Hebrews Chapter 06

Orignally Published 7/18/2010

Hebrews 6:1-8 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (2) Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (3) And this will we do, if God permit. (4) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (6) If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

These verses are a continuation of the thought that was started in 5:12. To help us understand this let us restate it in a way that takes into account what the Apostle taught in the waning verses of Chapter 5:

Therefore, since “strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age” and because you no longer have need of spiritual milk, but have need of strong spiritual meat, let us leave behind those things pertaining only to our salvation. Spiritual milk is for babes in Christ, that is, people that are newly saved. Let us go on to maturity and completeness in Christ by not teaching and re-teaching faith and repentance, that is, salvation, baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and judgment. You already know those things. You do not need to keep teaching or learning them over and over because you are already saved. If you keep on re-teaching and re-learning spiritual milk it would be like being re-saved over and over. That is impossible because if you are saved and then fall away and somehow become unsaved, it would be impossible be saved again because that would crucify Christ again, which would be a shame to Him. He is now exalted and at the right hand of the father and would be shamed if He had to come to earth as a man again and be crucified again.

Many teach that these verses prove that you can lose your salvation. But these verses actually teach the opposite. They actually teach that it is not possible to loose your salvation and be resaved because that would require that the crucifixion happen over and over again. The reason the Apostle makes this statement it to prove the futility of teaching the basics about salvation and baptism, etc., over and over again. Since it is impossible to be resaved, then why teach those basics over and over again to those who are already saved? Let us take the verses individually.

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Because of what was just taught in the last few verses of chapter 5 (that we must move on past spiritual milk to the solid meat of the Word), let us leave the elements or basic principles of Christianity to go on the perfection. Perfection is from the Greek word telos, which is the end point, or in Aristotelian philosophy, the ultimate good. The word here is τελειοτητα, teleiotēta (5047), and it means completeness. Additionally, there is the implication of intelligence in the word. Thayer’s secondary definition is, “the state of the more intelligent,” in other words, having more knowledge. The spiritually mature, having moved on to solid meat, are more intelligent or knowledgeable in spiritual matters that the babe in Christ, and therefore more complete. Our goal is to be mature and complete in Christ. Complete perfection will come when we leave this mortality and put on immortality. Until then, we are to strive for completeness in Christ, becoming ever more like Him as we mature spiritually.

Paul1 goes on to list those basic principles of Christianity. Dead works is participating in works leading to death. Religious activities for the sole purpose of religion, for example, are dead works. Any works not done in Christ are dead. All of our works outside of Christ are as filthy rags, and lead to death.

Faith toward God is the basis of Christianity. Our faith is the reason God saves us. Faith in Christ is the only requirement for salvation. Of course, faith in Christ, which is trusting Him for salvation, brings about repentance. Repentance from dead works and faith are matched. Repentance is always a result of faith. When a sinner trusts in God for his salvation from transgression of God’s perfect law, he also realizes his sinfulness and repents. So salvation and repentance are the first droplets of milk the new convert receives. From there spiritual maturity ensues. An infant is born and can only ingest his mother’s milk (or a suitable substitute like formula). After a few months he can eat soft baby foods. A little later his teeth are fully grown and he can eat solid food. That is the picture Paul used here. We are born and only know the basics of salvation. We are expected to grow from that point until we can handle solid food.

Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Baptism is another basic of Christianity. It symbolizes our death to the old life and rebirth into the new life through Christ. When saved, the believer is to be baptized. The laying on of hands is used to pray for healing, to ordain, and to bless. The laying on of hands symbolizes imparting blessings. The resurrection of the dead is another basic of Christianity. When the end of the age comes, all men will be raised from the dead, some to blessings, some to eternal damnation. But all will be raised. Eternal judgment is also a basic of Christianity. All of these things are known by the newest of converts. After conversion we are to stop needing those basics, for we already have them. We are to go on from the basics to perfection.

Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.

We will leave the basic elements and go on to perfection if God will permit. Since the Apostle was able to finish the entire Epistle to the Hebrews and to post it, God did permit. Paul went on to finish this section and to get back to finish the teaching about Christ the High Priest on the order of Melchizedek2.

