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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Hebrews 6

Verse 1

Wherefore (διο). Because of the argument already made about the difficulty of the subject and the dulness of the readers.

Let us cease to speak (αφεντες τον λογον). Second aorist active participle of αφιημ, to leave off or behind.

Of the first principles of Christ (της αρχης του Χριστου). Objective genitive Χριστου (about Christ). "Leaving behind the discussion of the beginning about Christ," another way of saying again τα στοιχεια της αρχης των λογιων του θεου of Hebrews 5:12.

And press on (κα φερωμεθα). Volitive present subjunctive passive, "Let us be borne on" (both the writer and the readers). The Pythagorean Schools use φερωμεθα in precisely this sense of being borne on to a higher stage of instruction. Bleek quotes several instances of Greek writers using together as here of αφεντες φερωμεθα (Eurip., Androm. 393, for instance).

Unto perfection (επ την τελειοτητα). Old word from τελειος mature, adults as in Hebrews 5:14. Only twice in N.T. (here and Colossians 3:14). Let us go on to the stage of adults, not babes, able to masticate solid spiritual food. The writer will assume that the readers are adults in his discussion of the topic.

Not laying again the foundation (μη παλιν θεμελιον καταβαλλομενο). The regular idiom for laying down the foundation of a building (θεμελιον, Luke 6:48). The metaphor is common (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the foundation is important, but one cannot be laying the foundation always if he is to build the house. There are six items mentioned here as part of the "foundation," though the accusative διδαχην in apposition with θεμελιον may mean that there are only four included in the θεμελιον. Two are qualitative genitives after θεμελιον (μετανοιας and πιστεως). What is meant by "dead works" (απο νεκρων εργων) is not clear (Hebrews 9:14), though the reference may be to touching a corpse (Numbers 19:1; Numbers 31:19). There are frequent allusions to the deadening power of sin (James 2:17; James 2:26; John 7:25; Romans 6:1; Romans 6:11; Romans 7:8; Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5). The use of repentance and faith together occurs also elsewhere (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21; 1 Thessalonians 1:9).

Verse 2

The other four items are qualitative genitives with διδαχην (βαπτισμων, επιθεσεως χειρων, αναστασεως νεκρων, κριματος αιωνιου). The plural βαπτισμων "by itself does not mean specifically Christian baptism either in this epistle (Hebrews 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" (Moffatt). The disciples of the Baptist had disputes with the Jews over purification (John 3:25). See also Acts 19:2. "The laying on of hands" seems to us out of place in a list of elementary principles, but it was common as a sign of blessing (Matthew 19:13), of healing (Mark 7:32), in the choice of the Seven (Acts 6:6), in the bestowal of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6), in separation for a special task (Acts 13:3), in ordination (1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Timothy 1:6). Prayer accompanied this laying on of the hands as a symbol. The resurrection of the dead (both just and unjust, John 5:29; Acts 24:15) is easily seen to be basal (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:0) as well as eternal judgment (timeless and endless).

Verse 3

If God permit (εανπερ επιτρεπη ο θεος). Condition of the third class with εανπερ (note περ indeed). See 1 Corinthians 16:7 (εαν ο κυριος επιτρεψη) and Acts 18:21 (του θεου θελοντος). It is not an idle form with the author. He means that he will go on with the argument and not attempt to lay again the foundation (the elements). Moffatt takes him to mean that he will teach them the elements at a later time (Hebrews 13:23) if the way opens, a less probable interpretation.

Verse 4

As touching those who were once enlightened (τους απαξ φωτισθεντας). First aorist passive articular participle (the once for all enlightened) of φοτιζω, old and common verb (from φως) as in Luke 11:36. The metaphorical sense here (cf. John 1:9; Ephesians 1:18; Hebrews 10:32) occurs in Polybius and Epictetus. The accusative case is due to ανακαινιζειν in verse Hebrews 6:6. Hαπαξ here is "once for all," not once upon a time (ποτε) and occurs again (Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 9:27; Hebrews 9:28; Hebrews 12:26; Hebrews 12:27).

Tasted of the heavenly gift (γευσαμενους της δωρεας της επουρανιου). First aorist middle participle of γευω, old verb once with accusative (verse Hebrews 6:5, καλον ρημα, δυναμεις), usually with genitive (Hebrews 2:9) as here.

Partakers of the Holy Ghost (μετοχους πνευματος αγιου). See Hebrews 3:14 for μετοχο. These are all given as actual spiritual experiences.

And then fell away (κα παραπεσοντας). No "then" here, though the second aorist (effective) active participle of παραπιπτω, old verb to fall beside (aside), means that. Only here in N.T. In Galatians 5:4 we have της χαριτος εξεπεσατε (ye fell out of grace, to law, Paul means).

