Hebrews 5:8


(Joy Bittner) #1

Ok, I have a question concerning Hebrews 5:8. If Christ haven’t taken form of a man and experienced our life here on earth would he truly know what it was like. Would he had known or did he have to learn it. I’d appreciate any comments.


(Kathleen) #2

Very interesting question, @Joy_Bittner! It’s one I’ve never really thought about before, so thanks for posing it. The text that spurred the question is…

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

So, really, what does it mean that Jesus (The Son) ‘learned’ obedience?

The text seems to be implying that, at some point in time, there was something that God did not know; something that had to be learned. That is, what it is like to live an embodied, limited existence in time, under the Law. God, in a way, had to learn weakness. The Author of time, had to learn what it was like to live in time. The Almighty learned/ experienced obedience by choosing not to walk away from suffering.

Engaging with your question, I don’t think God could have known unless He incarnated. Unless you distinguish between knowing something cognitively vs. knowing through experience. Could God have known in His mind (whatever that means) what it was like to be human?

Do y’all think that we’re in a quandary if we contend that there was some point in human time that God did not know something? I guess He doesn’t know what it’s like to be evil, so maybe it’s not a big deal? I guess I haven’t really thought deeply about omniscience and its implications!

Philosophers, weigh in! :smirk:


(SeanO) #3

@Joy_Bittner I think it is clear that there are elements of human experience that had to be learned through the Incarnation, as @KMac pointed out. I think we see this fact clearly in Hebrews chapter 4, where the author makes it clear that Jesus can relate to us when we suffer trials and temptations because He also was tempted just as we are during His earthly existence. If He had not come down as a man, then He would not have had this experiential knowledge of what it is like to be human.

Hebrews 4:14-16 - Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a]Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.


(Joshua Spare) #4

Great question, @Joy_Bittner! I think that as Kathleen and Sean have answered, yep, it certainly looks as though Jesus, in His incarnation, had experiential learning by which He is better able to relate to us. There is another aspect to God’s “learning,” as illustrated in Genesis 18:

Then the Lord said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.

God obviously didn’t need to travel to Sodom to learn about the nature of the outcry; He knew precisely how bad it was. Rather, I believe that He travels for the sake of showing Abraham that He is careful to mete out His justice in appropriate measure to injustice. His “learning” about the evil in Sodom was for our benefit so that we could see the careful and measured process of judgement for God. As one pastor put it: "We must see that God’s judgements are not callous or capricious, but are measured and sensible. The response is just.” Similarly, we see Jesus condescending to our level and “learning” in order to show us the example of a perfect person enduring all manner of trials and suffering. God condescends to the human level to learn in order that He might serve as a model and example for us.

So, we see in the incarnation that Jesus suffered and endured all manner of tribulation, as it (1) was part of the “learning” necessary for bringing Jesus to the cross as the perfect sacrifice for humanity, and (2) because we have the narrative as a balm in our trials and tribulations to look back upon for our solace.

Does that make sense? Do you think this answers your question? Do you think that we have introduced a logical conundrum to suggest that God, who is all-knowing, is able to “learn”?


(Joy Bittner) #5

I thank everyone for your comments. I have learned from all your comments.