The Book of Hebrews is one of the most difficult books in the Bible to be 100% certain on, of its intended meaning.
Whenever I study the Bible, I’ll read it first on my own, trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide me unto the truth.
And I also check other commentaries, and other scholars, and other Christians around me, who also are guided by the same Holy Spirit,
and I check to see how their understanding of a portion of Scripture, compares to my current understanding of that same portion of Scripture.
And that phrase “current understanding” I think is appropriate for all of us.
Based on all the data and information we currently have in our mind, and some have more or less than others, we develop an understanding of how some scripture should be read.
But when new data and new information becomes known to us, that might slightly change our understanding or our position on a topic. Or it might even change it radically. You never know.
And I’ll illustrate this:
There was a blind woman that stepped onto a bus. One of the men there, seeing there were no seats left, got up and gave his seat to the blind woman.
Now, raise your hand if you think that was a good thing for the man to do.
Now, what if I told you that that man was the bus driver?
Now that is a very exaggerated scenario. But you see the point, that when new information is introduced, we can completely change our opinion on a topic.
So the Bible says:
[Proverbs 9:9] Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
Now last year, my older brother mailed me this book:
“How to Read a Book”
When I first saw it, I laughed. I thought it was a joke. But my brother was serious. He wanted me to read it.
And there were some very interesting points made in that book that I took away.
One of which was that listening and reading is not entirely a passive activity.
Often, people think that only the writer and speaker is to put out some effort, but no work needs to be done by the reader or listener.
That reading and receiving communication is like throwing balls into the water, and the water just absorbs everything.
On the contrary, this book says that the reader or listener is more like the catcher in a baseball game.
And catching a baseball is just as much an activity as pitching is. In fact, it requires great skill to catch a baseball from a professional pitcher.
Pitching in a sense is the sending of information by the writer.
The catcher receives the information sent by pitcher, or the writer.
And the pitcher wants the catcher to catch the ball. He might throw a fast ball, or a curve ball, changeups, or a knuckle ball.
The pitcher has his reasons for throwing the way he does, but he wants the ball to be caught every time.
If you are not paying attention to the pitcher, If you don’t catch the ball that the writer of Hebrews is trying to throw to you, you will misunderstand.
Imagine if this catcher was checking his iPhone in one moment, looking and checking on his kids at another moment, all while the pitcher is throwing a curve ball to him.
Do you think he will catch the ball?
And I say all this because the book of Hebrews is a very difficult book to understand.
And so we need to have the focus and attention of this catcher here, whenever we are sitting down and reading this book, in order to properly catch Paul’s words here in Hebrews,
because he’s going to throw us some curve balls.
Let’s look at what Peter wrote about Paul’s writings:
[2 Peter 3:15-16 NASB95] 15 …our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
So even Peter says that Paul’s words are hard to be understood.
He does not say they can not be understood, but says they are hard to be understood.
Just like it would be hard to catch a fast ball, or a curve ball, from a professional pitcher.
So if we do not read carefully the book of Hebrews, we are going to leave our reading with an understanding that Paul did not intend for us to have.
Now that we have that caution clearly laid out, let’s begin with a very short background and overview of the book of Hebrews.
There are a total of twenty-one epistles in the New Testament.
Here they are here.
However, five of these epistles: Hebrews, James, I Peter, II Peter, and Jude, were written specifically to Jewish believers. To Jewish Christians.
This is a very important point for us to remember because the author of the book of Hebrews is dealing specifically with Jewish issues during that time.
There are things that are said in the book of Hebrews that would certainly be true of all believers in general, at all times.
But, at the same time, there are certain things in Hebrews that are uniquely relevant only to Jewish believers.
The Jewish Christians of the first century were faced with two major problems.
First, there was the problem of persecution. And second, there was the problem of false doctrine or false teaching.
The five epistles mentioned before were written to deal with one of those two problems.
The Book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers in the Land of Israel who were seriously considering going back into Judaism because of the severe persecution they were facing.
They thought that they could give up their salvation, and temporarily go back into Judaism until the persecution ended.
Then, they could accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior all over again, and their new salvation would erase the sin of their previous apostasy.
That was the option they thought they had. Therefore, the writer of Hebrews wanted to write to them and tell them that they do not have that option.
That they do not have the option of giving up their salvation by going back into Judaism and then being saved again later.
