What does Hebrews 6 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
Hebrews chapter 6 represents a high point in the letter. At the end of chapter 5, the author began another warning about the danger of rejecting the gospel in favor of a more culture-friendly faith. Specifically, this work is directed to persecuted Jewish Christians. Many such believers felt pressure to return to a less-controversial Judaism. Much of the material in this book is presented in a "good versus perfect" style. Hebrews shows how the relationship we have with Christ is the intended fulfillment of God's plan.

The last verses of chapter 5 accused the readers of being spiritually immature. Despite being Christians for some reasonable amount of time, they were still hung up on simple concepts. This criticism echoes other warnings given so far in this letter. God's intent for the Christian believer is not to be inert, but to experience continual growth and maturity. If we are lazy, disinterested, or careless, we not only miss the blessings of wisdom, we run the risk of disobedience or discouragement.

The author of Hebrews intends to explain some tough spiritual concepts, but realizes those reading this letter are probably not ready for them. All the same, his intent is to simply move along, presenting these truths as an opportunity for the audience to "catch up," spiritually speaking.

Along the way, Hebrews chapter 6 presents comments about concepts such as "falling away" and "repentance" which are extremely easy to misunderstand. Context, here especially, is crucial in grasping the complete meaning of these verses. Many approach these verses superficially, and come away with the impression that the warning is about losing one's salvation. Taken out of the surrounding passage, this is an understandable mistake. But, in context, it's not nearly what the author intends.

The major interpretations of verses 4 through 6 include a loss of salvation (biblically impossible), those who are "almost but not quite" saved (contrary to the context), risk of disqualification from Christian service resulting in judgment based on disobedience (reasonable), and a hypothetical-but-impossible loss of salvation (also reasonable).

The ultimate meaning of these words is very similar to the example given of Israel's failure at the borders of the Promised Land, from chapters 3 and 4. When Israel failed to show trusting faith, the nation was subjected to harsh judgment before being able to take their rightful place in Canaan. Hebrews warns the reader not to make this same mistake. Then, in chapter 6, the point is made that those who have learned the basic truths of the gospel, yet "fall away," find themselves in a precarious position. Like a field that only bears thorns, there is only one way to restore them: fire. In context, this is not hell, but the cleansing fire of God's judgment during one's earthly life—just as Israel was tried, but not destroyed, in wandering the desert for forty years.

After this, chapter 6 continues to warn against spiritual immaturity, but with a more uplifting tone. The reader is reminded that God is faithful to reward those who seek Him. In fact, the promises made by God are absolutely secure, since they are tied to the ultimate standard of truth: God Himself. This brilliantly motivating passage ties together prior images, such as Christ's high priesthood, the image of the Holy Places of the temple, an anchor, and a place of refuge. Our purpose in seeking to know God better, then, is fused to our trust in Him, and His promises, despite the struggles we may face in the world.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 6:1–3 is the author's answer to the problem posed at the end of chapter 5. The readers are spiritually immature, and so there is a good chance they will miss the deeper meanings which the book of Hebrews means to explore. Here, however, the author resolves not to waste time on elementary teachings. Instead, he will press on and allow the audience to ''catch up'' as they are able.
Hebrews 6:4–8 is frequently cited by those who doubt the doctrine of eternal security, easily more so than any other passage in the New Testament. For that reason, it can be said these words are among the New Testament's most often misunderstood. Taken in context, this passage is a warning to Christians about the potential consequences of shallow, immature faith. Those who fall into doubt and disobedience cannot be ''restored,'' except by the fire of God's judgment. There is a natural flow in this part of Hebrews: from spiritual immaturity, to its consequences, to the confidence which ought to inspire our growth.
Hebrews 6:9–12 provides a softer tone than the prior passage. The writer has criticized the Hebrew Christians for their lack of spiritual maturity, and warned them of the serious danger presented by such a shallow faith. At the same time, these verses indicate that they were doing well in their service to God and their love for others. This section of Scripture reassures the reader that the intent here is to encourage them to continued growth—not to frighten or intimidate them. The next verses will highlight the reasons all Christians can approach their faith with confidence.
Hebrews 6:13–20 completes the transition from dire warning, to encouragement, back to the prior topic. Prior sections gave a strong warning against believers ''falling away'' due to a shallow, immature faith. The passage immediately prior encouraged the readers that their good works proved sincerity. Here, the writer outlines the assurance which allows Christians to grow in their faith despite persecution. With Abraham as a prime example, these verses explain that Christians have the ultimate source of confident hope: the perfect high priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 6 expands on the dangers of a shallow, immature faith. Rather than attempting to re-explain the basics, the author intends to press on. According to this passage, shallow faith opens up the risks of doubt, discouragement, and disobedience. These lead to a situation where one's only hope for restoration is through judgment, much as Israel experienced for forty years in the wilderness. Since our hope is anchored in the proven, unchanging, perfect, absolute nature of God, we should be confident and patient, rather than fearful.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 6 completes a warning begun in the last verses of chapter 5. The author has deep points to make, but doubts that the readers are ready for them. Yet the only course of action is to press on: there is no time to re-establish the ABCs of the faith. Spiritual immaturity prevents growth, leading to doubt, discouragement, and eventually to judgment. Those who only scratch the surface of Christianity, then fall into disobedience, can't be restored to good standing until they've experienced some level of judgment. Rather than make that mistake, we should trust in the absolute promises of God, and the work of Christ, as we patiently pursue godly wisdom. Chapter 7 will resume the extensive discussion of Melchizedek's priesthood.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
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