Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
The Hebrew writer is nearing the end of his letter. As the past two columns have shown, he wants his Christian brethren of Hebrew nationality to stay strong in the faith, not only by avoiding apostasy to Judaism but also by living as Christians ought to live. So he exhorts them, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (13:16). Jesus and Paul commanded that all Christians do the same (Matthew 22:39; Galatians 6:10). If there is any weapon Satan uses with great success against Christians, it is the weapon of “neglect.” How often do we neglect to do the good which is our duty whenever opportunity arises!
After repeating his earlier command for Christians to obey the leaders of their local churches (13:17; cf. 13:7), the Hebrew author has a special request: “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner” (13:18-19). He wants to see them again (“be restored to you”). The reunion is something for which he longs deeply. He also wishes to achieve two goals which all Christians should have, “a clear conscience” and the desire “to act honorably in all things” (cf. Acts 24:16; 1 Timothy 1:5; Romans 12:10). To these ends he asks for the prayers of his Christian brethren. We should always want our fellow Christians to pray for us, and we should always pray for them too.
He then offers them the benediction quoted above in Hebrews 13:20-21. God is certainly “the God of peace” (cf. Romans 15:33). One of the blessings of being a Christian is the privilege of taking everything to God in prayer and receiving “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7). This peace comes because Christians have been reconciled to God through the death of Jesus (Romans 5:10). Praise the Spirit of God who “brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus” (cf. Romans 1:4)! Jesus is indeed the Christian’s “great shepherd” (cf. John 10:11; 1 Peter 5:4). It is through his blood, “the blood of the eternal covenant” of the New Testament, that salvation is offered to all (cf. Matthew 26:28; Titus 2:11-12). Anyone can receive that salvation when they believe in Christ, repent of their sins, and are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-39; 22:16; Galatians 3:26-27). That is how one becomes a Christian. God equips all Christians “with everything good” so that we “may do his will.” That is why we have the Bible, which is “breathed out by God” and “thoroughly equips us for every good work” (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). With Scripture as our only guide (cf. Galatians 1:6-9), we can successfully “work out (our) own salvation with fear and trembling,” knowing that as the Hebrew writer joined Paul in pointing out, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (13:21; cf. Philippians 2:12-13). Jesus is how God accomplishes this, and may we all stand with the Hebrew author in giving all “glory” to Jesus “forever and ever. Amen.”
The author now “appeals” to his “brothers” to “bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to your briefly” (13:22). The entire book was written to exhort, or build up, his Christian brethren. It can do the same with us. Just as he wanted them to take the book of Hebrews to heart, so God wants the same for us. He then lets them know that “our brother Timothy” – likely the same Timothy who was a close associate of Paul (1-2 Timothy) – “has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon” (13:23). He then closes the book by urging them: “Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you” (13:24-25).
Thus ends these series of articles on the book of Hebrews. I started writing them with chapter 1 one week shy of a year ago. Studying the entire book and sharing my thoughts with you has been very spiritually fulfilling to me. I hope this study has brought you closer to God as it has with me.