Hebrews 6

“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened… to be brought back to repentance.”

Hebrews 6 is one of the most difficult passages in all of scripture. As our church reads through the book, lets take a moment to examine these verses.

Theme of Hebrews:

Hebrews’ author is unknown, but the title reveals the audience: Jewish believers. To that group the author teaches faithfulness. First, the faithfulness of God was revealed in Jesus. Second, the author urges the reader to be faithful to Jesus. We can surmise these Jewish believers, whose lives were built around being the people of God, were struggling to believe in and follow Jesus. They were tempted with a return to their Jewish faith. (This is a common theme in the NT, as the church wrestled with leaving behind aspects of Judaism and replacing those with Jesus.)

Surrounding context:

  • 5:7-10 — Though Jesus prayed, he suffered. And in suffering was made perfect.
  • 5:11-6:3 — “We have much to say about this…”, then the author urges the reader to grow in maturity (“You still need milk, not solid food”).
  • 6:4-8 — Challenging Passage
  • 6:9-12 — Changing to a hopeful tone, the author declares the reader will overcome.
  • 6:13 — The author moves to deeper teachings, where Jesus is found in the Holy of Holies (Where God resides.)

Difficult passage, 6:4-8:

First, the passage is addressed to a group. NOT to an individual (notice all the plurals). The first century was a communal society, whereas ours is individualistic. There is value in both, but the difference often leads to misreading. Particularly, what is true of a group, is only true on the individual level for those in the group. An individual may change groups.

Second, with that in mind, to whom is this passage referring: who tasted the heavenly gift? Or clearer, who already crucified the Son of God? The Jews. They were THE people of God. But they rejected and murdered God’s plan. Though God had rained on them… they produced “thorns and thistles.”

Therefore, the author’s point is a warning that there is NO salvation in Judiasm. The only hope is for the individual to leave the group and choose Jesus. He is the One waiting for us in the Holy of Holies.

Wrapping up:

I hope this helps clear the passage up, but you may still be wondering about mature vs elementary teachings. When the author gets to the mature teaching at the end of the chapter, we find Jesus in the place of God. For us, elementary faith believes Jesus is God. But the divinity of Jesus was a HUGE leap for monotheistic Jews. (Monotheistic meaning they believed in ONE God, unlike the polytheistic, many gods, religions that surround them).

Still, there is depth for us to find. Go back to where this section started, “We have much to say about THIS…”, much to say about Jesus’ suffering. And that suffering was used by God to create perfection! For me, who prays that God heals every trouble… it is hard to understand. (** Even harder to choose — I suspect it was a threat of suffering that caused this audience to run back to Judaism!)

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