What does Hebrews 6:12 mean?
ESV: so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
NIV: We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
NASB: so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and endurance inherit the promises.
CSB: so that you won't become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.
NLT: Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
KJV: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
NKJV: that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Verse Commentary:
This passage switches tone from the ominous warning of verses 6–8 to a more reassuring view. The good works being done by these persecuted Jewish Christians were good evidence that they had a sincere, living faith. Even in that reassurance, however, there is still room for improvement and instruction. Specifically, the readers need to pursue growth in their sense of hope—their trust, reliance, and confidence—in order to completely fulfill their calling.

Hebrews 5:11 criticized the spiritual condition of these same believers, calling them "dull of hearing." The Greek term used there, nōthroi, is exactly the same word used in this verse to warn against becoming "sluggish." The same general idea applies to both, which is laziness—a lack of effort or concern. While that specific problem does not seem to affect these Christian brothers and sisters, yet, it needs to be kept in mind for the future.

Prior verses made a point of warning about laziness in our approach to Christian truth. Here, the warning seems to be about laziness in our approach to our own hope. We need to guard our confidence in Christ, especially in a world which attacks it and persecutes those who believe. Rather than putting ourselves at risk of "falling away," we need to diligently seek our faith. This is not meant to earn our salvation, but simply to maintain our assurance that we're following the will of God.

Continuing this encouragement, the next passage gives the example of Abraham, who exhibited this very form of patient faith.
Verse Context:
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.
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.
Accessed 5/26/2024 5:00:02 PM
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