Hebrews 13:13
Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
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(13) The suffering “without the gate” was a symbol of His rejection by the Jews. All who would be His must share the reproach which came upon Him, who was cast out by His people and crucified (Hebrews 11:26): they also must go forth “without the camp,” forsaking the company of His foes. Each one must for himself make choice either of the synagogue or of the church of Christ; between the two there can be no fellowship.



Hebrews 13:13-14CALVARY was outside Jerusalem. That wholly accidental and trivial circumstance is laid hold of in the context, in order to give picturesque force to the main contention and purpose of this Epistle. One of the solemn parts of the ritual of Judaism was the great Day of Atonement, on which the sacrifice that took away the sins of the nation was berne outside the camp, and consumed by fire, instead of being partaken of by the priests, as were most of the other sacrifices. Our writer here sees in these two roughly parallel things, not an argument but an imaginative illustration of great truths. Though he does not mean to say that the death on Calvary was intended to be pointed to by the unique arrangement in question, he does mean to say that the coincidence of the two things helps us to grasp two great truths-one, that Jesus Christ really did what that old sacrifice expressed the need for having done, and the other that, in His death on Calvary, the Jewish nation, as one of the parables has it, ‘cast Him out of the vineyard.’ In the context, he urges this analogy between the two things. But a Christ outside the camp beckons His disciples to His side. If any man serve Him, he has to follow Him, and the blessedness, as well as the duty, of the servant on earth, as well as in heaven, is to be where his Master is.

So the writer finds here a picturesque way to enforce the great lesson of his treatise, namely, that the Jewish adherent to Christianity must break with Judaism. In the early stages, it was possible to combine faith in Christ and adherence to the Temple and its ritual. But now that by process of time and experience the Church has learnt better who and what Christ is, that which was in part has to be done away, and the Christian Church is to stand clear of the Jewish synagogue.

Now it is to be distinctly understood that the words of my text, in the writer’s intention, are not a general principle or exhortation, but that they are a special commandment to a certain class under special circumstances, and when we use them, as I am going to do now, for a wider purpose, we must remember that that wider purpose was by no means in the writer’s mind. What he was thinking about was simply the relation between the Jewish Christian and the Jewish community. But if we take them as we may legitimately do - only remembering that we are diverting them from their original intention - as carrying more general lessons for us, what they seem to teach is that faithful discipleship involves detachment from the world. This commandment, ‘Let us go forth unto Him without the camp,’ stands, if you will notice, between two reasons for it, which buttress it up, as it were, on either side. Before it is enunciated, the writer has been pointing, as I have tried to show, to the thought that a Christ without the camp necessarily involves disciples without the camp. And he follow, it with another reason, ‘here we have no continuing city, but we seek that which is to come.’ Here, then, is a general principle, supported on either side by a great reason.

Let me first try to set before you,

I. What this detachment is not.

The Jewish Christian was obliged utterly and outwardly to break his connection with Judaism, on the peril, if he did not, of being involved in its ruin, and, as was historically the case with certain Judaising sects, of losing his Christianity altogether. It was a cruel necessity, and no wonder that it needed this long letter to screw the disciples of Hebrew extraction up to the point of making the leap from the sinking ship to the deck of the one that floated. The parallel does not hold with regard to us. The detachment from the world, or the coming out from the camp, to which my text exhorts, is not the abandonment of our relations with what the Bible calls ‘the world,’ and what we call - roughly meaning the same thing - society. The function of the Christian Church as leaven, involves the necessity of being closely associated, and in contact with, all forms of human life, national, civic, domestic, social, commercial, intellectual, political. Does my text counsel an opposite course? ‘Go forth without the camp,’ - does that mean huddle yourself together into a separate flock, and let the camp go to the devil? By no means. For the society or world, out of which the Christian is drawn by the attraction of the Cross, like iron filings out of a heap by a magnet, is in itself good and God-appointed. It is He ‘that sets the solitary in families.’ It is He that gathers humanity into the bonds of civic and national life. It is He that gives capacities which find their sphere, their education, and their increase in the walks of intellectual or commercial or political life. And He does not build up with one hand and destroy with the other, or set men by His providence in circumstances out of which He draws them by His grace. By no means. To go apart from humanity is to miss the very purpose for which God has set the Church in the world. For contact with the sick to be healed is requisite for healing, and they are poor disciples of the ‘Friend of publicans and sinners’ who prefer to consort with Pharisees. ‘Let both grow together till the harvest’ - the roots are intertwined, and it is God that has intertwined them. Now, I know that one does not need to insist upon this principle to the average Christianity of this day, which is only too ready to mingle itself with the world, but one does need to insist that. in so mingling, detachment from the world is still to be observed; and it does need to be taught that Christian men are not lowering the standard of the Christian life, when they fling themselves frankly and energetically into the various forms of human, activity, if and only if, whilst they do so, they still remember and obey the commandment, ‘Let us go forth unto Him without the camp.’ The commandment misinterpreted so as to he absolutely impossible to be obeyed, becomes a snare to people who do not keep it, and yet sometimes feel as if they were to blame, because they do not. And, therefore, I turn in the next place to consider -

