Hebrews Bible Study Week 7: Chapter 6

By | January 22, 2021
This entry is part 7 of 16 in the series Hebrews Bible Study

{Updated to add: This post and many of the following posts were part of an online Bible study over the book of Hebrews that I hosted in the past on my previous blog. I am reposting here to make the resource available to anyone interested.}

We are almost halfway through the book of Hebrews! It’s been such a good study. There’s been so much good doctrine and practical encouragement all intertwined. Again, if you need to slow down to take it all in, that’s perfectly fine. I know a lot of sickness has been going around too, so you may even need to take some time off to get some extra rest (very apropos for our study! 😉 )  My family has been dropping like flies these past couple of days, and I’m waiting for it to hit me!

Just as an FYI, remember that when I write these questions, I usually haven’t figured out the answers yet. This is usually the first thing I do. So, for example, after I’ve studied some more, I may realize that I asked the wrong question, didn’t ask a question the right away, or the question I asked just touched on the edge of the iceberg to a whole bigger issue. Take advantage of my questions and your own questions—even if they’re hard ones—to help you “go on to maturity!” This is a tough passage to grapple with, but PLEASE don’t let that stop you from grappling with it! This is part of the message of that great salvation that our Savior proclaimed. It’s worth the fight to understand!

Here are my questions. And here is a pdf: Hebrews Chapter 6 Questions

Hebrews Chapter 6 Questions

1.Chapter 6 continues the warning begun in 5:11. What is the “therefore” of 6:1 there for?

2. Therefore, the author urged, “let us” what?

3. How would you describe the “elementary doctrine of Christ” in terms of the previous section (5:11-14)?

4. How would you describe the term “maturity” according to the previous section?

5. 6:1-2 tells us to leave something, to go on to something else, and then says that we should not lay again a foundation of what?

6. How do you think the author categorizes the teachings he names in vv 1b-2—as elementary doctrine or mature?

7. What is it that “we will do if God permits” in v3? (Reading the next verse may help you answer this question, as the “for” seems to connect the 2 verses.)

8. What is impossible in vv 4-6? You can break this question down by asking a couple more:

What are all the descriptions of the people he is describing? (Try to look up cross references for these descriptions or remember what has already been said regarding them in Hebrews to help you understand.)

What do they then do? It is impossible for them to be restored to what?

Why can they not be restored to repentance?

9. How do vv 7-8 illustrate vv 4-6?

10. Can you try to summarize in your own words the spiritual status of someone described as such in these verses? What kind of person is he talking about?

11. Despite this very dire warning, how does the author feel about his first readers (v 9)?

12. Why does he feel sure of their salvation? What description does he give of them in v 10? How does he describe God in light of this description?

13. The author was not content with just what they had done in the past. He exhorts them to what in v 11?

14. He gives 2 contrasting reasons for his exhortation in v 12; what are they?

15. What immediate example does the author give of one “who through faith and patience inherit the promises”? {There will be many more examples to come!}

16. The next section does give the example of Abraham patiently waiting and obtaining the promise, but who is the actual focus of this section, the promise “obtainer” or the promise “maker”?

17. By whom did God swear when he made a promise to Abraham? Why?

18. What was God’s promise to Abraham?

19. What was Abraham’s response?

20. What did Abraham obtain?

21. What do people usually do when they make an oath? What is the purpose of an oath?

22. Why did God guarantee his promise with an oath?

23. What are the “two unchangeable things”?

24. What is impossible?

25. In what situation are the readers, according to v 18?

26. How do God ‘s character and promises help those who have fled for refuge?

27. What do we have in v19?

28. How is this hope described (2 ways)? {This is one of my favorite verses! 🙂 }

29. How does the picture of an anchor help you understand the nature of hope here?

30. There are 2 things/persons mentioned as going into the “inner place behind the curtain” in vv 19-20; what/who are they?

31. What is the inner place?

32. Jesus’ going into the inner place is described how? (This description clues us in on the topic of the following chapter, which the author had begun in chapter 5, but then had paused to tell his readers that this was tough stuff to understand and warned them to press on.)

33. How is it (do you think) that one’s hope enters the holy place? What does that mean?

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV).

 

3.12.20 Updated to add: Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t completed your own study of chapter 6, I would recommend doing so before reading my own thoughts on the passage.

6:1-3: The author seeks to push them forward from a simple knowledge of the basic truths/ “milk” of Christianity on to the “solid food” of the mature. He doesn’t want to have to teach them again about faith vs. works, worship rituals, the resurrection, and future judgment. Going on to maturity is the goal, “if God permits.”

