Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 6

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentMahan's Commentary

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Verses 1-6

Final perseverance

Hebrews 6:1-6

Looking at the whole passage, it appears that the apostle Paul wishes to push believers on to growth and maturity. There is a tendency in the flesh to stand and rest and to say, ‘I am saved; I have passed from death to life. Jesus Christ is my refuge; here I may find contentment and rest.’ But Paul urges us to progress in the truth of God--to grow to maturity, to grow up from a state of childhood to the fulness of maturity in Christ.

Hebrews 6:1-3 . In order to grow, the believer must leave the elementary teachings and doctrines of Christ. We must not lose them; we must not deny them nor forget them, but lay them in our hearts as the foundation of all that we profess and expect. We don't want to rest here, for there must be a building erected on this foundation. The apostle then mentions six foundation principles which must be well laid at first and then built upon.

1. Repentance from dead works. We are convinced of sin, of sins, and even of the evil of our religious and moral works. ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done’ (Titus 3:5).

2. Faith toward God. We have a firm belief in the nature, existence, and attributes of God, in the mind and purpose of God revealed in his word, and especially in the record which he has given concerning redemption in Christ. Repentance toward God and faith in Christ are inseparable.

3. The doctrine of baptism. We are baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27). We are baptized in water as identification with Christ in his death and as a confession of our faith. Then there is the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).

4. Laying on of hands. This was a special power conferred on apostles to give the Holy Spirit and gifts (Acts 8:17; 1 Timothy 4:14). It was practiced by the church to ordain deacons and missionaries (Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3). We are warned to exercise care in this regard (1 Timothy 5:22).

5. The resurrection of the dead. This is the reunion of the soul and body that shall come to pass when Christ comes (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

6. Eternal judgment. God shall judge all men in that day--the wicked by their works which shall be found wanting and the believer in the Person and work of Christ which shall result in eternal life.

Who are the people spoken of?

Hebrews 6:4-6 . If you read John Gill, John Owen, and most Calvinistic writers, they Revelation 1:0 say that these people are professors of Christianity but not true believers. Spurgeon said their interpretation of this passage is influenced by the doctrine they are seeking to prove, not by what it actually says; for even a child reading these verses would declare these people saved.

1. Who were once enlightened. The first work of the Holy Spirit is to enlighten the soul. We were in darkness, but the Holy Spirit has given us the light of revelation. We know who we are, who Christ is, and why he came. I do not consider any man enlightened who is not saved.

2. Have tasted the heavenly gift. What is the heavenly gift? It is Christ (who is the unspeakable gift) or eternal life (which is the gift of God). If I have tasted of the heavenly gift, then it is mine. This is the same word used in 1 Peter 2:3 and means to experience or to eat.

3. Made partakers of the Holy Ghost. Only a believer is a partaker of the Holy Ghost. He either dwells in a man or he doesn't. Where the Holy Ghost dwells, there is life. ‘If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’ But if a man is a partaker of the Holy Ghost, he is an object of grace.

4. Have tasted the good word of God. These people have experienced the quickening power of the word and the sanctifying influence of the word. They have eaten the word and found it to be good! Is the good word of God Christ or the written word or both? How can they be separated?

5. Have tasted the powers of the world to come. They have experienced and received the power of faith, the power of hope, and the power of love--for ‘now abideth these three.’ These are the powers of the world to come. So I say, whatever the meaning of this text, if these people are not children of God, who is?

What is meant by falling away?

1. To fall into sin is not to fall away (Proverbs 24:16). We have countless examples of this in David, Abraham, Lot, etc.

2. To deny Christ is not to fall away. Peter denied him but came back.

Then what is falling away to the place of impossible recovery? Well, there never has been a case of it yet, so I can't describe it to you; but I will tell you what I suppose it is. It would be for the Holy Spirit to depart from a believer; for the work of God's grace to cease; for the blood of Christ to lose its efficacy; for God, who has begun a work, to leave off finishing it and to say, ‘Sinner, I half-saved you, now I damn you.’ This is what falling away is. A man cannot fall away from a position he has never occupied.