Verse 6

It is impossible to renew them again (αδυνατον παλιν ανακαινιζειν). The αδυνατον (impossible) comes first in verse Hebrews 6:4 without εστιν (is) and there is no "them" in the Greek. There are three other instances of αδυνατον in Hebrews (Hebrews 6:18; Hebrews 10:4; Hebrews 11:6). The present active infinitive of ανακαινιζω (late verb, ανα, καινος, here only in the N.T., but ανακαινοω, 2 Corinthians 4:16; Colossians 3:10) with αδυνατον bluntly denies the possibility of renewal for apostates from Christ (cf. Hebrews 3:12-4). It is a terrible picture and cannot be toned down. The one ray of light comes in verses Hebrews 6:8-12, not here.

Seeing they crucify to themselves afresh (αναστραυρουντας εαυτοις). Present active participle (accusative plural agreeing with τους ... παραπεσοντας) of ανασταυροω, the usual verb for crucify in the old Greek so that ανα- here does not mean "again" or "afresh," but "up," sursum, not rursum (Vulgate). This is the reason why renewal for such apostates is impossible. They crucify Christ.

And put him to an open shame (κα παραδειγματιζοντας). Present active participle of παραδειγματιζω, late verb from παραδειγμα (example), to make an example of, and in bad sense to expose to disgrace. Simplex verb δειγματισα in this sense in Matthew 1:19.

Verse 7

Which hath drunk (η πιουσα). Articular second aorist active participle of πινω, to drink.

Herbs (βοτανην). Old word from βοσκω, to feed, green plant, only here in N.T. Cf. our botany.

Meet (ευθετον). Old compound verbal (ευ, τιθημ) well-placed, fit (Luke 9:62).

It is tilled (γεωργειτα). Present passive indicative of γεωργεω, old and rare verb from γεωργος (tiller of the soil, γη, εργον, 2 Timothy 2:6), here only in the N.T.

Receives (μεταλαμβανε). Present active indicative of μεταλαμβανω, old verb to share in, with genitive (ευλογιας) as here (Acts 2:46) or with accusative (Acts 24:25).

Verse 8

If it beareth (εκφερουσα). Present active participle of εκφερω, conditional participle. For "thorns and thistles" see Matthew 7:16 for both words (ακανθας κα τριβολους). Roman soldiers scattered balls with sharp iron spikes, one of which was called tribulus, to hinder the enemy's cavalry.

Rejected (αδοκιμος). See 1 Corinthians 9:27; Romans 1:28. For καταρας εγγυς (nigh unto a curse) see Galatians 3:10.

To be burned (εις καυσιν). "For burning." Common sight in clearing up ground.

Verse 9

But we are persuaded (πεπεισμεθα δε). Perfect passive indicative of πειθω, literary plural. Note Paul's use of πεπεισμα in 2 Timothy 1:12.

Better things (τα κρεισσονα). "The better things" than those pictures in Hebrews 6:4-8.

That accompany salvation (εχομενα σωτηριας). "Things holding on to salvation" (Mark 1:38), a common Greek phrase εχομενα, present middle participle of εχω.

Though we thus speak (ε κα ουτως λαλουμεν). Concessive condition of the first class. Explanatory, not apologetic, of his plain talk.

Not unrighteous to forget (ου γαρ αδικος επιλαθεσθα). Second aorist middle infinitive of επιλανθανω with genitive case (εργου, work, αγαπης, love). But even God cannot remember what they did not do.

In that ye ministered and still do minister (διακονησαντες κα διακονουντες). First aorist active and present active participle of the one verb διακονεω, the sole difference being the tense (single act aorist, repeated acts present).

Verse 11

And we desire (επιθυμουμεν δε). Literary plural again like πεπεισμεθα (Hebrews 6:9). He is not wholly satisfied with them as he had already shown (Hebrews 5:11-14). They have not given up Christ (Hebrews 6:4-8), but many of them are still babes (νηπιο, Hebrews 5:13) and not adults (τελειο, Hebrews 5:14) and others are in peril of becoming so.

Unto the fulness of hope (προς την πληροφοριαν της ελπιδος). For πληροφορια see 1 Thessalonians 1:5; Colossians 2:2.

To the end (αχρ τελους). As in Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14.

Verse 12

That ye be not sluggish (ινα μη νωθρο γενησθε). Negative final clause with second aorist middle subjunctive of γινομα, "that ye become not sluggish (or dull of hearing)" as some already were (Hebrews 5:11).

Imitators (μιμητα). See 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:14 for this word (our "mimic" in good sense). The writer wishes to hold and develop these sluggards through those who inherit the promises (see Hebrews 10:19-12), one of his great appeals later in ch. Hebrews 6:11 full of examples of "faith and long-suffering."

