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In this next chapter there is more than one truth important to notice. The
exhortations are as simple as they are weighty, and require but few
remarks. They rest in the sphere in which the whole of the epistle does:
what relates to the Christian's path as walking here, not what flows from
union with Christ in heavenly places. Brotherly love, hospitality, care for
those in bonds, the strict maintenance of the marriage tie and persona!
purity, the avoiding of covetousness: such are the subjects of exhortation,
all important and connected with the gracious walk of a Christian, but not
drawn from the higher and more heavenly sources and principles of the
christian life as we see in Ephesians and Colossians. Nor, even though
there be more analogy-for the Epistle to the Romans rests in general in
life in Christ in this world, presenting Christ's resurrection, without
going on to His ascension [see note #40] -are the
exhortations such as in this latter epistle. Those which follow connect
themselves with the circumstances in which the Hebrews found themselves,
and rest on the approaching abolition and judgment of Judaism, from which
they had now definitely to separate themselves.
In exhorting them (ver. 7) to remember those who have guided the flock, he
speaks of those already departed in contrast with those still living. (Ver.
17.) The issue of their faith might well encourage others to follow their
steps, to walk by those principles of faith which had led them to so noble
Moreover Christ never changed; He was the same yesterday, today, and for
ever. Let them abide in the simplicity and integrity of faith. Nothing is a
plainer proof that the heart is not practically in possession of that which
gives rest in Christ, that it does not realise what Christ is, than the
restless search after something new- "divers and strange doctrines." To
grow in the knowledge of Christ is our life and our privilege. The search
after novelties which are foreign to Him, is a proof of not being satisfied
with Him. But he who is not satisfied with Jesus does not know Him, or, at
least, has forgotten Him. It is impossible to enjoy Him, and not to feel
that He is everything, that is to say, that He satisfies us, and that by
the nature of what He is, He shuts out everything else.
Now with regard to Judaism, in which the Hebrews were naturally inclined to
seek satisfaction for the flesh, the apostle goes farther. They were no
longer Jews in the possession of the true worship of God, a privileged
worship in which others had no right to participate. The altar of God
belonged now to the Christians. Christians only had a right to it. An
earthly worship, in which there was no entering within the veil, into God's
own presence in the sanctuary, could no longer subsist-a worship that had
its worldly glory, that belonged to the elements of this world and had its
place there. Now, it is either heaven or the cross and shame. The great
sacrifice for sin has been offered; but by its efficacy, it brings us into
the sanctuary, into heaven itself, where the blood has been carried in; and
on the other hand it takes us outside the camp, a religious people
connected with the world down here, into shame and rejection on earth. This
is the portion of Christ. In heaven He is accepted, He has gone in with His
own blood- on earth cast out and despised.
A worldly religion, which forms a system in which the world can walk, and
in which the religious element is adapted to man on the earth, is the
denial of Christianity.
Here we have no continuing city, we seek the one which is to come. By
Christ we offer our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. By sharing also
our goods with others, by doing good in every way we offer sacrifices with
which God is well pleased. (Ver 16)
He then exhorts them to obey those who, as responsible to God, watch over
souls, and who go before the saints in order to lead them on. It is a proof
of that humble spirit of grace which seeks only to please the Lord.
The sense of this responsibility makes Paul ask the saints to pray for him,
but with the declaration that he had assuredly a good conscience. We serve
God, we act for Him, when He is not obliged to be acting on us. That is to
say, the Spirit of God acts by our means when He has not to occupy us with
ourselves. When the latter is the case, one could not ask for the prayers
of saints as a labourer. While the Spirit is exercising us in our
conscience, we cannot call our selves lahourers of God. When the conscience
is good we can ask unreservedly for the prayers of the saints. The apostle
so much the more asked for them because he hoped thus the sooner to see
Finally, he invokes blessing upon them, giving God the title he so often
ascribes to Him-" the God of peace." In the midst of exercise of heart with
regard to the Hebrews, of arguments to preserve their love from growing
cold, in the midst of the moral unsteadiness that enfeebled the walk of
these Christians, and their trials in the breaking down of what they
considered stable and holy, this title has a peculiarly precious character.
The Spirit sets them also in the presence of a risen Christ, of a God who
had founded and secured peace by the death of Christ, and had given a proof
of it in His resurrection. He had brought Christ again from the dead
according to the power of the blood of the everlasting
[see note #41] covenant. On this blood the believing people might build a hope that
shake. For it was not, as at Sinai, promises founded on the condition of
the people's obedience, but on the ransom which had been paid, and the
perfect expiation of their disobedience. The blessing was therefore
unchangeable, the covenant (as the inheritance and the redemption) was
everlasting. He prays that the God who had wrought it, would work in them
to grant them full power and energy for the accomplishment of His will,
working Himself in them that which was well pleasing in His sight.
He urges them to give heed to exhortation; he had only sent them a few words.
He who wrote the letter desires they should know that Timothy had been set
at liberty; he himself was so already; he was in Italy; circumstances which
tend to confirm the idea that it was Paul who wrote this letter-a very
interesting point, although in nowise affecting its authority.
It is the Spirit of God who everywhere gives His own authority to the word.