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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Hebrews 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. Therefore—In view of their humble attainments portrayed in Hebrews 5:11-14.

The principles—Literally, the beginning of Christ; equivalent to first principles in Hebrews 5:12.

Let us go on—In the word us St. Paul identifies himself with his Hebrews, and moves for a common advance. See note on Hebrews 2:1. But, does he mean go on in this his present discourse; or go on in acquiring new accessions of Christian knowledge in addition to these first principles; or go on in increase of Christian life and power? All three. The unfolding of his grand views of the high priesthood of Christ in the future chapters, is one with the acquisition of new volumes of spiritual knowledge, and new forces of Christian character and power. It is the want of their taking this fulness of the atoning Christ into their mind and heart and life that renders them babes, Hebrews 5:13. And when this text, let us go on to perfection, is adduced as an exhortation to advancing to a perfected Christian character, it is no misquotation. Perfection is here an antithesis to the babyhood of Hebrews 5:13. It is the noun form of the Greek adjective rendered of full age, in Hebrews 5:14, and signifies adulthood.

Not laying again the foundation—A non-advancement is merely re-laying the elementary foundation; it is erecting no superstructure. Our apostle now enumerates six elements of which the foundation is composed, really arranged as three couplets in order. These were, probably, the elemental points of Christian doctrine anciently taught to the catechumen at his baptism. As a foundation they are important, nay, necessary to the superstructure, but very likely to be of no value without the superstructure. The three couplets are, repentance and faith, baptism and imposition of hands, resurrection and judgment. The first two are conditions to being Christian; the second are institutes in Christianity; the third are Christian doctrines of eschatology. As the Hebrews to whom St. Paul now writes were once Jews, they were educated upon a Jewish platform of the entire six elements, which had been reconstructed into the Christian view. We are not certain (though no commentator has suggested it) but that this re-laying the foundation meant a re-establishing in their own belief of the old Jewish view, and so relapsing from Christianity to Judaism. Certainly the staying on the foundation without advance would not be a re-laying. Laying again would be laying it over again, substituting the past for the present, the old Jewish for the new Christian one.

Foundation of—That is, consisting of.

Repentance—A mental turning away from dead works, that is, works which have no saving life in them, whether positive sins or an unsaving ritual. The Jewish platform would acknowledge only the former sense of the words; the Christian would emphasize the latter as against Judaism. Faith toward (literally, upon)

God—The second element. Between the Jewish and Christian platform, the former would make faith upon God a blank monotheism; the latter would include faith in Christ as embraced in faith upon God.


Verse 2

2. OfFoundation is understood before this of. The doctrine, or teaching, is understood before each of the four ofs in the verse.

Baptisms—Washings. The Greek word for Christian baptism is baptisma, this word is baptismos, and genetically includes all ritual lustrations, baptism included. The plural here is used, not, as some think, to indicate trine immersion, (which was not a New Testament practice;) nor to include the baptism of water and of the Spirit; nor to imply the baptizing of many individuals; but because by Jewish doctrine there were many lustrations, while by Christian doctrine there is but one, namely, baptism. Closely coupled (by a conjunctive τε, which is a tighter connexion than και, and) with baptisms is the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands was, therefore, retained as distinctively a Christian institute, taught as Christian doctrine. Under the old dispensation it was a mode of blessing and of conferring office. Numbers 8:10; Numbers 27:18; Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9. By it, under the new, the Holy Ghost was imparted after baptism, and office was conferred. Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6; Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 5:22. In regard to this last purpose it seems, from the New Testament and the practice of the primitive Church, that before the polity of the Church crystallized into form under the new effusion of the Spirit, a great variety of persons exercised their various gifts, (Ephesians 4:11-12,) but that there gradually emerged three grades of ministry. And hence the episcopal form of government; initially represented by James at Jerusalem, by Timothy, and by Titus, being divinely sanctioned but not enjoined, became early prevalent in most Churches, and before the close of the second century universal in Christendom. The laying on of hands here, closely coupled with baptism, drawn from the original manual impartation of the sensible gift of the Holy Ghost, seems to have become an established institute, symbolizing that impartation of the Spirit by which the candidate was individualized as one in the individual body of Christ. Delitzsch maintains, with good show of argument, that the institute of imposition of hands has still a rightful place in the Christian Church, as the final recognition of that ultimate incorporation into the Church of which baptism is the initial sign. The laying on of hands, in its twofold use as confirmation of the people and as ordination of the ministry, indicates the one, yet twofold, priesthood of both ministry and people, each in its own order. Hoffman, as quoted by Delitzsch, suggests that baptism is correlated to the judgment as laying on of hands to the resurrection. But the close connexion in the Greek by a τε of the resurrection with the imposition indicates just the converse. Baptism more properly represents the resurrection, and so emblematizes us as the final, glorified, new creature; while the imposition symbolizes the final judgment which forever confirms us into the Church of the glorified.

