Hebrews 6 │ Eternal Security │ Expository Bible Studies

 Hebrews 6 │ Eternal Security │ Expository Bible Studies

Hebrews 6:1-8

 

Hebrews 6 often poses problems for many people. Some readers have concluded that it teaches the loss of salvation. Others consider it merely a hypothetical discussion about a non-existent possibility. Let us take a closer look at several specific points in the text that will help us clear up the matter. In order to understand Hebrews 6, we may begin in Hebrews 1:1 to follow the message of Hebrews, and, in particular, to gain insight into the audience the writer labeled “Hebrews.” Several features of the Hebrews influence the interpretation of Hebrews 6. Hebrews 6 │ Eternal Security │ Expository Bible Studies

The Audience. The Book of Hebrews began with God speaking first to the fathers in the prophets and in these last days speaking to us through Jesus, His Son. After proclaiming the supremacy of Jesus to all created things, the writer of Hebrews began to describe the audience in more detail. In Chapter 2:1, page 1870, he urged the Hebrews “to pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” If the Hebrews neglect so great a salvation, then such disobedience will result in a just penalty. That great salvation involved God taking flesh and dwelling among men. All things have been subjected to Jesus, Who is now crowned with glory and honor after He suffered in the flesh. Jesus rendered powerless the devil, who had the power of death. Jesus freed the slaves held by the fear of death. Jesus became like His brethren, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Because Jesus was tempted, He is able to come to the aid of those who are now tempted. 1The Greek phrase  for “He is able to come to the aid of those who are now tempted” (“δύναται τοῖς πειραζομένοις βοηθῆσαι“) in Hebrews 2:18, page 1871 described the omnipotence of Christ as supreme helper of people, and deliver them from temptation. We must remember the writer of Hebrews included both believers and unbelievers as his audience, the Hebrews. Therefore, because the writer of Hebrews spoke to ethnic Hebrews, and not just born-again Hebrews, we should take that mixed audience into account in Hebrews 6 and every other chapter of Hebrews. Now, turning to Hebrews 6, we may begin with a review of key terms in that passage. The question remains: Does Hebrews 6 demonstrate that a born-again believer can lose eternal salvation?

 

Hebrews 6:4, Page 1874
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,”

Hebrews 6:4

1. In the Case of. Keeping in mind that the writer of Hebrews wrote to all Hebrews (including unsaved Hebrews), we should not jump to the conclusion that this passage only speaks to born-again believers. In fact, the immediate context concerns a group of Hebrews who have not made progress in their practice of Christianity (Hebrews 6:1-3, page 1874). They may not have progressed because they had unsaving faith, like the demons who believe that God is one, but have never been born again. In Hebrews 6:4, page 1874, the phrase “In the case of” isolates a particular group of people. 2The Greek text does not contain the words “In the case of,” but starts with the word “impossible” (“Ἀδύνατον”), followed by the word “for” (“γὰρ”) and it is post-positive, meaning it never occurs first in the sentence, although it often ties the present idea to the previous idea. The use of the phrase “In the case of” suggests to me that the editors of the New American Standard Bible prefer one view over another view. The addition of the phrase helps smooth out the “for impossible” followed by the characteristics of the people who fall away. The best source for understanding the meaning of the different words and phrases used in Hebrews 6 will be the entire Book of Hebrews written by the same author. Hebrews 6 │ Eternal Security │ Expository Bible Studies

2. Those. This word “those” has an important function in the passage. 3The Greek text used the word “those” (“τοὺς”) to identify the group of people possessing certain characteristics. The writer of the Book of Hebrews used a particular phrase several times. The phrase appears as as the article  τοὺς followed by a participle or an infinitive. The writer of Hebrews used a fairly common pattern of using the article followed by a participle to identify a particular group of people. Those groups included both believers and unbelievers. See Hebrews 1:14, page 1870, “those who will inherit salvation (“τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν;“); Hebrews 7:25, page 1876, “those who draw near to God through Him” (“τοὺς προσερχομένους δι’ αὐτοῦ τῷ θεῷ”); Hebrews 9:13, page 1878, “those who have been defiled” (“τοὺς κεκοινωμένους“); Hebrews 10:1, pages 1879-1880,  “those who draw near” (“τοὺς προσερχομένους“); Hebrews 10:2, “the worshipers” (“τοὺς λατρεύοντας”; Hebrews 10:14, “those who are sanctified” (“τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους”); Hebrews 11:31, “those who were disobedient” (“τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν“). Therefore, when we read in Hebrews 6:4, page 187 about “those who have been enlightened and those who have tasted, we know that the writer of Hebrews follows a common pattern to identify a particular group. This group shared in both of those characteristics, identified by the particular participles, “enlightened” and “tasted.”It may be translated as the ones who “have one been enlightened, . . . .” Those people have experienced a group of spiritual events in their lives. The group shares certain spiritual commonalities. Questions arise: “Are those people saved now? Where they ever saved? Did they lose their salvation?” We can find very good answers to those questions in the Book of Hebrews.

