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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Hebrews 6

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 6

Hebrews 6:2. Instead of the Recepta διδαχῆς, Lachm. reads διδαχήν. But the accusative has the support only of B and the Latin translation in D (doctrinam), and is a mere transcriber’s error.

Hebrews 6:3. Elz.: ποιήσομεν, after B K L א, It. Vulg. Basm. Copt. Syr. utr. Ambrose. Retained by Lachm. Tisch. and Bloomfield. Defended also by Reiche. But as more original, on account of the symmetry with φερώμεθα, Hebrews 6:1, appears the conjunctive ποιήσωμεν, already commended to notice by Griesbach; approved by Bleek, Delitzsch, and Alford. It is attested by the strong authority of A C D E, 23, 31, 39, al. mult., Arm. Chrys. (codd.) Theodoret (comment.), Oecum. Damasc.

Hebrews 6:7. ἐπʼ αὐτῆς] B** 213, 219** al.: ἐπʼ αὐτήν. Alteration in favour of the more prevailing linguistic usage.

To the Recepta πολλάκις ἐρχόμενον, Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. Delitzsch, Alford have preferred the order ἐρχόμενον πολλάκις. The external accrediting is for both substantially equal. The Recepta is attested by A C K L, Vulg.; Lachmann’s reading by B D E א, 37, 116, al., It. Syr. utr. Copt. al. But in favour of the originality of the latter pleads the greater euphony, for which the author is wont to show a predilection.

Hebrews 6:9. The mode of writing κρεισσονα, followed by Bengel, Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. Alford, al., after the precedent given by the Edd. Complut. and Plantin., instead of the Recepta κρείττονα, is here required by A B C D*** (E?) L א, al. Otherwise, Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 7:7, and frequently.

Hebrews 6:10. καὶ τῆς ἀγάπης] Elz. Matthaei: καὶ τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης. But τοῦ κόπου is wanting in A B C D* E* א, 6, 31, 47, al., Syr. utr. Erp. Basm. Aeth. Arm. Vulg. Clar. Germ., with Chrys. (twice) Antioch. Theoph. Jerome. Already condemned by Beza, Mill, Bengel, al. Rightly deleted by Griesb. Knapp, Lachm. Scholz, Tisch. Alford, Reiche, and others. Gloss from 1 Thessalonians 1:3 .

Hebrews 6:14. Elz. Griesb. Matthaei, Scholz, Tisch. 2, Bloomfield, Reiche: μήν. Instead thereof, Lachm. Tisch. 1, 7, and 8, and Alford have εἰ μήν. The latter, approved also by Bleek and others, is, on account of the weighty authority of A B (C L**: εἰ μή) D (D corr.: εἰ μή) E א . 17, 23, al., Didym. Damasc. Vulg. It. Ambrose. Bede (: nisi), to be looked upon as the original reading. μήν is a later conversion of the non-Greek expression of the LXX. into Greek.

Hebrews 6:16. ἄνθρωποι μὲν γάρ] So Elz. Griesb. Matthaei, Scholz, Tisch. 2 and 7, Bloomfield, and Alford. But μέν is wanting in A B D* א, 47, 52, Cyril. Rightly rejected by Lachm. Bleek, Tisch. 1 and 8.

Hebrews 6:18. θεόν] Bleek and Tisch. 8, after A C א *, 17, 52, Cyril, Didym. Chrys. al.; τὸν θεόν.

Hebrews 6:19. Instead of the Recepta ἀσφαλῆ, which is confirmed also by the Codex Sinaiticus, Lachm., in the stereotype edition, writes, after A C D*: ἀσφαλῆν (so also Tisch. 7), in the larger edition: ἀσφαλήν. But the form is hardly to be justified. Yet comp. Winer’s Gramm. 7 Aufl. p. 64.


