Hebrews 13:7 MEANING

Hebrews 13:7
(7) Which have the rule.--Rather, which were your leaders (Hebrews 13:17; Hebrews 13:24; Acts 15:22), who spake unto you the word of God. These spiritual guides had been removed from them by death.

Whose faith follow.--Better, and, contemplating: the end (or, issue) of their life, imitate their faith. Their Christian life and course (James 3:13; 1 Peter 1:15, et al.), had been known by the Church; they, too, have obtained a good report "by faith" (Hebrews 11:2), and all who contemplate the blessed issue of such a life will be strengthened to imitate their faith. We may well suppose that some had died a martyr's death, but the writer seems carefully to avoid any direct expression of this thought; his words apply to all who have ended their course in the triumph of faith. This verse recalls a striking passage in the Book of Wisdom, Hebrews 2:17-18; especially Hebrews 13:17, where the ungodly say of the righteous man, "Let us see if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him."

Verses 7, 8. - Remember your leaders (τῶν ἡγουμένων ὑμῶν, wrongly rendered in the A.V., "them that have the rule over you;" for the reference is to departed chiefs. The word is similarly used by St. Luke (see Luke 22:26; Acts 15:22; also below, ver. 17 and ver. 24). St. Paul, with a like meaning, calls the rulers of the Church οἱ προιστάμενοι: see Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17), who spake to you the Word of God; of whose conversation (i.e. course of life, ἀναστροφῆς), considering the end (or issue, ἔκβασιν), imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is yesterday and today the same, and forever. This allusion to departed leaders shows the comparatively late date of the Epistle. Those who had died as martyrs, and hence, having a peculiar halo round them in the issue of their lives, may be supposed to be especially referred to; such as Stephen the proto-martyr at Jerusalem, James the son of Zebedee, and possibly James the Just, the acknowledged leader of the Jewish Christians. It may be that Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, had also suffered before the writing of the Epistle. This supposition, however, which would involve a date for the Epistle after St. Paul's death also, is by no means necessary. Others, too, may be alluded to of whom we have no record, but whose memory would be fresh in the minds of the readers. But it does not follow that martyrs only are intended. Others also who had died in peace, and whose end had been blessed, might be pointed to as models for the imitation of survivors. Ver. 8 must be taken as a distinct appended sentence, the watchword on which the preceding exhortation is based. Its drift is that, though successive generations pass away, Jesus Christ remains the same - the Savior of the living as well as of the departed, and the Savior of all to the end of time. It may be here observed that, though his eternal Deity is not distinctly expressed - for "yesterday" does not of necessity reach back to past eternity - yet the sentence can hardly be taken as not implying it. For his unchangeableness is contrasted with the changing generations of men, as is that of Jehovah in the Old Testament (e.g. in Psalm 90:2-4), and surely such language would not have been used of any but a Divine Being.

13:7-15 The instructions and examples of ministers, who honourably and comfortably closed their testimony, should be particularly remembered by survivors. And though their ministers were some dead, others dying, yet the great Head and High Priest of the church, the Bishop of their souls, ever lives, and is ever the same. Christ is the same in the Old Testament day. as in the gospel day, and will be so to his people for ever, equally merciful, powerful, and all-sufficient. Still he fills the hungry, encourages the trembling, and welcomes repenting sinners: still he rejects the proud and self-righteous, abhors mere profession, and teaches all whom he saves, to love righteousness, and to hate iniquity. Believers should seek to have their hearts established in simple dependence on free grace, by the Holy Spirit, which would comfort their hearts, and render them proof against delusion. Christ is both our Altar and our Sacrifice; he sanctifies the gift. The Lord's supper is the feast of the gospel passover. Having showed that keeping to the Levitical law would, according to its own rules, keep men from the Christian altar, the apostle adds, Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp; go forth from the ceremonial law, from sin, from the world, and from ourselves. Living by faith in Christ, set apart to God through his blood, let us willingly separate from this evil world. Sin, sinners, nor death, will not suffer us to continue long here; therefore let us go forth now by faith and seek in Christ the rest and peace which this world cannot afford us. Let us bring our sacrifices to this altar, and to this our High Priest, and offer them up by him. The sacrifice of praise to God, we should offer always. In this are worship and prayer, as well as thanksgiving.Remember them which have the rule over you,.... Christ's church is a kingdom, and he is King in it; pastors of churches are subordinate governors; who rule well when they rule not in an arbitrary way, according to their own wills, but according to the laws of Christ, with all faithfulness, prudence, and diligence. The word may be rendered "guides" or "leaders"; for such point out the way of peace, life, and salvation to men, and direct them to Christ; and guide them into the understanding of the Scriptures, and the truths of the Gospel; and lead them in the paths of faith and holiness, and are examples to them. The Greek word, here used, is what the Jews call Christian bishops by; and is, by Maimonides (w), said to be the same as "a bishopric": to "remember" them is to know, own, acknowledge, and respect them as their governors; to obey them, and submit to them; to treasure up in memory their doctrines and exhortations; to be mindful of them at the throne of grace, to pray for them; and to take care of their maintenance and outward supply of life:

who have spoken unto you the word of God; of which God is the author, being agreeably to the Scriptures, given by inspiration of God; the subject of which is the love and grace of God in Christ; and which God makes useful for conversion and comfort; and which, when spoken aright, is spoken freely, boldly, and faithfully:

whose faith follow; or "imitate"; meaning either their faithfulness, by owning the truths and ordinances of the Gospel before men; by reproving fellow Christians in love; by discharging the several duties of their place in the church; and by performing the private duties of life: or the grace of faith, their strong exercise of it, together with its fruits and effects, love, and good works; also the profession of their faith, which they hold fast unto the end; and the doctrine of faith, by embracing the same, as it appears agreeably to the word; by abiding by it, standing fast in it, striving for it, and persevering in it to the end.

Considering the end of their conversation; which may intend the whole of their conduct in the discharge of the several duties of their office; the end of which designs either the manner of it, as De Dieu explains it, agreeably to the sense of the Hebrew word, in Psalm 68:20 or the drift and scope of it, which was Christ, his honour and glory, as in connection with the following verse; or the event of it in life, being for the glory of God, and the good of men; or rather the issue of it in death, or what a comfortable end they made; and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "considering" their "last manner of living, in their exit out of the world"; and this is to be considered for imitation and encouragement.

(w) In Misn. Gittin, c. 1. sect. 1.

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