Love in the body of Christ is a defining mark (John -35) that sets us apart from the world. Jesus demonstrated love (Romans 5:8), and we love because He first loved us (1 John ).
2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hospitality is also commanded of believers, especially toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to be those who look out for those whom we don’t know but who need our help. We should be compassionate as the story of the good Samaritan illustrates (Luke -37). We never know if we, too, might be in the presence of an angel (e.g. Genesis 18:2).
3Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
Some of the believers were in prison due to the intense persecution of the time. They deserved to be remembered and cared for as best as was possible. In order to be fully sympathetic, the author advised his readers to think as if they were in prison along with their brethren. This would help them to be compassionate and to think how they could best minister to them. Christians should also look out for their brothers and sisters who are suffering for whatever reason, since when one part of the body suffers, all suffer.
4Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
The marriage bed is only for intimacy within marriage. It is not for intimacy before marriage (fornication) or with somebody outside of the marriage (adultery). Too often the church does not view marital purity as essential as it ought to. Since Jesus compared lust to adultery, Christians need also to control their thoughts lives in all purity. Those who live in sin and who do not know Christ will face His wrath on judgment day. Believers who sin in any way can expect the discipline of the Lord.
5Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,"
6so that we confidently say,
"THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.
WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?"
The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy ). Loving wealth can control us and lead us into all kinds of other sins (Luke ). In Christ, Who is all we need, we should be content (1 Timothy 6:8). Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). The security of a relationship with God is more valuable than anything this world has to offer (Psalm 118:6). He will never leave us or forsake us as Deuteronomy 31:6 says.
7Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
We should remember and value those who have been instrumental in leading us to the gospel, to faith, and to growth in the Lord. Those who teach the Word are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy ). They deserve respect insofar as they imitate Christ and rightly teach His Word. A godly example is a great blessing.
8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
9Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
Our God doesn’t change, His gospel doesn’t change, and His Word doesn’t change (1 Peter ). The Jesus of the Old Testament is the same as the Jesus of today. There is not a harsh God of the Old Testament and a compassionate God of the New Testament. God has always been constant, and our interpretation and understanding of Scripture must always reflect that reality. New and strange teachings will always creep into the church, and it is imperative that we know God’s unchangeable Word so that we are not deceived. An environment of grace leads to growth, not a legalistic one made up of Old Testament rituals or any manmade standards. Rituals do not sanctify, for salvation and sanctification are and have always been a matter of the heart.
10We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
Our altar of worship and our avenue of salvation is the cross of Jesus Christ. It is not a manmade altar for bulls and goats. Just because a person was of a priestly lineage or because they are a member of the clergy or some denomination does not mean that they have partaken of the gospel. They may have their altars that they preside over, but only those that know Jesus have access to God directly.
11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.
12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
13So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
The blood of the animals for the sacrifice for entering the holy place was drained from their bodies which were burned outside of the camp as a symbol of sin being removed from the people of Israel. Jesus died where sin was most present, outside of the tabernacle and in the camp of the everyday person. This He did as a symbol that He bore the sins of all people, not just the privileged, the religious, or the social elite. If we want salvation, we must meet Him on His terms, outside of the camp, bearing His reproach. It is not popular to acknowledge sin and a sin nature, let alone Christ as unique Savior, but it is what must be done.
14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
This world and this earth is not our home, but our enduring city is in heaven. That is where we belong, and that is what we should be seeking.
15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Because of Jesus and by His empowering, we should continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. He is not interested in bulls and goats but in our hearts, hearts that speak glory, honor, and praise to Him. He delights in thankful hearts. He also delights when we do good and share with those in need, for sacrificing for others’ well being demonstrates both love and faith.
17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
The church is to be led by faithful men called elders. These deserve our obedience as long as they are in line with obedience to God. We should let them lead us and teach us according to God’s Word, for it is their job and their responsibility before God to look over us as a shepherd looks out for his sheep. They will give an account to God for just how well they shepherd those God entrusts to their care. We shouldn’t do things to make them miserable, but we should follow faithfully in their teaching according to the Scripture, bringing them joy as they see us grow. This is profitable then for all in the body of Christ.
18Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.
19And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.
The author asks the believers to pray for him and for his brethren that they could come to them quickly to visit them and encourage them. They testified that they had a clean conscience before God and that they desired to obey God in all things. This is the testimony that the leaders of God’s people need to have.
20Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,
21equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The ultimate example of how to lead God’s people is given by Christ Himself, the great Shepherd of the sheep. He was raised from the dead by God Himself. The author prays that the sheep will be equipped in every good thing to do God’s will. He prays also that Christ will continue to work in them according to what is pleasing in God’s sight. His prayer is for their continued devotion and sanctification. In order to be able to be adequate and equipped for every good work, they need to keep studying God’s Word (2 Timothy -17).
22But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.
The author wants his brethren to listen to what he has said in this brief letter, to heed the exhortation, and to do as he has said. It is not too much for them to bear, even though, at times, it is very direct.
23Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you.
24Greet all of your leaders and all the saints Those from Italy greet you.
25Grace be with you all.
Timothy had been released from prison, and the author may be able to visit his readers along with him. He sends his greetings to the local elders and to all the believers. He also sends greetings from the church in Italy. Finally, he prays that grace will be with them all, guiding them, shaping them, leading them, and helping them to grow to maturity in Christ.