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Hebrews 6:1-8

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 22, 2018


We don’t know for sure who wrote the book of Hebrews, but we do have a pretty good idea of who it was written to.

Hebrews was written to Jewish believers.

The author expects the readers to be well acquainted with Levitical worship and sacrifice.
He will constantly quote the Old Testament in a way that expects that the reader understands what he’s talking about.

We also know that these believers were encountering very strong persecution.

Times were so bad that some were beginning to wonder if they shouldn’t quit following Jesus.

We will see three elements woven throughout this letter to the Hebrews.

1.  Both Testaments

Even though the Old Testament has become “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13), the entire book of Hebrews is built upon the clear foundation of the Old Testament.
(Hebrews 8:13 NKJV) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
You aren’t going to understand Hebrews, or even the New Testament correctly unless you learn the Old Testament.

2. Jesus is superior

He’s superior to angels.
He’s superior to Moses and the Torah.
He’s superior to the Levitical priests and their sacrifices.

3. Don’t quit

The ultimate goal of the book is to encourage those who are struggling with difficult times, and help them to endure.
There’s much to find strength from and not quit.

6:1-8 Falling Away

:1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection,

:1 leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ

leavingaphiemi – to send away; to bid going away or depart

discussionlogos – of speech, a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea

elementary principlesarche – beginning, origin; the first person or thing in a series

Sometimes we think of “elementary” as something that might seem difficult to us, but easy for somebody like Sherlock Holmes.

Video:  Elementary My Dear Watson
In reality, the “elementary” things are the stuff of first graders, like the videos I show to Ruthie:
Video:  ABC Song – Little Baby Bum
Our writer has already rebuked his readers because they were not maturing like they should and they needed someone to reteach them their “abc”s. (Heb. 5:14)
This was the word used back in chapter five:
(Hebrews 5:12 NKJV) For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Our writer has been challenging his readers about growing up in the faith.

Some of these readers were old enough in the faith to have been university professors, and yet they’re still stuck in kindergarten.

Would you like it if I spent the morning reviewing and expanding on the “ABC song”?

Would you find that edifying and helpful?

And yet there are things that constitute the spiritual equivalent of the ABC song, and they are things that some people tend to get “stuck” on.  For some people, it’s all they listen to.

We’re going to get an actual list of six of these “elementary principles

:1 not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

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

:3 And this we will do if God permits.

permitepitrepo – to turn to, transfer, commit, instruct; to permit, allow, give leave

(Hebrews 6:3 NLT) And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.

:1 not laying again the foundation

foundationthemelios – laid down as a foundation, the foundation (of a building, wall, city); metaph. the foundations, beginnings, first principals; of institution or system of truth

layingkataballo – to cast down; to lay (down) a foundation

The Bible talks about our beginning steps as new believers as though we are building a house, and you always start with the foundation.

Jesus talked about building your life on the foundation of obedience to God’s Word. (Luke 6:46-49).
Paul talked about building your life on the foundation of Christ. (1Cor. 3:10-11)
Our writer is going to list six things that he considers the “foundation”.
These are things that as believers you should already have settled in your life.
You start with a foundation, and then you build the house on top of it.
(1 Corinthians 3:10–11 NKJV) —10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Jesus used this concept to talk about how we build our lives.
(Luke 6:46–49 NKJV) —46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

:1 repentance from dead works

repentancemetanoia – a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done

deadnekros – properly one that has breathed his last, lifeless; destitute of life, without life, inanimate; metaph.; spiritually dead; inactive as respects doing right

worksergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasized in opp. to that which is less than work

“Repentance” means to literally “change your mind”

It means you change your mind in such a way that it also changes the direction of your life.

“Dead works” refers to the sin in our lives that we turn away from when we decide to follow Jesus.

This is “elementary”

:1 and of faith toward God

Our faith in God, our faith in Jesus is part of our foundation.

