Hebrews 6:4-9


These are basics of Christianity that had Jewish roots


Elementary Teachings (three sets of twos):

  1. “Repentance from acts that lead to death”

a.       This is believer’s response to the gospel.

b.       The believer must stop two types of dead works:                                                                                                                                 

                                                               i.      Self-righteous works in an attempt to earn salvation

                                                              ii.      Sinful acts that come from the unregenerate heart

c.        Hebrews 9:14 mentions them again in relationship to the conscience

d.       In the Didache the way of death is described with a catalog of sins like “murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, sorceries, robberies, false depositions, hypocrisies, a double heart, fraud, arrogance, malice, obstinacy, covetousness, filthy language, envy, audacity, haughtiness, boastfulness.”  This is what Paul refers to in Romans 6:21, “the wages of sin is death.”

e.       The Qumran community considered themselves to be “the repentant of Israel”.

f.         The main line of John the Baptists was “repent”

  1. “Faith in God”

a.       Belief and trust in God is foundational through out scripture

b.       Abraham Gen. 15:6

c.        Habakkuk 2:4

d.       This faith in God would include faith in God’s word and faith in God’s messenger, which in this case was Jesus

e.       In the sequence of this list this would refer to responding in faith to God’s message of salvation.

  1. “Instruction about baptisms (washings)”

a.       “washings” (plural) is “baptisma” in the Greek

b.       This word could refer to:

                                                               i.      Christian baptism but the Greek word is plural

                                                              ii.      Jewish washings which were many

                                                            iii.      Both Jewish washings from the Old Testament and the New Testament counterpart, baptism.  The instruction would have explained NT baptism in light of OT washings.

                                                             iv.      Or the different baptisms in the NT:

1.       John’s baptism of repentance (Acts 19:1-5)

2.       Jesus’ baptism into the office of the Messiah

3.       Christian baptism

4.       Baptism with the Holy Spirit

5.       Baptism into the body of Christ

                                                              v.      In line with the Qumran community is Ezekiel 36:25

  1. “Laying on of hands”

a.       Done to a person at baptism

b.       Done to a person when entering an office (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6)

c.        Done to a person when receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17; 19:6)

d.       In the OT it was used:

                                                               i.      To commission someone for office

                                                              ii.      Part of the sacrificial ritual

                                                            iii.      Later Rabbis were ordained this way

  1. “Resurrection of the dead”

a.       An eschatological doctrine

b.       Israel’s promises would be fulfilled forever according to

                                                               i.      Isaiah 26:19

                                                              ii.      Daniel 12:2

c.        The Pharisees believed this

d.       Jesus supported this with his teaching in Mark 12:26

  1. “Eternal judgment”

a.       Another eschatological doctrine

b.       Notice that an understanding of eschatology is part of the basics for the young believer.

c.        An understanding of our resurrection and judgment are necessary for a solid foundation upon which to build the Christian life.

d.       Daniel 7:9-14


“And God permitting we will do so.”



These next verses are some of the most disputed verses concerning proper interpretation in the entire NT.



1)     in verses 5:11, 12 the author uses “you”

2)     in 6:1 the author uses “us”

3)     in 6:3 the author uses “we”

4)     now in 6:4 the author switches to “those”


“If” clause that introduces verse 6 is important.

1.      the conditional is expressed here in the  Greek with the participle “parapesontas” or parapesontaV .  This verb is used only here in the Greek NT.

2.      it is aorist active participle and is conditional

3.      parapesontaV  means “to fall beside, to go astray, to miss.  And refers to a falling away from an excepted standard

4.      It came to mean “apostasy” in theology (see para - pesontaV)

5.      The aorist tense means a complete falling away that has occurred after the enlightenment and the sharing of verses 6:4,5.   


6:4, 5

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age,”


αδυνατον       γαρ       τους       απαξ          φωτισθεντας        γευσαμενους        τε        της      

impossible     for      the ones    once       being enlightened     and tasting                  of the


δωρεας            της          επουρανιου            και         μετοχους                 γενηθεντας       

gift                                 heavenly                and        sharers                     becoming


πνευματος          αγιου             και              καλον              γευσαμενους              θεου
spirit                    of holy           and             good             tasting                        of  God


ρημα            δυναμεις                    τε           μελλοντος                 αιωνος

word        powerful deeds                         of a coming               age    



απαξ  “hapax” means “once for all” (9:7, 26’ 27’ 28; 10:2; 12:26, 27).

1.       hapax can govern each of the five participles.

2.       This points to something complete.  It is not a partial or incomplete work


The Five Participles describing “those”:

  1. “Enlightened” refers to illumination by the Holy Spirit

a.       2 Corinthians 4:4 the world is blind

b.       John 8:12 and 1:9 Jesus is the light

  1. “Tasted the heavenly gift”

a.       Tasting is more than the “knowledge” or “enlightenment” of #1.

b.       Tasting implies personal experience

c.        Psalm 34:8

d.       1 Peter 2:3

e.       Knowing about food (looking at it) has a completely different affect on the body than eating and tasting the food.

  1. “Shared in the Holy Spirit”

a.       “sharers” is  “metochoi” and is used in 1:9 (“companions”); 3:1(“share in the heavenly calling”); 3:14 (“share in Christ”)

b.       Also used in Luke 5:7 as “partners in the other boat”

  1. “Tasted the goodness of the word of God”

a.       “tasting” is used again

b.       “goodness” is “kalon” indicates both “beauty” and “moral goodness”

c.        The Word of God is not tasted but the “goodness” of it is tasted.

d.       “Word of God” is “theou rhema” (again in 11:3) not “logos tou Theou” (4:12; 13:7)

e.       Focus of “rhema” is the specific communication from God and not the general message.

f.         This again refers to not just having heard Bible teaching but having experience the results of the application to one’s life.

  1. “Powers of the coming age”

a.       “tasted” also applies to “powers of the coming age”

b.       “these last days” 1:1

c.        Simon Magus saw the goodness of God’s word and the power in Acts 8:5 but it was to no avail

d.       Matt. 12:28

e.       The readers of this book had experienced spiritual manifestations just like the Galatians had (see Galatians 3:5)

f.         Jesus ministry announced that “the kingdom of God is at hand” in Mark 1:14.

g.       Jesus coming ushered in the “last days”

                                                               i.      Hebrews 1:2

                                                              ii.      Acts 2:16-18

                                                            iii.      1 John 2:18

                                                             iv.      Jude 18

h.       This coming of the kingdom comes in two phases and is directly related to his two comings.

                                                               i.      Jews of Jesus day had this confused.

                                                              ii.      Christians today (Dominion Theology, and others) have this confused today.

i. The “powers of the coming age” refer to works of the Spirit but even the New Birth is from the coming age.




“if they fall away to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”


και      παραπεσοντας       παλιν        ανακαινιζειν        εις       μετανοιαν   

and      falling away            again         to renew               to      repentance


ανασταυρουντας          εαυτοις          τον        υιον       του        θεου       και

crucifying again         for themselves  the        Son              of   God      and



putting to open shame


In 6:5 this sentence begins with “impossible” which in the Greek is αδυνατον or “adunaton”.  This word comes from:

1)      “a” or a which is the negative particle.  When used at the beginning of the word it means no or nullifies the following word.  The English example would be “non-” or in the case of this translation “im-”

2)      “dunatos” or dunatoV from dunamai which means powerful, capable, possible, power, strong, able.

So 6:5, 6 begin by saying it is “non-able” or “im-capable” or “no-strong” or “im-possible” for the events in verse 6:6 to occur.


“falling away” is παραπεσοντας  is from two words:

1)      “para” a preposition with a wide ariety of meaning and application: above, against, among, at, before, by , contrary to, from.

2)      “pipto” means to fall, to fail, to land on. it means


“Renew” or ανακαινιζειν is the word that connects to the word “impossible in 6:5. 

1)      This word means “to renew again, to make new again

2)      It is impossible to “renew” or “redo” the “repentance”

3)      THIS HAS NOT SAID A PERSON LOSES THEIR SALVATION.  It says it impossible to redo repentance. 

a.      Clearly from John 1:9 a believer can confess their sin.

b.      Jesus tells Ephesus of the seven churches in Revelation 2:5: “Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent (metanohson)and do the things you did at first.  If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”


“Repentance” or μετανοιαν “metanoian” is from two words:

1)      “meta” is a primary preposition denoting accompaniment.  Here it means “after” implying change

2)      “noieo” means “to exercise the mind” and “to comprehend, consider, perceive, think, understand”.  It is from the word “nous” which means mind and is the seat of moral thought.