3. Once Been Enlightened. The phrase “who have once been enlightened” has several interesting features. 4The Greek phrase here for “once been enlightened”(“φωτισθέντας”) joins the word for “once” (“ἅπαξ”) with the aorist perfect passive participle, masculine plural, matching the gender and number of “those” (“τοὺς”). The participle used indicates those people were enlightened in the past. We may benefit for examining other uses of the term “enlightened” in Hebrews and elsewhere in the New Testament.  Hebrews 6 │ Eternal Security │ Expository Bible Studies 

3.1 The Hebrews Were Enlightened. In Hebrews 10:32, we read that the Hebrews were enlightened. 5The Greek term in Hebrews 10:32 for “enlightened” (“φωτίσαντος“) (aorist passive participle) means that the Hebrews were enlightened after salvation and then suffered a great conflict of sufferings. So, from this usage, we know that as a group, the Hebrews were “enlightened” in the past, and it appears to be a completed act. The question, however, remains: If a person has been “enlightened,” does that mean that person has been saved? In other words, can we equate “enlightened” with salvation in Hebrews or elsewhere in the New Testament? In Hebrews 10:32, page 1881, the writer indicated that all the audience of Hebrews has been enlightened, and  we know from other passages that they were not all believers. Therefore, the only other use of the root term “enlightened” in Hebrews does not equate “enlightened” with salvation. Therefore, if the word “enlightened” does not mean “saved,” then what does “enlightened” mean? Other passages help us understand the meaning of the term “enlightened.”

3.2 The True Light Enlightens Every Man. The true light, Jesus, came into the world and enlightens 6The Greek phrase in John 1:9 “which enlightens” (“ φωτίζει“) emphasized the continuous beaming effect of the Light (Jesus) shining among all men. every man (John 1:9, page 1653). Therefore, we see that the term “enlighten” applies to the work of Jesus shining upon all people, not just believers. In fact, John 1:9, page 1653, demonstrates that Jesus “enlightens every man,” but not every man will be born-again. In a similar sense, Jesus brought to light life and immortality through the Gospel. 7The Greek term in 2 Timothy 1:10, page 1861, for “to light” (“φωτίσαντος“) here stands as an aorist active participle. It means that Jesus Christ Himself actively brought to light life and immortality through the gospel. Not everyone received the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but He brought those things to the light. Therefore, we see that other uses of the root term for “enlightens” does not mean salvation. The Hebrews, like everyone else, have been “enlightened” by Christ who came into the world.

3.3 Ephesians 1:18–Eyes of Your Heart. This word “enlightened” occurs in Ephesians 1:18, page 1828, where Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened, so that they would know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. We may glean from that use of the term “enlightened” that it speaks of God illuminating something to believers. Apparently, not all believers had the eyes of their hearts opened to these things, but it was a special work of God, after salvation. So, even when applied to believers only (Paul wrote to the saints at Ephesus), we see that not all believers were “enlightened,” but what Paul prayed only applies to believers having the eyes of their hearts opened. We must keep looking. 

4. Have Tasted of the Heavenly Gift. In Hebrews 6:4, page 1874, the second characteristic of the Hebrews at issue was that they “have tasted of the heavenly gift.” Let us start with this word “have tasted.” 8The Greek term “have tasted”  (“γευσαμένους”) appears in both Hebrews 6:4 and Hebrews 6:5. It means to taste, eat, or even experience. As a mixed group of believers and unbelievers, the Hebrews all had tasted of the heavenly gift. Before we look at the “heavenly gift,” we can look briefly at the use of the term “tasted.”

4.1 Jesus Tasted the Drink. On the cross, people gave Jesus wine mixed with gall. Having tasted it, Jesus was unwilling to drink it (Matthew 27:32, page 1554). We may observe from this use of the root term for “tasted” that it means you have a brief taste, but you do not drink it all. In the context of Hebrews 6:4, page 1874, we may understand that the Hebrews “tasted” of the heavenly gift, but apparently have not drunk deeply of it. They never fully ingested the heavenly gift, but only taken a taste. While some uses of the basic term for “taste” may also mean to eat, this verse and others indicates that it does not always mean eat, and so in Hebrews 6:4, page 1874, the semantic range of the term includes “taste” as well as “eat.”

4.2 Taste Nothing until We Have Killed Paul. A group of Jews bound themselves with an oath not to taste anything until they had killed Paul (Acts 23:14, page 1746). In fact, the Roman military protected Paul and Paul survived. The oath to “taste nothing” amounted to nothing. 9The Greek phrase “taste nothing” (“μηδενὸς γεύσασθαι“) means in Acts 23:14, page 1746, that they were intending to act quickly, and taste or eat nothing. In the context, it seems more likely me to me they meant taste, to heighten the force of the oath. Therefore, we see another use of the root word “taste” were it may mean taste, and not to eat.

4.3 The Heavenly Gift. The phrase “heavenly gift” only occurs here in Hebrews 6:4, page 1874. 10The Greek phrase for “heavenly gift” (“τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς ἐπουρανίου“) in this context means a special gift from heaven. The semantic range of the basic Greek term “gift” (“δωρεᾶς“) includes the gift of the baptism Holy Spirit in Acts (Acts 2:38, page 1702; Acts 8:20, page 1714; Acts 10:45, page 1720; Acts 11:17, pages 1721-1722), the gift of justification, the gift of righteous in Romans, and the gift of eternal life (e.g., Romans 3:24, page 1762; Romans 5:17, page 1765; Romans 6:23, page 1766, respectively), spiritual gifts in Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:2, pages 1797-1798; see 1 Timothy 4:14, page 1857; 2 Timothy 1:6, page 1861; 1 Peter 4:10, page 1898), and the gift of faith in Ephesians (Ephesians  2:8, page 1828). Therefore, turning to the use of the term “gift” in other places in the New Testament, we find that the term “gift” occurs with such a wide range of meanings, it may be difficult to decide the exact meaning in Hebrews 6:4, page 1874).  Hebrews 6 │ Eternal Security │ Expository Bible Studies

4.3.1 The Gift of Salvation. In Hebrews 2:1-4, page 1870, we see that Hebrews must pay much closer attention to what they have heard, so that they do not drift away from it. If they drift away and neglect so great a salvation, then they will not escape the judgment of the Lord. In the context, this salvation appears as the heavenly gift of God to the Hebrews, but it is a gift that must be individually received.  In keeping with the theme of the Book of Hebrews, the writer warns the Hebrews about neglecting salvation. Jesus took flesh and dwelt among men, so that He Himself would become the faithful High Priest, Who would intercede for the Hebrews, and come to the aid of those who are tempted. Therefore, Jesus offers the free gift of salvation as the author and finisher of faith which brings salvation (Hebrews 12:1-2, page 1884).