So that is the background.
Now, let’s talk about the authorship.
Many scholars say the author of Hebrews is unknown.
Suggestion have been put forth such as Paul, or Barnabas.
Silas, Apollos, Luke, Philip, Priscilla, Aquila, and Clement of Rome.
Some scholars even suggests that it is likely not even Paul based on one particular verse.
However, there seems to be good evidence to suggest that it is most likely Paul.
When Paul was alive, first century Christians were dealing with false doctrine and forgeries circulating around the churches, claiming to be from the Apostles.
[2 Thessalonians 2:1-3] 1 Now we beseech you, brethren…
2 That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us…
3 Let no man deceive you by any means…
So Paul is telling his readers, don’t be troubled and deceived by letters that appear to be from us. There were false letters floating around in the first century.
So it appears that Paul did something with his letters to put his watermark, a coded signature you could say, authenticating the authorship of his letters.
Look a these last three versus in 2 Thessalonians:
[2 Thessalonians 3:16-18] 16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
So Paul has a token, or a type of coded signature, a salutation, by which he ended his letters with.
And his coded signature he ended all his letters with is “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all”.
Let’s look at the end of all his other letters:
[Romans 16:24 KJV] 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
[1 Corinthians 16:23-24 KJV] 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
[2 Corinthians 13:14 KJV] 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
[Galatians 6:18 KJV] 18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
[Ephesians 6:24 KJV] 24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
[Philippians 4:23 KJV] 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
[Colossians 4:18 KJV] 18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
[1 Thessalonians 5:28 KJV] 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
[1 Timothy 6:21 KJV] 21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.
[2 Timothy 4:22 KJV] 22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
[Titus 3:15 KJV] 15 All that are with me salute you. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
[Philemon 1:25 KJV] 25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
The other epistles by the other authors do not end in this same coded way that Paul’s letters do.
And so how does the book of Hebrews end:
[Hebrews 13:25 KJV] 25 Grace be with you all. Amen.
Now Paul would have good reason to hide his identity in the book of Hebrews.
Paul was called to be an Apostle to the Gentiles.
And Paul’s call to preach to the Gentiles to be saved was intensely opposed by his countrymen, by the Hebrews.
Every time Paul preached to the Jews, preaching Jesus as the Christ from the Old Testament Scriptures, and how the Gentiles have also been called to be saved, the Jews could not hear it.
They could not tolerate the fact that the Gentiles have been included in God’s salvation plan.
In Acts 22, All the Jews give Paul an audience as he recounts his whole conversion experience, from persecuting the Jews, to being converted on the road to Damascus.
But when he got to the point in his testimony of when Jesus commanded him, “that I will send you to the Gentiles”, the scriptures read:
[Acts 22:22-23 KJV] 22 And they gave him audience [up] unto this word [about the Gentiles], and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. 23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air…
So Paul was a very controversial figure for the Jews. He really couldn’t say anything to the Jews without being instantly hated.
But Paul loved his country. He loved his Jewish brethren.
So It seems to me that Paul also wrote Hebrews, because Paul loves the Hebrew people,
and knowing that Jewish non-believers would read this letter to the Hebrews, perhaps Paul did not want to immediately give them a prejudice by making known his authorship.
Imagine if Donald Trump tried preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to Democrats in Washington D.C.
His message would be instantly rejected, not because of the gospel message, but because of the messenger. Because Trump is a polarizing figure.
So Paul would have good reason of hiding his authorship, because the Apostle Paul during this time was also a very polarizing figure.
Now this epistle to the Hebrews is written in such a way that you don’t even really need to know who the author is, because it stands on its own two feet.
In mathematics, if I prove a theorem, it really doesn’t matter who the author is, because the proof is in the paper. It’s in the math and in the logic.
The book of Hebrews is the same thing, because the writer makes the case that Jesus is better than the Old Testament law, better than Judaism.
And Paul proves his points, reasoning alone from the Old Testament Scriptures.
Paul had three main objectives:
- Combat possible apostasy (Heb 2:1-4; 10:19-25);
- Encourage them to press on to spiritual maturity (Heb 5:11-14; 10:32-39);
- And Comfort them in their persecutions (Heb 11:1-12:3).
And Paul’s method was to highlight the superiority of Jesus against the three pillars of Judaism:
The three pillars of Judaism are: Angels; Moses; and, the Levitical Priest-hood.
