Warning and Encouragement
Chapter Six continues the parenthetic section begun at 5:11, before continuing the great subject of the High Priesthood of the Lord Jesus. Hebrew believers were under very strong political, social and religious pressures to return to Judaism. This chapter describes the importance of spiritual growth, the danger of apostasy and the absolute confidence true believers can have in the promises of God.
1-3 An Exhortation to Go On to Spiritual Maturity
1. Move on from elementary truths to spiritual maturity (full growth). Do not return to permanent occupation with the basic principles of:
- repentance from works that lead to death
- the initial experience of faith toward God (Gal 3:6)
2. teachings of ceremonial washings of articles and people (9:10)
- laying on of hands e.g. the priest on the sin offering (Lev. 16:21)
- resurrection of those that have died (Job 19:25-27; Psa 17:15)
- the final judgment of the righteous and the wicked (Psa 9:7-8)
These were all basic truths and principles introduced in the OT. The writer intends, DV, to move on to teaching the NT truths that are fulfillment of these OT types, shadows and principles.
4-8 Apostates – People who Profess to be Believers but Turn Away
4. Those who deliberately turn away from the Truth are guilty of a tragic and irrevocable act, a public rejection of divine revelation. They had clear understanding of God’s free offer of salvation. They were convicted of their sin and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
5. They had understood the good word, the message of the Gospel. They had learned about the tremendous events of the coming age.
6. “If they should turn away” deliberately and wilfully from every means God uses to reach men, then their spiritual recovery would be impossible; they would be taking the position of the Jewish rulers, that Jesus of Nazareth was an impostor and a blasphemer and therefore deserved public execution. They would thus “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put Him to open shame.”
The distinction in the pronouns, “we”, “you” and “they” is a key to the distinction between the genuine believers and the apostates. This is very evident in verse 4 to 9, “those who were once enlightened…If they shall fall away…Seeing theycrucify…but we are persuaded better things of you“.
7-8 An Example in Nature – two plots of ground (Matt 13:3-8)
Both receive the same rain from heaven;
- One produces a crop for those who worked the land,
- The other produces thorn bushes and thistles (Gen. 3:17-18) which are useless, and must be discarded and burned.
9-20 True Believers
9. They produce the fruits appropriate to salvation.
10. God takes not of their work.
- The motive – Love toward God’s Name
- The beneficiaries of their unceasing service – God’s people.
11. The yearning desire of the writer:
- That each would show the same diligence,
- That each would have unswerving confidence in God’s promises,
12. That none would become slothful (negligent,)
- That they would be imitators of true believers who, because of an enduring faith, will inherit the promises.
13-20 God’s Assurance that He will Keep His Promises
13-15. The example of God’s faithfulness to Abraham. God confirmed His promise with an oath to give him a son. After Abraham waited patiently for many years, Isaac was born.
16. The use of oaths in human agreements: Men swear by someone greater; Oaths confirm agreements and eliminate arguments.
17-18. God confirmed the immutability of His counsel to “the heirs of promise” (all true believers), by two immutable things (absolutely dependable, changeless)
- His Word – which cannot be broken (God cannot lie),
- His Oath – sworn by Himself (the greatest being in the universe).
They gave strong encouragement to us who have fled to God for refuge (Num 35) to lay hold of the hope set before us.
19. A Description of Hope
- It is an anchor of the soul:
- It is sure (unfailing) and steadfast (firmly fixed, secure);
20. It is a Divine Person, “Jesus” (Jehovah Saviour):
He has already entered through the veil, into Heaven itself, as a Forerunner, the Guarantor of all God’s promises; Having become “a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”.