“Though he was a Son, yet he learned obedience through the things which he suffered. And being made perfect, [Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation to those who obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9).
“We [apostles] are his witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those that obey him” (Acts 5:32).
This question is for evangelicals. How do you interpret these verses?
I would like to suggest that Jesus’ interpretation of these verses would be something like this: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna when he was martyred around AD 160. He was at least 86 years old at the time according to his own testimony, and he was bishop of Smyrna at least as far back as AD 116, when Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, sent him a letter. Ignatius’ letter may date back to AD 107 (the emperor was near Antioch in those two years, which dates Ignatius’ letter).
That great saint was purported to have been appointed by the apostle John and known other apostles. I submit that he would have interpreted the verses above in this way: “He who raised [Jesus] up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do his will, walk in his commandments, love what he loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness, etc.” (Letter to the Philippians 2).
It is important to point out that in the first chapter of his letter to Philippi, Polycarp wrote, “… by grace are you saved, not of works, but by the will of God through King Jesus.” So Polycarp didn’t think his description of the obedience that would obtain the resurrection conflicted with a salvation by grace apart from works.
I am curious how an evangelical would interpret the two verses I began with. Note, I am not asking for other verses you think will prove the two above wrong. Evangelicals don’t usually notice how many verses they think are wrong. I am asking for an interpretation of those two verses, not a reason to ignore them.