|Barnes' Notes on the Bible|
Now the God of peace - God who is the Author, or the source of peace; notes, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The word "peace" in the New Testament is used to denote every kind of blessing or happiness. It is opposed to all that would disturb or trouble the mind, and may refer, therefore, to reconciliation with God; to a quiet conscience; to the evidence of pardoned sin; to health and prosperity, and to the hope of heaven; see the notes on John 14:27.
That brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus - Acts 2:32 note; 1 Corinthians 15:15 note. It is only by the fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that we have peace, for it is only by him that we have the prospect of an admission into heaven.
That great Shepherd of the sheep - notes, John 10:1, John 10:14. The idea here is, that it is through the tender care of that great Shepherd that true happiness is bestowed on the people of God.
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant - The blood shed to ratify the everlasting covenant that God makes with his people; notes, Hebrews 9:14-23. This phrase, in the original, is not connected, as it is in our translation, with his being raised from the dead, nor should it be so rendered, for what can be the sense of "raising Christ from the dead by the blood of the covenant?" In the Greek it is, "the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the shepherd of the sheep, great by the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus," etc. The meaning is, that he was made or constituted the great Shepherd of the sheep - the great Lord and ruler of his people, by that blood. That which makes him so eminently distinguished; that by which he was made superior to all others who ever ruled over the people of God, was the fact that he offered the blood by which the eternal covenant was ratified. It is called everlasting or eternal, because:
(1) it was formed in the councils of eternity, or has been an eternal plan in the divine mind; and,
(2) because it is to continue forever. Through such a covenant God can bestow permanent and solid "peace" on his people, for it lays the foundation of the assurance of eternal happiness.
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Now the God of peace - We have often seen that peace among the Hebrews signifies prosperity of every kind. The God of peace is the same as the God of all blessedness, who has at his disposal all temporal and eternal good; who loves mankind, and has provided them a complete salvation.
Brought again from the dead our Lord - As our Lord's sacrificial death is considered as an atonement offered to the Divine justice, God's acceptance of it as an atonement is signified by his raising the human nature of Christ from the dead; and hence this raising of Christ is, with the utmost propriety, attributed to God the Father, as this proves his acceptance of the sacrificial offering.
That great Shepherd of the sheep - This is a title of our blessed Lord, given to him by the prophets; so Isaiah 40:11; He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those which are with young: and Ezekiel 34:23; I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them; even my servant David, (i.e. the beloved, viz. Jesus), and he shall feed them, and be their shepherd: and Zechariah 13:7; Awake, O sword, against my shepherd - smite the shepherd, and the flock shall be scattered. In all these places the term shepherd is allowed to belong to our blessed Lord; and he appropriates it to himself, John 10:11, by calling himself the good Shepherd, who, lays down his life for the sheep.
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant - Some understand this in the following way, that "God brought back our Lord from the dead on account of his having shed his blood to procure the everlasting covenant." Others, that the Lord Jesus became the great Shepherd and Savior of the sheep by shedding his blood to procure and ratify the everlasting covenant." The sense, however, will appear much plainer if we connect this with the following verse: "Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead, our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, make you, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, perfect in every good work to do his will." The Christian system is termed the everlasting covenant, to distinguish it from the temporary covenant made with the Israelites at Mount Sinai; and to show that it is the last dispensation of grace to the world, and shall endure to the end of time.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now the God of peace,.... This is the concluding part of the epistle, which is ended with a prayer, made up of very suitable petitions for the Hebrews; and as the apostle desires them to pray for him and other ministers, he, in turn, and by way of example, prays for them: and he addresses God, as "the God of peace"; who is so called, because of his concern in the peace and reconciliation of his people; because he is the giver of conscience peace to them; because he is the author of all felicity and prosperity, temporal and spiritual; the promoter of peace and concord among saints, and at last brings them to eternal peace; See Gill on Romans 15:33, a consideration of this gives boldness at the throne of grace; furnishes out a reason why blessings asked for may be expected; has a tendency to promote peace among brethren; may bear up saints under a sense of infirmity and imperfection, in prayer and other duties; and be an encouragement to them under Satan's temptations, and all afflictions. The Arabic version makes the God of peace to be Christ himself; whereas Christ is manifestly distinguished from him in the next verse; and even in that version, reading the words thus, "now; the God of peace raised from the dead Jesus the Shepherd of the sheep, magnified by the blood of the everlasting covenant; Jesus, I say, our Lord confirm you, &c. through Jesus Christ"; for which version there is no foundation in the original text. The God of peace is manifestly God the Father, who is distinguished from Christ his Son:
that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus; who died for the sins of his people; was buried, and lay under the power of death for some time; but was raised from the dead by his Father; though not exclusive of himself, and the Spirit of holiness; in the same body in which he suffered and died; as the firstfruits of his people, and as their Lord and Saviour, head and surety, for their justification, and as a pledge of their resurrection. The apostle addresses the God and Father of Christ in prayer, under this consideration, to observe his power and ability to help in the greatest distress, and in the most difficult and desperate case; to encourage faith and hope in him, when things are at the worst, and most discouraging; to comfort the saints under afflictions, in a view of their resurrection; to engage them to regard a risen Christ, and things above, and to expect life and immortality by him:
that great Shepherd of the sheep: the people of God, whom the Father has chosen, and given to Christ; for whom he has laid down his life; and whom the Spirit calls by his grace, and sanctifies; to whom Christ has a right, by his Father's gift, his own purchase, and the power of grace: these being partakers of his grace, are called "sheep", because they are harmless and inoffensive in their lives and conversations; and yet are exposed to danger; but meek and patient under sufferings; are weak and timorous of themselves; are clean, being washed in the blood of Christ; are sociable in their communion with one another; are profitable, though not to God, yet to men; are apt to go astray, and are liable to diseases: they are also called sheep, and are Christ's sheep before conversion; see John 10:16 and Christ, he is the Shepherd of them, who in all respects discharges the office of a shepherd to them, diligently and faithfully; See Gill on John 10:16, here he is called, "that great Shepherd"; being the man, God's fellow, equal to him, the great God and our Saviour; and having a flock which, though comparatively is a little one, is a flock of souls, of immortal souls, and is such a flock as no other shepherd has; hence he is called the Shepherd and Bishop of souls: and his abilities to feed them are exceeding great; he has a perfect knowledge of them; all power to protect and defend them; a fulness of grace to supply them; and he takes a diligent care of them: and this great Person so described was raised from the dead,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant: for the sense is not, that God is the God of peace, through that blood, though it is true that peace is made by it; nor that Christ becomes the Shepherd of the sheep by it, though he has with it purchased the flock of God; nor that the chosen people become his sheep through it, though they are redeemed by it, and are delivered out of a pit wherein is no water, by the blood of this covenant; but that Christ was brought again from the dead through it; and it denotes the particular influence that it had upon his resurrection, and the continued virtue of it since. The "covenant" spoken of is not the covenant of works made with Adam, as the federal head of his natural seed; there was no mediator or shepherd of the sheep that had any concern therein; there was no blood in that covenant; nor was it an everlasting one: nor the covenant of circumcision given to Abraham; though possibly there may be some reference to it; or this may be opposed to that, since the blood of circumcision is often called by the Jews , "the blood of the covenant" (d): nor the covenant on Mount Sinai, though there may be an allusion to it; since the blood which was then shed, and sprinkled on the people, is called the blood of the covenant, Exodus 24:8 but that was not an everlasting covenant, that has waxed old, and vanished away; but the covenant of grace is meant, before called the new and better covenant, of which Christ is the surety and Mediator; see Hebrews 7:22. This is an "everlasting one"; it commenced from everlasting, as appears from the everlasting love of God, which is the rise and foundation of it; from the counsels of God of old, which issued in it; from Christ's being set up from everlasting, as the Mediator of it; from the promises of it which were made before the world began; and from the spiritual blessings of grace in it, which were given to God's elect in Christ before the foundation of it: moreover, it will endure for ever; nor will it be succeeded by any other covenant: and the blood of Christ may be called the blood of it, because the shedding of it is a principal article in it; by it the covenant is ratified and confirmed; and all the blessings of it come through it, as redemption, peace, pardon, justification, and even admission into heaven itself; and Christ, through it, was brought again from the dead, because by it he fulfilled his covenant engagements, satisfied divine justice, and abolished sin, yea, death itself.
(d) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 135. 1. & T. Hieros. Yebamot, fol. 9. 1.
Vincent's Word Studies
The God of peace
Not an O.T. phrase, and found only in Paul and Hebrews. See Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Philippians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:16. The phrase signifies God who is the author and giver of peace.
Who brought again from the dead (ὁ ἀναγαγὼν ἐκ νεκρῶν)
The only direct reference in the epistle to the resurrection of Christ. Hebrews 6:2 refers to the resurrection of the dead generally. Ἁνάγειν of raising the dead, only Romans 10:7. Rend. "brought up," and comp. Wisd. 16:13. Ἁνά in this compound, never in N.T. in the sense of again. See on Luke 8:22; see on Acts 12:4; see on Acts 16:34; see on Acts 27:3. The verb often as a nautical term, to bring a vessel up from the land to the deep water; to put to sea.
That great shepherd of the sheep (τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν)
The Greek order is, "the shepherd of the sheep the great (shepherd)." Comp. John 10:2, John 10:11, John 10:14; 1 Peter 2:25, and see Isaiah 63:11. Of God, Ezekiel 34.