Resurrection of the deadDead, without the article, and plural, deads. It does not, therefore, positively express the universal dead. See our note on Luke 20:35; 1 Corinthians 15:12. Probably the resurrection of the righteous is really what St. Paul here intends. The resurrection of the wicked has no symbol in baptism.

Judgment—Rather meaning the sentence than the process of judging; and the sentence is eternal in its force and effect, being irreversible and final. These six fundamental points of Christianity, in comparison with the Jewish foundation, are selected specimens, not an exhaustive enumeration. The Lord’s supper, based on the passover, and the Christian Lord’s day, based on the old sabbath, are omitted.


Verse 3

3. And this—The going on to perfection.

Will we do—There is considerable authority for the reading, this let us do.

If God permit—But why this if? Would not God, of course, permit so good a thing? Alford approves the interpretation that our apostle means here to imply that our so doing is not in our own power, but must be wrought in us by God. But for that meaning a mere permit would not be the true word, but grant grace, or empower. Delitzsch thinks that the implication is, that God may not permit, because they may be already in an irrecoverable, apostate state; but that is contradictory to Hebrews 6:9; and, besides, we cannot admit that this irrecoverability from apostasy arises from God’s non-permission of recovery. St. Paul uses the very same words in 1 Corinthians 16:7, an indication both of his being author of this epistle and of the meaning of the phrase, which is, if God in his providence permit, by continuing life, power, and opportunity to us.


Verse 4

4. For—What is the connexion? Does it mean we will press on, for to stand still will produce apostasy, and apostasy is irrecoverable? One would suppose that so essential an intermediate thought as this—that standing still begets apostasy—would have been expressed. Yet this seems to be the only alternative, unless we admit that an apostatizing resumption of Judaism is expressed in the re-laying of the foundation, as noted on Hebrews 6:1.

This much-debated passage, being the central point in the extended discussion of these “Hebrews’” apostasy, in this epistle, we will endeavor to render to the English reader as literally as possible, thus: For those that were once enlightened (Greek aorist participle) and tasted of the heavenly gift, and that became partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted both the good word of God and powers of the incoming dispensation, and that fell away, it is impossible again to renew unto repentance, re-crucifying (as they are now doing, present participle here instead of aorist) unto themselves the Son of God, and setting him forth as a public exhibition. It is obvious on the face of an exact translation that the passage is describing an existent class of cases. The aorist, or historic tenses, show what experiences these cases have passed through; the present tense shows what they are now doing; and so persistently and flagrantly doing, that it is found impossible to renew them again unto repentance. It was, probably, the known occurrence of a notable desperate defection from Christianity at Jerusalem which awakened our apostle’s fear for these Hebrew converts to whom he writes, and which he now portrays before their eyes to warn them of a like catastrophe and consequent obduracy. And this view is strengthened by the cheery persuasion expressed in Hebrews 6:9, that his readers do not belong to that set of backsliders. The meaning, then, we take to be: Do not be re-laying the old Jewish platform, for you see how impossible it is to reclaim those who have thus Judaized.

