How Did Jesus “Learn” Obedience?

Hebrews 5:7–9

In this lab, John Piper untangles the perplexing questions of how Jesus “learned obedience” and how exactly he was “made perfect.”

Some questions to ask as you read and study Hebrews 5:7–9:

  1. What does it mean that Jesus “learned obedience” (Hebrews 5:8)? Does this mean that he was once disobedient? See Hebrews 4:14–16.
  2. What does it mean that Jesus was “made perfect” (Hebrews 5:9)? Does this mean he was not perfect before? See Hebrews 2:10.
  3. How can Hebrews 5:7–9 affect how you experience suffering in your own life?

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Principle for Bible Reading

Wrestling with a Difficult Text

When difficult texts have you in a headlock, what can you do to get understanding? Here are a few options:

  • Identify what is clear from the passage. Start with what you can figure out from the passage as a whole, and then return to the unclear parts.
  • Find the main point. Often the confusing parts do not contain the main point of the passage. Identifying the main point can give us clues for discovering the meaning of the difficult passage.
  • Look for clues within the book and surrounding context. Search the book for keywords and phrases found in the tough passage.
  • Cross-reference. Utilizing cross-references, especially when a New Testament verse cites the Old, helps us to have a fuller understanding of what the authors were trying to communicate.
  • Ask specific questions of the text. Addressing a challenging text as a whole can seem insurmountable. But breaking a passage down by asking specific questions about it can unravel the meaning, question by question and answer by answer.
  • Use a trusted commentary. Be careful with commentaries. This caution includes trusting bad commentaries and relying too much on good ones. But commentaries can be used well, and great biblical scholars give helpful insights.