And as Paul makes his logical arguments, he also includes five major warnings.
Here is an outline of the book of Hebrews:
First, Jesus is The New and Better Deliverer (Hebrews 1-7)
- Jesus is The God-man: better than the Angels
- Warning #1 (of 5) [The danger of drifting away](Ch. 1, 2)
- Jesus is An Apostle better than Moses (Ch. 2:1-4)
- Jesus is A Leader better than Joshua (Ch. 3)
- Warning #2 (of 5) [The danger of disobedience](Ch. 4)
- Jesus is A Priest better than Aaron (Ch. 3:17-4:13 Ch. 5 – 7)
- Warning #3 (of 5) [The danger of immaturity] (Ch. 5:11-6:20)
Through Jesus we have A Better Covenant (Hebrews 8 – 10)
- Jesus has given us a Better Sanctuary(Ch. 9)
- Jesus was a Better Sacrifice(Ch. 10)
Practical Applications (Hebrews 10:18 -13)
- Warning #4 (of 5) [The danger of willful sin](Ch. 10:26-31)
- Hall of Faith(Ch. 11)
- A Call to Endurance(Ch. 12 – 13)
- Warning #5 (of 5) [The danger of indifference](Ch. 12:25-29)
Another evidence that shows that Hebrews is probably written by Paul was that the writer had a clear command of the Old Testament.
The book of Hebrews is really an exposition of select Old Testament Passages.
- 1:1 – 2:4 (Exposition of verses from various Psalms; 2 Samuel 7, Deuteronomy 32)
- 2:5 – 2:18 (Exposition of Ps 8:4-6)
- 3:1 – 4:13 (Exposition of Ps 95:7-11)
- 4:14 – 7:28 (Exposition of Ps 110:4)
- 8:1 – 10:18 (Exposition of Jeremiah 31:31-34)
- 10:32 – 12:3 ( Exposition of Habukuk 2:3, 4)
- 12:4-13 (Exposition of Pr 3:11, 12)
- 12:18-29 (Exposition of Exodus 19; 20)
And we know that Paul was not an unlearned fisherman like Peter or John was.
The book of Romans, written by Paul, is the most profound writing that exists anywhere in the world.
Paul was a Roman citizen, having an intimate knowledge of both Hebrew and Greek culture, along with their history, and their religion, their philosophy, poetry, science, and music.
Yet, he was also a Hebrew of the Hebrews, born in Tarsus, and he studied under the famous rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem.
Studying with a famous rabbi, he learned to write in both Greek and Hebrew and became thoroughly versed in the law.
And then we read in Galatians:
[Galatians 1:11-12 KJV] 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
So Paul had the ultimate education.
He had the best Roman education.
He had the best Jewish education.
And then he was personally taught be Jesus Christ, probably during those three years while he was in the deserts of Arabia after his conversion.
In Acts 22, Ananias told Paul:
[Acts 22:14-15 KJV] 14 …The God of our fathers hath chosen you, that you should know his will, and see that Just One, and should hear the voice of his mouth. 15 For you shall be his witness unto all men of what you have seen and heard.
So it seems clear that Paul was uniquely taught by Jesus Christ himself.
And it is very evident that the book of Hebrews was written by a person who had a great love for the Hebrew people, which love Paul had.
Written by a person who had a strong understanding of the Old Testament scriptures, which Paul also had.
And written by a person who could accurately exposit the Old Testament Scriptures from a New Covenant perspective, which Paul also would have been able to do having been personally taught by Jesus Christ.
Remember on the road to Emmas, Cleopas and his friend were walking with Jesus, not understanding why Jesus was crucified.
But Jesus was able to open their minds to the Scriptures, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, and He made clear to them all the scriptures of the things concerning himself.
And the same would have been true for Paul, having spent considerable time being taught by Jesus himself.
Paul would have had a clear command of the Old Testament Scriptures from a new covenant perspective.
And then we see in three of the epistles, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, two of which we know for sure Paul wrote.
And in all three these books, and only in these three books, the author quotes Habakkuk 2:4, the just shall live by his faith.
[Romans 1:17 KJV] 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
[Galatians 3:11 KJV] 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
[Hebrews 10:38 KJV] 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
And there is other evidence that we could consider, but we will run out of time.
But it seems likely that Paul wrote Hebrews.
But even if he didn’t, the Book of Hebrews is a treatise with logical proofs from the Old Testament that proves itself. It is technically not important for us to know who wrote it.
We must only study the logic and the verse references behind it, and decide for ourselves if the writers points are valid.
With all that being said, I though it would be good now to read a small portion of Hebrews chapter 5 and chapter 6, with an emphasis to encouraging everyone here, including myself, to press onward towards Christian maturity, because that is really what the book Hebrews is all about.
My prayer also is that we are motivated to study Hebrews on our own, because it is really an important book for us to understand.
And I’m going to present what I believe to be a truthful interpretation of Hebrews, chapter 6.
And I have read many different commentaries and have compared many different scholars and their position on Hebrews 6.
And many of them do not agree on the meaning of these verses.
You may leave here holding a different view than what I present here, particularly on the topic of if a Christian can lose their salvation or not.
But regardless of the position you hold in regards to salvation, we can all agree that we should encourage one another to press on towards Christian maturity, because that again, is what Hebrews is all about.
So let’s begin:
[Hebrews 5:10-14 KJV]
10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
So Jesus Christ is a high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
We won’t spend too much time on this, but in short, Jesus has a type of priesthood that is like the Melchisedec priesthood, which is a priesthood greater than the Levitical priesthood.
And this New Priesthood is based on a better covenant.
It functions in a better sanctuary.
And is based on a better sacrifice.
The difference between a prophet and a priest is in the direction of the communication.
A prophet is God’s representative to the people. A prophet proclaims, fortells, exhorts, and presents God to the people.
A priest presents the people to God. He is a people’s representative before God the Father.
Today, our priest is Jesus Christ, not a Levitical Priest.
We have access to God the Father through our High Priest Jesus Christ.
And our High Priest has offered a better sacrifice in offering himself for the removal of sin, once and for all.
This is something that the Levitical Priests could not do.
And by the blood of Jesus Christ, we can enter into the Holiest because Jesus Christ right now is in the real Holy of Holies, being with God the Father right now.
And that is what it means when it says Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchisedec.
Let’s go on.
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing you are dull of hearing.
The whom is Melchizedek and the Order of Melchizedek.
The writer plainly states that his readers are in no condition to receive the teaching he feels obligated to give them.
He calls them immature, backwards, untaught, and dull of hearing. The Greek word for dull nothros means “to have no push;” to be lazy or slug-gish in hearing.
Every believer must develop ears that can really hear, especially of things which are hard to interpret. Hard to understand.
Every believer must mature in order to handle the deeper things of Biblical doctrine.
12 For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
By this time, these Jewish Christians should have been teachers of the Word of God.
While not everyone can have the gift of teaching, everyone should be able to teach on a one-to-one basis after reaching a level of spiritual maturity.
But instead of being teachers of the Word, they need to be re-taught the first principles, the ABCs of Biblical doctrine.
And that they have need of milk shows a state of immaturity.
In this context, milk refers to the ABCs of Biblical doctrine.
The ABC’s of New Testament doctrine is this:
- Repentance from dead works
- Faith toward God
- Doctrine of baptisms
- Laying on of hands
- Resurrection of the dead
- And eternal judgment.
solid food or “meat” is advanced doctrinal truths and their application to the issues of life.
Jesus Christ being after the Order of Melchizedek is in the meat category of the Word of God.
Therefore these believers are not ready yet for this type of meat of the Word.
This is why the writer drops the subject of Melchizedek until later in chapter 7, pursuing instead his third warning, for these Jewish believers to progress to maturity.
13 For every one that uses milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
My daughter Gracie is learning her multiplication tables right now. She is 8 years old. And I’m proud of her. She is multiplying single digit numbers together.
But if she was in college, studying engineering, and still trying to learn the basic principles of mathematics, She would be unskillful.
And the same can be true about how we read, interpret, and apply the Scriptures.
The Jewish Christians here failed to make practical use of the knowledge they had and this caused them to become unskilled.
They knew that Jesus Christ was the final sacrifice, and yet, they saw nothing wrong with going back to the Old Levitical Sacrificial System.
The problem was not knowledge, but a matter of exercising that knowledge in life situations to discern right and wrong.
The very fact that these Jewish Christians are considering going back into Judaism shows a failure of exercising good judgment.
14 But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Maturity is a result of careful exercise.
Mature Christians are ones who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil;
he is one who is able to make responsible decisions.