It is impossible—We cheerfully affirm, after Alford and Delitzsch, that there must be no lowering the legitimate meaning of the word impossible. But we just as positively affirm that there must be no overstraining the word above, or out of, its legitimate forces. There are, legitimately, various grades of impossibility, absolute and relative. A mathematical or arithmetical impossibility, and the impossibility for a contradiction to be true, are absolute; not to be overcome even by omnipotent force. And there is in the natural world such an impossibility as that the course of nature should change itself, which is intrinsically impossible, but possible to God. No one, we presume, would include such an impossibility in the present text. Then there are what are usually, but not very properly, styled moral impossibilities, namely, such as are found in the wills and conduct of free-agents. Such is the impossibility stated by our Saviour of a rich man’s being saved. Delitzsch very inconsiderately says, in regard to that, “Even the explanation that what is altogether impossible with men may be effected by a special operation of divine power, is inadmissible here; for it is God himself who works through the preaching of the word.” And is it not as truly God who works in the salvation of an apostate as of a rich man? The two cases are perfectly parallel. Christ affirms an impossibility, for the rich man to be saved; that is, on the human plane of possibilities; but it is possible with God. So, humanly speaking, there is also an impossibility for an apostate to be reclaimed; and yet that does not deny that it is divinely possible. Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man, and did enter the kingdom of God, so that the human impossibility was overcome. Nay, so have the tempers of men been in time worked upon, that we may believe that myriads and millions of rich men have entered the kingdom of God, that is, the impossible has become normally possible. Apostates whom it is impossible to recover, are, alas! matters of constant experience. Such have resisted and overcome the highest spiritual influences and forces; nothing more effective, normally, can be brought to bear upon them; and, therefore, in the normal order of things, they cannot be reached. Men who are not apostates, also, there are, all around us, whom it is humanly impossible to save. They have made up their minds, they scout all approaches of argument or conviction, they cannot be affected. God could by absolute power overrule them, but it is not best he should.

They have freely placed themselves in that condition, and are themselves to blame. Now, as we have above said, the class of apostates at Jerusalem above portrayed was, probably, known to our author and his readers. Both knew how incorrigible and bitter they were, and that it was impossible to recover them. Nay, though it is not so strongly stated, many of these apostates may have so intrenched themselves in fixed determinations, self-interests, hostile arguments, and hatreds, as to have become themselves unable to break through those self-formed intrenchments; and thus it may have become volitionally impossible for them to choose return. Recovery may have become beyond the power of their own will. Just so, many rich and proudly intellectual men intrench themselves in fortifications against truth which they become unable to overthrow. And that inability is no excuse, because it is self-superinduced. They might as well be given up, and their case be used, as by our apostle, to warn others from falling into a similar obduracy. But it must be specially noted that it is not said of these Jerusalemite apostates that it was volitionally impossible for them, as free agents, to return to repentance. The declared impossibility is in the normal means to reclaim, not in the man’s own subjective ability to repent. Such ability may in some, or all, cases have been lost, but it is not so said. And even if the Jerusalemite apostates were impossible to reclaim, this does not prove that all other apostates become impossible of recovery, any more than our Saviour’s words prove it universally and forever impossible for a rich man to be saved.

Once enlightened—The writer heaps clause upon clause, as Alford truly says, not only to show that the class he describes were truly regenerate, but to show what accumulated forces they must have had to neutralize in order to reach apostasy; forces than which none stronger can be normally used to bring them to recovery.

And so their recovery is impossible. These forces are now described in five clauses; two couplets with a single clause between. And the five clauses following portray the successive stages of Christian life. First couplet is a divine enlightenment and the heavenly boon of pardon and salvation; next, single clause, a permanent holiness of life; last couplet, the aggressive word and powers of Christian progress and triumph.

Once— Not once for all, as Alford, but once, as correlative to again, in Hebrews 6:6.

Enlightened—By the blended power of truth and the Spirit producing conviction and conversion. So Ephesians 1:18, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” After ye are illuminated, Hebrews 10:32, where the same Greek word is used. This enlightenment at conversion was held by the earlier Christians to be so associated with baptism, as that photisma, the enlightenment, became a term for baptism. Yet the word so used did not assume that the enlightenment and the mere physical act of baptism were identical. So Chrysostom says, “The heretics have a baptisma, but not a photisma; they are baptized, indeed, in body, but are not enlightened in soul; just as Simon Magus was baptized, but not enlightened.” The pretence that the word, as well as the entire five clauses, does not imply true conversion, is entirely inadmissible.