4.3.2 The Heavenly Calling. In Hebrews 3:1, page 1871, we read about the “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling.” 11The Greek phrase here for “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling” (“ἀδελφοὶ ἅγιοι, κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι“) employs the phrase “holy brethren;” the exact phrase “holy brethren” only occurs here in the New Testament.  At first impression, we may conclude that such language must describe believers and only believers. As we continue reading down the passage in Hebrews 3, we observe Jesus being the Son over the house. The Hebrews were that house, if they hold fast their “confidence and boast of our hope firm until the end”  (Hebrews 3:6, page 1872). 12The Greek phrase contains “if” (“ἐάν“) with the subjunctive verb (“κατάσχωμεν“), indicating a probable future where the Hebrews hold on to to their confidence and boast until the end. Within that group identified as “”holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling,” some of them may not hold fast their confidence and the boast of their hope until the end. Furthermore, in Hebrews 5:12, page 1872, some of the group of “brethren” may have an unbelieving heart that “falls away from the living God.” That verse particularly reveals that the term “brethren” described a group of people consisting of both believers and unbelievers. Moreover, the writer of Hebrews used the term “brethren” as he quoted from the Old Testament to describe Jesus calling the congregation of Israel (including both believers and unbelievers) His brethren (Hebrews 2:12, page 1871); such usage confirms our understanding that the audience of Hebrews was composed of brethren according to the flesh, because they were all children of Abraham according to the flesh, but not all of them were spiritual descendants of Abraham (Romans 9:8-13, pages 1970-1971).

5. Partakers of the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 6:4,page 1874, the Hebrews group includes the people who have become “partakers of the Holy Spirit.” 13The Greek phrase for “partakers of the Holy Spirit” (“μετόχους γενηθέντας πνεύματος ἁγίου“) bears close and particular examination. The word for “partakers” (“μετόχους”) means to be a companion, partner, or partaker. The term “γενηθέντας” (a verbal aorist participle) described the act of becoming a partaker, indicating a past event). Other uses of the term “partakers” in Hebrews helps us understand the range of meaning within that term “partakers.”

5.1 Partakers of a Heavenly Calling. In Hebrews 3:1, page 1871, the writer of Hebrews addressed the group described as “partakers of a heavenly calling.” 14The Greek phrase for “partakers of a heavenly calling” (“κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι“) uses the same root term “partakers” (“μέτοχοι“) used in Hebrews 6:4. The term can have a wide range of meanings, including companion, fellow, and partaker. In 2 Peter 1:10, page 1900, Peter warned the “brethren” to be sure of their calling (“κλῆσιν “). In 1 Corinthians 1:26, page 1783, not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble were part of God’s “calling” (“κλῆσιν“). In several other instances, the brethren described as “called” of God were all born-again. Therefore, this phrase in Hebrews presumptively means the Hebrews were born-again, based upon other uses of the term “calling” which normally means born-again believers. As we have seen, however, the phrase in Hebrews 3:1, page 1871, seems best interpreted as referring to the nation of Israel, chosen by God to be a holy people for His own possession. Notice the Old Testament usage of the idea of calling by God in Deuteronomy 7:6, page 298: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the people who are on the face of the earth.” God spoke there of choosing a nation for Himself, but not everyone in that nation of Israel was a true believer. Therefore, the Hebrews audience in Hebrews 6:5 likely understood the phrase “partakers of of a heavenly calling” in the Old Testament sense, not necessarily in the New Testament sense of saved individuals.  Hebrews 6 │ Eternal Security │ Expository Bible Studies

5.2 Partakers of Christ. In Hebrews 3:14, page 1872, the Hebrews have become partakers with Christ, “if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end”. 15The Greek word for partakers (“μέτοχοι”) in Hebrews 4:14, page 1872, is linked with another conditional clause: “if we hold fast the beginning our our assurance firm until the end.” This phrase follows the pattern of an “if” (“ἐάνπερ”) followed by a subjunctive verb “hold fast” (“κατάσχωμεν”), indicating a probable future event. Even here, in the chapter that began with the description of “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,” we have seen that those Hebrews consisted of believers and unbelievers.

5.3 Partakers of the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 3:7, page 1872, the Holy Spirit says: TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS.” The Holy Spirit then concluded that section with, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'” This passage presents important information about the ministry Holy Spirit. Here, the message of the Holy Spirit targeted the Hebrews and warned them of unbelief and disobedience. This passage proves that the Hebrews were “partakers” of the Holy Spirit in the sense that the Holy Spirit provided specific communication and warning to the Hebrews, particularly the Hebrew unbelievers. 

5.4 Partakers of Discipline. In Hebrews 12:8, page 1884, the Hebrews have all been disciplined by God; if they had not received such discipline, then they were not children of God. Be careful in Hebrews 12:8, page 1884, to avoid the illogical conclusion that all Hebrews were saved; the only thing Hebrews 12:8, page 1884, proves is that God disciplines His children. 16The Greek term for “discipline” (“παιδείας”) means instruction, training, discipline. If you are not disciplined by God, you are not His child; the opposite, however, is not true: if you are disciplined, you are necessarily His child. Therefore, we may understand that God disciplines all of His children, but not everyone who partakes of His discipline is necessarily a child of God. So, we must be careful not to conclude from the use of “have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit” in Hebrews 6:4 that only believers have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 6:5, Page 1874
and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come,”

Hebrews 6:5

6. Have Tasted of the Good Word of God. In Hebrews 6:5, the Hebrews group was also identified as people who have tasted of the good word of God. 17The Greek phrase for “have tasted of the good word of God (“καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα“) again used the same word for “have tasted” (“γευσαμένους“). As described above, a fair translation of the word “have tasted” would include a taste only, and not eating. What is the good word of God? 

