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Why This Text?

This passage is another of the warning passages within this book.
As I stated before, this book, to me, is a ongoing set of warnings to believers who were tempted to leave the clarity of the New Covenant and the Gospel for the rituals and obscurity of the Old Covenant as understood by the Jewish leaders of that era.
Bruce notes that “These ‘Hebrews’ were exposed to a subtle danger which could not be experienced by converts from paganism.
But the “Hebrews” were exposed to a subtle danger which could not be experienced by converts from paganism. If a convert from paganism gave up Christianity and reverted to paganism, there was a clean break between the faith which he renounced and the paganism to which he returned. But it was possible for the recipients of this letter, yielding gradually to pressures from various quarters, to give up more and more those features of faith and practice which were distinctive of Christianity, and yet to feel that they had not abandoned the basic principles of repentance and faith, the realities denoted by religious ablutions and the laying on of hands, the expectation of resurrection and the judgment of the age to come. For the writer to go on insisting on these things, therefore, would not really help them; it would be better to press on to those teachings which belonged to spiritual maturity, in the hope that the maturity would come with the teachings. “This, then, we will do, God permitting”34—that is to say, not merely will our author go on to give his mature teaching about the Melchizedek priesthood, but he and his readers together will advance to full growth in Christ, please God.
If a convert from paganism gave up Christianity and reverted to paganism, there was a clean break between the faith which he renounced and the paganism to which he returned.
By contrast, It was possible for the recipients of this letter, yielding gradually to pressures from various quarters, to give up more and more those features of faith and practice which were distinctive of Christianity, and yet to feel that they had not abandoned the basic principles of repentance and faith, the realities denoted by religious ablutions and the laying on of hands, the expectation of resurrection and the judgment of the age to come.
Let’s consider where we have been - it was a plea for spiritual maturity.
There has been a constant example of Israel - the author is speaking to Jews who are looking at Israel

What Are The Major Views of This Text?

In the passage of today there are four primary views of the text:
In the passage of today there are four primary views of the text:
The Arminian View: true believers lose their salvation if they fall away from Christ

THE ARMINIAN VIEW: TRUE BELIEVERS LOSE THEIR SALVATION IF THEY FALL AWAY FROM CHRIST.

