Hebrews classes 8-9, Hebrews chapter 6, Trust Christ alone

Tod Kennedy, February 25 and March 4, 2009

Since this is such a crucial chapter in the entire argument of Hebrews I have written up more extensive notes. For those of you who want the “bottom line” without the support, I suggest you read the outline and the main points to emphasize and think through the chapter based on these comments. These notes will be revised as needed.

Main points to emphasize in Hebrew 6

  1. Doctrines about Christ-Messiah were and are foundational, especially to Hebrew believers. Those doctrines are basic for spiritual growth and service. But believers must build upon those doctrines and advance in learning more doctrine and applying that doctrine (6:1).
  2. Believers should press on to maturity, but repudiating or doubting Jesus Christ and His work of reconciliation prevents renewing to repentance (changing wrong thinking about Christ to right thinking about Christ) and therefore prevents pressing on to maturity (6:1-6).
  3. God blesses those believers who faithfully respond to His provisions and His word, while he disciplines those who, in their spiritual regression, reject His provisions and His word (6:7-8).
  4. God has better things than discipline for believers who serve Him—things that accompany eternal salvation, rewards—and God will not forget their service for him (6:9-10).
  5. Continue the diligent faith and service you once exhibited so you will have the full assurance of your hoped for rewards (the things that accompany salvation), and imitate those who inherit the promises by faith and patience like Abraham did (6:11-15).
  6. God promised and swore an oath to Abraham that He would bless him and that he would have a son; and God would multiply Abraham’s descendents through that son. Abraham patiently waited by faith for God to fulfill His promise and God did (6:13-16). Abraham is an example for us to follow (6:13-16).
  7. God who cannot lie made an oath to Abraham about the messianic promise with blessings. Later on God also promised with an oath to the heirs of the promise. Those who believe God, including church believers, are encouraged to hold onto that promised hope (6:16-18).
  8. This promised hope for us is eternal salvation, future blessings and rewards, and participation in Messiah’s kingdom—the better things that accompany salvation. That hope is our anchor and our anchor is in heaven right now guaranteeing that we will receive them. Our future is secure. We ought to grasp and hold that anchor through out life, especially in trials and tests (6:19).
  9. Jesus, our Melchizedek like high priest, is now in the heavenly holy of holies where He performs high priestly duties for us (6:20).

Outline of chapter 6

  1. Believers are to go on to spiritual maturity, but repudiating by adding or subtracting from Christ and his work prevents spiritual growth (6:1-6).
  2. Blessings and future rewards can accompany eternal salvation (6:7-12).
  3. God promised and swore an oath to Abraham for a descendent and blessings (6:13-16).
  4. In the same way as He did to Abraham, God again promised the messianic kingdom blessing to the heirs of God’s promise to Abraham and swore an oath to that (6:17-18).
  5. Our promised hope (anchor) is firmly secured in the heavenly holy of holies where Jesus now ministers for us as our Melchizedek like high priest (6:19-20).