3)      (EXAMPLE: “pronoeo” from “pro” (means “before”) and “noeo” (“mind”) means “to perceive beforehand”)

4)      “metanoian” means “to perceive or consider after”

5)      This does not mean it impossible to “repent” of your actions after you have been saved already.

6)      This “repentance” refers to turning from sin and accepting Christ for salvation.  It is used this way throughout the New Testament:

a.      Acts 5:31

b.      Acts 11:18

c.      Romans 2:4

d.      2 Timothy 2:25

7)      It is used of turning from sin after salvation (new birth, baptism, etc.) in:

a.      2 Corinthian 12:21

b.      Revelation 2:5

c.      Revelation 2:16

d.      Revelation 2:21

e.      Revelation 3:3

f.        Revelation 3:19

(“Repent” is used in reference to 5 of the 7 churches in Rev. 2,3.  It is not spoken to Smyrna and Philadelphia.)

  1. What we see here is two things:
    1. “repent” is used in reference to coming to Christ for salvation.
    2. “repent” is used as a command to believers to consider their thoughts (ways) and change.
  2. Scripturally it is possible for a believer to “sin” and “repent” (1 John 1:9)
  3. The context here is to say it is “impossible” to “repent” (or, get saved again!)


“Crucifying again” or ανασταυρουντας, is from

1)      “ana-“ which means here “repetition”

2)      “stauroo” which is the word for impaling on a cross or to crucify.

3)      This word means “re-crucify”

Linguistic Key says:

“If the readers were to return again to Judaism, no possibility existed for them to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          begin their spiritual life anew.  This would require a recrucifixion of Christ, putting                                                                                                                                                                                            Him to open shame.  For this reason they must continue toward maturity despite the                                                                                                                                                                                            difficulties, problems, and persecutions that attend their walk.”


Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (vol.7):

“In the NT the word (ανασταυρουντας) occurs only at Hb. 6:6.  The author is                                                                                                                                                                                            arguing that willful apostasy from faith rules out any fresh repentance.  Those guilty                                                                                                                                                                                            of such apostasy are called “anastaupounteV eautoiV ton uion tou qeou.   Since                                                                                                                                                                                            avastauroun usually means “to crucify,” one should strictly translate: “they personally                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             crucify the Son of God,” aligning themselves with those who brought Christ to the                                                                                                                                                                                            cross and thus committing the same sin as these did.”


“for themselves” from εαυτοις  is the dative of advantage for themselves.  This word indicates these individuals would be taking full responsibility for the disgrace.


παραδειγματιζοντας “to expose public, to make a public example of, to expose to disgrace”.



Basically Acts 3:12:

 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven

    given to men by which we must be saved.”



1)      The Shepherd of Hermes and Clement of Alexandria write of a view of the early second century (100-150 AD):  Baptism was equivalent to the blood of Christ and it washed away your sins committed up to that point.  Sins after baptism (or, salvation) would not be covered.  Some then taught that the blood of your own martyrdom would cover the sins after baptism (or, the blood of Christ.)

a.      False application #1: Postpone baptism until death bed

b.      False application #2: Seek martrydom

2)      Ambrose, Aquinas, Wordsworth said the “impossible” referred to man but “with God all things are possible” (mark 10:27)  If this were true the qualification should have been in the text here in Hebrews.  The text here says “impossible” and it means “impossible.”

3)      Erasmus said “impossible” means “difficult”.  This is a clear case of isogesis.

4)      Others say it means that as long as those who have fallen away continue in their current state they can not repent.  It would be like saying it is impossible to repent until you repent.  This is true but hardly worth writing.  FF. Bruce says concerning this view: “to say that they cannot be brought to repentance so long as they persist in their renunciation of Christ would be a truism hardly worth putting into words.”

5)      Calvin believed God kept the elect understood the tasting here as a partial experience and that the people of Hebrews did not respond to it.  But no where are these verses talking about partial enlightenment.

