Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 6

International Critical Commentary NTInternational Critical

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-99

Διὸ—well then (as in 12:12, 28)— ἐπὶ τὸν τελειότητα φερώμεθα (6:1). It is a moral duty to grow up, and the duty involves an effort. The τελειότης in question is the mature mental grasp of the truth about Christ as�

The use of the θεμέλιον metaphor after τῆς�Acts 8:22), and πίστις ἐπὶ θεόν like πιστεύειν ἐπί (e.g. Wis 12:2 ἵνα�Numbers 19:1f, Numbers 31:19). Its exact meaning is less clear. The one thing that is clear about it is that these ἔργα νεκρά were not habitual sins of Christians; they were moral offences from which a man had to break away, in order to become a Christian at all. They denote not the lifeless, formal ceremonies of Judaism, but occupations, interests, and pleasures, which lay within the sphere of moral death, where, as a contemporary Christian writer put it (Ephesians 2:1), pagans lay νεκροὶ τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις. The phrase might cover Jewish Christians, if there were any such in the community to which this homily is addressed, but it is a general phrase. Whatever is evil is νεκρόν, for our author, and ἔργα νεκρά render any Christian πίστις or λατρεύειν impossible (cp. Expositor, Jan. 1918, pp. 1-18), because they belong to the profane, contaminating sphere of the world.

In v. 2 διδαχήν is read, instead of διδαχῆς, by B syrharkl and the Old Latin, a very small group—yet the reading is probably original; the surrounding genitives led to its alteration into διδαχῆς. However, it makes no difference to the sense, which reading is chosen. Even διδαχῆς depends on θεμέλιον as a qualifying genitive. But the change of διδαχήν into διδαχῆς is much more likely than the reverse process. Διδαχήν follows βαπτισμῶν like κόσμος in 1 P 3:3 (ἐνδύσεως ἱματίων κόσμος). Βαπτισμοί by itself does not mean specifically Christian baptism either in this epistle (9:10) or elsewhere (Mark 7:4), but ablutions or immersions such as the mystery religions and the Jewish cultus required for initiates, proselytes, and worshippers in general. The singular might mean Christian baptism (as in Colossians 2:12), but why does the writer employ the plural here? Not because in some primitive Christian circles the catechumen was thrice sprinkled or immersed in the name of the Trinity (Didache 7:1-3), but because ancient religions, such as those familiar to the readers, had all manner of purification rites connected with water (see on 10:22). The distinctively Christian uses of water had to be grasped by new adherents. That is, at baptism, e.g., the catechumen would be specially instructed about the difference between this Christian rite, with its symbolic purification from sins of which one repented, and (a) the similar rites in connexion with Jewish proselytes on their reception into the synagogue or with adherents who were initiated into various cults, and (b) the ablutions which were required from Christians in subsequent worship. The latter practice may be alluded to in 10:22 (λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὗδατι καθαρῷ). Justin (Apol. 1:62) regards these lustrations of the cults as devilish caricatures of real baptism: καὶ τὸ λουτρὸν δὴ τοῦτο�Acts 8:17f. Acts 8:19:6), though it is ignored by the Didache and Justin, was supposed to confer the holy Spirit (see v. 4). Tertullian witnesses to the custom (de baptismo, 18, de carnis resurrectione, 8), and Cyprian corroborates it (Ep. lxxiv:5, “manus baptizato imponitur ad accipiendum spiritum sanctum”). The rite was employed in blessing, in exorcising, and at “ordination,” afterwards at the reception of penitents and heretics; here it is mentioned in connexion with baptism particularly (ERE vi:494b).

The subject is discussed in monographs like A. J. Mason’s The Relation of Confirmation to Baptism (1891), and J. Behm’s Die Handauflegung im Urchristenthum (1911).

The final pair of doctrines is�Acts 24:15, Acts 24:25). Tε is added after�

ποιήσομεν (א B K L N 1. 2. 5. 6. 33. 69. 88. 216. 218. 221. 226. 242. 255. 337. 429. 489. 919. 920. 1149. 1518. 1739. 1758. 1827. 1867. 2127. 2143. Lat sah boh Chrys.) has been changed into ποιήσωμεν by A C D P arm, etc., though the latter may have been originally, like φερόμεθα in v. 1, an orthographical variant, ο and ω being frequently confused.

