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Hebrews 13:20-25 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 29 secs

Hebrews Lesson 216
October 21, 2010

NKJ Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Let's open our Bibles to Hebrews 13:18 where we'll probably come close to finishing up this evening. This is where we get into the concluding statements in this epistle. The writer moves out of his final exhortation in verse 17 to some closing comments or his conclusion. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.

NKJ Hebrews 13:19 But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. 

This is just a simple exhortation to pray, an imperative that they should have him on their prayer list and that they should be praying regularly for the writer of this epistle. It is given in a second person plural so it's addressed to all of those who read it. It is a present imperative, which means this is supposed to be a characteristic standard behavior in the life of any believer. We are to be praying for others, intercessory prayer. We should have a prayer list and should keep track of various prayer requests and how they are answered and how God fulfills those requests. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us

He is with a group. It's not just him. If this was an apostle it would include his entourage. If he is an apostle's associate then it would include those who are with him. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience

This word for confident is a really interesting word in the Greek. It is the word peitho. Peitho and pisteuo are etymologically related. Pisteuo is the Greek word for faith, to believe. Peitho is the Greek word for "to persuade." A few times it's translated to believe or trust but it primarily has the idea of persuasion. It shows that there is a close relationship between belief and the intellectual act of being persuaded that something is true. They are different. 

There have been some that have come out of the Free Grace Movement. This caused a lot of division a few years ago that have tried to argue that they were the same thing, that you don't really have a volitional decision, you are just persuaded, and when you are persuaded, you believe. 

Sometimes you have to figure out what the bad guy is that they're trying to argue against. Usually that will come out in the discussions. The bad guy that they were trying to argue against is a view that you always have to know when you made a decision for Jesus and that you always have to. A lot of times kids don't know that. Kids, you know, grow up. They grow up in a house where they always hear the gospel. When they are in their 20's or 30's, they can't really pinpoint a time when they believed in Jesus. 

But they went about it in the wrong way by making this kind of emphasis and it's caused a big rift in the whole Free Grace Movement. This is why the group associated with Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges, John Niemala and this crowd, were arguing for what they call passive faith, that you are just persuaded to believe, and once you are persuaded, then you have believed. It naturally falls out. 

So those of you who were around for the first Chafer Conference – I believe that's when Tommy Ice had to have a stint put in his heart so we plugged Niemala in for a second paper—Niemala presented a paper on this and caused a big disruption and problems at Chafer Seminary and other things. This is just an erroneous position. 

The word split because they emphasized different things. You are persuaded, and then you believe. They are two parts of the process, but they are not identical. Faith is volitional. Whenever you are commanded to do something that always is addressed to the volition. 

So peitho doesn't have the idea of trust. The King James translates it "confident" which I don't think is the emphasis here. The writer is saying "we believe" or "we are persuaded by our own lives" that we have a good conscience. They've evaluated themselves in terms of self-judgment, self evaluation and believe that they are living according to the norms and standards of the Word of God. 

Conscience here refers to that immaterial part of the soul that is where our norms and standards are stored. So to have a good conscience means that you are living according to those norms and standards and to not have a good conscience means that you would be in violation of those standards. 

we have a good conscience,

Then he expands on that in the next phrase:

in all things desiring to live honorably.

This really isn't the word for honor here, which is the Greek word time. It's an adverbial form of kalos with the omicron 's' and it means to live well or live according to the standard of the Christian life. The root word here relates to being good, to live good, to live well, to live right in some context.  So they are living according to their norms and standards, which means they are living well or living correctly. That means that they are living according to the standards of the Christian way of life. 

But that's what he is emphasizing should be the focus of prayer is that they continue to live according to the standards of the Word of God. 

So there are two things we learn from this.

  1. We should be praying for our leaders, for the pastor, for deacons, for Sunday school teachers, for those who are in any position of leadership in the local church. We should be praying for them that as they live their Christian life and as they are walking with the Lord that they can live and live well in terms of their spiritual life and live according to the standards of the Word of God.
  2. The second thing in terms of application is that this should be part of our own prayer focus in terms of our own lives that we can live individually.  We should be praying that we can live well, according to the standards of God's Word. 