Our writer has already stressed how important it is to “believe” in Christ.

This is at the core of how a person is saved – that you believe that Jesus Christ has paid for your sins when He died on the cross.

(John 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

This is “elementary”

:2 of the doctrine of baptisms

baptismsbaptismos – a washing, purification effected by means of water

doctrinedidache – teaching; the act of teaching, instruction

Note that the word is plural.  Baptisms.

It is quite amazing at how divided the church can be over the concept of “baptism”.

Some churches are concerned about whether you are baptized in “the name of Jesus”, or in “the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.
Some churches baptize a person backwards, others forwards, some by dunking, and some by sprinkling.
Some churches won’t allow you to join their church unless you are baptized by them.
And yet Paul the apostle had the gall to write,
(Ephesians 4:5 NKJV) one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

Which one?

Since we’ve begun to take trips to Israel, I’ve learned that the Christian concept of baptism wasn’t started with Christians.

The Jews of Jesus’ day practiced miqvah, a type of ritual washing done to “wash away” sins.
It was done in rivers, in public miqvaoth at the Temple, or even a private miqvah in a house.

The Bible describes a

Baptism of John (the Baptist)
Baptism of Jesus (practiced by believers)
The baptism of the Holy Spirit
The baptism into the Body of Christ.

And as important as all these things are, they are elementary.

:2 of laying on of hands

laying onepithesis – a laying on, imposition

The practice of “laying hands” on people used several ways in the Bible.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6)
Receiving spiritual gifts (1Tim. 4:14)
Healing (Luke 13:13)
Blessing (Mat. 19:13)
Ordaining (Acts 13:3)

The baptism of the Holy Spirit

(Acts 19:6 NKJV) And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
(Acts 8:17 NKJV) Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual gifts:

(1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV) Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
(2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV) Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.


(Matthew 9:18 NKJV) While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.”
(Luke 13:13 NKJV) And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
(Acts 28:8 NKJV) And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.


(Matthew 19:13 NKJV) Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray…
(Matthew 19:15 NKJV) And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

Ordaining - Setting a person apart for ministry.

For the original “deacons”:
(Acts 6:6 NKJV) whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
When Paul and Barnabas were sent out on their first mission trip:
(Acts 13:3 NKJV) Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Some of you may be fascinated to hear about these things, and yet our writer calls them “elementary”.

:2 of resurrection of the dead

resurrectionanastasis – a raising up, rising (e.g. from a seat); a rising from the dead

While the Sadducees didn’t believe there was any kind of life after death, the Scriptures and Jesus taught differently.

This isn’t just talking about Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead, but ours as well.

Paul wrote,

(1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 NKJV) —16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 15:51–52 NKJV) —51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
We get all excited about these verses don’t we?

Our writer considers this “elementary”

:2 and of eternal judgment

judgmentkrima – judgment; condemnation of wrong, the decision (whether severe or mild) which one passes on the faults of others; condemnatory sentence, penal judgment, sentence

eternalaionios – without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be; without beginning; without end, never to cease, everlasting

The words aren’t speaking about the fact that we will all one day stand before God.

This is speaking about the condemnation that is faced by those who reject Christ.

It’s talking about eternity in hell.
(John 3:18 NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
This is elementary

:1 let us go on to perfection

perfectionteleiotes – perfection; the state of the more intelligent; moral and spiritual perfection

It’s the idea of maturity.

go onphero – to carry; to bear, i.e. endure, to endure the rigour of a thing, to bear patiently one’s conduct, or spare one (abstain from punishing or destroying); to bring, bring to, bring forward

As Caleb pointed out last week, the word “perfection” speaks of “maturity”.


Keep Growing

I’m afraid that sometimes we can sound a little like Peter Pan in our Christian maturity.
Video:  Hook – Peter You’ve Grown Up
Video:  Peter Pan 1960 I Won’t Grow Up
I want to make a couple of random comments about maturity.
Real life
Some believers have this notion that maturity is all about learning the details about prophecy, studying the antichrist, knowing the mechanics of the rapture, and things of this sort.