4 For in the case of people who have been once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly Gift, who participated in the holy Spirit, 5 who tasted the goodness of God’s word and the powers of the world to come, 6and then fell away—it is impossible to make them repent afresh, since they crucify the Son of God in their own persons and hold him up to obloquy. 7 For “land” which absorbs the rain that often falls on it, and bears “plants” that are useful to those for whom it is tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 whereas, if it (sc. ἡ γῆ) “produces thorns and thistles,” it is reprobate and on the verge of being cursed—its fate is to be burned.

Vv.4-6 put the reason for τοῦτο ποιήσομεν (v. 3), and vv. 7, 8 give the reason for�Psa_1 ad fin.).”1 There is a partial parallel to this passage in the idea thrown out by Philo in de agricultura, 28, as he comments upon Genesis 9:20: “Noah began to till the earth.” Evidently, says Philo, this means that he was merely working at the ἄρχαι of the subject. Ἀρχὴ δʼ, ὁ τῶν παλαιῶν λόγος, ἥμισυ τοῦ πάντος, ὡς ἂν ἡμίσει πρὸς τὸ τέλος�

The fourfold description of believers (4, 5a) begins with ἅπαξ φωτισθέντας, where φωτισθέντας corresponds to λαβεῖν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς�Ephesians 1:18) to the Christian God. Subsequently, earlier even than Justin Martyr, the verb, with its noun φωτισμός, came to be used of baptism specifically (cp. ERE viii:54, 55).Ἅπαξ is prefixed, in contrast to πάλιν (v. 6); once for all men enter Christianity, it is an experience which, like their own death (9:27) and the death of Jesus (9:28), can never be repeated. In καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα (“experienced how good the gospel is”) the construction resembles that of Herod. vii:46, where the active voice is used with the accusative (ὁ δὲ θεὸς γλυκὺν γεύσας τὸν αἰῶνα, φθονερὸς ἐν αὐτῷ εὑρίσκεται ἐών), and the adj. is put first: “the deity, who let us taste the sweetness of life (or, that life is sweet), is found to be spiteful in so doing.” The similar use of the middle here as in Pr 29:36 and John 2:9 probably points to the same meaning (cp., however, Diat. 2016-2018), i.e., practically as if it were ὅτι κτλ. (cp. Psalms 34:8 γεύσασθε καὶ ἴδετε ὅτι χρηστὸς ὁ κύριος, 1 P 2:3), in contrast to the more common construction with the genitive (v. 4, 2:9). The writer uses genitive and accusative indifferently, for the sake of literary variety; and καλόν here is the same as καλοῦ in 5:14. Γευσαμένους κτλ. recalls the partiality of Philo for this metaphor (e.g. de Abrah. 19; de Somniis, i:26), but indeed it is common (cp. e.g. Jos. Ant. 4:6. 9, ἅπαξ τὸ νέον γευσαμένον ξενικῶν ἐθισμῶν�Exodus 16:15, Exodus 16:16): ἡ θεία σύνταξις αὕτη τὴν ὁρατικὴν ψυχὴν φωτίζει τε καὶ ὁμοῦ καὶ γλυκαίνει … τοὺς διψῶντας καὶ πεινῶντας καλοκἀγαθίας ἐφηδύνουσα. Also, that δυνάμεις τε μέλλοντος αἰῶνος1includes the thrilling experiences mentioned in 2:4. The dramatic turn comes in (v. 6) καὶ παραπεσόντας. Παραπίπτειν is here used in its most sinister sense; it corresponds to�1 John 5:16, and this sin of apostasy, are on the same level. The writer never hints at what his friends might relapse into. Anything that ignored Christ was to him hopeless.

