The Twenty-Fifth and Final in a Series of Sermons on the Epistle to the Hebrews
By the time we come to the last chapter of the Book of Hebrews, we still know very little about the author of this epistle, and we know virtually nothing about the church receiving this remarkable letter. We don’t even know in what city the church receiving this letter is located–Rome or Alexandria. In the final chapter, the author implies that he personally knows those who were leading this church, and that he’s familiar enough with the congregation to tell them that he desires to return to see them again. Although we don’t know much about the details of authorship and location, we do know the primary problem facing this church. Many of its members had returned (or were considering returning) to Judaism from which they had recently converted to Christianity. In response, the author skillfully proves to us that Old Testament types and shadows pointed ahead to Jesus Christ who is Israel’s Messiah, an eternal priest after the order of Melchizadek, and the mediator of the new covenant (with its greater promises). Jesus has none of the human weaknesses of Moses and he secures much better covenant promises. The author has made a compelling case for the superiority of Jesus Christ, as well as warning this congregation of the danger of neglecting such a great salvation and/or falling away from the savior. And he now brings this letter to a close.
And so we wrap up our series on the Book of Hebrews. When we took up the final chapter of this epistle (chapter thirteen), I mentioned that we could either cover the entire chapter in one sermon by rushing through it (which I did not really want to do), or we could cover it in two sermons, even though there was not a good place to break up the chapter. So I took up the first sixteen verses last time (part one), while we conclude the chapter (part two) by covering verses 17-25. But with this section of Hebrews completed, we will have finished our study of this epistle–a most powerful and remarkable epistle indeed.
As we saw in the opening 16 verses of chapter thirteen of the Book of Hebrews, the author shifts from setting out his case for the superiority of Jesus Christ (mostly indicatives–which are a statement of fact, things we are to believe) to issuing a number of imperatives (commands which we are to obey). These imperatives reflect the fact that those who have been made perfect by the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ should strive to live their lives in a manner consistent with that salvation secured for us by our covenant mediator.
In the opening verses of this concluding chapter, the author exhorts the congregation to “let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers . . .” to “remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” To “let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” And to “keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.” All of these things are found throughout the New Testament’s ethical teaching and should characterize those who have believed the gospel and been united to Jesus Christ through faith.
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