March 18, 2007
THAT GREAT SHEPHERD
"Now the God of peace, Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Paul had often asked for the prayers of the saints on his behalf. He assured them of his good conscience and willingness to live honestly. He asked their prayers "that I may be restored to you the sooner." From these words we cannot conclude that he was in prison, but often there were many hindrances to his ministry, hence their prayers were solicited.
Now Paul prays for them, that the "God of peace...would make them perfect in every good work..." It is remarkable how often near the close of Paul's letters that the "God of peace" is mentioned. "The God of peace be with you..." and "the God of peace shall bruise Satan under feet shortly" (Rom. 15:33 & 16:20); "The God of love and peace shall be with you..." (2 Cor. 13:11); "The God of peace sanctify you wholly..." (1 Thes. 5:23); "The Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means" (2 Thes. 3:16). What a wonderful ending of these epistles of grace!
This peace is from "God...Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep..." Who is a threefold Shepherd. He is also the "good Shepherd...[who] gives His life for the sheep," referring to the shedding of His blood (John 10:11). And He is the chief Shepherd who will appear and give crowns of glory to faithful under-shepherds who were left in charge of God's flock (1 Pet. 5:2-4).
This great Shepherd was to "make you perfect...," a phrase which suggests the idea of adjusting to new circumstances. This word is also used of mending nets, (Matt. 4:21), and rendered "perfectly joined together" (1Cor. 1:10), "restore" (Galatians 6:1), and "prepared" in Hebrews 10:5, and Heb. 11:3 where the ages were "framed" by the word of God. These Hebrew saints needed to be "fitted," "mended," "restored," "prepared," or "adjusted" to the new dispensation and the New Covenant.
To be sure, "every good work" and "doing His will" is "well-pleasing in His sight"! And what is all this but "having grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear"! (Heb. 12:28).
Ivan L. Burgener