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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Hebrews 13

Exhortations to various duties, and to be content with what Providence allots. (1-6) To respect the instructions of faithful pastors, with cautions against being carried away by strange doctrines. (7-15) Further exhortations to duties, that relate to God, to our neighbour, and to those set over us in the Lord. (16-21) This epistle to be seriously considered. (22-25)

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Exhortations to various duties, and to be content with what Providence allots

1 Let brotherly love continue.

2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

To respect the instructions of faithful pastors, with cautions against being carried away by strange doctrines

7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Further exhortations to duties, that relate to God, to our neighbour, and to those set over us in the Lord

16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This epistle to be seriously considered

22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.

23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. And hospitality do not forget, . . . some being not aware[1] of it, have entertained Angels. They imagined they received men, when they were Angels. The Latin interpreter followed exactly the Greek, though the expression be unusual in both languages. It is meant of Abraham, (Gen. xviii. 2.) and of Lot, Gen. xix. 1. Wi.

Ver. 3. As being yourselves also in the body. That is, liable to troubles and afflictions as long as you are in a mortal body. Wi.

Ver. 4. Marriage honourable in all.[2] It is doubtful both in the Latin and Greek, whether the sense be, marriage is honourable, or let it be accounted honourable, as it rather seems to be by the rest of the text. Again it may be doubted whether the sense be honourable in all persons, or in all things, and in all respects; as it seems to be the obvious signification that persons do nothing to dishonour their state, as they do who violate by adulteries the fidelity they owe to one another, who regard not the sanctity of this sacrament, who love not each other, who take not care of the education of their children. It does not follow from hence, that all persons without any exception, even those who have already made a vow to God to lead a single life, may lawfully marry. Such persons, by pretending to marry, incur their damnation. See 1 Tim. v. 12. Wi. — Or, let marriage be honourable in all. That is, in all things belonging to the marriage state. This is a warning to married people, not to abuse the sanctity of their state, by any liberties or irregularities contrary thereunto. Now it does not follow from this text that all persons are obliged to marry, even if the word omnibus were rendered, in all persons, instead of in all things: for if it was a precept, S. Paul himself would have transgressed it, as he never married. Moreover those who have already made a vow to God to lead a single life, should they attempt to marry, would incur their own damnation. Ch. — As marriage is a great sacrament, (Eph. v.) married persons should be careful to honour and respect it, by chaste and prudent behaviour; (see 1 Peter iii. and 1 Thess. iv.) but it too often happens that by criminal incontinence they change a great sacrament into a great sacrilege.

Ver. 5. I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee. It is an exhortation to covetous persons not to be too solicitous, but to trust in Providence. Wi.

Ver. 7. Remember your prelates, &c. who have been placed over you to be your guides and directors in what belongs to the service of God; he seems to mean the two SS. James, the apostles, who perhaps had already suffered martyrdom for the gospel. Wi.

Ver. 8. Yesterday, and to-day, and the same for ever. That is, Christ is the same merciful and powerful advocate and protector, in regard of all that serve him faithfully to the end of the world. Wi.

Ver. 9. With various and strange doctrines. Such as the disciples of Simon Magus had begun to teach; nor with the false doctrine of those among you, who would make you subject to the ceremonies and sacrifices of the former law, which never of themselves profit those who walk in them, so as to give true sanctification, and which now are no longer obligatory. Wi. — The grace of Jesus Christ is the true support of our hearts, and this grace is conveyed to us by means of the sacraments, especially the holy Eucharist. Hence S. Ignatius addresses the Ephesians as follows: “Brethren, stand fast in the faith of Jesus Christ; in his passion and resurrection; breaking that one bread, which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote against death, and the means of living in God by Christ Jesus; the medicament that expels all evil.”

Ver. 10. We, Christians, have at present an altar,[3] and consequently a sacrifice, whereof they have no power to eat, who serve the tabernacle, confiding in the law and in Moses, not in Christ and the gospel. He does not say, we had an altar. Wi. — S. Paul has often mentioned the high priest and victim; here he tells us we have an altar, and of course a sacrifice. Let us then go out of ourselves to offer to God by, with, and in Jesus Christ, this his beloved Son, in the holy Eucharist, for this is a victim of praise worthy of God, and let us not forget to offer ourselves to our eternal Father daily, in union with our great high priest and victim, Jesus Christ; 1st, on the cross; 2dly, in the Eucharist; and 3dly, in heaven, the immaculate Lamb slain as it were from the beginning before the throne of God.

