Hebrews 13:7-9

Hebrews 13:7‑9  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The hearts of the brethren are next recalled to their departed guides, who, as they had been remarkable for their faith, had closed their course faithfully to the Lord's praise.
“Be mindful of your leaders, who were such as spoke to you the word of God, and considering the issue of their course imitate their faith. Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today and forever. By teachings various and strange be not carried away; for [it is] good that the heart be established with grace, not meats; in which those that walked were not profited” (Heb. 13:7-97Remember 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. 8Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9Be 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. (Hebrews 13:7‑9)).
It is well that we should distinguish in our tongue what the Holy Spirit had distinguished in Heb. 13:33Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. (Hebrews 13:3), Heb. 13:77Remember 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. (Hebrews 13:7): the former (compare Heb. 2:66But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Hebrews 2:6)) is practical remembrance of need, trial, and suffering; the latter is calling to mind those apt to be forgotten who had passed away. Hence the text of the A. V. is not in accordance with the truth; nor is the margin though more literal. But in this case we must say were, not “are,” your guides, for their course was closed, as the verse itself intimates. They had been “leading” men among the brethren like Judas Barsabbas and Silas (Acts 15:2222Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: (Acts 15:22)), whether elders or not; and the saints are exhorted to hold them in honored memory; as the clause that follows characterizes them as having spoken to them the word of God, not the bare fact that they had so spoken in their day. It is probable that some of their “leaders” had the rule among the saints; but this is not the force of the word here employed, which is of a more general import, and may not have been other than prominence in teaching and exhortation.
There is another word it is well to observe, (προἴστάμενοι) of similar import, as we may see in Rom. 12:88Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:8), 1 Thess. 5:1212And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (1 Thessalonians 5:12), which these scriptures show not to have been restricted to elders, though of course applicable to the exercises of their office. It means “presiding” and has its importance in its due place. But the great present value, as in the past, is that it depended on the spiritual strength which God supplies, and not on official position to which an apostle or an apostolic delegate appointed: a thing also to be fully owned where the fact was so, as scripture clearly proves. However this may have been, they had been their leaders, and the brethren are told, considering the issue of their course of life (in old English “their conversation"), to imitate their faith. Some among the Hebrew confessors were in danger of drawing back, as others seem to have actually done. There had been in earlier days a noble stand and severe endurance for it; and here they are exhorted to that which shone in departed guides, some at any-rate of whom, it would appear, had resisted to blood.
But a far higher object follows: the great Sufferer, He of all glory, Who always abides. “Jesus Christ [is] yesterday and today the same, and forever (unto the ages).” Such is the true meaning. There is no real ground for viewing it in apposition with “the end (or issue) of the conversation” that precedes, which not only violates grammar, but destroys the bearing of both clauses. It does beautifully introduce Him Who not only remains, alive again for evermore, but changes not. It is the creature's weakness to change, and of all creatures none more given to change than man, though he be head of all and endowed beyond all on earth; yet most changeable, like a reed bending to every wind, through his will and his passions. But here we have a real man, and tried as none other ever was, yet the Unchanging One, as indeed He was and is God no less really. What a stay for our faith! For we who believe on Him have still that fallen nature; and who so competent as He to deliver us from our liability to swerve from the good, holy, and true into some snare of the enemy! To look to Him, depend on Him, delight our souls in Him, follow Him, is an immense safeguard, given of grace to this end; and He knows how to keep and hold the least steadfast of saints that wait on Him. Truly Ηe is the rock that never moves, to sustain such as without Him must be the sport of wind and wave.
Of all men the Hebrews had shown themselves of old the most ready to adopt the strange and false gods of the nations. So their own prophets reproached them with a folly beyond example; yet were they the only people favored with the living God, Jehovah of hosts, deigning to be their God
But they rebelled against Him, people, priests, and kings, till there was no remedy; and except He had left them a very small remnant, they had been as Sodom and like Gomorrah. None but the Messiah could meet their desperate case, when they had become Lo-ammi, and even He only by the sacrifice of Himself when they had rejected and crucified Him. But now He was risen from the dead and glorified, crowned with glory and honor, and all things put in subjection under His feet, as David sung in Spirit. True, now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Himself exalted on high, the pledge of all that will surely be displayed at His appearing. To this blessed object of faith and hope are the eyes of these believing sons directed, that they might cleave to Him with purpose of heart, as their fathers never did, and that they be no more tossed to and fro. “Be not carried about by various and strange doctrines.” Such is the connection of thought, such the preservation in fact from that great danger. By this all saints may be blessed. “For it is good that the heart be established with grace; not with meats,” however much the lovers of tradition discuss and commend them, “in which those that walked were not profited.” How indeed could it be? Meats perish in the using, as those do who look not to the Highest. He is now dealing in nothing but sovereign grace, that the weakest may be sustained, and that the most wicked be saved through Christ and His redemption.