Hebrews 12 - Part 3 and Hebrews 13

SERMON TOPIC: Hebrews 12 - Part 3 and Hebrews 13

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 25 January 2015


Sermon synopsis: In the last part of Hebrews 12 we compare the Old and New Covenants.

In Hebrews 13 we look at 'Christian Living' with regards to love, hospitality, prayer, sexual purity, materialism, legalism, submission to leadership and the new sacrifices of the New Covenant.
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Hebrews 12 - Part 3

We saw previously that trials are comparable to running a race where there is sacrifice and self-discipline required in the training and running of it.


Then we saw that, contrary to what some believe, God’s single desire isn’t just for us to be happy.

God also wants us to be holy and will use discipline to achieve that goal!

Heb 12:4-6, 10 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” … but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.


Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Here we see the balance we are to strive for.

Persecution should not be the result of lack of effort on our part to live peacefully with others.

But not at the expense of holiness, for if we compromise this for the sake of peace with others we will not “see the Lord”.


Heb 12:15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

In context this verse precedes the passage about Esau. Esau was bitter and wanted to murder his brother in order to get the full inheritance he still felt entitled to.

Gen 27:41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him…


Gen 27:42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her

The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.

younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you…”

Maybe you have been wronged by someone? It is better to forgive. We see that unforgiveness and holding a grudge causes a “bitter root” which “grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Heb 12:15)

Thomas Fuller (1608–1661), an English churchman said, “He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself, for every man has need to be forgiven.”

Heb 12:16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.

Sexually immoral is ‘pornos’ in the Greek. The word is a broad word including all forms of immoral and sexual acts. It is premarital sex and adultery; it is homosexuality and abnormal sex; it is all kinds of sexual vice, whether married or unmarried. 1

While the OT is silent regarding Esau’s immorality, some ancient Jewish writings linked Esau’s marriage to the two Hittite women (Gen 26:34) with sexual immorality.

Jubilees 25:1 … Rebecca called Jacob her son, and spake unto him, saying: ‘My son, do not take thee a wife of the daughters of Canaan, as Esau, thy brother, who took him two wives of the daughters of Canaan, and they have embittered my soul with all their unclean deeds: for all their deeds are fornication and lust…’

1 Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible


Q: Why in Heb 12:16 is Esau considered godless for selling his inheritance rights as the oldest son?


Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me? (Gen 25:32)

A: Esau treated the things of God as worthless. The blessing contained in the birthright was part of the covenant God had made with Abraham.

Gen 25:34b So Esau despised his birthright.

Heb 12:17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.


Often there is a finality about sin. Barclay notes that “if a young man loses his purity or a girl her virginity, nothing can ever bring it back. The choice was made and the choice stands”. Notice that it is not a question of forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is always open to the penitent. Esau could have come back to God. But he could not undo his act. 1

Esau disregarded his birthright and lost his blessing. Similarly those who disregard the New Covenant reject an inheritance and like Esau, will ultimately bitterly regret it.

Do you value the things of God and treasure his blessings on your life?

1 Expositors Bible Commentary


Esau is an example to avoid: He gave up a long-term blessing for a short-term benefit. This is the choice the readers were facing, too: Would they give up eternal life with Christ for a little convenience in this world? If you do this, the author says, the time will come when the penalty will be irreversible. Esau repented in one sense — he decided he wanted the blessing — but it was too late, because it was part of the inheritance he had already sold. 1 So Esau rejected God’s covenant and treated it as something cheap that could be bartered for a plate of food. The book of Hebrews was written to those who, like us, had to either accept God’s New Covenant or reject it. They were being tempted to reject it because of the persecution they were facing.

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The next passage contrasts the Old and New Covenants. The Old Covenant represented by Mount Sinai is shown as intimidating, unapproachable and impersonal. Moses and the Old Covenant are linked to a physical Mount Sinai, which was a mountain associated with fear and judgement:

Heb 11:18-20 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”


Heb 11:21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

But Jesus and the New Covenant are linked to the heavenly Mount Zion, which was a place associated with rejoicing and “righteous men made perfect”:

Heb 11:23-24 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant


Heb 12:24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The comparison with Abel and Christ again highlights the difference between the Covenants of Law and Grace.

Abel’s blood cried out to God from the earth while Jesus’ blood speaks from heaven.