Ver. 11. This is commonly interpreted of the sacrifice of the Eucharist, by which is continued (though in a different manner) Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, of which he speaks in the following words, telling them that the bodies of those beasts, with the blood of which the sanctuary was sprinkled on the feast of expiation, (see Levit. xvi. 29. and xxiii. 27. and Numb. xxix. 8.) were burnt without the camp, not eaten as the other victims. Wherefore Jesus, when he fulfilled this figure, and offered himself on the cross, a sacrifice of expiation for the sins of all mankind, and to obtain for them true sanctification, was pleased to suffer out of the gate of Jerusalem. Wi.

Ver. 13. Let us go forth, therefore, to him without the camp. It is an exhortation to them to be willing to suffer with Christ reproaches, persecutions, and death itself, if they desire to partake of the benefit of Christ’s redemption. Wi. — Bearing his reproach. That is, bearing his cross. It is an exhortation to them to be willing to suffer, with Christ, reproaches, persecutions, and even death, if they desire to partake of the benefit of his suffering for man’s redemption. Ch.

Ver. 14-15. We have not a permanent city in this world, but are like pilgrims or banished men, seeking for our happy country of heaven; but in the mean time must offer to God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which is done chiefly in the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist, also by confessing his name, and praying to him with our lips and hearts; and by a kind of sacrifice of charity, by doing good to every one, and of communication to others; lit. of communion, or union with our neighbours. Wi. — When we read in the psalms, and in the old Scripture, of a sacrifice of praise, we may look upon it as a prophecy of the Christian Eucharist or sacrifice of praise, of which S. Austin says: “What is a more holy sacrifice of praise, than that which consisteth in thanksgiving, which the faithful offer now in the sacrifice of the Church.” l. 1. cont. Advers. leg. and proph. c. xviii. And again c. xx. “The Church from the time of the apostles, by an uninterrupted succession of prelates, offers to God in the body of Christ the sacrifice of praise.”

Ver. 16. For by such sacrifices God’s favour is obtained,[4] and a recompense or a reward from him. Wi. — The Protestant version, God is well pleased: If God be well pleased and shew favour for them, then are they meritorious, and faith alone is not the sole cause of God’s favour to man.

Ver. 17-18. Obey your prelates, &c. Join the sacrifice of obedience to your bishops and pastors, whom God has placed over you, who must render an account even of your souls, i.e. whether they have discharged their duty towards you, and whether it be not by their neglect that you have remained in your sins. Follow their commands and instructions, with such a ready willingness, that you do not contristate them, but that you may be a subject of comfort and joy to them, in their heavy and dangerous employments. — Fail not to pray for me, who am such a minister of God. Wi.

Ver. 20-21. Who brought, or raised from the dead, the great pastor of the sheep, of all the faithful, Jesus Christ, in the blood of the everlasting testament: in the testament that is to last for ever, not for a time, like the former testament made to the people of Israel. These words, in the blood, may either be joined with brought from the dead his son, as man, by the merits of his blood, which he had shed on the cross, as it is said Philip. ii. 8. Or they may be joined with the great pastor, and then the sense will be, that God raised Jesus Christ, who, by his blood shed on the cross, became the great shepherd of all the faithful. Working in you by his grace every good work, &c. Wi.

Ver. 22. Bear with the word of consolation, with what I have written to exhort and comfort you in a very few words, considering the importance of the subject, and the sublime mysteries. Wi.

Ver. 23. Our brother, Timothy, is set at liberty. From which we may conjecture that Timothy had been a prisoner, though it is not known where, nor on what occasion. Wi.

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[1] V. 2. Per hanc enim latuerunt quidam Angelis hospitio receptis, dia tautes gar elathon tines xenisantes Aggelous, i.e. hospitio recipiendo Angelos. The Latin has exactly followed the Greek.

[2] V. 4. Honorabile connubium in omnibus, timios o gamos en posi.

[3] V. 10. Habemus altare, thusiasterion, sacrificatorium: thusiasterion is not used for the oblation itself.

[4] V. 16. Promeretur Deus. This word is taken passively in several good Latin authors. See Grotius.