Verses 1-3

Hebrews 6:1-3. It is disputed whether in these verses the author carries out his purpose of advancing, with the pretermission of the Christian elementary instruction, to objects of deeper Christian knowledge; or whether there is contained in the same a summons to the readers, no longer to cling to the doctrines of the first principles of Christianity, but to strive to reach beyond them and attain to Christian maturity and perfection.(77) The former supposition is favoured by Primasius, Luther, Vatablus, Zeger, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Piscator, Schlichting, Grotius, Owen, Limborch, Wolf, Bengel, Peirce, Cramer, Michaelis, Morus, Storr, Abresch, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Klee, de Wette, Stengel, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Bisping, Reiche (Comment. Crit. p. 36 sqq.), Conybeare, Reuss, M‘Caul, Hofmann (Komm. p. 231), and many others; the latter, on the other hand, by Chrysostom, Theodoret, Photius, Gennadius (in Oecumenius), Theophylact, Faber Stapulensis, Calvin, Clarius, Justinian, Jac. Cappellus, Böhme, Stuart, Bleek, Ebrard, Hofmann (Schriftbew. I. p. 636, 2 Aufl.), Moll, and others. The connection with the preceding and following context decides against the first acceptation and in favour of the second. The author has just now charged the readers with dulness, and complained that they are still children in Christian understanding. It is not possible, therefore, that he should now continue in the strain: “on that account he purposes, passing over the doctrines of the initial stage, to treat in his address of objects of higher, profounder Christian knowledge;” whereas, on the other hand, the exhortation to ascend to a higher stage fittingly links itself to the complaint of the lower standpoint of the readers, which still continues unchanged notwithstanding all legitimate expectation to the contrary. No wonder, then, that expositors have been forced, in connection with the first-named explanation, to have recourse to arbitrary interpretations of the διό, Hebrews 6:1; either in completing the idea, as Grotius, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Bisping, and others, by: “therefore, because surely no one of you wishes to remain a νήπιος,”—which, however, as the middle term, must have been expressly added, since no reader could divine this from that which precedes,—or in referring it, as Schlichting and Reuss, to the first words of Hebrews 6:11 : περὶ οὔ πολὺς ἡ΄ῖν λόγος καὶ δυσερ΄ήνευτος λέγειν, and regarding all that intervenes in the light of remarks appended by way of parenthesis,—which, nevertheless, is to be rejected, even on account of the intimate connection of δυσερνήνευτος λέγειν, v. 11, with the following ἐπεὶ κ. τ. λ.,—or finally, what is lexically impossible, denying to it a causal signification, and then translating it either, as Morus, by “yet” (doch), or, as Zachariae, by “nevertheless” (indessen), or as Abresch, by vero, enimvero.

But no less does the coherence with that which follows decide against the first interpretation and in favour of the second. For it is quite comprehensible how the reason given, Hebrews 6:4 ff., should be able to lend emphasis to a preceding exhortation, but not how the declaration of the author, that he now intended to pass over to more difficult, more profound themes for instruction, should be explained thereby. (See on Hebrews 6:4-6.) In ἀφέντες there lies no decisive ground in favour of either the one or the other view (against de Wette, Bisping, and others), and ἐπὶ τὴν τελειότητα, as also θε΄έλιον καταβαλλό΄ενοι, is more relevant to the case of the readers than to that of the author (vide infra).

διό] therefore, i.e. since the solid food is suited only to τέλειοι, ye, however, do not yet belong to the number of the τέλειοι.

