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Hebrews 6:13

ESV For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
NIV When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself,
NASB For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear an oath by no one greater, He swore by Himself,
CSB For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater to swear by, he swore by himself:
NLT For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying:
KJV For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

What does Hebrews 6:13 mean?

In the prior passages, the writer of Hebrews has issued a warning. While the message was originally meant for persecuted Jewish Christians, the theme is relevant to all believers, even today. Those Christians who remain spiritually immature run the risk of falling to worldly pressure to compromise their faith. This results in God's judgment. At the same time, Christians who live out a Christ-like love for others have good reason to think they can move beyond such a condition. They are well equipped to grow in truth, as long as they recognize their need to do so.

This passage explains why Christians can have such a strong confidence in their faith, even if their situation seems dire. Abraham is used as a key example of patient faith. Abraham was given many promises by God (Genesis 12:7; 17:5; 18:18), some of which he did not live to see completely fulfilled. Christians living when these words were first written had seen more of God's promises fulfilled than Abraham did. And we, today, have seen more than those early believers did. The greatest of all promises is given in Genesis 22:16–18. Being given this guarantee by God was, itself, a fulfillment of God's prior promises to Abraham.

Oaths are a nod to human weakness: we need to be reassured that the person making a promise "really means it." In the case of God, all of His promises are grounded in an unchanging, perfect Creator who cannot lie. Later, this passage will explain that God's perfect Word—the Scriptures—and His perfect nature work together to guarantee all that He promises to us. Christians can pursue growth in their faith, even when under persecution, because we have a hope "anchored" in Jesus Christ.

Based on these words, the writer seems concerned that the persecuted Christians he is writing to are in danger of running out of patience. They are doing well, for now, but there is a danger they might use up their reserves of persistence.
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