(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission.)
Hebrews 6:4-8 is one of the most difficult New Testament passages to interpret. Almost every article written on this passage begins with a statement of its difficulty.1 At the same time, the interpretation of this passage is crucial to the interpretation of the other warning passages in Hebrews and to the development of one’s theological position on several soteriological issues.
There are three key issues in Hebrews 6:4-8 that must be interpreted in order to arrive at an acceptable interpretation of the entire paragraph. The first issue is whether or not “those who were once enlightened” are actually saved.2 The second issue is the nature of the falling away in verse six. Is it a rejection of Christ’s offer of salvation, or is it a rejection of some aspect within Christianity? The third issue is the nature of the judgment for falling away in verses four and eight. Is the judgment eternal damnation of an unbeliever, or is it the sever chastisement of an erring believer? The proper interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-8 must provide solutions of each of these issues.