ἀφιέναι] is not only employed by orators and historians to indicate that they intend to pass over some subject or leave it unmentioned (comp. e.g. Demosth. de Falsa Legat. p. 433, 28: πάντα τὰ ἄλλα ἀφείς, πάντες ὑ΄εῖς ἴστε ἐρῶ), but serves with equal frequency to denote the leaving unnoticed or leaving aside of an object in actual conduct. Comp. e.g. Mark 7:8 : ἀφέντες τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ θεοῦ κρατεῖτε τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων; Luke 5:11 : ἀγέντες πάντα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ; Eurip. Androm. 393: ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀγχὴν ἀφεὶς πρὸς τὴν τελευτήν, ὑστέραν οὖσαν, φέρῃ; In our passage it is the leaving aside of the lesser, in order to reach beyond it and attain to the higher. Entirely akin to the ἀφιέναι τὸν τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ χριστοῦ λόγου is that which Paul, Philippians 3:14, denotes as ἐπιλανθάνεσθαι τὰ ὀπίσω. As in the passage named Paul speaks of a forgetting of that already attained upon the path of Christian perfection, only with a glance at the goal as yet unattained, and not in an absolute sense,—as though he would in reality deny all actual significance to that which was already attained,—quite so does the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews stir up the readers to an ἀφιέναι τὸυ τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ χριστοῦ λόγον, only inasmuch as they are called to rise, beyond that which forms a mere preliminary stage, to something higher, without in any way implying thereby that the τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ χριστοῦ λόγος, which certainly, as a base presupposed as already present, remains necessary for all subsequent building, should at all cease to be their possession. The objection, that ἀφέντες cannot be referred to the readers, because instead of a leaving aside (letting go) a holding fast or renewing of the τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ χριστοῦ λόγος must rather be demanded as a means for attaining to the τελειότης, has therefore no force. Comp. Calvin: Jubet autem omitti ejusmodi rudimenta, non quod eorum oblivisci unquam debeant fideles, sed quia in illis minime est haerendum. Quod melius patet ex fundamenti similitudine, quae mox sequitur. Nam in exstruenda domo nunquam a fundamento discedere oportet; in eo tamen jaciendo semper laborare ridiculum.

τὸν τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ χριστοῦ λόγον] the word of the beginning concerning Christ, i.e. the Christian doctrine in its first rudiments or elements. τῆς ἀρχῆς locks together with τὸν λόγον into a single notion, and upon this total-notion τοῦ χριστοῦ depends. The whole expression, however, amounts to the same thing as was before (v. 12) denoted by τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λορίων τοῦ θεοῦ.

τελειότης] in connection with our apprehension of Hebrews 6:1-3, determines itself naturally as perfection, i.e. manhood and maturity in Christianity, and that in an intellectual respect, not in an ethical or practical one, in which latter sense the expression has been accepted—arbitrarily, because opposed to the connection with v. 11–14—by Chrysostom ( βίος ἄριστος), Gennadius ( χρηστὴ πολιτεία καὶ τῆς πίστεως ἀξία), Photius ( ἐν ταῖς ἀρεταῖς προκοπή, τῶν θλίψεων καὶ διωγ΄ῶν καὶ πειρασ΄ῶν ὑπο΄ονή), Oecumenius ( τῶν ἔργων φιλοσοφία), Clarius (non solum superioris illius de Christo theologiae comprehensio, quantum homini fas est, verum etiam profectus in virtutes et afflictionum persecutionumque tolerantia), and others. Those who find in Hebrews 6:1-3 a statement of the author concerning his intention, must naturally understand τελειότης of the perfection of doctrine, i.e. of the deeper disclosures with regard to Christianity. But this is, at all events, a forced interpretation of the simple notion of the word, such as neither corresponds to the usage in other cases (comp. Colossians 3:14), for in our passage appears in keeping with the context. For, since immediately before the discourse was of τέλειοι in opposition to νήπιοι, so here only the condition of the τέλειοι can consistently with nature be the meaning of the τελειότης. Had the author intended the perfection of doctrine, he must at least have written ἐπὶ τὰ τῶν τελείων instead of ἐπὶ τὴν τελειότητα; for only in this way would he have acquired a notion corresponding to the preceding στερεὰ τροφή, v. 14.

φερώ΄εθα] The author includes himself in the exhortation (cf. Hebrews 6:14, al.), and thereby tempers the same. φέρεσθαι ἐπί τι, to be carried away to something, to strive with zeal after something.