So there are two aspects of application there. But that is the emphasis. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.

Then verse 19 starts with this contrast – just a slight contrast. It's more of a movement. It moves to the next level as it were.

NKJ Hebrews 13:19 But I especially urge you

This would be not just urge; but it's an exhortation. It's a challenge. 

to do this,

That is pray. 

that I may be restored to you the sooner.

"To do this that I may be restored to you sooner", the "being restored" doesn't sound like it fits with what he said before. So there's an ellipsis here based on the fact that he knows his readers understand his position and where he is. But all this tells us is that he seems to be somewhere else and there seems to be something that hinders him from being with them in their presence, but we don't know what that is. That's all we can infer from this is that, and probably at first supposition well, maybe he's in prison as Paul was in prison. There's a mention of Timothy being set free in verse 23. So I would think that if that is what is hindering him that he would say it a little more clearly. We are not sure just why he wasn't able to be restored to them at this particular time. 

Then he comes to his closing benediction or his closing prayer, blessing upon his readers. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

NKJ Hebrews 13:21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

We have this brief closing prayer and statement that focuses on what the goal should be. 

If you break this down, these 2 verses, a lot of extraneous material is here that is not unnecessary material but extraneous in the sense that it doesn't relate to the main idea. The main idea has to do with "may God do something." May God make you complete in every good work. Everything else modifies either God or making you complete or equipping you in every good work. 

So verse 20 focuses on identifying the God of peace and attributes related to God that focus our thinking on the message of the book.He says several things. He says first of all He is the God first of peace. Second, He is the God who raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Third, he identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as the Great Shepherd of the Sheep. Then fourth he makes this statement, "through the blood of the everlasting covenant." Now this is a very unusual verse, and commentators really struggle with this. It's not an easy solution.

NKJ Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead,

"Who brought up" is one word. It's a participle in the Greek. 

that great Shepherd of the sheep,

…modifies the Lord Jesus, so let's just take that out in our minds.

He brought up the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead…

through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

This is the only place in the New Testament that indicates that resurrection of Jesus is related to the New Covenant and is on the basis of the New Covenant. It is through the New covenant. It is en plus the dative. It's very clearly stated this is a statement of means: that God raises Jesus through or by means of the eternal covenant.  

That's a very odd way of stating it; but it would indicate that the resurrection then is based on the fact that sin has been conquered.  If we can add some thoughts from Romans, it indicates that it is a statement or a validation of God for what Christ did on the cross in completely paying for sin.  It is that sacrifice that paid for sin that establishes or that is the basis for the New Covenant.  It doesn't inaugurate or begin the New Covenant. 

This is when we get into a little bit difficult terminology and theologians haven't settled on precision in some of this terminology. The covenant we can say was established in the sense that the sacrifice for the New Covenant was made at the cross. But the covenant doesn't go into effect until the end of the Tribulation when Jesus Christ returns to the earth. So all of the aspects of the New Covenant are yet future. 

Now we are not experiencing the benefits of the New Covenant as it is stated in the Old Testament. We are experiencing things that are similar to and foreshadow different aspects of the New Covenant, but the New Covenant is not here. The New Covenant implies, clearly states that everybody (all the Jews) are indwelt by the Holy Spirit such that no one needs to teach their neighbor anything about the Word. There is sort of this intuitive grasp of doctrine as the result of the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant. 

I've heard seminary professors and pastors try to argue that what we learn from the Word of God, the Holy Spirit teaches us and that's the application. But that's not what the text says in the Old Testament. So we have to get away from that. We are not living under the New Covenant. 

Then you get into the problem with amillenialists and post-millenialists who argue that we are in a form of the kingdom. See the New Covenant is related to the kingdom. We are in a form of the kingdom; and we are partially under the New Covenant, but not fully under the New Covenant. So you have this terminology – already but not yet. It's already here but not yet fully. This just sets up a duality that's just not biblical. It's not here at all. We're ministers of the New Covenant, which is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians. We are ministers of the New Covenant but only because as we proclaim the gospel and people believe it. Then in the future they will experience full New Covenant blessing but not because they do that at this point. 