If he could fall away, it would be impossible to ever renew him.

How else can they be saved? Is there a healing stream better than the foundation of blood? Is there a better righteousness than Christ's? No! If they could fall away as some teach, it would require a second incarnation, a second Calvary, a second putting him to shame, a second regeneration! He died for those who crucified him once. Shall I crucify him again? (John 10:27-29.)

Verses 7-20

An exhortation to perseverance

Hebrews 6:7-20

Hebrews 6:7-8 . The apostle illustrates what he has taught in the first six verses. The rain falls on the earth. In some places the ground is good, rich, and fertile; and there fruit and vegetables grow for man. This is blessed ground for which we are grateful. But in some places nothing grows but thorns and briars that are of no value, fit only to be burned.

The rain is the grace of God and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:4-10). Where the gospel comes in power by the Holy Spirit, it brings forth the fruit of the Spirit and the fruits of repentance, faith, and righteousness to the glory of God. This is the good ground blessed of God (1 Corinthians 3:6). All other ground produces evil, hate, unbelief, self-righteousness, and pride. These are of no use to God or men, only to be destroyed (Mark 4:14-20).

Hebrews 6:9 . The apostle addresses all believers as beloved of the Lord and of him. I am persuaded better things of you than thorns, briars, and cursing. I am convinced that he who called you to Christ will also accompany that regenerating work with the grace of his Spirit and the fruits of righteousness. If the Spirit of God dwells in a person, the fruits of the Spirit to different degrees will be revealed (Galatians 5:22; Romans 8:9).

Hebrews 6:10 . Their work of faith and labor of love in his name and to others is really not theirs but his work in them and through them, yet it is called theirs because it is done by their faculties and hearts by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:20-21). God is faithful to those whom he has called and who walk in his love (Matthew 10:40-42). ‘He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater. He sendeth more strength as the labors increase. To added affliction he sendeth his mercy, and to multiplied trials his multiplied peace.’ He said to Paul, ‘My grace is sufficient.’

Hebrews 6:11 . I desire that every one of you show the same diligence in the exercise of faith and love (ministering to one another faithfully, forgiving, showing mercy, trusting the Redeemer), not only that you may keep up a hope of eternal life, but that you should grow to a full and confident assurance of that hope until the day God calls you home (1 Peter 2:1-2; 2 Peter 3:18).

Hebrews 6:12 . Do not grow disinterested and careless in spiritual matters (Galatians 5:16-17); but be imitators of men like Abraham, who through faith, patience, and perseverance inherited the promise. Study the many trials of Abraham from the day of his calling to old age. He remained faithful, revealing to all the sole object of his faith--he believed God!

Hebrews 6:13-15 . God made a promise to Abraham a son, a nation, a covenant, a better land (Genesis 22:17; Galatians 3:16). He swore this by himself because he could swear by no greater. Abraham believed God and went out. He spent his whole life as a wanderer, but by faith he saw all that God promised (Romans 4:19-22). He never quit amid all the trials God was pleased to allow. Faith is not a once-for-all isolated act, but a continuous state of heart. ‘I believe God!’

Hebrews 6:16 . When men make a promise, they swear by the greater; for there is always One greater than men; and when an oath is taken about a matter that is doubtful, it settles the matter.

Hebrews 6:17 . Wherefore God, willing to show the believers the unchangeableness of his purpose and promise of life in Christ, bound himself by an oath!

Hebrews 6:18 . Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge from sin, judgment, the curse of the law, and condemnation have a strong encouragement to hold fast to our hope in Christ based on two unchangeable things

1. God's promise and

2. God's oath!

It is impossible for God to lie, and it is impossible for God to break his oath (Malachi 3:6; Romans 11:29).

Hebrews 6:19 . Now we have this hope and confidence as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. It cannot slip and cannot let us drift away. It is a hope which reaches to the very certainty of his presence, within the veil.

Hebrews 6:20 . Here Christ our Lord has already entered in, representing us. He appears for us and intercedes for us and prepares a place for us! (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14.)

Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 6". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.