Concerning this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull and sluggish in [your spiritual] hearing and disinclined to listen. For though by this time you ought to be teachers [because of the time you have had to learn these truths], you actually need someone to teach you again the elementary principles of God’s word [from the beginning], and you have come to be continually in need of milk, not solid food. For everyone who lives on milk is [doctrinally inexperienced and] unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a spiritual infant. But solid food is for the [spiritually] mature, whose senses are trained by practice to distinguish between what is morally good and what is evil.
The Peril of Falling Away
Therefore let us get past the elementary stage in the teachings about the Christ, advancing on to maturity and perfection and spiritual completeness, [doing this] without laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of teaching about washings (ritual purifications), the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. [These are all important matters in which you should have been proficient long ago.] And we will do this [that is, proceed to maturity], if God permits. For [it is impossible to restore to repentance] those who have once been enlightened [spiritually] and who have [a]tasted and consciously experienced the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted and consciously experienced the good word of God and the powers of the age (world) to come, [b]and then have fallen away—it is impossible to bring them back again to repentance, since they again nail the Son of God on the cross [for as far as they are concerned, they are treating the death of Christ as if they were not saved by it], and are holding Him up again to public disgrace. For soil that drinks the rain which often falls on it and produces crops useful to those for whose benefit it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God; but if it persistently produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
Better Things for You
But, beloved, even though we speak to you in this way, [c]we are convinced of better things concerning you, and of things that accompany salvation. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown for His name in ministering to [the needs of] the saints (God’s people), as you do. And we desire for each one of you to show the same diligence [all the way through] so as to realize and enjoy the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be [spiritually] sluggish, but [will instead be] imitators of those who through faith [lean on God with absolute trust and confidence in Him and in His power] and by patient endurance [even when suffering] are [now] inheriting the promises.
- Hebrews 6:4 This is the same Greek word that is used in Matt 27:34 regarding Jesus’ tasting the wine mixed with gall during His crucifixion. After tasting what was being offered to Him He refused to drink it. Perhaps the use of this word in this passage (vv 4-6) refers to those who superficially “tasted” the gospel and outwardly appeared to embrace the Christian experience, but inwardly never committed in full surrender to Christ. In this case, the act of “falling away” was simply the public expression of their true position and their rejection of Jesus as Messiah regardless of the evidence.
- Hebrews 6:6 This passage is one of the most difficult to interpret in Hebrews. Four major views have been suggested: 1) some interpret the passage to teach the possibility of loss of salvation, 2) some see the text as hypothetical, with the author using an illustration of what would occur in the case of apostasy, but which, in fact, cannot occur, 3) some suggest the passage refers to apparent believers who are in the church, but who are not truly saved. These commit apostasy, depart from the fellowship, and thus give evidence they were not genuinely converted, and 4) the loss of rewards view that suggests that the context indicated the people described in vv 4-6 are genuine believers who commit willful sin and fail to press on to maturity. These are disciplined by God in this life, and lose rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ along the lines of 1 Cor 3:11-17.
- Hebrews 6:9 The concerns of the writer of Hebrews as outlined in vv 1-8 have not happened to the Hebrew believers and the writer does not expect them to happen.