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This passage is a bit confusing. Could someone please shed some light on how to interpret what Paul said here?

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NIV)
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

What exactly did this mean to its original audience? Was the author saying that people who had once been saved could lose their salvation or is this saying something else?

  • As a side thought, How much doctrine should we allow? is still a pretty open question. – Richard Nov 29 '11 at 21:12
  • Do you mean, this passage is mostly a problem because it conflicts with particular doctrines? Maybe a way to avoid doctrinal-induced questions is to show two passages that seem to be in conflict and ask how the conflict might be resolved. (But this passage is complex enough that I don't think you need to bring any particular doctrine into it for there to be a question.) – Jon Ericson Nov 29 '11 at 22:20
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    Your question assumes Pauline authorship, which is strongly disputed among most scholars. – GalacticCowboy Nov 30 '11 at 19:38
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    @GalacticCowboy The question doesn't stand or fall based on the authorship of the verse. Change "Paul" to "the author" and the question is completely unaffected. But, yes, it does presume an authorship. (Also, given that it's disputed means that there are some who believe it was Paul! ;) – Richard Nov 30 '11 at 19:53
  • Rolled back edit and made some revisions to focus on original audience rather than on modern Christian application (for how to interpret within Christian practice today, ask on Christianity). – Dan Apr 9 '18 at 20:01
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+50

Passages like this illustrate that hermeneutics as it is practiced is not a science, since the results are not reproducible. Determining the meaning of this (nor any) passage cannot be done in isolation of what the rest of scripture says.

If one has concluded from the rest of scripture that salvation cannot be lost, then this passage is made to support it by making the "if" of falling away a hypothetical "if".

If one has concluded that salvation can be lost from the rest of scripture, then this passage is made to support that position by interjecting an intermediate stage of "backsliding" where one is in jeopardy but not fully reprobate, in order to provide that those who have backslidden can regain their salvation.

The stated meaning of the text reflects more upon the interpreter's presuppositions than upon the "science" of hermeneutics.

If one lets scripture speak, then this is a parallel passage to these:

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. —Proverbs 26:11

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. —2 Peter 2:22

As such, the nature of the one "falling away" is revealed by the falling away. He is metaphorically a dog or a sow.

This still does not resolve the issue for those who hold presuppositions. It merely pushes the question to another layer.

"Can a dog or a sow become a sheep?" The answer has to be emphatically "Yes!" Since even a "camel can go through the eye of a needle" with God. In the metaphor of sensus plenior, we are each both sheep and goats. Our goat nature will be separated from our sheep nature when Christ takes us away. He separates the sheep from the goats.

Are we also dogs and sows? The dog is one who returns to his old sin. Paul tells us:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. —Romans 7.15

And the law tells us that we are "unclean until the evening".

The sow is one who does not discern what she is eating as a metaphor for the junk that we bring into our lives. If we still sin in some of the old ways, and we still put junk in our lives, the we too are dogs and sows, even while being sheep.

In the context of the metaphoric meanings, this passage says that the current nature of a person is revealed in their falling away, and that the fallen flesh nature of man cannot be redeemed.

Not mentioned in the passage is that Christ can still make you a new creature.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. —2 Corinthians 5:17

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. —Galatians 6:15

God does not redeem a prostitute. He makes her a virgin.

Adam is an example of one who fell away. He could not be "fixed" which is why we must all be made new. Was he saved? His sin was covered with a promise of Christ in the type of the slain animals for clothing.

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    Bob, frankly I am always conflicted about whether to upvote or downvote your posts. Overall I find them too allegorical (I am more of a grammatical-historical guy) but you having some fascinating insights and I deeply appreciate your Christological and pastoral emphasis. Here this sentence especially won me over: "God does not redeem a prostitute. He makes her a virgin." +1 – Kazark May 26 '12 at 3:41
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    @Kazark, Isn't the whole point of BH to collect examples of different hermeneutics? If you trash them simply because they are not the same as the literal it kinda defeats the purpose. Might as well call it the Literal-Historical BH. Also, if you are careful to note, they are not free-for all allegory. They are derived by a set of rules and methods. I would hope that questions and votes would be according to the rules they purportedly follow. – Bob Jones May 26 '12 at 5:27
  • I believe I am reproducing an early hermeneutic but haven't found a way here to present it systematically, though I am willing to have others review it closely. – Bob Jones May 26 '12 at 5:32
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    I have read your questions where you discussed the carefulness of your method as opposed to free-for-all allegory, and appreciate that (upvoted). I also have noticed similarities in your hermeneutics to Augustine's, and I have high respect for him. You do make a good point also that diversity of interpretations is helpful here. – Kazark May 26 '12 at 16:15
  • @Kazark Clement appears to have a memory of the method, but more intriguing is finding that by using it, the problem scriptures of the NT authors go away as we are able to reproduce their "strange handling" of the OT. Thanks for your generosity in reconsidering. – Bob Jones May 26 '12 at 17:03
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Let's break down the passage in its context (DRB throughout; bold mine)—without importing theology into the text, letting it speak for itself.

