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Hebrews 11-13    Listen Podcast

Dedicated to faith (Hebrews 11:1-40)

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3 ¶ By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

As a matter of fact, here's a whole chapter dedicated to faith. A great definition of faith is seen in verse 1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Mull that over for a minute - great definition! Now look at verse 6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." These two verses need to be read as a pair. Verse 1 says that faith is "substance" (Greek: "hupostasis" means "foundation") and "evidence" (Greek: "elegchos" ). These two words are strong foundational words that characterize our Christian walk. "Hupostasis" identifies a supporting structure and "elegchos" identifies proof. In other words, faith provides the Believer with a strong foundation and proof for Christian living. I know it seems like a strange concept to those who have not been saved in Christ, but to the Believer, the "faith of Christ" strengthens the Believer's walk, providing the foundation and proof that simply cannot be comprehended by the unregenerate. (Click here for a complete discussion of the "faith of Christ" from Galatians 2:15-21.) We see in I Corinthians 2:14 (see notes), "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." So you see, for the Believer, the "faith of Christ" is substance and evidence enough to take to any court. I rest my case.

It was through faith that the "elders" (verse 2) i.e. the patriarchs of the faith, were encouraged. Moreover, we accept by faith that our God is the God of creation (verse 3). Verse 2 receives more detail regarding that "good report" in the following verses where we have illustrations of Old Testament saints and the faith they exercised. We'll see that the goal in view was eternal blessing - a reality after death, seen when we get down to verse 13. Now being strangers here on earth, one day we'll all experience our residency in Heaven.

4 ¶ By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
5 ¶ By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
7 ¶ By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
8 ¶ By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 ¶ By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

If that's not enough, just look at the demonstration of faith by these Old Testament examples:

13 ¶ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Verses 13-16 point out that these Old Testament saints did not realize the fulfillment of their faith during their lifetime on earth, yet they obeyed through faith anyway. They did, however, realize a heavenly reward for their faith. Verse 14 makes the particular point that Abraham and Sarah could have gone back to Mesopotamia at any time, but they chose God's promise over the place where their own relatives were located.

17 ¶ By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,”
19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

Here we are told why Abraham was so cooperative with God about slaying his son, Isaac, in verses 17-19. Abraham's faith is commended here in the incident involving the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham on the altar in Genesis 22 (see notes). That faith was based upon God's previous promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:19 (see notes), "Then God said: 'No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.'" Since Abraham had received the promise of God that his own promises from God would continue through Isaac (before Isaac's birth), he literally believed that if God allowed him to go through with the sacrifice, he would raise him from the dead. Since Isaac had no children at that point in time, Abraham knew that he would return home with a living, breathing Isaac. Now that's faith!

We should take a closer look at verse 17 so as to clear up any misunderstanding about the phrasing there. The reference to Isaac in that verse lists him as "his only begotten son." Following is the entry in the Louw and Nida Greek Dictionary regarding the usage of the word translated "only begotten" (monogenes). "monogenes: pertaining to what is unique in the sense of being the only one of the same kind or class." With regard to its specific usage in Hebrews 11:17, the dictionary goes on to explain, "Abraham, of course, did have another son, Ishmael, and later sons by Keturah, but Isaac was a unique son in that he was a son born as the result of certain promises made by God. Accordingly, he could be called a monogenes son, since he was the only one of his kind." There's no question that the writer of Hebrews knew about Abraham's other sons. However, he makes the point that Isaac was unique as the only son through whom the promise of Genesis 17:19 (see notes) had been made.