The obligation contained in this verse is for all believers to make proper use of what one knows, and also to increase in their understanding of deep spiritual truths.
In summarizing their spiritual state, the writer states that they have been believers for a long time;
they have been taught sound doctrine in the past, because by now they ought to be teachers.
However, they have not retained or used the truth that they have been taught and need to relearn the first principles of the oracles of God.
They have reverted from adulthood back into spiritual infancy.
They have lapsed from maturity to immaturity and from “meat” to milk.
Although the spiritual adult and the spiritual babe both have the Word of God, only the adult knows how to use it.
Proper usage of Scripture is what causes believers to progress from immaturity to maturity, but a lack of usage means regressing from maturity to immaturity.
Next, Paul deals with their need for progression because their condition shows that they need to grow and mature in their faith.
The passage we are about to read is perhaps the most controversial passage in the Book of Hebrews.
It is a verse often cited when discussing if a believer can lose their salvation.
And it will be important for us to keep in mind that these words are written to a body of Jewish believers who were contemplating going back into Judaism for the purpose of escaping persecution.
And the context of our reading is that the author is trying to move them out of the state of immaturity to a state of maturity;
[Hebrews 6:1-2 KJV] 1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
The first baby doctrine that needed to be left behind was: repentance from dead works.
dead works refer to the works of the Levitical Sacrifical System that became dead because the life in them was only temporary;
they came to an end with the death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, they need to repent or change their minds about going back to a dead Levitical Sacrificial System.
The second baby doctrine that needed to be left behind was: faith toward God. This is their faith commitment they made to Jesus when they were saved.
Having faith in Jesus Christ is how you begin your personal relationship with God.
But if you are hearing the same sermon every Sunday, that you need to have faith in God to be saved, you are going to get bored at church and you are not going to grow as a Christian.
The third baby doctrine that needed to be left behind was: the teaching of baptisms or, more correctly, “washings or immersions.”
These are the ceremonial immersions of the Levitical System, and also Christian baptism.
The word baptisms is plural because there are all kinds of immersions; such as, proselyte baptism, John’s baptism, believer’s baptism, and others.
Baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus Christ marked the final point of separation from Judaism among Jewish believers.
The fourth baby doctrine that needed to be left behind was: the laying on of hands.
This was the Old Testament means of imparting blessings and the way of appointing someone to an office.
This could also be the Old Testament system of identification.
the priest would lay his hands upon the sacrifices (Lev. 16:21), and the individual would also lay his hands upon the sacrifice (Lev. 1:4). The animal was, therefore, identified with the sinner and would die in the sinner’s place.
The fifth baby doctrine that needed to be left behind was: resurrection of the dead.
This too, is an Old Testament doctrine, found in Job 19:25; Isaiah 26:19; and Daniel 12:2, that should be settled once-and-for-all.
The fact is, there will be a resurrection, so they should not argue or wrestle about this doctrine.
And the sixth baby doctrine that needed to be left behind was: eternal judgment;
This is the judgment of the Great White Throne Judgement, which leads to the Lake of Fire.
They should not be wrestling about whether unbelievers really have to suffer for eternity. The Scriptures are clear on this topic.
So Paul is saying that these Jewish Christians do not need to wrestle with these six baby doctrines anymore, but they should leave these behind in order to progress from milk to meat.
3 And this will we do, if God permit.
Paul points out the importance of maturity in verse 3
This goal of maturity is achievable if the will of the believer and the will of God agree. Certainly God wants them to press on to maturity, but do the believers want to mature?
And Paul even wants to help them. This will [we] do, if God permit. But God called Paul to preach to the Gentiles.
Also, One cannot be brought to maturity without leaving behind the indifference and dullness of hearing as recorded in Hebrews 5:11-14.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
the sentence begins with the phrase “It is impossible,” emphasizing that this is a situation where it is impossible to renew repentance.
In other words, you can’t be a Jewish Christian, go back into Judaism to escape persecution, and then renew your salvation again.
Salvation does not work like that.
It is impossible in the same way that it is impossible to get a second PhD in the same field as your first PhD.
Once you are saved, you are saved. You can not be re-saved.
Once you are adopted as a child of God, you can not be readopted as a child of God again, because you are already a child of God.
Paul begins showing them that they had five spiritual privileges that proved them to be true believers.