In this view person stops believing so they fall away
But they have two big problems. First, many biblical texts teach that true believers cannot be lost (; ; ). Second, if true believers can be lost, then our text teaches that it is impossible for them to regain their salvation. Most Arminians do not want to go there!
This view has three significant problems
Scripture teaches that true believers cannot be lost (; ; ).
The nature of justification and election would not have such occur; Jesus never lost a single one elected to Him (). God’s purposes are never thwarted.
John 6:38–39 NKJV
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
John 6:38–40 NKJV
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
if true believers can be lost, then our text teaches that it is impossible for them to regain their salvation. Most Arminians do not want to go there!
Genuine Christians can deny the faith and yet remain saved - they will lose their rewards in Heaven.
Zane Hodges, who was a main person in the Bible Knowledge Commentary, holds to this view.
They hold to a decisional view of salvation and they reduce saving faith to a notional (“mental”) assent that does not include repentance. Once a person believes in Christ, he is eternally secure no matter what his subsequent life is like. He may later become an atheist or he may live in gross sin for the rest of his life. But because he once “believed,” he is eternally secure.
They hold to a decisional view of salvation and they reduce saving faith to a notional (“mental”) assent that does not include repentance. He wrote a book titled “Absolutely Free” espousing such; it was heretical and belongs with Finney’s teachings under “H” in your library.
This view is that once a person believes in Christ, he is eternally secure no matter what his subsequent life is like. He may later become an atheist or he may live in gross sin for the rest of his life. But because he once “believed,” he is eternally secure. He made a decision...
Scripture tells us that those who are saved will bear fruit.
Additionally, we have clear teaching in
1 John 2:3–4 NKJV
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
The view that the author is speaking of something hypothetical - but it really cannot happen.
This goes against the nature of a warning - warnings are not theoretical but actual.
Spurgeon held that though men like Gill and Owen stated that these people were not Christians but Spurgeon holds that they are true Christians.
There are elements of this view that I can embrace. The passage does seem to refer to true believers - it speaks of the Spirit and other elements given to only believers.
Spurgeon taught that true believers cannot fall away because God keeps them from doing so.
He explained that true believers cannot fall away because God keeps them from doing so. But Paul (whom he thinks wrote Hebrews) is arguing that the reason they cannot fall away is because it would negate the efficacy of Christ’s atonement on the cross. Thus restoration would be impossible. Others argue that the hypothetical warning is not against falling away from the faith, but against going back and starting the Christian life all over again (“relaying the foundation,” 6:1-2, which is impossible).
The writer of Hebrews is arguing that the reason they cannot fall away is because it would negate the efficacy of Christ’s atonement on the cross.
As a result, restoration would be impossible.
Others argue that the hypothetical warning is not against falling away from the faith, but against going back and starting the Christian life all over again (“relaying the foundation,” 6:1-2, which is impossible).
Thus restoration would be impossible. Others argue that the hypothetical warning is not against falling away from the faith, but against going back and starting the Christian life all over again (“relaying the foundation,” 6:1-2, which is impossible).
As I stated earlier, if this is not an actual concern then it has no value. Spurgeon states that this warning creates a response in the believer to grasp ahold of Christ - but the text doesn’t clearly teach this.
The final view is that these are false believers: they are associated with the church but they are not truly saved.
This view says that the people described in 6:4-5 are in the Hebrew church and appear to be saved.
This view, which I hold to (in spite of the problems), says that the people described in 6:4-5 are in the Hebrew church and appear to be saved. But at some point, usually a crisis, their true colors come through. They repudiate their faith in Christ, go back either to Judaism or to the world, and side with those who crucified the Son of God. In so doing, they put Christ to open shame.
Due to persecution and hardship their true colors come through. They repudiate their faith in Christ, go back either to Judaism or to the world, and side with those who crucified the Son of God. In so doing, they put Christ to open shame.
There are two major problems with this view. First, the terms in 6:4-5 sound as if they are describing true believers, not false believers. Why would the author pile up all of these terms if he is describing false believers? Second, if they were not truly saved, then what is there to fall away from? How can they be renewed to repentance if they never truly repented in the first place?
There are two major problems with this view.
First, the terms in 6:4-5 sound as if they are describing true believers, not false believers. Why would the author pile up all of these terms if he is describing false believers?
Second, if they were not truly saved, then what is there to fall away from? How can they be renewed to repentance if they never truly repented in the first place?
Which view is best?
To be “partakers of the Holy Spirit” means to be sharers in the Spirit, probably with reference to the blessings of salvation and the gifts of the Spirit that were manifested in the Hebrew church.
The nation of Israel enjoyed the presence of God in the cloud, the pillar of fire, and the Rock but it did not mean that all were saved.
All of Israel experienced the plagues and the benefit but not all were saved.
To taste the “the good Word of God” refers to His good promises to His people, especially in the gospel.
Again, this was a corporate experience of Israel in the wilderness.
All of them had tasted God’s good word of promise by coming out of slavery in Egypt. But not all were saved through personal faith.
the powers of the age to come
The powers of the age to come is a reference to the miraculous sign gifts given by God
Seeing miracles within the church is not being part of the church
Jesus even said that there would those who testified that they knew Him but He would tell them He did not know them.
The clarity comes when we view the context of the example of Israel

How Should We Understand This Text?

