Hewbrews mysterious passages are discussed
July 12, 2010
Clearly, the theme of Hebrews is the superiority of Christ. Christ replaces, nay surpasses, everything a faithful child of Abraham would consider essential to the faith. Hebrews begins by pointing out the superiority of Christ to the prophets. The first 10 chapters move quickly from one thing and one person to the next as the writer points out that Christ is our all in all, superior to anything and everything. Christ is better than the angels. Christ is better than Moses. Christ is better than Joshua. Christ is better than Aaron. Christ is better than Melchizedek. Christ is a better covenant. Christ is a better tabernacle. Christ is a better sacrifice. He is better, better, better. Chapters 11-13 close the book by illustrating a better way of life, a superior principle to live by,namely: Faith. These closing chapters of Hebrews call us to authentic, God pleasing, enduring faith. These chapters define faith, give specific Old Testament examples of faith, motivate us to follow the examples of heroes of faith capped off by the Captain of Faith), teach us to accept discipline as evidence of faith, and closes by listing behaviors that prove one's faith. Christ is superior and faith in Him is the superior way to live!

Hebrews 6:4-8 is a very troubling and scary passage. Down through the ages, many pious, intelligent, studious men have struggled with interpreting this passage. Some claim it speaks of those who were nearly saved (received eternal life) but never quite made it. Others claim that it speaks of those who were saved but lost their salvation. Still others claim that it speaks of those saved but their disobedience puts them in line to be sorely disappointed when they arrive before God's throne to give an accounting of their life. They will have lost any possible rewards and instead receive God's chastening. I claim no special enlightenment regarding this passage but in my humble opinion, it seems to me that the third position puts the least amount of stress on the passage in terms of it lining up with the rest of Scripture. Even at that there is still room for mystery.

"In the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come" seems to pretty clearly be referring to a saved person. "For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.", seems to indicate that two pieces of ground (two types of people) each received a blessing (salvation). One used the blessing to produce something good; the other used the blessing to produce something bad. "Close to being cursed", might mean "close to losing their salvation". That may sound a little odd, but I Corinthians 3:12-15 supports that idea. In light of that passage, one could interpret "it ends up being burned" as being singed.

How shall I interpret, "it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame."? I must confess, I do not know. "Impossible" is a big word with huge implications. Surely my meditations on this passage have created several questions and answered none. Mystery is an oft used word in the New Testament. Does mystery help to keep you close by the Master's side? Does my feeble look at the troublesomeness of this passage inspire you to worship, adore, seek to please and follow The Superior One? If it does, it has done its job.

Commentary is by Pastor Steve Ellison, Harvey's Chapel Baptist Church, Hot Springs, AR. Ellison's purpose in writing is to lead readers to examine their own walk with God and their relationships with other people. He enjoys giving presentations on the religious beliefs of America's Founding Fathers and preaching series of messages which some call "revivals."

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