Now the author of Hebrews is going to make some final comments and give some general instructions as he says goodbye to his readers. It has to do with how we live together under God appointed leadership. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” I can’t help but think of President Trump when I read this for the first time. He has been elected officially and appropriately by our political system. This is not outside of the will of God. Daniel 2:21 says speaking of God, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.” Many in the Democratic party have done their best to make Trump’s life difficult and as miserable for him as they could. They have not been held accountable for that behavior yet, but I think this verse tells me they will. There was no joy and nothing but groaning and complaining by many. Their behavior did not serve to advance our nation’s agendas, but instead retard them. It has surely been unprofitable for us.

As much as I think these are genuine guidelines concerning all leadership the phrase dealing with “keeping watch over your souls” implies a spiritual leadership idea. Fruchtenbaum gives us four reasons believers should obey and submit to their spiritual leadership. He writes, “There are four reasons to obey their present leaders: (1) The leaders are responsible to watch over the moral and doctrinal health of the congregation; (2) The leaders will someday have to give an account of their stewardship of leadership at the Judgment Seat of the Messiah; (3) The leaders would like to exercise their ministry with joy, and not with grief; (4) A lack of submission is unprofitable for the rebels because they, too, will be judged at the Judgment Seat of the Messiah.”[1]

Tom Constable, a former professor of mine, closes his remarks at this verse by asking a very pointed question. He writes, “The leaders in view are church elders (pastors; cf. vv. 7, 24). These shepherds will have to give account to God one day for their stewardship over us. We should make their work now easier for them by being obedient and submissive to them. Will the leaders of your church be able to tell God that leading you was a pleasure when they stand before Him?”[2]

[1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 195.

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Heb 13:17.