6.1 Hearing the Voice of the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 3:7, page 1872, we read “the Holy Spirit says” followed by quotations from Psalm 95. The important point is that the Holy Spirit quotes the Bible about hardened hearts and unbelief. The unbelievers were never going to enter the rest of God. The Hebrews group in view in Hebrews 3:12, page 1872, included people having “an evil, unbelieving hart that falls away from the living God.” The writer of Hebrews described that group as “brethren.” Therefore, the main point is that the word of God was brought to people who heard a warning from the Holy Spirit about the problem of an evil, unbelieving heart. Some of the people who heard the good word of God as the Holy Spirit quoted the Bible to them appeared to be believers, and were considered brethren by the Hebrews, but were never born-again. They had heard the good word of the God, but it was never united in their hearts with faith. 

6.2 Coming Short. In Hebrews 4:1-2, page 1872, God talked about the good news being preached to the Hebrews. God commanded them to fear, if any one of them, while the promise of entering His rest remains,  may come short of entering the rest of God. All the Hebrews heard the good word of the God, but some of them did not unite faith with the good word of God and so were never born-again.

6.3 Neglect So Great a Salvation? In Hebrews 4:3-4, God wrote that the gospel was first spoken through the Lord, and confirmed to the Hebrews by those who heard. God testified with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirt according to His own will. Notice that the God spoke His word, the gospel, and it was confirmed by those who heard. Therefore, we may conclude that merely tasting the good word of God means that the Hebrews heard the Holy Speaking Psalm 85 to them, and they also heard the Gospel spoken through the Lord and confirmed by the apostles with signs, wonders, spiritual gifts, and miracles. Yet, merely hearing the good word of the God does no equate to salvation, unless the word of God is united by faith in the individual heart. So having reviewed Hebrews 3:7-19, page 1872, and likewise in Hebrews 4:1-4, page 1872, we understand that the meaning of the phrase “the word of the God” includes: (a) the the Holy Spirit quoting the Bible; and (b) the Lord speaking the gospel of salvation. In all cases, only faith united with the word of God saves a person. In this case, some of the Hebrews had only tasted of the word of God, but it was never united by faith in their hearts, resulting in salvation. 

7. The Powers of the Age to Come. In Hebrews 6:5, page 1874, the Hebrews group had also tasted of the power of the age to come. 18The Greek phrase for “tasted of the power of the age to come” (“τε αἰῶνος”) used the term “power” (“δυνάμεις”), which only occurs here in Hebrews. In other places, the root term “power” was translated as miracles (e.g. Galatians 3:5, page 1822; 1 Corinthians 12:29, page 1797; Acts 19:11, page 1737). As we observed above, the term “tasted” means a figurative description of tasting something, but not necessarily eating it, or believing it with saving faith. In Hebrews 2:3-4, page 1870, God performed “miracles” according to His own will to confirm the word of God delivered to the Hebrews. Notice there that all the Hebrews witnessed the power of God, and some of them may have personally experienced a healing, or an exorcism, or another miracle. But merely receiving a miracle does not prove salvation. The text indicates the “miracles” confirmed the message, not that the recipient had been saved. Only the word of God united with faith in the person’s heart ever saved anyone.

 

Hebrews 6:6, Page 1874
and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crufify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

Hebrews 6:6

8. Then Have Fallen Away. After tasting and hearing, but never believing, some Hebrews looked like brethren, although they acted like immature brethren (Hebrews 5:11-14, page 1874). Throughout the first five chapters of Hebrews, God emphasized that the Hebrews are “holy brethren,” “partakers of a holy calling,” and have tasted of the Holy Spirit, the word of God, and the miracles. Yet, repeatedly God warned the Hebrews that they have people among them who have a hard, unbelieving heart, and who have heard the gospel of God, but never was that word of God united with faith in their hearts. Unbelievers will never enter the rest of God, but today is the day of salvation for everyone with a hard heart. Today people may believe the word of God, and enter His rest. Some of the Hebrews “have fallen away.” 19The Greek term “have fallen away” (“παραπεσόντας”) occurs as an aorist participle. The totality and finality of this falling away, after they have hardened their heart and acted in final disobedience, means they are truly lost forever. Notice they were only tasters and partakers, but never born-again believers. We should never forget the significance of the list of things the Hebrews 6 has fallen away from. The writer of Hebrews could have plainly and simply stated the Hebrews fell away from eternal salvation, but instead he listed the specific spiritual blessing they have experienced, but never derived a saving benefit from such exposure.

9. Impossible to Renew Them again to Repentance. The characteristics of the Hebrews 6 group may be summarized briefly. The Hebrews 6 group has:

       A. been enlightened;

       B. tasted of the heavenly;

       C. been partakers of the Holy Spirit;

       D. tasted of the good word of God; 

       E. tasted of the power of the age to come; and

       F.  fallen away.

In Hebrews 6:6, page 1874, after so many good things from God have come into their lives, the Hebrews 6 group have failed to believe with saving faith. In the sovereignty of God, at some point, they have become impossible to renew them again to repentance. 20The Greek phrase “renew them again to repentance” (“πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν“) ties in with “impossible” (“Ἀδύνατον“) not translated in Hebrews 6:4, page 1874, but now translated in Hebrews 6:6. In contrast to the impossibility of saving the Hebrews 6 unbelievers, Christ is able (“δύναται“) to save forever those who draw near to God by making intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25, page  1876; and Christ is able (“δύναται“)   to come to the aid of those temepted and rescue them. 