II. What this detachment really is.

Will you let me put what I have to say into the shape of two or three plain, practical exhortations, not because I wish to assume a position of authority or command, but only in’ order to give vividness and point to my thoughts?

First, then, let us habitually nourish the inner life of union with Jesus Christ. Notice the words of my text, and see what comes first and what comes second. ‘Let us go forth unto Him’ - that is the main thing: ‘Without the camp’ is second, and a consequence; ‘unto Him,’ is primary, which is just to say that the highest, widest, noblest, all-comprehensive conception of what a Christian life is, is that it is union with Jesus Christ, and whatever else it is follows from that. The soul is ever to be looking up through all the shadows and shows, the changes and circumstances, of this fleeting present unto Him, and seeking to be more closely united with Him. Union with Him is life, and separation from Him is death. To be so united is to be a Christian. Never mind about camps or anything else, to begin with. If the heart is joined to Jesus, then all the rest will come right. If it is not, then you may make regulations as many as you like, and they will only be red tape to entangle your feet in. ‘Let us go forth unto Him’; that is the sovereign commandment. And how is that to be done? How is it to be done but by nourishing habitual consciousness of union with Him and life in Him, by an habitual reference of all our acts to Him? As the Roman Catholics put it, in their hard external way, ‘the practice of the presence of God’ is the keynote to all real, vigorous Christianity. For, brethren, such an habitual fellowship with Jesus Christ is possible for us. Though with many interruptions, no doubt, still ideally is it possible that it shall be continuous and real. It is possible, perfectly possible, that it shall be a great deal more continuous than, alas! it is with many of us.

Depend upon it, this nourishing of an inward life of fellowship with Jesus, so that we may say, ‘our lives are hid’ - hid, after all vigorous manifestation and consistent action - ‘ with Christ in God,’ will not weaken, but increase, the force with which we act on the things seen and temporal. There is an unwholesome kind of mysticism which withdraws men from the plain duties of everyday life; and there is a deep, sane, wholesome, and eminently Christian mysticism which enables men to come down with greater force, and to act with more decision, with more energy, with more effect, in all the common deeds of life. The greatest mystics have been the hardest workers. Who was it that said, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’? That man had gone far, very far, towards an habitual consciousness of Christ’s presence, and it was the same man that said, ‘That which cometh upon me daily is the care of all the churches.’ The greatest mystic of the Middle Ages, the saint that rode by the lake all day long, and was so absorbed in contemplation that he said at night, ‘Where is the lake?’ was the man that held all the threads of European politics in his hands, and from his cell at Clairvaux guided popes, and flung the nations of the West into a crusade. John Wesley was one of the hardest workers that the Church has ever had, and was one of those who lived most habitually without the camp. Be sure of this, that the more our lives are wrapped in Christ, the more energetic will they be in the world. They tell us that the branches of a spreading tree describe roughly the same circumference in the atmosphere that its roots do underground, and so far as our roots extend in Christ, so far will our branches spread in the world. ‘Let us go forth unto Him, without the camp.’

Again, let me say, do the same things as other people, but with a difference. The more our so-called civilisation advances, the more, I was going to say, mechanical, or at least largely released from the control of the will and personal idiosyncrasy, become great parts of our work. The Christian weaver drives her looms very much in the same fashion that the non-Christian girl who is looking after the next sot does. The Christian clerk adds up his figures, and writes his letters, very much in the same fashion that the worldly clerk does. The believing doctor visits his patients, and writes out his prescriptions in the fashion that his neighbour who is not a Christian does. But there is always room for the personal equation - always! and two lives may be, superficially and roughly, the same, and yet there may be a difference in them impalpable, undefinable, and very obvious and very real and very mighty. The Christian motive is love to Jesus Christ and fellowship with Him, and that motive may be brought to bear upon all life -

‘A servant with this clause

Makes drudgery divine.’

