Hebrews 5:9 and Exploding Heads

“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

This is Hebrews 5:9. It’s a fine theologically consternating verse.

First there’s the argument about what is meant by Jesus Christ becoming “perfect.” Many have used this to say that Jesus was just a man who behaved really, really well to impress God enough to save people.

My view is that Jesus was made perfect in obedience, His perfection was made complete by His complete obedience–He did everything set out for Him to do. He did it perfectly. That wasn’t true until it was done.

Second issue is one I didn’t even think much of until I was reading a commentary on it. Then my mind exploded all over. Here is the sentence I read that caused my mind to explode:

“It [eternal salvation] should not be confused with the acquisition of eternal life which is conditioned not on obedience but on faith.”


Wow. There is no other way to simply and literally read this verse than to understand that Christ perfectly accomplished the spiritual requirements for salvation. It’s talking about being saved, acquiring salvation through Christ.

Salvation comes on people who obey God. It is ridiculous, and I’d even go so far as to say blasphemous, to change scripture so you can maintain a doctrine.

Faith is obedience. Paul calls it the obedience of faith. Faith is nothing less than doing what you’re told, doing what you’ve heard. Faith without works is dead. Many profess to believe but deny God by their works and show themselves to be reprobate.

I hate this kind of stuff. I hate it, hate it, hate it. It makes me want to go Nehemiah on people and yank their hair out, “What are you doing?”

We’ve played around with doctrine so much, established so many commonly held views that are not consistent with Scripture. Rather than amend our false doctrine, we attempt to prove that Scripture doesn’t mean what it says. This is dangerous and deserving of hell fire.

I have nothing more to say on it.

7 thoughts on “Hebrews 5:9 and Exploding Heads”

  1. Well if the the word perfect was inserted before obedience, I think that would make a huge difference. Because on this side of eternity we will still be missing the mark, often. We hate sin, but we still fall into it.

  2. Jeff, when I read of pastors and missionaries being tortured and killed in foreign countries it makes my blood boil. Especially when the families are present to witness their husband or father being abused and murdered. My flesh wants to strike back at those who commit these terrible acts.

    Am I not being perfect in obedience to Christ’s command to love my enemy. But my salvation is not based on the my ability to be perfect in my obedience to Christ’s commands. My salvation is secure by faith in Christ’s life of perfect obedience, His death and resurrection.

    The evidence of true faith is works, but the works do not save me, they only reveal that I’m truly trusting Christ, that I have saving faith. In that sense my salvation is not based on perfect obedience, but on faith.
    What do you think?

  3. I agree. Works apart from faith do not save, but nor does faith apart from works. Going to one side or the other leads to error. Seemingly today the larger error is a notion that faith has nothing to do with lif,e it’s just a head-nod toward God. Whereas biblical faith implies obedience, which will never be perfect until the redemption of our bodies. Grace covers our weakness, but not to the extent that our disobedience is virtuous or unimportant.

  4. Jeff,

    I greatly appreciate your explanation linking faith and obedience together. Amen! Flesh and blood have not revealed it unto you (as we clearly saw from the erroneous doctrine you quoted).

    But I don’t know where the idea comes from that we “will never be perfect until the redemption of our bodies.” Certainly, I can agree that a righteous man is not conscious of his righteousness, and nor would he ever boast of being “perfect”, for he will always see Jesus’ exceeding loveliness and view himself as far below that. But the idea that we must sin every day, I do not find in Scripture…Oh wait…maybe in these verses?…

    “Awake to righteousness and [try to] sin not [but you will fail]…”
    “Now unto Him who is [almost always] able to keep you from falling.”
    “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [most of the times].”
    “Go your way and [try to] sin no more [but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work].”

  5. By the way, those quotes were from the “Doubter’s Bible”, Authorized Version. “Whatsoever is not of faith is [almost always] sin [except where it has become orthodox].”

  6. Romans 7 seems a pretty good passage on it–when I do good evil is present with me.

    I think perfection to a degree is possible, but I also firmly believe that a man who is perfect will probably not boast in it, may not even bring it up. A man with a perfect awareness of sin is going to take heed lest he falls.

    I think we have attempted to eliminate the doctrine of perfection because it makes us uncomfortable in maintaining pet doctrines. However, the word is used quite frequently and something must be done with it!

    Our main problem with it is our lack of faith in the power of Jesus Christ and His provision to conquer our awesome powers of idiocy. In our attempts to elevate Christ–what a great sacrifice He made for such a worthless scum as me–we end up undermining the sacrifice–I’m still worthless scum and always will be.

    I do, however, still think that complete total perfection which even releases a man from taking heed lest he fall, is not until the redemption of our bodies.

  7. Jeff,

    I don’t think even in heaven we will be “released from taking heed lest we fall”. It doesn’t take a fallen human nature to invent sin…angels are capable of it.

    Your reflection on our lack of faith in the power of Christ which leads us to shape our doctrine accordingly, really hits the nail on the head.

    I think, for example, of the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception: it seems to exalt the holiness of Christ by separating Him from our flesh…but it actually removes Him from reaching us, so that now we need saints, mediators, and Mary to reach Him.

    As Jesus said, every plant that the Heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted. Any doctrine which builds on, or supports unbelief, will in the end fail and pass away.

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