Hebrews 13:17
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

New Living Translation
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

English Standard Version
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

New American Standard Bible
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.

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

International Standard Version
Continue to follow and be submissive to your leaders, since they are watching over your souls as those who will have to give a word of explanation. By doing this, you will be letting them carry out their duties joyfully, and not with grief, for that would be harmful for you.

NET Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Obey your Leaders and submit to them, for they watch for the sake of your souls, as persons who give an account, so that they may do this with joy and not with groans, because that is not advantageous to you.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you. Obey them so that they may do this work joyfully and not complain about you. (Causing them to complain would not be to your advantage.)

Jubilee Bible 2000
Listen to your pastors, and do not resist them, for they watch for your souls as those that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.

King James 2000 Bible
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.

American King James Version
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.

American Standard Version
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them : for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you.

Darby Bible Translation
Obey your leaders, and be submissive; for *they* watch over your souls as those that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not groaning, for this [would be] unprofitable for you.

English Revised Version
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.

Webster's Bible Translation
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.

Weymouth New Testament
Obey your leaders and be submissive to them. For they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give account; that they may do this with joy and not with lamentation. For that would be of no advantage to you.

World English Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls, as those who will give account, that they may do this with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Young's Literal Translation
Be obedient to those leading you, and be subject, for these do watch for your souls, as about to give account, that with joy they may do this, and not sighing, for this is unprofitable to you.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

13:16-21 We must, according to our power, give to the necessities of the souls and bodies of men: God will accept these offerings with pleasure, and will accept and bless the offerers through Christ. The apostle then states what is their duty to living ministers; to obey and submit to them, so far as is agreeable to the mind and will of God, made known in his word. Christians must not think themselves too wise, too good, or too great, to learn. The people must search the Scriptures, and so far as the ministers teach according to that rule, they ought to receive their instructions as the word of God, which works in those that believe. It is the interest of hearers, that the account their ministers give of them may be with joy, and not with grief. Faithful ministers deliver their own souls, but the ruin of a fruitless and faithless people will be upon their own heads. The more earnestly the people pray for their ministers, the more benefit they may expect from their ministry. A good conscience has respect to all God's commands, and all our duty. Those who have this good conscience, yet need the prayers of others. When ministers come to a people who pray for them, they come with greater satisfaction to themselves, and success to the people. We should seek all our mercies by prayer. God is the God of peace, fully reconciled to believers; who has made a way for peace and reconciliation between himself and sinners, and who loves peace on earth, especially in his churches. He is the Author of spiritual peace in the hearts and consciences of his people. How firm a covenant is that which has its foundation in the blood of the Son of God! The perfecting of the saints in every good work, is the great thing desired by them, and for them; and that they may at length be fitted for the employment and happiness of heaven. There is no good thing wrought in us, but it is the work of God. And no good thing is wrought in us by God, but through Christ, for his sake and by his Spirit.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 17. - Obey them that have the rule over you (τοῖς ἡγουμένοις ὑμῶν, as in ver. 7), and submit yourselves (to them): for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it With joy, and not With grief (literally, groaning); for that is (rather, were) unprofitable for you (i.e. their ministry is for your profit; if its result be their giving in their account with groans, its whole purpose will be frustrated). In this allusion to the ἡγουμένοι as in vers. 7 and 24, there is evidence of the existence of a regular order of ministry in the Hebrew Churches, such as many allusions in St. Paul's Epistles show to have formed part of the constitution of the Churches to whom those Epistles were addressed (cf. also Acts 14:23 and Acts 20:17, 28, etc.). The word itself (ἡγουμένοι) which is here used might, indeed, denote any persons who took the lead in the congregations; but the urging of the duty of submission to them, in virtue of their office of watching for souls for which they would have to give account, shows plainly that a special order is here, as elsewhere, referred to. Observe also below, ver. 24, where "all the saints," i.e. what we should call the laity, are mentioned in distinction from the ἡγουμένοι. (For similar injunctions, cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and 1 Timothy 5:17, τοὺς προεσταμένους ὑμῶν and οἱ προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι being the words there used.) The special injunction here to obey and submit may have been called for by some deficiency in this respect among the Hebrew Christians. Possibly it was among the people rather than the pastors that there were any signs of wavering between the Church and the synagogue, and that one purpose of the admonition is to strengthen the hands of the former, in whom confidence is placed.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Obey them that have the rule over you,.... Not the ecclesiastical rulers among the Jews, for to these they were no longer obliged, they being no longer under such tutors and governors; nor civil magistrates, though it was their duty to obey them, even Heathen ones; for as for Christian magistrates, as yet there were none; but their spiritual guides and governors, the same that are mentioned Hebrews 13:7 these the apostle exhorts them to "obey": by constantly tending upon the word preached by them, and hearkening to it; by receiving it with faith and love, as it appears agreeable to the Scriptures; for a contrary behaviour is pernicious to souls, and highly resented by God; and by being present at, and joining with them in the ordinances of Christ, as administered by them; and by regarding their admonitions, counsels, and advice:

and submit yourselves; to the laws of Christ's house, as put in execution by them; and to their censures and reproofs, as delivered by the authority of the church; for they are spiritual fathers, and children should obey their parents, and submit to them; they are the ambassadors of Christ, stand in his stead, and represent him, wherefore their authority is great; and they are pastors or shepherds of the flock, whom the sheep should follow:

