Hebrews 13:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 18:8 is often quoted as a prooftext for immutability. Charles Hodge writes:

The infinitude of God relatively to space, is his immensity or omnipresence; relatively to duration, it is his eternity. As He is free from all the limitations of space, so He is exalted above all the limitations of time. As He is not more in one place than in another, but is everywhere equally present, so He does not exist during one period of duration more than another. With Him there is no distinction between the present, past, and future; but all things are equally and always present to Him. With Him duration is an eternal now. This is the popular and the Scriptural view of God’s eternity… He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Heb. xiii. 8.).

But this text is not about God the Father. This text is about Jesus. This same Jesus did not know the “day and the hour” (per Mark 13:32), grew in wisdom and favor (Luk 2:52), and even died a physical death. It would be very odd if Hebrews is claiming Jesus is “free from all the limitations of space, so He is exalted above all the limitations of time”

Verse 1 is about love. Verse 2 is about hospitality. Verse 3 is about charity. Verse 4 is about marriage. Verse 5 is about temperance. Verse 6 is about God helping in these things. Verse 7 is about listening to leadership. And Charles Hodge seems to think that verse 8 is a random statement about timeless metaphysics. Instead, this sounds more like a character statement. Either Jesus embodies these moral values, or the phrase is linked to “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.”

What is more likely, that Hebrews has a random statement about timeless metaphysics, or that Jesus is being described as faithful (while not contradicting the gospel accounts of who Jesus was)? This verse serves as good evidence why it is a mistake to pull phrases out of context.

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