If we're under the New Covenant now in any sense, if it is in action, if it's been inaugurated, then we've got some real problems with the kingdom. 

Now I'm not going to get into any more detail than that tonight because this is a major issue in the first 3 or 4 chapters in Acts. We are going to be tired of this subject in about 3 months as we go through this because it all relates to this transition period and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that Peter talks about in Acts 2 when he identifies what happened on the Day of Pentecost with what Joel prophesized in Joel 2; that this is what Joel the Prophet spoke of. What we'll learn is that Peter wasn't saying that this is a fulfillment in the sense of a fulfillment of Jesus was born in Bethlehem or Jesus would be the Son of David. But he's drawing a parallel that the ministry of God the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost wasn't a fulfillment of Joel 2 in the sense of a literal fulfillment because Joel 2 is talking about the Day of the Lord when the New Covenant and the kingdom come into being in history. That happens at the end of the Tribulation. That's what begins the Millennial Kingdom. 

None of the things that Joel mentions in Joel 2:28-32 are mentioned in Acts 2. What happens in Acts 2 (which is speaking in tongues) isn't mentioned in Joel 2. It's just a parallel. So what we see is that something new comes into existence on the Day of Pentecost. There is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is analogous or similar to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will occur at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom when the New Covenant is put into effect, but it is not the same thing.

So this New Covenant, the everlasting covenant terminology here, is very important to understand. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace

God is referred to many times as the God of peace because He is the source of peace.

Romans 5:1 says:

NKJ Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have

Present tense

peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

God is the one who is the source of peace. Some people struggle with the genitive here and try to make it attributive or quality or something like that, some sort of adjectival sense; but it's a genitive of source. God is the one who's the source of peace because He is the one who provided peace in terms of the harmonious relationship between man and God. God is one who designed the plan that restores peace between man and God. God is the one who brought peace about by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and that peace was made possible because of God's grace. 

This is the peace that Paul talks about in Romans 15:33. 

NKJ Romans 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Again this describes God as being the source of peace.

NKJ Romans 16:20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly…

Notice the juxtaposition there of the God of peace and the verb to crush. Peaceful people don't crush things, do they? But God who is a God of peace crushes. He violently and completely defeats and destroys Satan and sends him to the Lake of Fire. So that ought to modify our view of peace just a little bit.

1 Corinthians 14:33 says something else related to peace.

NKJ 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Again this emphasizes the idea that God is the source of peace and that those who are in right relationship to God should experience that peace. 

Now the next thing that this verse says is His role in the resurrection: that the God of peace is the one who brought up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead

NKJ Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead,

Jesus Christ did not raise himself from the dead; but it was God the Father who was the one who raised Him from the dead and brought Him forth from the grave.  This is an expression of the Father as judge validating and verifying the completeness of Christ's work on the cross and that the Father's righteousness and justice were completely satisfied by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Then we have the next phrase that modifies Jesus and refers to Him as the Great Shepherd of the Sheep. This goes back to what Jesus taught in John 10:11 which has its root in the Old Testament. I want you to notice in the next couple of slides here the connection between something Jesus said that comes out of the Old Testament.

NKJ John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

The shepherd is typically emphasized as the one who leads and guides and provides for the sheep. "The Lord is my shepherd" in Psalm 23:1 emphasizes the provision of God; that He takes care of us. "The Lord is my Shepherd." What? "I shall not want." There are no needs that I have because God is my Shepherd. That completely negates all need-based psychology which dominates of modern psychological theory. We do not have needs, not if you're a believer. Psalm 23:1 says you don't. God is your shepherd. You have no needs, period. Don't talk about it; you're just arrogant. 

NKJ John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

This connects the role of the shepherd to the role of the high priest who provides the sacrifice. Jesus identifies Himself as the Shepherd, and the Shepherd will sacrifice Himself for the good of sheep.

This also goes back to Isaiah 63:11. 

NKJ Isaiah 63:11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying: "Where is He who brought them up out of the sea With the shepherd of His flock?

Moses being the shepherd of his flock, God's flock (the people.)

Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,

The emphasis of leadership in God shepherding of the people is then seen to be directly related to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Now every covenant is established on the basis of a sacrifice, right? We have to sacrifice that you have after Adam and Eve sinned when God clothes them with animals. Obviously He clothed them with animal skins, God had to skin the animals which means they had died. So there's a death there. There's the sacrifice of the Noahic Covenant, Genesis 9. There's a sacrifice of the Mosaic Covenant; and the New Covenant is established by or through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. 

But here it's referred to as an everlasting covenant. It's not identified as the New Covenant. 

There are some people come along and say, "This is a different covenant."

But it's not. You have to connect this back to the terminology in the Old Testament which talks about the everlasting covenant, Isaiah 55:3.

NKJ Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you -- The sure mercies of David.

In Isaiah 55:3 God is calling Israel back to Him and talking about something that will take place in the future. Now Isaiah wrote in the 7th century BC, and he is often predicting the coming destruction of Judah by Babylon. So he pictures Judah as being the apostate nation, but God is wooing them and telling them that He will make a future covenant, an everlasting covenant with them. The only covenant that could fit would be the New Covenant.

NKJ Isaiah 61:8 "For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant.

…talking about the future generation. The section around Isaiah 60, 61, 62 all relates to the future Millennial Kingdom.

Jeremiah uses the term as well in Jeremiah 32:40. In Jeremiah 31:31-33 is the only passage that specifically uses the name New Covenant; but the next chapter is describing it. 

NKJ Jeremiah 32:40 'And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.

No more negative volition!

NKJ Jeremiah 50:5 They shall ask the way to Zion, With their faces toward it, saying, 'Come and let us join ourselves to the LORD In a perpetual covenant

Or everlasting covenant.

That will not be forgotten.'

Here's another good verse in Ezekiel 37:26. God said:

NKJ Ezekiel 37:26 "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.

That occurs in the New Heavens and New Earth. Remember Ezekiel 37 is right before 38 and 39, which occurs during the Tribulation period. Then Ezekiel 40 and following describes the Tribulation Temple. So Ezekiel 37 is describing that New Covenant that comes into effect with Israel at the end of the Tribulation period.

Then we have a connection between of blood and the covenant in Zechariah 9:11. 

NKJ Zechariah 9:11 " As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

Zechariah focuses on prophecy and the coming of the Messiah.

So all of this sums up what we find in verse 20. It explains it.

NKJ Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

…God the Father who was the one responsible for the resurrection. Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, pulling in all of those analogies from the Old Testament.

through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

He's the one who made the sacrifice. 

Now we get the completion of the thought. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

First of all we have this verb that is translated "making you complete" which is the Greek word katartizo. There are various cognates of this word. There's artizo; there's katartizmos which is the noun. They all have to do was something like preparation, equipping somebody for a task, preparing somebody for a task, giving someone all of the things they need for a task. There's also a noun related to this noun katartisis, which means the process of maturation or growing to maturity. The idea here is "may the God of peace make you complete or bring you to maturity or equip you so that you can be a fully functional mature believer. 

This connects to a couple of other passages in Scripture.  In Ephesians 4:11-12, in verse 11 we are told that God gave certain gifts to the church: apostles, prophets, pastors-and-teachers and evangelists.

NKJ Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

That is the maturing, the strengthening of the body of Christ. So the spiritually gifted leaders are given for the purpose of training or equipping the saints so that they can grow to maturity and the body of Christ might be edified. 

Then 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we find this word "equipped" katartismos.

NKJ 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

NKJ 2 Timothy 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So how are you equipped? Through the teaching of the Word of God. It is the Word of God that gives us what we need to be equipped. 

This is the same thing Jesus said in John 17:17.