20 ¶ By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 ¶ By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
22 ¶ By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
23 ¶ By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.
24 ¶ By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
27 ¶ By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 ¶ By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.
30 ¶ By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 ¶ And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:

We continue with the acts of faith of more Old Testament examples.
Following are Old Testament saints who believed outside the bounds of their circumstances based upon their supernatural faith in God:

33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again. ¶ Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39 ¶ And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

How about a generalized summary of all that the Old Testament saints endured because of their faith, beginning in verse 33. Verses 34-38 would seem to include the trials endured through the Maccabean period as well - the period between the Old and New Testaments. Regarding all of these witnesses, verse 39 says that they "did not receive the promise." What promise? The Messiah - Jesus at crucifixion and resurrection is in view here. Of course, there's another phase to that promise which is fulfilled at the beginning of the millennium (see Revelation 20 notes), but the first advent of Jesus fulfills that promise by perfecting them and us with his sacrifice on the cross to pay our sin debt. Thus, they and we are "made perfect" (verse 40). The Greek verb (teleioo) means to make complete. Like ourselves, they were not made complete until Jesus' sacrifice on the cross had been completed.

What's the lesson here? These people acted by faith, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." So, the example of their faith strengthens our faith.

How about those witnesses of faith? (Hebrews 12:1-4)

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 ¶ For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

The witnesses here are those Old Testament saints mentioned in chapter 11 that so mightily demonstrated their faith in God. The Greek word there for "witnesses" is "martus." It's used 34 times in the New Testament, and is used in the context of "one giving testimony." What kind of testimony? It's a testimony regarding faith in God. These witnesses surround us with the testimony of faith. Wise people who embark upon a new adventure consult others who have previously been on a similar adventure. are your people who have been on the adventure of faith; now go do likewise. The finished work of Jesus on the cross "made perfect" (11:40) all Believers as seen here in verse 2. That verse also makes reference to the exalted position of Jesus as the High Priest as portrayed in the Messianic Psalm 110 (see notes) when it refers to him as being "at right hand of the throne of God."

We've seen the faith and endurance of the witnesses of chapter 11; now let's consider the trials of Jesus himself (verse 3). The recipients to this letter are then told in verse 4 that they have not yet been called upon to make similar personal sacrifices to this point.

Chastisement - the action of a loving God to his people (Hebrews 12:5-17)

5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 ¶ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.
11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 ¶ Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,
13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
14 ¶ Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

Now Paul transitions over to a different topic - chastisement. Why are these words here after the big faith chapter? He's actually still addressing the people to whom he spoke in chapter 10 who seemed to be struggling with the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross. (Click here to read the summary on Hebrews 10:24-39.) So, if not by requiring repeated sacrifices to renew salvation, how does God deal with disobedient Believers? The answer is chastisement. He introduces it in verse 5 where he begins quoting Proverbs 3:11-12 (see notes). When we disobey God, he doesn't expect another sacrifice to be offered by the offender as the Jews were accustomed to doing; he expects a confession of sin. I John 1:9 (see notes) says simply, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." But what if we, as Believers, don't confess our rebellion against God? Well, right at the heart of this chapter 12 are verses 6-8, "For whom the Lord loves He chastenens..." Paul continues to paraphrase from Proverbs 3:11-12 (see notes), "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights."

It's important to see the contrast here and recognize that he's tying up the principles of chapter 10; God uses chastisement, not loss of salvation, to correct Believers...just like an earthly father uses chastisement to correct his children. Read I Corinthians 11:27-34 (see notes) and pay close attention to verses 29-32. (Click here to read the summary on I Corinthians 11:27-34.) God doesn't cast out disobedient Believers; he chastises them until they turn from their disobedience...or they die - whichever comes first. I Corinthians 11:32 is clear, "But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." God does the judging and chastising. As a matter of fact, we don't see this principle for the first time here; it permeates the entire Old Testament. It's explicitly stated to Israel in Deuteronomy 8:5 (see notes), "You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you." Paul uses verses 10-11 to establish a comparison between the chastisement of earthly fathers as compared to that of God, our father. Then in verses 12-17 he encourages the Hebrews to walk an acceptable walk as Believers by using some Old Testament imagery, part of which appears to be taken from Isaiah 35:3 (see notes).