And have tasted of the heavenly gift—Closely coupled by a τε with the former clause. And, evidently, the heavenly gift, immediately consequent upon conversion, is salvation. Heavenly, because from heaven, redolent of heaven, and tending to heaven. The tasted implies the sweet enjoyment of the assurance of that salvation by the witness of the Spirit. Of—The Greek genitive (not used after tasted Hebrews 6:5) implies the true universality of the gift, but of which the new convert tastes only his individual and initial share.

Partakers of the Holy Ghost—A permanent sanctification in the Christian life following conversion. This forms the single clause between the couplets. The Holy Ghost is the general sanctifying gift of all saints; and of this gift these Hebrews had their share, and were made partakers.


Verse 5

5. The last couplet connecting the word and the powers.

Tasted— Implying again the rich enjoyment; and here without the of, because this now grown Christian may taste and enjoy not a part but the whole good word. Excellent is Whitby’s note on this good word: “So the promise of bringing the children of Israel into the land of Canaan is styled הדבד הדם, ρημα καλον, a good word, [English unliteral translation “thing,”] Joshua 21:45; Joshua 23:15. The word of God for bringing his people out of captivity is styled, דבדי השׂוב, my good word. Jeremiah 29:10. The words of consolation which the angel spake to Jerusalem are, ρηματα καλα, good words. Zechariah 1:13. The promise made to God’s people of remission of sins, and peace and truth in the days of the Messiah, is a good word. And the prophet, speaking of the Messiah, saith, My heart meditateth a good word. Psalms 45:1.” The good word of our apostle here is, then, the evangelium, the good message, of the New Testament. A word, as spoken by the incarnate Son, (Hebrews 2:1-2;) good, as revealing a heavenly Canaan, “glory, and honor, and immortality—eternal life.” This blessed word this class had tasted—enjoyed its rich flavor in its full entirety.

Powers of the world to come—Closely coupled with the good word of the New Testament are the powers of the new dispensation. Note on Hebrews 2:5. The word and the powers go together. These Hebrews had witnessed and enjoyed these powers. For the word powers ( δυναμεις) is often, in the Greek, put for miracles and mighty supernatural works. Matthew 7:22; Matthew 11:20-21; Matthew 11:23; Matthew 13:54; Matthew 13:58; Matthew 14:2; Mark 6:2; Mark 6:5; Mark 6:14; Mark 9:39; Luke 10:13; Luke 19:37; Acts 2:22; Acts 8:13; Acts 19:11; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 3:5. An examination of these texts would show that the word is more frequently used for the supernaturalisms of Christ and the early Church in the upbuilding of Christianity than the English reader would imagine. Here it is used generically for every form of aggressive supernatural energy in the new dispensation. Of those in the apostolic age we seem to have a pretty full enumeration in 1 Corinthians 12:10. As these sensible powers disappeared there still remained the normal spiritual powers blended with the good word, the ordinary aggressive forces of Christianity. These are the energies of the Spirit in quickening the soul, in the active conversion of men, in the building of the kingdom of Christ, and the gathering of the world within its dominion.


Verse 6

6. If they shall fall away—A sad mistranslation. There is no if in the original, and no future tense, and no contingent supposition. It is the “historic tense,” and describes a fall that has already taken place, as our translation above indicates.

Fall away—Of course they could not fall if they did not once stand. And that stand was a state of salvation in which, did they stand and not fall, they would have been safe. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Away, means from the previous state of renewal in which the warning requires them to stand. It was not a fall from a state of condemnation, but from a state of salvation. And this fall away is the central thought of the whole epistle. To warn his readers by the fatal example of others is its entire purpose. See notes on Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:13.

Renew them—Bring them back to their once renewed, unfallen state.

Again—Correlative with once, in Hebrews 6:4. They were once renewed, but it is impossible to renew them again. There was a blessed once to which they can never be reclaimed again. And this very word again means they were once renewed.

Repentance—The great, sure condition of salvation.

Seeing they—Words not in the Greek, and which should not be in the English. See our translation on p. 78.

