Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Hebrews 13:22-25
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Hebrews 13:22
Verse 22: The author describes his letter as a “word of exhortation.” The word translated “exhortation” is derived from “parakaleo.” The Greek word means to call to one’s side to help in some way and is translated by various words: comfort, exhort, beseech, encourage and advocate (1Jn 2:1). The same word is used to characterize the Holy Spirit’s ministry to believers in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). And, if indeed Barnabus is the author of Hebrews (see: sermon notes 9/27/08) as I think he is, then this word is the root of the nickname given to him by the apostles (Ac 4:36). They called him the “son of exhortation/encouragement” (parakaleo). So when we look back over the character of this letter we get the sense of what the early church meant when they used this word. At times the letter is comforting, at times instructive, and at other times it thunders with severe warnings. Yet, the motive behind all of it is a loving pastoral concern to come beside people in order to help them to live lives that please God (Heb 10:24, 25). A literal translation of this portion of the verse would read, “I exhort you brothers to bear with this word of exhortation….”

Monday: Hebrews 13:22
Verse 22 (continued): Then the author says, “…for indeed I wrote to you in few words” (literal), which must mean he has more he would like to say about the subjects he has addressed (9:5; 11:32). And he has certainly brought up subjects that would be enormously challenging for Jewish believers, in particular, and would have provoked many questions that deserved to be answered in more detail. So, without discounting the truth of what he has written, he says in effect, “Please forgive me for stirring up discussion, but not being present to respond to your questions.” However, as we will discover in the next verse (v 23), he hopes to remedy the situation by personally visiting them soon. Then their questions can be answered face to face, confusion cleared up and practical advice given about how to handle specific problems. Being the good pastor that he is, he doesn’t intend to simply drop all this information on them and then leave them to struggle to understand it alone. As soon as possible he’ll be there to help them.

Tuesday: Hebrews 13:23
Verse 23: Hopefully he won’t come alone. Word has reached him that Timothy has been recently released from jail (“released”: Jn 19:10, 12; Ac 17:9; 26:32; 28:18) and apparently is on his way to join the author. When Timothy arrives it appears he will assist the author as he assisted Paul previously (2Co 1:1; Col 1:1; 1Ti 1:3). Speaking of Timothy he says, “…with whom, if he comes sooner, I will see you.” This seems to mean that if Timothy arrives soon enough he will accompany the author as he travels, or it may mean that if Timothy doesn’t arrive by a certain deadline the author himself may be prevented from traveling to see them.

Wednesday: Hebrews 13:23
Verse 23 (continued): Since the author does not name himself, nor specify where he is located, nor mention the date of his writing, we can only guess at these details. If the author is Barnabus, and if Hebrews was written after Paul’s death in Rome (A.D. 67), then the following scenario might have taken place. Paul had been in prison awaiting execution when he wrote his final letter to Timothy (2Ti 4:6, 7), and as he closed that letter he urged Timothy to come to Rome (2Ti 4:9). He had continued to write and minister while in prison and needed a cloak to keep warm through the approaching winter (2Ti 4:21) and some books and parchments he had left at Troas (2Ti 4:13).

Thursday: Hebrews 13:23
Verse 23 (continued): Given all we know of Timothy, it seems certain he would have responded to Paul’s request, and may have himself been arrested sometime after arriving in Rome. With Paul gone, once Timothy was released (Nero died A.D. 68) he may have written Barnabus. Barnabus and Paul had led Timothy to Christ twenty years earlier when he was a boy in Lystra (Ac 14:6-23; 16:1-3), so Barnabus, like Paul, would have been an old friend and mentor.

Friday: Hebrews 13:24
Verse 24: We have no way of knowing where the letter of Hebrews was written, but as the author personally greets his readers he adds a casual greeting which does provide a clue as to whom it was addressed. He says, “Greet all the ones leading you and all the saints…”, and then adds, “…the ones from Italy greet you.” Obviously, he can’t be writing from Italy, but for some reason people who used to live in Italy are sending their greetings back to people they know there (Ac 18:2). So it seems likely the letter was sent to congregations in and around Rome. But why? Here again we can only guess, but could it be that either Paul or Timothy had reported that the spiritual condition of many Jewish believers there (Ac 28:17-29) was declining. In fact, it had been apparent that trouble was developing when Paul wrote to them ten years earlier (Ro 16:17). Could it be that Timothy wrote to Barnabus to say he’d been released and would like to come to assist the older apostle to travel back with him to Rome if he would agree to do so? Such a scenario would also help explain why the author can confidently say, “You know Timothy our brother has been released….” Certainly the believers in Rome would have known this if he had been jailed there. Of course, this is only speculation built on the bits and pieces of information that are recorded. But there must have been some sort of historical reality like this behind these comments. They made perfect sense to the original recipients.

Saturday: Hebrews 13:25
Verse 25: Finally, this magnificent letter closes with a blessing, “Grace be with all of you.” His benediction is nearly identical (Tit 3:15 is identical) to ones Paul gave (Col 4:18; 1Ti 6:21; 2Ti 4:22; Tit 3:15). He prays that they will abide in the undeserved favor which God gives to all who place their faith in His Son Jesus. Grace has been an underlying theme woven throughout this letter. He told them that it was “by the grace of God” that Jesus had tasted death for them (Heb 2:9). He told them to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so (they) may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). He called the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of grace” (Heb 10:29). In fact, the whole letter was written because some were in danger of coming “short of the grace of God” (Heb 12:15). So it should come as no surprise that he would end his letter with a benediction which focuses on grace. His readers must choose whether to trust the covenant at Sinai or the new covenant, whether to return to the works of the Law or rest in grace. To help them do this he prays that God’s grace will be with all of them, but for this to happen he’s already made it clear that all of them must continue to place their faith in God’s grace which had been given to them through His Son.

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