Abel’s blood demands vengeance on Cain for his murder. Jesus’ blood cries out with forgiveness and mercy for those who by their sins, sent him to the cross.

Matt 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.


Abel’s shed blood resulted in a curse while Jesus’ blood freed us from the curse.

Gal 3:13 (NASB) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”


The curse resulted in Cain becoming a “restless wanderer”. Likewise those who follow “the way of Cain” and try earn salvation through their own efforts, are doomed to a spiritual restless wandering.


In contrast, Jesus gives us “rest for our souls”:

Matt 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

and rest from our attempts to earn salvation by works:

Heb 4:9-10 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.


Paul shows in Romans that Mount Sinai of the Old Covenant speaks of slavery, while the heavenly Jerusalem (i.e. Mount Zion) speaks of the freedom of the New Covenant.

Rom 4:24-31 These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother… Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.


The new Covenant comes with even greater glory:

2 Cor 3:7-9 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!

And the New Covenant is eternal:

2 Cor 7:10-11 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!


So these Jewish readers are reminded again that the New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant and they should not return to the Old Covenant of Law, even in the face of persecution.

They are reminded that while the New Covenant has greater benefits, it also has greater penalties for those who reject it.

Heb 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?


The New Covenant has the promise of “a kingdom that cannot be shaken”.

Heb 12:26-27 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 1 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

1 Haggai 2:6 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.”


We ought to respond with thankfulness and reverence:

Heb 11:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” 1

Do not, in light of God’s mercy and grace, forget that he is an awesome God (a consuming fire) who should be worshipped with reverence and awe.

1 Deut 4:24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire…



Hebrews 13

The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which takes it’s name from the four Koine Greek words for love which roughly equate to the following in English: romance, affection, charity and friendship.

Eros (erōs, Greek) is romantic or erotic love based on a physical sexual attraction. It is the only one not found in the Biblical text.

Storge (storgē, Greek) is fondness through familiarity especially between family members or people who have found themselves together by chance e.g. the type of love between a parent and child.


Charity (agápē, Greek) is love which expects nothing in return. It cares regardless of the circumstance and is the greatest of loves as it is the love that God himself demonstrates to sinful man.

Philia (philía, Greek) is the ‘friendship’ love that exists between people who share common interests and is epitomised in the Biblical characters David and Jonathan. In the form ‘philadelphia’ it refers to brotherly love.

Some feel that we should just ‘tolerate’ other Christians. In other words we should love with the unconditional ‘agape’ love, but we don’t have to be friends (i.e. actually like other Christians). Other professing Christians even use this as an excuse to not fellowship. They say they love God, but don’t like his children.


But we are instructed to have both kinds of love for our Christian brothers and sisters:

1 Thess 4:9 (ESV) Now concerning brotherly love (philadelphias) you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love (agapan) one another

2 Pet 1:7 (ESV) and godliness with brotherly affection (philadelphian), and brotherly affection (philadelphia) with love (agapēn) for everyone.

1 Pet 1:22 (ESV) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love (philadelphian), love (agapēsate) one another earnestly from a pure heart


Heb 13:1 Keep on loving each other as brothers.

So too the word for love used in Hebrews 13:1 is ‘philadelphia’. As Christians we don’t just tolerate each other out of a higher sense of Godlike love – we should have a genuine brotherly friendship and affection.

Rom 12:10 (NASB) Be devoted (philostorgoi) to one another in brotherly love (philadelphia); give preference to one another in honour


But you say, “If I love like that, I might get hurt.”

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Then in the context of being told to “let brotherly love continue” (KJV) we are given a practical example – be hospitable.


Heb 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

This was true of Abraham who extended hospitality to strangers without realising that they were angels (Gen 18).


Lot unknowingly extends hospitality to two angels who ultimately rescue him and his daughters from the destruction of Sodom (Gen 19).

Hospitable: friendly and welcoming to visitors or guests.

synonyms: welcoming, friendly, congenial, gracious, amicable, well disposed, amenable, helpful, obliging, accommodating, neighbourly, warm, warm-hearted, generous

Hospitality is important and it is expected of Christians, particularly leaders (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:7-8).

Paul instructs us to:

Rom 12:13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality (Greek: philoxenia).

The Greek word ‘philoxenia’ literally means “love to strangers” (Strong’s ref 5381).


We should show hospitality to God’s workers. In John’s third epistle addressed to a man name Gaius, he writes:

3 John 5-8 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.

Interestingly Paul writes of a hospitable man called Gaius, possibly the same man.

