Hebrews 13:7-19 Established By Grace.
Those who rule or lead, are those who have spoken the word, for this reason they need to be remembered, “whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” (v. 7). These were leaders who ruled over them, and so they would know them to be leaders who practiced what they preached. Some appear to have moved on to other areas or passed, but the Christ they preached and followed is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (v. 8). This also involves a warning against being carried away “with various and strange doctrines,” which clearly involved doctrines which in some way went against the apostolic teaching concerning Christ.
In the previous passage our author joined himself with his audience when he said, “let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (12:28). Before that he warned his audience to be careful, “lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble” (12:15). Now he encourages his audience to have their hearts, that is their core, “established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them” (v. 9). These references and more highlight that among the strange doctrines were those that denied the continuing need of grace.
The emphasis that some put upon ordinances associated with certain foods, is directly related to the apostates who would not accept the Son as the fulfillment of what those sacrificial and ceremonial ordinances pointed to. This is seen in his next verse where he says that those who have accepted the Son have food from another altar that the apostates are barred from. The animal sacrifices were still being offered, but they would soon come to an end, and through the Son he and his audience were able, like us, to “offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (v. 15 Cf. Lev. 7:12; Is. 57:19; Hos. 14:2; Eph. 5:20).
The earthly Jerusalem would soon disappear, but they sought the one to come down from heaven (v. 14). Like them, we also must not let reproach keep us from following Christ (v. 13 Cf. 11:26; I Pet. 4:14). However, what we do by grace isn’t just religious worship, we also need grace, as was said before, “to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Cf. 12:28; Rom. 12:13; II Cor. 9:12; Phil. 4:18). The right understanding of the word was so critical that our author again commands his readers to be submissive to those who lead, because they minister to them the word, and watch out for souls, “as those who must give account” (v. 17a).
Having the right attitude with those who minister the word, will both make these ministers joyful, and this will certainly make the word more profitable to those who receive it (v. 17b). Prayer for those who minister the word is also necessary, because those who minister the word with a clear conscience do so “desiring to live honourably” (v. 18). Prayer also is used of God to bring about deliverance, so that those like our author could continue to spread the word (v. 19). The message is the same. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (v. 8). We must not forget that our author said this when ‘yesterday’ was before the Son appeared (Cf. 1:12; Jn. 8:58).