Let me say that no view is without problems: views 1-2 are obviously to be rejected so it is a toss between views 3-4.
The analogy that the author uses in 6:7-8 to explain 6:4-6 is a major key to interpreting this text. He talks about ground that drinks in the rain (symbolic of God’s blessings). If it bears a crop, it fulfills its purpose and is blessed by God. But if it yields thorns and thistles, “it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” This fits with the story of Israel in the wilderness and the point of his warning in 6:4-6. God poured out His blessings on the nation in the exodus and during their wilderness experience. Their lives should have brought forth the fruit of faith and obedience. Instead, they were faithless and disobedient, threatening on several occasions to return to Egypt.
The analogy that the author uses in 6:7-8 to explain 6:4-6 is a major key to interpreting this text.
He talks about ground that drinks in the rain (symbolic of God’s blessings). If it bears a crop, it fulfills its purpose and is blessed by God. But if it yields thorns and thistles, “it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”
This fits with the story of Israel in the wilderness and the point of his warning in 6:4-6. God poured out His blessings on the nation in the exodus and during their wilderness experience. Their lives should have brought forth the fruit of faith and obedience. Instead, they were faithless and disobedient, threatening on several occasions to return to Egypt.
Some in the Hebrew church were in danger of precisely the same sin. They had participated in a corporate sense in God’s abundant blessings of salvation, but now they were tempted to return to Judaism. But to do that would be to fall away from Christ, and even worse, to join those who had crucified Him! In so doing, they would be crucifying Christ all over again, and putting Him to open shame by agreeing with the unbelieving Jews that He is not their Savior and Messiah. To do that would put them close to being cursed, and if they died in this state of renouncing their faith, they would face the fires of eternal judgment.
Some in the Hebrew church were in danger of precisely the same sin. They had participated in a corporate sense in God’s abundant blessings of salvation, but now they were tempted to return to Judaism.
But to do that would be to fall away from Christ, and even worse, to join those who had crucified Him! In so doing, they would be crucifying Christ all over again, and putting Him to open shame by agreeing with the unbelieving Jews that He is not their Savior and Messiah. To do that would put them close to being cursed, and if they died in this state of renouncing their faith, they would face the fires of eternal judgment.
Verse 9 reinforces this interpretation, when the author says, “We are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation….”
The word “and” is explanatory. It may be translated, “that is.” “Better things” most likely refers back to the five things mentioned in 6:4-5. Wayne Grudem, in Still Sovereign, holds to this view.
Wayne Grudem, in Still Sovereign, holds to this view.
The implication of 6:9 is that the terms in 6:4-5 refer to those who do not possess genuine salvation.
I believe this text is referring to false confessions or a false repentance
There are many other biblical texts that talk about insincere repentance. Balaam seemingly repented when the angel confronted him, but it was not a repentance unto salvation (; ; compare ; ). Judas felt remorse for betraying Jesus and even returned the silver, but his “repentance” was not unto salvation (). Peter condemned the apostates who, “after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them” ().
Balaam seemingly repented when the angel confronted him, but it was not a repentance unto salvation (; ; compare ; ).
Judas felt remorse for betraying Jesus and even returned the silver, but his “repentance” was not unto salvation ().
Peter condemned the apostates who, “after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. ().
2 Peter 2:20–21 NKJV
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
All of these examples are those who were truly not saved.
To fall away means deliberately to reject and repudiate the substantial light that they have been given about Christ and the gospel.
In so doing, repentance becomes impossible—not for God (), but rather, it is morally impossible because by this deliberate rejection of the truth, they harden their hearts and place themselves beyond repentance.
Repentance becomes impossible when a person has been fully exposed to the blessings of God’s people, but falls away through deliberate unbelief and denial of Christ.
Repentance becomes impossible when a person has been fully exposed to the blessings of God’s people, but falls away through deliberate unbelief and denial of Christ.
Repentance becomes impossible when a person has been fully exposed to the blessings of God’s people, but falls away through deliberate unbelief and denial of Christ.
This word means “to abandon a former relationship or association, or to dissociate. It may not be apostacy but it sure sounds like the same result.
Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990. Print. The New International Commentary on the New Testament.

What is the “For” There For?

