misquoted verses – God does not change

Mal 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.

In Malachi there is an often quoted verse which states that God does not change. The Calvinism modus operandi is to take any verse they can possibly seize to twist it to their own theology. It is no wonder this obscure verse in Malachi is often the bedrock of the claim that God cannot change (notice also the slight shift from “does not change” to “cannot change”). Calvinists point to this verse to prove “immutability”.

There is a companion verse very similar to this about Jesus:

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

When quoted, “Jesus Christ” is often changed to “God”. This masks the intent of Hebrews 13:8. After all, Jesus grew in knowledge (Luk 2:40, Luk 2:52) and presumably will one day learn when the end times will occur (Mar 13:32). Jesus was not the same in the sense of “changeless perfection”. Jesus, however, was the same in “doctrine” or “morality”. Hebrews 13:9 talks about “strange doctrines” and the verses leading up to Hebrews 13:8 talk about how to live a Christian life. Either interpretation is valid. The interpretation that “Jesus cannot change in any aspect ever” is un-Biblical.

Back to Malachi, the immediate context explains this verse. Needless to say, understanding the context reveals the verse is evidence against (not for) Calvinism.

Mal 3:5 And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien— Because they do not fear Me,” Says the LORD of hosts.
Mal 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
Mal 3:7 Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances And have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts.

The immediate context shows that God is talking about a people who have turned away from him and towards sin. God did not change with them, but threatens them into returning to him. While people change their morality, and claim that sins are not sins, God’s perspective on morality stays the same. Interesting enough, God then details the changes he will do based on the repentance of Israel:

Mal 3:10 …Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
Mal 3:11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the LORD of hosts;
Mal 3:12 And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the LORD of hosts.

So the text which says “God cannot change” is in the context of saying that God changes his curses to blessings based on the actions of his people. It shows God in time, responding to his creation and persuading them to change their actions. The context disproves “immutability”, “timelessness”, and “impassibility” all at once. It is no wonder Calvinists never quote the surrounding text.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Calvinism, Figures of Speech, God, Jesus, Misquoted Verses, Open Theism, People, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to misquoted verses – God does not change

  1. Pingback: learning the attributes of God from Jesus | reality is not optional

  2. Tom Torbeyns says:

    True that calvinists only can make a diseaseful impact by taking verses out of context.
    This article is very well written! :-)

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