Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
50) Hebrews - Chapter 13:17
Obey them that have the rule over you.
Beyond any question, this is spiritual rule, for "watch over souls" suggests this. Rulers, in this case no doubt refers
to rulers in the church for it is unlikely that Christian magistrates existed in government.
Good elders, no doubt, are meant, for elders are to rule - Acts 20:28-31; 1st Timothy 5:17, 1st Timothy 3:1-7, Titus
1:5-9, James 5:14-15, 1st Peter 5:1-4.
Hebrews 13:7 indicates former rulers had passed on, and now present rulers are to be obeyed. If elders are
qualified, the members will be glad to obey and submit to them. Submission rather than resistance, rebellion, and
strife is commanded.
A church can't go forward with elders going in one direction and the membership trying to go another. Of course
not every elder is qualified to rule. Many problems arise when churches carelessly elect unqualified leaders and
then refuse to follow, or follow carelessly.
For they watch in behalf of your souls.
This pictures the ideal ruler. Paul told the Ephesians elders what to expect of false teachers who would seek to
destroy the flock, Acts 20:29. The care of souls is a sacred trust.
As they shall give account.
This makes it serious. See James 3:1 and following. Be not many of you teachers is a serious warning. Ezekiel
3:18-21 suggests the watchman must give account.
It is a joy to be a leader of a devoted church. See 3rd John 4. John expressed it, "There is no greater joy." Paul
urges the Thessalonians to be faithful, for they were his joy. 1st Thessalonians 2:19-20. There should be no joy in
our heart if we stand in the way of joy in the heart of a righteous elder.
And not with grief.
Grief, sorrow, heartache should not be brought on by Christian people into the lives of men who have the care of
souls. If the Jerusalem church had different ideas about the use of the Levitical sacrifices, no doubt much grief
would be experienced.
For this were unprofitable for you.
This suggests that evil would come upon troublemakers. Note that strife, contention, etc. are named among the
fruits of the flesh, Galatians 5:17-21. Division is condemned in 1st Corinthians 1:10. It would no doubt be more
unfortunate for the trouble-maker than the troubled one. No reward from God is in store for the troublers.