9.1 Renew Them Again. The phrase “to renew again” conveys the idea of repetition. 21The Greek phrase for “to renew again” (“ἀνακαινίζειν”) occurs in Colossians 3:10, page 1844), referencing there the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge of God. In 1 Corinthians 4:16, page 1808, though the outer man decays, the inner man of the believer is being renewed (“ἀνακαινοῦται“) day by day. In Romans 12:2, page 1775, believers must transformed by the “renewing” (“ἀνακαινώσει”) of their minds. In Titus 3:5, page 1867 believers have been saved by the “renewing” (“ἀνακαινώσεως”) by the Holy Spirit. At first the related uses of “renew” seem to support the view that only believers undergo continual renewing in their lives, and so believers must be in view in the Hebrews 6 group and they are losing their salvation. In fact, the opposite is true. The other uses of the term “renew” all apply to believers, but they never undergo a renewing of repentance that leads to salvation. The other passages limit the renewing in view in those passages to saved people only; such usage shows how the true believer undergoes continual renewing. Unbelievers may have some form of “repentance,” not leading to salvation, but they can never be renewed after they have hardened their hearts (Hebrews 2:7-14,page 1872, and failed to believe the good news of God preached to them, Hebrews 4:1-3, page 1872. If you think this passage describes the loss of salvation, then it must also teach once lost, forever lost. Apparently, the Hebrews 6 group was repentant at least once before, but the previous repentance did not yield sorrow leading to salvation. Perhaps like the multitudes confessing their sins and being baptized by John the Baptist (Mark 1:5, page 1557), many people went through a form of repentance, but never united faith in their hearts with the word of God preached to them.  In the case of the Hebrews group, they apparently had a form of repentance, professing Christ, but were never truly believing in their hearts.

9.2 Repentance. In Hebrews 6:1, page 1874, we know the foundation for believers rests upon repentance from dead works and faith toward God. Repentance formed part of the elementary teaching about the Christ (Hebrews 6:1, page 1874). The basic concept of “repentance” means to change your mind, and Godly repentance produces deeds in keeping with repentance. 22The Greek term for “repentance” (“μετάνοιαν”) means to change your mind.

9.2.1 Granting Repentance. God granted repentance leading to forgiveness of sins to both Jews (Acts 5:31, page 1708) and Gentiles (Acts 11:18, page 1722; see also Acts 17:30, page 1735). 23The Greek term for “granted” (“ἔδωκεν“) means to give, grant, allow, permit. As an aorist here, the tense indicates that the repentance operates in totality, bring true remorse over sins, that leads the individual to awareness of falling short of the glory of God, and the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, God used the same root word “give” in the same aorist tense to describe the fact that God has given (“ἔδωκεν“) the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. God “grants” repentance that leads to salvation; like faith, repentance is a gift of God, not based upon works.

9.2.2 Time for Repentance. Jesus wrote to the church of Thyatira concerning the woman Jezebel (Revelation 2:18-29, pages 1916-1917). She called herself a prophetess and led the bond-servants of God astray. God “gave her time to repent and she does not want to repent (Revelation 2:21, page 1916). Notice the elements of repentance here. God gave Jezebel time to repent (see 2 Peter 3:9, page 1903). 24Just as God gives repentance, here in Revelation 2:21, page 1916 God gave her time (“ἔδωκα αὐτῇ χρόνον“) that she may repent (“μετανοήσῃ“–notice the aorist subjunctive, matching the aorist of gave (“ἔδωκα “) her time). Yet, she was unwilling to repent. 25The Greek phrase for “unwilling to repent” (“οὐ θέλει μετανοῆσαι”) means a continuous, determined decision not to repent of her immorality. This willingness expresses the human responsibility to repent. In essence, similar to salvation, we accept God’s free gift of salvation, and His calling to repentance.

9.2.3 The Gospel and Repentance. Jesus Himself emphasized that He came to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32, page 1606). Jesus also intended for His disciples to proclaim in His name to all nations repentance for forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47, page 1653). This “calling” of Jesus to repentance becomes part of the path to salvation. 26The Greek term “to call” (“καλέσαι”) in Luke 5:32 occurs as an aorist infinitive. The point Jesus made was that His mission was not to call “the righteous” to heaven, but rather to call sinners to repentance. In keeping with that mission, Jesus ate with the tax collectors and sinners. Unless sinners repent, they will certainly perish (Luke 13:1-5, pages 1626-1627).

9.2.4 Godly Sorrow and Repentance. Godly sorrow over your sin produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:9, page 1811). 27The Greek term  for “you were made sorrowful” (“ἐλυπήθητε“) ties into the will of God (“κατὰ θεόν“).) God intended for the Corinthians to experience sorrow over their sinful behavior. Because God loves His children, He reproves them and disciplines them, so that they would be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:19, page 1918). All discipline seems to be sorrowful, but it trains the believer and yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11, page 1885). 28In Hebrews 12:11, page 1885, the Greek term for “sorrowful” (“λύπης”) describes the emotional aspect of discipline and repentance. God explicitly states that discipline is not “joyful” (“χαρᾶς”) in the moment of discipline.

9.2.5 Deeds in Keeping with Repentance. In the New Testament, John the Baptist preached that the Pharisees and Sadducees must bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8, page 1504; see also Revelation 2:5, page 1915). Therefore, we see that an act of repentance must lead to the fruit of repentance in the way we act after the act of repentance.  Elders work to correct with gentleness those who oppose the work of Christ, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25, page 1864). Notice how repentance leads to the knowledge of the truth. Ultimately, God does not wish for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9, page 1903).

