Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 6

Bengel's Gnomon of the New TestamentBengel's Gnomon

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Verse 1

Hebrews 6:1 . Διὸ , wherefore ) It might be thought that we should say δὲ , but: but the particle διὸ , wherefore , is better fitted to rouse. So Paul also, Romans 2:1 , note. [38] ἀφέντες , leaving ) in this discussion. In other respects these heads of doctrine are not thrown away, but are taken for granted. The apostle speaks, in his own name and in the name of the other teachers, in the plural number. τὸν λόγον , the doctrine, the word ) ch. Hebrews 5:11 [ ὁ λόγος ]. τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ , of the principles of Christ ) Three pairs of particulars (heads), which are enumerated in this and the following verse, were of that kind, that a Jew, well instructed among his countrymen out of the Old Testament, ought to have applied them for the most part to Christianity . Regarding repentance, the resurrection , and the judgment , the point is clear; for inasmuch as eternal life is only mentioned by implication among these, and expressly in the antithesis, Hebrews 6:5 , it also agrees with the system of both testaments: as also the apostle speaks of faith toward GOD, not toward the Lord Jesus; comp. Acts 11:21 , note. He speaks of baptisms in the plural, of which the Jews had various kinds for the purpose of initiation; and the imposition of hands (Numbers 27:18 ; Num 27:23 ) was very much practised among them. Whosoever was well acquainted with these two, quickly comprehended the doctrine of Christian baptism and of the imposition of hands by the apostles; and this is the very reason why these two particulars are interwoven with other points more fundamental; namely, because the gift of the Holy Spirit corresponds to these in the antithesis, of which each refers to perfection, not to initiation. Therefore these six particulars were the principles of the oracles of God , ch. Hebrews 5:12 ; likewise the ἡ ἀρχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ , principles of the doctrine of Christ , viz. among those learning Christ; for Christ is often used by Paul , by Metonymy of the concrete for the abstract, for Christianity: Galatians 4:19 ; Philippians 1:21 , “ my life , or abiding in the flesh, is Christ ,” that is, is the work of Christ . Add Colossians 3:11 , note. These particulars had been, if we may say so, the Christian Catechism of the Old Testament; and such Jews, who had begun to recognise Jesus as the Christ immediately upon the new light being brought to bear (being shed) on these fundamental heads, were accounted as having the principle of the doctrine of Christ. Perfection i.e. the perfect doctrine concerning Christ Himself is opposed to this beginning principle ( ἡ ἀρχὴ ) [ Heb 6:4-5 ]. φερώμεθα , let us go on , or be carried forward ) A word implying active exertion. He properly puts this subjunctive before the indicative, ποιήσομεν , we will do , Hebrews 6:3 . πάλιν , again ) Again , Hebrews 6:6 , accords with this. θεμέλιον , foundation ) A synonym of ἀρχῆς , of the beginning principle . καταβαλλόμενοι laying ) An architectural term. μετανοίας , κ . τ . λ ., of repentance , etc.) He might have said, concerning GOD and faith in Him, concerning sin and repentance; or at least, concerning repentance from dead works, concerning faith in GOD; but he forthwith says, the foundation of repentance, etc . Therefore we ought not to delay in the consideration of sin, but to begin with active repentance . Therefore we ought to connect faith with the first mention of GOD. Therefore Theology is practical. ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων , from dead works ) So ch. Hebrews 9:14 . This term implies a loathing of sin.

[38] The illative particle, as being the stronger, absorbs the transitive partide. ED.

Verse 2

Hebrews 6:2 . Βαπτισμῶν διδαχῆς ) Καὶ is not put before βαπτισμῶν ; for three pairs of chief particulars (heads) are enumerated, and the second particular (head) in every pair has the conjunction; but only the third pair is similarly connected: from which it is also evident, that βαπτισμῶν and διδαχῆς must not be separated. Βαπτισμοὶ διδαχῆς [39] were baptisms which were received by those who devoted themselves to the sacred doctrine of the Jews; therefore, by the addition of διδαχῆς , they are distinguished from the other Levitical washings; ch. Hebrews 9:10 . κρίματος αἰωνίου ) of eternal judgment . See Mark 3:29 , note.

[39] Bengel evidently understands these words, baptisms of or into doctrine , not as Engl. Vers., the doctrine of baptisms . ED.

