What does Hebrews 6:5 mean?
ESV: and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
NIV: who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age
NASB: and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
CSB: who tasted God's good word and the powers of the coming age,
NLT: who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come —
KJV: And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
NKJV: and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Verse Commentary:
A key component of this verse is the word "tasted," which is sometimes used to suggest that the verse refers to those who have not made a full commitment to Christ. And yet, the same term is used to describe Jesus' experience with death (Hebrews 2:9), which was not superficial. Verse 4 referred to those who had also "tasted" the gift of heaven (Ephesians 2:8) and "shared" the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13–14; Galatians 3:2). In other words, these are not "almost" believers, but actual believers. Since the Bible, on the whole, makes it clear that salvation cannot be lost (John 10:28–30; 1 John 1:9), this passage is not a warning about damnation.

This passage is presented in connection to the story of Israel's disobedience at the borders of the Promised Land (Numbers 13–14). This was a major theme of chapters 3 and 4 (Hebrews 3:12–19; 4:11). There, lack of faith led to disobedience. This resulted in God's severe judgment, and only after that suffering was Israel able to progress. Here, in verses 4 through 8, the same basic dynamic is at work. Those who turn away from the basics of the faith, in response to doubts or disobedience, are beyond any rational arguments. Their only hope of restoration is the same as that of Israel in the wilderness, or a field choked with weeds and thorns: the "fire" of the judgment of God.

Note, this judgment is not destruction. God did not send Israel back to Egypt, or annihilate them. The farmer does not discard the field itself, but rather burns away what is choking it. The Greek term in verse 6 is not apostasia, from which we get the term apostasy, but rather parapesontas, which denotes an error, a wandering from the path, or a fall.

Here, the writer of Hebrews warns us; not that we can lose our salvation, but that we subject ourselves to harsh judgment if shallow faith causes us to fall into doubt and disobedience (Hebrews 3:6; 14).
Verse Context:
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.
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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