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

Some teach that this verse is talking about backsliders or those who, though making a profession of faith, are not saved at all. But neither of these ideas is correct. It most certainly and assuredly refers to the saved. Enlightened means “to be made fully aware of.” By itself, enlightened could mean those who have been fully taught the basics of Christianity yet do not believe. But taken together with tasting the heavenly gift and receiving the Holy Spirit, then it is absolutely certain that the saved are in view here. Tasting the heavenly gift refers to the gift of salvation (For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8. See also Romans 6:23) It may also refer to the gift of the Holy Spirit (And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;(John 14:16. See also Acts 8:20). To taste of the gift of salvation by itself may refer to someone who has seen a bit of what salvation is all about without being really saved. Grouped together, to have tasted of salvation and to have partaken of the Spirit and to have become enlightened equal true salvation. To partake of something is to receive it. Only the saved receive the Holy Spirit. No this does not refer to those who “are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” (Mark 4:16-17). It refers to the truly saved. Let us save the “for it is impossible” for later.

Hebrews 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

The good word of God is, of course, the Scriptures, which are not discernible by the unsaved. In order to taste the goodness of the Word, one must be able to understand it. The unsaved cannot. The powers of the world to come most certainly refer to those miracles wrought by Christ and the Apostles. Having seen them does not necessarily bring salvation. But in conjunction with all of these evidences Paul has listed, there can be no doubt that he refers to one who is truly saved.

Hebrews 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

“If they should fall away” does not mean that they did or will, it begins a supposition. The suggestion is that if it were possible for one who is saved to fall away, then there would be no return for that one for it would re-crucify Christ, which would be a shame. Verse 9 lets us know that Paul is not saying this could happen, but is simply painting an scenario that tells us what would be the outcome of loosing one’s salvation: he could never regain it.

Let me quickly say that the Greek is more properly rendered “and having fallen away” according to several commentators.

The whole essence of this passage beginning with Hebrews 5:11, “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing,” is the lack of spiritual maturity among some in the church. Paul has taken great care to decry the repetition of preaching the basics to the saved. Once a person is saved, then he or she must go on and mature spiritually. The new convert must graduate from the fundamentals of salvation (milk) and go on to the advanced doctrines of Christ (solid food). If not it is as though they had lost their salvation and had to be resaved over and over again. Extreme Arminianism teaches that one may loose his salvation and be in need of being resaved. But Paul is not saying that. He is saying that since it is impossible for one fallen away from the faith to be resaved, then why are those fundamentals preached over and over again to the saved? He is not talking about any who had actually fallen away. He is simply using a supposition to make his point.

Re-crucifying Christ would be contemptuous. John Gill said,

He was once crucified, and it is both impossible and unnecessary that he should be, properly speaking, “crucified afresh”, or “again”; it is impossible, because he is risen from the dead, and will never die more; it is unnecessary, because he has finished and completed what he suffered the death of the cross for; but men may be said to crucify him again, when, by denying him to be the Son of God, they justify the crucifixion of him on that account;

Hebrews 6:7-8 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: (8) But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

Continuing the thought about immature Christians, he uses a metaphor to contrast their position with the position of the spiritually mature. The spiritually mature are like the well-watered garden. When it rains the moisture is manifest in bringing forth vegetables and herbs that are useable for food. The spiritually immature are like a farmer who plants but then goes off and leaves the ground dry, uncared for and un-watered. There is no reaping of crops there because they die for lack of care. There is no fruit from the spiritually immature.

Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

Paul says that loosing salvation was not one of the things his recipients would do. They were saved and would remain so. The immature would move on to maturity.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Good works do not bring salvation. Rather, they are the fruits of salvation. God will not forget the righteous acts of the saints. Those that serve God will receive a reward for their works. Those who are unsaved will nave no works to reward. The spiritual babes will have no works and will receive no rewards because in order to serve, one must have the knowledge of the doctrines of the faith.

Hebrews 6:11-12 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: (12) That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Show the same diligence in works leading to maturity (which is the full assurance of hope) that you showed when receiving and believing the gracious fundamentals of salvation. Persevere in these good works as evidence of your salvation thus bringing glory to God and encouragement to other Christians. Do not be lazy, but follow those that have gone before you and were diligent in their ministering. I Like the way J.P. Green translated it (from the Textus Receptus) in his Literal Translation of the Holy Bible: “(11) But we desire each of you to show the same eagerness, to the full assurance of the hope to the end; (12) that you not become dull, but imitators of those who through faith and longsuffering are inheriting the promises.

