Let Love Continue (Hebrews 13:1)

Let love of the brethren continue.

Hebrews 13:1

Immediately preceding this, the writer of Hebrews wrote about God removing the things which can be shaken and leaving in place only those things that cannot be shaken. The topic is difficult, but the writer gives a contrast of Sinai and Zion, two mountains where God met with humankind. On the one hand, God met with humankind to give His Law, on the other He met with us to show us His Grace. Neither mountain will remain, but His Law and His Grace will continue forever. This is the lead in to this morning’s verse.

The love spoken of in this verse is not the famous “agape” love for which so many passages in scripture are noted, but is actually the word “philadelphia,” which is brotherly love. The verb in this verse that is split into two parts in this translation — “Letcontinue” — is in the imperative. This makes it a command, not a request, as the translation might imply. The writer of Hebrews is not suggesting that brotherly love ought to continue, rather he is commanding that we continue it. Why?

I suspect that the writer of Hebrews was mindful of Christ’s statement that believers will be known by our love for one another. More commands follow this one — entertain strangers, be mindful of prisoners, and so on — but loving one another tops the list. The writer of Hebrews also does not tell his readers that they should worry about keeping The Law or concern themselves with telling people what is right and wrong. The writer tells believers to be concerned with what identifies us: our love for one another. It is important that people know what is right and wrong, this is true, but C.S. Lewis may have said it best when he wrote “All men alike stand condemned, not by alien codes of ethics, but by their own, and all men therefore are conscious of guilt.”

Father, thank You for loving me enough to give grace that covers my failings. Thank You for brothers and sisters in faith whom You have given me to love. Please cause me to be absorbed with loving my brethren and doing so with an eye toward showing them the same grace You have shown me.

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