Apostasy

A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 8)

(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission. Read the entire series.)

Nature of Judgment

There are two basic views of the nature of the judgment mentioned in Hebrews 6:6–8. Some suggest that the judgment is that of eternal damnation.1 McKnight collates all the information concerning judgment from the entire books of Hebrews and concludes the following: “In light of the final sense of several of these expressions (cf. especially the harsh realities of 10:30–31, 39) and the use of imagery in Hebrews that elsewhere is used predominantly of eternal damnation, it becomes quite clear that the author has in mind an eternal sense of destruction.”2 The second possible interpretation of the judgment in Hebrews 6:6–8 is that it entails loss of God’s blessing and the onset of cursing (up to and including physical death).3 Gleason summarizes, “In light of the Old Testament blessing-curse motif, the judgment in view in Hebrews 6:7–8 is best understood as the forfeiture of blessing and the experience of temporal discipline rather than eternal destruction.”4

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A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 7)

(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission. Read the series so far.)

Nature of Falling Away

There are three words or phrases in Hebrews 6:6 that describe what it means to “fall away.” Each of these is discussed individually.

Fall away. The first word used to describe falling away is “fall away” (παραπεσόντας).1 There are two broad categories of understanding concerning the nature of falling away. Some suggest that falling away is absolute apostasy, a total rejection of Christ and his gospel, an alignment with those who crucified Christ.2 Others suggest that falling away is a serious sin that a believer can commit which is usually identified as a decisive refusal to trust Christ’s high priestly ministry for help in daily living.3 The word “fall away” itself does not help in choosing which view is correct, because it does not have an object in Hebrews 6:6.4 It is uncertain from what one falls away. Neither does its use in the LXX aid one’s decision.5 Gleason concludes,

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A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 4)

(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission. Read the series so far.)

Specific Context of Hebrews 6:4–8

Now that the general context has been established, it is helpful to discuss the specific context of Hebrews 6:4–8. In order to define the specific context of this paragraph, it is necessary to discuss the section in which it is located (5:1–6:20). The following outline is suggested:

I. Christ was Appointed by God as High Priest in the Heavenly Temple (5:1-10)

A. Every high priest is chosen from among the people to represent the people before God (5:1-3)

B. Jesus did not appoint Himself high priest, but God gave Him this position after Jesus experienced human suffering that qualified Him for the position (5:4-10)

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A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 3)

(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission. Read the series so far.)

The Context of Hebrews 6:4-8

The proper interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-8 must be consistent with its context. Therefore, three aspects of its context are discussed. First, the context of the entire book of Hebrews is summarized. Second, the immediate context of the paragraph (6:4-8) is examined. Third, several Old Testament themes that form the background to the paragraph in Hebrews 6:4-8 are discussed.

General Context of Hebrews 6:4-8

The book of Hebrews was most likely written to a group of Jewish believers who were part of the same house church.1 The location of this house church has been the subject of great debate.2 Fortunately, it is not necessary to specify the exact location of the church in order to interpret Hebrews 6:4-8. It is necessary, however, to clarify three introductory issues. First, what is the purpose and theme of the book of Hebrews? Second, what is the author’s method for accomplishing that purpose? Third, what content does the author of Hebrews use to fulfill his purpose?

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Woodpeckers and Termites

Photo by Althepal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Althepal)

From Voice, Mar/Apr 2014. Used by permission.

Would you rather deal with woodpeckers or termites? The woodpecker’s color and noise demand your attention. You know he is there. But in contrast, by the time you notice termites, it’s already too late: your house is crumbling around you.

Yes, I would definitely rather have woodpeckers.

The Bible identifies some woodpeckers but gives them the name of “apostate.” This is an unbeliever who makes a lot of theological noise that is easily identified as false doctrine. You can’t miss him. You know he is there. But while the apostate can harm the church, the bigger threat is a heretic. Like a termite, he works within the church to bring division. He often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

Before we go much further, we need to define those two biblical words. That is the key to understanding this issue.

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