He that for Christ’s sake does a common thing it outer the fatal region of the commonplace, and makes it great and beautiful We do not want from all Christian people specifically Christian service, in the narrow sense which that phrase has acquired, half so much as we want common things done from an uncommon motive; worldly things done because of the love of Jesus Christ in our hearts. And, depend upon it, just as, from some unseen bank of violets, there come odours in opening spring, so from the unspoken and deeply hidden motive of love to Jesus Christ, there will be a fragrance in our commonest actions which all men will recognise. They tell us that rivers which flow from lakes are so clear that they are tinged throughout with celestial blue, because all the mud that they brought down from their upper reaches has been deposited in the still waters of the lake from which they flow; and if from the deep tam of love to Jesus Christ in our hearts the stream of our lives flows out, it will be like the Rhone below Geneva, distinguishable from the muddy waters that run by its side in the same channel. Two people, partners in business, joined in the same work, marching step for step in the same ranks, may yet be entirely distinguishable and truly separate, because, doing the same things, they do them from different motives.

Let me say, still further, and finally about this matter, that sometimes we shall have to come actually out of the camp. The world as God made it is good; society is ordained by God. The occupations which men pursue are of His appointment, for the most part. But into the thing that was good there have crept all manner of corruptions and abominations, so that often it will be a Christian duty to come away from all outward connection with that which is incurably corrupt. I know very well that a morality which mainly consists of prohibitions is pedantic and poor. I know very well that a Christianity which interprets such a precept as this of my text simply as meaning abstinence from certain conventionally selected and branded forms of life, occupation, or amusement, is but a very poor affair. But ‘Thou shalt not’ is very often absolutely necessary as a support to ‘Thou shalt.’ If you go into an Eastern city, you will find the houses with their fronts to the street, having narrow slits of windows all barred, and a heavy gate, frowning and ugly. But pass within, and there are flower-beds and fountains. The frowning street front is there for the defence of the fountains and the flower-beds within, from the assaults of foes, and speaks of a disturbed state of society, in which no flowers can grow and no fountains can bubble and sparkle, unless a strong barrier is round them. And so ‘thou shalt not, in a world like this, is needful in order that ‘ thou shalt’ shall have fair play. No law can be laid down for other people. Every man must settle this matter of abstinence for himself. Things that you may do, perhaps I may not do; things that you may not do, I very likely may. ‘A liberal Christianity,’ as the world calls it, is often a very shallow Christianity. ‘A sour Puritanical severity,’ as loose-living men call it, is very often plain, Christian morality. An inconsistent Christian may he hailed as ‘a good fellow,’ and laughed at behind his back. Samson made sport for the Philistines when he was blind. The uncircumcised do often say of professing Christians, that try to be like them, and to keep step with them, ‘What do these Hebrews here?’ and God always says to such, ‘What dost thou here, Elijah?’

Lastly -

III. Why this detachment is enforced.

‘For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.’ That translation does not give the full force of the original, for it suggests the idea of a vague uncertainty in the seeking, whereas what the writer means is, not ‘one to come,’ but one which is coming. The Christian object of seeking is definite, and it is not merely future but present, and in process of being realised even here and now, and tending to completion. Paul uses the same metaphor of the city in one of his leisure, ‘Your citizenship is in heaven.’ He says that to the Philippians. Philippi was a colony; that is to say, it was a bit of Rome put down in a foreign land, with Roman laws, its citizens enrolled upon the registers of the Roman tribes, and not under the jurisdiction of the provincial governor. That is what we Christians are, whether we know it or not.’ We are here in an order to which we outwardly belong, but in the depths of our being we belong to another order of things altogether. Therefore the essentials of the Christian life may be stated as being the looking forward to the city, and the realising of our affinities to it and not to the things around us. In the measure in which, dear brethren, we realise to what community we belong, will the things here be seen to be fleeting and alive to our deepest selves. ‘Here we have no continuing city’ is not merely the result of the tran-siency of temporal things, and the brevity of our earthly lives, but it is much rather the result of our affinity to the other order of things beyond the seas.