θεμέλιον καταβάλλεσθαι] a formula fully current in later Greek style (Dionys. Halicarn. 3:69; Josephus, Antiq. xi. 4. 4, al. [whereas Paul and Luke employ τιθέναι, 1 Corinthians 3:10; Luke 6:48; Luke 14:29]), to denote the laying of the foundation. Even on account of the usualness of this mode of speech, it is quite a misapprehension of the meaning when Ebrard would here vindicate for καταβάλλεσθαι the signification: “demolish.” But also the position of the word decides against this, since καταβαλλό΄ενοι, must have its place before θε΄έλιον, whereas the placing of it after shows that the emphasis must fall upon θεμέλιον, not upon the verb; θε΄έλιον thus stands in antithesis to the following τελειότητα. The participial clause: ΄ὴ πάλιν θε΄έλιον καταβ. κ. τ. λ., accordingly forms an elucidation to ἀφέντες τὸν τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ χροστοῦ λόγον.

The genitive ΄ετανοίας, etc., indicates the material with which the foundation is laid, and, indeed, each two of the instances named belong together, so that three pairs of the first principles of Christianity are enumerated. The article before the single substantives is omitted throughout; not, as Böhme and Bleek suppose, out of a consideration for the rhythm, lest otherwise the articles should too greatly accumulate, but because the sense is: with things such as μετάνοια, etc.

Further, as subject in καταβαλλό΄ενοι we have to regard the readers of the epistle (not the author), because the same subject is presupposed for the μετά νοια and the θε΄έλιον καταβάλλεσθαι; but the ΄ετάνοια, which cannot denote the doctrine of the change of mind,—since otherwise, as with the words in Hebrews 6:2, the addition of διδαχή could not have been wanting,—but expresses the act of the change of mind itself, beyond doubt relates to the readers of the letter, not to the author.

Not anew are the readers to lay the foundation by μετάνοια ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων and πίστις ἐπὶ θεόν; since this foundation has with them already been laid, it is now thus only a question of continuing to build upon the foundation laid. Not in such wise are they accordingly to behave, that the primary requirement of turning from the ἔργα νεκρά and having πίστις towards God, must ever afresh be made with regard to them.

The construction ΄ετάνοια ἀπό, as with ΄ετανοεῖν, Acts 8:22; LXX. Jeremiah 8:6.

ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων] By νεκρά the works are not characterized as sinful, and by sin occasioning death (Piscator, Schlichting, Jac. Cappellus, Limborch, Peirce, Abresch, Bisping, Stuart, and others), nor as defiling, as according to the law of Moses contact with a dead body defiled (Michaelis, al.), but as in themselves vain and fruitless [see on Hebrews 9:14]. Perhaps the author has—what is on no sufficient grounds contested by R. Köstlin (Theol. Jahrbb. von Baur und Zeller, 1854, H. 4, p. 469 ff., Remark), Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 568), and Kurtz—before his mind the service of works under the Mosaic law, from which the readers had not yet been able to free themselves. A contradiction, as Riehm supposes (l.c. p. 835 f.), of the fact recognised, p. 16, that πίστις with the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews does not, as with Paul, involve an opposition to the νό΄ος and the ἔργα νό΄ου, lies not in this expression. For neither in our passage is mention made of νεκρὰ ἔργα in relation to πίστις, but only in relation to the factor of the ΄ετάνοια which precedes the πίστις.

καὶ πίστεως ἐπὶ θεόν] The positive reverse side to the negative ΄ετανοἴας ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων. The ideas conveyed by the ΄ετανοεῖν and πιστεύειν, the ΄ετάνοια and the πίστις, likewise associated with each other, Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21. These words, however, are to be understood, as Abresch, Bleek, and others rightly insist, in accordance with the signification, which the author is otherwise wont to attach to πίστις, of the believing confidence in God, as the one who in part has already fulfilled the promises of salvation given in the person of Jesus Christ, in part will yet completely fulfil them.