Crucify afresh—Re-crucify, repeat the crucifixion. Their apostasy, as we have repeatedly intimated, arose from a disgust at the humiliation of the Messiah. Hence, “the hanged man” was the Jewish epithet for Jesus. Hence the apostatizing He brews were induced to represent Jesus to themselves in conception as a real impostor and malefactor. They approved his crucifixion, and thereby, in thought, recrucified him. The phrase to themselves, is, then, by no means, pleonastic, as it is often, as in the phrase “away with yourself.” The conceptual re-crucifixion within the imagination and heart has its outward antithesis in the open shame, the public exhibition. The Greek single word translated, put him to an open shame, παραδειγματιζω, is used in the Septuagint, Numbers 25:4 : “Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun.” As counterpart to the subjective conceptual, crucifying to themselves, this word here seems to indicate some public exposure. This probability is strikingly illustrated in a chalked caricature belonging to the first century, lately discovered at Rome, in which the figure of a man with the head of an ass is suspended on a cross, with a reverent worshipper before him, and an inscription underneath, “Alexamenos worshipping his god.” Perhaps the public exhibition by these apostates consisted in offering a public temple sacrifice, with open profession that it was an act of rejection of the true Sacrifice. It is true, the Pentecostal Church continued to attend the ordinary sacrifices in the temple, but there seems full indication (xiii, 10) that before this epistle was written a separation between the temple and the Church had now taken place. And such open self-commitment, with the attendant temper, self-interest, and exclusive association likely to follow, may account for the impossible of their being renewed unto repentance.

Those, however, who take the extreme view of this impossibility of recovery do not thereby weaken the argument of the possibility of apostasy. They only maintain a very fearful view of the nature of this apostasy. Note on Hebrews 10:26. And even if this particular set of apostates had apostatized irrecoverably, that irrecoverabillty is predicated of that set alone. Irrecoverability is not laid down as a universal law of apostasy.


Verse 7

7. The contrast between the persevering soul and the apostate is now pictured by two opposite soils.

Which drinketh—Past tense, drank, as bringeth forth is present. The present fertility springs up from the past watering. Drinketh recognises the live character of the soil as figuring a living soul, a soul that drinketh in the water of life.

Cometh oft—For often does the refreshing shower come upon the soul that readily drinketh it in.

Herbs—Grass, corn, or any grain for man or beast.

By whom— Rather, for or on account of whom; namely, the proprietors of the soil.

But whom, then, do the labourers represent? Doubtless the teachers and rulers of the Church; as the proprietors are, as we may say, the owners of the soil, the soul.

Blessing—The antithesis to cursing in Hebrews 6:8; and in both sides of the double picture the words are delicately so selected as to apply both to the symbolizing soil and to the symbolized soul. Blessing on the fertile soil suggests the divine smile, shedding additional fertility, until it blooms into a paradise. And the beautiful colourings of the picture are easily transferred to the fertile soul.


Verse 8

8. Beareth thorns—Now, whatever it once bore.

RejectedReprobate; the word again doubly applicable to soil and soul; reprobate, not by an eternal previous decree, but in consequence of its perverse products.

Nigh unto cursing—Not sure of being restored again because it was once fertile. In both the blessing and cursing there seems allusion to the opposite terms in Genesis, Genesis 1:12, contrasting our primeval earth before and after the fall; “God saw that it was good;” and in Hebrews 3:17, “Cursed is the ground… thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth.”

Nigh unto cursing shows the downward course of the apostatizing soul, and its nearness to the fatal result.

End—The finality of his earthly career.

To be burned—Literally, unto burning; that is, after the career is closed. The terms are again skilfully double-sided, applying alike to soil and soul. Note that it is not the thorns and briers that are burned, for that would improve the soil, but the soil itself. There seems to be an allusion to Deuteronomy 29:23 : “The whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning… like the overthrow of Sodom.” And here is a closing period to the strain of most severe rebuke and solemn warning commencing at Hebrews 5:11.


Verse 9

9. But—Passing to commendation and encouragement. At this point commences a gradual return, and, we might say, cheering ascent to Melchizedek, (Hebrews 6:20,) from whom we abruptly parted at Hebrews 5:10. You is here emphatic. Though there is a class of apostates, (as Hebrews 6:4-8,) you are not embraced within it.