Verse 3

Hebrews 6:3 . Τοῦτο , this ) The reference is to φερώμεθα , let us go on . ἐάν περ , if indeed ) For , in the following verse, refers to this. Without the Divine blessing, the cultivation of the ground does not succeed; Hebrews 6:7 .

Verse 4

Hebrews 6:4 . Ἀδύνατον ) it is impossible for men, however qualified. ἅπαξ , once for all ) The adverb does not extenuate the matter, but renders the expression precise. φωτισθέντας , enlightened ) Christianity is the Whole, into which men get an entrance through the Gospel received by faith, and through baptism. There follow here the three parts in respect of the three principal benefits in the New Testament, proceeding from the Son of God, from the Holy Spirit, from GOD. So, enlightened (illuminated), ch. Hebrews 10:32 . Whence the use of this word is very frequent in the writings of the Fathers concerning baptism. Life and light are often mentioned conjointly; the one is often observed to be included in the notion of the other. Therefore, as regeneration is said to take place in baptism, so also enlightening . And this phrase is particularly suited to the Israelites, who had not been without life by faith, according to the Old Testament, when they abstained from dead works, Hebrews 6:1 ; but yet afterwards they were bathed in the new light of the New Testament. γευσαμένους τε τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς ἐπουρανίου , who have tasted the heavenly gift ) The enjoyment of light is in vision: now to vision is added taste , by which believers, being allured, ought to be always retained. Ἡ δωρεὰ ἡ ἐπουράνιος , the heavenly gift , is the Son of GOD, as it is expressed, Hebrews 6:6 , Christ , who is tasted by faith, and also in His own sacred Supper; 1 Peter 2:3 ; and this taste involves more than repentance from dead works, and faith toward GOD. The participle, γευσαμένους , although the genitive [ Heb 6:4 ] and accusative [ Heb 6:5 ] are often used promiscuously, seems, however, in this passage to carry with it a difference in the cases. The one (Genitive) denotes a part; for we do not exhaust the tasting [enjoy the whole fulness, but only a part ] of Christ, the heavenly gift , in this life: the other (Accusative) expresses more, inasmuch as the whole tasting of the Word of GOD preached belongs to this life, although the powers of the world to come are joined to this Word. μετόχους , partakers ) This partaking , as we have observed at Hebrews 6:1 , involves more than the doctrines of baptism and the imposition of hands . In this clause the word taste is not used, because the Holy Spirit here is considered as rather producing the taste, than as its object. Πνεύματος Ἁγίου , of the Holy Ghost ) He is often mentioned in connection with Christ; Acts 2:38 .

Verse 5

Hebrews 6:5 . Γευσαμένους , who have tasted ) A new taste, likewise involving more than the knowledge of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment . καλὸν ῥῆμα , the good word ) Jeremiah 33:14 , את הדבר הטוב , the Gospel. δυνάμεις , powers) of the most exquisite taste. The plural is highly significant. The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 2:4 ; comp. Hebrews 11:34 . Both passages show the emphasis of the word, δυνάμεις . μέλλοντος αἰῶνος , of the world to come) Eternal glory is principally intended; comp. Hebrews 6:2 , at the end; as the city to come is spoken of, ch. Hebrews 13:14 ; but the present time is not excluded under the New Testament, for in this sense things to come are also mentioned, ch. Hebrews 9:11 , Hebrews 10:1 , Hebrews 2:5 , note.

