Bearing Christ's reproach and working for His glory:
v. 13. Let us go forth, therefore, unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.
v. 14. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
v. 15. By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
v. 16. But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
v. 17. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.
Here the natural consequence of our having cast our lot with the crucified Christ is brought out: Let us, therefore, go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. The author wants his readers to consider it a privilege to be branded outcasts and traitors to the Jewish cause. Having chosen Jesus as their Lord and Master, they should freely confess that they were willing to join Him in His shame and reproach as a malefactor and criminal in the eyes of the Jews. True believers will have nothing to do with the Law and its ordinances as necessary for their salvation, they will have nothing to do with legalistic practices. Having cast their lot with Jesus and His salvation by grace alone, they will be glad to bear the shame and reproach which fell upon Him, for His sake.
Surely this step is one which should not cause regret in the heart of any one that has accepted Jesus in truth: For not have we a lasting city here below, but we seek earnestly the one to come. The believers are strangers, sojourners, in this world; they are the Lord's pilgrims, Psa_39:12. The short span of life which is granted them in this world is but a time of preparation for the world to come. Our real home, where we have our true citizenship, is in heaven, Php_3:20. Only that which is spiritual and eternal can truly satisfy the ambition and fill the heart with that peace which passes all understanding. We strive earnestly, therefore, for the city which abides forever; we keep our attention centered on its glorious advantages, on its bliss inestimable.
Thus we are enabled also to do what the inspired author urges: Through Him, then, let us offer the sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips celebrating His name. We believe in the virtue of Christ's atoning sacrifice, we have openly taken the part of Him who was condemned as a criminal by men; but through Him we are also identified with the Father as His children and worshipers. As such it is our cheerful duty, our glad privilege, to bring sacrifices to Him through Christ. Not only occasionally and periodically, but continually we offer to God, our heavenly Father, the fruit of our lips in the praise and celebration of His holy name. Hos_14:3; Psa_50:14-23; Isa_57:19.
At the same time we do not lose sight of the fact that our faith, expressed in the sacrifice of the lips, will also express itself in the fruit of the hands: But do not forget beneficence and charity; for those are the sacrifices which are well-pleasing to God. A heart that is enjoying the certainty of salvation through the redemption of Christ cannot but feel some of the deep and wonderful love which the Savior showed all men in His vicarious suffering and death. All acts of beneficence, therefore, all forms of doing good, of communicating to the brethren and to all men in need, are the sphere of the Christian's activity. And such good works, growing out of a heart filled with faith, imperfect as they are in themselves, nevertheless are looked upon by the heavenly Father with all good pleasure, since the merits of Christ cover up all their shortcomings. Thus we Christians are living under the good pleasure of God.
But in this connection there is one more point to which the holy writer deems it necessary to call attention: Obey your leaders and submit yourselves; for it is they that watch for your souls, as men that will have to render an account of their trust; that with joy they do this and not groaning, for this would be a loss to yourselves. Of the example of the former leaders the author has spoken above, v. 7. Here he speaks of the teachers, pastors, ministers that have charge of their spiritual welfare at the present time. They should yield themselves trustfully to their teaching, as long as they teach the Word of God, the pure Gospel of the salvation of all men, as this was being done by the teachers in Judea. Christians should always remember what a great responsibility was resting upon these men and is resting upon the true pastors today, that they must render an account to the Lord on the last day for every soul that was entrusted to their pastoral care. It is a solemn word for both the teachers and the hearers. Since it is in the interest of the souls of the people that faithful pastors discharge their duty, therefore the parishioners should make it their object thus to conduct themselves toward their pastors at all times that the latter may perform the work of their office cheerfully and joyfully and not groaningly, with sighs and laments; for such a condition of affairs would surely react in such a manner upon the hearers as to deprive them of at least some of the benefit which God intends for them through the ministry of the Word, Luk_10:16; Eze_3:17-21. This word of warning should be heeded also in our days when men are inclined to look with suffering compassion upon the pastors and to disregard their teaching and warning from the Word of God. On the other hand, it should be remembered that this passage does not give the ministers absolute power over the souls of the parishioners, as the Romanists falsely claim.