
He appeals to his readers to bear with his word of exhortation, evidently that they would respond
positively to his message. He also gives news of Timothy’s release from prison, and sends greetings to
The whole book ends with an urge to continue in grace.