Heb. 6:1-8 read

In preparing for this study I came across these comments from various commentators on this passage. 

This is the knottiest problem passage in Hebrews, if not the whole Bible; a passage which has been a battleground…for ages”

“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 known 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 regarding 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 their Rabbis.

At the end of chapter 5 the Lord challenged us to go beyond the basics. Verse 3 gives us a list of the three categories of basics of New covenant faith.

  1.  Conversion  “Repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.”  Turning from one direction to another.

What’s most important about this basic truth is that when we repent we need to turn from one way to another, walking and abiding in Messiah.

  1.  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 to God.

The laying of hands relates to the procedure of priests and a 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’s still related to elementary things of faith.

  1.  Prophecy “The resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” Eschatology – Things to come, as important as they are, are still considered only basics.

Now what does this tell us?  As older believers we should be very familiar with all of these doctrines.

We who are Believers need to have as a major goal our growing in the faith.  A major problem we’re faced with is, falling away, or better yet, shrinking back.

We talked about this last when we looked at chapter 5 where we learned that if we are going to mature as Believers, we should be involved in making disciples. 

  1. 3 also is a transition. “And this we shall do if God permits”. “This we shall do”, refers to v. 1 “pressing on to maturity.”

The “if” means maybe.  What is suggested here is that there are times when God doesn’t permit maturity.  V.3 pivots to the problem of what hinders God from allowing us to mature,  Falling away.

Falling Away  The Danger.  Read 4-6a

Hebrews 6:4-6 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, {5} who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, {6} if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 

Two major positions of interpretation.

  1.  Believers who lose their salvation. This view suggests that believers repeatedly enter and lose their salvation based on behavior.

A person’s standing for eternal life depends on what their doing with God’s truth at any given moment.  The problem with this position is that in V. 6 we are told that it’s impossible to bring them back again to repentance.

So if v 6 is true according to this position and you lose your standing with God and your atonement you can never be brought back to a position of righteousness and eternal life.  You’re lost forever.

  1.  That This refers to unsaved people. Enlightened Yes, but not born of the Spirit.

These are People who have tasted the Heavenly Gift but have not received it for themselves through repentance and the indwelling of the Spirit of God.

The word gift here however, refers to “free gift” in the original language.  I believe it’s a reference to the Freedom that comes from faith in the Messiah.  Freedom from bondage and slavery to sin, freedom to serve God. Read Gal. 5:13-18

Galatians 5:13-18   You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love. {14} The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” {15} If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. {16} So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. {17} For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. {18} But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 

Those who believe that Heb 6 is a reference to the unsaved suggest that they have tasted or shared of this truth but not digested it.

Those who hold that this passage refers to nonbelievers, say that to partake does not mean possession of the Holy Spirit.

But the Greek word that is translated partaken or shared is used 4 different times in the book of Hebrews and is a clear reference of something that pertains to believers.

They believe that these people Tasted/shared the Good Word, but that the Good word is not alive in their lives. 

The trouble with those who hold this position is that these words refer to unbelievers and 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, never described as having been enlightened, or having tasted of the heavenly gift, or partaken of the Holy Spirit. Those things are given to believers.

This passage doesn’t speak about salvation, but about repentance of believers.  To illustrate this truth, Paul uses an analogy likening repentance in v. 6 with vegetation in v. 7.

Hebrews 6:6-7   if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. {7} Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 

This passage of Scripture is not referring to a corrupt or dead root but  worthless fruit!

When a believer falls away beyond a certain point, he is no longer able to bear fruit.  His hardened heart causes him to be unable to be brought to repentance.  Just land that does not produce fruit is useless for growing. ie. the dustbowl.

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 fruitless, that is not producing fruit in keeping with their repentance.

In v. 8 there are 3 references to dead vegetation.  Hebrews 6:8   But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. 

The fallen away persons eternal life is not burned up, but the fruit of his life is burned.  This is reference to the judgment seat of the Messiah. Here are some Biblical references that support this:

Luke 8:14-15   The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature. {15} But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. 

John 15:5-6   “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. {6} If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 

1 Corinthians 3:10-15   By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. {11} For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah. {12} If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, {13} his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. {14} If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. {15} If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 

Heb. 6:8 is an overview of a believer who has fallen away and the results of a life in continued rebellion to God and His Word. but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

From 1960 to 1981 for 21 years, Walter Cronkite anchored the CBS News. It’s a position he might have never attained had he let an earlier experience diminish his determination. At the age of twenty-one, Cronkite was doing what he dreamed of, reporting the news. 

At KCMO in Kansas City, Cronkite was the entire news department of a small radio station. When he did not handle a story the way his program director insisted, Cronkite was fired. Determination kept him from quitting, and he eventually found great success in the newsroom.
Through the years, Vince Lombardi’s thoughts on winning have been frequently misquoted. The legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers is purported to have said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Coach Lombardi actually said, “Winning is not everything . . . but making the effort to win is.” 

Believers, more than any other group of people, should follow this advice and make every effort to win the crown that is set before us.

Where do you stand?  We need to ask ourselves:

Am I flirting with the danger of drifting? Have I begun to drift dangerously to a point of no return? What do I need to do to abide in Yeshua? Here are three:

  1. Daily reading of God’s Word
  2. Daily Surrender of your will to God’s
  3. Learning to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh Gal. 5:13-26

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.

So, in my understanding of Scripture, this passage has to do with a fruitful life for a believer not the loss of salvation.