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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 6

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

Heb 6:1. Therefore signifies that a conclusion is being drawn from the truths set forth in the preceding chapter. Leaving does not mean to desert or disregard, but not to remain with the beginning steps thus making no advancement. A builder leaves the foundation and goes on with the building. He should not find it necessary to lay again the foundation, for that was done in the "beginning" of the project. Likewise Christians should advance beyond the principles ("beginning") of their service to Christ and become perfect or full grown. Not lay again the foundation. These Jewish disciples had begun their service to Christ (had laid the foundation) by turning from the things on which they had been relying all their lives. Some of those things consisted of items commanded by the law of Moses, while others were the erroneous notions taught by some of their leaders. These disciples had begun their new life--had laid the foundation--by no longer adhering to the former practices or observances. A number of these items are considered in this and the next verse. Dead works means the works of the old law which are no longer able to impart spiritual life; they have become dead works. Faith toward God. Christians are not told to turn away from faith in God, for then they could not please Him (Heb 11:6). The Jews had faith in God only, not including Christ since they had not been taught concerning Him. This verse means that disciples must have faith in both the Father and the Son.

Verse 2

Heb 6:2. Baptisms is from the Greek word BAPTISMOS which Thayer defines "A washing, purification effected by means of water." It refers to the washing of animals prescribed by the Mosaic law. (See Exo 29:4 Exo 29:17 : Lev 1:9 Lev 9:14.) The word is never used for the ordinance o f Christian baptism. Laying on o f hands. Under the Mosaic system the priests or others laid their hands on the animals that were to be offered in the service (Lev 3:2 Lev 4:4 Lev 4:13 Lev 16:21). Resurrection of the dead . . . eternal judgement. These p h r as e s must be considered together, for they are connected with one of the erroneous theories that were maintained in those days, and were shared in by the Jews. The theory was false but Jesus never bothered about exposing it in His day. However, when the apostles came to induce the Jews to accept the Gospel, it was necessary to tell them they must give up such notions; that they must do "repentance from" such errors. The false theory referred to is known in historical literature as "Transmigration of sou1s," T h e doctrine taught that when a man dies his soul passes into the body of another, thus enabling him to live again or experience a resurrection. If the person had been unrighteous, he would be punished by being sent into some other being who was afflicted, or into an abnormal child then being born. (See Joh 9:1-3.) If necessary this form of punishment or judgement would be repeated again and again. (a form of "eternal judgement") as here expressed.

Verse 3

Heb 6:3. If God permit. No passage should be interpreted so as to contradict another in the Bible. 2Pe 3:9 says that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." The italicized phrase, then, does not imply that God will prevent any man from doing what is right. The thought is as if Paul would say, "We who are determined to be right, will go on unto maturity in the spiritual life, God being our helper."

Verse 4

Heb 6:4. It is impossible. The thing that is impossible and the reasons for it will require a number of lines of the text to explain. After the simple announcement of an impossibility, the apostle drops the subject and gives a description of the characters concerning whom it is said, then tells what it is that is impossible. We shall carefully study this description before attempting to state the conclusion. Enlightened is from PHOTIZO which Thayer defines, "To enlighten spiritually, imbue with saving knowledge." Thayer defines the orginal for taste as follows: "To feel, make trial of, experience." It means to have experienced enough of the heavenly gift of Christianity to know how precious it is. The Holy Ghost (or Spirit) was bestowed upon the church (Rom 5:5 Rom 14:17; 1Co 6:19), hence when people become Christians they are made partakers of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 5

Heb 6:5. Tasted the good word of God means to have "experienced" the help of that word enough to know what its benefits are. When a person knows by experience what effect for good the Gospel will have on one in preparing for the world to come, he may truly be said to have tasted of that coming power even in this life.

Verse 6

Heb 6:6. To fall away means to desert or purposely turn away from a thing. It here applies to those who have had all the experience just described, then deliberately pull away from such a manner of life. Now we are ready to see what it is that is impossible, namely, to renew such a person to repentance. The impossibility is upon the part of the would-be restorer and not on the one who falls away. It does not say he cannot repent, but it is impossible for anyone else to iduce him to. The reason is that the apostate already knows as much about the subject as the one who wants to renew him, and hence the exhorter cannot offer any new arguments or reasons. On the basis of the foregoing statements of the apostle, it is proper to say that if persons fall away after all those experiences, then "It is impossible . . . to renew them again unto repentance." If they ever come back to Christ it will be on their own change of heart, which will always be possible for them. Paul describes this falling away as another crucifying of the Son of God, since it puts them outside the church and in the class of the enemies who actually did crucify Him. It is an open shame because the radical turning from a life of righteousness is apparent to the world about the apostate.

