Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.Hebrews 13:13
What did this verse mean to its original readers—and what does it have to say to us in our day?
As the writer of the letter to the Hebrews is wrapping up his discourse, he focuses on many of the practical ethics of Christian life, and then introduces the topic of going “outside (or without) the camp” to Jesus.
The letter to the Hebrews was probably written just before the fall of Jerusalem.
The original readers of the letter were probably Jewish Christians living in the city just before the outbreak of the war with Rome that left the city in ruins.
Historians record that those people did in fact go “without the camp”, leaving Jerusalem before its destruction, and were saved the terrible fate of almost all its inhabitants. Those early Christians had been following the Old Testament rites of the Law, but had to make the difficult step to leave those rituals behind and symbolically join Christ, who was sacrificed outside the city.
In a similar way, we have been called to
- leave the camps of our past,
- identify with the Lord Jesus Christ, and
- follow him.
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