A querist asks, “In the religious world, there has been a lot of “abuse” and “misuse” of Hebrews 13:8. Can you please give us the meaning of this verse in context?”
The text in Hebrews 13:8 states:
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.“
This verse must be read in context with Hebrews 13:7 and Hebrews 13:9:
Hebrews 13:7 states:
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.“
Just as Jesus’ doctrine or teaching was a large part of the “faith” mentioned in this verse, that “faith” (Romans 10:17) or “doctrine” (Romans 6:17) is like Jesus — never changing. His teaching is never to be superseded nor supplemented with any new doctrine (Gal. 1:6-12).
Hebrews 13:9 states:
“Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.“
Some of the “strange” doctrines being promoted were obviously connected in some way with the eating of foods (cf. Romans 14:1-17; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Paul tells his readers that food has no value in bringing them closer to God (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:8). In fact, Paul tells us that the kingdom is of greater importance than mere food and drink (Romans 14:17). The eating of food or abstaining from food does not influence one’s relationship with God or his citizenship in the kingdom. Spiritually speaking, food laws cannot strengthen those who live by them.
In Ephesians 4:14-15, Paul tells us we are no longer to be:
“tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ.“