JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…looking at the final expression of their manner of life…”
October 28, 2012, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

In this last section of the Letter to Hebrews, after encouraging the brothers and sisters to keep on loving one another, ways that express the fullness of Christ the author points to those who help with the body in expressing Christ. Sadly this verse and others similar to it have been mistranslated to focus on “leaders” or “rulers” in the “church,” to form a systematic doctrine of hierarchy in the body of Christ instead of its’ original meaning. How quick the flesh is in changing the subject from Christ, our Leader, to those who would usurp His Headship of His body.

Chapter 13 and verses 7 and 8 translated by F.F. Bruce is: “Remember your guides, those who declared the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their manner of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yes, and for ever.” (1)

Some thoughts about the translation: Almost every translator will comment that “hēgoumenōn” means either leaders, rulers or guides, but will always translate the word as leaders or rulers not guides because only bishops, preachers and apostles speak the word of God and have a ministerial office. (2) The word “declared” or “spoke” means to communicate. Communication is more than just speaking as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13. How we communicate speaks volumes. “The word of God” uses the singular masculine form of “logos” for “word” and can mean “the Word of God” describing our indwelling Christ. “Consider” has the sense of beholding or “looking at” something intently. (3) “Result” or “outcome” has the sense of a final expression of something. “The way of life” or “manner of life” is also translated “conduct.” Because the context is “the word of God” is in relation to a ministerial office, according to institutional bias, the KJV translates “conduct” as “conversation” but it means the outward expression or life of something. Perhaps the thought the author intended was to remember those who communicated the life of Christ to the brothers and sisters, looking at the final expression of their manner of life?

These brothers and sisters, when they first gathered together to learn Christ, to live by Him, were founded only on Christ, just like every New Testament ekklesia. They were called to live together by faith with love for one another with Christ alone as Head. These brothers and sisters have been through some tough times, times that have caused some of them to forget their focus and fall back to Judaism, to cultural religious traditions. It is the thought throughout the letter. Often, especially in a culture where religion is the culture, to live by Christ whose life is not about religion would bring persecution and ostracism and one would be tempted to fall back to it. But the author has continuously, throughout this letter, reminded them to not forget, to remember, to think back to their foundation, to fix their eyes on Jesus even in the midst of these terrible times.

In the great chapter of faith, Chapter 11, the author encouraged them to remember God’s people who through faith withstood the assaults of the enemy. Then in Chapter 12, the author encourages them to fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. God’s people have always had to trust in the Lord in difficult circumstances, for some reason it is often how we learn Christ. It is easy to love those who agree with us, but how difficult it is to love those who we disagree with, even those who would hate and persecute us, even from family members. That is God’s kind of love, that’s the love He desires to be expressed, a love that is learned together in community and expressed to our family, friends, and neighbors. A faith that is actually authored and perfected by Christ Himself! It has been rightly been said that the gospels show us the physical life of Christ, when He physically lived on this earth, but as pointed out by Frank Viola and many others, it is also the kind of life we will live together as His body. To look at the gospels is to look at how the life of the body will be expressed, because Christ is our life. The gospels show the fullness of the Godhead expressed to the world, can we think our life together would be any different?

Because Jesus Christ of the gospels, and the One pictured in the entirety of the Old Testament, is the same Jesus Christ who dwells in us by His Spirit and will always be the same Jesus Christ in the future, for in Him dwells the Godhead bodily, then He is the One we are to fix our eyes on, the One we are to live by together. These brothers and sisters saw the faith, the life of Christ expressed by those before them in their gatherings, what they went through and the final expression of Christ in them. How today we need brothers and sisters who have lived this kind of life, those whom God uses to help guide the body to live by Him. Perhaps that is you and me, perhaps we are all meant to be helping guide the body as we live by Him. How easy it can be to fall back to the flesh, to bring in the cultural and religious traditions or expectations around us into our gathering together, various things and perhaps even strange things. The author points out that only grace can make firm our hearts. (4) And just like faith, grace comes from the One who is full of grace and truth.

(1) F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Revised), The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 1990, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 374.
(2) “Parallel Commentaries” at
(3) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 669.
(4) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 121.


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