The Ruling Elder: Past & Present

By Jeffrey A. Stivason - Posted at Place for Truth:

I don’t know about you, but I find it interesting that Hebrews 13 ends with an encouragement to obey and submit to the elders of the congregation. In fact, leaders are mentioned three times from v. 7 to the end of the chapter. Now, we’re not told why it ends this way but one certainly wonders. And as I have wondered about that question the answer dawned on me.

In verse 7 the pastor speaks of past leaders and in v. 17 he speaks of present leaders. But a cursory reading of these eleven verses reveals no apparent rhyme or reason. Let me put it another way. Taken as individual sayings what the pastor says makes sense. In fact, even the words and expressions tie us back into the letter itself. But when we try to understand the basic theme between verses 7 through 17 it is difficult to say the least. In fact, it seems almost dizzying!

Let’s think about it for a minute. Verse 7, as we said, begins with an encouragement to remember past leadership; but quite abruptly the theme changes. In verse 8 we have what appears to be an ontological statement about the person of Christ. Then, just as hurriedly, the preacher makes a statement in verse 9 about being carried away by false teaching. But before we have time to wonder about any of these things the author leads us to think about Judaism. In fact, from verses 10-14 the preacher returns to what appears to be the Day of Atonement, which the author already dealt with in chapters 8 and 9! And then the theme changes again. In verses 15 and 16 we find an admonition to do good. And finally, in v. 17, we are brought back to leadership.


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