9.3 Summary of Repentance. In Hebrews 6:5, page 1874, the writer indicates that for some apparent Hebrews believers, they repented in the past, and have experienced both national Hebrew blessings and tasted individually some of the blessings of God, but have never repented leading to salvation. They have had time to repent, but yet they never had faith united with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their hearts, producing salvation.

10. They Again Crucify to Themselves the Son of God. The word “since” links the phrase “they again crucify to themselves the Son of God” to the preceding phrase. 29The Greek term for “since” appears as an attempt to help in the translation of the Greek verb “again crucify” (“ἀνασταυροῦντας”), which stands as a present active participle, connected to the verb to renew (“ἀνακαινίζειν“) in the context of repentance. Putting all that material together, Hebrews 6:4, page 1874, provides two reasons it is impossible (“Ἀδύνατον”)  to renew again to repentance the group of Hebrews who have fallen away, despite all their blessings: (1) the group presently crucifies to themselves the Son of God; and (2) the group presently puts the Son of God to open shame. The phrase means that by falling away, the unbelieving Hebrews were actively crucifying the Son of God to themselves and doing so continually. 30Compare the phrase of Paul in Galatians 6:14, page 1826, where Paul revealed: through the cross of Christ “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Paul used the Greek term “crucified” (“ἐσταύρωται”) to describe the past action with present results. In contrast, the Hebrews group was constantly crucifying to themselves the Son of God by their falling away.  Therefore, until they repented and received the gift of eternal life by faith alone, they had not yet accepted the completed work of Christ Jesus.

11. Put Him to Open Shame. As we have seen in the previous verse, this phrase “put Him to open shame” conveys the second reason that those Hebrews who have fallen away from the blessings of God cannot be renewed to repentance. 31The Greek phrase “put Him to open shame” (“παραδειγματίζοντας”) only occurs here in the New Testament and means in this context to shame Christ continually in public, for all the world to see, by their lack of repentance and belief. The Hebrew group who have fallen away continually put the Son of God to open shame by their unbelief and lack repentance. 32Some people believe that Hebrews 6 teaches that a truly saved person can lose their salvation. To be consistent with the passage, that same group would have to also believe that Hebrews 6 teaches once a believer loses salvation, it can never be regained. 

 

Hebrews 6:7-8, Page 1874
For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”

Hebrews 6:7-8

12. The Ground and the Rain. The writer of Hebrews clearly summarized his teaching in verses 7 and 8 with a simple illustration. Rain falls on the ground and the ground drinks in the rain.

12.1 The Vegetation Ground. Some ground receives rain and brings forth vegetation, useful to the owners and workers, and the ground receives a blessing. This ground produces useful vegetation and describes the Hebrews with saving faith. They (the people) have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ (the rain) and it was united with faith in their hearts to produce salvation (vegetation). Those saved believers receive the blessings of God. 

12.2 The Thorns-and-Thistles Ground. Other ground (the other group of people) receives the same rain (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) and it brings forth thorns and thistles (the products of unbelief). That ground is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. This thorns-and-thistles ground described the Hebrew group that were professing believers, but never were true believers. They tasted of many of the benefits of God, continue in their hardness of heart (close to being cursed), and never have the Gospel of Jesus Christ united with faith in their hearts to produce salvation (and so they are burned). 

12.3 Summary of the Illustration. Notice the ground and rain illustration does not speak about some ground changing from vegetation ground to thorns-and-thistles ground. Instead, the writer of Hebrews describes two different kinds of ground: one saved forever and one never saved.

 

Hebrews 6:9, Page 1874
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.”

Hebrews 6:9

13. Better Things. Finally, the writer of Hebrews separates the group he has been discussing in Hebrews 6:4-6 from true believers. Hebrews 6:9 begins with the word “But.” 33The Greek term  for “but” (“δὲ”). This conjunction signals the shift from one hand to the other hand, meaning here that the writer has a different group (“περὶ ὑμῶν“) in mind. The writer changes from the never saved thorns-and-thistles ground to the good vegetation ground. Notice the group in view in Hebrews 6:9 is a saved group of Hebrews, because the writer identified them as “beloved,” and he was convinced of better things concerning them, and he was convinced that the things of salvation applied to them. In essence, Hebrews 6:9 begins a new section of the epistle directed to believers, having dealt with the unbelieving Hebrew group in Hebrews 6:4-6. 34The Greek term for “better things” (“κρείσσονα”) involves a comparison of two things. The first thing is the group in Hebrews 6:4-6 (unbelievers never saved) and the second thing is the group of saved Hebrews (always saved) in Hebrews 6:9. Notice that the writer does not contrast one group with salvation that falls away from salvation, but rather one group that never had salvation with the group that has salvation. The better things pertain to the ones having salvation (“σωτηρίας”).

Conclusion

The audience of the Book of Hebrews consisted of a mixed group of saved and unsaved ethnic Hebrews. All Hebrews had received many blessings from God, and some of the Hebrews in the audience had tasted of many good things from God, but they never had faith united with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. Instead, they lived in a false profession of faith, but actually were crucifying Christ continually and putting Christ to open shame. They once experienced some repentance, but that repentance never lead them to salvation. They were like unproductive soil, receiving the rain from God, but not bringing forth useful vegetation, but only thorns and thistles. As such worthless ground, they were close to being cursed, and would soon be burned up for their unbelief, despite all the rain of God’s blessings (particularly the Gospel of Jesus Christ) that had been poured upon Israel, the people of God. The writer concludes, however, that his audience also had people who were truly believers, and so were better than the unbelievers who had only tasted of the good thing of God, because the true believers had faith in God resulting in salvation. The rain made a saving difference in their lives.