Verse 2

Hebrews 6:2. βαπτισμῶν διδαχῆς] We have not to divide by a comma, with Cajetan, Luther, Hyperius, Sykes, Semler, Morus, Heinrichs, Schulz, de Wette, Conybeare, and others [after the Syriac], in such wise that βαπτισμοί and διδαχή are each separately enumerated as a particular subject for elementary instruction in Christianity. διδαχή must in this case mean the elementary instruction in Christianity connected with baptism, imparted either before or after the same. But since, at the close of the verse, the ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν and the κρίμα αἰώνιον are mentioned, while the treatment of these subjects for teaching belonged equally to the first stage of instruction in Christianity, it is not easy to perceive why, in addition to that διδαχή, these two points, presupposed in the same, should be brought into special relief by the author. Then there is the consideration that all the particulars which are mentioned before and after as constituent parts of the θεμέλιον, are designated by a double expression. Seeing the care bestowed by the author upon the symmetrical proportions of his discourse, we should therefore naturally be led to regard βαπτισμῶν διδαχῆς as a corresponding double expression. But even as thus apprehended the expression is capable of a twofold explanation. The question, namely, is whether the author is speaking of βαπτισμοὶ διδαχῆς or of a βαπτισμῶν διδαχή. In the first case baptisms with a view to doctrine are meant, in the second instruction concerning baptisms. In the first acceptation the term is taken by Bengel, Michaelis, Maier, Kurtz, as also Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 181 (less decidedly, 5 Aufl. p. 217); in the last, by Bleek and the majority. Against the first view pleads, on the one hand, the fact that the addition διδαχῆς would be something too little characteristic, almost unmeaning, since a Christian baptism, not preceded, accompanied, of followed by instruction in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, would be something inconceivable; on the other hand, that in this way the erroneous secondary meaning would arise, that there were, in addition to the Christian baptisms with a view to doctrine, also other Christian baptisms. We follow, therefore, the second mode of interpretation. In connection with this the plural βαπτισμῶν still presents some difficulty. Gerhard, Dorscheus, Ernesti, M‘Lean Stuart, and others arbitrarily set aside this difficulty, in that they suppose just the plural to be placed for the singular But neither is the plural to be explained by the assumption that respect is had to the proneness of the Hebrews for often repeating the Christian baptism, in conformity with the many βαπτισμοί in Judaism (Oeoumenius, Theophylact), or, at the same time, to the outward and inner baptism (Grotius, Whitby, Braun, Brochmann; Reuss: la différence du baptême d’eau et du baptême d’esprit). Just as little by the supposition that reference is made to a plurality of baptismal candidates or baptismal acts (Theodoret, Primasius, Beza, Er. Schmid, Owen, Heinrichs, al.), or to a repeated immersing of the candidate. Most in its favour has the opinion of Jac. Cappellus, Seb. Schmidt, Schöttgen, Wolf, and others, in which more recently also Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, Bleek, Stengel, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 724), Alford, and Moll have concurred; namely, that the author is thinking not so much of Christian baptism a itself, or exclusively, as along with it at the same time of the relation of the same to the Jewish lustrations, and perhaps also to the baptism of John. This view appears at least to acquire a point of support from Hebrews 9:10, according to which the readers still continued to esteem the washings enjoined by the Mosaic law as of importance for Christians too. Yet it seems to be precarious, with Jac. Cappellus, Bleek, and others, to urge in favour of this acceptation the distinction that in the N. T. only βάπτισμα is used for Christian baptism in the proper sense of the term, βαπτισμός, on the other hand, being in the N. T. a word of wider signification (Hebrews 9:10; Mark 7:4); precarious, because the expression βάπτισμα not occurring at all with the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews [as also Josephus designates the rite of John only by βαπτισμός, the action by βάπτισις, Antiq. xviii. 5. 2], with regard to his usage in this respect thus nothing can be determined.