For the writer to go on insisting on these things, therefore, would not really help them; it would be better to press on to those teachings which belonged to spiritual maturity, in the hope that the maturity would come with the teachings. “
This, then, we will do, God permitting”—that is to say, not merely will our author go on to give his mature teaching about the Melchizedek priesthood, but he and his readers together will advance to full growth in Christ, please God.
The author was just pleading with them for spiritual maturity that while they should be teachers they were still less than teachers.

Analysis of Critical Words

Impossible: pertaining to being impossible, presumably because of a lack of power to alter or control circumstances. Louw and Nida state, In the use of ἀδύνατον seems to be an instance of hyperbole in view of the warnings against apostasy (see ). Therefore, one may translate ἀδύνατον in as ‘it is extremely difficult to.’
to abandon a former relationship or association, or to dissociate (a type of reversal of beginning to associate)
Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains 1996 : 448. Print.
So a noted resource who are Greek scholars say is isn’t really impossible while the word, impossible does mean impossible.
Galatians 5:4 NKJV
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Hebrews 3:12 NKJV
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
Hebrews 12:25 NKJV
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,
The real question here is if the author is using hyperbole or not.
To “fall away” means deliberately to reject and repudiate the substantial light that they have been given about Christ and the gospel. In so doing, repentance becomes impossible—not for God (), but rather, it is morally impossible because by this deliberate rejection of the truth, they harden their hearts and place themselves beyond repentance.

Applications:

1. IT IS DANGEROUS TO TRAFFIC IN CHRISTIAN MATTERS, BUT TO REJECT OR DISOBEY THE LIGHT THAT GOD HAS GRACIOUSLY GIVEN TO US.

One reason that the author piles up these many terms that sound as if these apostates were converted is to warn us about how far we can go in matters of the faith and yet not be genuinely converted. I remember when I first read Jonathan Edwards’ A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections [Banner of Truth], although I had been a pastor for many years, it caused me to examine my own heart to make sure that I was saved! It also opened my eyes to the fact that many in evangelical churches “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him” ().

2. IT IS DANGEROUS TO PROFESS FAITH IN CHRIST BUT TO HAVE NO EVIDENCE OF FRUIT IN YOUR LIFE.

God is raining His blessings all around, but each of us needs to ask, “Am I bringing forth thorns and thistles, or fruit unto God?” Read through the lists of the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit () and ask, “Which most characterizes my life? Am I progressively denying the deeds of the flesh and growing the fruit of the Spirit?”

3. IT IS DANGEROUS NOT TO PRACTICE FREQUENT REPENTANCE.

Repentance isn’t a one-time thing that you do at conversion and then move on. Nor is it simply a change of mind, not of behavior. Turning from sin ought to be a chief identifying mark of the believer. As I’ve said before, in Eastern Europe, unbelievers call evangelicals “repenters.” That’s not a bad label! If you’re in God’s Word daily, it confronts you with ways that you are not pleasing to God. Repentance is the proper response.

4. IT IS DANGEROUS NOT TO WORRY ABOUT THIS WARNING IF YOUR HEART IS CALLUSED, OR TO WORRY EXCESSIVELY ABOUT IT IF YOUR HEART IS TENDER.

Again, one reason that the author uses such strong terms is to shock those whose hearts are becoming callused so that they wake up before it’s too late. This isn’t just a warning to believers to grow up in their faith (although it is that). It’s a warning to those who think that they are believers, but are not, not to fall away into eternal judgment. True believers do not go back to their old way of life. True believers persevere in faith and obedience. We will see the same thing emphasized again in 10:36, where he tells them that they have need of endurance. Believing the best about them, he says, “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (10:39).
In other words, there is only one way for those who have truly believed in Christ as Savior and Lord: to move ahead in faith and obedience, even in the face of trials or persecution. To give up the Christ who sacrificed Himself on the cross and go back to the pleasures of this evil world or to the empty shell of religion is extremely dangerous and possibly spiritually fatal!
If your heart is tender towards God, and you are striving daily against sin, then you should be concerned about this warning, but not excessively concerned. Keep walking with the Lord and He will bring you safely into His heavenly kingdom ()!
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