Heb 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
There are now some among us of other religious faiths who try to use Hebrews 5:7 to make false claims about our Lord Jesus Christ.
These individuals ask, “If Jesus is God, how could God pray to God?”
If you are a Christian, can you answer that question? If not, read on!
The Bible teaches that Jesus has always existed as a Person. There was a time before his birth in Bethlehem when he was not yet a man but he existed as a Person.
John the Baptist said:
John 1:15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
Notice that John states: “for he was before me.”
Yet we know that the birth of John the Baptist took place before Jesus was born to Mary.
So, when John the Baptist states “for he was before me,” John the Baptist must be referring to the existence Jesus had from all eternity past before he became a man when he was born in Bethlehem.
Jesus himself asserted his prior existence:
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
King James Version
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
King James Version
The writer of the book of Hebrews makes a similar assertion:
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
King James Version
Jesus made the claim that he was seen by Abraham, and that Abraham rejoiced to see him (John 8:56). When we read the account in the Old Testament where this event is recorded in the book of Genesis, we realize that Jesus is claiming to be the Angel of the Lord who visited Abraham. In that Genesis passage, this divine visitor is also called Jehovah.
Jesus was truly a man. He had a human nature. Jesus was also at the same time truly God, and had a divine nature. The doctrine of the two natures of or in Christ is in theology called the hypostatic union.
Individuals from other faiths are probably not familiar enough with Bible doctrine and Christian doctrine to understand these things about our Lord Jesus Christ.
Going back to Hebrews 5:7, I have seen, probably more than once, individuals from another world religion ask “Why was Jesus afraid to die?”
They read that Jesus “offered up prayers” with “strong crying and tears” unto him that “was able to save him from death.”
They argue that Jesus, therefore, never died. God saved Jesus from experiencing death. Therefore, Jesus did not die on the cross. Therefore, it was someone else, not Jesus, who was crucified in his place. Of course the historical record in the Bible does not suggest this at all. The text of Hebrews 5:7 is being woefully misread.
But what about the statement in Hebrews 5:7 that says Jesus was heard, “in that he feared”?
Doesn’t that statement prove (1) his prayer was answered so he did not die, and (2) he was afraid to die?
To suggest this is what Hebrews 5:7 says is to completely misread the text.
The statement that God “was able to save him from death” is stated in the underlying original Greek text that God was able to save him not from (Greek, apo) death but out of death. Thus Jesus went down into death but was saved out of (Greek, ek) it by resurrection. God most certainly answered that prayer, for Jesus arose bodily from the grave on precisely the third day by resurrection just as Jesus repeatedly predicted (John 2:19; Matthew 17:23. Mark 8:31. Luke 24:7. Luke 24:21).
Furthermore, Jesus is not said to be afraid to die. The expression in Hebrews 5:7, “in that he feared,” is given the alternate translation by the King James Version translators themselves, “or, for his piety.” His piety surely has absolutely nothing to do with being afraid! Later in the book of Hebrews itself we read:
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Note especially the statement, “who for the joy that was set before him.” That hardly reflects any notion that our Lord Jesus Christ was afraid to die for us.
And as for the question, “How could God pray to God?” That is answered quite directly and simply by understanding that our Lord Jesus Christ has two natures: a human nature and his divine nature. As a true man he was able as man to pray to God. I see no problem with that.
It will greatly help you to grow in your faith if you will take the time to become very familiar with the contents of the Gospel of John! You can learn more by studying the verses related to the questions others are asking by using the cross references and notes found in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury which I often share here.