Ἀδύνατον (sc. ἐστι) is now (v. 6) taken up in�Psalms 51:12) which is actually used for the Christian start in life by Barnabas (6:11�

There have been various, vain efforts to explain the apparent harshness of the statement. Erasmus took�Numbers 30:10 in quod deter. pot. insid. 40: φήσομεν διάνοιαν … ἐκβεβλῆσθαι καὶ χήραν θεοῦ, ἣτις ἢ γονὰς θείας οὐ παρεδέξατο ἢ παραδεξαμένη έκουσίως αὖθις ἐξήμβλωσε … ἡ δʼ ἅπαξ διαζευκθεῖσα καὶ διοικισθεῖσα ὡς ἄσπονδος μέχρι τοῦ παντὸς αἰῶνος ἐκτετόξευται, εἰς τὸν�

The reason why a second repentance is impossible is given in�

In the story of Jesus and Peter at Rome, which Origen mentions as part of the Acts of Paul (in, Joh. xx. 12), the phrase, “to be crucified over again” occurs in a different sense (Texte u. Unters. xxx. 3, pp. 271-272). Καὶ ὁ κύριος αὐτῷ εἶπεν· εἰσέρχομαι εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην σταυρωθῆναι. Καὶ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Κύριε, πάλιν σταυροῦσαι; εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ναὶ, Πέτρε, πάλιν σταυροῦμαι. Origen, quoting this as Ἄνωθεν μέλλω σταυροῦσθαι, holds that such is the meaning of�Hebrews 6:5.

The meaning of the vivid phrase is that they put Jesus out of their life, they break off all connexion with him; he is dead to them. This is the decisive force of σταυροῦσθαι in Galatians 6:14. The writer adds an equally vivid touch in καὶ παραδειγματίζοντας ( = τὸν υἱὸν θεοῦ καταπατήσας κτλ., 10:29)—as if he is not worth their loyalty! Their repudiation of him proclaims to the world that they consider him useless, and that the best thing they can do for themselves is to put him out of their life. Παραδειγματίζειν is used in its Hellenistic sense, which is represented by τιθέναι εἰς παράδειγμα in the LXX (Nahum 3:6). Possibly the term was already associated with impaling (cp. Numbers 25:4 παραδειγμάτισον αὐτοὺς Κυρίῳ),1 but our author does not use it in the LXX sense of “make an example of” (by punishing); the idea is of exposing to contemptuous ignominy, in public (as in Matthew 1:19).

The Bithynians who had renounced Christianity proved to Pliny their desertion by maligning Christ—one of the things which, as he observed, no real Christian would do (“quorum nihil posse cogi dicuntur qui sunt re vera Christiani”). “Omnes … Christi male dixerunt.” When the proconsul urges Polykarp to abandon Christianity, he tells the bishop, λοιδόρησον τὸν Χριστόν (Mart. Polyk. ix. 3). The language of Πρὸς Ἑβραίους is echoed in the saying of Jesus quoted in Apost. Const. vi. 18: οὗτοί εἰσι περὶ ὧν καὶ ὁ κύριος πικρῶς καὶ�Numbers 19:11, Numbers 19:12; the parallel is verbal rather than real. But there is a true parallel in Mongolian Buddhism, which ranks five sins as certain “to be followed by a hell of intense sufferings, and that without cessation … patricide, matricide, killing a Doctor of Divinity (i.e. a lama), bleeding Buddha, sowing hatred among priests.… Drawing blood from the body of Buddha is a figurative expression, after the manner of Hebrews 6:6” (J. Gilmour, Among the Mongols, pp. 233, 234).

In the little illustration (vv. 7, 8), which corresponds to what Jesus might have put in the form of a parable, there are reminiscences of the language about God’s curse upon the ground (Genesis 3:17, Genesis 3:18): ἐπικατάρατος ἡ γῆ …�Genesis 1:12 καὶ ἐξήνεγκεν ἡ γῆ βοτάνην χόρτου, though the writer uses ἐκφέρειν for�Deuteronomy 11:11 γῆ … ἐκ τοῦ ὑετοῦ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πίεται ὕδωρ: Isaiah 55:10f. etc. As εὔθετος generally takes εἰς with the accusative, it is possible that τίκτουσα was meant to go with ἐκεινοῖς. Γεωργεῖται, of land being worked or cultivated, is a common term in the papyri (e.g. Syll. 429:9 τά τε χωρία εἰ γεωργεῖται) as well as in the LXX.

