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Hebrews 6:9-20

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 29, 2018

Promotion Sunday – Caleb


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.


We’ve just finished a section where the author has given us a most inconvenient truth – a harsh warning.

He’s said that it is possible for a person who has believed to develop a hard heart and slip so far away from Christ that they not only don’t believe in Jesus, but they even hate him.

The author has suggested that this kind of person has lost their salvation.

This issue is not about God somehow not being able to save someone, but that this someone no longer wants or cares about being saved.


6:9-12 Diligence

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

confidentpeitho – persuade; be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident

This is that word where it’s opposite has been translated “disobedience” (apeitho), and we’ve preferred to translate it as “unpersuaded”.

The verb here is a perfect passive tense.  They’ve been “confident” in the past of this and continue to be “confident” into the present.

betterkreitton – more useful, more serviceable, more advantageous; more excellent

:9 we are confident of better things concerning you

The author has just given them a serious warning of about not falling away, but he’s very sure that they aren’t close to that happening to them.

And now he’s going to explain why he thinks “better” of them…

:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

unjustadikos – descriptive of one who violates or has violated justice

to forgetepilanthanomai – to forget; neglecting, no longer caring for; forgotten, given over to oblivion, i.e. uncared for

workergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied

laborkopos – a beating; a beating of the breast with grief, sorrow; labor; trouble; to cause one trouble, make work for him; intense labor united with trouble and toil

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

you have shownendeiknumi – to point out; to manifest, display, put forth

ministered … do ministerdiakoneo – to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon

:10 your work and labor of love

Circle those words in your Bible.

The author’s readers have a reputation of serving the Lord, and doing it in love.

They have a reputation of serving other believers.

These things show the author that they have a real, sincere faith, and they don’t need to be afraid of losing their salvation.

Not saved by works, their faith is demonstrated in works.

:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,

:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

:11 that each one of you show the same diligence

we desireepithumeo – to have a desire for, long for, to desire; to lust after, covet

The word speaks of a strong desire.

showendeiknumi – to point out; to show, demonstrate, prove, whether by arguments or by acts; to manifest, display, put forth

diligence spoude – haste, with haste; earnestness, diligence; earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything; to give all diligence, interest one’s self most earnestly

This is a form of the same word translated “be diligent” in –
(Hebrews 4:11 NKJV) Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

This “same diligence” is an important ingredient in what keeps us from becoming “sluggish”, and getting us to the end of the race, heaven.

What does he mean by the “same diligence”?
He’s talking about the big thing in verse 10, “your work and labor of love”


Loving others

Want to stay sharp, alert, awake in your faith?
Then take on the challenge of truly loving others.

I don’t mean having mushy, gushy feelings.

I mean love that is unconditional, characterized by doing good things, love that is wise.
(1 Corinthians 13:4–7 The Message) —4 Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, 5 Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, 6 Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

That kind of love.

That’s not easy.  It takes work.  It builds your faith muscles.

I want to play a video of Beth Moore telling a story about an old man she met at an airport.  She’s talking about how God wants to work through us to love others.
Video:  Beth Moore – The Hair Brush

Beth ended up leading the airline hostess to the Lord.

Learning to love others when it is hard, when it is embarrassing, when it doesn’t make sense … this will keep your faith sharp and focused.

:11 to the full assurance of hope until the end

We’ll talk a little more about this later.

full assuranceplerophoria – full assurance, most certain confidence

hopeelpis – expectation of evil, fear; expectation of good, hope; joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation

sluggishnothros – slow, sluggish, indolent, dull, languid

This is the same word translated “dull” in –

(Hebrews 5:11 NKJV) of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

:12 faith and patience inherit the promises

The author is talking about inheriting the promises of salvation.

How do we do that?
Through faith and patience.

Faith isn’t complicated.  It’s about whether you trust God or not.

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

Patience is all about enduring, making it through difficult times.

patiencemakrothumia – endurance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs
The interesting thing about this word is that it’s focus isn’t on enduring difficult times, but being slow to anger with difficult people.
For some of us, the thing that makes us want to quit the most is dealing with difficult people we want to get mad at.

inheritkleronomeo – to receive a lot, receive by lot; esp. to receive a part of an inheritance, receive as an inheritance, obtain by right of inheritance; to be an heir, to inherit; to become partaker of, to obtain

promisesepaggelia – announcement; promise; the act of promising, a promise given or to be given; a promised good or blessing

We know what the “promises” are all about…
(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 9:15b NKJV) …that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
The promise is heaven.  It’s salvation.

