Hebrews 13:9
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
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13:7-15 The instructions and examples of ministers, who honourably and comfortably closed their testimony, should be particularly remembered by survivors. And though their ministers were some dead, others dying, yet the great Head and High Priest of the church, the Bishop of their souls, ever lives, and is ever the same. Christ is the same in the Old Testament day. as in the gospel day, and will be so to his people for ever, equally merciful, powerful, and all-sufficient. Still he fills the hungry, encourages the trembling, and welcomes repenting sinners: still he rejects the proud and self-righteous, abhors mere profession, and teaches all whom he saves, to love righteousness, and to hate iniquity. Believers should seek to have their hearts established in simple dependence on free grace, by the Holy Spirit, which would comfort their hearts, and render them proof against delusion. Christ is both our Altar and our Sacrifice; he sanctifies the gift. The Lord's supper is the feast of the gospel passover. Having showed that keeping to the Levitical law would, according to its own rules, keep men from the Christian altar, the apostle adds, Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp; go forth from the ceremonial law, from sin, from the world, and from ourselves. Living by faith in Christ, set apart to God through his blood, let us willingly separate from this evil world. Sin, sinners, nor death, will not suffer us to continue long here; therefore let us go forth now by faith and seek in Christ the rest and peace which this world cannot afford us. Let us bring our sacrifices to this altar, and to this our High Priest, and offer them up by him. The sacrifice of praise to God, we should offer always. In this are worship and prayer, as well as thanksgiving.Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines - That is, they should have settled and fixed points of belief, and not yield to every new opinion which was started. The apostle does not exhort them to adhere to an opinion merely because they had before held it, or because it was an old opinion, nor does he forbid their following the leadings of truth though they might be required to abandon what they had before held; but he cautions them against that vacillating spirit, and that easy credulity, which would lead them to yield to any novelty, and to embrace an opinion because it was new or strange. Probably the principal reference here is to the Judaizing teachers, and to their various doctrines about their ceremonial observances and traditions. But the exhortation is applicable to Christians at all times. A religious opinion, once embraced on what was regarded a good evidence, or in which we have been trained, should not be abandoned for slight causes. Truth indeed should always be followed, but it should be only after careful inquiry.

For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace - This is the proper foundation of adherence to the truth. The heart should be established with the love of God, with pure religion, and then we shall love the truth, and love it in the right manner. If it is the head merely which is convinced, the consequence is bigotry, pride, narrowmindedness. If the belief of the truth has its seat in the heart, it will be accompanied with charity, kindness, good-will to all people. In such a belief of the truth it is a good thing to have the heart established. It will produce:

(1) firmness and stability of character;

(2) charity and kindness to others;

(3) consolation and support in trials and temptations.

When a man is thrown into trials and temptations, he ought to have some settled principles on which he can rely; some fixed points of belief that will sustain his soul.

Not with meats - The meaning is, that it is better to have the heart established with grace, or with the principles of pure religion, than with the most accurate knowledge of the rules of distinguishing the clean from the unclean among the various articles of food. Many such rules were found in the Law of Moses, and many more had been added by the refinements of Jewish rulers and by tradition. To distinguish and remember all these, required no small amount of knowledge, and the Jewish teachers, doubtless, prided themselves much on it. Paul says that it would be much better to have the principles of grace in the heart than all this knowledge; to have the mind settled on the great truths of religion than to be able to make the most accurate and learned distinctions in this matter. The same remark may be made about a great many other points besides the Jewish distinctions respecting meats. The principle is, that it is better to have the heart established in the grace of God than to have the most accurate knowledge of the distinctions which are made on useless or unimportant subjects of religion. This observation would extend to many of the shibboleths of party; to many of the metaphysical distinctions in a hair-splitting theology; to many of the points of controversy which divide the Christian world.

Which have not profited ... - Which have been of no real benefit to their souls; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 8:8.