(a) Origen’s homiletical comment (Philocalia, xxi. 9) is, τὰ γινόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ τεράστια οἰονεὶ ὑετός ἐστιν· αἱ δὲ προαιρέσεις αἱ διάφοροι οἰονεὶ ἡ γεγεωργημένη γῆ ἐστὶ καὶ ἡ ἠμελημένη, μιᾷ τῇ φύσει ὡς γῆ τυγχάνουσα—an idea similar to that of Jerome (tractatus de psalmo xcvi., Anecdota Maredsolana, 3:3, 90: “apostolorum epistolae nostrae pluviae sunt spiritales. Quid enim dicit Paulus in epistola ad Hebraeos? Terra enim saepe venientem super se bibens imbrem, et reliqua”). (b) The Mishna directs that at the repetition of the second of the Eighteen Blessings the worshipper should think of the heavy rain and pray for it at the ninth Blessing (Berachoth, 5:1), evidently because the second declares, “Blessed art thou, O Lord, who restorest the dead” (rain quickening the earth), and the ninth runs, “Bless to us, O Lord our God, this year and grant us a rich harvest and bring a blessing on our land.” Also, “on the occasion of the rains and good news, one says, Blessed be He who is good and does good” (Berachoth, 9:2). Cp. Marcus Aurelius, v. 7, εὐχὴ Ἀθηναίων· ὗσον, ὗσον, ὦ φίλε Ζεῦ, κατὰ τῆς�

Μεταλαμβάνει ( = participate in) is not a LXX term, but occurs in this sense in Wis 18:9 etc.; εὐλογίας occurs again in 12:17 (of Esau the apostate missing his εὐλογία), and there is a subtle suggestion here, that those alone who make use of their divine privileges are rewarded. What the writer has in mind is brought out in v. 10; that he was thinking of the Esau-story here is shown by the reminiscence of�Genesis 27:27).

The reverse side of the picture is now shown (v. 8).

Commenting on Genesis 3:18 Philo fancifully plays on the derivation of the word τρίβολος (like “trefoil”): ἓκαστον δὲ τῶν παθῶν τριβόλια εἴρηκεν, ἐπειδὴ τριττά ἐστιν, αὐτό τε καὶ τὸ ποιητικὸν καὶ τὸ ἐκ τούτων�John 15:6, the burning is a final doom, not a process of severe discipline.

Ἀδόκιμος is used as in 1 Corinthians 9:27; the moral sense breaks through, as in the next clause, where the meaning of εἰς καῦσιν may be illustrated by Deuteronomy 29:22 and by Philo’s more elaborate description of the thunderstorm which destroyed Sodom (de Abrah. 27); God, he says, showered a blast οὐχ ὕδατος�

Later on, this conception of unpardonable sins led to the whole system of penance, which really starts from the discussion by Hermas in the second century. But for our author the unpardonable sin is apostasy, and his view is that of a missionary. Modern analogies are not awanting. Thus, in Dr. G. Warneck’s book, The Living Forces of the Gospel (p. 248), we read that “the Battak Christians would have even serious transgressions forgiven; but if a Christian should again sacrifice to ancestors or have anything to do with magic, no earnest Christian will speak in his favour; he is regarded as one who has fallen back into heathenism, and therefore as lost.”

9 Though I say this, beloved, I feel sure you will take the better2 course that means salvation. 10 God is not unfair; he will not forget what you have done, or the love you have shown for his sake in ministering, as you still do, to the saints. 11 It is my heart’s desire that each of you would prove equally keen upon realizing your full (πληροφορίαν, 10:22) hope to the very end, 12 so that instead of being slack you may imitate those who inherit the promises by their steadfast faith.

The ground for his confident hope about his “dear friends” (Tyndale, v. 9) lies in the fact that they are really fruitful (v. 7) in what is the saving quality of a Christian community, viz. brotherly love (v. 10). The God who blesses a faithful life (v. 7) will be sure to reward them for that; stern though he may be, in punishing the disloyal, he never overlooks good service. Only (vv. 11, 12), the writer adds, put as much heart and soul into your realization of what Christianity means as you are putting into your brotherly love; by thus taking the better course, you are sure of God’s blessing. As�

In καὶ (epexegetic) ἐχόμενα (sc. πράγματα) σωτηρίας, ἐχόμενα, thus employed, is a common Greek phrase (cp. e.g. Marc. Aurel. 1. 6, ὅσα τοιαῦτα τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς�1 John 1:9, or ὥστε c. infinitive; cp. Xen. Cyrop. iv. 1. 20, δίκαιος εἶ�1 Thessalonians 1:3 by the insertion of τοῦ κόπου after καὶ (so Dc K L 69*, 256, 263, 1611*, 2005, 2127 boh Theodoret, etc.). The relative ἣν after�Romans 9:3 ἡ�

The personal affection of the writer comes out not only in the�Philippians 1:9), so our author pleads with his friends to complete their brotherly love by a mature grasp of what their faith implied. He reiterates later on the need of φιλαδελφία (13:1), and he is careful to show how it is inspired by the very devotion to Christ for which he pleads (10:19-24). Πληροφορία (not a LXX term) here is less subjective than in 10:22, where it denotes the complete assurance which comes from a realization of all that is involved in some object. Here it is the latter sense of fulness, scope and depth in their—ἐλπίς.1 This is part and parcel of the τελειότης to which he is summoning them to advance (6:1). The result of this grasp of what is involved in their faith will be (v. 12) a vigorous constancy, without which even a kindly, unselfish spirit is inadequate. For ἐνδείκνυσθαι σπουδήν compare Herodian’s remark that the soldiers of Severus in a.d. 193 πᾶσαν ἐνεδείκνυντο προθυμίαν καὶ σπουδήν (2:10:19), Magn 53:61 (iii. b.c.),�

Aristotle, in Rhet. ii. 19. 5, argues that οὗ ἡ�

In v. 12 the appeal is rounded off with ἵνα μὴ νωθροὶ γένησθε, that you may not prove remiss (repeating νωθροί from 5:11, but in a slightly different sense: they are to be alert not simply to understand, but to act upon the solid truths of their faith), μιμηταὶ δέ κτλ. Hitherto he has only mentioned people who were a warning; now he encourages them by pointing out that they had predecessors in the line of loyalty. This incentive is left over for the time being; the writer returns to it in his panegyric upon faith in chapter 11. Meanwhile he is content to emphasize the steadfast faith (πίστεως καὶ μακροθυμίας, a hendiadys) that characterizes this loyalty. Μακροθυμία means here (as in James 5:7f.) the tenacity with which faith holds out. Compare Menander’s couplet (Kock’s Com. Attic. Fragm. 549), ἄνθρωπος ὢν μηδέποτε τὴν�Joshua 2:7 μέγα φάρμακόν ἐστιν ἡ μακροθυμία | καὶ πολλὰ�

Taking Abraham as the first or as a typical instance of steadfast faith in God’s promises, the writer now (vv. 13-19) lays stress not upon the human quality, but upon the divine basis for this undaunted reliance. Constancy means an effort. But it is evoked by a divine revelation; what stirs and sustains it is a word of God. From the first the supreme Promise of God has been guaranteed by him to men so securely that there need be no uncertainty or hesitation in committing oneself to this Hope. The paragraph carries on the thought of vv. 11, 12; at the end, by a dexterous turn, the writer regains the line of argument which he had dropped when he turned aside to incite and reprove his readers (5:11f).

13 For in making, a promise to Abraham God “swore by himself” (since he could swear by none greater), 14 “I will indeed bless you and multiply you.” 15 Thus it was (i.e. thanks to the divine Oath) that Abraham by his steadfastness obtained (so 11:33) what he had been promised. 16 For as1 men swear by a greater than themselves, and as an oath means to them a guarantee that ends any dispute, 17 God, in his desire to afford the heirs of the Promise a special proof of the solid character of his purpose, interposed with an oath; 18 so that by these two solid facts (the Promise and the Oath), where it is impossible for God to be false, we refugees might have strong encouragement (παράκλησιν, see on 12:5) to seize the hope set before us, 19 anchoring the soul to it safe and sure, as it “enters the inner” Presence “behind the veil.”

As usual, he likes to give a biblical proof or illustration (vv. 13, 14), God’s famous promise to Abraham, but the main point in it is that God ratified the promise with an oath.