Verse 6

Hebrews 6:6 . Καὶ παραπεσόντας , and who have fallen away ) A word of weighty import, suddenly occurring, strikes us with just terror. It is thus the LXX. translate the Hebrew מעל . He does not merely speak of those relapsing into their former condition, but of those falling away (præterlapsos, lapsing aside) from that entire state of highest glory, and at the same time from faith, hope, and love, into a new species of ruin, Hebrews 6:10 , etc.; and that, too, of their own accord; ch. Hebrews 10:26 . A fall such as this may be separated from the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, but yet the bitter state of their soul is nearly the same; comp. ch. Hebrews 10:29 , note. The apostle does not say, that they to whom he is writing are such as these, but he hints that they may become so. The egg which held and lost the stamina of the chicken is not even fit to be eaten: the man who has lost his faith is in a more deplorable condition than he who never believed. πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν , to form anew [renew] again) A renewal (a forming anew) had been already made; therefore πάλιν , again, is added, and it corresponds to the ἅπαξ , once, Hebrews 6:4 . But we must particularly observe, that ἀνακαινίζειν , to make anew or renew, is used in the active voice; it is impossible for men, not for GOD. Therefore the apostle undertook the doing of this which he is doing, on this very condition, if GOD permit; Hebrews 6:3 , note; Matthew 19:26 . [There is a similar admonition, Hebrews 10:26 . V. g.] Men, ministers, have already done for such persons what they could; Titus 3:11 . Ministers have a certain measure, and those obstinate persons have gone beyond it in their opposition: it remains for ministers to leave them to GOD, and (whether they in the meantime admonish them more or less, and entertain hopes concerning them) to wait what GOD will give, 2 Timothy 2:25 , by means of special afflictions and operations. The Græco-Latin copy, Claromontanus, has in this place ἀδύνατον , ‘difficile.’ [40] ΕἸς ΜΕΤΑΝΟΊΑΝ , unto repentance ) He appropriately mentions that, which is first in the foundation, Hebrews 6:1 . But the other things are left to be supplied, considered either by themselves or in their effect. ἀνασταυροῦντας , since they crucify afresh ) He has described the subject by former participles: he now subjoins the reason (Ætiology, Append.) of that impossibility . The preposition in ἀνασταυροῦντας signifies upwards in Herodian, but in this passage again , for it is the echo of ἀνὰ in ἈΝΑΚΑΙΝΊΖΕΙΝ . ἙΑΥΤΟῖς , to themselves , which is added, makes an antithesis to παραδειγματίζοντας , making an open showing , viz. to others: see σταυρόω with the same case, Galatians 6:14 . From which it is manifest, that he is speaking of those who scoff at Christ from hatred and bitterness of spirit, for the sake of indulging their humour (deliberately and intentionally): truly, if these men had it in their power, they would do to Christ what the Jews did under Pontius Pilate. Those who deny the efficacy of the cross of Christ, which has been already endured, or think that He was justly crucified by the Jews, do the same as if they were to say, that He must still be crucified; Romans 10:6-7 .

[40] Vulg. has “impossible.” ED.

Verse 7

Hebrews 6:7 . Γῆ , the earth ) This is figurative. πιοῦσα , drinking ) not merely on the surface. ἐπʼ αὐτῆς , upon it ) This is more significant than if it had been ἐπʼ αὐτὴν , over it; for it denotes the unceasing (continuous) bounty of heaven. πολλάκις , often ) Hence the ἅπαξ , once , is softened, Hebrews 6:4 . ἐρχόμενον , coming ) spontaneously. τίκτουσα , which bringeth forth ) by the regular mode of generating. The antithesis is ἐκφέρουσα , that which beareth , without law and order, in the following verse. The LXX. transl. also use ἐκφέρω in a good sense; but here the force of the particle δὲ , but , falls upon ἐκφέρουσα , that which beareth . εὔθετον , meet ) The antithesis is ἀδόκιμος , rejected . διʼ οὕς ) for the sake of whom . καὶ , also ) This particle gives an intensive power to the present tense of the verb γεωργεῖται , is constantly dressed: cultivation, blessing; cursing, burning , are opposed by Chiasmus ( i.e. the first to the fourth, the second to the third). μεταλαμβάνει , is partaker of ) The antithesis is, nigh . The Divine blessing on good land is lasting: the Divine curse follows bad land. Concerning both, comp. Jeremiah 17:5 ; Jeremiah 17:7 . ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ , from God ) It is not merely cultivated by men.

Verse 8

Hebrews 6:8 . Ἐκφέρουσα , bearing ) This also coheres with πιοῦσα , drinking . ἀκάνθας καὶ τριβόλους , thorns and briars ) entirely, or at least chiefly. ἀδόκιμος , rejected ) so that it may be left uncultivated. κατάρας ἐγγὺς , nigh to cursing ) so that it may be overwhelmed with all evil. ἧς ) viz. γῆς , of which land . εἰς καῦσιν , for burning ) These words in this passage are expressive of great ἀποτομία , severity . Supply βλέπει or ἔρχεται ; comp. LXX., Proverbs 14:12-13 ; Proverbs 16:25 ; or ἐστὶ , comp. LXX., Isaiah 44:15 , ἵνα ᾖ ἀνθρώπος εἰς καῦσιν . The same ellipse is found at Hebrews 6:16 , πέρας εἰς βεβαίωσιν . Fire is the punishment of the Jews , Matthew 22:7 , and of their land . A prophetical stricture a very few years before that the city Jerusalem was burnt . Those of the Jews were the most desperate, who resisted the faith in the city and around it.