Hebrews 6 Study

  1. Hebrews 6:1-7. Believers are to go on to spiritual maturity, but bad Christology hinders them.
    1. Verses 1-3. Leave the elementary teachings about the Christ means to be convinced about Messiah Jesus and be able to advance or be moved from those teachings and build upon those teachings.
      1. The elementary teachings are the first things or beginning teachings (ἀρχή, ῆς, ἡ arche, the start, the beginning S746). This refers to basic teaching that Jesus is the messiah– τοῦ Χριστοῦ tou Christou. This should be settled.
      2. Leaving (ἀφίημι aphiemi, to dismiss, leave, depart, cancel, is an aorist active participle. S863. and precedes “let us press on.” Press on (φέρω phero, to carry, to cause something to move from one position to another, present passive subjunctive, possible in a more active sense here, S5342). This instructs us to be carried or advance on to spiritual maturity (τελειότης teleiotes, completeness, maturity). We leave the foundation doctrines and move ahead to other doctrine and application.
      3. Spiritual growth. Spiritual growth refers to the progressive advancement in the biblical faith. This of course depends on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, fellowship, learning God’s word, faith, testing, and application. Ephesians 4:12, 14, 15; 2 Peter 3:14-18, 1 Peter 2.2, Hebrews 5:11-6:6, and others refer to this.
      4. Spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity refers to the various stages or levels of spiritual growth. These levels are not very clear in the Bible, though I think we could demonstrate some. This is different from spirituality in which both immature believers and mature believers can be either spiritual or carnal at any point in time. Ephesians 4:13, Hebrews 5:11-6:6, Colossians 1:28, James 1:4, and others speak of spiritual maturity.
      5. Not laying again is a present active participle. As we are pressing on or being carried on to maturity we do not again need to lay the foundation. The foundation includes six doctrines. They all would have been understood by most Jewish people, even before they became believers.
      6. The six basic foundations that the Hebrew believers were stuck on are
        1. repentance from dead works—ritual that does not give eternal life
        2. faith toward God—standard theology of Judaism
        3. teaching about washings—ceremonial cleansing and possible various baptisms
        4. laying on hands—hands on the sacrifice and identification
        5. resurrection from the dead—standard theology
        6. eternal judgment—standard theology.
      7. Verse 3. Recognizing God’s work in the maturing of believers.
    2. Verses 4-6. This has been the topic of much discussion and speculation. Let’s lay it out simply.
      1. The Greek grammatical subject of verses 4-6 is “to renew” and is found in verse 6. “Renew” (ἀνακαινίζω anakainizo, present active infinitive used as the subject, S340). It means to renew or restore to a more desirable state. Here to bring them back to a place where they think correctly about Christ. Repentance is μετάνοια, ας, ἡ, metanoia, a changing of the mind.
      2. The predicate adjective (what is said about the subject) is in verse 4, “impossible.”
      3. The direct objects of the verbal idea in the subject (to renew) are six phrases in verses 4-6. They are all accusative (direct objects) aorist participles that function as nouns in this section. All of these were experienced by these people. They all are clear indications that these people are believers. These are all joined together by conjunctions. They form a group.
        1. Enlightened (φωτίζω photizo S5461) means to receive information, the truth about Jesus Christ. See Hebrews 10:32.
        2. Tasted (γεύομαι geuomai S1089) the heavenly gift means they have taken to themselves God’s eternal life and experienced some of the blessings.
        3. Made or became (γίνομαι ginomai S1096) partakers of the Holy Spirit means they have participated, shared in the Holy Spirit in their lives. See Hebrews 3:1 for the same word.
        4. Tasted (γεύομαι geuomai S1089) the good word of God means they have actually taken the word of God into themselves; and of the powers of the age to come means that they experienced in their individual lives the spiritual power that will be a part of the kingdom age. The verb tasted goes with both the “good word” and “powers.” In Hebrews 2:9 “Christ tasted death for everyone” uses the same word.
        5. And have fallen away, παραπίπτω parapipto, to fall, fall aside, go astray, and then to abandon. S3895. These believers have gone astray or abandoned the Jesus and the truth about Jesus. They have regressed instead of progressed in the faith. Galatians 5:4 is a somewhat parallel passage in which believers have abandoned or regressed from grace. They did lose their eternal life.
      4. Why can they not renew to repentance? 1. They crucify again the Son, 2. they put him to open shame. Both of these are present participles, accusative to go with the other participles.
        1. They are crucifying again the Son of God. “Crucify again” (ἀνασταυρόω anastauroo, S388) is a change in form to an accusative present active participle. This participle is a circumstantial participle of time or cause (acts as an adverb and tells something that goes on in the sentence). This means that while this action is going on they cannot “renew to repentance.” Crucifying the Son is agreeing with those who crucified Jesus by thinking or saying that He deserved to die or that His death was not sufficient.
        2. They are putting the Son to open shame (παραδειγματίζω paradeigmatizo, to expose, make an example of, publicly disgrace, S3856). Another present active participle use the same as “crucifying.” Rejecting or questioning Jesus whom they once trusted as God’s only savior is putting shame on Jesus.
    3. So What?
      1. Believers who contaminate the doctrine of Christ’s person and work cannot advance in the Christian life. Christology informs all Christian life doctrines. To reject or mix biblical Christology with any other non-biblical doctrine results in a syncretism of doctrine which both disgraces the Lord and hinders spiritual growth.
      2. Doctrines about Christ-Messiah were and are foundational, especially to Hebrew believers. Those doctrines are basic for spiritual growth and service. But believers must build upon those doctrines and advance in learning more doctrine and applying that doctrine (6:1).
