IMMUTABILITY (i-mū-ta-bĭl'ĭ-tē). The perfection of God by which he is devoid of all change in essence, attributes, consciousness, will, and promises. No change is possible in God, because all change must be to better or worse, and God is absolute perfection. No cause for change in God exists, either in himself or outside of him. The immutability of God is clearly taught in Scripture (Mal.3.6; Ps.102.26; Jas.1.17) and must not be confused with immobility, as if there were no movement in God. Immutability is consistent with constant activity and perfect freedom. God creates, performs miracles, sustains the universe, etc. When the Scriptures speak of his repenting, as in Jonah.3.10, one should remember that this is only an anthropomorphic way of speaking. God adapts his treatment of people to the variation of their actions and characters. When the righteous do wickedly, his holiness requires that his treatment of them must change.
God is immutable also in His saving purpose. He “will fulfill his purpose” for His steadfast love “endures forever” (Ps 138:8). The “Glory of Israel will not lie or repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent” (1 Sam 15:29). His gifts and calling are not repented of (Rom 11:29); He does not cast away His people (11:1). Rather, He completes what He begins (Phil 1:6).
This does not mean, however, that God is inert or inactive. He is within, as well as outside, His creation and ever working (John 5:17). Immutability is not immobility but God’s sovereign constancy over against, as well as within, a universe of change.
Bibiliography S. Charnock, Discourses Upon the Existence and Attributes of God (1849), 195-230; L. Berkhof, Reformed Dogmatics (1941), 58f.; H. Bavinck, The Doctrine of God (1951), 145-152.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
i-mu-ta-bil’-i-ti, i-mu’-ta-b’-l (ametathetos): Occurs in Heb 6:17,18 of the unchangeableness of the Divine counsel. It is the perfection of Yahweh that He changes not in character, will, purpose, aim (Mal 3:6; so of Christ, Heb 13:8).
See Faithfulness; Unchangeable.