Our author takes the OT references to God’s oath quite naively. Others had felt a difficulty, as is shown by Philo’s treatise de Abrahamo (46): “God, enamoured of this man [i.e. Abraham], for his faith (πίστιν) in him, gives him in return a pledge (πίστιν), guaranteeing by an oath (τὴν διʼ ὅρκου βεβαίωσιν) the gifts he had promised … for he says, ‘I swear by myself’ (Genesis 22:16)—and with him a word is an oath—for the sake of confirming his mind more steadfastly and immovably than ever before.” But the references to God’s oaths were a perplexity to Philo; his mystical mind was embarrassed by their realism. In de sacrif. Abelis et Caini (28, 29) he returns to the subject. Hosts of people, he admits, regard the literal sense of these OT words as inconsistent with God’s character, since an oath implies (μαρτυρία θεοῦ περὶ πράγματος�Genesis 22:16, Genesis 22:17), adding: εὖ καὶ τὸ ὅρκῳ βεβαιῶσαι τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν καὶ ὅρκῳ θεοπρεπεῖ· ὁρᾷς γὰρ ὅτι οὐ καθʼ ἑτέρου ὀμνύει θεός, οὐδὲν γὰρ αὐτοῦ κρεῖττον,�Exodus 32:13), it is asked, “What means בך? R. Eleazar answered: ‘Thus saith Moses to God (Blessed be He!), ‘Lord of all the world, hadst thou sworn by heaven and earth, I would say, even as heaven and earth shall perish, so too thine oath shall perish. But now thou hast sworn by thy Great Name, which lives and lasts for ever and ever; so shall thine oath also last for ever and ever.’”

Εἶχε (v. 13) with infin. = ἐδύνατο as usual. Ὤμοσεν. … εἰ μήν … εὐλογήσω. Both the LXX (Thackeray, pp. 83, 84) and the papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies, 205 f.) show that εἶ μήν after ὀμνύειν in oaths is common as an asseveration; in some cases, as here, the classical form ἦ μήν, from which εἰ μήν arose by itacism, is textually possible. The quotation (v. 14) is from the promise made to Abraham after the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:16, Genesis 22:17): κατʼ ἐμαυτοῦ ὤμοσα … εἰ μὴν εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω σε, καὶ πλη θύνων πληθυνῶ τὸ σπέρμα σου. The practical religious value of God’s promise being thus (v. 15) confirmed is now brought out for the present generation (vv. 16f.—another long sentence). Κατὰ τοῦ μείζονος, i.e. by God. Which, Philo argues, is irreverent:�Deuteronomy 6:13). But our author has no such scruples (see above). And he is quite unconscious of any objection to oaths, such as some early Christian teachers felt (e.g. James 5:12); he speaks of the practice of taking oaths without any scruples. “Hic locus … docet aliquem inter Christianos jurisjurandi usum esse legitimum … porro non dicit olim fuisse in usu, sed adhuc vigere pronuntiat” (Calvin). Ἀντιλογίας, dispute or quarrel (the derived sense in 7:7 χωρὶς πάσης�Leviticus 25:23), but is a current phrase in the papyri (cp. Deissmann’s Bible Studies, 163 f.) for “by way of guarantee”; it is opposed to εἰς�Isaiah 37:26 νῦν δὲ ἐπέδειξα ἐξερημῶσαι ἔθνη κτλ.), means here “to afford proof of.” The writer uses the general plural, τοῖς κληρονόμοις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας,1 instead of the singular “Abraham,” since the Promise in its mystical sense applied to the entire People, who had faith like that of Abraham. The reference is not specifically to Isaac and Jacob, although these are called his συγκληρονόμοι in 11:9. In τὸ�Psalms 110:4:

ὤμοσεν Κύριος καὶ οὐ μεταμεληθήσεται

Σὺ εἶ ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ.

This oath does refer to the priesthood of Jesus, which the writer is about to re-introduce (in v. 20); but it is not a thought which is brought forward till 7:20, 21, 28; and the second line of the couplet has been already quoted (5:6) without any allusion to the first.