These are the folks who wouldn’t like hearing that the “resurrection” is just an “elementary” issue.

I get concerned that some of us are losing touch with real life.  I wonder if our phones are part of that mess…

Video:  Digital Dementia

Maturity is about learning how to live as a Christian in this real world, learning to share your faith, learning to be led by God, and learning how to love difficult people.

Those things go way beyond your phone.

Some believers seem to live just outside the labor and delivery room.
They are constantly afraid of losing their salvation and feel like they have to get “saved” every time they come to church.
For them, it’s those elementary issues of “repentance” and “faith” that they’re constantly struggling with.
God wants you to move past that kind of immaturity.
God wants you to find your security in Christ, and move on to serving Him and being a part of the work He wants to do in these last days.
Taking steps
There are many fine programs out there to help you learn to deal with your unhealthy addictions, including various Twelve Step programs.
But the value of twelve step programs doesn’t come by attending meetings only, the value comes when you actually do the “steps”.

Most people that enter a Twelve Step program make the mistake of only doing the first three steps, and then stop.

There’s an old Twelve Step joke:  “Three frogs are sitting on a log.  One decides to jump off the log.  How many frogs are now on the log? 

The answer?  Three.  Making a “decision” to jump off a log isn’t the same as actually jumping off the log.

Like a Twelve Step program, we need to get past those “basics”, those first couple of “steps”.  We need to move forward into maturity and learn to do all the “steps”.


Our author has been warning his readers about “drifting away” (2:1) having “hard hearts” (3:12), coming “short” of God’s rest (4:1), and being stuck in immaturity (5:12)

(Hebrews 2:1 NKJV) Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

(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 4:1 NKJV) Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.

(Hebrews 5:12 NKJV) For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

We will now see his strongest warning yet, the warning of outright apostacy, of “falling away” from Christ.

The way he writes, it sounds as if he has someone in mind, as if he’s known people who have “fallen away”.

:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,

:5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,

:6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

The author starts by giving five traits of those he’s concerned about.

:4 those who were once enlightened

who were oncehapax – once, one time; once for all

enlightenedphotizo – to give light, to shine; illumine; to bring to light; spiritually, imbue with saving knowledge. 

Aorist passive participle.

Being “enlightened” is to be converted.

The writer of Hebrews uses this word in exactly that way later:
(Hebrews 10:32 NKJV) But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:
The writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls referred to their teachers as “illuminators”, and those who followed them were “children of light”.
the Dead Sea Scrolls similarly speak of their teachers as the “illuminators” and their adherents as “children of light.”[1]
(1 John 1:5 NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

:4 and have tasted the heavenly gift

giftdorea – a gift

The heavenly gift is all that God wants for us, including grace (2Cor. 9:12), the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

(2 Corinthians 9:14–15 NKJV) and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. (2 Corinthians 9:14–15 NKJV) Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
(Acts 2:38 NKJV) Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Some want to make the idea of “taste” to be something like a wine taster – someone who gets a taste without ever actually swallowing anything.

have tastedgeuomai – to taste, to try the flavor of; partake of, enjoy; experience; to take food, eat

Aorist middle participle.

heavenlyepouranios – existing in heaven; of heavenly origin or nature

Here, tasting is actually experiencing.

The writer used this same word to describe Jesus dying for us:
(Hebrews 2:9 NKJV) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

Jesus didn’t just get the “flavor” of death, He actually died.

These people have “tasted” God’s gift.

:4 and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit

partakersmetochos – sharing in, partaking; a partner

have becomeginomai – to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being; to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen; to be made, finished; to become, be made. 

Aorist passive participle.

This person has actually received a “share” of the Holy Spirit.

