Hebrews 13

Hebrew 13, verses 4-9 have layers of meaning in them. While they are definitely exhortations to live pure, holy, godly lives…. they are also warnings against apostasy and idolatry… against false teachings that were infiltrating their churches. Adulterers, whoremongers, defile, lovers of money are all terms that describe false teachers and idolators in scriptures. 

verses 4-9: Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (5) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (6) So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (7) Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. (8) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (9) Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. 

verses 4-5: Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (5) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 

  • Of course we are to live holy, pure, godly lives. Of course we are to be faithful in our marriages and sex is wrong outside of the marriage relationship. Of course we are to not be covetous, greedy, or lovers of money. And of course we are to be content with what God has given us.
  • But is that all this verse is saying?
  • Remember, the book of Hebrews is about the contrast of Old Covenant and New Covenant.

The writer has explained theses contrasts to us for the last 12 chapters and has warned us several times throughout this letter to not fall from grace, to not turn away from Christ (apostasy), to steer clear of idolatry and going back to Judaism, and to enter into the rest of the finished work of the cross. 

  • So, with all of that in mind, I don’t want to look at these 2 verses through the lens of the Old Covenant pattern which is…. if I am not faithful in my marriage or if I sleep around — if I mess up! If I sin = God is going to judge me. 
  • The problem with that lens is that Jesus drew ALL judgment to Himself on the cross and IT IS FINISHED!
    • Isaiah 53:5: The punishment that brought our peace was upon Him
    • 2 Cor 5:21: He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
    • Romans 5:8-9: But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more
      shall we be saved from wrath through Him!

God doesn’t see us as, or call us adulterers or a whoremonger — He sees us and calls us righteous! As sons!

So who does the Bible call the adulterer and the whoremonger? Who is referred to as covetous?

  • several verses in the other epistles mention sexual immorality as a false teaching — Eph 5:3-7; Jude 1:4; 1 Tim 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2:14; 1 Tim 1:3-10;
  • Jeremiah 23:10 also talking about false prophets and calls them adulterers.
  • Sexually immoral in verse 4 is the same Greek word used in Hebrews 12:16 to describe Esau as a fornicator.. an idolator. — The root word is porne which means an idolatrous
  • Adulterers in verse 4 is “moichos” which figuratively means an apostate
  • In the Old Testament, whenever Israel went into idolatry, God called it “adultery.”
  • Idolatry is spiritual adultery
  • Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry
  • 2 Peter 2:3 By covetousness they [the false teachers] will exploit you with deceptive

Historically, at the time this was written (and the other epistles), there were false teachers that had infiltrated the churches and were attempting to turn the believers away from the grace of the New Covenant… away from Jesus. 

There were those who were forbidding marriage, believing celibacy was purity and pleasing to God (1 Tim 4:3); there were those who were perverting the grace of God into a license for immorality (Jude 1:4); of course there were the Judaizers who were encouraging them to go back to the Law – which is adultery/idolatry (Romans 7:1-4); all of these false teachers were motivated by greed (covetousness – love of money); 

  • In verse 5 it says to be content or be satisfied “with the things that are present.”

Present = right now

What was present for this group of people the writer was talking to?

They had put their faith in Jesus alone for salvation. And because of it, they were suffering
intense persecution and the reality of having to flee Jerusalem and everything they had previously known… all that was familiar… the temple, the priests, the sacrifices.. their family and friends. 

remember they were feeling the pressure to return to Judaism (idolatry) and they were being influenced by false teachers 

This is a reminder to them not to fall back into idolatry (the Law/Old Covenant) but walk free of that because Jesus is enough.

  • For hasn’t He promised you that “I will never leave you; never will I forsake you 
    • 1 Kings 8:57 — Part of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple was that the Lord would never leave them nor forsake them.
    • He was declaring that God had kept His promises and not one word had failed which He promised through Moses.
    • What a fitting thing for the writer of Hebrews to remind the people of…. he’s already told them that the New Covenant is far superior to the Mosaic covenant — if God kept His promises and not one word failed which He promised Moses, they can trust Him to be with them and never leave or forsake them.
      verse 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

• their bold, courageous response God in the midst of the persecutions and pressures
verse 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 

• is an exhortation to follow after those who taught them as they followed after Christ
verse 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

• The Aramaic is “Jesus the Messiah is the fulfillment of yesterday, today, and forever.”

• “the same” in the Greek is “ho autos”. This is the translated in the Septuagint of the Hebrew “attah hu, a Divine title.

  • Psalms 102:27 – But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end — talking about the Creator
  • Malachi 3:6 — For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. — Malachi comes at the end of the Old Covenant, but it anticipates the New Testament; It is prophetic of the Messenger of the Covenant
  • This connects with v. 7 – those leaders “spoke God’s message to you” and you acted on the message then but are now considering forsaking it.
  • If Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever; if His sacrificial death remains the only true atonement; if holiness, “without which no one will see the Lord” (12:14) comes only through him; Then why are you seeking other paths to God ( which are mentioned in v. 9).
  • verse 9 – Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 

Passion: So don’t let anyone lead you astray with all sorts of novel and exotic teachings. It is more beautiful to feast on grace and be inwardly strengthened than to be obsessed with dietary rules which in themselves have no lasting benefit. 

Do not be carried away – This is a present imperative with a negative particle which means STOP an action which is already going on’’ to CEASE an act in progress. 

Some of the hearers were contemplating “shrinking back” to Judaism (Heb. 2:1; 10:38). This tells us that they were being influenced by all kinds of strange (new and foreign) teachings and the writer is telling them to STOP IT!

  • The thing that keeps us from being carried about with strange doctrines is grace
  • Once we are fully persuaded that our relationship with the Lord is totally based on grace by faith, we won’t be manipulated by false doctrines. Grace is liberating!
  • Notice that grace is what strengthens our hearts. 

Strengthen is the Greek word “bebaioo” which means to be secure and established. The root word means to walk on solid ground – firm, unshakable, absolutely dependable solid ground. To have solid footing. 

• So, understanding God’s grace gives us solid, secure footing. Our walk is unshakeable and firm.

  • The “meats” being written about here could be referring to the Old Testament dietary laws. 
    • Colossians 2:16-17 clearly reveals those laws were only symbolic and have now found
      their fulfillment in Christ.
    • Or the “meats” could be referring to eating meat that had been offered to idols. Paul taught
      extensively on that in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8 and 10:19-33).
    • The kingdom of God is not what we eat or drink (Romans 14:17).
    • The forbidding of eating certain foods is a demonic doctrine.
  • 2 Peter 3:18 gives us protection against strange, false teachings — But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Hebrews 12:15 told us to see to it that we don’t fall short of God’s grace because the result would be a “root of bitterness” which is an Old Testament saying meaning a stubborn heart bent towards idolatry…. grace protects us from idolatry. 

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