Heb 13:1-3 With what three exhortations does the author encourage his readers in these verses? Why are they particularly important given the increased persecution they were facing? I.e., why might the love of the brethren fall by the wayside in times when believers are being persecuted for their faith? Why might believers in such times be more hesitant about entertaining strangers? Why might they be loathe to visit and care for those in prison? Cf. 2 Tim 1:16-18. Why does the author say that we should not neglect to show hospitality to strangers? See Heb 13:2. What example do we have of those who entertained angels without knowing it? See Gen 18-19, Judges 13:1-23. Why does the author say that we should remember those in prison or who are ill-treated because of their faith? See Heb 13:3; cf. 1 Cor 12:26.
Heb 13:4-6 What two great sins does the author speak against in these verses? Is marriage held in honor today? What sober truth have those forgotten who dishonor the holy institution of marriage by their deeds? See 4b. How does the current epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases confirm this truth? Note: Up to 60% of young adults carry the genital herpes virus for which there is no cure; about 30% carry the venereal wart virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer and for which there is also no cure; there are 3-4 million new cases each year of Chlamydia which is a major cause of infertility in women and causes pneumonia and premature birth for newborns. What is the great danger to our faith of the greed the author speaks against in Heb 13:5? See Deut 8:10-14, Mat 13:22, and 1 Tim 6:9-10. Think: is not greed the attempt by our flesh to secure for our future what God alone is able to secure? What part of a person does greed tempt? Note: “character” refers to one’s way or manner of life; cf. Mat 6:21. What secret to avoiding this deceptive peril does the author give in Heb 13:5? Cf. 1 Tim 6:8, Phil 4:11. What assurance do we have that there is no need for us to provide for our own future security by storing up treasures here on earth? See Mat 6:25-34 and note that the author here in Hebrews uses five negatives (oun me se ano ound’ oun me se evgkatalipo) to emphasize that God will never, ever forsake us. What confidence does this give us for the future, especially in times of trial? See Heb 13:6 and cf. Ps 56:3-4. What is another word for such confidence and assurance? See Heb 11:1.
Heb 13:7-8: What words in Heb 13:7 describe the main focus of leaders in the early church? Cf. Acts 6:2. Considering the afflictions facing the recipients of this letter, what in particular about their leaders who spoke the word of God to them would the author have them remember? Did leaders in the early church suffer persecution and trial? Did they persevere and remain faithful even in the midst of such trials? What was the “outcome of their lives” (NET) that the author would have his readers imitate? Cf. Heb 11:37-39. What encouragement does Heb 13:8 offer God’s people in times of trial? See again Heb 13:5b-6. Was Jesus Christ faithful in times past to His people? Will He also be faithful in the midst of whatever trials His people face currently or in the future?
Heb 13:9: With what warning does the author exhort his readers in this verse? What does it mean to be “carried away” by varied and strange teachings? See Jude 1:12 where the same word is used in a similar manner for false prophets who are themselves “carried along by winds”. What is the danger of just mindlessly “going along” with the things we are taught and not carefully considering them in the light of the sound (whole) teaching of Scripture? Cf. Mat 7:15, 2 Pet 2:1, 1 Jn 4:1 and think: Does a false prophet know he is a false prophet? Does a deceived person know he is deceived? Are errant teachings plainly obvious? What in particular did the “diverse and strange doctrines” that the author had in mind have to do with? Is the food we eat what commends us to God? See 1 Cor 8:8. Does the kingdom of God have anything to do with the food we eat? See Rom 14:17. What did Jesus teach about clean and unclean foods? See Mark 7:14-19. Does the author say those are benefited who occupy themselves with “regulations about food” (NRS)? Instead of dietary regulations, what does the author commend to strengthen one’s heart? Cf. Mk 7:20-23.