Only believers can have the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9)
(Romans 8:9b NKJV) …Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

:5 and have tasted the good word of God

have tastedgeuomai – to taste, to try the flavor of; to taste; i.e. perceive the flavor of, partake of, enjoy; to feel, make trial of, experience; to take food, eat, to take nourishment, eat. 

Aorist middle participle.

goodkalos – beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable

wordrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word

The word “tasted” is the same word used in verse 4 – people who have experienced God’s Word at work in their lives.

They haven’t just heard or read God’s Word, they’ve “tasted” it.

:5 and the powers of the age to come

powersdunamis – strength, power, ability

to comemello – to be about; to be on the point of doing or suffering something

the ageaion – for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity; the worlds, universe; period of time, age

These people have tasted the miracles that God does now, miracles that give people an idea of Jesus’ coming kingdom.

There will be a day when Jesus returns and literally sets up His kingdom on this earth.

We are citizens of heaven and ought to be bringing this world around us a little taste of what the kingdom is all about through the miracles that God wants to work in us and through us.

The word for “powers” (dunamis) is often used in the New Testament to describe miracles. (Acts 2:22; 8:13; 19:11)

(Acts 2:22 NKJV) “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—
(Acts 8:13 NKJV) Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
(Acts 19:11 NKJV) Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,


Here’s where this passage becomes difficult.

Are the things listed in verses 4-5 a description of those who have come to saving faith in Jesus?

Or is it just a description of people who are close, but don’t make a real commitment?

I believe it’s the former. 

Too many of these descriptions apply only to saved people.

:6 if they fall away

The word “if” isn’t in the Greek.  It’s the word “and”.

The idea is (from vs. 4):  “they’ve been enlightened, tasted, been partakers…AND they fall away”

fall awayparapipto – to fall beside a person or thing; to slip aside; to deviate from the right path; to error

Aorist active participle
In the LXX it can carry the idea of “to be in vain”, “to commit an error”, or “to sin”.
This is the only place this word is used in the NT.
The root word pipto is used here:
(Galatians 5:4 NKJV) You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

:6 (it is impossible…) to renew them again to repentance

impossibleadunatos – without strength, powerless; unable to be done, impossible

Even though “impossible” was at the beginning of verse 4, it’s this idea of “renewing to repentance” that is impossible.

againpalin – anew, again; renewal or repetition of the action; in turn, on the other hand

to renewanakainizo (“again” + “new”) – to renew, renovate

Present active infinitive
This is the only place this word is used in the NT.
A word about verb tenses in this passage.
Every verb from vs. 4-6 up to this point has been an “aorist” past tense.  That means it was something done at a point in time in the past.
It’s at this word that it changes to present.

Someone who has met all the previous qualifications – they’ve been enlightened, tasted, been partakers, AND they’ve fallen away (whatever that means), it’s impossible NOW to see them brought back to repentance.

repentancemetanoia – a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done

What does it mean to be “impossible” to renew them to repentance?

Does it mean that they’ve out-sinned Jesus’ ability to forgive them?  No.
It means their heart has become so hardened that they will no longer take a step of repentance.

:6 since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God

crucify … afreshanastauroo (“again” + “crucify”) – to raise up upon a cross, crucify

Present active participle

:6 and put Him to an open shame

put him to an open shameparadeigmatizo – to set forth as a public example; to expose to public disgrace

Present active participle
The word describes what Joseph wanted to avoid when Mary got pregnant:
(Matthew 1:19 NKJV) Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

There was nothing more full of shame than being crucified on a cross.

:6 since they crucify again … open shame

Here’s one of the many places we get into trouble with this passage.

This does not mean that Jesus’ death is no longer able to pay for their sins.

It’s saying that these apostates have gone so far from their faith that they get to the point where they are just like the original Jewish and Roman leaders responsible for having Jesus crucified.
Video:  The Passion – Jesus condemned by Sanhedrin
These apostates are joining that crowd that would yell at Pilate, “Crucify Him”.
They would join those at the cross, watching Jesus endure the most humiliating, shame-filled deaths.

