Hebrews 6:1-6 – Listen what different Bible scholars have to say about this passage of Scripture. “The knottiest problem passage in Hebrews, if not the whole Bible; a passage which has been a battleground…for ages. (Ray Stedman) “The difficulty of interpretation cannot be exaggerated.” (Hewett) “This is one of the most terrible passages in Scripture. (Barclay) “The number and variety of explanations…are bewildering.” (Vincent) “This is know to be one of the most difficult chapters in the whole canon of Scripture. It has suffered in interpretation more at the hands of its friends= than at the hands of its enemies (Ainslie)
The fact of the matter is that excellent, careful, accurate, and highly competent Bible teachers stand at opposite ends of interpretation in regards to this portion of Scripture. Let’s bear in mind the context; Jewish Believers who were wavering in their faith, because of persecution from Rome’s governmental edicts and pressure from their own families and traditional Rabbi’s. In this passage we are called to go beyond the basics. “Leaving the elementary teachings about the Messiah”. Paul then goes on to list three categories as the basics of the New covenant.
1) Conversion ‑ “Repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” Turning from one direction to another. What is most important about this basic truth is that when we repent we need to leave one thing and turn or cleave to another, the Messiah.
2) Polity (a way of acting or proceeding) ‑ this concerns the “Instructions of washings, and the laying on of hands”. As Jewish believers they were taught the importance of Mikvah or Baptism and their role as priests unto God. The laying of hands relates to the procedure of priests and repentant sinner laying hands on a sacrifice in the Temple for Atonement. It is an allusion to their role of instructing others concerning the New Covenant Lamb. While this is important it is still related to the elementary things of the faith.
3) Prophecy ‑ “The resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” Things to come, as important as they are, are still considered only basics. Now what does this tell us? That to understand Repentance, Baptism and our role as Priests, and eschatology, are the basics. As older believers, we should be knowledgeable in these truths. But as Believers we need to have as a major goal our growing in the faith. A major problem we are faced with is, falling away, or better yet, not pressing forward.
Hebrews 6:3 is a transition. “And this we shall do if God permits”. “This we shall do”, refers back to Hebrews 6:1 “pressing on to maturity.” The Aif means maybe. What is suggested here is that there are times when God doesn’t permit maturity. Hebrews 6:3 is a transition to the problem that will prevent God’s allowing us to mature.
Hebrews 6:4-6a The Danger of falling Away ‑ Two major positions of interpretation:
1) Believers who lose their salvation. This view suggests that believers repeatedly enter into and leave the family of the Messiah. That a persons salvation depends upon what he is doing with God’s truth at any given moment. The problem with this position is that in Hebrews 6:6 we are told that it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.
2) This refers to unsaved people. Enlightened ‑ Yes, but not burning through with the truth. Tasted the Heavenly Gift.‑ The word gift here refers to a “free gift” in the original language. It is a reference to the Freedom that comes from faith in the Messiah. Freedom from bondage and slavery to sin to freedom to serving God (to get insight into this Read Galatians 5:13-18).
Those who believe that this is a reference to the unsaved suggest that they have tasted of this truth but not digested it. Partaken of the Holy Spirit? They, who hold that this passage refers to non-believers, say that to partake does not mean possession of the Holy Spirit. But this word partaken is used 4 different times in the book of Hebrews and is a clear reference of something that pertains to believers. Tasted the Good Word? Yes, but that good word is not alive in their lives.
The trouble with those who hold the position that these words refer to unbelievers ignore that all these terms are utilized to describe blessings for believers not unbelievers. The context of Hebrews is important to keep in mind. All along the writer has been addressing believers, those who are truly born again and possessors of eternal life. Unbelievers are never urged to press on to maturity, and are never described as having been enlightened, having tasted of the heavenly gift, or having partaken of the Holy Spirit or the Word of God.
This passage doesn’t speak about salvation, but about repentance of believers. To illustrate this truth, Paul uses an analogy likening repentance in Hebrews 6:6 and vegetation in Hebrews 6:7. This passage of Scripture is not referring to a corrupt or dead root but about worthless fruit! When a believer falls away beyond a certain point, he is no longer able to be brought to repentance. Just as land that does not produce fruit is useless for growing, i.e. The dust bowl. A believer may go far enough away from God that he can come to the place where God will not permit repentance, and his life becomes worthless fruit.
