1Therefore 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,
2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
Maturity requires that we first master the elementary things of God’s Word. Over time, the church seems to have watered down even what is considered elementary. Obviously, the most basic teaching is about the gospel, for the foundation of our faith is repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. But the author also includes teaching about the washing and laying on of hands along with teaching about the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment to be basic things. In today’s churches these would be considered boring or irrelevant, let alone basic. These teachings involved the relevance of the practices of the Law for today and things pertaining to the end times and eschatology. These are not basic things in most churches today judging from the content preached from the pulpit. Yet we should have moved even past these things by now.
3And this we will do, if God permits.
The author decided not to lay again the foundation in his letter according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, as Hebrews unfolds, some significant matters are attended to as the writer peels back layers of symbolism concerning the Old Testament and the gospel according to Christ.
4For 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,
5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6and 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.
The only unforgivable sin is to reject the call of the Holy Spirit by blaspheming Him and refusing to trust in Christ and repent (Luke ). It is not good enough just to hear the message, but it must be believed such that it changes us from the inside out. It is not good enough just to be enlightened enough to grasp the message of the gospel. It is not enough to sample or taste-test the gift of salvation without actually purchasing the whole offering. When the Spirit calls people, enough light enters the heart and mind such that they are considered partakers of the Holy Spirit. He has called them enough to respond to the gospel, but He doesn’t override their will and ability to choose. These who are called taste spiritual things and get insight into heavenly matters, but it makes no difference to them in terms of how they respond. These who reject the gospel and blaspheme the sacrifice of Christ have missed their chance to respond to the light that they have been given. Until they die and go to heaven, they can respond in faith, but most don’t even bother to concern themselves with eternity. Their chance at repentance passes them by forever.
7For 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;
8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
True believers will produce good fruit (Matthew -20). Their lives are of a spiritual benefit for others, and they receive a blessing from God. Those whose lives produce thorns and thistles end up being burned because their works are dead and worthless. This is not to say that a believer who has gone off course for a time cannot product bad fruit or lead others astray. We can all be deceived and create a thistle instead of an apple. These who make shipwreck of their faith are close to being cursed (1 Timothy -20), producing dead works that will be consumed by the fire of Christ’s judgment. Their souls, however, will still enter heaven because they have truly believed (1 Corinthians -15). Unbelievers, however, are cursed eternally, and they have no hope of heaven. A person who claims to be saved and then totally spurns Christ and never has any good fruit should question his or her salvation. This is not to say that they can lose their salvation. but it should be enough to make them ask whether or not their partaking of the Holy Spirit was genuine, full, and sincere (2 Corinthians 13:5).
9But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.
The author really cares for his readers, and he doesn’t believe that they are those who will fall away and prove themselves to have never really believed. He believes that their lives will show better things, things pertaining to salvation. (We should note that, since the readers are grouped as those who are saved and since they are contrasted with those who do not believe, this goes to prove that verses 4-6 are indeed speaking of unbelievers rather than believers losing their salvation, as some teach).
10For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.
11And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
12so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
These believers had in fact already demonstrated themselves to be genuine by having good fruit to show for themselves. They had already done good work and love in God’s name by serving the saints. In fact, they were still ministering to the saints. The author wanted the believers to continue to be diligent in doing good works and in serving one another. The more we are faithful, the stronger our hope and assurance grows as we see God continue to teach us and mold us into His likeness. The author didn’t want the believers to be sluggish but to rather imitate those who were truly of God, those who faithfully held to their confession and endured in righteousness.
13For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,
14saying, "I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU."
15And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.
God promised Abraham a son and a great number of offspring (Genesis 12:1-3, ). In so doing, He swore by Himself, for there is no greater assurance than when God tells us something. He is sure to follow through, and He did indeed bless Abraham. Even today, Abraham’s spiritual descendants increase as people place their faith in Christ just as he was saved by faith. He received the promise of God by patiently waiting and believing, albeit imperfectly.
16For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.
The way disputes between nations, gangs, tribes, etc. have been settled throughout history is by making an oath by swearing by someone or something that they view as of a higher authority than themselves. This confirmation is viewed as sufficient to end whatever dispute was going on.
17In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
18so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
God and His Word should be sufficient for us to know that He will not go back on His promise to us. We who have placed our trust in Him can be confident in the gospel such that we can take refuge and be encouraged in the hope set before us of eternal life. Our hope is absolutely certain, and nothing and no one can take it away from us.
19This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
20where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Our hope of eternity anchors our soul, enabling us to be sure and steadfast because we have entered the very presence of God. The veil to the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle kept people like us out because the holiness of God would have killed us. Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies in the tabernacle and only once per year. The veil, however, was torn when Christ died on the cross (Matthew 27:51). He, being our new high priest, has entered the presence of God, being seated at God’s right hand. Through Him and by Him, we, too, can enter the presence of God. Jesus Himself even indwells our hearts, the new temple of God (1 Corinthians ). Jesus is our high priest of the order of Melchizedek, which the author is about to explain.