Three times the writer used the phrase, “Them that have the rule over you.” The phrase refers to the spiritual leaders of the local assemblies. The church is an organism, but it is also an organization. If an organism is not organized, it will die. Wherever Paul went, he founded local churches and ordained qualified believers to lead them (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). “Saints, bishops (elders), and deacons” (Phil. 1:1) summarize the membership and leadership of the New Testament churches. Each Christian has three responsibilities toward the spiritual leaders in the local church.

Remember them (vv. 7-9): The word “remember” may suggest that these leaders were dead, perhaps martyred, and should not be forgotten. How easy it is to forget the courageous Christians of the past whose labors and sacrifices made it possible for us to minister today. But while we do not worship people or give them the glory, it is certainly right to honor them for their faithful work (1 Thes. 5:12-13). These leaders probably had led the readers to Christ because the leaders had spoken the Word to them. Today, we can read the Bible for ourselves, listen to the radio or TV sermons. We are in danger to taking the Word for granted.  When local churches change pastors, there is a tendency also to change doctrines or doctrinal emphases (v. 9). We must be careful not go beyond the Word of God and the spiritual foundation of the church. That is why I believe the writer of Hebrews pointed to; “the outcome of their way of life” (v. 8) – “Jesus Christ, is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Their lives pointed to Christ!

Obey them (v. 17): When a servant of God is in the will of God, teaching the Word of God, the people of God should submit and obey. This does not mean that pastors should be dictators (1 Pet. 5:3). Some church members have a flippant attitude toward pastoral authority, and this is dangerous. One day every pastor will have to give an account of his ministry to the Lord, and he wants to be able to do it with joy. A disobedient Christian will find on that day that the results of disobedience are unprofitable, not for the pastor, but for himself. It’s much easier to “win souls” than it is to “watch for souls.” The larger the church grows the more difficult it becomes to care for the sheep. Sad to say, there are some ministers whose only word is to preach and “run the program”; they have no desire to minister to the souls placed in their care. Some are even “hirelings” who work only for money, and who run away when danger is near (John 10:11-14). However, when a shepherd is faithful to watch for souls, it is important the sheep obey him.

Greet them (v. 24): The Jews used to greet each other with “Shalom – peace!” The Greeks often greeted one another with “Grace!” Paul combined these two and greeted the saints with “Grace and peace be with you!” When Paul wrote to pastors, he greeted them with “Grace, mercy, and peace.” (I wonder why?) Of course, the writer of Hebrews was sending his personal greetings to the leaders of the church; but this is a good example for all of us to follow. Every Christian should be on speaking terms with his pastor. Never allow any “root of bitterness” to grow up in your heart (Heb. 12:15) because it will only poison you and hurt the whole church. While it’s true that each member of a local body has an important ministry to perform, it is also true that God has ordained spiritual leaders in the church.

 Hebrews 13:7-9, 17&24 Reflection Questions:

Are on speaking terms with your pastor?

Are you obedient to your church leadership?

Do you honor church leaders for their faithful work?


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