In close inner connection with the βαπτισμοί stands the ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν. As therefore the readers ought no longer to be in need of teaching concerning the nature of the former (and concerning its pre-eminence over the kindred institutions of Judaism), so was it also to be reasonably expected that they should experience a necessity for being instructed concerning the nature of the latter (and concerning the eminent blessings which attend thereon). The reference is to that laying on of hands by which those previously baptized were fully received into the communion, and through which the reception of the Holy Ghost was wont to be vouchsafed to them. Comp. Acts 8:17 ff; Acts 19:6. From this close inner connectedness of the ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν with the βαπτισμοί results that, also as regards the external arrangement of words, the genitive ἐπιθέσεως does not depend immediately upon θεμέλιον, but like βαπτισμῶν upon διδαχῆς. But, moreover, even the following genitives, ἀναστάσεως and κρίματος, are, as rightly apprehended by Storr, Böhme, Ebrard, Bisping,(78) Delitzsch, Alford, Moll, and Woerner, governed by διδαχῆς. For not by the resurrection of the dead, and the everlasting judgment itself, since these facts will first unfold themselves in the future, but only by the doctrine thereof can the foundation be laid in Christianity. It would, however, be arbitrary to assign to the words ἀνάστασις and κρί΄α in themselves signification which they can only have in combination with the foregoing διδαχῆς. A grammatical harshness (de Wette) is not to be discovered in this construction, on account of the close connection of the last clauses by means of τε and τε καί; any more than de Wette is right in regarding βαπτισ΄ῶν διδαχῆς, in the mode of interpretation above followed, as an unnatural trajection without an example the writings of our author; for βαπτισ΄ῶν is preposed because the emphasis rests on that word, and an analogon in our epistle is already afforded by the πνεύ΄ατος ἁγίου ΄ερισ΄οῖς, Hebrews 2:4.

ἀναστάσεώς τε νεκρῶν καὶ κρί΄ατος αἰωνίου] Two dogmas already belonging to the Jews theology, which obtained by means of Christianity only their more definite, concrete signification. The expression in both these clauses is used quite generally. We have therefore no warrant for limiting, with Estius, Schlichting, Schöttgen, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Storr, and others, the ἀνάστασις to the godly, the κρί΄α to the ungodly. On the contrary, both have reference to the pious or believers, and the ungodly or unbelievers in common.


Verse 3

Hebrews 6:3. Repetition of the exhortation, Hebrews 6:1, in order immediately to give thereto so much the greater emphasis by attaching the warning, Hebrews 6:4 ff.

καὶ τοῦτο ποιήσωμεν] just this let us do.

τοῦτο] sc. τὸ ἐπὶ τὴν τελειότητα φέρεσθαι, Hebrews 6:1; Theodoret, ἀντὶ τοῦ σπουδάσωμεν, ἐπιθυμήσωμεν, πάντα πόνον ὑπὲρ τῆς τελειότητος ἀσπασώμεθα. το τοῦτο we cannot supplement from the participial clause, Hebrews 6:1 : τὸ θεμέλιον καταβάλλεσθαι, as was done, on the presupposition of the reading ποιήσομεν, by Jac. Cappellus (who, however, besides this gives also the true reference, and comes to no decision), Schlichting, Grotius, Dorscheus, Wittich, Limborch, Calmet, Zachariae, Storr, Abresch, and is still done by Hofmann, as it is also regarded by Tholuck as possible; in such wise that there should issue the sense: this also, namely, the laying of the foundation, the author will do, sc. at another and more favourable time, if God permit. For—apart from the unsuitability of the sense resulting, according to which the author would declare his intention of treating the more difficult earlier than the more easy, which latter surely contains the preliminary condition for the understanding of the former—against such supplementing the fact is decisive, that the μή in connection with καταβαλλόμενοι, Hebrews 6:1, would be arbitrarily set aside; against the apprehending in this sense, the fact that for the expression of such a meaning ποιήσομεν δὲ καὶ τοῦτο must have been written.

ἐάνπερ ἐπιτρέπῃ θεός] provided that God permits it (1 Corinthians 16:7), inasmuch, namely, as all things, even the carrying into effect of good resolutions, are subordinated to the higher decree of God. Incomprehensible, therefore, is the assertion of de Wette, who has therein followed Abresch, that the addition ἐάνπερ κ. τ. λ. is plainly irreconcilable “with the taking of our verse in the sense of a demand.” For the supposition, that in this case “the encouraging belief in God’s gracious assistance” must be expressed, is an altogether erroneous assumption, since the author in the present passage is by no means aiming at the consolation of the readers, but, on the contrary—as is shown by Hebrews 6:4-8—at the alarming of them. To an encouraging and pointing to God’s gracious help the discourse first advances, Hebrews 6:9-10.