Verse 7

Heb 6:7. Paul is making an illustration out of the earth and its products. Not all ground is desirable as the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 teaches. The blessing of moisture will fall on the earth regardless of the character of some particular spots. If any portion responds by producing useful herbs, it will be blessed of God and be worthy of additional showers.

Verse 8

Heb 6:8. On the same basis as the preceding verse, if some spot receives the rain but yields only the thorns, such products will be burned, and that spot will be rejected by the owner as unprofitable.

Verse 9

Heb 6:9. Paul expected his readers to understand the general lesson in the parable, but he does not mean for them to make a personal application of it as yet. Hence he makes the kindly remark that he is counting on a better showing from them than was indicated by the thorny ground. However, we are sure the apostle intended the illustration as an exhortation for them to be thoughtful and not fail at last. It is similar to the warning given in chapter 3:12 and 4:1.

Verse 10

Heb 6:10. This verse is consistent with the preceding one. The Hebrew brethen were given credit for the good work they had done. We are not told the particulars of what they were doing, but it has the highly commendable credit of being a labor of love. An important part of their motive for the work is indicated by the statement that it was toward his name. Such a motive corresponds with Mat 25:40.

Verse 11

Heb 6:11. It is not enough to be doing one's duty just at intervals and then stop, but it must be persisted in until the end of life.

Verse 12

Heb 6:12. To be slothful means to be sluggish or indolent. A follower is an imitator, but a person cannot, imitate those who are patient (persistent) if he is indolent.

Verse 13

Heb 6:13. Persistence was the outstanding characteristic of Abraham, and he manifested it because of his faith in the promises of God. Until the Christian Dispensation there was no command against taking oaths. God made use of an oath in the promise to Abraham, but it was necessary to swear by himself because He is the greatest Being in existence. In making such a personally-supported oath it was similar to the statement of a man who says, "I give you my word of honor."

Verse 14

Heb 6:14. The particular blessing promised to Abraham meant in this verse was that he was to have a son with whom the covenant was to be established (Gen 17:19).

Verse 15

Heb 6:15. He finally obtained that son as a reward for his patience (Gen 21:1).

Verse 16

Heb 6:16. The usual practice of men as to oaths is cited by the apostle by way of illustration. If a contract is bound under an oath it will prevent any dispute.

Verse 17

Heb 6:17. God had no one greater by whom He could swear, yet he wished to provide some means of assurance to those interested in His counsel or promise. Immutability means that it is unchangeable--nothing can be done to change it. God accomplished the assurance by adding His oath to the promise thereby confirming it.

Verse 18

Heb 6:18. The two immutable (unchangeable) things were the promise and the oath of God. It was impossible for God to lie concerning either the promise or the oath, and hence by applying both for the sake of the heirs, it gave them the more abundant evidence. As a further result, the heirs of that promise (meaning all who believe in Christ as the seed of Abraham that was promised) have a strong consolation for the future, because that is the direction toward which hope must look. Fled for refuge. This phrase is based on a provision under the Mosaic system whereby persons accused of crime (whether guilty or not) could "flee" to a place called a city of refuge. (See Numbers 35.) Today men are all under accusation, justly, of being sinners and in danger of punishment at the hands of the avenger of sins. But a city of refuge (the church) has been built and those who will hasten (flee) to enter this institution may be saved from their past sins. And if they will remain in that city as faithful citizens, they have the promise of salvation in the world to come.

Verse 19

Heb 6:19. This prospect of eternal salvation is the hope that stimulates Christians in this work for Christ. It is fastened, like an anchor, to Christ who is our High Priest. He has entered within the veil, the phrase being based on the veil in the temple that enclosed the most holy place, which was a type of Heaven.

Verse 20

Heb 6:20. Jesus is called the forerunner because he has gone on before us to be the intercessor for His people. For this purpose He was made a High Priest like the order of Melchisedec. The advantage of being after that order instead of the order of the Levitical form was predicted in the Old Testament (Psa 110:4), and it will be discussed in the next chapter.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 6". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/hebrews-6.html. 1952.
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