Obedience – Hebrews 5:9 05/17/2020

Obedience – Hebrews 5:9 05/17/2020

Today’s topic dealing with the Christian Life is a little repugnant to us who consider ourselves a free people. We don’t warm up to the entire idea that we’re expected to be obedient to our Lord. And yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, He expects that we will do what He tells us to do; that is, He expects us to be obedient in our Christian walk.

The full text of our passage is a single sentence that runs from Hebrews 5:5-10 which, as usual, I leave to you to look up. The passage says Jesus was “perfected.” The temporal clause “and once made perfect,” (καὶ τελειωθείς,) announces God’s validation of Jesus’ perfect obedience.[1] But… how could the perfect, eternally present, Son have learned anything from obedience and suffering?[2] How could the One who is already perfect be perfected? There’s an element of mystery in all this.[3]

Made perfect (τελειωθεις)[4] describes perfection in the sense of completeness or fulfillment.[5] The Greek word, (τελειόω)[6], speaks of a perfection that is related to the purpose or function for which a thing or person is designed.[7] Jesus was made perfect after He had completed the purpose for His coming to earth as the Christ.

The fact that our passage says “He became” points to a change that took place.[8] But we need to think through what that change was. It was not a change in His nature, as God His nature is unchanging. The change was the completion of His mission. We know that He came to do the will of the Father.[9] That will included something that God had left undone. What was needed was a way for humanity to enter into fellowship with their Creator, and Jesus was predestined to accomplish that.

The accomplishment of that was not easy, and in fact the completion of the Father’s will involved submission and great suffering. Then, in the midst of the pain and humiliation of a Roman crucifixion, the unthinkable happened, the Father turned His back on the Son as Jesus took on Himself our sin. Jesus’ suffering culminated in the death of the Undying One… and our sins were forgiven and we were spared the wrath of God.

It was through His suffering and death that He was able to become the author, the source, of our salvations.[10] Through this He perfectly fulfilled the will of the Father, something that had not yet been completed, and in doing so He became qualified to be our Savior.[11] Through his sufferings He completed what was needed for salvation to be possible in any sense, Jesus completed the work required, and in doing so was perfected by God as the Priest of his people.[12]

Without Jesus’ suffering, and the resulting sin sacrifice, salvation would not be possible and Jesus’ High Priestly role would not have been made a reality. Through His obedience Jesus was perfected in the sense that He had fulfilled His function as Savior, completing the sacrifice. By His sufferings Jesus brought to completion that part of His office which required making reconciliation for iniquity.[13] It is in this sense that He was made perfect.[14] “It is finished.”

But… the salvation that Jesus brings only applies to those who obey him.[15] As our King, Savior, Brother, and Friend, He established a pattern of obedience for each one of us to follow.[16] The word used for “obey” is (ὑπακούουσιν). The lexical form is (ὑπακούω)[17] and means to listen, to harken to a command, to obey, or submit to.[18] Now, the inflected form of the word but may be interpreted in one of two ways. It may be a verb in the indicative mood aorist tense, active voice 3rd person plural. Alternatively, and this is what makes Greek so hard to learn, it may be translated as a participle in the present tense, active voice, dative case, masculine plural.[19]

Only context will tell you which it is. In context, being preceded by the pronomial article “those” (τοις),[20] “obey” is acting as an adjectival participle telling us who “those” (τοις),[21] a pronomial article also in the dative case, are.[22] Being in the present tense as a participle it conveys the idea of continuous action. Jesus brings eternal salvation to “those” (τοις)[23] who are always, continuously, obeying.[24]

But at this point a word of caution is required. This statement should not be confused with any idea that, through obedience, you will earn eternal life. We cannot work hard enough, long enough, or well enough, to earn God’s favor through our obedience.[25] But… what does it mean to “obey” Him? Jesus frankly answered that question in John 6:29. A faith response is what He requires. We obey Jesus when we place our faith in Him as the only avenue for salvation.[26] Obedience is our acceptance of God’s will.[27] To “obey God” is the same thing as “trusting God.” [28] This is a description of those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ.[29]

This is the work of God, and it leads to a life that’s is transformed in direction, practice, and purpose. To believe in Jesus results in our obeying Him. Jesus will be Savior only to those who accept His reign as King, and are therefore willing that he should reign over them.[30] Salvation is by faith, but that faith must produce change.[31] That change is brought about through the indwelling presence of Jesus as we, in obedience, walk by faith.

From this, as we walk in faith, a plethora of things will come out of our lives. Our entire orientation to the world and the things of the world will change. As we learn to walk in the resources Jesus brings through His Spirit, we begin to take on His character. We begin to learn to be led, and therefore to be used for His purposes. But it all starts with that first obedient step, faith in Jesus as our Savior.

[1] William L. Lane, Hebrews 1–8, vol. 47A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1991), 122. [2] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 541. [3] Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 792. [4]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Heb 5:9. [5] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 94. [6]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Heb 5:9. [7] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 1000. [8] Leon Morris, Hebrews, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 50. [9] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 541. [10] Leon Morris, Hebrews, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 50. [11] F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Revised, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. ed., Gordon Fee, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1990), 132. [12] William L. Lane, Hebrews 1–8, vol. 47A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1991), 122. [13] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2388. [14] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2388. [15] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 94. [16] David G. Peterson, “Hebrews,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1333. [17]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Heb 5:9. [18] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [19] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI.: 2000), 388. [20]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Heb 5:9. [21]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Heb 5:9. [22] Albert Lukaszweski, Mark Dubis, and Ted Blakely. The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament, SBL Edition, Sentence Analysis. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. [23]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Heb 5:9. [24] William Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1993), 235. [25] Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 792. [26] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 94. [27] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 94. [28] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 294. [29] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 294. [30] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2388. [31] Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 792.

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