Stir up love means "to arouse to love." We have an obligation to do this because of both love and faith. We see it in two different contexts: In Hebrews 3:12-14, the subject is faith or belief. In Hebrews 10:23-25, the subject is love. In both cases, exhortation within our fellowship can increase either one or both of them.
The writer says that we have to confess our hope. Confess means "to make it known, to reveal." We must make our hope known. Undoubtedly, he means the great hope of the resurrection of the dead, but it is probably not limited only to that hope but includes other hopes that we have.
It is the accomplishment of these hopes that we are to exhort our brethren about: "Hang in there!" "Hold fast!" "Have you tried praying about that?" "Have you sought the advice or counsel of this person?" "Do you think it would help for you to do this or that thing?" "I had a problem like that one time." By doing this, we begin to pool our resources and experiences, and there is wisdom, God says, in a multitude of counselors. It cannot help but build people up, and our fellowship becomes stronger as we share one another's hopes and dreams.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Fervency
Holding fast is the first indication of faithfulness, but our understanding increases when we know the word translated "faithful" is the same word translated "faithfulness" in Galatians 5:22. It is understood as "reliable" or "trustworthy" rather than "fidelity" because it is being fully convicted of the truth of God that engenders loyalty and dependability. Faith in God corresponds to God's faithfulness. As with two tuning forks of the same pitch, when one is struck, the other responds by vibrating also. God's faithfulness should awaken faith in us, so we can respond in submissive obedience. If He is worth trusting, we should trust Him.
Since God is faithful, it has become our responsibility to imitate Him in being faithful by committing our lives to well doing.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness
The purpose of Christ's death was not merely to pay for sins but also to provide the means for a relationship with God. If we are at all mindful of salvation, we need to be concerned about such a relationship because that is the means of overcoming and growing toward the Kingdom of God. It is the relationship with God that counts, not merely that we are forgiven.
Would a woman like it if, instead of spending time with her and giving his attention to the things of common interest to their relationship, the man she is intended to marry paid attention to everything else? Perhaps he gives his attention to his work, working all hours of the day and maybe of the night. By the time he came home, he is so tired or there are so many other things he had to do that he cannot give her any time - and so she never has much of a relationship with him. Or maybe he spends his time on entertainment, hobbies, sports. If a woman intended to marry such a person and began noticing this in him, it would not be long before she moved on with her life. She could only conclude, "This guy is a loser." She could not expect any kind of healthy relationship with him.
Inserting God in the woman's place in such a relationship, would He be kindly disposed and eager to help the person who is ignoring Him, neglecting Him? God is no sap.
Let's turn this around. Would a man be inclined to help his fiancée if she were giving her attentions to every man who came along? The Bible frequently describes Israel in this way in the context of her relationship with God. All the woman wants to do is to party, drink, play games, and be frivolous and silly, while flirting indiscriminately with each man who caught her eye. How much and for how long would her intended be willing to help her? How soon would he break off the relationship?
God gives powers to those who involve their lives within the framework of His concerns - and His chief concern is to reproduce Himself (Genesis 1:26). To those people, God gives strength and benefits. Once we understand what makes a successful relationship with God, we must make every effort to harmonize with that process through prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, submission, and obedience. God gives His Spirit and its gifts to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32), who submit to Him, communicate with Him, and allow Him to communicate with them.
With such people, He has a real relationship. God will bend over backward for them, which He has already showed He will do by giving His Son, as He could give nothing more valuable.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The first thing Paul lays out in this transition is a three-step trigger to prime the Hebrew Christians' latent memories so they will be armed with foundational incentives to rouse themselves spiritually and start moving forward. In verses 22-24, he makes three exhortations.
First, "let us draw near." In other words, get moving! He says, "Take advantage of this privilege of coming before God, and believe without doubting, knowing your sins are forgiven and remembering that God is faithful and merciful to forgive." Recall that in the performance of their duties, the priests had to wash their hands and feet before entering the holy place. This is why Paul mentions water. He is alluding to the Hebrews' need to become clean. He urges them to repent of their lackadaisical attitudes and to meet with their Maker in prayer.
Second, he commands them to "hold fast your profession." Paul uses a similar phrase five times before this. Apparently, lackadaisical drifting was a particularly common problem for them. He wants them to show by their conduct that they believe in what God has promised in the resurrection from the dead. In short, he advises, "Remember your conviction in the awesome hope of our calling." These people were allowing the world to get them down; they were succumbing to a "what's the use" resignation. They were not busy confirming their souls. Paul exhorts them to continue, to persevere in the grace God had already shown them, not wanting them to waste it by failing to look ahead and be persistent. He presses them to yield to God and to allow themselves to be reassured that He is faithful to His promises.
Pay special attention to the third exhortation in verse 24. The word "consider" is very emphatic. He urges them to think upon and to strive for unity by giving conscientious care to each other. He wants the Hebrews to give special attention to their brethren's circumstances, trials, temptations, weaknesses, and needs. They need to "fire each other up" to promote love for God and for each other and to carry out our common responsibilities. Christians do this by setting a good example, by occasional suitable exhortations, by acts of kindness, and by expressions of appreciation.
Notice that as this exhortation begins, Paul calls upon the "big three" Christian virtues: faith, hope, and love. These would form the foundation of what the Hebrews must do if they were to reverse their slide toward the Lake of Fire. These virtues must be implemented because they affect the quality of a person's relationship with God. Because a Christian has God's Spirit, these virtues are already part of him. However, each individual must himself choose to use them to turn his life around; no one can do this for another. Of course, it is understood that God is always there to help a person do this.
John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Power: Our Shield Against Apostasy
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope - This is Paul's reason for writing the epistle. They were enduring great pressure to relax their standards. Some were beginning to return to their former beliefs and to the world. Apostasy had begun to set in.
Today in the confusion of the times, we can allow our foundations to be chipped away by listening to the myriad of differing opinions and beliefs. So many voices babble incessantly, each one trying to get our attention, that they can nearly drive us mad with confusion! Confusion not only affects what we believe but also our zeal for God's way of life. It is imperative we "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
Jesus gives us this warning in His messages to the Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia churches:
But hold fast what you have till I come. . . . Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. . . . Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 2:25; 3:3, 11).
It is of paramount importance to keep a firm grip on the true teachings of God's Word.
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Hebrews 10:23: