Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
(a) Repentance is the ability to receive the truth that sets us free. It’s a change of mind that causes us to see as God sees and think as God thinks.
(b) Repentance from dead works. Dead works are those things people do to make themselves righteous before God.
Turning from sin in the hope of earning forgiveness is an example of a dead work. We are not forgiven because we repent or confess our sins; we are forgiven in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7). We don’t repent to get forgiven; we repent (change our unbelieving minds) because we are forgiven. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4)
(c) Faith is knowing and trusting the Father’s love. See entry for Faith.
of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
Washings. The original word for washings (baptismos) is related to the word for baptism (baptisma) and means immersion. In some translations, the word here is translated as baptisms (e.g., NKJV). To be baptized means to be dipped or immersed. See entry for Baptism.
For 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,
(a) Those who have once been enlightened… and then have fallen away. These are people who have heard the gospel and rejected it.
Scholars debate whether this passage is describing believers or unbelievers, but the context indicates the latter. The author is talking about people who are slow to learn and dull of hearing (Heb. 5:11). They need someone to teach them “the elementary truths of God’s word all over again” (Heb. 5:12), as they are “not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness” (Heb. 5:13).
(b) Have tasted of the heavenly gift… and have tasted the good word of God. They’ve tasted the good things of God but have spat them out. They have seen the light but preferred the darkness. They may have heard the gospel with joy but the seed never took root and grew (Luke 8:13). They have tasted but not consumed the bread of life.
(c) The word of God and the heavenly gift refer to Jesus. See entry for Word of God.
(d) Been made partakers of the Holy Spirit. The first-century Jews had seen Jesus and the apostles ministering with supernatural signs and wonders. Many had experienced healing and deliverance, and some had even seen the risen Lord. They had a ring-side seat to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
and then have fallen away, 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.
(a) Have fallen away. This is not talking about believers who stumble in sin, but those who fall short of grace (see Heb. 12:15). These are not people who had grace but neglected it, but those who have never received the grace of God. They have rejected Jesus.
(b) It is impossible to renew them again to repentance. Those who have never heard the good news of God’s grace may yet receive it. But those who have heard and hardened their hearts to the gospel, are truly lost for repentance is found no other place than in Jesus.
In context, this is talking about the Jews who had witnessed the supernatural ministry of Holy Spirit, but had turned back to the old ways of the temple. They had more faith in dead works than a risen Savior. An example comes from those in Nazareth who heard Jesus preach the good news of grace yet rejected the message and tried to kill the Messenger. See entry for Luke 4:28.
(c) They again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. Rejecting the finished work of the cross by pursuing dead works is like saying, “Jesus, you need to die again. Once was not enough.” This is why the author of Hebrews insists that Jesus’ sacrifice was the once and final solution for sin (Heb. 10:12).
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.
(a) Ground that drinks. We have to drink or receive the rain of righteousness that comes down from heaven.
(b) A blessing from God. God pours out his righteousness like rain (Is. 45:8), and he sends his rain to all (Matt. 5:45). But we will never be righteous unless we receive it. If we receive his righteousness, we become fruitful and blessed. But if we reject what God offers we become worthless and in danger of being cursed.
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.
(a) Beloved. The original word (agapetos) means dearly loved, esteemed, favorite and worthy of love. It is closely related to a verb (agapao) that means to be well pleased or fond of or contented. This word captures God’s heart for you. Your heavenly Father is fond of you. You are his esteemed favorite and he is well pleased with you. He looks at you with a feeling of deep contentment knowing that you are his dearly loved child. All the epistle writers referred to believers as the beloved or dearly-loved children of God (see entry for Rom. 1:7).
(b) Better things concerning you. In other words, you won’t be like those who harden their hearts to the gospel and reject Jesus.
where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
(a) A priest forever; see entry for Hebrews 7:17.
(b) The order of Melchizedek; see entry for Hebrews 7:11.
The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got a suggestion? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.
Excellent commentary! A big THANK YOU, Dr. Paul! As always, you are a major blessing to the Body of Christ!