Rom 16:23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.


Remember the example of the Shunammite woman:

2 Kings 4:8-10 One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”

1 Pet 4:9-10 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.


She was later rewarded for her kindness when Elisha raised her son from the dead.

Do you offer to help when God’s workers are in need of hospitality? If so, do it without grumbling:

We are told to remember the persecuted church:

Heb 13:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

As a body, we share both honour and pain:

1 Cor 12:24-27 But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.


Sex within the confines of marriage is condoned by God, but any sexual activity outside of marriage is forbidden.

Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Heb 13:4 (NASB) Marriage is to be held in honour among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

“Fornication and adultery are not synonymous in the New Testament: adultery implies unfaithfulness by either party to the marriage vow, while the word translated ‘fornication’ covers a wide range of sexual irregularities.” (F.F. Bruce)


We are instructed to be content and not be caught up in the materialistic values of our society:

Heb 13:5-6 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Materialism: buying things you don’t need - with money you don’t have – in order to impress people you don’t like.


Hebrews 13:5-6 is reminiscent of Paul’s instruction to Timothy:

1 Tim 6:3-10 If anyone teaches false doctrines ... he is conceited and understands nothing… men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.


The following instruction is given regarding our attitude to our Christian leaders:

Imitate their faith:

Heb 13:7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Submit to their authority:

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.


Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

This is a well-know verse but in context it actually is being used to caution us against heresy. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, there should not be alleged ‘new’ revelations springing up all over the show:

Heb 13:9a Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.

The heresy in particular is legalism:

Heb 13:9b It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.


whom this epistle is addressed may have been excluded and ostracized because of their faith in Jesus, they are reminded that the altar we have is also exclusive to those who are part of the New Covenant.


Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

While the Hebrew Christians to

Heb 13:11-12 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

Outside the camp was a place of shame where the bodies of the sacrifice animals were burnt. And so Jesus suffered “outside the camp”.


If we truly love Jesus, we must go to where He was willing to go – outside the camp.

‘Outside the camp’ is where the lepers were kept.

‘Outside the camp’ is where murderers were sent.

‘Outside the camp’ is where the beggar begged as the apostles walked through the gate.

‘Outside the camp’ was where all who were to be separated from society at large were to be kept.

‘Outside the camp’ is where we were called to ‘go to him’ and ‘bear the reproach he endured’ – death. Death to our comfort, death to our desires, death to our reputation. 1

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away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting.’ Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp.” (Exodus 33:7)


Moses had a place outside the camp: “Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance

And just as those who wanted to inquire of the LORD went outside of the camp to Moses, so we too - in humility - meet Jesus outside the camp at the place of disgrace, death and humility:

Heb 13:13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”


Again we are reminded of what we saw in previous chapters – that we do not belong in this world system and should not subscribe to it’s shallow and passing value system. We are citizens of a better and eternal city that is still to come.

Heb 13:14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.


DEFINITION: A sacrifice is a loss or something you give up, usually for the sake of a better cause. (" vocabulary.com/ "> vocabulary.com)

In the Old Covenant they offered God animal and crop sacrifices. They took what was theirs, in order to offer it to God in an act of worship.


But in the New Covenant there are better sacrifices. In the New Covenant a sacrifice is again taking something that we could keep for ourselves and offering it to God.

Instead of animal sacrifices we offer our own bodies as living sacrifices.

Rom 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship.


And instead of crop sacrifices we offer God the “fruit of our lips” i.e. not only worship but to “confess his name”.

Heb 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.


But a sacrifice that is sometime overlooked is the following:

Heb 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

So sharing what rightfully belongs to us with others is also a sacrifice that pleases God.


We are exhorted to pray for God’s workers:

Heb 13:18-19 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honourably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.


Then there are three statements that point to Paul as being the author.

Heb 13:22-25 Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. Greet all your leaders and all God’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings. Grace be with you all.

Like Paul, the author knew Timothy and was his companion.

The author was in Italy – Paul spent years in Rome.

“Grace be with you all” is a benediction used in all of the other Pauline epistles.


A benediction is a godly blessing pronounced on people. Perhaps the best known one is the priestly one given to Aaron and his sons by God in Numbers 6:24-26

“This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’”

And so the author gives a closing blessing in Heb 13:20-21:

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.



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