6:4-6: Perhaps the stipulation “if God permits” is there because going on to maturity is not possible for some, because it is impossible for them to be even restored to repentance. These people have fallen away (cf. 3:12; 4:11)—like Israel—having experienced the following (also much like Israel):

They were once enlightened. This seems to refer to a specific time—cf. 10:32. Eph 1:18 refers to enlightenment as a spiritual seeing of Christ and all his benefits. To fall away from this must bean that some had been made aware of Christ and his benefits and perhaps professed to believe it, but didn’t truly have faith.

Have tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the Holy Spirit. 2:4 mentioned that God bore witness to the message of salvation by giving gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His will. Perhaps some even were recipients/participants in these miracles?? (Judas performed miracles but proved himself to be an unbeliever.)

Have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and powers of the age to come. Again, I think this refers to those who heard Jesus’ message directly or indirectly.

This is the kind of person who has no more hope of repentance. It is like he kills the Son again as he refuses to believe and holds the Son in contempt.

“The writer of Hebrews is clearly confident that a true work of God has taken place in the congregation he addresses (6:9; 10:39). ‘But this does not exclude the possibility that some of their number are rebellious at heart and, unless there is a radical change, will find that they have reached the point of irremediable apostasy.’ (P. E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Eerdmans, 1977), p. 212). It is possible to get caught up in the spiritual experience of a group without being genuinely converted. Sometimes people show all the signs of conversion but drift away from Christ after a time and demonstrate that they were never truly God’s children. More specifically, the writer has in view those who see clearly where the truth lies, conform to it for a while, and then, for various reasons, renounce it. Continuance is the test of reality. Those who persevere are the true saints and a passage like this will be used by God to sustain them in faith.”[1]

6:7-8: The author illustrates with an example from nature. Just like all ground that received the good rain—good ground will produce. Bad ground will not and ends up being burned up. “The writer provides no middle ground for the sluggish and the slack. He wants his readers to be sure that they all fit into the first category!”[2]

6:9-10: The readers’ past and present love and care for fellow believers for the sake of Christ was evidence of their true Christianity. Serving the saints is love for God’s name and a work that belongs to salvation. “When the writer says God is not unjust; he will not forget such things, the focus is not simply on reward for services rendered. God knows the reality of their spiritual lives and if he so motivated expressions of genuine Christianity in the past he can be relied upon to do so again in the future. The motif of God’s faithfulness is further developed in vs 13–20.”[3]

6:11-12: Yet, he urged them to continue to earnestly love and work based on their full assurance of hope. This hanging on to hope “until the end” is what marks the difference between salvation (v9) and falling away after appearing that you were saved (vv4-6). Thus he tells them not to be sluggish (same Greek word as “dull” in 5:11), but to keep holding on fast to their hope—like those who inherited the promises through faith and patience.

6:13-15: Followed by an admonition to imitate such people is an example of one—Abraham—although the emphasis is more on the faithfulness of the Promise Giver. In Gen 22, God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac; Abraham obeyed, but the Angel of the Lord called to him, announcing that He swore by Himself that because Abraham had been obedience, He would bless and multiply him. Abraham, after waiting patiently, obtained the promise (after death? Cf. 11:13). “The basis of Christian hope is not wishful thinking about the future but the solemn promise of God. The foundation of God’s saving activity in the world was the particular promise made to Abraham.”[4]

6:16-18: When people make an oath to settle a dispute, they swear by something greater than themselves. When God wanted to convince Abraham & co. of the promises, he gave an oath—unchangeable and impossible to lie, which was guaranteed by his name—his unchangeable character and person.

6:19-20: God’s Word/promises and his character/nature are unchangeable and give those who flee for refuge strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

  1. The hope is set before us.
  2. The hope is as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul (keeps the soul from drifting away).
  3. The hope enters the inner place (cf. 9:3-5, 7-11ff; 7:19; Lev 16:15ff). This is the place where Jesus has gone on our behalf, the place where atonement is made for our sins before the presence of God. Chapter 7 will explain this in greater detail.
  4. Our hope is tied to Jesus; He went in to the Holy Place and made sacrifice with his own boy for our sins in the presence of God.

“So the antidote to spiritual apathy and apostasy is the renewal of hope. Hope is the motivation for faithfulness and love. The basis for our hope is the promise of God, confirmed with an oath. Since the saving promises of God have already been fulfilled for us in the death and heavenly exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, this gives us every encouragement to believe that those who trust in Jesus will share with him in the promised eternal inheritance.”[5]

 

[1] Peterson, D. G. (1994). Hebrews. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1335). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 1336

[5] Ibid.

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