Summary: By Christ we offer the sacrifice of praise, do good works, submit to the word, and pray for each other.
We’re going to go back a little bit and start in verse 15:
15By him therefore
This ties everything that follows back to the previous verses: Christ doesn’t change and all our doctrine and hope rests on Him. There’s no amount of animal sacrifice or priestly work that can save us, but He’s purified us and promised us a future city.
By Him therefore.
This has everything to do with the heart settled on grace. You have to catch this: He’s our Savior, Intercessor, Priest, Redeemer, Sacrifice, Tabernacle, Altar, and everything else you can think of. “By Him” doesn’t stop or change when we get to the results produced in us. Faith is by Him, life is by Him, and good works are by Him.
This isn’t a new law—it’s the royal law of love, and it’s been the only real law since the beginning.
let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
How can this be a sacrifice when it’s all done by Him? Think about Abraham when he offered Isaac. This was said to have been done by faith, and faith is the work of God. Faith and praise are things that come from us because of His work. That’s why we’re called God’s workmanship.
The idea of “continually” is that it goes from the beginning to the end. It goes throughout. Keep in mind the context of running the race set before us and phrases like, “You have need of patience.” It doesn’t mean that the only thing we ever do is praise; it means we praise until the end. Don’t give up on praising Him—this is our sacrifice.
The Greek word for “thanks” is omologountwn. It comes from two words: “homo” (same) and “logos” (word). In other words, this means to agree with or to allow or to confess. I think that within the context of Hebrews we see how this fits. The sacrifice of praise isn’t necessarily giving thanks so much as it is confessing His name. We’re on the same page. We agree with what He’s said. We trust in His promise. We know He’ll do as He said.
16But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
“But” can also be translated as “and” or “moreover” which just makes more sense: Moreover, “Don’t forget about charity and fellowship (or sharing). ” Another fruit produced by faith is the provision of each other’s needs. This is what we saw last time in Matthew 25. The world knows we’re His disciples when we love each other, and it’s a sacrifice which pleases God.
17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls,
Some cults have taken this and run with it. Their followers have to do whatever their told, but we know it’s tempered with “whoever will be first is last” and that the least is the greatest. Philippians 2 sets the tone for how leaders are to be.