 

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The Greek phrase  for “He is able to come to the aid of those who are now tempted” (“δύναται τοῖς πειραζομένοις βοηθῆσαι“) in Hebrews 2:18, page 1871 described the omnipotence of Christ as supreme helper of people, and deliver them from temptation.
2. The Greek text does not contain the words “In the case of,” but starts with the word “impossible” (“Ἀδύνατον”), followed by the word “for” (“γὰρ”) and it is post-positive, meaning it never occurs first in the sentence, although it often ties the present idea to the previous idea.
3. The Greek text used the word “those” (“τοὺς”) to identify the group of people possessing certain characteristics. The writer of the Book of Hebrews used a particular phrase several times. The phrase appears as as the article  τοὺς followed by a participle or an infinitive. The writer of Hebrews used a fairly common pattern of using the article followed by a participle to identify a particular group of people. Those groups included both believers and unbelievers. See Hebrews 1:14, page 1870, “those who will inherit salvation (“τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν;“); Hebrews 7:25, page 1876, “those who draw near to God through Him” (“τοὺς προσερχομένους δι’ αὐτοῦ τῷ θεῷ”); Hebrews 9:13, page 1878, “those who have been defiled” (“τοὺς κεκοινωμένους“); Hebrews 10:1, pages 1879-1880,  “those who draw near” (“τοὺς προσερχομένους“); Hebrews 10:2, “the worshipers” (“τοὺς λατρεύοντας”; Hebrews 10:14, “those who are sanctified” (“τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους”); Hebrews 11:31, “those who were disobedient” (“τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν“). Therefore, when we read in Hebrews 6:4, page 187 about “those who have been enlightened and those who have tasted, we know that the writer of Hebrews follows a common pattern to identify a particular group. This group shared in both of those characteristics, identified by the particular participles, “enlightened” and “tasted.”
4. The Greek phrase here for “once been enlightened”(“φωτισθέντας”) joins the word for “once” (“ἅπαξ”) with the aorist perfect passive participle, masculine plural, matching the gender and number of “those” (“τοὺς”). The participle used indicates those people were enlightened in the past.
5. The Greek term in Hebrews 10:32 for “enlightened” (“φωτίσαντος“) (aorist passive participle) means that the Hebrews were enlightened after salvation and then suffered a great conflict of sufferings.
6. The Greek phrase in John 1:9 “which enlightens” (“ φωτίζει“) emphasized the continuous beaming effect of the Light (Jesus) shining among all men.
7. The Greek term in 2 Timothy 1:10, page 1861, for “to light” (“φωτίσαντος“) here stands as an aorist active participle. It means that Jesus Christ Himself actively brought to light life and immortality through the gospel.
8. The Greek term “have tasted”  (“γευσαμένους”) appears in both Hebrews 6:4 and Hebrews 6:5. It means to taste, eat, or even experience.
9. The Greek phrase “taste nothing” (“μηδενὸς γεύσασθαι“) means in Acts 23:14, page 1746, that they were intending to act quickly, and taste or eat nothing. In the context, it seems more likely me to me they meant taste, to heighten the force of the oath.
10. The Greek phrase for “heavenly gift” (“τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς ἐπουρανίου“) in this context means a special gift from heaven. The semantic range of the basic Greek term “gift” (“δωρεᾶς“) includes the gift of the baptism Holy Spirit in Acts (Acts 2:38, page 1702; Acts 8:20, page 1714; Acts 10:45, page 1720; Acts 11:17, pages 1721-1722), the gift of justification, the gift of righteous in Romans, and the gift of eternal life (e.g., Romans 3:24, page 1762; Romans 5:17, page 1765; Romans 6:23, page 1766, respectively), spiritual gifts in Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:2, pages 1797-1798; see 1 Timothy 4:14, page 1857; 2 Timothy 1:6, page 1861; 1 Peter 4:10, page 1898), and the gift of faith in Ephesians (Ephesians  2:8, page 1828).
11. The Greek phrase here for “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling” (“ἀδελφοὶ ἅγιοι, κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι“) employs the phrase “holy brethren;” the exact phrase “holy brethren” only occurs here in the New Testament.
12. The Greek phrase contains “if” (“ἐάν“) with the subjunctive verb (“κατάσχωμεν“), indicating a probable future where the Hebrews hold on to to their confidence and boast until the end.
13. The Greek phrase for “partakers of the Holy Spirit” (“μετόχους γενηθέντας πνεύματος ἁγίου“) bears close and particular examination. The word for “partakers” (“μετόχους”) means to be a companion, partner, or partaker. The term “γενηθέντας” (a verbal aorist participle) described the act of becoming a partaker, indicating a past event).
14. The Greek phrase for “partakers of a heavenly calling” (“κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι“) uses the same root term “partakers” (“μέτοχοι“) used in Hebrews 6:4. The term can have a wide range of meanings, including companion, fellow, and partaker. In 2 Peter 1:10, page 1900, Peter warned the “brethren” to be sure of their calling (“κλῆσιν “). In 1 Corinthians 1:26, page 1783, not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble were part of God’s “calling” (“κλῆσιν“).
15. The Greek word for partakers (“μέτοχοι”) in Hebrews 4:14, page 1872, is linked with another conditional clause: “if we hold fast the beginning our our assurance firm until the end.” This phrase follows the pattern of an “if” (“ἐάνπερ”) followed by a subjunctive verb “hold fast” (“κατάσχωμεν”), indicating a probable future event.
16. The Greek term for “discipline” (“παιδείας”) means instruction, training, discipline.
17. The Greek phrase for “have tasted of the good word of God (“καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα“) again used the same word for “have tasted” (“γευσαμένους“). As described above, a fair translation of the word “have tasted” would include a taste only, and not eating.
18. The Greek phrase for “tasted of the power of the age to come” (“τε αἰῶνος”) used the term “power” (“δυνάμεις”), which only occurs here in Hebrews. In other places, the root term “power” was translated as miracles (e.g. Galatians 3:5, page 1822; 1 Corinthians 12:29, page 1797; Acts 19:11, page 1737).
