Does those who obey him just mean believe (not reject him) in Hebrews 5:9

Hebrews 5:9: And having been made perfect, He came to all those who obey Him, the source of eternal salvation.

What does the context of Hebrews imply?

  • 1
    Belief entails obedience. One cannot claim to believe in Jesus if they don't obey his commandments. He is our master; we are his slaves/servants, which means we must submit to his will in our lives. ὑπακούω occurs in Heb. 5:9 and also Heb. 11:8, where it says that Abraham obeyed God commandments.
    – user862
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 16:22

3 Answers 3


Hebrews 5:1-5 deal with the appointment of high priests, as a prelude to explaining Christ's appointment:

Hebrews 5:1-4 (NIV): Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.

In verses 5-6, we learn that Jesus did not seek the role of high priest, but that God adopted him as his son and said, in another place, that he would be a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek:

Hebrews 5:5-6: So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. " 6 And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

Christ offered up prayers and learnt obedience from what he had suffered and once made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. At this point, even the author of Hebrews says it is difficult to explain his meaning:

Hebrews 5:11: We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.

The author goes on to say that he will teach the most basic teachings and then the more difficult, and talks of the importance of this knowledge. In Hebrews 6:6, he warns against turning away, but expresses confidence that his audience will not do so:

Hebrews 6:6-9: if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case--things that accompany salvation.

Bob Wilkin points out that the obedience Jesus learned was through suffering, through his trials and his crucifixion. In v 9 the same Greek word for obedience is used, so that the obedience to which the author is pointing is suffering for Christ and not shrinking back from persecution. Wilkins infers from Hebrews 10:26-31 that the readers, Jewish believers, were being persecuted by Jews in their area and that some of the readers were contemplating turning away from Christ and going back to the sacrificial system. On this view, obedience means willingness to suffer persecution for their faith.

  • It does not matter what Bob Wilkin "points out". He does not believe in repenting from sin or discipleship to be saved. The "easy believism" he promotes is a perversion of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 2:05
  • @JesusSaves I'm not sure what your point is. This site, hermeneutics.stackexchange, is not intended for propagation of particular Christian views (or, for that matter, any Christian views at all). It is used for exchange of information about hermeneutics, which is the theory and methodology of text interpretation. Wilkin's beliefs do not come into it. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 4:53

Strong's G5219 gives the Greek word hypakouō "from G5259 and G191s; to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority:—hearken, be obedient to, obey."

As Scripture interprets Scripture, one could juxtapose this with Strong's G545; "to disbelieve (wilfully and perversely):—not believe, disobedient, obey not, unbelieving."

It is translated as both "do not believe" and "disobey" in 1 Peter 2:7,8:

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and

“A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Peter refers to Christ Jesus as the one whose word is being disobeyed.

This is in keeping with the context of Hebrews, as the opening statement is as follows:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

In the middle, we see:

he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:24-25)

At the end of Hebrews, we find the author writing:

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Hebrews 13:12-15)

It seems then, in the context of Hebrews (as well as within the broader context of New Testament theology--John 1:12; 8:24; 20:31; Acts 13:39; Romans 3:22; 10:9), that "obey" in Hebrews 5:9 would involve

1) Recognize the identity of Jesus as God's Son/God incarnate.

2) Recognize His authority to speak for/as God.

3) Listen to what He says.

4) Recognize that forgiveness and sanctification is by His blood.

5) Hear Him calling for belief in His name.

6) Submit oneself to Him as the source of salvation (eternal life), and

7) Entrust oneself to Him for sanctification

For the broader Scriptural context, where the exact word is used, see:

And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient G5219 to the faith. (Acts 6:7)


But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed G5219 from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (Romans 6:17)


But they have G5219 not all obeyed G5219 the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? (Romans 10:16)


1. Question Restatement:

Does those who obey him just mean believe (not reject him) in Hebrews 5:9

What does the context of Hebrews imply?

2. Greek Clarifications:

Throughout the book of Hebrews, the writer juxtaposes very similar words with each other - to emphasize personal relationship -- more than simple obedience.

In the book of Hebrews, there is a distinction between:

  • "obeying, from ὑπό" and "Listening, "ἀκούσητε"
  • "believing, πίστις" and "being persuaded, πείθω"
  • "unbelieving, ἀπιστίας" and "rejecting, ἀπειθής"

"Listening" vs. "Submission":

  • "Listening to" connotes relationship -- trust.
  • "Submission to" doesn't necessitate relationship, but can come just from "reason".

In Hebrews 11:8, God "called to Abraham", and Abraham "listened" -- a relationship.

Hebrews 11:8 - Abraham, when he was called, trusted, (in faith), and listened by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.

"Trust" vs. "Belief":

The difference between Trust, (faith), and "Being persuaded", is that "Trust" is established upon a personal relationship, (Abraham Hebrews 11:1) -- whereas being persuaded is function of reason, (Hebrews 13:17-18), and doesn't necessitate relationship.

In the same way, "Listening" and "Submission", are both related to personal relationship, OR impersonal authority, (those who listen to the High Priest, in Hebrews 5:9), in contrast to Submission to authority, (Rahab disobeying authorities in Hebrews 11:31) -- because of her trust.

3. Answer - Trust and Listening are Personal -- Connoting Relationship

In Hebrews 5:9, The "quality" of obedience that God desires is "Listening" -- which necessitates trust and relationship -- not impersonal submission.

The nature of this obedience is intimacy:

NASB, Hebrews 6:10 - For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

This Listening / Trust must be inseparable:

Regardless if they even can be separated, they both must be present in the Christian.

In the New Testament is adamant that "Good work" alone is insufficient, that there is also the requirement to trust in Jesus - trust without work is dead, (James 2). But also, salvation is through intimate favor, which is found through trust, (Eph. 2:8), and not according to works, (2 Tim 1:9).

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