The first spiritual privilege is that they were once enlightened. This has to do with the decisive moment when God’s “light” was perceived or grasped.
It deals with their regeneration, their salvation.
It refers to receiving a full knowledge of the truth. They had been once and for all enlightened with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they became regenerated.
The second spiritual privilege is that they tasted of the heavenly gift.
The word tasted refers to “a genuine experience,” “to come to know something.” It suggests a real enjoyment of the blessings of God and the possession of spiritual life.
Some commentaries try to deny that these were true believers by saying, “Well, it says they only tasted of the heavenly gift but did not really swallow it, therefore, they were not truly saved.”
But that cannot be the meaning of the term, because it says of Jesus in Hebrews 2:9:
[Hebrews 2:9 KJV] 9 …that [Jesus] … should taste death for every man.
Did Jesus only “nibble at” death without actually undergoing physical death?
Not at all!
The Bible makes it very clear that Jesus died a true physical death.
Tasting does not mean only to nibble at so as to not really take it in;
it means to really experience it.
Tasting means in Hebrews 2:9, as it means here “a genuine experience,”
The third spiritual privilege is that they were made partakers of the Holy Spirit;
this word means “true participation.” They have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
This is really important because Holy Spirit baptism is what seals you as a child of God, and what makes you a Christian.
We are talking about Jewish Christians here.
The fourth spiritual privilege is that they tasted the good word of God.
The Greek word for word is rhema, meaning “the spoken word.”
These people understood the word of God.
When Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus said to Peter:
[Matthew 16:17 KJV] 17 …Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
[Romans 10:17 KJV] 17 …faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
These people have also tasted the good word of God.
And the fifth spiritual privilege is that they also tasted the powers of the age to come;
These Jews tasted of the powers that soon will bring in the Messianic Kingdom.
[Luke 24:49 NASB95] 49 “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
That they tasted means that they experienced rebirth in their life, filled with the Holy Spirit, and that they will some day enjoy the Messianic Kingdom, and eternal life.
Now Remember, the writer is talking to Jewish Christians who were thinking of going back into Judaism to escape persecution, who thought they could renew their salvation at some future date.
Then we get to verse 6:
6 [it is impossible] [for true believers]… If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Now the author deals with this crucial verse.
The point he is making is that for believers who have these five spiritual privileges that prove them to be true believers, there is something that is impossible for them to do.
Which is, it is impossible for a believer, who hypothetically falls away from the faith, and becomes unsaved, it is impossible to renew them to repentance, and to be saved again.
The reason it is impossible is that for them to be able to lose their salvation and be saved again later would require the Son of God to be crucified again.
That the first crucifixion was not enough. That another sacrifice from the Jesus would be needed again to save Christians who have supposedly forfeited their first salvation.
This would put Jesus’s first curcifixion sacrifice as not saving to the uttermost, and putting his sacrifice to an open shame.
It would mean that His first death did not provide a complete salvation;
To understand this verse correctly in the context of first century Jewish Christians, it is impossible for those who had experienced these five spiritual privileges, to lose their salvation, and then to be saved again later.
To summarize this section: These first century Jews thought they had an option that they did not really have.
They did not have the option of giving up their salvation, going back into Judaism, and being saved again later, because that would require another sacrifice from Jesus to cover a second salvation.
However, Jesus does not need to provide a second salvation sacrifice, because He has already saved to the uttermost with His crucifixion;
At this point, the Jewish Christians have two options.
The first option was to go back into Judaism.
This would not mean the loss of salvation.
But remember, it was the mature Jewish Christians who took Jesus’ words seriously, who fled Jerusalem when the sign that Jesus warned about was given, which was armies surrounding Jerusalem. (Luke 21:20)
Only the non-believing Jews would be judged for the unpardonable sin in the judgment of A.D. 70.
So if these believing Jews fell back into Judaism, they would most likely be part of that judgement.
Their second option was to make their break from Judaism complete.
This comes by pressing on towards Christian maturity.
The rest of chapter 6 is trying to encourage them to do just that: to press on to maturity.
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes often upon it, and brings forth herbs useful for them by whom it is dressed, receive blessing from God:
8 But that which yields thorns and thistles is rejected, and is near unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
In verse 7, the author gives an illustration concerning the land.
The rain falls on the good and bad ground and it is expected to produce herbs for those who tilled it.