The writer now shifts to give us an illustration of what he’s talking about using agriculture.

:7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;

drinkspino – to drink; figuratively, to receive into the soul what serves to refresh strengthen, nourish it unto life eternal. 

Aorist active participle.

Same grammar as vs. 4-5

bearstikto – to bring forth, bear, produce (fruit from the seed). 

Present active participle – continuous action.

herbsbotane (“botanical”) – an herb fit for fodder, green herb, growing plant

usefuleuthetos – well placed; fit; useful

it is cultivatedgeorgeo – to practice agriculture, to till the ground

receivesmetalambano – to be or to be made a partner; to partake of, take [some] food; of a thing, to get, find (a whole)

Present active indicative

The earth that bears edible food is a partaker of the blessing from God.

blessingeulogia – praise, laudation; an invocation of blessing, benediction

:8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

bearsekphero – to carry out, to bear forth; to bring forth, i.e. produce; of the earth bearing plants. 

Present active participle – again, continuous action.

thornsakantha – thorn, bramble; bush, brier, a thorny plant

brierstribolos – a thistle, a prickly wild plant, hurtful to other plants

rejectedadokimos – not standing the test, not approved; properly used of metals and coins; that which does not prove itself such as it ought

cursedkatara – an execration, imprecation, curse

endtelos – end; termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be

burnedkausis – burning, burning up

The writer seems to be describing two different ways of life.  One bears fruit as a way of life.  The other bears thorns as a way of life.

:7 the earth which drinks in the rain

The author paints two pictures of soil that is being blessed with rain.

In one scenario the land is produces edible food (herbs).
That land receives a “blessing” from God.
In the second scenario the land produces thorns and thistles – inedible plants.
That land is burned.
Does that clarify the previous verses?

:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.

better thingskreitton – more useful, more serviceable, more advantageous; more excellent

The writer is quick to point out that he doesn’t think this particular warning applies to his readers.


:6 (it is impossible…) to renew them again to repentance


Uncomfortable Salvation

So, what are we to do with this difficult passage?
There are quite a few different interpretations out there, and often a person’s interpretation isn’t based on what the passage says, but the theology they brought with them when they approached this passage.
For example, one of my favorite commentaries, the Bible Knowledge Commentary, says this:
6:4–6. This passage has been interpreted in four ways: (1) that the danger of a Christian losing his salvation is described, a view rejected because of biblical assurances that salvation is a work of God which cannot be reversed[2]

Right out the gate, the author takes what seems to me to be the most obvious, and he rejects it based on his assumptions.

Later he will mention that the Gospel of John clearly shows that once a person is saved, they cannot lose their salvation.

He gets that idea from:

(John 10:28 NKJV) And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

We’ll see in a minute that he ignores other passages in John.

Some will say this passage is talking about people who were close to becoming Christians, but never really became believers.
The problem is that the language clearly describes believers (vs. 4-5).  Five times over.
Some say this can’t be talking about Christians losing their salvation because the Bible clearly teaches otherwise.
And it most certainly does … to a point…

(John 10:28 NKJV) And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

Yet other passages teach differently.

(John 15:5–6 NKJV) —5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

A branch that is growing off of a vine “abides” in that vine.  It’s the believer.

6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

Somehow a branch can be disconnected from the vine.

Did you notice the parallel with our picture of the fields?

When asked whether or not he was sure of his salvation, Pastor Chuck used to say, “I’m sure of my salvation as long as I’m abiding in Christ.”

Paul also used similar language in talking about branches being broken off of the olive tree (Rom. 11:22).

(Romans 11:22 NKJV) Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

Paul is writing to Gentile believers and warning them that if God cut off the original Jewish branches of the tree, He could cut them off too.

Here’s another one that has often made me uncomfortable:

(Galatians 5:19–21 NKJV) —19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In Hebrews, we’ve been reminded that the issue we should be concerned with is not our good “works”, but our “faith”.

