It is appropriate that the book of Hebrews ends with an extended discussion of the importance of love. Hebrews 13:1 says, “Let brotherly love continue.” What is brotherly love? Brotherly love is from the Greek word Philadelphia. Philadelphia is the joining of two Greek words phileos (love) and adelphos (brother). It can be translated as brotherly love or brotherly affection. It is used in Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” Philip Hughes helpfully summaries what brotherly love means and where it is derived:
Christian brotherhood is essentially brotherhood in Christ; for as He is the only Son…it is through union with Him that we participate in the grace of His sonship, and in Him are accepted as the sons of God and, as sons, brothers and fellow heirs with Him who is the heir of all things. If our brotherhood derives from Christ, so also does our love as brothers. His infinite love for us is the source and stimulus of our love for each other.Hebrews, Philip Hughes.
The book of Hebrews teaches us that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of everything in the Law of Moses. Therefore, He alone is our Redeemer, Advocate, Savior, and Lord—worthy of all praise and glory and honor. Being freed from the law, we are able to love God and one another. What does Hebrews 13 teach us about brotherly love? Let us consider:
Showing Love To Strangers (13:2)
Our brotherly love should not be withheld from strangers. With Christ as our source and stimulus of our love, we should be willing to help those in need, even if we do not know them. Christians should not only help fellow Christians. There is a reminder given that it is possible to entertain an angel without realizing it. Be kind to someone you meet, you never know, it might be an angel from God.
Showing Love Through Suffering (13:3 & 12-13)
Our brotherly love extends to those who suffer for righteousness sake. We are told to “remember the prisoners as if chained with them, and those who are mistreated since you yourselves are in the body also.” The Church is referred to as a body with many members (1 Cor 12). When one member suffers the whole body suffers. Throughout most of Christian history, being a Christian was likely to land you in trouble with the governing authorities. Christians must care for one another, especially for those who suffer for righteousness sake (1 Peter 3:14). We should refrain from blaming them for being in that position as we remember the Golden Rule and remember that we could end up in a similar position.
Showing Love For Marriage (13:4)
Our brotherly love esteems the honorable estate of marriage. Marriage should be held in honor among all with the marriage bed undefiled. Marriage is instituted by God and He determines what does and does not defile the marriage bed. Marriage is between one biological man and one biological woman. We must not attempt to redefine what God has clearly defined. This also means that married men and women must be on guard against lust and temptation. Marriage is to be held in honor by all. This includes your own marriage and the marriages of others. We need to help and support one another to be faithful.
Showing Love Through Contentment (13:5-6 & 16)
Our brotherly love results in contentment. We are told “let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have.” We can be content with what we have because we remember that the Lord is with us. We express our contentment by giving to others and sharing what we have with them. This is a voluntary sharing, not under compulsion. Contentment is in opposition to, and helps us fight against: worry (Matt 6:25), complaining (1 Cor 10:10), greed (Heb 13:5), and envy (James 3:16).
Showing Love To Our Leaders (13:7 & 17)
Our brotherly love results in honoring and supporting your spiritual leaders. We are told to “remember those who lead you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” This is in the context of the overseer and undershepherd. We learn in verse 17, “Obey 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.”
Showing Love through Worship (13:8-11 & 14-15)
Our brotherly love helps us remember to worship Jesus. We must remember His perfect sacrifice for us. We must remember that He sanctifies us. We must remember to worship Him correctly by obeying His commands. We must adhere to sound doctrine that is based on the Bible. “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
In Conclusion (13:18-25)
The book of Hebrews helps us by teaching us about Jesus’ greatness:
- Jesus is greater than the Prophets: He is the final Word from God.
- Jesus is greater than Angels: Angels are servants, Jesus is the Son.
- Jesus is greater than Moses: Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant.
- Jesus is greater than Aaron: Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant.
“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, 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.” —Hebrews 13:20-21