In the same way, the blessing from God falls upon all kinds of believers.
Some believers produce fruit and some believers do not produce fruit.
And there will be consequences for both.
Producing fruit will result in rewards.
But there will be two consequences for fruitlessness. If you produce thorns and thistles in your life:
first, discipline in this life; and second, loss of rewards in the next life.
Land that bears thorns and thistles will be rejected, meaning, “to be disapproved” or “disqualified.”
The Bible says all our works will be revealed by fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Remember, non-believers will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgement.
Christians will not be at the Great White Throne Judgement. But Christians will be judged at the Bema Seat of Christ.
The Bible makes this very clear:
[2 Corinthians 5:10 KJV] 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Consider that last part of the verse. “Whether it be good or bad”.
We Christians will also have to give an account of the bad things we have done, along with the good things we have done while we lived in our bodies.
What we do now as Christians matters.
Now Paul is not saying these Jewish Christians can lose their salvation, only their reward.
If they press on to maturity, they will produce fruit, have good works, and be rewarded.
[Hebrews 6:9-12 KJV] 9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany [salvation], though we thus speak.
In verse 9, the writer is persuaded that they will move out of their babyhood and press on to maturity and do the things that accompany salvation.
Notice that Paul says they are already saved.
things that accompany salvation.
But because of their lack of Christian growth, Paul was forced to speak to them in harsh language.
And then verse 10:
10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which you have shewed toward his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Remember what Jesus said:
[Matthew 10:42 KJV] 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
God is not going to forget your works in the Lord. You are quite literally storing up treasures for yourself in Heaven by being a fruitful and profitable servant for Jesus Christ.
11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Verse 12 warns us not to be sluggish, but to imitate those who inherit the promises through faith and patience and endurance.
To encourage them, he points out in verses 13-20 that God’s promises cannot fail. If they press on to spiritual maturity, they will be rewarded in due time.
But failure to be faithful will certainly mean discipline, and loss of rewards.
Jesus says in Revelation:
[Revelation 3:11] I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown.
Sin in the life of a believer is no small issue with God.
Known sin in one’s life causes a loss of intimate fellowship with the Lord, and even discipline from the Lord.
[Psalm 32:3-4 NASB95] 3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
[1 Corinthians 11:28-30 NASB95] 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep (or are dead).
That’s a pretty serious verse:
[1 John 5:16-17 NASB95] 16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
There are sins that can lead to physical earthly judgement and death. But those sins unto death does not mean loss of salvation.
Think of Ananias and Sapphira, believers, who lied to the Holy Spirit, and who failed to confess their sin and get right with the Lord.
They were judged with an earthly discipline, but they are still eternally saved. They won’t be judged at the Great White Thrown Judgement, but at the Bema Seat of Christ.
1 Corinthians chapter 3 is another chapter talking to baby Christians failing to mature in their faith.
And Paul said:
[1 Corinthians 3:11-15 NASB95] 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work is burned up,
This is the wood, hay, or straw. Or in Hebrews, chapter 6, the thorns and the thistles, whose end is to be burned.
15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be [saved], yet so as through fire.
A believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has little or no fruit, will be there in heaven, but will forfeit their rewards.
When you become a Christian, you have become adopted as sons of God. Children of God.
And if you are a child of God, God deals with you as a son.
In Hebrews, chapter 10, Paul says, quoting the Old Testament, “The LORD will judge His people”.
[Hebrews 10:32-36 NASB95] 32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a [great reward]. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may [receive] what was promised.
That you may receive your rewards.
[Matthew 19:29 NASB95] 29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.
Jesus puts a difference between inheriting eternal life, and receiving rewards.
And as you read Paul’s letters, Paul was very careful to finish the race God had set before him, so that he could receive the reward God had in store for him.
And So Paul encourages the Hebrew Christians. And notice how Paul groups himself with these Jewish Christians. And we know for Sure Paul is saved.
[Hebrews 10:23-24 KJV] 23 Let [us] hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let [us] consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
So the whole point of today’s message is, let’s press on towards Christian maturity, and let’s encourage one another unto love and good works.
Confess any sin to Jesus that may be hindering your walk, and press forward unto Christian maturity.
Finish the race that God has set before you. Finish it well. Fulfill the will of God in your life.
There are rewards for you that God has in store for you.
Let me close in prayer.