Better things—Rather, the better of the two things contrasted in Hebrews 6:7-8; namely, the perseverers and the apostates.

Thus speak—In terms of almost contempt, in Hebrews 5:1 to Hebrews 6:2, and in terrible warnings, in Hebrews 6:3-8. This rebuke and this warning are not the result of malign feeling, but of solicitude for those I love, and earnest hope that they will persevere to the end. But this is no assurance that others are not apostates, nor an infallible assurance that Paul’s readers will not become so.


Verse 10

10. For—Grounds of this favourable hope. You have in some points done so well that God will afford you abundant enabling grace to persevere, if you use it.

Unrighteous—The word must not, with Stuart, be softened to unkind. God holds himself righteously bound to grant more grace for grace well used. The man who does a measure of sincere duty may lay hold of God’s righteousness as pledged to aid him, in accordance and without measure. And the writer goes on to show that God is pledged by both word and oath.

Forget—Not to be forgetful, but to consign to oblivion by an instant act.

Work… love—More authoritative reading, labour and love. Their labour was not dead works, (Hebrews 6:1,) but was animated with love.

His name—For God holds your labour as done to himself. The name of God often stands, reverently, for God himself. Romans 15:9; Acts 19:17; Matthew 12:21.

Ministered to the saints—Either to their own poor in Jerusalem, or to Christians visiting and sojourning there. Jerusalem was the Christian as well as Jewish metropolis, and crowds of Christians would visit it, especially on great festival days, needing hospitality. This rendered it desirable that the “poor saints” at Jerusalem should be aided by other churches. Note on Acts 2:5.

Do minister— You still persevere; and, while you do so, there is strong ground of hope. Your real danger is, that the popular contempt of Christ will shake your faith.


Verse 11

11. We desire—As God faithfully does his part, do you perseveringly do your part.

Every one—It is a deeply individual matter. Each man must stand for himself or fall for himself. Same diligence touching assurance of hope that you have in ministering to saints.

Assurance of hope—A glad hope of a glorious reward, with a full assurance in it. The writer has warned them by fear of fall, (4-6;) he now cheers them with a lofty view of the glory of perseverance. Thus, by the double action of fear, driving them from apostasy, and of hope, cheering them on to perseverance, he would incite them to the better things of Hebrews 6:9.

Unto the end—For it is the end, the close of our career, that decides our case for eternity. All past righteousnesses (Ezekiel 33:13) will not avail if the end finds us in an apostate condition. Alford whimsically tells us the end means the second advent, which they expected would take place in their own day. See note, Matthew 24:13.


Verse 12

12. Not slothful in perseverance as they had been dull (same Greek word, Hebrews 5:11) of hearing.

Followers—Literally, imitators; “a favourite word of Paul’s,” says Alford.

Through faith and patience— Equally persevering on their part as God is faithful on his part.

Who… inherit—Universally, all who are faithful and thereby are heirs. For in this persevering faith we are imitators of the entire Church militant, and with it marching forward to join the Church triumphant.

The promises—What promises? The entire volume of all the promises of grace and glory, to persevering faith made with increasing clearness through the advancing dispensations.


Verse 13

13. Promise to Abraham—To illustrate that infinite promise of God to faith which insures to the militant Church its eternal triumph, our author, as in the Epistle to the Romans, goes back to the first great recorded exemplar in the patriarchal age, Abraham.

Could swear by no greater— In a proper oath we men call a higher Being to witness our words and to be ready to punish our perjury. The true oath is a solemn calling of God himself to be that witness and avenger. But, by whom shall God swear? Only by himself. So God has to take upon himself a twofoldness. He himself must be both the promiser and witness. So the solemn words, Genesis 22:16, “By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, that in blessing I will bless thee,” etc. And, Numbers 14:21, “As truly as I live.”