Verse 9

Hebrews 6:9 . Πεπείσμεθα ἀγαπητοὶ , we are persuaded beloved ) 1 Corinthians 13:7 . In this one place he calls them beloved , namely, for the sake of exhortation. For Paul often gives exhortations without this title, but he never uses it except for the purpose of exhortation. So in the epistle to the Romans, in like manner once, viz. ch. Hebrews 12:19 , but oftener to the Corinthians and Philippians. δὲ , but ) A remarkable Epitherapia [41] and softening of what might have appeared harsh. περὶ ὑμῶν , of you ) An antithesis, in the hypothesis, to those, who are stigmatized in the thesis, Hebrews 6:6-8 . τὰ κρείσσονα , better things ) more consistent with godliness, Hebrews 6:10 . ἐχόμενα σωτηρίας , which [ accompany ] are near to salvation ) An admirable expression. GOD, conferring upon us salvation, ἔχει , holds us: we, leaning upon Him by faith, are held , ἐχόμεθα ; in which way we say ἜΧΕΣΘΑΙ ἈΓΚΎΡΑς , to hold one’s self resting on the anchor: comp. Hebrews 6:19 . Salvation itself will retain [hold safe] good men.

[41] See App. An after mitigation of what has been said.

Verse 10

Hebrews 6:10 . Οὐ γὰρ ἄδικος , for God is not unrighteous ) i.e. He is entirely just and good. ἀγάπης , of love ) He is treating of hope , Hebrews 6:11 : of faith , Hebrews 6:12 : of love in this verse. So Paul , 1 Corinthians 13:13 , and elsewhere often; likewise below, ch. Hebrews 10:22-24 . He lays hold of their love, as an occasion for sharpening their faith and hope. ἐνεδείξασθε , you have shown ) Even where hope is somewhat small, from whatever cause, in present circumstances, the past is often calculated to be of great advantage: Revelation 3:10 . Paul uses the same word, 2 Corinthians 8:24 . εἰς τὸ ὀνόμα αὐτοῦ , toward His name ) In like manner the Hebrews use שׁם . Comp. 3 John 1:7 ; Matthew 10:41 . The name of GOD excites true love. διακονήσαντες τοῖς ἁγίοις , in that ye have ministered to the saints) This is the phraseology of Paul, Rom 15:25 ; 1 Corinthians 16:15 . It was to the poor saints at Jerusalem that the ministry of beneficence was afforded: it was the brethren in Greece and Asia who afforded it. See the passages quoted. It thus frequently happens with Paul, that although he be speaking to Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately, he nevertheless employs those motives which affected either party in particular.

Verse 11

Hebrews 6:11 . Ἐπιθυμοῦμεν δὲ , moreover we desire ) therefore we thus speak. ἕκαστον , every one ) not merely as you have hitherto done, in common [ jointly , but also individually ], τὴν αὐτὴν ) the same in hope and faith, as in love . This epistle rather held the necessity of urging faith; that of James, works: ch. Hebrews 10:36 , Hebrews 13:7 . ἐνδείκνυσθαι , to show ) The verb is repeated from Hebrews 6:10 . πρὸς ) i.e. as far as concerns . τὴν πληροφορίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος , the full assurance of hope ) Long-suffering is closely connected with it, Hebrews 6:12 . So ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως , in full assurance of faith , ch. Hebrews 10:22 : and Paul often, for example, Romans 4:21 . Πληροφορία , as it were, a full march , implies fulness either of employment, 2 Timothy 4:5 ; 2 Timothy 4:17 , or [full persuasion] of the mind, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 , and in this passage; Ecclesiastes 8:11 , LXX. ἄχρι , even unto ) Construed with ἐνδείκνυσθαι , to show .

Verse 12

Hebrews 6:12 . Νωθροὶ , slothful ) There follows presently after the antithesis, διὰ πίστεως , by faith , etc. They were νωθροὶ ταῖς ἀκοαῖς , dull of hearing , ch. Hebrews 5:11 : he now cautions them, not to become slothful absolutely, viz. also in mind . διὰ πίστεως καὶ μακροθυμίας , through faith and patience ) So Paul , 2 Timothy 3:10 , and James 5:8 . There is the patience or long-suffering of love , 1 Corinthians 13:4 : there is also the long-suffering of faith , Hebrews 6:15 . κληρονομούντων ) The participle of the imperfect tense; comp. Hebrews 6:15 : for Abraham is referred to. ἐπαγγελίας , promises ) By this very word their confidence is roused; and ἐπαγγειλάμενος , having promised , presently follows.