for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account: they watch not for themselves, for their worldly gain and advantage, and for the estates of men; but for the souls of men, to do them good, to comfort and edify them, to feed them with knowledge and understanding, and for the salvation of them; as such that must give an account to their own consciences, that they discharge their work aright, or they cannot be satisfied; and to the church, to whom they minister, to whom they are accountable, if they are dilatory and negligent; and especially as such as must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give an account to him of their ministry, of their use of talents committed to them, and of souls that are put under their care and charge; how they have discharged their duty to the souls of men, and how these have behaved towards them under the ministry of the word: the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read, "for they watch, as those that must give an account for your souls": the sense is much the same:

that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; either do their work with joy, cheerfully; which they do, when they are obeyed and submitted to; when men attend upon the word and ordinances administered by them, and receive advantage, and grow in grace and spiritual knowledge; when they abide by the Gospel, and walk worthy of it; otherwise they do their work heavily, and with sorrow: or else give up their account with joy, and not with grief; either at the throne of grace, where they either rejoice or complain; or at the great day, when they will be witnesses, either for or against those that have been committed to them:

for that is unprofitable unto you; for whose souls they watch; that is, the latter would be so, either to do their work sorrowing, or to give up their account by way of complaint; either of them must be to the disadvantage of such persons that occasion grief and sorrow.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

17. Obey them that have the rule over you—(Compare Heb 13:7, 24). This threefold mention of the rulers is peculiar to this Epistle. In other Epistles Paul includes the rulers in his exhortations. But here the address is limited to the general body of the Church, in contrast to the rulers to whom they are charged to yield reverent submission. Now this is just what might be expected when the apostle of the Gentiles was writing to the Palestine Christians, among whom James and the eleven apostles had exercised a more immediate authority. It was important he should not seem to set himself in opposition to their guides, but rather strengthen their hands; he claims no authority directly or indirectly over these rulers themselves [Birks]. "Remember" your deceased rulers (Heb 13:7). "Obey" your living rulers; nay, more, not only obey in cases where no sacrifice of self is required, and where you are persuaded they are right (so the Greek, for "obey"), but "submit yourselves" as a matter of dutiful yielding, when your judgment and natural will incline you in an opposite direction.

they—on their part; so the Greek. As they do their part, so do you yours. So Paul exhorts, 1Th 5:12, 13.

watch—"are vigilant" (Greek).

for—Greek, "in behalf of."

must give account—The strongest stimulus to watchfulness (Mr 13:34-37). Chrysostom was deeply struck with these words, as he tells us [On the Priesthood, 6], "The fear of this threat continually agitates my soul."

do it—"watch for your soul's eternal salvation." It is a perilous responsibility for a man to have to give account for others' deeds, who is not sufficient for his own [Estius, from Aquinas]. I wonder whether it be possible that any of the rulers should be saved [Chrysostom]. Compare Paul's address to the elders, Ac 20:28; 1Co 4:1-5, where also he connects ministers' responsibility with the account to be hereafter given (compare 1Pe 5:4).

with joy—at your obedience; anticipating, too, that you shall be their "joy" in the day of giving account (Php 4:1).

not with grief—at your disobedience; apprehending also that in the day of account you may be among the lost, instead of being their crown of rejoicing. In giving account, the stewards are liable to blame if aught be lost to the Master. "Mitigate their toil by every office of attention and respect, that with alacrity, rather than with grief, they may fulfil their duty, arduous enough in itself, even though no unpleasantness be added on your part" [Grotius].

that—Grief in your pastors is unprofitable for you, for it weakens their spiritual power; nay, more, "the groans (so the Greek for 'grief') of other creatures are heard; how much more of pastors!" [Bengel]. So God will be provoked to avenge on you their "groaning" (Greek). If they must render God an account of their negligence, so must you for your ingratitude to them [Grotius].

Hebrews 13:17 Additional Commentaries
Context
Sacrifices and Prayer
16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 17Obey 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. 18Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.…
Cross References
Isaiah 62:6
I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest,

Ezekiel 3:17
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.

Acts 20:28
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

1 Corinthians 16:16
to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.

1 Thessalonians 5:12
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.

Hebrews 13:7
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Hebrews 13:24
Greet all your leaders and all the Lord's people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.
Treasury of Scripture

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.

Obey. See on ver.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken to you …

1 Samuel 8:19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and …

1 Samuel 15:19,20 Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but did fly on the …

Proverbs 5:13 And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear …

Philippians 2:12,29 Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence …

1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 And we beseech you, brothers, to know them which labor among you, …

2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this letter, note that man, and …

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, …

have the rule over. or, guide. submit.

Genesis 16:9 And the angel of the LORD said to her, Return to your mistress, and …

1 Corinthians 16:16 That you submit yourselves to such, and to every one that helps with …

Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of …

watch.

Ezekiel 3:17-21 Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore …

Ezekiel 33:2,7-9 Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them, …

Acts 20:24-26,28 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to …

1 Corinthians 4:1,2 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards …

1 Peter 5:2,3 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, …

give account.

Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said to him, How is it that I hear this of …

Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

2 Corinthians 5:10,11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every …

with joy.

Philippians 1:4 Always in every prayer of my for you all making request with joy,

Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of …

Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and …

1 Thessalonians 2:19,20 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even …

1 Thessalonians 3:9,10 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy …

with grief.

Exodus 32:31 And Moses returned to the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned …

Jeremiah 13:17 But if you will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places …

Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even …

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