A STUDY OF HEB 6:1-6
February 1, 1986 Issue
By Clovis T. Cook
On these verses, I guess there has been, and still is, differences of opinion. When I was asked to give a talk on these verses at the Wichita Falls, study in Dec. of last year, I made plans to give a condensed report of my talk to this journal, which I will now do.
The writer of Hebrews says: "For when the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and have become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat; (Heb 5:12). I quote from Kenneth S. Wuest, Untranslatable Riches, P. 62. "Before leaving this point, the English reader should know that the expressions, the first principles of the oracles of God (Heb 5:12), and the principles of the doctrine of Christ (Heb 6:1), are quite different in the Greek. The word principles in these verses come from two different Greek words. The expression in 5:12 refers to the elementary teachings in New Testament truth, and the one in 6:1, to the teaching of the First Testament where Christ was first spoken of."
In chapter six verses 1 through 6, the Hebrew writer says: "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..." It is well that we understand that the writer uses the word "leaving which means that whatever they were doing and holding to--they leave. If these verses have reference to gospel principles, surely, they were not being told to leave anything that was a part of the gospel. Adam Clarke says, "I am inclined to think that all the terms in this verse, as well as those in the former, belong to the Levitical law, and are to be explained on that ground" P. 723 of his Commentary.
The word "leaving" means: "send away, send forth, forsake, lay aside, let go, to put away" Strong's Concordance P. 17 who also says that the word is from the Greek "apo" translated "from," which usually denotes separation, departure, cessation" etc., P. 14, (Greek Dictionary).
Where the Bible says, "Then Jesus sent the multitude away..." and "And when they had sent away the multitude..." (Matt 13:36; Mark 4:36), carries the idea of "departing" and the Expositors Greek Testament, translates the word leaving "Let us abandon" while Alford explains it "Leaving as behind and done with in order to go on to another thing." To use the word "leaving" in the sense that a house leaves the foundation and yet builds on it, as is done by some commentators, is a case of (reading into the text what is not there) and will not stand the scrutiny of Greek exegesis (taking out of the text what is there) -Wuest.
To go on to perfection after separating themselves once and for all from the Mosaic system, by which justification could not come (Acts 13:39) and since the Law made nothing perfect (Heb 7:19), but the Lord, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity on the right hand of God (Heb 10:12), having offered a perfect sacrifice. Therefore, these Hebrews were told to abandon that which was imperfect for that which was perfect.
"The foundation of repentance from dead works..." is a reference to the dead sacrifices of the law, which was faith toward God, because Christ had not come. The doctrine of "baptisms" referred to the washings of the Mosaic system. The "laying on of hands" was a reference to the Priestly ceremonies of the old law. The "resurrection of the dead" was not a reference to dead people but rather the reviving of dead ordinances of the Mosaic Law. "Eternal judgment" means that there was no forgiveness for sins under the old system--just suspension. The sins of the people were not completely forgiven and forgotten, for there was a remembrance made of them every year, with a view to the coming Redeemer who shed his blood for the redemption of them that were under the first covenant (Heb 9:15), so that was eternal judgment. It was all these things which belonged to the Old Jewish System, that they were told to abandon. There is no chance to be renewed unto repentance by a system that was called "dead works." The writer said "... not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works."
"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; and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance..." (Heb 6:4-6). "If they shall fall away" should be rendered "And having fallen away" -Diaglott. The reason being that the Greek word "si (if, in our English), is not in the original in this passage.
There are two key words in these verses that we must deal with. The word "leaving" which we have explained, and the other is the word "impossible" which we now explain. This word "impossible" does not mean as some contend, that it is difficult or hard to be renewed after having fallen away. It is the same word used in Heb 6:18. For it to be impossible for God to lie, does not mean it is difficult or hard for God to lie. It means He cannot lie. In Heb 11:6 the passage does not mean that it is difficult or hard to please God without faith, it means you cannot please God without faith. The word "impossible" in the preceding verses and Heb 6:4, are all from the same Greek word, used of things impossible.
The apostate Hebrews, had turned back to the old way of life seeking renewal. They had come into the Church at an earlier date (verses 6 through 8). However, the old system of "renewal unto repentance" had been nullified and abrogated, and nailed to the cross. It was impossible to be renewed unto repentance by the law of dead works. So, they were told to leave, abandon and separate themselves from the dead works of the Law, and come back to the system made perfect by Jesus Christ, because it was absolutely impossible to find renewal and forgiveness under the first covenant. The difference between the system to which these Hebrews had gone back to, and the one they had left, is explained in verse 7 and 8. The writers meaning is, "That as land which is unfruitful under every method of culture, will at length be deserted. ..and burnt up with drought; so those who apostize from the gospel, after having believed it to be from God on the evidence mentioned in verses 4-5 will be justly given up by God and man as incorrigible" -Macknight.
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