Hebrews 6 Commentary

vv.1-3: “Although the writer has accused the readers of immaturity and has insisted that solid food is for the mature (5:14), he intends to feed them solid food so that they might go on to maturity (lit. ‘be borne along to maturity’)! They need the insight and commitment that solid food can bring. When he says let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ, he does not mean ‘abandon completely the basic truths listed’. Progress is made by not laying again the foundation of elementary teaching but by building on this foundation. […] The solid food of Hebrews is a development of biblical themes such as repentance from acts that lead to death and faith in God, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, in the light of teaching about Jesus as Son of God and high priest of the new covenant.” [1]

vv.4-6: “The stern warning of these verses (echoed in 10:26–31; 12:15–17) is for those who fall away or commit apostasy (cf. 3:12), because they cut themselves off from the only sacrifice for sins under the new covenant and the only hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Such people are crucifying the Son of God all over again, rejecting him as deliberately as his executioners did, and subjecting him to public disgrace, openly putting themselves in the position of his enemies. Nothing is impossible for God, but he offers us no hope of reclaiming those who take a continuous and hard-hearted stand against Christ. As noted in connection with 3:12–13, those who harden their hearts against God may reach a point where they are ‘hardened’ beyond recall. The writer does not accuse his readers of being in this position, but the fate of apostates is something they and we should not forget. In its context, this passage stands as a warning about where sluggishness could lead.

“But can genuine Christians become apostate? Hebrews certainly suggest that those who fall away may have every appearance of being truly converted. They have once been enlightened, indicating a decisive entrance of the light of the gospel into their lives. They have tasted the heavenly gift, which may mean receiving Christ himself and all the spiritual blessings he offers. ‘Tasting’ implies experiencing something in a manner that is real and personal (not merely ‘sipping’). They have shared in the Holy Spirit (lit. ‘having become partakers of the Holy Spirit’), so that their rebellion involves insulting the Spirit of grace (10:29). Finally we are told that they have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age. This suggests a decisive experience of the benefits of the new covenant. However, those who have enjoyed such a relationship with God cannot presume on that relationship, believing themselves to be immune from the possibility of apostasy. Promises like Jn. 10:28–29 and Phil. 1:6 are a guarantee that God will keep his children faithful to the end. Hebrews has its own way of encouraging confidence in God’s ability to sustain us in our faith. But we all need to be challenged to make our ‘calling and election sure’ (2 Pet. 1:10), and this is the practical and pastoral significance of the warning passages in Hebrews.

“We may wish to say that those who are truly regenerate will never fall away, but the genuineness of the new birth is proved by persistence in faith. The writer of Hebrews is clearly confident that a true work of God has taken place in the congregation he addresses (6:9; 10:39). ‘But this does not exclude the possibility that some of their number are rebellious at heart and, unless there is a radical change, will find that they have reached the point of irremediable apostasy.’ (P. E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Eerdmans, 1977), p. 212). It is possible to get caught up in the spiritual experience of a group without being genuinely converted. Sometimes people show all the signs of conversion but drift away from Christ after a time and demonstrate that they were never truly God’s children. More specifically, the writer has in view those who see clearly where the truth lies, conform to it for a while, and then, for various reasons, renounce it. Continuance is the test of reality. Those who persevere are the true saints and a passage like this will be used by God to sustain them in faith.”[2]

vv.7-8: “Jesus used the parable of four ‘soils’ to explain different responses people have to the gospel (Mk. 4:1–20 and parallels). Hebrews only refers to two possibilities. The good soil that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. This refers to those who persist in hearing and obeying the word of God. By God’s grace they are spiritually fruitful. The bad soil that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. It never responds to cultivation and in the end it will be burned. This describes the fate of those who harden their hearts in unbelief and turn away from God (cf. 10:26–31). The writer provides no middle ground for the sluggish and the slack. He wants his readers to be sure that they all fit into the first category!”[3]

