Hebrews 5:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 5:9, NIV: and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

Hebrews 5:9, ESV: And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

Hebrews 5:9, KJV: And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Hebrews 5:9, NASB: And having been perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him,

Hebrews 5:9, NLT: In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.

Hebrews 5:9, CSB: After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,

What does Hebrews 5:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Bible describes Jesus as learning and growing during His earthly life (Luke 2:52). This is not always easy to understand, since an omnipotent and omniscient God does not need to learn anything. However, Jesus' role as Messiah required Him to experience our humanity. Just as a weightlifter is able to voluntarily use only a fraction of his strength, there is no reason to think God could not choose to restrain His abilities when He walked the earth as a man. The prior verse explained that Jesus "learned" obedience, which also should be understood as a focus more on experience than on knowledge.

Here, it is said that Jesus was "made perfect." The term "perfect," in most biblical contexts, carries the idea of completion or maturity. So far, the writer of Hebrews has been explaining how Jesus fulfills the requirements of both a king and a high priest. In order to act as our ultimate High Priest, Jesus had to be fully human (Hebrews 2:17), and to offer prayers and sacrifices on our behalf (Hebrews 5:1; 7). Having done so, Jesus was "made perfect," in the sense of being brought to a complete fulfillment of those conditions.

While Jesus' role as High Priest involves earning eternal salvation for all who believe, the context of this verse must be kept in mind. The "salvation" being mentioned here is not, in fact, the eternal rescue from Hell. This passage is still in the context of Hebrews 1:14, and later verses such as Hebrews 9:15, which are in the context of our "inheritance." As mirrored in Mark 8:34–35, this verse points to the "sanctification" aspect of salvation, which is dependent on our obedience to God.

In the context of obedience, inheritance, and so forth, we can fully understand the writer's meaning. Jesus' role as High Priest makes Him the mediator between us and God (1 Timothy 2:5). His ability to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15) and our confidence in approaching Him (Hebrews 4:16) mean we are fully equipped for our Christian lives. As the writer will say later, Jesus gives us all we need in order to successfully live out the will of God (Hebrews 7:25; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 1:3–4).