Verse 13

Hebrews 6:13 . Κατʼ οὐδενὸς , by none ) This epistle abounds in comparisons: here we are informed that no comparison [none to be compared with God] was to be found. ὤμοσε , He swore ) He now affords consolation by the oath of God’s grace, to those whom, in ch. 3 and 4, he had admonished by the oath of God’s wrath, although indeed the oath of His wrath did not extend its force beyond the wilderness for ever; for David and Paul bring down nothing of that oath to their own times: but the oath of grace is in force for ever.

Verse 14

Hebrews 6:14 . Ἦ μὴν ) כי , Genesis 22:17 , LXX., κατʼ ἐμαυτοῦ ὤμοσα , λέγει Κύριος , ἦ μὴν εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω σὲ , κ . τ . λ ., “I have sworn by Myself, saith the Lord, that blessing I will bless thee,” etc. So ἦ μὴν , Genesis 42:16 . Devarius, when he had collected examples of the particle ἦ μὴν , infers that this word is used merely by the way of ornament, when it is applied to a promise or an oath: it is quite different in simple affirmations, in which it is necessarily (not merely ornamentally) used. But it may be resolved thus: ᾖ , let there be, whatever shall happen, i.e. occur what may, μὴν , yet this shall be done.

Verse 15

Hebrews 6:15 . Μακροθυμήσας , after he had patiently endured ) This is evident from the life of Abraham. ἐπέτυχε τῆς ἐπαγγελίας , he obtained the promise ) he got what was promised; Hebrews 6:14 .

Verse 16

Hebrews 6:16 . Κατὰ τοῦ μείζονος , by the greater ) generally by GOD Himself. καὶ , and ) and so, on account of the authority of the greater, which is appealed to. ἀντιλογίας πέρας εἰς βεβαίωσιν , an end of contradiction , or strife, unto confirmation ) by which a controversy is terminated in the confirmation of the point in dispute, beyond all exception: Proverbs 28:18 , מדינים , ἀντιλογίας παὐει κλῆρος . ὁ ὅρκος , the oath) The last resource, which we ought not to use, so long as any other method of removing strife remains.

Verse 17

Hebrews 6:17 . Ἐν ᾧ , in which ) in which case. περισσότερον ) more abundantly than it might seem to have been done, had it been without an oath. βουλόμενος τῆς βουλῆς ) are conjugates. The utmost benignity is here expressed. ἐμεσίτευσεν ) He came down into the midst of us: GOD [ who might require of us to have the greatest faith in His mere word . V. g.] drawing nearer to us with wonderful condescension by an oath, although He is the greatest, as it were acts as a Mediator, and comes in between Himself and us; as if He were less, while He swears, than Himself by whom He swears. Dost thou not yet believe, thou that nearest the promise?

Verse 18

Hebrews 6:18 . Δύο , two ) The one the promise, the other the oath. ἐν οἷς , in which ) This refers to δύο , two . ἰσχυρὰν , strong ) So as that it may swallow up all strife (contradiction) arising from distrust. Βεβαίαν , firm, stedfast , follows, ver, 19. Both words are joined, ch. Hebrews 9:17 . Ἰσχυρὸς implies that strength by which a man is able to inflict hard blows on his enemy: βέβαιος , that firmness by which he does not allow himself to be moved from the position which he occupies. οἱ καταφυγόντες , who have fled for refuge ) as from a shipwreck: ἄγκυραν , an anchor , follows. προκειμένης ) set before us . The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 12:1-2 .

Verse 19

Hebrews 6:19 . Ἣν ) which hope. The following things are compared:

A ship; The soul: A sure anchor; Hope, i.e. heavenly good things set before us by GOD, hoped for by us: in a complex sense. The connection of the ship and the anchor; The consolation through the promise and oath of GOD. ἀσφαλῆ , sure ) in respect of us. βεβαίαν , firm ) in itself. τοῦ καταπετάσματος , the veil ) He gradually returns to the priesthood, ch. Hebrews 9:3 , Hebrews 10:20 .

Verse 20

Hebrews 6:20 . Πρόδρομος , forerunner ) swift. A very significant word: a forerunner has those who follow him. He is elsewhere called the first, the first fruits, the first-begotten . κατὰ , according to ) is put at the beginning of the clause for the sake of emphasis.

Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 6". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.