What does Hebrews 13:14 mean?
ESV: For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
NIV: For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
NASB: For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
CSB: For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.
NLT: For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
KJV: For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
Verse Commentary:
This passage has compared the place of Jesus' execution to the way sacrificial animals were disposed of under the old covenant. Leftover animal flesh was burned outside the camp of Israel (Exodus 29:14). Jesus' crucifixion was performed outside the city walls of Jerusalem (John 19:17–20). In one sense, this continues the way in which old covenant rituals were meant to foreshadow the ministry of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:5–6). At the same time, this reminds us that Jesus is being shunned by an unbelieving world. Earlier, readers were encouraged to endure hardship and persecution, knowing that Christ felt the same things (Hebrews 12:2). When the world sees enough of Christ in a believer, it persecutes that Christian the same way Jesus was persecuted (John 15:18–21). Rather than dreading that, believers should rejoice in knowing they're being identified with their savior (1 Peter 4:14).

Here, the writer echoes another point made earlier in the letter. Heroes of the faith such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob trusted in God. A major component of this trust was their understanding of eternity. Rather than seeing everything in a short-term way, those men and women knew that God's ultimate plans for them were eternal. Instead of seeking an earthly home, they recognized themselves as pilgrims on earth (Hebrews 11:13). This verse repeats that point: for the Christian, everything on earth is temporary—including suffering. This is not our home (Hebrews 11:16).
Verse Context:
Hebrews 13:7–17 contains practical instructions for the Christian believer. These follow major themes from the rest of this letter, including perseverance, peacefulness, and praise. This text also continues to parallel components of the old covenant with the ministry of Jesus Christ. Specifically, these verses compare the disposal of sacrificed animals with Jesus' crucifixion; both occurred outside the borders of the community. The writer also encourages good works and for believers to cooperate with their spiritual leaders.
Chapter Summary:
Chapters 1—9 explained how the new covenant in Jesus Christ is superior to the old covenant of animal sacrifices. This comparison drew on extensive use of Old Testament Scripture. Chapters 10––12 applied that evidence to encourage Christians to ''hold fast'' despite persecution. The summary of these applications was that believers ought to trust in their faith, and choose to obey God, during times of struggle. Chapter 13 adds a few specific reminders about Christian conduct. This passage also reiterates the idea that Christ is meant to be our ultimate example. The letter concludes with a request for prayer and words of blessing.
Chapter Context:
The last chapter of the book of Hebrews follows a pattern common in New Testament books, especially those written by Paul. The writer gave extensive evidence in chapters 1––9 to support a central idea. This concept was that the new covenant, in Jesus Christ, is superior to the old covenant, composed of the Levitical laws. Chapters 10¬-––12 applied this knowledge to the need for persecuted Christians to maintain their faith. Here, in chapter 13, the writer offers a few specific encouragements for the reader, before signing off with a request for prayer and a benediction.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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