NKJ John 17:17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

So it is through the Word of God and the Spirit of God that the believer is matured. This is how God works. Some people trip over these verses and they look at this and say, "Well, God is working in you. Does that override your volition?" No, not at all. God is working in and through us through God the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God to bring us to maturity. 

This is the same thought that's expressed in Philippians 2:12-13. 

NKJ Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

He is not talking about phase one justification there. He is talking about the ongoing process of sanctification. It is that same idea that we are to be engaged in learning, studying, applying the Word of God under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, working out – we would say our sanctification, our being saved from the power of sin. 

NKJ Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

You see both aspects. On the one hand we work out our salvation. We exercise our volition to go to Bible class, to learn the Word, to walk by means of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit stores it in our soul, brings it to memory for us to apply it. We make a volitional decision to apply it. 

We're working there; but it is God who works in the process through God the Holy Spirit to bring about our desire to serve Him and to do His good pleasure. The words "good pleasure" are also found back in Hebrews 13:21 that He's working in us to do what is well-pleasing in His sight." So we want to live and think in a way that pleases God. 

We see the same idea in Romans 12:1-2 that we are to do His will. In Romans 12 Paul says:

NKJ Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

NKJ Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

"That you may demonstrate in your life as you apply the Word what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God."

That word acceptable is the same word used back here in Hebrews 13:21 – that which is well-pleasing in His sight. 

NKJ Romans 14:18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

NKJ 2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

This is our motivation, to please God. 

Ephesians 5:10 related to walking in truth, walking by the Spirit, finding out what is acceptable to the Lord, what is pleasing to the Lord.

NKJ Philippians 4:18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

Giving to support pastors in this case but just helping of the believers financially, believers who need it. This is well-pleasing to God.

In verse 21 we see the completion of this blessing statement that we're praying to God will make us complete in every good work to do His will, working in us what is well- pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory forever and ever.

 He is the one who gets the glory.

Then we come to the last final statement in the last 3 or 4 verses.

NKJ Hebrews 13:22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words.

…referring what he has stated. 

This isn't your normal epistle like Romans or 1 Corinthians or Galatians, but I believe it is taken from a sermon and then, as I said in the introduction, written down. It is a word or message of exhortation which is a challenge to people to make a shift in their actions, in their lives - to quit veering off course and to stay on course. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words.

Thirteen chapters, you might not think that was a few words; but the writer of Hebrews did. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:23 Know that our brother Timothy

Most people believe this would be the Timothy that Paul mentored. This is the Timothy that Paul trained; this is the Timothy who pastored in Ephesus that was the recipient of 1st and 2nd Timothy.

has been set free, with

We didn't know he needed to be set free, did we? It's not mentioned anywhere in Acts or anywhere in either 1st or 2nd Timothy. So this indicates that the writing of Hebrews is later than those events, which would put it probably after the death of Paul. It could be right around the time of Paul, but this is the only time that we have any indication that that Timothy was perhaps arrested or imprisoned.

And the writer says that he is closely associated with Timothy. 

whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.

So he would travel with Timothy if you come to visit of those to whom he is writing this letter.

NKJ Hebrews 13:24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

Now this is a particularly curious statement – "those from Italy". Does that mean that the writer is in Italy? Probably not. The way the phrases are used in the Greek, it probably indicates that he is not in Italy and there are some with him (some believers from Italy who are with him, some from Rome, some from other places) who were with him that are known to his recipients. Neither the recipients nor he himself and those with him are in Italy; but they have some with them some believers from Italy there so he simply says:

Those from Italy greet you.

Then he closes out in verse 25:

NKJ Hebrews 13:25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

…emphasizing God's grace.  It's articular in the Greek indicating "the grace." That is, "The grace of God be with you all. Amen."

So we come our closing, our conclusion on the study of Hebrews that we started some 5 years ago. 

Next week I want to come back to just tie it all together again, our final flyover so we can pull all the different threads together and be reminded one more time what we've learned in Hebrews, what we've covered, go back over – spend a little bit more time to pull the first few chapters together because it's been awhile since we were there. Then in two weeks we will start Romans. So that should be a challenge.