      3. Believers should press on to maturity, but repudiating or doubting Jesus Christ and His work of reconciliation prevents renewing to repentance (changing wrong thinking about Christ to right thinking about Christ) and therefore prevents pressing on to maturity (6:1-6).
      4. A study of Christology, spiritual growth, spiritual regression, and spiritual maturity would be in order at this point.
  2. Hebrews 6:7-12. Blessings and future rewards can accompany eternal salvation. Believers have the opportunities to receive God’s provisions for service and produce good for Him. He blesses those who do so. See the doctrine of good works. Note 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 for the destruction of human good works. Philippians 1:22 and Colossians 1:10 also instruct about good works.
    1. Verses 7-8. This section illustrates the previous. Those who continue to crucify and shame the Son of God only produce worthless products—thorns and thistles. The product is burned up. The good is not God’s good, it is man’s good.
      1. Note in the illustration that the bad crops are burned. The ground is not damaged. In fact, when weeds and thistles are burned off the farmer’s ground, that ground is able to grow more crops. This verse has nothing to do with eternal judgment or hell.
      2. God blesses those believers who faithfully respond to His provisions and His word, while he disciplines those who, in their spiritual regression, reject His provisions and His word (6:7-8).
    2. Hebrews 6. 9-10. God has better things than discipline for believers who serve Him. Things that accompany salvation (σωτηρία, ας, ἡ soteria) are blessings and rewards, and God will not forget their service for him and will reward them.
      1. Verse 9. The author is convinced that their future does not need to be one of discipline and worthless human production which only results in lack of rewards in the future. Salvation means more in Hebrews than deliverance from God’s judgment. Better things that accompany salvation refer to eternal salvation, provision and blessings in time, and future rewards for service (the entire eternal salvation package).
      2. This calls to mind the occurrences of the word “salvation” (σωτηρία, ας, ἡ soteria, deliverance, preservation, salvation in the physical sense or in the religious sense. S4991) in Hebrews. In all the uses in this book the word seems to have the inclusive meaning of eternal salvation, provision and blessing, and future rewards, with emphasis on future blessing and rewards. It is used 7 times in 7 verses in Hebrews.
        1. Hebrews 1:14, “those who will inherit salvation?”
        2. Hebrews 2:3, “if we neglect so great a salvation?”
        3. Hebrews 2:10, “perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.”
        4. Hebrews 5:9, “He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”
        5. Hebrews 6:9, “and things that accompany salvation.”
        6. Hebrews 9:28, “will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
        7. Hebrews 11:7, “Noah…prepared an ark for the salvation of his household.”
      3. Verse 10 explains and supports verse 9. God will not forget the believer’s work (ἔργον, ου, τό ergon, deeds, work, action, occupation, service S2041) and love (ἀγάπη, ης, ἡ agape, S26). This work and love are done for His name—representing Him and for Him serving or ministering to other believers.
        1. Their service was in past and in the present. Minister is used twice, in the aorist (completed action) and present tense.
        2. The service was done for other believers, the saints. In the context of Hebrews the believers were under great pressure from political and religious opposition. Hebrews 13 highlights some of the pressure, especially verses 1-3 and verse 23.
    3. Verse 11 has a plea that each believer will demonstrate diligence in spiritual service in Christ’s name for the saints. The benefit to those being diligent in service is a certainty of blessing and reward from God (things that accompany salvation in verse 9 and hope in verse 11).
      1. “We desire” is more than just a wish. It means to have a strong desire, to long, yearning desire, to set one’s heart n something (ἐπιθυμέω epithumeo, present active indicative, S1937)
      2. “Show the same diligence” means to serve like they have been as verse 10 indicates.
      3. Why? The author wants them to minister as they should so that they will have or realize complete certainty that they will reap blessing and reward from God—the things that accompany salvation spoken of in Hebrews 6:9, and called hope in verse 11.
      4. “to realize the full assurance” is the preposition pros with the accusative πληροφορία, ας, ἡ plerophoria, (S4136, complete certainty, full assurance, absolutely sure, Romans 4:21 and 1 Thessalonians 1:5 illustrate the word). The construction means for the goal of, or toward, or face to face with the complete certainty.
      5. Hope (ἐλπίς, ίδος, elpis, S1680) refers to the confident expectation of blessings and rewards in the future. “Until the end” means throughout the time or up until the point of the end. The end is the end of life here and now on earth.
      6. This is not referring to checking oneself out to see if you are doing good works and therefore gain assurance of eternal salvation by self examination. Assurance of eternal life comes by believing God’s word about eternal life (1 John 5:13). These verses are teaching Christian service that will result in certainty of blessing and reward.
      7. The point we learn and apply is that diligently serving God by serving believers can give full certainty about future blessings and reward (hope). When we serve according to God’s will and His power that guarantees future reward.
    4. Verse 12 begins with a hina clause indicating purpose. The purpose of “show the same diligence” (6:11) is that they will not become lazy (νωθρός, ά, όν nothros, St 3576, see 5:11), but instead be imitators (μιμητής, οῦ, ὁ mimetes, English word mimic) of believers who by their faith and patience are inheritors of God’s promises.
      1. Those who faithfully serve in the face of tests, opposition, and the spiritual regression of others do so by 1. exercising faith in God and His word, 2. by exercising patience in the face of disappointment about people, and 3.by exercising patience toward God’s perfect timing as Abraham and others did.
