What is your interpretation of Hebrews 6: 4-8,( including to whom this is written)?
Good questions, @Rhoda.
It was written to churches in Hebrew communities. These often had Jewish seekers who were curious about Christianity which was initially viewed as a Jewish sect. Throughout the letter, the writer includes five warning passages to those Jews who were exploring Christ, but who had not yet fully committed themselves to him.
Many of these uncommitted seekers were being pressured by family and friends to quit visiting the churches and return to their synagogues. These warning passages are urging them not to fall away from the truths they’ve been exposed to. They’re warning that rejecting greater light will incur greater wrath.
The section you’re asking about is in the third of these warning passages.
I hope this will help give you some perspective on these verses.
The epistle of Hebrews was written by Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.
Note on Hebrews 6:4-8
Those who were once enlightened, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and the various blessings of the Gospel, if they apostatize from Christ, and finally reject him as their Savior, cannot be renewed again to repentance. Their action is equivalent to humiliating and crucifying Christ all over again.
Land cultivated and watered by rain produces crop and is a blessing to the farmer. But the land that produces only thorns is worthless. It will be burned eventually.
In the verses that followed, Paul expressed the need for diligence and perseverance.
At the risk of sparking debate (not a bad thing if done respectfully), I don’t believe this passage teaches you can lose your salvation for a couple reasons. First, noting the word “impossible” occurs at the front of the passage, it suggests to me that everything afterwords presents a false hypothetical. This includes falling away. Also, verse nine suggests that salvation isn’t what’s at stake in the first place. It refers to things that accompany salvation. Both of these assertions I admit, can be debated and I’m stoked speaking dogmatically. I certainly can be wrong and I welcome (as well as respect) other viewpoints.
I have read/ heard both sides- that this passage is written to believers and on the other hand, unbelievers who have been exposed to Christianity. Even those expressing the first opinion have said that the believers have not lost their salvation, but rather have lost the blessing of rest here on earth.
The second opinion believes this is a warning to those who may be even n the church but haven’t really accepted Christ. I vacillate between the two, especially as I think of family members who professed Christ at an early age but
are no longer living/walking as believers.
Yes, I too have listened to both sides of that argument and vacillated between them, because, to be honest, they both make excellent sense. So much so, in fact, that I’ve recently been toying with the idea that this may not be an either/or matter.
To have a life of spiritual victory certainly does require salvation to begin with. But even Lot was saved (II Peter 2:7-9) - though he’s hardly an example of the victorious believer - more of one saved yet so as by fire (I Corinthians 3:15). So there must not only be a rest of salvation, but also a rest that comes from walking with the Lord - even through difficult trials.
I think Jesus brings this out in Matthew 11:28-30, when He says that all who labor under the law and are heavy laden with guilt can simply come unto Him and He will freely give them rest. That’s the rest of salvation.
But then He continues, take my yoke upon you and learn of me. He’s speaking as if He’s already wearing one end of the yoke, and He’s inviting those who’ve come to Him to stick their necks into the other and follow His lead and learn how He prepares the field for sowing. And He says that those who do will find rest unto their souls.
So there’s a rest He freely gives, and a rest we find in His comparatively light and easy labor.
And in Hebrews 4, it seems that the rest of salvation is pictured in the sabbath in verses 1-4 and 10 where one ceases from their works. And the rest of victory over one’s personal giants, our besetting sins and daily challenges, are pictured in the battles of Canaan in the end of Hebrews 3, and in Hebrews 4:7-9.
Those are the two illustrations that He uses in the second warning passage, so I can certainly see how both elements - initial salvation and ongoing sanctification - are both indispensable to a life of victorious rest.
It was after David’s victories that Solomon was finally able to say after so long a time in I Kings 5:4, now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.
As for people who professed Christ at an early age, but are no longer walking as believers, their profession may not have been genuine, or it may have been and they are now living a defeated life like a modern day Lot.
I’d say the difference would show up in how they feel about their wayward walk - and about Christ. Do they defend it and have no problem with their unchristian lifestyles? Or do they admit their weakness and confess it is wrong and grieve over their weakness? Even Lot was vexed by the sin that surrounded him - and every Christian grieves when he sins (Ephesians 4:30).
And a Christian cannot be okay with denying Christ. Even Peter may deny the Lord like all the rest around the devil’s campfire - but unlike them, he’ll run out and weep bitterly afterward.
Does this make sense to you? What do you think?
Thank you for your in-depth explanation. I need to read over it and study the scriptures you referred to to grasp it all. I greatly appreciate the time you took to respond. I will study it and reply back. I am listening to the Global Apologetics Conference this weekend, so it will be a few days until I get back with you. Again, thanks.