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6. Warning Against Falling Away

1Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this will we do, if God permit. 4For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, 6and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7For the land which hath drunk the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receiveth blessing from God: 8but if it beareth thorns and thistles, it is rejected and nigh unto a curse; whose end is to be burned. 9But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak: 10for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye showed toward his name, in that ye ministered unto the saints, and still do minister. 11And we desire that each one of you may show the same diligence unto the fulness of hope even to the end: 12that ye be not sluggish, but imitators of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 13For when God made promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself, 14saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 15And thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16For men swear by the greater: and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. 17Wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; 18that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: 19which we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and stedfast and entering into that which is within the veil; 20whither as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

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7. the earth—rather as Greek (no article), "land."

which drinketh inGreek, "which has drunk in"; not merely receiving it on the surface. Answering to those who have enjoyed the privilege of Christian experiences, being in some sense renewed by the Holy Ghost; true alike of those who persevere and those who "fall away."

the rain that cometh oft upon it—not merely failing over it, or towards it, but falling and resting upon it so as to cover it (the Greek genitive, not the accusative). The "oft" implies, on God's part, the riches of His abounding grace ("coming" spontaneously, and often); and, on the apostate's part, the wilful perversity whereby he has done continual despite to the oft-repeated motions of the Spirit. Compare "How often," Mt 23:37. The rain of heaven falls both on the elect and the apostates.

bringeth forth—as the natural result of "having drunk in the rain." See above.


meet—fit. Such as the master of the soil wishes. The opposite of "rejected," Heb 6:8.

by whom—rather as Greek, "for (that is, on account of) whom," namely, the lords of the soil; not the laborers, as English Version, namely, God and His Christ (1Co 3:9). The heart of man is the earth; man is the dresser; herbs are brought forth meet, not for the dresser, by whom, but for God, the owner of the soil, for whom it is dressed. The plural is general, the owners whoever they may be; here God.

receiveth—"partaketh of."

blessing—fruitfulness. Contrast God's curse causing unfruitfulness (Ge 3:17, 18); also spiritually (Jer 17:5-8).

from God—Man's use of means is vain unless God bless (1Co 3:6, 7).

8. that which—rather as Greek (no article), "But if it (the 'land,' Heb 6:7) bear"; not so favorable a word as "bringeth forth," Heb 6:7, said of the good soil.

briersGreek, "thistles."

rejected—after having been tested; so the Greek implies. Reprobate … rejected by the Lord.

nigh unto cursing—on the verge of being given up to its own barrenness by the just curse of God. This "nigh" softens the severity of the previous "It is impossible," &c. (Heb 6:4, 6). The ground is not yet actually cursed.

whose—"of which (land) the end is unto burning," namely, with the consuming fire of the last judgment; as the land of Sodom was given to "brimstone, salt, and burning" (De 29:23); so as to the ungodly (Mt 3:10, 12; 7:19; 13:30; Joh 15:6; 2Pe 3:10). Jerusalem, which had so resisted the grace of Christ, was then nigh unto cursing, and in a few years was burned. Compare Mt 22:7, "burned up their city" an earnest of a like fate to all wilful abusers of God's grace (Heb 10:26, 27).

9. beloved—appositely here introduced; LOVE to you prompts me in the strong warnings I have just given, not that I entertain unfavorable thoughts of you; nay, I anticipate better things of you; Greek "the things which are better"; that ye are not thorn-bearing, or nigh unto cursing, and doomed unto burning, but heirs of salvation in accordance with God's faithfulness (Heb 6:10).

we are persuaded—on good grounds; the result of proof. Compare Ro 15:14, "I myself am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye are full of goodness." A confirmation of the Pauline authorship of this Epistle.

things that accompanyGreek, "things that hold by," that is, are close unto "salvation." Things that are linked unto salvation (compare Heb 6:19). In opposition to "nigh unto cursing."

thoughGreek, "if even we thus speak." "For it is better to make you afraid with words, that ye may not suffer in fact."

10. not unrighteous—not unfaithful to His own gracious promise. Not that we have any inherent right to claim reward; for (1) a servant has no merit, as he only does that which is his bounden duty; (2) our best performances bear no proportion to what we leave undone; (3) all strength comes from God; but God has promised of His own grace to reward the good works of His people (already accepted through faith in Christ); it is His promise, not our merits, which would make it unrighteous were He not to reward His people's works. God will be no man's debtor.

your work—your whole Christian life of active obedience.

labour of love—The oldest manuscripts omit "labor of," which probably crept in from 1Th 1:3. As "love" occurs here, so "hope," Heb 6:11, "faith," Heb 6:12; as in 1Co 13:13: the Pauline triad. By their love he sharpens their hope and faith.

ye have showed—(Compare Heb 10:32-34).

toward his name—Your acts of love to the saints were done for His name's sake. The distressed condition of the Palestinian Christians appears from the collection for them. Though receiving bounty from other churches, and therefore not able to minister much by pecuniary help, yet those somewhat better off could minister to the greatest sufferers in their Church in various other ways (compare 2Ti 1:18). Paul, as elsewhere, gives them the utmost credit for their graces, while delicately hinting the need of perseverance, a lack of which had probably somewhat begun to show itself.

11. AndGreek, "But."

desireGreek, "earnestly desire." The language of fatherly affection, rather than command.

every one of you—implying that all in the Palestinian churches had not shown the same diligence as some of those whom he praises in Heb 6:10. "He cares alike for great and small, and overlooks none." "Every one of them," even those diligent in acts of LOVE (Heb 6:10), needed to be stimulated to persevere in the same diligence with a view to the full assurance of HOPE unto the end. They needed, besides love, patient perseverance, resting on hope and faith (Heb 10:36; 13:7). Compare "the full assurance of faith," Heb 10:22; Ro 4:21; 1Th 1:5.

unto the end—the coming of Christ.

12. be notGreek, "become not." In Heb 5:11, he said, "Ye have become dull (Greek, 'slothful') of hearing"; here he warns them not to become "slothful absolutely," namely, also in mind and deed. He will not become slothful who keeps always the end in view; hope is the means of ensuring this.

followersGreek, "imitators"; so in Eph 5:1, Greek; 1Co 11:1.

patienceGreek, "long-suffering endurance." There is the long-suffering patience, or endurance of love, 1Co 13:4, and that of faith, Heb 6:15.

them who … inherit the promisesGreek, "who are inheriting," &c.; to whom the promises are their inheritance. Not that they have actually entered on the perfect inheritance, which Heb 11:13, 39, 40 explicitly denies; though doubtless the dead in Christ have, in the disembodied soul, a foretaste of it; but "them (enumerated in Heb 11:2-40) who in every age have been, are, or shall be, inheritors of the promises"; of whom Abraham is an illustrious example (Heb 6:13).