Margin with grace

Grace (imparted). Jas 4:6 Rom 6:1 2Pet 3:18.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines,.... The word "divers" may denote the variety and multitude of other doctrines; referring either to the various rites and ceremonies of the law, or to the traditions of the elders, or to the several doctrines of men, whether Jews or Gentiles; whereas the doctrine of the Scriptures, of Christ, and his apostles, is but one; it is uniform, and all of a piece; and so may likewise denote the disagreement of other doctrines with the perfections of God, the person and offices of Christ, the Scriptures of truth, the analogy of faith, and even with themselves: and "strange" doctrines may design such as were never taught by God, nor are agreeable to the voice of Christ, nor to be found in the word of God; and which are new, and unheard of, by the apostles and churches of Christ; and appear in a foreign dress and habit: wherefore the apostle exhorts the believing Hebrews not to be "carried about with them"; as light clouds and meteors in the air, by every wind: for so to be, is to be like children; and discovers great ignorance, credulity, levity, inconstancy, uncertainty, fluctuation, and inconsistency:

for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; with the doctrine of grace, which is food for faith, and does not leave men at uncertainties about things; but establishes the heart, with respect to the love and favour of God, and builds souls upon the foundation, Christ; so that they are not at a loss about the expiation of sin, justification, and salvation; but firmly look for, and expect eternal happiness by Christ, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God:

not with meats; referring to the distinction of meats among the Jews; or the sacrifices ate both by the priests and by the people; or the whole ceremonial law which stood in divers meats and drinks:

which have not profited them that have been occupied therein; they were only profitable to the body; and could be of no other use to the soul, when they were in force, than as they led to Christ, and were regarded by believers; for they were of no advantage to hypocrites and carnal men; they could not sanctify, nor justify, nor cheer the spirits, nor establish the heart; and are of no manner of service at all, since the death of Christ, whereby the whole ceremonial law is abolished.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. {6} For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with {d} meats, which have not profited them that have been {e} occupied therein.

(6) He speaks to those who mixed an external worship and especially the difference of meats with the gospel which he clearly condemns as repugnant to the benefit of Christ.

(d) By this one form which concerns the difference of clean and unclean meat, we have to understand all the ceremonial worship.

(e) Who observed the difference of them superstitiously.

Be not carried about (μὴ παραφέρεσθε)

A.V. follows T.R. περιφέρεσθε. Rend. "carried away." The present tense indicates a present and active danger.

With divers and strange doctrines (διδαχαῖς ποικίλαις καὶ ξέναις)

For "doctrines" rend. "teachings." These teachings represent various phases of one radical error - the denial of Jesus's messiahship and of his messianic economy as superseding Judaism and all other means of salvation. Among them the writer's mind would naturally turn to the prescriptions concerning clean and unclean meats and sacrificial festivals. See next clause. These teachings were various as contrasted with the one teaching of the gospel; they were strange as they differed from that teaching. Comp. Galatians 1:6-9. For ποικίλαις see on 2 Timothy 3:16.

That the heart be established (βεβαιοῦσθαι τὴν καρδίαν)

There is an emphasis on heart as well as on grace. These strange teachings all emphasized externalism, in contrast with Christianity, which insisted upon the purification of the heart and conscience. The contrast is strongly stated in Hebrews 9:9, Hebrews 9:14, and the Epistle constantly directs the readers to the heart as the true point of contact with God, and the source of all departures from him. See Hebrews 3:8, Hebrews 3:10, Hebrews 3:12, Hebrews 3:15; Hebrews 4:7, Hebrews 4:12; Hebrews 8:10; especially Hebrews 10:22. Hence, the writer says, "it is good that the solid basis of your assurance before God be in the heart, purged from an evil conscience, so that you can draw near to God with a firmly-established confidence, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith": Hebrews 10:22; comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:22.

