(Vs. 15) By Christ (through Christ) "let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually."
1. There is no coming to God but through Christ. All of our mercies and blessings come through Him, and our praise and thanksgivings are only acceptable to God on account of Christ (John 14:6; I Tim. 2:5; Heb. 10:19-22).
2. Being made priests before God by Christ and all legal, typical sacrifices having been fulfilled and abolished by Christ, our High Priest, Paul points out what sacrifice we are to offer to God. It is the SACRIFICE OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING (I Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:19-20).
3. "Continually." In every condition the believer has much for which to be thankful (Psalm 150:1-6).
4. It is called "the fruit of our lips" in reference to the offering of first-fruits in the Old Testament, to distinguish it from ceremonial sacrifices, and to show in what way we are to praise God; namely, with our lips.
(Vs. 16) Do not forget nor neglect to be kind and generous, contributing and distributing to the needy and underprivileged. The sacrifices of PRAISE and of LOVE are pleasing to God. Helping others with a generous spirit shows the work of grace in our hearts and is glorifying to God (Matt. 25:34-40; I Tim. 6:17-18; Phil. 4:15-18).
(Vs. 17) "Them that have the rule over you" are the pastors and leaders of the church as mentioned in Verse Seven.
1. How do we obey them? By attending to the word preached by them, by receiving the word preached, by regarding and respecting their counsel, advice, and rebukes, and by recognizing their God-given authority and leadership.
2. True pastors are not concerned about worldly gain, fame, and possessions, but for the spiritual welfare of their hearers (John 21:15-17). They must give an account to their own consciences that they remain faithful. They must give an account to the church to whom they minister. They must also account to the Lord for whom they speak (Acts 20:28).
3. If you receive his message and are faithful to Christ, the faithful minister goes about his work with joy and not grief, his prayers before the throne of grace are born of joy and not grief, and in the great day of Judgment (when he shall be a witness of your final end) that, too, will bring Joy and not grief. To refuse to hear the gospel from true ministers is to refuse to hear Christ (Eph. 5:11-16) and will certainly grieve him and be unprofitable to you.
(Vs. 18-19) Pray for those who minister the Word. The work of the ministry of the gospel is so important and you have such a concern in it, that you ought to be moved to pray that God will give the pastor and the missionary His Word for you and for the church. If the pastor is blessed, the people will be blessed. If he is not anointed, the people suffer. "I trust," says Paul, "that as a minister of the gospel I am faithfully preaching the Word of God without regard to the favors or frowns of men," as a good steward of the grace of God (Acts 20:25-27). The ministers of Christ are sometimes hindered by Satan and his emissaries who create trouble; but God will see them through, and for this we pray to Him (I Thess. 2:14-18).
(Vs. 20-21) The epistle concludes with a prayer for the Hebrews. Paul asked them to pray for him; he in turn (and by way of example) prays for them.
(Amplified Version) "May the God of peace, Who is the author and giver of peace, and Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed and ratified the everlasting testament, strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be, and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; while He Himself works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, the Messiah; to Whom be the glory forever and ever.
(Vs. 22-25) The children of God are sometimes sluggish and need to be stirred up; so Paul calls on them to listen to the message of exhortation, warning, and encouragement which he has written.
Timothy has been released from prison. "If he comes here soon, I will see you along with him."
"Give my greetings to all your spiritual leaders and all believers. The Italian believers greet you." Paul was probably writing from Rome.