Online Bible Commentary
The Unchanging Nature of God’s Purpose
Hebrews 6:16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (NIV)
This passage marks the end of the writer’s warning concerning apostasy, rejecting Christ (5:11-6:20). This was the third of five warnings in the book of Hebrews. The first warning was against neglecting Christ (2:1-4). The second warning was against unbelief (3:7-4:13).
Previously in this warning the writer wrote of the need for Christians to become mature in their faith, so as to ward off apostasy. The point was made that those who do not endure in the faith and fall into apostasy, were never Christians in the first place. Endurance is proof of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
This is made clear in Scripture: “Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5); and “Having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Eph. 1:13-14).
Those who profess Christ and then later reject Him never truly believed in the first place. The Bible speaks of wheat and tares, and how it is impossible for men to know the difference between true believers and those who are pretenders. Only God knows the difference.
Now, in this passage, the writer completes this warning with His promise for those true believers who heed the warning and endure to the end. He begins by defining an oath. It is used by men to confirm a promise. They “swear (issue an oath) by someone greater than themselves” (v. 16a). The fact that they issue the oath settles the matter that their promise is true. It “puts an end to all argument” (v. 16b). Think of a witness in a trial placing their hand on the Bible and taking an oath before God.
Because God wanted to make clear to us Christians “the unchanging nature of his purpose” (v. 17), He also issued an oath. He made this clear “by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie” (v. 18a). Those two unchangeable things were His promise and His oath.
“The unchanging nature” of God’s purpose is Jesus. The writer means this passage as encouragement to those Hebrews who “fled” Judaism “to take hold of the hope” of Jesus (v. 18b). It is also encouragement to those of us who have left the dead-end ways of the world in order to take hold of Jesus.
This “anchor for the soul” (v. 19a), Jesus, keeps us from drifting through life with no direction. We know our direction. It is to be with Him. This anchor, Jesus, is “firm and secure” (v. 19b). We can put all of our hope and faith in Jesus.
Our hope, Jesus, entered the “inner sanctuary behind the curtain” (v. 19c), the Holy of Holies in the temple. The Holy of Holies was the domain of God. This is a reference to the curtain being torn open at the death of Christ, torn open by Jesus entering to show us that He indeed is God. Jesus entered “before us” and “on our behalf” (v. 20a). He was our forerunner. We who follow Him will also be in the presence of God.
Jesus also became our “high priest forever” (v. 20b), representing us before God the Father. He is a high priest “in the order of Melchizedek” (v. 20c), meaning that he was greater than the Levitical or Aaronic high priests, who were appointed only for the duration of their life on earth. He was appointed by God to rule forever, as was Melchizedek. There will be more on Melchizedek tomorrow.
So the unchanging nature of God’s purpose is Jesus. God the Father sent Jesus to earth to become our savior. He is our salvation, our means to joining God in Heaven. God wants all of His creation to join Him in Heaven. He loves us and wants to be with us. He has from the beginning. He had fellowship with Adam and Eve in the garden, daily. He had a personal relationship with them. He wants that with everyone. He wants that with you. He wants to hear from you daily, if not more. He wants to know your thoughts, your feelings, your fears, and your joy. He wants to be the father that you never had. It doesn’t sound like a lot to ask. After all, he is our Creator.