Christian people who experience challenging times in their lives often ask, "Am I being chastised?" Well...maybe; read the article entitled, "Trial versus Chastisement" by clicking here to get additional insight regarding this issue. Verse 15 is interesting as a follow up to the chastisement verses. Two Greek participles (both present active participles) are used which are a little difficult to simply translate into English without being a little bit wordy (if "wordy" is a word). The first participle is literally to be understood as the first identifier of two kinds of Christian people, those people who are "looking carefully" in their Christian walk. Literally we're talking about those people who are being careful in following God's leading in their lives. The second, contrasting group of people described also by a participle here are those who are not weathering the Christian life as successfully, the ones who "fall short of the grace of God." Being a present active participle in Greek means a continuing action. The root of this participle means "to lack, be late, or postpone." When turned into a Greek participle, it describes a group of people who are presently demonstrating a lack in the grace or favor (Greek: charis) of God i.e. those being chastised for their disobedience. It's a nice summation of the preceding verses on chastisement of Believers - an exhortation to be Believers who are careful in their walk with the Lord as opposed to being Believers who are careless or lacking in their walk with the Lord. And then...there's your example of one who misses a blessing by being in that second category - Esau. Jacob took care; Esau was careless. Jacob experienced Isaac's blessing of the firstborn; Esau was miserable. Notice that this example illustrates the resulting quality of life of Jacob and Esau; Jacob was blessed and Esau was an unhappy man.

Who are we talking about here? (Hebrews 12:18-29)

18 ¶ For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,
19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.
20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.”
21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)
22 ¶ But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,
23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
25 ¶ See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,
26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”
27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
28 ¶ Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
29 For our God is a consuming fire.

In verses 18-24 we see an Old Covenant/New Covenant comparison again as in Hebrews 8 (see notes). Mount Sinai is seen in verses 18-21 in reference to the sights, sounds and reality of Exodus 19-20 (see notes). "Zion" is a reference to Jerusalem all through the Old Testament. He contrasts the harshness of the Law of Moses as associated with Mount Sinai to the New Covenant and the New Jerusalem which is heavenly (Revelation 21, see notes), eternal and based upon grace, not law. Jesus is the mediator of that covenant (verse 24); his blood atones for sin which makes it superior to the blood of Abel where it is said by God to Cain in Genesis 4:10 (see notes), "And He said, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.'"

Just in case you still think that Paul is addressing people who almost get saved (refer to notes on chapter 10), but don't, verse 23 ought to settle that issue: "to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect." The Greek noun use for "general assembly" is "paneguris," used only here in the entire New Testament. It's a compound word meaning "universal gathering." The Greek word for "church" here is "ekklesia," the usual word for "church" in the New Testament.

The usage of the word "firstborn" in verse 23 is quite interesting, though a bit technical. Follow me closely here. The Greek word for "firstborn" is "prototokos" and is only found 9 times in the New Testament, all of them singular except here and Hebrews 11:28 (see above). In Hebrews 11:28, it refers to the slain firstborn of Egypt at the exodus. All other New Testament occurrences refer to Jesus. Jesus is the "firstborn" of all who are bound for Heaven. Paul almost exclusively quotes from the Septuagint (Greek version) of the Old Testament. God declares in Exodus 34:19 (see notes), "All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep." The Greek word used in the Septuagint for "firstborn" ("prototokos") there is the very same word Paul uses here in Hebrews 12:23 for "firstborn." Only in this context is "firstborn" found to be plural. You will recall that these "firstborn" of the Old Testament later were replaced by the Levites in Numbers 3:5-16 (see notes). The Levites were the priests under the Mosaic Law. Christians are priests after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7, see notes), according to I Peter 2:9-10 (see notes) where Believers are referred to as "a royal priesthood." Therefore, Christians are the "church of the firstborn" just as the Levite priests of the Old Testament were dedicated to God.

Verse 23 goes on to say of Believers, "who are registered in heaven." Couple that with "the spirits of just men made perfect," and that should settle the issue regarding to whom verse 23 is addressing.