If you’ve been drifting away from Christ, all of this should be making you a little uncomfortable.



Falling Away

What do we mean by “falling away”?
I think this is describing the person who has allowed their heart to grow hard, has continued down the road of sin, and has gotten so far from the Lord that they have crossed a line.
They no longer believe in Jesus.
They have begun to believe the lies about Jesus (false doctrine).
They’ve decided the Jews did a good thing in putting Jesus to death.
I don’t think this is describing a person who has committed a sin and feels guilty about it.
The Prodigal Son took his inheritance from Dad and split.  He wasted it all.  Then he came back.

His Father ran to him and accepted him.

Peter was warned about denying Jesus, but he did it anyway.  Three times.  He forsook Jesus at the worst possible time.

After the resurrection, Jesus hunted Peter down to restore him.

John wrote,

(1 John 2:1 NKJV) My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Maybe you’ve drifted from the Lord.
You’re here for a reason today.
Has this warning shook you up a little?

Pay attention and turn back to Jesus.

Let’s move on to maturity.
The person this is talking about has drifted so far, they don’t care about their salvation.
If you are here today and you’re concerned – that’s good.
Your concern shows you haven’t gone too far.
James wrote,
(James 5:19–20 NKJV) —19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

A.T. Robertson: 

…bluntly denies the possibility of renewal for apostates from Christ (cf.  #3:12-4:2). It is a terrible picture and cannot be toned down.
…a little bonus material…

:1 let us go on to perfection


M for Mature

Video:  How Do You Know When You’re Grown-up?
The encouragement is to move towards maturity, towards growing up.
The word for “perfection” has the same root of several words used back in chapter five, translated “perfect” (5:9) and “full age” (5:14)
If you have an old fashioned paper and print Bible, you could circle the words in 5:9, 5:14, and here, and connect them.
The language here is carrying on the discussion laid down in chapter five.
Jesus was made “perfect” (teleioo, 5:9)
The readers were immature because they needed to be reminded over and over of the “first principles”  (5:12).
Those that are “of full age” (teleios, 5:14) are those who practice discernment.
In Heb. 5:9, Jesus, who having “learned obedience” through His “suffering”, He became “mature” or “perfected”.

(Hebrews 5:8–9 NKJV) —8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

In Heb. 5:14, “solid food” is for those who are “mature” or “of full age”.

(Hebrews 5:14 NKJV) But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

They have learned proper discernment through practice.

I was curious and found 168 times that forms of this word (related to its root word telos) were used in the New Testament.
Forms of this word are used 26 times in Hebrews.  There isn’t another book in the New Testament that uses it more, and Hebrews is only 13 chapters.

I’d say that “maturity” is one of the key threads through Hebrews.

Matthew is the only other book that uses it this many times (26), but Matthew is more than twice the size of Hebrews.

I found some interesting verses in other New Testament books that gives us some clues as to what “maturity” is all about:
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Mature power comes through weakness.

(Colossians 3:14 NKJV) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

Love is the bond that holds “mature” people together.  And that’s not “mushy” love, it’s agape (see 1Cor. 13)

(James 1:2–4 NKJV) —2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Difficult times have the potential of producing in us the quality of endurance (patience, hupomone), and when we learn to endure in our trials, we “mature”.

How do you know you’re grown up?  Maybe some of these things ought to be at work in your life.
Here are some more interesting uses of the word that connect to the idea of “maturity”:
(Matthew 19:21 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
(John 17:23 NKJV) I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
(Romans 12:2 NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:6 NKJV) However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
(2 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
(Galatians 3:3 NKJV) Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
(Philippians 1:6 NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
(1 John 4:18 NKJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Having a mature love relationship with God is the way out of fear.


[1] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Heb 6:4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Hodges, Z. C. (1985). Hebrews. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 794). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.