The author of Hebrews, as the other NT books, very clearly and unequivocally teaches the need to actively persevere to the end to be saved (to be distinguished from persevering to earn salvation), just as this was necessary for the saints of the Old Covenant (citing examples whose relevance depends on said understanding). This is why it comes in warning and exhortation form, and not descriptive form, as some would perhaps prefer.

Beginning at Chapter 3, the author exhorts and reminds the believers of this duty of Christians, who includes himself (v. 6 "we") as no less under the same obligation (Rom 8:12-13):

3:5-6 And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be said: 6 But Christ as the Son in his own house: which house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and glory of hope unto the end.

This is a classic conditional (Rom 8:17; Lk 14:27). Here, holding fast the confidence you have at the beginning of Christian life is not optional, but rather being of the household of the Lord is here predicated on such perseverance. In other words, more simply put, 'If we hold fast our confidence unto the end, we are the house of the Lord: we are not the house of the Lord irregardless of our attitude to Christian living and conduct.'

3:7-19 Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith: To day if you shall hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation; in the day of temptation in the desert, 9 Where your fathers tempted me, proved and saw my works, 10 Forty years: for which cause I was offended with this generation, and I said: They always err in heart. And they have not known my ways, 11 As I have sworn in my wrath: If they shall enter into my rest. 12 Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, whilst it is called to day, that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end. 15 While it is said, To day if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in that provocation. 16 For some who heard did provoke: but not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 And with whom was he offended forty years? Was it not with them that sinned, whose carcasses were overthrown in the desert? 18 And to whom did he swear, that they should not enter into his rest: but to them that were incredulous? 19 And we see that they could not enter in, because of unbelief.

Harden not your hearts (v. 8) means it is in their power to harden their hearts. And we know that hardening their hearts means they will not enter into His rest (v. 18). The author worries that someone will grow cold (Mt 24:12-13) and become incredulous, (Lk 8:13) or harden their hearts. He says so explicitly, to exhort one another so that they do not become hardened in heart, even citing the Scripture and applying an urgency: "whilst it is still day"—while you still have the opportunity (Jn 9:4). He worries they will be seduced and indeed decieved by sin.

How does he continue immediately after saying this?

4:1 Let us fear therefore lest the promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should be thought to be wanting.

There is something to fall short of here (holding your confidence to the end). Let us fear obviously doesn't mean a group of people shuddering in uncertainty. It obviously means 'let's make sure that doesn't happen to us.'

In concordance with the abovementioned understanding of let us fear, he says a few verses later:

4:11 Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest; lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief.

And in yet other words:

4:14 Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God: let us hold fast our confession.

Two verses later, he mentions the inevitability of sinning along the way, but not leaving us a sickness without a cure, he relates how we have available to use the grace of God through Him who can sympathize with your infirmity and proclivity to sin even after we are regenerated (Jas 3:2; Rom 7:19), sought at the throne of grace:

4:15-16 For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on **our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin. *Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.

We need to find mercy when we falter (1 Jn 1:9; 2 Pet 1:9), otherwise we have left ourselves in a state no better than those who hardened their hearts and didn't recieve mercy, but remained in their sin.

He briefly remarks about their being slow to understand even the basics of the Faith, and begins Chapter 6 thus:

6:1-3 Wherefore leaving the word of the beginning of Christ, let us go on to things more perfect, not laying again the foundation of [repentance] from dead works, and of faith towards God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and imposition of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit.

The principle things of Christ are identified as such things as repentance, faith, the baptismal ritual, "the laying on of hands of the presbyterhood," (1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6), resurrection and judgement, and so foth. The audience of the Epistle were dull of hearing even to these fundamentals. Relevant here is the fundamental nature of repentance from the sins of the old man.