In verse 24 we see a reference to the blood of Abel mentioned in Hebrews 11:4 (see above). While Abel's blood was not sufficient to save, Jesus, as "the Mediator of the new covenant" is able to save. So, what about those who in verse 25 refused God's commands? They were physically chastised. Hey! That's the subject of this chapter of Hebrews - physical chastisement. If these Christian Hebrews reject this message from God, they will be physically chastised just like their Old Testament ancestors who also refused.

And then there's that reference to the shaking of the earth in verse 26-27. That, of course, refers to Exodus 19:18 (see notes) when Mount Sinai shook. He then refers to Haggai 2:6 (see notes) with the promise, "Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land." That shaking comes at the end of this present world in Revelation 21:1 (see notes), "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea." The point? Everything on this earth comes to an end, but those who are saved by the grace of God will live eternally. That's what verse 28 says. As Believers, we are part of "a kingdom which cannot be shaken." That's the context in which we serve God. And the fire of verse 29? For that we once again look at Exodus 19:18 (see notes), "Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly." Everything on this earth will pass away...except for those who have a faith relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Here's an important key to chapter 12: It's talking about chastisement of Believers all the way through the chapter beginning with verse 5. When reading this chapter, we must not lose sight of that theme.

Note: the following paragraph is a note for the power student.
Now here's a point for our over-achieving Bible readers/students: If chapter 12 is talking about Believers (chastisement, church of the firstborn, etc.), then is not that finishing up on the discussion with which Paul was dealing in Hebrews 10:26 (see notes)? So, if chapter 12 is about saved people, then 10:26 (and the following verses) is about saved people also. If 10:26 is about saved people, then 6:1-6 is also about saved people because the phraseology about Christ and sacrifice is the same. That's why studying scripture in context is so vital to "rightly dividing the word of truth."

Some parting comments (Hebrews 13)

1 Let brotherly love continue.
2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.
4 ¶ Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
5 ¶ Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
6 So we may boldly say:
“The LORD is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”
7 ¶ Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
10 ¶ We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.
12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.
15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
17 ¶ Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
18 ¶ Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.
19 But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
20 ¶ Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
22 ¶ And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words.
23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.
24 ¶ Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.
25 ¶ Grace be with you all. Amen.

Paul combats some doctrinal error being taught in verses 9-16. Some Old Testament practice is referenced here. It's not obvious what this doctrinal error being taught was, but these verses are designed to set it straight. It appears to be some variant of the Judaizer message that Paul continually taught against. Those "who serve the tabernacle" in verse 10 is a reference to people still bound by the Law of Moses. Verse 11 refers to the Mosaic Law regarding the sacrifice made on behalf of the high priest as seen in Leviticus 4:1-11 (see notes). Jesus "suffered outside the gate" just as the high priest was required to go outside the camp to a clean place to finish his sacrifice. This picture equates Jesus as the high priest. That being the case, our lives should "continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God" (verse 15). Our sacrifice is a godly lifestyle (verse 16).

We see in verses 17-18 that good leadership is to be followed, similar to the admonition of verse 7. The Greek word for "obey" there is a little different than what you might expect. It is "peitho" used in the present imperative passive tense i.e. "let yourself be persuaded." That is followed by the admonition to "be submissive" - another imperative (Greek: "hupeiko") which commands us to "surrender" to that authority. This verse demonstrates the magnitude of responsibility for those who are responsible for the spiritual nurturing of others. Verse 18 follows with a prayer request for strength to be a good, spiritual leader.

In his final words, Paul gives a summarized doctrinal position of this letter to the Hebrews in verse 20-21:

Finally, the close to the letter is shorter than in most of Paul's letters, seen in verse 22-25. The "exhortation" of verse 22 comes from the Greek word "paraklesis" i.e. comfort or consolation. That refers back to Paul's encouragement in Hebrews 10:25 (see notes), "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."

Finally, we see more evidence that Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews with his reference to the Christians in Italy sending their greetings. Hey...Paul was in Italy! He was transported there after he was arrested and appealed to Caesar in Acts 25 (see notes). And finally, Paul's standard close in verse 25, "Grace be with you all. Amen."