Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Understanding Hebrews 6:4-8

When considering a verse or a passage, always remember that context is King, so the verse or passage must always be first looked at within its immediate context, and then the context of the chapter, then book, and, finally, within the scope of all of the Bible.  So to properly understand  Hebrews 6:4-8, we must give consideration to its place in the book of Hebrews.

When we consider the book of Hebrews, we see that it is written to a group of Jews who were being swayed and pressured to leave Christianity and return to Judaism.  So the author of Hebrews states the case for the supremacy of Christ and the New Covenant against Judaism and the Old Covenant.  Along with his laying out the supremacy of Christ we see that he lays out a series of warnings throughout the book that build one upon another as they are given (2:1-3, 3:7-19, 4:1-11, 6:4-8, 10:26-31, 12:15-17, and 12:25-29). These warnings are for those who would reject His word and therefore, reject His Son. 

The book starts out in 1:1-2 by saying that God has spoken, first to the fathers through the prophets, and in these last days in Christ.  So, the first warning, 2:1-3, is to pay attention to the Word that has been spoken, both Old and New Testament, and therefore not neglect (let slide by) the great salvation that has been offered in Christ. The next warning, 3:7-19, is when you hear His voice (through the Scriptures, the Word that has been spoken) don't let your heart be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, don't have an evil and unbelieving heart, listen to the word and don't be disobedient and therefore unbelieving. The third warning, 4:1-11, is don't fall short of His rest by rejecting His word because your heart is hardened, but receive the Word by faith and don't follow the example of the Jews in the wilderness. The fourth warning, 6:4-8, is more bluntly stated, and it is this:  If you have experienced the work of His Spirit both in person and corporately and have been enlightened (you see the light spiritually and know that it is the truth),    

{This enlightenment comes from:

1. Tasting of the heavenly gift (personal encounter/experience with the convicting work of the Spirit of Truth ie John 16:8). 
2. Having been made partakers of the Holy Spirit (Shared corporate experience of the presence of the Spirit ie I Corinthians 14:24-25).
3. Having tasted (experienced) the word of God, they know it is true as it has spoken to them ie Romans 10:8, Hebrews 4:12.
4. Having tasted the powers of the age to come (know the reality of the resurrection and understand its place as the forerunner and guarantee of our resurrection, our victory over death and Hades in Christ) ie I Corinthians 15:35-57, Hebrews 2:14-15.}

then having this much enlightenment and personal experience with spiritual reality so that you know it is true, don't willingly reject it/turn your back on it (which is what it means to fall away), because if you do, you cannot be renewed to repentance.  This is not deception or ignorance, but a willful rejection, . The fifth warning, 10:26-31,  is once you know the truth, but reject it by willfully continuing in your sin, then nothing but a terrifying judgment awaits in the hands of God (this also ties in and gives commentary on 6:4-8). The sixth warning given, 12:15-17, concerns Esau.  Esau knew the truth, knew his birthright was the Messiah who would come through him as the firstborn to bless the world (See how the gospel was given to Abraham Galatians 3:6-8 and Genesis 12:3. Reiterated in Genesis 22:18.  Given to Isaac in Genesis 26:45, and Jacob in Genesis 28:14), but he rejected it/despised it; and as a result God rejected him and would not grant him repentance even though Esau sought it with tears (ties in with the warnings of 6:4-8 and 10:26-31). The seventh warning, 12:25-29, ties right back with the opening of the book in 1:1-2; and it is don't refuse Him who speaks to you, either through men (prophets and their writings, words of Christ from the apostles) or from God; for you need to consider whom you are dealing with for your eternal destiny, for He is a consuming fire from whom you cannot escape.

It also helps to understand that believing the gospel is a command given by Christ (Mark 1:15).  So not to believe, especially in light of the type of revelation this group had been the recipient of, is very much a willful act of disobedience, a willful hardening of the heart;  and we see the correlation of belief/obedience and unbelief/disobedience in Hebrews 3:18-19, 4:2, 4:6, 4:11, 5:9, 10:36, 13:21, and also in John 3:36.

So in light of all of this we see that Hebrews 6:4-8 fits in with the author’s purpose of warning the Jews not to be disobedient and turn away from Christ, but to continue on in Christ, and to accept Him as the greater, better, and complete way to God. 

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