Hebrews 13:23

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly. Hebrews 13:23

Here, Timothy is introduced into the epistle. He is the same person to whom Paul addresses the epistles 1 and 2 Timothy, and who is referenced in quite of few of his other epistles. Paul normally refers to Timothy with the proper name first in the Greek, and with a definite article, such as, “Timothy the brother.” However, here it says, “the brother of us, Timothy,” meaning, “our brother Timothy.” This cannot be used as a case against Pauline authorship, because in 1 Thessalonians 3:2 it says, “Timothy the brother of us,” meaning “our brother.”

The placement of the name first or last, and the use of “our brother” as opposed to “the brother,” is based upon the words in relation to who is being addressed and the context in which Timothy is being referred to. As this epistle is to the Hebrew people, it is more natural to speak of Timothy as “our brother” first. The very fact that Timothy is being referred to, and as “our brother,” actually strengthens the idea of Pauline authorship. Timothy was Paul’s protege and they were almost constant companions. The words here reflect such a notion.

From there, it says that Timothy “has been set free.” This is, at times, translated as “set free from prison,” or implying that this is the case. The word used can reflect that, but it could be something as simple as being dismissed in some other way. This is the only time the word is used in the epistles. It is found throughout the gospels and Acts, and it simply means to release, let go, dismiss, etc. It is used, for example, when Jesus dismissed the crowds who came to hear Him speak.

Therefore, the words can be simply rendered as, “our brother Timothy who has been sent away, with whom if he returns soon, I will see you.” In other words, Paul may have sent him on a mission (which he is seen to have done at times – see Acts 19:22, for example), and if he returned in time, they would travel together to be with this group of Hebrew people.

The main point is that Timothy is included in the epistle and that the author had hoped that he and Timothy would together come to fellowship with this group.

Life application: Tradition (not in the Bible) records that Timothy served as the Bishop of Ephesus circa AD 65. He held that position for about 15 years, but eventually he tried to halt a pagan procession of idols, ceremonies, and songs that was occurring there. In response to his gospel preaching, they beat him, dragged him through the streets, and stoned him to death. Sticking up for the gospel wasn’t easy then and it has been a difficult ride for many faithful since then as well.

Countless faithful people have been martyred throughout the ages and it still occurs today. Despite this, Jesus’ promise of eternal life is given by our God, who cannot lie, and it is worth all the temporary troubles we may face for His name’s sake. Let us determine to stand fast on the gospel, no matter what. The rewards will be heavenly.

Finally, are you waiting for a reunion with someone today? As the old saying goes, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” When the time of our final reunion comes, it will be a wonderful occasion, especially if it is Jesus you are waiting on!

Lord, we look with anticipation for that Day when you will return and take us to be with You. Never has there been, nor will there ever be, a greater reunion than when we see Your face. May it be soon! Amen.

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