Abraham dwelt in tents, because he ‘looked for a airy,’ and so it was better for him to stop on the breezy uplands, though the herbage was scant, than to go with Lot into the vale of Sodom, though it looked Hire the garden of the Lord. In like manner, the more intensely we realise that we belong to the city, the more shall we be willing to ‘go forth without the camp.’ Let these two thoughts dominate our minds and shape our lives; our union with Jesus Christ and our citizenship of the heavenly Jerusalem. In the measure in which they do, it will be no sacrifice for us to come out of the transient camp, because we shall thereby go to Him and come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, ‘which hath the foundations.’

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.Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp - As if we were going forth with him when he was led away to be crucified. He was put to death as a malefactor. He was the object of contempt and scorn. He was held up to derision, and was taunted and reviled on his way to the place of death, and even on the cross. To be identified with him there; to follow him; to sympathize with him; to be regarded as his friend, would have subjected one to similar shame and reproach. The meaning here is, that we should be willing to regard ourselves as identified with the Lord Jesus, and to bear the same shame and reproaches which he did. When he was led away amidst scoffing and reviling to be put to death, would we, if we had been there, been willing to be regarded as his followers, and to have gone out with him as his avowed disciples and friends? Alas, how many are there who profess to love him when religion subjects them to no reproach, who would have shrunk from following him to Calvary!

Bearing his reproach - Sympathizing with him; or bearing such reproach as he did; see 1 Peter 4:13; compare Hebrews 12:2 note; Philippians 3:10 note; Colossians 1:24 note.

13. therefore—This "therefore" breathes the deliberate fortitude of believers [Bengel].

without the camp—"outside the legal polity" [Theodoret] of Judaism (compare Heb 13:11) "Faith considers Jerusalem itself as a camp, not a city" [Bengel]. He contrasts with the Jews, who serve an earthly sanctuary, the Christians to whom the altar in heaven stands open, while it is closed against the Jews. As Jesus suffered without the gate, so spiritually must those who desire to belong to Him, withdraw from the earthly Jerusalem and its sanctuary, as from this world in general. There is a reference to Ex 33:7, when the tabernacle was moved without the camp, which had become polluted by the people's idolatry of the golden calves; so that "every one who sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation (as Moses called the tabernacle outside the camp), which was without the camp"; a lively type of what the Hebrews should do, namely, come out of the carnal worship of the earthly Jerusalem to worship God in Christ in spirit, and of what we all ought to do, namely, come out from all carnalism, worldly formalism, and mere sensuous worship, and know Jesus in His spiritual power apart from worldliness, seeing that "we have no continuing city" (Heb 13:14).

bearing—as Simon of Cyrene did.

his reproach—the reproach which He bare, and which all His people bear with Him.

Therefore shows this to be a necessary duty, inferred from the former privilege; That since we have such an altar and sacrifice as Jesus, sanctifying us by his own blood, which he entered with to God, when he suffered without the gate; we ought and must

go forth (from tabernacle service, consisting of meats and ceremonies, from Judaism, in all its parts abolished, and all erroneous doctrines, how numerous and strange soever, and all worldly things) unto Jesus, who was cursed for us, that we might be blessed, Galatians 3:13, in faith and love; not ashamed of, but glorying in his sufferings, and following and imitating of him, patiently and boldly bearing mockings, revilings, scourgings, crucifyings, and all other persecretions, which are parts of his cross, for his sake, Hebrews 11:9 Romans 6:5,6 1 Corinthians 1:30 Galatians 2:20 Philippians 3:8-10; making him in all our example, 1 Peter 2:21 4:12-19.

Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp,.... Either of legal ceremonies, which are to be quitted; or of this world, which may be compared to a "camp"; for its instability, a camp not being always in one place; and for its hostility, the world being full of enemies to Christ and his people; and for the noise and fatigue of it, it being a troublesome and wearisome place to the saints, abounding with sins and wickedness; as also camps usually do; and for multitude, the men of the world being very numerous: and a man may be said to "go forth" from hence, when he professes not to belong to the world; when his affections are weaned from it; when the allurements of it do not draw him aside; when he forsakes, and suffers the loss of all, for Christ; when he withdraws from the conversation of the men of it, and breathes after another world; and to go forth from hence, "unto him", unto Christ, shows, that Christ is not to be found in the camp, in the world: he is above, in heaven, at the right hand of God; and that going out of the camp externally, or leaving the world only in a way of profession, is or no avail, without going to Christ: yet there must be a quitting of the world, in some sense, or there is no true coming to Christ, and enjoyment of him; and Christ is a full recompence for what of the world may be lost by coming to him; wherefore there is great encouragement to quit the world, and follow Christ: now to go forth to him is to believe in him; to hope in him; to love him; to make a profession of him, and follow him:

bearing his reproach; or reproach for his sake: the reproach, which saints meet with, for the sake of Christ, and a profession of him, is called "his", because of the union there is between them, and the sympathy and fellow feeling he has with them in it; he reckons what is said and done to them as said and done to himself; and besides, there is a likeness between the reproach which Christ personally bore, and that which is cast upon his followers; and this is to be bore by them willingly, cheerfully, courageously, and patiently.