6)      This may speak of the unpardonable sin of Matthew 12.  Many people would be concerned with having committed this “unforgivable sin”.  If they sense guilt and desire to repent would not God accept them?

7)      Others say the writer does not indicate here or anywhere that his readers were in this position.

                                                               i.      This then is a warning of potential

                                                             ii.      This warning only views salvation from the human side

                                                            iii.      Other places in the scripture indicate the divine involvement

1.      Romans 8:35-39

8)      The passage is stating the impossibility of the condition of repentance that is first referred to in verse 6:1.  This is the initial state of entry into salvation.  Once phase one is initiated it can not be redone.  Once you are saved you can not go back and get saved again.  You must simply continue the Christian walk and face the challenges and the hardships.

a.      If baptism represents the new birth the believer can not return to baptism and repent since they would be saying that they needed Jesus to die (re-crucify) for them again.  They would be bring public disgrace on Jesus by saying with their actions that the power of Christ death had wore off or they had committed a sin greater than Christ’s sacrifice.

b.      Romans 6:4

c.      Ephesians 4:22-24

d.      Romans 6:3, 6

e.      Colossians 2:14

f.        Jesus’ was crucified once for all and died for sins once.  So, there is in practice one baptism which can not be repeated without violating the principle of Christ’s once for all sacrifice.

g.      The association of “renew”, “repentance” and “re-crucifying” indicate the topic here is the impossibility of being “re-baptized”, or “re-born again (“born again-again”)

h.      The way is always open for those who are ready to repent, confess, etc.

i.        If someone did pass through verses 6:1,2 and then renounced their baptism and Christ (6:4-6) then two situations are possible:

                                                              i.      The person indicated by the rejection that they never really “experienced” (“tasted”) salvation and are still on the side of the heathen that crucified Christ

1.      John 15:1 – “The True Vine – “If a man remains in me . . .”

2.      1 John 2:19 – “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would nave remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

3.      Examples of apparent confessors who never were saved:

a.      Simon Magus was baptized (Acts 8:13, “Simon himself believed and was baptized.”

b.      Demas was involved in Christian work (2 Tim. 4:10, “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”)

c.      Judas was involved with healing, casting out demons (Mark 6:12; Matt. 10:5)

4.      Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, . . . many will say. . .did we not prophesy, . . .drive out demons, . . .perform many miracles?”

                                                            ii.      The person is still a believer and God will continue to work in their lives.

1.      Romans 8:31-39 – “I am convinced that . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.”

2.      Philippians 1:6 – “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion”


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“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.”


γη      γαρ       η        πιουσα       τον       επ       αυτης       πολλακις       ερχομενον      υετον


και           τικτουσα            βοτανην              ευθετον            εκεινοις            δι              ους


και           γεωργειται            μεταλαμβανει             ευλογιας    απο      του         θεου



“But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed.  In the end it will be burned.”


εκφερουσα       δε           ακανθας             και       τριβολους        αδοκιμος         και



καταρας            εγγυς           ης            το            τελος      εις         καυσιν


Examples of False Believers:

1)     Simon Magus was baptized

2)     Demas was involved in Christian work

3)     Judas was involved with healing, casting out demons (Mark 6:12; Matt. 10:5)




“Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in you case – things that accompany salvation.”


πεπεισμεθα               δε            περι            υμων            αγαπητοι            τα          κρεισσονα



και         εχομενα             σωτηριας            ει     και       ουτως                 λαλουμεν



“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”


ου            γαρ               αδικος            ο     θεος       επιλαθεσθαι         του         εργου      υμων



και         του            κοπου             της               αγαπης            ης                  ενεδειξασθε         



εις             το           ονομα              αυτου               διακονησαντες              τοις           αγιοις



και                 διακονουντες




“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.”


επιθυμουμεν                δε              εκαστον             υμων                την                  αυτην



ενδεικνυσθαι               σπουδην             προς               την                  πληροφοριαν             της



ελπιδος              αχρι                  τελους




“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”


ινα      μη            νωθροι            γενησθε               μιμηται                   δε                 των                 



δια             πιστεως              και              μακροθυμιας                  κληρονομουντων



τας                        επαγγελιας