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant (ἐν αἵματι διαθήκης αἰωνίου)
Rend. "in the blood of an eternal covenant." See Zechariah 9:11. The phrase eternal covenant N.T.o. Common in lxx; see Genesis 9:16; Genesis 17:19; Leviticus 24:8; 2 Samuel 23:5; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 16:60. Const. with the great shepherd of the sheep. It may be granted that the raising of Christ from the dead, viewed as the consummation of the plan of salvation, was in the sphere of the blood of the covenant; nevertheless, the covenant is nowhere in the N.T. associated with the resurrection, but frequently with death, especially in this epistle. See Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 9:16, Hebrews 9:17, Hebrews 9:20. The connection of the blood of the covenant with Christ's pastoral office gives a thoroughly scriptural sense, and one which exactly fits into the context. Christ becomes the great shepherd solely through the blood of the covenant. Comp. Acts 20:28. Through this is brought about the new relation of the church with God described in Hebrews 8:10 ff. This tallies perfectly with the conception of "the God of peace"; and the great Shepherd will assert the power of the eternal covenant of reconciliation and peace by perfecting his flock in every good work to do his will, working in them that which is well pleasing in his sight. With this agree Jeremiah 50:5, Jeremiah 50:19; Ezekiel 34:25, and the entire chapter, see especially Ezekiel 34:12-15, Ezekiel 34:23, Ezekiel 34:31. In these verses the Shepherd of the Covenant appears as guiding, tending his flock, and leading them into fair and safe pastures. Comp. Isaiah 63:11-14, and Revelation 7:17, see note on ποιμανεῖ shall shepherd. Ἑν αἵματι "in the blood," is in virtue of, or in the power of the blood.
Geneva Study Bible
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
People's New Testament
13:20 The God of peace, who gives us peace.
Our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd. Christ, the Good Shepherd (Joh 10:11,14).
Through the blood of the everlasting covenant. The blood of Christ on the cross sealed the everlasting covenant of the Gospel of which the resurrection of Christ from the dead was the surety.
13:20 The everlasting covenant - The Christian covenant, which is not temporary, like the Jewish, but designed to remain for ever. By the application of that blood, by which this covenant was established, may he make you, in every respect, inwardly and outwardly holy!
King James Translators' Notes
covenant: or, testament
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. Concluding prayer.
God of peace-So Paul, Ro 15:33; 16:20; 2Co 13:11; Php 4:9; 1Th 5:23; 2Th 3:16. The Judaizing of the Hebrews was calculated to sow seeds of discord among them, of disobedience to their pastors (Heb 13:17), and of alienation towards Paul. The God of peace by giving unity of true doctrine, will unite them in mutual love.
brought again from the dead-Greek, "brought up," &c.: God brought the Shepherd; the Shepherd shall bring the flock. Here only in the Epistle he mentions the resurrection. He would not conclude without mentioning 'the connecting link between the two truths mainly discussed; the one perfect sacrifice and the continual priestly intercession-the depth of His humiliation and the height of His glory-the "altar" of the cross and the ascension to the heavenly Holy of Holies.
Lord Jesus-the title marking His person and His Lordship over us. But Heb 13:21, "through Jesus Christ." His office, as the Anointed of the Spirit, making Him the medium of communicating the Spirit to us, the holy unction flowing down from the Head on the members (compare Ac 2:36).
shepherd of the sheep-A title familiar to his Hebrew readers, from their Old Testament (Isa 63:11; Septuagint): primarily Moses, antitypically Christ: already compared together, Heb 3:2-7. The transition is natural from their earthly pastors (Heb 13:17), to the Chief Pastor, as in 1Pe 5:1-4. Compare Eze 34:23 and Jesus' own words, Joh 10:2, 11, 14.
through the blood-Greek, "in," in virtue of the blood (Heb 2:9); it was because of His bloody death for us, that the Father raised and crowned Him with glory. The "blood" was the seal of the everlasting covenant entered into between the Father and Son; in virtue of the Son's blood, first Christ was raised, then Christ's people shall be so (Zec 9:11, seemingly referred to here; Ac 20:28).
everlasting-The everlastingness of the covenant necessitated the resurrection. This clause, "the blood of the everlasting covenant," is a summary retrospect of the Epistle (compare Heb 9:12).
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.
Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary
Here, I. The apostle recommends himself, and his fellow-sufferers, to the prayers of the Hebrew believers (v. 18): "Pray for us; for me and Timothy" (mentioned v. 23), "and for all those of us who labour in the ministry of the gospel."
1. This is one part of the duty which people owe to their ministers. Ministers need the prayers of the people; and the more earnestly the people pray for their ministers the more benefit they may expect to reap from their ministry. They should pray that God would teach those who are to teach them, that he would make them vigilant, and wise, and zealous, and successful-that he would assist them in all their labours, support them under all their burdens, and strengthen them under all their temptations.
