Hebrews 6:1-6: Explanation
In Hebrews 5:1-10 the writer is giving the Jewish Christians the doctrine of the High Priesthood of Christ, when he stops and tells them what he is going to do in chapter 6 before he continues. They cannot accept it because of the lack of growth, and they are out of fellowship. They should be teachers, but they still do not understand the basics.
- Verse 1 should read: “Knowing what you are leaving, let us go on unto perfection (keep moving to maturity) not laying again the foundation (the basics of) of:” (then the verse gives a list of the basics).
These basic doctrines are:
- Repentance from dead works; Human good. Filling of the Holy Spirit is the means of not producing dead works (Human good).
- Faith toward God: Faith-rest life.
- Doctrine of baptisms: there are seven.
- Laying on of hands: Identification, a doctrine used especially at this time.
- Resurrection of the dead: Doctrine of resurrections.
- Eternal judgments.
When this list is referred to again, as it is in verse 6, only the first is mentioned, but all six are referred to. This is seen in the Greek grammar.
One of the laws of interpretation of scripture reads: “The use of a word in context is determined by the first use of the word.” Repentance was used in verse 1 as the head of a list of basic doctrines — the ABC’s.
- Verse 3 says that God will permit them to grow up. 1st class condition.
- Verse 4, starting with “for those who were once enlightened …” and through verse 5 is a parenthesis and refers to believers. This is once and for all enlightened and once and for all tasted.
“tasted” is the same word as is used in Hebrews 2:9 where it says Jesus Christ should “taste death for every man.”
- In verse 6, “if they shall fall away” should be translated “having fallen away.” This is an aorist participle and should precede the action of the main verb: “it is impossible to renew.”
- These are the Jewish believers and they are going to the temple (which was still in existence at this time) and offering sacrifices and confessing their sins to the priest. They were not oriented to dispensations.
- These were believer priests and by doing this, they were saying in effect that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is not efficacious — “crucifying the Son of God afresh.”
- They have “fallen away,” not from their salvation, but from their temporal fellowship with God because of what they had been doing.
- Verses 4-6 should read: “Having fallen away (having gotten out of fellowship) it is impossible [for those who were once (and for all) enlightened, and have (once and for all) tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers (partners) of the Holy Spirit, and have (once and for all) tasted of the good word of God and the power of the world to come] to renew (to teach them) again to repentance (the list of basic doctrines – see list above) seeing (as long as) they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame.” (Offering sacrifices in the temple)
- They were out of fellowship and it is impossible to teach them again the list of basic doctrines mentioned while they are still offering these sacrifices and are out of fellowship.
- To teach a believer who is out of fellowship any doctrine, especially rebound, a human illustration is needed. See Romans 6:19, “manner of men”: A human illustration.