Verse 13

Made promise (επαγγειλαμενος). First aorist middle participle of επαγγελλω. Could swear by none greater (κατ' ουδενος ειχεν μειζονος ομοσα). Imperfect active of εχω in sense of εδυνατο as often with ομοσα (first aorist active infinitive of ομνυω) and ωμοσεν (he sware) is first aorist active indicative.

Verse 14

Surely (ε μην). By itacism for η μην (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 205). The quotation is from Genesis 22:16. (the promise renewed to Abraham with an oath after offering of Isaac).

Blessing (ευλογων). Hebraism (present active participle) for the Hebrew infinitive absolute and so with πληθυνων (multiplying).

Verse 15

Having patiently endured (μακροθυμησας). First aorist active participle of μακροθυμος (μακροσ, θυμος, long spirit) illustrating μακροθυμια of verse Hebrews 6:12.

He obtained (επετυχεν). Second aorist (effective) active indicative of επετυγχανω, old verb with genitive. God was true to his word and Abraham was faithful.

Verse 16

In every dispute (πασης αντιλογιας). Objective genitive of old word several times in Hebrews (Hebrews 6:16; Hebrews 7:7; Hebrews 12:3). Talking back, face to face, in opposition.

Final (περας). Limit, boundary (Matthew 12:42). Men may perjure themselves.

Verse 17

To shew (επιδειξα). First aorist active infinitive of επιδεικνυμ, to show in addition (επι-) to his promise "more abundantly" (περισσοτερον).

The immutability of his counsel (το αμεταθετον της βουλης αυτου). Late compound verbal neuter singular (alpha privative and μετατιθημ, to change), "the unchangeableness of his will."

Interposed (εμεσιτευσεν). First aorist active indicative of μεσιτευω, late verb from μεσιτης, mediator (Hebrews 8:6), to act as mediator or sponsor or surety, intransitively to pledge one's self as surety, here only in the N.T.

With an oath (ορκω). Instrumental case of ορκος (from ερκος, an enclosure), Matthew 14:7; Matthew 14:9.

Verse 18

By two immutable things (δια δυο πραγματων αμεταθετων). See verse Hebrews 6:17. God's promise and God's oath, both unchangeable.

In which it is impossible for God to lie (εν οις αδυνατον ψευσασθα θεον). Put this "impossibility" by that in verses Hebrews 6:4-6.

Theon is accusative of general reference with ψευσασθα, first aorist middle infinitive of ψευδομα.

That we may have (ινα εχωμεν). Purpose clause with ινα and the present active subjunctive of εχω, "that we may keep on having."

Strong consolation (ισχυραν παρακλησιν). "Strong encouragement" by those two immutable things.

Who have fled for refuge (ο καταφυγοντες). Articular effective second aorist active participle of καταφευγω, old verb, in N.T. only here and Acts 14:6. The word occurs for fleeing to the cities of refuge (Deuteronomy 4:42; Deuteronomy 19:5; Joshua 20:9).

To lay hold of (κρατησα). First aorist active (single act) infinitive of κρατεω in contrast with present tense in Hebrews 4:14 (hold fast).

Set before us (προκειμενης). Placed before us as the goal. See this same participle used with the "joy" (χαρας) set before Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

Verse 19

Which (ην). Which hope. What would life be without this blessed hope based on Christ as our Redeemer?

As an anchor of the soul (ως αγκυραν της ψυχης). Old word, literally in Acts 27:29, figuratively here, only N.T. examples. The ancient anchors were much like the modern ones with iron hooks to grapple the rocks and so hold on to prevent shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19).

Both sure and steadfast (ασφαλη τε κα βεβαιαν). This anchor of hope will not slip (alpha privative and σφαλλω, to totter) or lose its grip (βεβαια, from βαινω, to go, firm, trusty).

That which is within the veil (το εσωτερον του καταπετασματος). The Holy of Holies, "the inner part of the veil" (the space behind the veil), in N.T. only here and Acts 16:24 (of the inner prison). The anchor is out of sight, but it holds. That is what matters.

Verse 20

As a forerunner (προδρομος). Old word used for a spy, a scout, only here in N.T. Jesus has shown us the way, has gone on ahead, and is the surety (εγγυος, Hebrews 7:22) and guarantor of our own entrance later. In point of fact, our anchor of hope with its two chains of God's promise and oath has laid hold of Jesus within the veil. It will hold fast. All we need to do is to be true to him as he is to us.

A high priest for ever (αρχιερευς εις τον αιωνα). There he functions as our great high priest, better than Aaron for he is "after the order of Melchizedek," the point that now calls for elucidation (Hebrews 5:10).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 6". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.