Hebrews 4:13 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Heb 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:13 is often used as a prooftext for exhaustive omniscience of all things. John MacArthur writes:

The Eternal Priority of God’s Knowledge. God’s knowledge is eternal and a priori (“from the previous,” i.e., proceeding from a known or assumed cause to a necessarily related effect), not a posteriori (“from the subsequent,” i.e., from particulars to principles, from effects to causes). God’s knowledge precedes all things outside God, never being derived from reality outside himself (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Tim. 1:9). God’s knowledge is also perfect, never increasing, (Isa. 40:13-14; Rom. 11:34). It is definite – clearly defined, precise, certain, sure, and comprehensive (Ps. 139:1-3; Heb. 4:13). And God’s knowledge is eternally active, never passive, because God’s essence is eternally active.

Hebrews 4:13 is not describing the knowledge which MacArthur and others want to attribute to God. Far from being a perfect, never changing, knowledge, Hebrews describes God learning through sight. No creature is hidden from God’s “sight”. They are exposed to God’s “eyes”.

Far from being a prooftext about God having inherent, simple knowledge of all things, Hebrews describes an active surveillance of the world. God receives information from watching.

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