Verse 4

Hebrews 6:4. γάρ] goes back to the last main utterance,—thus to τοῦτο ποιήσωμεν, Hebrews 6:3, and by means thereof to ἐπὶ τὴν τελειότητα φερώμεθα, Hebrews 6:1, not to μὴ πάλιν θεμέλιον καταβαλλόμενοι, Hebrews 6:1 (Whitby, de Wette, Bloomfield, Conybeare), nor yet to ἐάνπερ ἐπιτρέπῃ θεός, Hebrews 6:3 (Piscator, Abresch, Delitzsch, Kurtz, Hofmann, Woerner), still less, at the same time, to ἐάνπερ ἐπιτρέπῃ θεός and μὴ πάλιν θεμέλ. καταβ. (Schlichting).

ἀδύνατον] it is impossible. The import of the expression is absolute; and to weaken it into “difficile est” (so, after the example of the Latin translation in D and E: Ribera, Corn, a Lapide, Clericus, Limborch, Storr, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, and others), according to which we should have to suppose a rhetorical exaggeration, is an act of caprice. Nor are we justified in seeking to obtain a softening of the declaration, as is done by Er. Schmid, Clericus, Limborch, Schöttgen, Bengel, Cramer, Baumgarten, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Bloomfield (comp. already Ambrose, de Poenit. ii. 3), by urging the force of the infin. active ἀνακαινίζειν as pointing to human activity, and thus, with a reference to Matthew 19:26, making the impossibility to exist only on the part of men, not on the part of God. For only the impossibility of the ἀνακαινίζειν in itself is accentuated, without respect to the person by whom it must otherwise be effected. Instead of the infinitive active, therefore, the infinitive passive ἀνακαινίζεσθαι might have been chosen by the author without affecting the sense.

τοὺς ἅπαξαἰῶνος, Hebrews 6:5] characterizing of such as have not only become Christians, but also have already experienced the plenitude of blessing conferred upon Christians.

τοὺς ἅπαξ φωτισθέντας] those who were, once illumined (Hebrews 10:32), i.e. had already, through the preaching of the gospel, been made participants of the light of the knowledge (sc. of Christianity as the perfect religion). As regards the thought, the same thing is said by μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς ἀληθείας, Hebrews 10:26.

ἅπαξ belongs, as to φωτισθέντας, so also to the three following participles (against Hofmann), and finds its opposition in πάλιν, Hebrews 6:6. It does not signify “plene” or “perfecte” (Wolf), nor does it denote an act which admits of no repetition (Delitzsch); contains, however, the implication, that the once ought to have sufficed and satisfied. Comp. [Hebrews 9:26] Hebrews 10:2; Jude 1:3.

φωτίζειν τινά, of the spiritual enlightenment effected by teaching, is purely Hellenistic. Comp. Ephesians 3:9; John 1:9; LXX. Ps. 118:130; 2 Kings 12:2; 2 Kings 17:27, al.

γευσαμένους τε τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς ἐπουρανίου] and have tasted the heavenly gift. γεύεσθαί τινος, to taste or receive a savour of a thing, figurative indication of perception by one’s own experience. See on Hebrews 2:9. The construction of the verb with the genitive (instead of being with the accusative, as Hebrews 6:5) does not justify us, with many strict Reformed expositors, in finding a mere “gustare extremis labris” in the expression. Besides, such an interpretation would be in conflict with the design of the writer, since it cannot be within his intention to represent the culpability of the persons in question as small; he must, on the contrary, aim at bringing out the same in all its magnitude.

