Hebrews 13:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 13:9, NIV: Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.

Hebrews 13:9, ESV: Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

Hebrews 13:9, KJV: Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

Hebrews 13:9, NASB: Do not be misled by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.

Hebrews 13:9, NLT: So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God's grace, not from rules about food, which don't help those who follow them.

Hebrews 13:9, CSB: Don't be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by food regulations, since those who observe them have not benefited.

What does Hebrews 13:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This command follows the important point made in the prior verse. The book of Hebrews explains in great detail that God's will does not change. The new covenant is not a "plan B;" it was something God intended from the very beginning. Likewise, Jesus Christ, and His gospel, are the same throughout all of history. The heroes of the faith mentioned in chapter 11, as well as the spiritual leaders of more recent past, were teaching the same story, at least from their perspective, and the same good news.

Here, the implication is made explicitly clear: changing doctrine is false doctrine. The gospel was delivered "once for all" (Jude 1:3), and those who attempt to change it are subject to a curse (Galatians 1:8–9). As imperfect people, we need to admit the possibility that we might have misinterpreted God's Word, or His will. So a "new" teaching that improves our understanding of what God truly meant is not a bad thing (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). On the other hand, any teaching different from what was originally given is false, by definition.

This verse also contains a strangely specific reference to foods and those who gain no special benefit from them. It's possible the writer has a particular group in mind. This sect might have focused on eating or avoiding specific foods. Colossians 2:16 brings up a similar point. That being said, the following verses make specific reference to the tabernacle and the Levitical system. The faction hinted at here might have claimed supernatural value of the foods given as offerings in the temple. Or, they might have simply been devoted to the system of animal sacrifices.

In any case, the point made here flows from the constancy of the gospel back into the main theme of the book of Hebrews. Namely, that the covenant offered to us by Jesus is far superior to that provided in human temples.