Verses 13-20

13-20. The basis of our assurance that perseverance will assuredly bring glory is the doubly-pledged veracity of God as covenanting and as binding himself by oath. But God neither swears nor promises that we shall persevere. He only promises and swears that there shall be no failure of the reward, if we do, through exerted grace and power derived from him, persevere. Note Romans 8:30. The reason why the old Jews were lost, was not because God did not covenant and swear, but because they did not persevere, and make the covenant and oath binding.


Verse 14

14. Multiplying I will multiply thee—By this promise Abraham is to be father of the Messianic race, including the Messiah, with all the blessing in the Messiah included, temporal and eternal. Says Stuart, “When Abraham was called by God out of Haran, and a promise of a numerous posterity made to him, he was seventy-five years old, Genesis 12:1-4.

Twenty-four years elapsed after this, while he was a sojourner in a strange land without any fixed place of abode, before the manner in which this promise would be fulfilled was revealed to him. Genesis 17:1-16. It was only when he was a hundred years old that the promised blessing of a son, from whom should spring a great nation, was obtained, Genesis 21:1-5. The preternatural birth of such a son was deemed by Abraham a sufficient pledge, on the part of God, that all which he had promised respecting him would be fulfilled. Genesis 22:15-18; Hebrews 11:8-12; Hebrews 11:17-19; Romans 4:17-22.”


Verse 15

15. He had patiently endured—The endurance was from him, the assurance of reward from God. Obtained the (fulfilment of the) promise—Namely, in the birth of Isaac. In Isaac, the Messiah and all the blessings the Messiah includes, were respectively embodied, as the oak in the acorn.


Verse 16

16. An oath—Greek, the oath; that is, the (institution of the) oath. The oath is a divine institution, the colloquial abuse of which is forbidden by Christ as profanity. So far is this from abolishing the true oath, which is an end of all strife, the Lord’s purpose was to forbid its colloquial desecration in order to secure its solemn sanctity. So Philo says, “By an oath doubtful things are decided, infirm things are confirmed, and the untrusted receive trust.” The ancient proverb is, “The man is the surety of the oath, not the oath of the man.” So Philo says, “Men, when mistrusted, have recourse to the oath to gain credence for themselves; but God, when simply speaking, is worthy of belief, so that his word is no way different from an oath.” And a sublime passage in the Talmud (quoted by Delitzsch) says, “Moses spoke before the Holy One: (blessed be He:) Lord of the world, hadst thou sworn to them by heaven and earth, I should have thought that as heaven and earth pass away, so, also, thine oath would pass away; but thou hast sworn to them by Thy great Name. It is so, then, that as Thy great Name liveth and endureth forever, Thine oath endureth forever also.”


Verse 17

17. Wherein—In which transaction; namely, with Abraham.

Confirmed it—Greek, mediated, or interposed as a mediator in taking the oath. For the person sworn by is a middle man, a third intermediate person, between the parties. He is a high arbitrator solemnly called in between the two empowered to witness and punish the perjurer. God, then, performs a double part; he is swearer and sworn by, party and mediator.


Verse 18

18. Two immutable things—His partyship and his mediatorship; his position as promiser and as juror.

Impossible for God to lie—The whole foundation of the persevering believer’s hope of glory is the absolutely bound veracity of God. We…

who have fled for refuge—Greek, we refugees.


Verse 19

19. Anchor… entereth—Usually an anchor cast forth from a ship descends to the bottom, and there fastening, holds the ship firm. But of this ship of Christian faith the cable stretches upward; and the anchor fastens, not into the mud of the sea-bottom, but it enters within the veil that hides eternity from the earth, and firmly fastens itself upon the veracity of Jehovah.

The veil—An allusion to the temple veil, behind which is the Holy of Holies; typifying the firmament, beyond which is the Presence of God. Note on 2 Corinthians 12:2.


Verse 20

20. Through the firmamental veil Jesus has penetrated even to the right-hand of God. Thither he has ascended as our forerunner, our pioneer, our goer-before; opening an ascending pathway through which we are to follow him.

For us—In our behalf; assuring us that as he has entered so we shall enter.

Melchizedek—Coming around from ch. Hebrews 5:10 again to Melchizedek, who forms now the future subject.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Hebrews 6:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/hebrews-6.html. 1874-1909.

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Friday, April 19th, 2019
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