With grace, not with meats (χάριτι οὐ βρώμασιν)

The heart is the proper seat of the work of grace. Free grace is the motive-power of Christ's sacrifice (2 Corinthians 8:9; Galatians 1:15); it is behind the blood of the new covenant, and is the energetic principle of its saving operation. See Romans 5:2, Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 2:5, Ephesians 2:7, Ephesians 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:29. With meats stands for the whole system of ceremonial observances, in contrast with grace, working on the heart. See Hebrews 9:10. This ceremonial system yielded no permanent benefit to those who lived under it. See Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:9, Hebrews 9:13, Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 10:2, Hebrews 10:4.

Which have not profited them that have been occupied therein (ἐν οἶς οὐκ ὠφελήθησαν οἱ περιπατοῦντες)

Lit. in the which they who walked were not profited. Περιπατεῖν to walk about is often used to express habitual practice or general conduct of life. See Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 10:3; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:7; Colossians 4:5.

9. about—rather, as oldest manuscripts read, "carried aside"; namely, compare Eph 4:14.

divers—differing from the one faith in the one and the same Jesus Christ, as taught by them who had the rule over you (Heb 13:7).

strange—foreign to the truth.

doctrines—"teachings."

established with grace; not with meats—not with observances of Jewish distinctions between clean and unclean meats, to which ascetic Judaizers added in Christian times the rejection of some meats, and the use of others: noticed also by Paul in 1Co 8:8, 13; 6:13; Ro 14:17, an exact parallel to this verse: these are some of the "divers and strange doctrines" of the previous sentence. Christ's body offered once for all for us, is our true spiritual "meat" to "eat" (Heb 13:10), "the stay and the staff of bread" (Isa 3:1), the mean of all "grace."

which have not profited—Greek, "in which they who walked were not profited"; namely, in respect to justification, perfect cleansing of the conscience, and sanctification. Compare on "walked," Ac 21:21; namely, with superstitious scrupulosity, as though the worship of God in itself consisted in such legal observances.

Be not carried about - Μη περιφερεσθε· Be not whirled about. But ABCD, and almost every other MS. of importance, with the Syriac, Coptic, Arabic, Vulgate, and several of the Greek fathers, have μη παραφερεσθε, be not carried away, which is undoubtedly the true reading, and signifies here, do not apostatize; permit not yourselves to be carried off from Christ and his doctrine.

Divers and strange doctrines - Διδαχαις, ποικιλαις· Variegated doctrines; those that blended the law and the Gospel, and brought in the Levitical sacrifices and institutions in order to perfect the Christian system. Remember the old covenant is abolished; the new alone is in force.

Strange doctrines, διδαχαις ξεναις, foreign doctrines; such as have no apostolical authority to recommend them.

That the heart be established with grace - It is well to have the heart, the mind, and conscience, fully satisfied with the truth and efficacy of the Gospel; for so the word χαρις should be understood here, which is put in opposition to βρωμασιν, meats, signifying here the Levitical institutions, and especially its sacrifices, these being emphatically termed meats, because the offerers were permitted to feast upon them after the blood had been poured out before the Lord. See Leviticus 7:15; Deuteronomy 12:6, Deuteronomy 12:7.

Which have not profited them - Because they neither took away guilt, cleansed the heart, nor gave power over sin.

13:9 Be not carried about with various doctrines - Which differ from that one faith in our one unchangeable Lord. Strange - To the ears and hearts of all that abide in him. For it is good - It is both honourable before God and pleasant and profitable That the heart be stablished with grace - Springing from faith in Christ. Not with meats - Jewish ceremonies, which indeed can never stablish the heart. 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. Suffer no false teachers to delude you.

It is a good thing. Though more than thirty years had passed since the church was founded, the temple service still continued, though the apostle has shown that it was done away in Christ. No doubt some of the Hebrew Christians had continued to observe its ceremonials. There were even teachers who taught divers strange doctrines concerning the need of keeping the law. The apostle, however, enjoins that

the heart be established with grace, instead of resorting to sacrificial meats which had proved profitless to make the conscience perfect.

Hebrews 13:8
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