We then get to our passage:

For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 Have moreover tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 And are fallen away: to be renewed again to [repentance], crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery. 7 For the earth that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God. 8 But that which bringeth forth thorns and briers, is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt.

Breaking this down syntactically will greatly help us:

  • "It is impossible ... to be renewed again to repentance."

Why is it impossible to be renewed again to repentance after having been:

  • "illuminated," having "tasted also the heavenly gift," and having been "made partakers of the Holy Ghost," have "tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come," and have then "fallen away"?

Because by so doing they are:

  • "crucifying again to themselves the Son of God," and "making him a mockery."

He clarifies this in Chapter 10:

10:19-31 Having therefore, brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ; 20 A new and living way which he hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, 21 And a high priest over the house of God: 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised), 24 And let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: 25 Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. 26 For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries. 28 A man making void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 How much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said: Vengeance belongeth to me, and I will repay. And again: The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

What's worse than dying without mercy by stoning? Eternal death and having your portion with the adversaries of God (Lk 12:46). Why the worse punishment? Because the infinite dignity of Christ is offended, the Spirit of grace who enables us to go to heaven spurned. This is a form of the 'unforgivable' sin—to reject your means of heaven (the Holy Ghost). It's unforgivable not because of the limitations of God's mercy, but because of the nature of forgiveness: God can't forgive someone who does not want forgiven. To want forgiven is completely incompatible with a habitual or life-long, enduring "willful" sinning—to will the sin is to will not-God, and therefore not heaven, and there will be no unwilling residents held hostage in heaven.

The author goes to pains to mention that, while we can falter, for which reason he exhorts us not to, but to hold fast, God has still remained faithful (Jn 6:37):

2 Timothy 2:11-13 A faithful saying: for if we be dead with him, we shall live also with him. 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. 13 If we believe not, he continueth faithful, he can not deny himself.

That is, it's not that God has failed us, but we have "been found wanting" (Heb 4:1) by God.

Let's hone in on the analogy the author gives to understand what he writes before it:

Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 Have moreover tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 And are fallen away: to be renewed again to [repentance], crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery. 7 For the earth that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God. 8 But that which bringeth forth thorns and briers, is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt.

(Notice that the person in question is near to a curse, He is not accursed, He has been made a partaker of the Holy Ghost, anything but a reprobate.)

This is the same teaching as Jesus' on His being the Source of Christian virtue and good works, and that unfruitful branches, if they do not "remain" in Him, are cut off, carried away and burned, a clear reference to Hell:

John 15:1-11 I am the true vine; and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. 6 If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 In this is my Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit, and become my disciples.

9 As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father's commandments, and do abide in his love.

Obedience and bringing forth fruit is not an optional extra and 'its nice if you have it' but 'its not necessary for salvation.' That's not what Jesus teaches or taught, and that's not what Hebrews, as we have clearly demonstrated, taught. He teaches that you abide in Him if, being enabled and empowered by His grace, you "continue in goodness, otherwise you also will be cut off" (Rom 11:22).

So the answer is, yes, it is about falling away from the Faith like those who hardened their hearts of old, and did not enter into the rest of the Lord. To find some underlying 'no, you can't lose your salvation' is just reading into the text which contains quite clear warnings against falling away—not against merely not coming to believe in Christ in the first place.

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  • +1 A very rich CS positional answer – Faith Mendel Jan 3 at 8:59
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This passage deals with baptism.

The NIV translation masks some of the meaning of what is being conveyed here. A more literal translation is:

For [it is] impossible [for] those who were enlightened once for all, and who tasted of the gift, the heavenly [one], and became partakers of [the] Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God and [the] powers of [the] age to come, and who fell away, to renew [them] again to repentance, since they crucify anew to themselves the Son of God and make a public example of [Him].1

The Greek word here translated as enlightened - which could also have been rendered as "illumined" is φωτίζω (phōtizō). Paul uses the same word in 10:32:

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

In antiquity, this term was commonly used to refer to baptism. Justin Martyr (100-165) uses the term, for example, in his explanation of Christian baptism in his First Apology:

And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.2

Of this verse, Ambrose (374-397) writes:

So, then, that which he says in this Epistle to the Hebrews, that it is impossible for those who have fallen to be “renewed unto repentance, crucifying again the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame,” must be considered as having reference to baptism, wherein we crucify the Son of God in ourselves, that the world may be by Him crucified for us, who triumph, as it were, when we take to ourselves the likeness of His death, who put to open shame upon His cross principalities and powers, and triumphed over them, that in the likeness of His death we, too, might triumph over the principalities whose yoke we throw off. But Christ was crucified once, and died to sin once, and so there is but one, not several baptisms.3

What the NIV translates as brought back to repentance, however, really says renew again to repentance (ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν) - with the phrase calling to mind the state of "newness" (καινότης). This makes it somewhat clearer, I think, that the passage is not saying that no one can be "brought back" to any kind of repentance at all, but rather that they cannot be "renewed" the way that they were at baptism. John Chrysostom (349-407) explains:

What then (you say)? Is there no repentance? There is repentance, but there is no second baptism: but repentance there is, and it has great force, and is able to set free from the burden of his sins, if he will, even him that hath been baptized much in sins, and to establish in safety him who is in danger, even though he should have come unto the very depth of wickedness. And this is evident from many places. For, says one, doth not he that falleth rise again? or he that turneth away, doth not he turn back to [God]? [Jer 8:4] It is possible, if we will, that Christ should be formed in us again: for hear Paul saying, My little children of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you. [Gal 4:19]. Only let us lay hold on repentance.4

Ambrose provides a similar interpretation:

And indeed I might also say to any one who thought that this passage spoke of repentance, that things which are impossible with men are possible with God; and God is able whensoever He wills to forgive us our sins, even those which we think cannot be forgiven. And so it is possible for God to give us that which it seems to us impossible to obtain. For it seemed impossible that water should wash away sin, and Naaman the Syrian [2/4 Kings 5:11] thought that his leprosy could not be cleansed by water. But that which was impossible God made to be possible, Who gave us so great grace. In like manner it seemed impossible that sins should be forgiven through repentance, but Christ gave this power to His apostles, which has been transmitted to the priestly office. That, then, has become possible which was impossible. But, by a true reasoning, he convinces us that the reiteration by any one of the Sacrament of Baptism is not permitted.5


1. Orthodox New Testament
2. Chapter LXI
3. On Repentance, Book II, No. 10
4. Homily IX on Hebrews, No. 8
5. Ibid., No. 12

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  • What's the "tl;dr" here? That if you sin after you were baptized that you can never be as pure as you were after baptism? While I admit that "enlightened" may be better translated as "baptised", it doesn't seem to change the thrust of the entire passage. Rather, just the single phrase. Or should we, rather, reconstruct the entire sentence around this new understanding of a single word? – Richard Jun 8 '17 at 20:31
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Meaning of this passage

The purpose of this passage is a call, a warning, to avoid apostasy. This passage is very clearly saying that people who have received God's blessings should not turn away from God and that if they do, they will never be able to again receive God's blessings.

"Fallen Away"

This passage is a call to avoid apostasy.

The one who falls away isn't one who sins, but one who turns completely from God and his beliefs: the apostate. The warning here is against someone who completely rejects God and his Son.

No doubt, any sin whatsoever turns us away from God; any sin is a falling away from Christianity. But the warning here isn't against sinning, but from turning away from the grace of Christianity—renouncing God, his Son, and the grace offered.

For he falls away who forsakes the word of God, who extinguishes its light, who deprives himself of the taste of the heavens or gift, who relinquishes the participation of the Spirit. Now this is wholly to renounce God. —John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews

Brought Back to Repentance

This passage speaks a very dire warning to avoid turning away from God—to avoid not only sin, but apostasy. That if we do such a horrible deed, it will be impossible to be "brought back to repentance".

In a commentary by Charlene McCaa,

The warning of this passage is to be not like Esau, who held the things of God lightly. That one sold his birthright as the first born son for temporal gain or satisfaction, then sought repentance with bitter tears, but to no avail. What was his, then given up, was lost forever. —Charlene McCaa, Hebrews Commentary Project

We see that when someone turns away from God and his grace, lays aside his salvation. This person cannot take it up again. Attempting to return to God would be like crucifying Christ again:

Crucify Christ Again

But the reason why he says, that Christ would thus be crucified again, is, because we die with him for the very purpose of living afterwards a new life; when therefore any return as it were unto death, they have need of another sacrifice —John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews

Loss of Salvation?

