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Hebrews 6:16

ESV For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
NIV People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.
NASB For people swear an oath by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath serving as confirmation is an end of every dispute.
CSB For people swear by something greater than themselves, and for them a confirming oath ends every dispute.
NLT Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding.
KJV For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

What does Hebrews 6:16 mean?

The concept of an "oath" is grounded in our acknowledgement of human sin. The need to give others extra assurance that we are not lying, in and of itself, is a response to human dishonesty. The fact that we almost always ground an oath in something higher than the person making the oath in the first place also recognizes the limited, fallible morality of mankind. The reassurance that such an oath produces is both a human convention, and a human need.

This is the reason God chooses to use the concept of an "oath" in certain situations. As an unchanging, perfect, absolutely good being, God cannot lie or change. Everything God says is absolutely true, and He has the power to do anything He says He will do. But, for the sake of human reassurance, there are times when God swears an oath (Hebrews 6:17). Of course, since there is nothing higher than God, He swears on Himself. Trusting in who God is, and what He has done, is critical to our confidence as we grow in faith.

Abraham, according to this passage, is the key example of this kind of patient faith. He saw God fulfill promises, even as there were some promises which God did not completely fulfill until after Abraham's death. The persecuted Jewish Christians reading this letter for the first time, however, had seen the fulfillment of those oaths in history. Even more than Abraham, they had reasons to be confident in the legitimacy of the promises of God.

The ultimate source of our assurance, however, has come in the form of Jesus Christ. With Him as our "anchor," Christians ought to be convinced enough to grow in truth and love, despite our hardships.
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