6:13-20 Unchanging Promise

Our author is now going to give us an example of someone who displayed faith and patience and received God’s promises for him.

:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,

:14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”

:13 He swore by Himself

Sometimes in making a statement a person will swear by something more important than they are.

Let’s say I “swear by the mayor of Fullerton that I’m going to increase all speed limits”.
If the mayor doesn’t like what I said, I might get into trouble for making him a part of my oath.
(Matthew 23:16–17 NKJV) —16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
There is no one greater than God, so when God makes a promise, He simply has to “swear” by Himself.

When did God “swear” an oath?

The author assumes you already know.  I didn’t so I had to look it up.
Abraham had long been promised a son by God, and that promise didn’t come to pass until Abraham was 100 years old.
A dozen or so years later (Gen. 22), God tells Abraham to take that promised only son Isaac up to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him.
Abraham takes Isaac to Mount Moriah.
Abraham builds an altar, ties up his teenage son…
Abraham puts his son on the altar.
Abraham raises his knife …

And the Angel of the Lord stops Abraham and gives him a ram to offer as a sacrifice instead.

That’s when it happened.
(Genesis 22:16–18 NKJV) —16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—

Do you see God swearing?  Do you see Him swearing by “Myself”?

And by the way, isn’t this the most amazing picture of what God the Father would be doing one day with His only begotten Son, also at Mount Moriah.

God then makes the promise…

17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

God had already kept His promise concerning the birth of Isaac, and now God would also keep His promise concerning the future amazing descendants of the father of faith, Abraham.

And we even get blessed by it as “all the nations”, all from God’s “oath”.

made a promiseepaggello – to announce that one is about to do or furnish something; to promise (of one’s own accord) to engage voluntarily

swear … sworeomnuo – to swear; to affirm, promise, threaten, with an oath; in swearing to call a person or thing as witness, to invoke, swear by

surelymen – verily, certainly, truly

blessing … blesseulogeo – to praise, celebrate with praises; to invoke blessings; of God to cause to prosper, to make happy, to bestow blessings on

present active participle

future active indicative

multiplying … multiplyplethuno – to increase, to multiply; to be increased, (be multiplied) multiply; to be increased, to multiply

present active participle

future active indicative

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

:15 after he had patiently endured

Remember Abraham is our example of faith and patience…

patiently enduredmakrothumeo – not to lose heart; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; slow to anger

This is patience with difficult people, same root word as “patience” in vs. 12.

Abraham first received a promise of God in Genesis 12

(Genesis 12:2 NKJV) I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
He was childless, and 75 years old at the time.

Abraham would make his way to the land of Canaan, and though I’m sure he and Sarah tried many times, they never could get pregnant.

Ten years pass.  Some people lose their temper when things take this long.
Sarah comes up with the Hagar plan (Gen. 16).
Abraham is supposed to get Sarah’s servant pregnant, which he seems willing to do.  Ishmael is born.
That caused all sorts of trouble.  Most people would lose their temper.
Abraham is now 99 years old. (Gen. 17)
God reminds Abraham that the promised son is still coming.
God tells Abraham to get circumcised.

More opportunities for tempers to flare (not Abraham).

Abraham has three visitors who again remind him a baby is on the way (Gen. 18).
Finally Isaac is born when Abe is 100 years old.
I can’t wait for my oatmeal to cook in the microwave for one minute.  Abraham waited 25 years.

Abraham endured. Patiently.

He did it.  We can too.
The promise He obtained wasn’t just in Isaac’s birth, but a bigger promise when He obeys God on Mount Moriah years later.

he obtained epitugchano (“upon” + “to hit the mark”) – to light or hit upon any person or thing; to attain to, obtain

These persecuted Jewish believers need to pay attention to Abraham’s example.
He was patient, they can be patient.

:16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.

disputeantilogia – gainsaying, contradiction; opposition, rebellion

an endperas – extremity, bound, end

Strife comes when somebody doesn’t believe you, so if you swear by someone who can hold you to your word, it can calm things down.