This is a battleground topic.

Some believe that loss of salvation is possible. To those people, this is one of the passages that clearly illustrates the point.

To those who believe that loss of salvation is not possible (Perseverance of the Saints), this is viewed as passage that is speaking to the unbelievers—to the non-Christians:

But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts... There is therefore some knowledge even in the reprobate, which afterwards vanishes away. —John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews

From Calvin's commentary, we can see that this is a warning for those who are non-believers, yet have tasted God's grace. From this perspective, this passage is not about loss of salvation (since the reprobate had no salvation to lose), but rather about the gifts that come with knowing God's grace.

Summary

This passage can be clearly understood to mean that if we have accepted God's grace, we should not turn from it. If we do turn from that grace and reject God, we will never be able again to enter into that grace.

Whether this leads to loss of salvation, however, is a doctrinal issue. This passage does not necessarily provide concrete proof for loss of salvation. It entirely depends on the doctrinal stance from which you approach the passage.

Hebrews 10:26-27 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

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  • This i dont understand. You mean if i was saved before and fell and went back and sinned and came back to Jesus to ask for forgiveness and have changed my life this last time to live for him, that God would not forgive me, or keep me from going to heaven? – user596 May 23 '12 at 20:12
  • Shameless necroposting: the key to @user596's question is in the words "If we deliberately keep on sinning,"and "there remains no longer a sacrifice for sin," which describes a form of the sin against the Holy Ghost: forfeiture of His grace by spurning it. To want to keep sinning is to want to offend God. That can't continue into heaven, can it? That's not compatible with detestation of sin, which is the love of God. No, 'if you live after the manner of flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live.' – Sola Gratia Jul 24 '18 at 12:16
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What if the letter to the Hebrews was addressed to a local Christian congregation of Hebrews some of whom were saved and some of whom were not saved?

If so, the appeals to hold fast to hope unto the end (telos) are an appeal to those of Hebrew background who were yet to be saved to finally believe on the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation. So, the hope is not the Christian's hope but the Hebrew Old Testament hope of the coming of the Messiah. And, the end (telos) is not the end of the person's life but the end (the terminus) of God's plan for Israel which was the coming of the Messiah. See?

In this case, all these passages that we assume are addressed to individual Christians that make it seem like Christians can lose salvation are really not even addressed to Christians. They are speaking to "enlightened" Hebrews who were hearing and hearing and hearing about Jesus Christ and attending and attending and attending the church but never actually got around to believing unto salvation. What a tragedy to be one of God's covenant people (a Hebrew) and never get around to believing on Jesus Christ when he came!

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"To the Hebrews" like all the other non-Pauline writings (including the gospels) is addressing Jews and kingdom concerns. "To the Hebrews" is not about Paul's gospel but rather about the New Covenant that God made with the houses of Israel and Judah.

To give some context I would point out that the death of Christ accomplished more than one thing. In addition to providing a propitiation for justification by faith in the finished work of Christ (which is relevant to the gentiles) Jesus also ratified the New Covenant:

Heb 9:13  For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:  Heb 9:14  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  Heb 9:15  And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.  Heb 9:16  For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  Heb 9:17  For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.  Heb 9:18  Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.

The author brings up the same point of repudiating the blood of the covenant later in the letter:

Heb 10:19  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,  Heb 10:20  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;  Heb 10:21  And having an high priest over the house of God;  Heb 10:22  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Heb 10:23  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)  Heb 10:24  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Heb 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  Heb 10:26  For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  Heb 10:27  But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  Heb 10:28  He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:  Heb 10:29  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?  Heb 10:30  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.  Heb 10:31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  Heb 10:32  But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;  Heb 10:33  Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.  Heb 10:34  For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.  Heb 10:35  Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.  Heb 10:36  For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.  Heb 10:37  For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.  Heb 10:38  Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.  Heb 10:39  But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Notice that the use of "faith" in verse 38 relates to "constancy", not belief. It is specifically contrasted to "drawing back" and "sinning willfully". This concern is not relevant to those whose confidence is in the finished work of Christ because unlike the works dependent salvation of the Jews the gospel provides for a "sealing" in the holy spirit:

Eph 1:13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Eph 1:14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

So while the law is written on the heart of a Jew in the New Covenant it does not provide security as does the gospel of the grace of God.

KJV unless otherwise noted.

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