{8} Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

(8) He goes on further in this comparison, and shows that this also signified to us, that the godly followers of Christ must go out of the world bearing his cross.

Hebrews 13:13. Deduction from Hebrews 13:10-12, in the form of a summons: Let us then no longer seek salvation for ourselves within the bounds of Judaism, but come forth from the camp of the Old Covenant and betake ourselves to Christ, untroubled about the reproach which may fall upon us on that account. Theodoret: ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς ἀντὶ τοῦ ἔξω τῆς κατὰ νόμον γενώμεθα πολιτείας. False, because opposed to all the connection, is it when Chrysostom 1, Theophylact, Primasius, Erasmus, Paraphr., Clarius, and others find in Hebrews 13:13 the exhortation to renounce the world and its delights; or Chrysostom 2, Limborch, Heinrichs, Dindorf, Kuinoel, Bloomfield: willingly to follow the Lord into sufferings and death; or Schlichting, Grotius, Michaelis, Zachariae, Storr: willingly to submit to expulsion by the Jews from their towns and fellowship; or Clericus: to forsake the city of Jerusalem on account of its impending destruction (Matthew 24.).

τοίνυν] as the commencement of a sentence only rare. Comp. LXX. Isaiah 3:10; Isaiah 5:13; Isaiah 27:4; Isaiah 33:23; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 342 sq.

τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν αὐτοῦ] See at Hebrews 11:26.

13. Let us go forth therefore unto him] Let us go forth out of the city and camp of Judaism (Revelation 11:8) to the true and eternal Tabernacle (Exodus 33:7-8) where He now is (Hebrews 12:2). Some have imagined that the writer conveys a hint to the Christians in Jerusalem that it is time for them to leave the guilty city and retire to Pella; but, as we have seen, it is by no means probable that the letter was addressed to Jerusalem.

bearing his reproach] “If ye be reproached,” says St Peter, “for the name of Christ, happy are ye” (comp. Hebrews 11:26). As He was excommunicated and insulted and made to bear His Cross of shame, so will you be, and you must follow Him out of the doomed city (Matthew 24:2). It must be remembered that the Cross, an object of execration and disgust even to Gentiles, was viewed by the Jews with religious horror, since they regarded every crucified person as “accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:13; see my Life of St Paul, ii. 17, 148). Christians shared this reproach to the fullest extent. The most polished heathen writers, men like Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius, spoke of their faith as an “execrable,” “deadly,” and “malefic” superstition; Lucian alluded to Christ as “the impaled sophist;” and to many Greeks and Romans no language of scorn seemed too intense, no calumny too infamous, to describe them and their mode of worship. The Jews spoke of them as “Nazarenes,” “Epicureans,” “heretics,” “followers of the thing,” and especially “apostates,” “traitors,” and “renegades.” The notion that there is any allusion to the ceremonial uncleanness of those who burnt the bodies of the offerings of the Day of Atonement “outside the camp” is far-fetched.

Hebrews 13:13. Τοίνυν) The particle, put at the beginning (Isaiah 5:13; Isaiah 27:4; Isaiah 33:23) in this passage, breathes the deliberate fortitude of believers. So τοιγαροῦν, at the beginning of chap. 12—ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς, without the camp) Hebrews 13:11. The camp denotes Judaism.—τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν αὐτοῦ, His reproach) i.e. the cross, ch. Hebrews 12:2.—φέροντες, bearing) as Simon of Cyrene; Matt. in the passage quoted above.

Verse 13. - Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. By a happy turn of thought Christ's having suffered without the gate is viewed as representing his exclusion from the Jewish Church and polity, outside which we are now to follow him, though we with him be reproached by the Jews as outcasts. There may be a tacit reference, such as Bengel sees in the word φέροντες, to our bearing our cross after him. Hebrews 13:13Bearing his reproach (τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν αὐτοῦ φέροντες)

The reproach of exclusion from the Jewish commonwealth.

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