:16 men indeed swear by the greater

Even we allow men to swear by someone greater than themselves if it helps us believe what they’re saying.

Even in California court these are the official words…
According to the California Official Court Reporters Association, the “oath” in California is:
“You do solemnly state that the testimony you may give in the cause now pending before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.”
(See Section 2094, Code of Civil Procedure.)

:16 and an oath for confirmation is for them

confirmationbebaiosis – confirmation; from bebaioo – to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure

Circle that word “confirmation”, we’ll see it again (in vs. 19).

:17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,

more abundantlyperissoteron – exceeding some number or measure or rank or need

determiningboulomai – to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded; of willing as an affection, to desire

to showepideiknumi – to exhibit, show; to prove, demonstrate, set forth to be known and acknowledged

the immutabilityametathetos – not transposed, not to be transferred, fixed, unalterable

counselboule – counsel, purpose; a form of boulomai, “willing”.

confirmedmesiteuo – to act as a mediator between litigating or covenanting parties; act as a sponsor or surety; to pledge one’s self, give surety

oathhorkos – that which has been pledged or promised with an oath

:18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

:18 by two immutable things

thingspragma – that which has been done, a deed, an accomplished fact; that which is or exists, a thing

immutableametathetos – not transposed, not to be transferred, fixed, unalterable

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

There are two unchangeable things that give us comfort.

1. God’s promise (of salvation)
2. God doesn’t lie

:18 we might have strong consolation

strongischuros – strong, mighty

consolationparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment

The “consolation” God wants for you has to do with your salvation.

You are the “heirs” of His promise, the promise of His salvation.  He wants you to know His will for you hasn’t changed.

:18 who have fled for refuge

have fled for refugekatapheugo – to flee away, flee for refuge

When Israel conquered the Promised Land, God commanded them to set up six “Cities of Refuge” evenly spaced throughout the land. (Num. 35:11-13)

(Numbers 35:11–13 NKJV) —11 then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. 12 They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment. 13 And of the cities which you give, you shall have six cities of refuge.
If you accidentally killed someone, you could flee to one of these cities, and you’d be protected from that person’s avenging relatives.
You would have to stay there until the death of the high priest.

As believers, we have fled to Jesus for refuge.

And since He will no longer die, guess how long we get to stay?

:18 to lay hold of the hope set before us

set beforeprokeimai – to lie or be placed before (a person or a thing) or in front of; to set before; to be placed before the eyes, to lie in sight

This is a word we’ll see more of later:
(Hebrews 12:1–2 NKJV) —1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

We have a race set before us that we are to run with endurance.

2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus had joy set before Him that helped Him to endure the cross.

We have hope set before us.

to lay hold ofkrateo – to be powerful; to get possession of; to become master of, to obtain

We need to grab hold of the hope that is set before us.
Our hope in God and His promises will take us right into His presence.

:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,

:20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

:19 as an anchor of the soul

anchoragkura – an anchor; metaph. any stay or safeguard

soulpsuche – breath; the soul

We think of anchors as being those huge things the cruise ship lets down when it wants to stop in a harbor.

In ancient days, anchors had other uses as well.

An anchor kept you from being blown off course in a storm.
During Paul’s trip to Rome, his ship encountered a storm.  At one point they became afraid they were going to be blown right onto the rocks.

(Acts 27:29 NKJV) Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.

The hope we have in God’s promises for us will keep us on track in a storm.  It will keep us from getting blown off course.

our hope is …

:19 both sure and steadfast

sureasphales (“not” + “fail”) – firm (that which can be relied on); certain, true; suited to confirm

When Paul was arrested in the Temple by the Romans because the Jews were trying to beat him, the commander wanted to know what was going on.
(Acts 21:34 NKJV) And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks.
The commanded couldn’t figure out which story he could rely on.  He couldn’t figure out what the truth was.
(Acts 22:30 NKJV) The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.
(Acts 25:26 NKJV) I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write.
Our hope in God’s promises is something we can count on as being the absolute truth.
I have to confess that every once in a while, my eye gets caught by the “click bait” on a website.

I see a picture of an F-22, and I’m promised to be shown the best aircraft ever.  I want to see more.