In v. 18 καταφεύγειν and ἐλπίς are connected, but not as in Wis 14:6 (Noah = ἡ ἐλπὶς τοῦ κόσμου ἐπὶ σχεδίας, καταφυγοῦσα). Here, as ἐλπίς means what is hoped for, i.e. the object of expectation, “the only thought is that we are moored to an immoveable object” (A. B. Davidson). The details of the anchor-metaphor are not to be pressed (v. 19); the writer simply argues that we are meant to fix ourselves to what has been fixed for us by God and in God. To change the metaphor, our hope roots itself in the eternal order. What we hope for is unseen, being out of sight, but it is secure and real, and we can grasp it by faith.

(a) Philo (Quaest. in Exodus 22:20) ascribes the survival and success of the Israelites in Egypt διὰ τὴν ἐπὶ τὸν σωτῆρα θεὸν καταφυγήν, ὃς ἐξ�

Παράκλησιν goes with κρατῆσαι (aor. = “seize,” rather than “hold fast to,” like κρατεῖν in 4:14), and οἱ καταφυγόντες stands by itself, though there is no need to conjecture οἱ κατὰ φυγὴν ὄντες = in our flight (so J. J. Reiske, etc.). Is not eternal life, Philo asks, ἡ πρὸς τὸ ὂν καταφυγή (de fuga, 15) ? In τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος, προκειμένης must have the same sense as in 12:2; the colloquial sense of “aforesaid,” which is common in the papyri (e.g. OP. 1275:25 εἰς τὴν προκιμένην κώμην), would be flat. Ἀσφαλῆ τε καὶ βεβαίαν reflects one of the ordinary phrases in Greek ethics which the writer is so fond of employing. Cp. Plutarch, de comm. not. 1061c, καίτοι πᾶσα κατάληψις ἐν τῷ σοφῷ καὶ μνήμη τὸ�

Suddenly he breaks the metaphor,3 in order to regain the idea of the priesthood of Jesus in the invisible world. Hope enters the unseen world; the Christian hope, as he conceives it, is bound up with the sacrifice and intercession of Jesus in the Presence of God, and so he uses language from the ritual of Leviticus 16:2f. about Aaron “passing inside the veil,” or curtain that screened the innermost shrine. To this conception he returns in 9:3f. after he has described the vital functions of Jesus as ἱερεύς (6:20f.). For at last he has reached what he regards as the cardinal theme of his homily.

1 Compare the motto which Cromwell is said to have written on his pocket-bible, “qui cessat esse melior cessat esse bonus.”

Blass F. Blass, Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch: vierte, völlig neugearbeitete Auflage, besorgt von Albert Debrunner (1913); also, Brief an die Hebräer, Text mit Angabe der Rhythmen (1903).

L [020: α 5] cont. 1:1-13:10.

Philo Philonis Alexandriai Opera Quae Supersunt (recognoverunt L. Cohn et P. Wendland).

1 According to Philo (de Abrah. 2, 3), next to hope, which is the ἄρχη μετουσίας�

2 Cp. the use of νεκρός in Epict. iii:23. 28, καὶ μὴν ἃν μὴ ταῦτα ἐμποιῇ ὁ τοῦ φιλοσόφου λόγος, νεκρός ἐστι καὶ αὐτὸς καὶ ὁ λέγων. This passage indicates how νεκρός could pass from the vivid application to persons (Matthew 8:22, Luke 15:32, cp. Colossians 2:13), into a secondary application to their sphere and conduct.

Expositor The Expositor. Small superior numbers indicate the series.

B [03: δ 1] cont. 1:1-9:18: for remainder cp. cursive 293.

ERE Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (ed. J. Hastings).

אԠ[01: δ 2).

A [02: δ 4].

C [04: δ 3] cont. 2:4-7:26 9:15-10:24 12:16-13:25.

K [018:1:1].

Josephus Flavii Josephi Opera Omnia post Immanuelem Bekkerum, recognovit S. A. Naber.

N [0122: α 1030] cont. 5:8-6:10.

1 [δ 254]

2 [α 253]

5 [δ 453]

6 [δ 356] cont. 1:1-9:3 10:22-13:25

33 [δ 48] Hort’s 17

69 [δ 505]

88 [α 200]

216 [α 469]

218 [δ 300]

221 [α 69]

226 [δ 156]

242 [δ 206]

255 [α 174]

337 [α 205]

429 [α 398]

489 [δ 459] Hort’s 102

919 [α 113]

920 [α 55]

1149 [δ 370]

1518 [α 116]

1739 [α 78]

1758 [α 396] cont. 1:1-13:14

1827 [α 367]

1867 [α 154]

2127 [δ 202]

2143 [α 184]

sah The Coptic Version of the NT in the Southern Dialect (Oxford, 1920), vol. v. pp. 1-131.

boh The Coptic Version of the NT in the Northern Dialect (Oxford, 1905), vol. iii. pp. 472-555.

