Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Hebrews 13:18-21
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Hebrews 13:18
Verse 18: Including himself as one of their leaders, the author calls on his readers to spiritually cover their leaders in prayer. He says, “Pray for us for we are persuaded that we have a good conscience, wishing to conduct our lives and ministries properly in all matters” (paraphrase). Having just told the churches to trustfully submit to their leaders, he immediately adds this request that they also pray for them. The fact that in the midst of this he was to declare that he and the leaders of these local churches have a “good conscience” and want to conduct themselves properly must mean that their character has been attacked. He doesn’t tell us by whom, but looking back over his letter would lead us to guess that it is those who have tried to diminish Jesus and His gospel of grace. In order to attack Jesus they have attacked those who teach Him faithfully.

Monday: Hebrews 13:18
Verse 18 (continued): Slander is a common weapon used to discredit leaders (2Co 7:2; 11:1-15). An unscrupulous person who can’t win a theological debate fairly may redirect his attack toward the personality or character of his opponent. Or in extreme cases he might even attack them physically (Ac 7:51-60). The author’s appeal makes it appear that this dishonest tactic was being widely used. Attempts were being made to cast doubt on the motives and conduct of Christian leaders. So it was urgent that believers pray for their leaders. However, this general principle is always true. In every age good leaders come under attack one way or another. So it’s important for congregations to accept the responsibility to diligently pray for their leaders to ensure that they will be protected and empowered. In God’s mind, the care that’s given in a church goes two directions. Leaders must care for their congregation, but the congregation must also care for their leaders.

Tuesday: Hebrews 13:19
Verse 19: Continuing with the subject of prayer the author emphasizes that he is personally in great need of prayer at that very moment. He says, “I even more ask you to do this (pray for me) so that I may be restored back to you again.” He doesn’t say what it is that’s hindering him from returning to them, but his words sound similar to those of Paul writing from prison (Phm 1:1, 22). If not prison, then he may be facing some other persecution (1Th 2:14-18). Whatever the cause, the solution in his mind is to call the churches to pray, confident that if they do he will be restored to them “sooner.”

Wednesday: Hebrews 13:20
Verse 20: After asking his readers to pray for him, he in turn prays for them, addressing his prayer to the “God of peace.” Considering that he spent much of his letter warning his readers against the danger of provoking God to anger (2:3; 3:7-4:11; 5:11-6:12; 10:26-31, 35-39; 12:14-21, 25-29), the title “God of peace” is surprising. Afterall, it’s not been many verses since he reminded us that “God is a consuming fire” (12:29). Yet, if we have listened carefully, we will also recognize that there has been throughout the letter a deeper underlying theme. His warnings were driven by necessity because people were abandoning the Savior. But the greater purpose of this letter is to show that God has made a way for people to spend eternity in unbroken fellowship with Him. He desires to save people, not judge them. He longs to bring “many sons to glory” (Heb 2:10). This was the motive behind sending His Son. Jesus came to remove “once for all” the barrier of sin that prevents humans from drawing near to God. In other words, His goal is to be at peace with us.

Thursday: Hebrews 13:20
Verse 20 (continued): Time and again through the course of his letter the author emphasized that Christ made it possible to be at peace with God on a level the Old Covenant was never able to provide. He told us that Jesus “is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). He told us that Jesus has provided a hope for us which “enters within the veil” (Heb 6:19), meaning He has opened the way for us to follow Him there. He called this “a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh…” (Heb 10:20). In other words, the overarching purpose of God, His defining characteristic, is not judgment, but peace (Jn 3:17). This is why as he concludes his letter, the author brings our focus back to the loving heart of God. Yes, God will judge, because He must, but His deepest desire is to be at peace with us.

Friday: Hebrews 13:20
Verse 20 (continued): Having defined the Father as the “God of peace,” he defines the Son as “the great shepherd of the sheep,” meaning He has been appointed to lead God’s people. And the final, indisputable proof of this is the resurrection. After Jesus shed His blood to bring us the promised New Covenant (Heb 8:6-13), which the author refers to here as the “eternal covenant” because it will never be replaced by another, the Father showed His complete acceptance of Christ’s sin-offering when He “brought Him up from the dead” and then seated Him at His right hand (Heb 1:13) as “our Lord.”

Saturday: Hebrews 13:21
Verse 21: As the author’s prayer continues he specifies what he’s requesting for his readers. He asks God to restore (“put back into place”) in them every “good thing” which is needed to do His will. The sense of his words is that God would return to their proper place things that had been damaged or pulled out of joint. He wants beliefs and behaviors that were once present to be restored. Looking back over his letter we realize he must mean truths about Jesus, moral purity, damaged relationships and compassion for those suffering. These are the marks of a faith that is “well-pleasing” to God (Heb 11:5). And he presents his prayer confident that God will work these things in them “through Jesus Christ,” who, because of what He has made possible for us, deserves to receive “glory” forever. Amen (let it be so!).

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