But fifty clicks later I still haven’t seen a single F-22.

God’s promises aren’t “click bait”.  They are the real thing.

There is a heaven.  God wants you there.

Jesus died to pay your way into heaven.

You need to trust your life into Jesus’ hands.

That’s truth.

Our hope is also…

steadfastbebaios – standing firm on the feet, stable

This word is often connected to the promises of God.
(Romans 4:16 NKJV) Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
(2 Corinthians 1:7 NKJV) And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
(2 Peter 1:10 NKJV) Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
(2 Peter 1:19 NKJV) And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
In Sumo wrestling, the goal is to either force your opponent out of the ring, or make him touch the ground with something other than his feet.  To win, you need to stay on your feet.
I had a hard time finding a Sumo video for family viewing, so there’s this…

I thought about showing you a clip of Sumo wrestling, but I’m not sure I ought to be showing you a bunch of really large almost naked men wrestling with each other, so here’s the best I could do:

Video:  Inflatable Sumo Wrestling

Our hope in God keeps our feet grounded when the enemy attacks.
Remember that word “confirmation” (vs. 16)? This is a form of that word.
The purpose of “oaths” was to make a person’s declaration of truth to be “stable”.
God wants your hope to be “stable”.

It’s this hope…

:19 which enters the Presence behind the veil

behindesoteros – inner

Comparative of eso (“inside”).  This is “more inside”, or “innerer”
(Acts 16:24 NKJV) Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
In our passage it is the inner space which is behind the veil; the shrine, the Holy of Holies, said of heaven by a figure drawn from earthly temple

veilkatapetasma – a veil spread out, a curtain

The Greek here reads literally, “which enters into the inner-er veil”.  The word “Presence” isn’t in the text.  This is talking about entering into the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was, the place where God’s presence dwelt.

In both the Tabernacle and the Temple, there were two different curtains or “veils”.

The first veil was at the entrance, separating the outer court from the Holy Place.
The second veil was the “inner-er” (his word for “behind”), separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.
Video:  Wizard of Oz – Behind the curtain
As you’ve been seeing, God is not like that man behind the curtain.
God keeps His promises.
Our hope takes us into His very presence.

:20 where the forerunner has entered for us

forerunnerprodromos – a forerunner; esp. one who is sent before to take observations or act as a spy, a scout, a light armed soldier; one who comes in advance to a place where the rest are to follow

forhuper – in behalf of, for the sake of

enteredeiserchomai – to go out or come in: to enter.  This word is found 15 times in the book of Hebrews, 11 times just in chapters 3-6.

This could be one of the theme words for Hebrews, “Be sure to enter in”.

A forerunner is the guy who scouts the way ahead for you.

Jesus is the one who has made a way into the very presence of God for us.

:20 High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek

ordertaxis – an arranging, arrangement; order; the post, rank, or position which one holds in civic or other affairs

Once a year the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies by himself to make atonement for the nation and then leave.

Jesus was a better high priest.

After His sacrifice on the cross, He opened up the Holy of Holies in heaven, making a way for us to follow Him.
When Jesus died on the cross, Matthew records that the veil in the Temple was torn.
Jesus made it possible for us to come into God’s very presence.

As for this Melchizedek stuff, we’ll dive into that in the following chapter.


:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul

Over and over again this morning we’ve seen that God wants us to have a faith that is stable.

He wants our faith and hope to carry us through the storms.


Full Assurance

We talked last week about how some believers seem to live right outside the labor and delivery room.
They are constantly thinking they need to get “born again” each week they come to church.
They are constantly afraid of losing their salvation, or maybe worse they think they’ve lost it because of some sin they’ve committed since the previous Sunday.
There are some passages in the New Testament that are clearly designed to make you evaluate the condition of your relationship with the Lord.
When you’ve been backslidden, it’s not a bad thing to let those passages shake you up.
God wants us to move past the days of “shaky” assurance and move on to the maturity of full assurance.
God doesn’t want you going through life kind of “wondering” if you are really saved or not.
Jesus said,
(John 10:28–29 NKJV) —28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

Will you trust The Shepherd’s promise?

God wants you to be sure of your salvation.  John wrote,
(1 John 5:13 NKJV) These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Are you ready to trust Jesus to be your Savior?
Settle that once and for all.