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Read Introduction to Hebrews


17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.


17 For

The “for” here gives the reason for the preceding warning.

you know that afterward, when he [Esau] wanted to inherit the blessing,

“Afterward” is sometime after Jacob, not Esau, received the blessing. Esau despised his birthright (Ge 25:34), but at a point later, after he indulged his appetite, he wanted to inherit the prerogatives of Isaac’s possessions.

he was rejected [disqualified],

Since Esau despised his birthright, Isaac disqualified him from receiving it. His father rejected his claim on Isaac’s earthly inheritance.


The word “for” gives the reason Isaac rejected Esau.

he found no place for repentance [change of mind]

Esau sought a ground for repentance, but he found none. He tried to find a way for Isaac to give him his inheritance, but he could not do it. His father Isaac gave him no opportunity to retrieve his inheritance. Thus, Isaac gave Esau no opportunity to repent. The father did not change his mind once he made his decision. No matter how many appeals Esau made to Isaac, his father disqualified him from the primary inheritance. He did receive a secondary blessing from Isaac later in life. The decision was irrevocable; once he made the decision, he could not undo it.

The word “place” means that Esau did not find a situation or occasion to change his father’s mind about the material inheritance. As well, Christians will have no further opportunity to gain reward for our life on earth at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

It is important to note that “repentance” does not mean to turn from sin. Esau shed tears, which means he regretted his decision about rejecting his inheritance. The essential meaning of “repentance” is change of mind. The word comes from two Greek words: to change and the mind. The idea is a change one’s viewpoint. Esau lost his inheritance rights, not by sin but by devaluing the promises sent down from Abraham. The issue was not his salvation but his viewpoint about divine provisions.

though he sought it [the blessing] diligently with tears.

Esau shed “tears” over losing his birthright (Ge 27:38). His tears came from regret, not repentance. He regretted his hasty decision to forego his inheritance. This is a man who failed to appropriate the grace of God.


There will be no occasion to gain reward in the eternal state.


Our verse has nothing to do with losing eternal salvation. The idea is not that Esau was saved at one point then lost again. The issue was the special blessing of being the firstborn son. He lost material blessing, not eternal life (Ge 27:34–38).

Since Esau lamented over financial loss, he lived only for the present. He did not repent, but later he wanted his father Isaac to repent of giving the inheritance to Jacob. The idea is that after selling his birthright, there was no way to retrieve it again.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ, where Christ will reward Christians for what they did in time, there will be no further occasion for gaining rewards. It is possible to lose reward in eternity irrevocably.