Monday, 6 May 2019
Let brotherly love continue. Hebrews 13:1
We now begin the final chapter of the book of Hebrews, and it will last for less than a month of daily commentaries. Verse 1 begins the chapter right where chapter 12 left off –
For our God is a consuming fire.
Let brotherly love continue.
The thought of the previous verse was that of God’s fire consuming that which is not acceptable in His people when they enter into glory. All such things are considered as wood, hay, or stubble and will be burned up at the judgment seat of Christ. In order to have more gain and less loss, the author gives a note of expectation by saying, “Let brotherly love continue.”
The Greek word is philadelphia. It means, “affection for the brethren.” This is why the city of Philadelphia is known as “The city of brotherly love.” Here, the author acknowledges that brotherly love was evidenced among them, and he is spurring them on to continue with this attitude. This was seen in his words of Chapter 6 –
“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
In conducting themselves in this manner, and in continuing to do so in the future, they will have less of the “consuming fire,” and more of the “well done good and faithful servant,” coming their way when they stand before Christ. So should it be with each one of us.
It is to be understood that the idea of brotherly love here is limited to the body of believers. This is seen, for example, in Peter’s words in his second letter –
“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:17
A distinction is made here, as is made by Paul when he uses the same term as this verse in Hebrews, philidelphia, in Romans 12:10 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9.
Life application: One thing that is stressed again and again in the New Testament is brotherly love; having affection for all in the body of Christ. This is unfortunately not something that comes about as much as it should. Rather, we divide churches over teeny issues and we disown friends because our feelings get hurt over something they say. But Paul is pretty clear about how we should conduct ourselves around other believers –
“If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” 1 Corinthians 6:4-8
He says that it would be better that we were cheated than to turn and sue a fellow believer. It’s not just for our sake that he says this, but rather for the sake of Jesus’ name. When fellow Christians act in such an unbecoming manner, the One who ultimately looks bad in others’ eyes is Jesus – “Ah, those Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites.”
Are we setting a noble example for Christ in our conduct and behavior? Think on these things and … keep loving each other as brothers. This is the calling to which we are called. Let’s pray about this….
Lord Jesus, it is extremely hard to overlook an offense when we are wronged by others. Give us hearts that are more willing to be molded to Your image. You have forgiven us so very much and we need to emulate the grace bestowed upon us. In the end, may it be Your name which is held in high esteem as we live our lives to Your glory. Amen.