20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace be with all of you. – Hebrews 13:20-25 ESV
It was Peter who wrote, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT). And as he wraps up his letter the author of Hebrews echoes that same theme. As part of his benediction, he calls on the God of peace to equip his readers with “everything good” so that they may be able to do His will.
The Greek word translated “equip” in this passage is katartidzo and it means “to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what he ought to be” (Greek Lexicon :: G2675 (KJV). Blue Letter Bible). It was also commonly used to refer to mending something that was damaged, such as setting a broken bone in order that it would heal properly.
Part of God’s ongoing work in our lives is to repair what sin has damaged. Our sanctification includes the process of healing us from the negative effects of sin. God has justified us, declaring us righteous in His eyes, but that is a positional or judicial status. It does not mean that we are sinless or morally righteous. It simply means that, because of our faith in Christ, God views us through the sacrificial blood of His Son, “the blood of the eternal covenant.” But as long as we live on this earth, God is constantly equipping and perfecting us, in order to make us increasingly more like His Son.
…those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… – Romans 8:29 ESV
…the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. – 2 Corinthians 3;18 NLT
Peace. The author refers to God as the God of peace. He is the God of shalom, and His desire for us is wholeness, completeness, and a sense of oneness with Him. When sin entered the world, that shalom with God was shattered. But with the coming of Christ, God provided a means by which man’s peace with Him might be restored. Paul reminds us, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 ESV).
Writing to an audience made up primarily of Jewish Christians, the authorof Hebrews most likely had Jeremiah 29:11 in mind. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
The word translated “welfare” is actually the Hebrew word shalom. This statement from God was given to the people of Israel by the prophet Jeremiah at the beginning of their Babylonian exile. It was a reminder that God was not done. He had not completely given up on them. One day He was going to return them to the land of Canaan. But there is a yet-to-be-fulfilled aspect to this verse. God is still not done with the people of Israel. He will one day restore them to a right relationship with Himself. They will once again enjoy shalom – peace with God.
The Jewish believers to whom the letter of Hebrews was written were being reminded that they were already the beneficiaries of this promise. They had been restored to a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. But God was also working in them in such a way that they might be equipped to do His will. God is always working in His children “that which is pleasing in his sight.” Paul put it this way: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).
Power. The very same power that raised Jesus back to life from the dead, is at work in us who have placed our faith in Him as our Savior. Revitalizing, resuscitating, rejuvenating, restorative, resurrection power is available to us and at work in us. We have the power of God available to us in the form of the Spirit of God who dwells within us. Our ongoing transformation does not depend upon our own efforts and willpower. It is the work of the indwelling presence and power of God. Truly, He has “given us everything we need for living a godly life.”
Promise. The author ends his letter by reminding his readers of the promises found in Jesus Christ. One of the most amazing statements in this passage that can easily be overlooked and under-appreciated is his reference to “our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep.” In that simple phrase, the author reminds us that the sacrificed Lamb of God has become our Great Shepherd. He died for our sins but rose again so that we might have life more abundantly. He gave His life so that He might guide us into new life.
Jesus said of Himself, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15 ESV). His death was not wasted. He didn’t die a martyr to a hopeless cause; He gave His life knowing that He would rise from the dead and provide the means by which all who believe in Him might enjoy eternal life.
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” – John 10:17-18 ESV
Peter reminds us, “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25 NLT).
Our Great Shepherd found us wandering from the fold of God. He rescued us. He has healed us. And He has promised to guide and direct us as we make our way to the glorious future God has prepared for us. He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and from His place at His Father’s side, He intercedes for us. He watches over us. And He has promised to return for us one day.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:1-3 ESV
And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. – 1 Peter 5:4 NLT
It is for that day we are to live. It is for that hope we are to eagerly wait.
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. – Romans 8:22-24 NLT
And while we wait, we enjoy peace with God, the presence and power of God, the guidance of the Great Shepherd of God, and the hope of the eternal promise of God.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.