D [06: α 1026] cont. 1:1-13:20. Codex Claromontanus is a Graeco-Latin MS, whose Greek text is poorly* reproduced in the later (saec. ix.-x.) E = codex Sangermanensis. The Greek text of the latter (1:1-12:8) is therefore of no independent value (cp. Hort in WH, §§ 335-337); for its Latin text, as well as for that of F=codex Augiensis (saec. ix.), whose Greek text of Πρὸς Ἐβραίους has not been preserved, see below, p. lxix.

P [025: α 3] cont. 1:1-12:8 12:11-13:25.

1 C. G. Montefiore, in Jewish Quarterly Review (1904), p. 225.

LXX The Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint Version (ed. H. B. Swete).


Tertullian’s translation, “occidente iam aevo” (de Pudicitia, 20) shows that his Greek text had omitted a line by accident:




i.e. δυν[άμεις τε μέλλ]οντος αἰῶνος.

Erasmus Adnotationes (1516), In epist. Pauli apostoli ad Hebraeos paraphrasis (1521).

1 In alluding to the gibbeting law of Deuteronomy 21:22f., Josephus (Bell. Jud. iv. 5. 2) speaks of�

1 Cp. Eurip. Hippolytus, 1070: αἰαῖ, πρὸς ἦπαρ· δακρύων ἐγγὺς τόδε.

2 For some reason the softer linguistic form κρείσσονα is used here, as at 10:34, in preference to κρείττονα.

1 See Dolon’s remark in the Rhesus of Euripides (161, 162): οὐκοῦν πονεῖν μὲν χρή, πονοῦντα δʼ ἄξιον μισθὸν φέρεσθαι.

2005 [α 1436] cont. 1:1-7:2

1 For ἐλπίδος, πίστεως is read in W 1867.

Magn Die Inschriften von Magnesia am Maeander (ed. Kern, 1900).

Syll. Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum2 (ed. W. Dittenberger).

1 To make the connexion clear, some inferior texts (C Dc K L 6, 33, 104, 1610, etc.) add μέν.

1 This is the point raised in John 8:13f.

Thackeray H. St J. Thackeray, A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek (1909).

OGIS Dittenberger’s Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae (1903-1905).

1 Eusebius once (Dem. iv. 15, 40) omits τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, and once (ibid. v. 3. 21) reads τῆς βασιλείας, either accidentally or with a recollection of James 2:5.

1245 [α 158]

Ath Athanasius

1912 [α 1066]

c (Codex Colbertinus: saec. xii.)

1 The comparison between hope and a voyage in de Abrahamo, 9, is different: ὁ δὲ ἐλπίζων, ὡς αὐτὸ δηλοῖ τοὔνομα, ἐλλιπής, ἐφιέμενος μὲν�Romans 8:24, Romans 8:25.

2 For the anchor as a symbol on tombs, pagan and Christian, see Le Blant’s Inscr. Chrét. de Gaule, ii. 158, 312. Contrast with Hebrews 6:18, Hebrews 6:19 the bitter melancholy of the epitaph in the Greek Anthology (ix. 49): ἐλπὶς καὶ σύ, Τύχη, μέγα χαίρετε· τὸν λιμένʼ εὗρον· | οὐδὲν ἐμοί χʼ ὑμῖν· παίζετε τοὺς μετʼ ἐμέ.

3 A similar mixture of metaphor in Ep. Aristeas, 230 (σὲ μὲν οὐ δυνατόν ἐστι πταῖσαι, πᾶσι γάρ χάριτας ἔσπαρκας αἵ βλαστάνουσιν εὔνοιαν, ἥ τὰ μέγιστὄ τῶν ὄπλων κατισχύουσα περιλαμβάνει τὴν μεγίστην�

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Hebrews 6". International Critical Commentary NT. 1896-1924.