Hebrews 6:13-14 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, (14) Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

Paul will use this brief passage about Abraham to reinforce his premise that we should be “followers of them (in this case, Abraham) who through faith and patience inherit the promises”, which are of God. The passage under scrutiny is found in Genesis 22:12-18 (Gen 22:17 is quoted here), where God prevented the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. God made this promise to Abraham when Abraham fully intended to go through with the killing of Isaac.

Hebrews 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Abraham waited patiently until he saw the beginning of the promise. When Isaac found a wife who bore him sons, Abraham saw the promise begin to be fulfilled. According to Vincent, “The verb indicates that Abraham did not personally receive the entire fulfillment of the promise, but only the germ of its fulfillment.” The verb is επετυχεν, epetuchen, (from επιτυγχάνω, 2013) which means “to hit upon”, in other words, to just see the beginning of it. Instead of completely obtaining he just hit upon the thing. The point of this statement is to show that Abraham waited patiently upon the promise of God.

Hebrews 6:16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

When we swear an oath, we swear it upon something grater than ourselves. For example, there was a time when an oath taken by a witness at a court hearing, the witness would place his hand upon the Bible and swear that he would tell “the truth, the whole truth, so help me God”. Of course that is no longer politically correct so the witness must now solemnly promise that he will tell the truth upon fear of conviction for perjury. When the President of the United States is sworn in, he places his hand on the Bible and swears before God. When an officer is sworn into the military he swears “so help me God.” When we sign a contract, our oath to abide by that contract is enforceable by law so our oath is upon the law. In each and every case mentioned above, the oath takers swear or affirm their oath by something greater than themselves. But there is none greater than God. He could not swear upon something or someone greater, so He swore upon Himself (v.13).

Hebrews 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

God promised He would bless and multiply Abraham. God cannot lie so His promise is unbreakable. But, in addition to the unchangeable promise, God also swore by Himself that the promise would be kept:

Genesis 22:16-17, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: {17} That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

The promise is in Heb 6:14 & Gen 22:17 and the oath is in verse Heb 6:16-17 & Gen 22:16. Neither the promise nor the oath is breakable by itself. But God both promised and swore, showing the promise to us more abundantly.

Hebrews 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

These two immutable, or unchangeable things, the promise (Heb 6:14 & Gen 22:17) and the oath (Heb 6:16-17 & Gen 22:16), provide a strong consolation for us because God cannot lie, neither in a promise nor in an oath. Because God is truthful and because He both promised and swore, we can take real refuge in the Hope He has set before us, which is the hope of Jesus Christ. The promise to Abraham, confirmed by the oath, was ultimately of the coming Messiah. He would both multiply and bless Abraham and through Abraham bless the whole world. Jesus was the offspring of Abraham, thus the product of the promised multiplying of the seed of Abraham. Additionally, Jesus was and is the promised blessing to the whole world.

Hebrews 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

What does a sea anchor do when deployed in a gale? It properly orients the bow of the vessel into the wind so that the waves will not wash over the side of the boat causing it to swamp, capsize or sink. Similarly, the bottom anchor grabs hold of the sea bottom and prevents the boat from floating off. Paul used the metaphor of an anchor to illustrate the protection afforded by the hope we have in Christ, Who is sure and steadfast. Who could enter into the Most Holy Place (qodesh haqodeshim- קדשׁ הקדשׁים), which was behind the veil? Only the high priest.

Hebrews 6:20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

The word translated forerunner is προδρομος‚ (prodromos) means “one who comes in advance to a place where the rest are to follow” according to Thayer. Jesus, our High Priest, entered into the Holy of Holies before us, paving the way for us to enter behind the veil through Him, allowing us to come boldly before the throne of grace (Heb 4:16). The Levitical high priest went into the Most Holy Place to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the altar. Jesus shed His Own precious blood and that blood is infinitely more efficacious than the blood of bulls and goats. It is implied in Hebrews 9:12 that Jesus sprinkled His Own blood on the altar thus opening the Most Holy Place for us to enter.

Again the order of Melchizedek is simply an idiomatic way of saying eternal. Melchizedek had no mother or father, no beginning or end just as the Eternal Christ. Jesus Christ is our Eternal High Priest.

  1. The reason I use “Paul” instead of “the writer of Hebrews” is explained in the preface to Chapter 1. If you disagree that Paul is the writer, please continue to read for I have no argument with you. As a scholar once said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, love” (attributed to Augustine).
  2. The Old Testament spelling, “Melchizedek” is used in the commentary throughout the chapter.
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