Written by Paul J. Bucknell on September, 21, 2021
Hebrews 6:13-18 Two Unchangeable Things
“13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” 15 And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us (Heb 6:13-18 NASB).
The Apostle Paul assured the Hebrew believers about the hope which was set before them in Hebrews 6:18, “This was so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us.…”
What are the two unchangeable things he was referring?
Answer: The two unchangeable things
We are not sure that the Apostle Paul is the author of Hebrews as it lacks Paul’s name, but it could be. Hebrews 6 refers back to God’s promise to Abraham to bless and multiply his descendants.
So what are the two unchangeable things (v. 18) that strengthen Abraham’s faith and ours to enable us to take hold of His promises and increase courage?
(1) God’s promise/word
His word is the first unchangeable thing. God spoke and revealed to Abraham His will and desires. His words openly declare His purpose and, because He cannot lie, His word becomes a promise.
When the LORD spoke about blessing and multiplying Abraham’s descendant, it would surely come about—even though it was not at all obvious. Abraham had to wait a long, long time, but he finally received the promised son Isaac. This son was how God fulfilled all the promises. But even then, Abraham only “saw” his many descendants by faith.
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance” (Heb 11:13).
(2) God’s oath
The second unchangeable thing is the oath or swearing to affirm one’s words or actions are valid. God swore even though He did not need to; His words are as gold. The Jews in Jesus’ time would swear by the gold in the temple, etc., (Mat 23:16-22).
Cultures differ worldwide, but in many places, if someone, maybe even a friend, doubts your word, all he needs to do is make an oath like, “I swear it!” and so the friend accepts what he formerly doubted, as true and trustworthy. (As kids, we were often insincere in doing this and would secretly cross our fingers behind our back, making the oath void.)
God does not need to make a vow because His word is always trustworthy. However, as the author states, “to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath” (Heb 6:17); God made an oath. There is no one or nothing more holy or greater than God, so God swore by Himself, thus fending off any of Abraham’s doubts about God’s intention to bless and multiply him. Because it’s written in Hebrew, the oath might not be seen in English.
“I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you” (Heb 6:14).
What do we find here in verse 14? Twice God states the phrase, “I will surely,” thus proving it to be an oath by God. Greek: “in blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply you,” (Gen 22:17) “the Greek form of a Hebrew idiom showing intensity.” The LORD would certainly carry out this act as He said, history itself testifying to His words and oath. Millions comprise the nation of Israel, thus displaying God’s great blessing on Abraham’s seed both in blessing and number, but Paul reminds us that the true blessing is in Christ.
The Scriptures state that this promise includes all who believe—have faith in Christ, no matter what nation.
“For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Rom 4:16).
The author of Hebrews called his readers to a strong, enduring faith as the followers of Christ, even though some had fallen away (back into Judaism). He called them to be part of Abraham’s promise by adhering to their response to God through their faith in Christ (i.e., the Messiah). Jesus has entered God’s presence and alone can represent them before God as the high priest by the one sacrifice of His body on the cross.
“19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 6:19-20).
Hebrew 6:13 Bible Study Questions
- What are the two unchangeable things?
- How sure is your word? Do you always keep it? Why?
- What is different about God’s Word?
- Does God need to make a vow?
- Why did he say God made a vow?
- What is an oath? Did you ever make one? Explain.
- What was different about God’s oath and why?
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