In Hebrews 6:8 the word “it” is used 3 times and is reference to vegetation, not to the person’s life. The fallen away person’s eternal life is not burned up, but the fruit of his life is burned. This is reference to the judgment seat of the Messiah. Luke 8:14-15; John 15:5-6; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
Hebrews 6:1-8 is an overview of a believer who has fallen away and the results of continued rebellion to God and His Word. Turn to 1 Corinthians 11:23. As we consider our lives over the past year and prepare ourselves for this new year, we need to examine ourselves. Where do we stand?
We need to ask ourselves: Am I flirting with this danger? Have I begun to drift dangerously to a point of no return? What do I need to keep me near to my Messiah? Are there more thorns than fruit being produced in me? Am I willing right now to the heed the warning? If we judge ourselves we can avoid the judgment that is certain to come in the future.
Hebrews 6:9-20 – This passage begins with both a command and a statement of the consequences if we violate the command. Such Scriptures were not unfamiliar to God’s covenant people, Deuteronomy 28 describes conditions as well for blessing.
The Consequences ‑ Hebrews 6:4-8 ‑ When the command to grow up is ignored, believers could fall away to the point where God will not allow them to repent. Without repentance the life quickly becomes overtaken with thorns and thistles, and becomes worthless fruit. This is exactly what happened to Israel when she was brought into captivity (Ezekiel 36).
In Hebrews 6:9 the author of this letter stops blasting and starts building. He begins to encourage his readers. The tone changes, and the writer states that he is convinced of two things: 1) Of better things” for his readers. 2) That their works would stand. The statement in Hebrews 6:9 “Though we are speaking this way” indicates that the writer knew that his tone was strong. There is an important truth here. That we need to be involved more often in the act of encouraging others. A word of encouragement goes miles further than a handful of negative warnings that drive one into guilt.
In Hebrews 6:10 he brings to mind what his readers will be remembered for: Their work and their attitude. He urges them to persevere and not quit in these things. With this thought the writer then shifts to one of the most significant sections of this book. Hope.
The subject of hope stems from the statement of Hebrews 6:11. When dealing with the subject of Hope, there are two key words to keep in mind. Faith and Patience. There are times in all of our lives when doubts increase. These moments occur when things we believe should never happen to us happen. Or when things we believe should happen, don’t, or when things we believe should happen now, happen later.
Abraham is a classic example of a man of God who refused to doubt in spite of a promise that humanly speaking was impossible to occur. When Abraham was 75 years old and his wife 65, God promised them a baby. He swore this promise by His very name. But God took 25 years to fulfill his promise. In Romans 4 Paul puts it this way “In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken.” That’s faith! Hope is always preceded by faith.
Hope is to a great extent is the fruit of spiritual maturity and growth. Hope comes from the work of God’s Spirit working in our lives. But the work of the Spirit in our lives is the result of diligence on our part to cultivate it. The more we know of God’s Word the greater our faith, the greater our faith the stronger our hope. When we don’t cultivate our faith by knowing and studying the Scriptures our faith and our hope is weak. We can have hope if we are willing to the pay the price for it. Hope leads to assurance. Earthly hopes do not give this kind of assurance, they often time disappoint, but hope based on Scripture is the work of God’s Spirit. This hope is not a hope based on experience or feelings, but on the Word of God.
In Hebrews 6, we are told that the particular Word that relates to our hope has to do with the High Priesthood of the Messiah. Knowing what the Scriptures say concerning his High Priesthood. Our hope is fixed on that which is within the veil.
The veil is what separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. This follows the discussion we already studied concerning the priesthood. Hebrews 5:6. The role of the High Priest is seen in part with his role on Yom Kippur. Jesus is God’s present and eternal High Priest. He now is beyond the veil, presenting His blood upon the Mercy Seat, He is there as our intercessor.
This Hope that we have has the power to keep us steadfast. It is an Anchor to our soul. It is the same hope that Israel had as it wandered through the wilderness. In the midst of trials and tribulations, which is exactly the circumstances that these Jewish believers were facing, they could have an anchor to hold their faith. An anchor keeps a ship from drifting away in the current, in the same way our Hope, based on God’s Word, keeps us from drifting. The hope we have, is the Hope of Israel.
The Hope of the New Covenant, the Hope of the Messiah, and the Hope of the return of the Messiah. It is not a hope based on feelings but rather a hope based on God’s word and promises to Israel. A hope that is for Jew and Gentile alike. A hope that is based upon faith in God and His Word.