2. There are good reasons why people should pray for their ministers; he mentions two:-
(1.) We trust we have a good conscience, etc., v. 18. Many of the Jews had a bad opinion of Paul, because he, being a Hebrew of the Hebrews, had cast off the Levitical law and preached up Christ: now he here modestly asserts his own integrity: We trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. We trust! he might have said, We know; but he chose to speak in a humble style, to teach us all not to be too confident of ourselves, but to maintain a godly jealousy over our own hearts. "We trust we have a good conscience, an enlightened and well-informed conscience, a clean and pure conscience, a tender and faithful conscience, a conscience testifying for us, not against us: a good conscience in all things, in the duties both of the first and second table, towards God and towards men, and especially in all things pertaining to our ministry; we would act honestly and sincerely in all things." Observe, [1.] A good conscience has a respect to all God's commands and all our duty. [2.] Those who have this good conscience, yet need the prayers of others. [3.] Conscientious ministers are public blessings, and deserve the prayers of the people.
(2.) Another reason why he desires their prayers is that he hoped thereby to be the sooner restored to them (v. 19), intimating that he had been formerly among them,-that, now he was absent from them, he had a great desire and real intention to come again to them,-and that the best way to facilitate his return to them, and to make it a mercy to him and them, was to make it a matter of their prayer. When ministers come to a people as a return of prayer, they come with greater satisfaction to themselves and success to the people. We should fetch in all our mercies by prayer.
II. He offers up his prayers to God for them, being willing to do for them as he desired they should do for him: Now the God of peace, etc., v. 20. In this excellent prayer observe, 1. The title given to God-the God of peace, who was found out a way for peace and reconciliation between himself and sinners, and who loves peace on earth and especially in his churches. 2. The great work ascribed to him: He hath brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, etc. Jesus raised himself by his own power; and yet the Father was concerned in it, attesting thereby that justice was satisfied and the law fulfilled. He rose again for our justification; and that divine power by which he was raised is able to do every thing for us that we stand in need of. 3. The titles given to Christ-our Lord Jesus, our sovereign, our Saviour, and the great shepherd of the sheep, promised in Isa. 40:11, declared by himself to be so, Jn. 10:14, 15. Ministers are under-shepherds, Christ is the great shepherd. This denotes his interest in his people. They are the flock of his pasture, and his care and concern are for them. He feeds them, and leads them, and watches over them. 4. The way and method in which God is reconciled, and Christ raised from the dead: Through the blood of the everlasting covenant. The blood of Christ satisfied divine justice, and so procured Christ's release from the prison of the grace, as having paid our debt, according to an eternal covenant or agreement between the Father and the Son; and this blood is the sanction and seal of an everlasting covenant between God and his people. 5. The mercy prayed for: Make you perfect in every good work, etc., v. 21. Observe, (1.) The perfection of the saints in every good work is the great thing desired by them and for them, that they may here have a perfection of integrity, a clear mind, a clean heart, lively affections, regular and resolved wills, and suitable strength for every good work to which they are called now, and at length a perfection of degrees to fit them for the employment and felicity of heaven. (2.) The way in which God makes his people perfect; it is by working in them always what is pleasing in his sight, and that through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Observe, [1.] There is no good thing wrought in us but it is the work of God; he works in us, before we are fit for any good work. [2.] No good thing is wrought in us by God, but through Jesus Christ, for his sake and by his Spirit. And therefore, [3.] Eternal glory is due to him, who is the cause of all the good principles wrought in us and all the good works done by us. To this every one should say, Amen.
III. He gives the Hebrews an account of Timothy's liberty and his hopes of seeing them with him in a little time, v. 23. It seems, Timothy had been a prisoner, doubtless for the gospel, but now he was set at liberty. The imprisonment of faithful ministers is an honour to them, and their enlargement is matter of joy to the people. He was pleased with the hopes of not only seeing Timothy, but seeing the Hebrews with him. Opportunities of writing to the churches of Christ are desired by the faithful ministers of Christ, and pleasant to them.
IV. Having given a brief account of this his letter, and begged their attention to it (v. 22), he closes with salutations, and a solemn, though short benediction.
1. The salutation. (1.) From himself to them, directed to all their ministers who had rule over them, and to all the saints; to them all, ministers and people. (2.) From the Christians in Italy to them. It is a good thing to have the law of holy love and kindness written in the hearts of Christians one towards another. Religion teaches men the truest civility and good-breeding. It is not a sour nor morose thing.
2. The solemn, though short benediction (v. 25): Grace be with you all. Amen. Let the favour of God be towards you, and his grace continually working in you, and with you, bringing forth the fruits of holiness, as the first-fruits of glory. When the people of God have been conversing together by word or writing, it is good to part with prayer, desiring for each other the continuance of the gracious presence of God, that they may meet together again in the world of praise.