vv.9-10: “Words of encouragement now follow the stark warnings of vs 4–8. The writer is confident of better things in the case of his dear friends. More particularly, he is suggesting that, as a group, they fit into the category of the good soil in v 7. Such people receive the blessings of God that accompany salvation. His confidence is partly based on the recollection of their past and present behaviour and partly on the justice of God. The work and the love they have shown him was done lit. ‘for his name’. It involved ministering and continuing to minister to his people (Gk. tois hagiois; ‘to the saints’). A remarkable example of this is recorded in 10:32–34. When the writer says God is not unjust; he will not forget such things, the focus is not simply on reward for services rendered. God knows the reality of their spiritual lives and if he so motivated expressions of genuine Christianity in the past he can be relied upon to do so again in the future. The motif of God’s faithfulness is further developed in vs 13–20.”[4]

vv.13:-15: “Words of encouragement now follow the stark warnings of vs 4–8. The writer is confident of better things in the case of his dear friends. More particularly, he is suggesting that, as a group, they fit into the category of the good soil in v 7. Such people receive the blessings of God that accompany salvation. His confidence is partly based on the recollection of their past and present behaviour and partly on the justice of God. The work and the love they have shown him was done lit. ‘for his name’. It involved ministering and continuing to minister to his people (Gk. tois hagiois; ‘to the saints’). A remarkable example of this is recorded in 10:32–34. When the writer says God is not unjust; he will not forget such things, the focus is not simply on reward for services rendered. God knows the reality of their spiritual lives and if he so motivated expressions of genuine Christianity in the past he can be relied upon to do so again in the future. The motif of God’s faithfulness is further developed in vs 13–20.[5]

vv.16-18: In human affairs, the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. So God used this particular form of speech to make the unchanging nature of his promise very clear to those who were the heirs of what was promised. He used two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, namely his promise and his oath, to give the greatest possible encouragement to his people to put their trust in him. It is clear from what follows that we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us in Jesus are the ultimate heirs of what was promised to Abraham (cf. Gal. 3:26–29).”[6]

vv.19-20: “These verses must be read in the light of 7:20–22, where it is argued that God confirmed the high-priesthood of the Messiah in Ps. 110:4 with an oath similar to the one used in Gn. 22:16. Since Jesus is the promised high priest in the order of Melchizedek, he has become ‘the guarantee’ of the blessings of the new covenant (7:22). Those who rely on him can actually enter the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where he has gone before us and has entered on our behalf. Jesus is literally our ‘forerunner’, opening the way for us to follow! The inner sanctuary of the tabernacle and later the temple represented the presence of God with his people on earth (cf. Ex. 26:31–34; 1 Ki. 8:6–11). Hebrews uses this language to refer to the heavenly sanctuary, where God is enthroned in all his glory. We can approach him with confidence right now because Jesus our heavenly high priest has offered the perfect sacrifice and sits at God’s right hand (cf. 4:14–16; 10:19–22). However, the imagery in 6:19–20 also conveys the idea that our destiny is to live for ever in God’s holy and glorious presence. We can literally go where Jesus has gone. Thus, the heavenly sanctuary is another way of describing ‘the world to come’ (2:5), the ‘Sabbath-rest for the people of God’ (4:9), and ‘the heavenly country’ or ‘city’ (11:16; 12:22–24; 13:14), which has been the ultimate hope of the people of God throughout the ages. This hoped-for goal has been achieved and opened up for us by our Saviour. Jesus as our hope has entered the sanctuary and remains there as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

“So the antidote to spiritual apathy and apostasy is the renewal of hope. Hope is the motivation for faithfulness and love. The basis for our hope is the promise of God, confirmed with an oath. Since the saving promises of God have already been fulfilled for us in the death and heavenly exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, this gives us every encouragement to believe that those who trust in Jesus will share with him in the promised eternal inheritance.”[7]


[1] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Heb 5:11–6:20). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Heb 5:11–6:20). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Heb 5:11–6:20). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[4] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Heb 5:11–6:20). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[5] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Heb 5:11–6:20). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[6] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Heb 5:11–6:20). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[7] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Heb 5:11–6:20). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response