In part one we conclude that the Hebrews were believers and that their salvation was not in jeopardy. Some of them were being tempted to return to Judaism as a way of escaping persecution from their fellow countrymen.
Hebrews 6:2-4 is not an easily understood passage. So I think we have to take some care in attempting to be dogmatic. However, I believe the five phrases in this passage describe a saved person.
What is the description of those who might fall away?
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” (Heb. 6:2-4)
I have emboldened the five descriptive phrases of these people, who if they fall away can never be renewed to repentance. It seems out of the character of God that such a one could never be saved after falling away! For example, check out the life of King Manasseh in the book of second Chronicles. (II Chr. 33:1-16)
What does it mean to be enlightened?
First, they were once enlightened. ‘Enlightened‘ is the same Greek word translated ‘ illuminated‘ in chapter 10:32. In the past, after they were ‘illuminated‘, they faced a significant trial by faith knowing that they already had “an enduring possession” in heaven. (Heb. 10:34) In that passage, ‘enlightened’ suggests they were saved. If they were saved then why wouldn’t it mean the same thing in 6:4?
What does it mean to taste?
Secondly, they tasted the heavenly gift, the the word of God, and the powers of the age to come. “Jesus tasted death for everyone”. (Heb. 2:9) ‘Taste’ is used metaphorically, to experience. Jesus experienced death. They experienced the heavenly gift, the word of God, and the miraculous powers of the apostles (Heb. 2:4; Mark 16:20). How could they experience the heavenly gift (everlasting life – Rom. 6:23), the word of God, and the miraculuos powers of God, and not be genuine Christians?
What does it mean to be a partaker?
Thirdly, they were partakers of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Brethren were also “partakers of the heavenly calling.” (Heb. 3:1) The same word ‘partaker‘ is used in both verses. It means to share in, to be a partner. How could they be partakers (a partner) of the Holy Spirt without being saved?
The word for falling away is the word ‘parapíptō‘. It’s the only time it is used in the New Testament. As believers, they had already been warned about drifting away and departing from the living God. (Heb. 2:1; 3:12) In this passage the Hebrews were changing course to avoid a difficult road. Like the Israelites who left Egypt under the blood of the lamb, passed through the Red Sea by faith (Heb. 11:27), they would fail to enter in the land of spiritual rest because of unbelief (Heb. 3:19-4:1). They would not grow spiritually and suffer the consequences.
These were Jewish believers about to go back inside the ‘camp’ [Judaism] (Heb. 13:11-13). They can’t be renewed to something they already possess as believers – everlasting life (A restored relationship with God)! For example, if a person buys a lifetime membership to the country club and after a few years falls away and never goes back, they still belong to the country club. They simply do not benefit from the membership because of a lack of involvement. It’s impossible to renew their membership, since they would already be a member. They simply have become useless and unfruitful as a member. (II Peter 1:5-8)
Christ died once for all. (Heb. 9:12) Any return to Judaism would give the impression that His death was not once for all. Their action of going back into the camp would have suggested that Christ needed to be crucified again; and that would put Him to open shame. If they turn back to the law, they risk a loss of reward, loss of fellowship with the Lord, and other consequences for their action, but they can never lose the gift of everlasting life once they were enlightened, knowing they had “an enduring possession” in heaven.
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