19. The Greek term “have fallen away” (“παραπεσόντας”) occurs as an aorist participle. The totality and finality of this falling away, after they have hardened their heart and acted in final disobedience, means they are truly lost forever.
20. The Greek phrase “renew them again to repentance” (“πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν“) ties in with “impossible” (“Ἀδύνατον“) not translated in Hebrews 6:4, page 1874, but now translated in Hebrews 6:6. In contrast to the impossibility of saving the Hebrews 6 unbelievers, Christ is able (“δύναται“) to save forever those who draw near to God by making intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25, page  1876; and Christ is able (“δύναται“)   to come to the aid of those temepted and rescue them.
21. The Greek phrase for “to renew again” (“ἀνακαινίζειν”) occurs in Colossians 3:10, page 1844), referencing there the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge of God. In 1 Corinthians 4:16, page 1808, though the outer man decays, the inner man of the believer is being renewed (“ἀνακαινοῦται“) day by day. In Romans 12:2, page 1775, believers must transformed by the “renewing” (“ἀνακαινώσει”) of their minds. In Titus 3:5, page 1867 believers have been saved by the “renewing” (“ἀνακαινώσεως”) by the Holy Spirit. At first the related uses of “renew” seem to support the view that only believers undergo continual renewing in their lives, and so believers must be in view in the Hebrews 6 group and they are losing their salvation. In fact, the opposite is true. The other uses of the term “renew” all apply to believers, but they never undergo a renewing of repentance that leads to salvation. The other passages limit the renewing in view in those passages to saved people only; such usage shows how the true believer undergoes continual renewing. Unbelievers may have some form of “repentance,” not leading to salvation, but they can never be renewed after they have hardened their hearts (Hebrews 2:7-14,page 1872, and failed to believe the good news of God preached to them, Hebrews 4:1-3, page 1872. If you think this passage describes the loss of salvation, then it must also teach once lost, forever lost.
22. The Greek term for “repentance” (“μετάνοιαν”) means to change your mind.
23. The Greek term for “granted” (“ἔδωκεν“) means to give, grant, allow, permit. As an aorist here, the tense indicates that the repentance operates in totality, bring true remorse over sins, that leads the individual to awareness of falling short of the glory of God, and the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, God used the same root word “give” in the same aorist tense to describe the fact that God has given (“ἔδωκεν“) the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.
24. Just as God gives repentance, here in Revelation 2:21, page 1916 God gave her time (“ἔδωκα αὐτῇ χρόνον“) that she may repent (“μετανοήσῃ“–notice the aorist subjunctive, matching the aorist of gave (“ἔδωκα “) her time).
25. The Greek phrase for “unwilling to repent” (“οὐ θέλει μετανοῆσαι”) means a continuous, determined decision not to repent of her immorality. This willingness expresses the human responsibility to repent. In essence, similar to salvation, we accept God’s free gift of salvation, and His calling to repentance.
26. The Greek term “to call” (“καλέσαι”) in Luke 5:32 occurs as an aorist infinitive. The point Jesus made was that His mission was not to call “the righteous” to heaven, but rather to call sinners to repentance. In keeping with that mission, Jesus ate with the tax collectors and sinners.
27. The Greek term  for “you were made sorrowful” (“ἐλυπήθητε“) ties into the will of God (“κατὰ θεόν“).) God intended for the Corinthians to experience sorrow over their sinful behavior.
28. In Hebrews 12:11, page 1885, the Greek term for “sorrowful” (“λύπης”) describes the emotional aspect of discipline and repentance. God explicitly states that discipline is not “joyful” (“χαρᾶς”) in the moment of discipline.
29. The Greek term for “since” appears as an attempt to help in the translation of the Greek verb “again crucify” (“ἀνασταυροῦντας”), which stands as a present active participle, connected to the verb to renew (“ἀνακαινίζειν“) in the context of repentance. Putting all that material together, Hebrews 6:4, page 1874, provides two reasons it is impossible (“Ἀδύνατον”)  to renew again to repentance the group of Hebrews who have fallen away, despite all their blessings: (1) the group presently crucifies to themselves the Son of God; and (2) the group presently puts the Son of God to open shame.
30. Compare the phrase of Paul in Galatians 6:14, page 1826, where Paul revealed: through the cross of Christ “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Paul used the Greek term “crucified” (“ἐσταύρωται”) to describe the past action with present results. In contrast, the Hebrews group was constantly crucifying to themselves the Son of God by their falling away.
31. The Greek phrase “put Him to open shame” (“παραδειγματίζοντας”) only occurs here in the New Testament and means in this context to shame Christ continually in public, for all the world to see, by their lack of repentance and belief.
32. Some people believe that Hebrews 6 teaches that a truly saved person can lose their salvation. To be consistent with the passage, that same group would have to also believe that Hebrews 6 teaches once a believer loses salvation, it can never be regained.
33. The Greek term  for “but” (“δὲ”). This conjunction signals the shift from one hand to the other hand, meaning here that the writer has a different group (“περὶ ὑμῶν“) in mind. The writer changes from the never saved thorns-and-thistles ground to the good vegetation ground.
34. The Greek term for “better things” (“κρείσσονα”) involves a comparison of two things. The first thing is the group in Hebrews 6:4-6 (unbelievers never saved) and the second thing is the group of saved Hebrews (always saved) in Hebrews 6:9. Notice that the writer does not contrast one group with salvation that falls away from salvation, but rather one group that never had salvation with the group that has salvation. The better things pertain to the ones having salvation (“σωτηρίας”).