      2. When a person is diligent about a task he is not lazy about that task. motivates Christian service (10-11), and faith and patience (12).
      3. “Those who inherit” (κληρονομέω kleronomeo, present active participle, used as a noun, objective genitive following imitators). The word means to come into possession of, to obtain. It means more than to enter as in “enter heaven,” or “enter eternal life.” The reward is that those believers come into possession, ownership of what God promised them. The promises are those promises the God has made about the messianic kingdom and their participation in that kingdom. Below are the uses of inherit and inheritance in Hebrews. It is used 6 times in 6 verses.
        1. Hebrews 1:4, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
        2. Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
        3. Hebrews 6:12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
        4. Hebrews 9:15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
        5. Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
        6. Hebrews 12:17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
      4. Promise in Hebrews in most of the uses refers to the messianic promise as given to Abraham and restated to others, plus promises that result from that basic promise. Promise in Hebrews does not just refer to eternal life or “to be saved.” Promise is used 18 times in 17 verses.
        1. Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.
        2. Hebrews 6:12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
        3. Hebrews 6:13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,
        4. Hebrews 6:15 And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.
        5. Hebrews 6:17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
        6. Hebrews 7:6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.
        7. Hebrews 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
        8. Hebrews 9:15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
        9. Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
        10. Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
        11. Hebrews 11:9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;
        12. Hebrews 11:11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.
        13. Hebrews 11:13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
        14. Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
        15. Hebrews 11:33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,
        16. Hebrews 11:39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
        17. Hebrews 12:26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.”
  3. God promised and swore an oath to Abraham that He would bless him and he would have a son, and God would multiply Abraham’s descendents through that son. Abraham patiently waited by faith for God to fulfill His promise and God did (6:13-15).
    1. The promise was fulfilled in Isaac and from Isaac through Jacob and the Hebrew people. That promise of blessing ultimately pointed to the messiah and his kingdom.
    2. Men understand about oaths. When men swear and oath they do so by an authority greater than themselves. That oath settles the dispute or question.
  4. Hebrews 6:17-18. In the same way as He did to Abraham, God again promised the messianic kingdom blessing to the heirs of God’s promise to Abraham and swore an oath to that.
    1. Hebrews 6:17. “Heir” is used 4 times in 4 verses in Hebrews. The word is κληρονόμος, ου, ὁ kleromonos, dative indirect object, holder or possessor of an estate, one who receives a possession as a beneficiary, one designated as an heir, S2818. In this verse it refers to the descendents of Abraham (Hebrews) who believed God’s promise given to Abraham and to his descendents.
      1. Heb 1:2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
      2. Heb 6:17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
      3. Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
      4. Heb 11:9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;
    2. Verse 18. The two unchangeable things in this context are God’s promise and God’s oath. Titus 1:2 also clearly states that God cannot lie. We have every reason to trust him completely in everything!
      1. God cannot lie. It is totally contrary to His nature. Since He cannot lie and since He promised and swore an oath to His promise, then what He said is sure and fixed. Therefore anyone who takes refuge or hides behind God’s promise and oath should be strongly encouraged to tenaciously grab and hold the promised hope of eternal life and blessing and reward in the messianic kingdom.
      2. Hope is the promise that consists of eternal salvation, messianic kingdom and blessings, and rewards. The phrase “things that accompany salvation” (6:9) probably includes all of this.
  5. Hebrews 6:19-20. Our promised hope (like an anchor) is firmly secured in the heavenly holy of holies where Jesus now ministers for us as our Melchizedek like high priest.
    1. Verse 19. This hope refers to eternal salvation, the promised messianic kingdom blessings, and rewards that believers look forward to (6:9). They are in heaven reserved for us.
    2. Verse 19. This hope functions as an anchor that we can completely depend upon for our security within God’s plan for time, for the millennial kingdom, and for eternity. This hope anchor is now in heaven in the heavenly holy of holies where Jesus is. The hope-anchor is in the safest possible place. See the doctrine of eternal security.
    3. Verse 20. Jesus went into heaven before us for our benefit. He functions now as our high priest from the heavenly holy of holies. He went before us to help us.
      1. Forerunner is the word πρόδρομος, ον, prodromos, running forward, going in advance, S4274.
      2. Jesus functions as our high priest. A priest represents people to God. Jesus was our substitute sacrifice for our sins. Jesus arose from the dead. Jesus ascended into heaven. He now intercedes for us. There are many Scripture reference to the priestly ministry of Jesus including John 14:2-3, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 1:3-4, 4:14-16, 8:1, 9:24,1 Peter 3:22, and 1 John 2:1-2.

End of Hebrews 6 study