By δωρεὰ ἐπουράνιος, Primasius, Haymo, Estius, Michaelis, Semler, and others understand the Lord’s Supper; Owen, Calmet, Ernesti, Whitby, M‘Lean, Bloomfield, the Holy Ghost (against which the following special mention of the same is decisive); Klee, regeneration in general, in contradistinction from the special communication of the Spirit in baptism; M‘Caul, “the persuasion of the eternal life, the χάρισμα τοῦ θεοῦ, Romans 6:23;” Hofmann, righteousness; Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Faber Stapulensis, Erasmus, Paraphrase; Cameron, Hammond, Rambach, Ebrard, Maier, the forgiveness of sins; Justinian, Schlichting, Grotius, the peace of mind arising from forgiveness; Pareus, faith; Seb. Schmidt, Dorscheus, Peirce, Bengel, Carpzov, Cramer, Bisping, and others, Christ; Morus, Heinrichs, Böhme, Kuinoel, Stuart, Stengel, and others, the Christian religion or the gospel; Abresch, Bleek, the enlightenment imparted to men through the preaching of the gospel, or the heavenly light itself, which effects the enlightenment, and by means thereof communicates itself to men. Inasmuch as τε points to a close connection between the second clause and the first, and the emphasis rests upon the foregoing γευσαμένους, δωρεά is at any rate to be taken quite generally. Most naturally, therefore, shall we think in general of the gift of grace, i.e. of the abundant grace of Christianity. It is called heavenly, inasmuch as Christ was sent forth from heaven in order to communicate it, and heaven is the scene of its full realization.

καὶ μετόχους γενηθέντας πνεύματος ἁγίου] and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost. The consequence and seal of the gift of grace just mentioned.


Verses 4-8

Hebrews 6:4-8. Warning enforcement of the foregoing exhortation, by dwelling on the impossibility of leading back Christians who have already experienced the abundant blessing of Christianity, and for all that have fallen away again from the same, anew to a state of grace. Very appropriately (against de Wette) does this warning justification attach itself to the preceding demand; since the readers were not merely still far from the τελειότης in Christianity, but were, moreover, upon the way of entirely falling off again from Christianity. Comp. especially Hebrews 10:25-31. In order, therefore, to deter them from such contemplated apostasy, there is very fitly set before the eyes of the readers the magnitude of the culpability which the completed apostasy would involve, and the terrible nature of the divine punitive judgment which it would entail.

In connection with the other view, that a declaration of the purpose of the author is contained in Hebrews 6:1-3, the connection of thought would be: Passing over the subjects of catechumenical instruction in Christianity, I shall apply myself to the subjects of deeper Christian knowledge. For it is surely impossible to convert anew Christians who have already been enlightened, and then have fallen away again. By the fruitlessness of enlarging on the initial doctrines, therefore, the author would justify his resolution. But one does not perceive the relevancy of this statement to the case of the readers. For since a preparatory transition, such as is afforded by the paraenetic φερώμεθα, Hebrews 6:1, and ποιήσωμεν, Hebrews 6:3,—in that the endeavour after Christian perfection necessarily includes the putting away of all that is opposed to it, thus also of the inclination to apostasy,—would then be entirely wanting, on the contrary, the declaration of the purpose of the author would connect itself with the censure expressed, Hebrews 5:11-14; in this way the explanation of this resolution must be found in the presupposition either that the readers already actually belonged to the number of the παραπεσόντες, or else that, since they must already be reckoned among the τέλειοι, what is said admits of no application to them. In the first case, however, the author would represent his own undertaking, for the benefit of such readers to pass over to the higher subjects of teaching, as a fruitless one; in the last case, having already just before blamed the readers for their νηπιότης, would have fallen into self-contradiction.


Verse 5

Hebrews 6:5. καὶ καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα] and have tasted the refreshing word of God. That the author already makes use afresh in this place of the verb γεύεσθαι, after he has only just before employed it Hebrews 6:4, Bleek ascribes, not wrongly, to a certain perplexity on the part of the writer about finding for the idea to be expressed another term of the same import. For the supposition of Delitzsch, that the repetition of the same expression is to be explained from the design of bringing out so much the more strongly the reality of the experiences made and of their objects, would be admissible only if the second γευσαμένους, like the first, were placed emphatically at the beginning of its clause, and there were not already another verb inserted between the two γευσαμένους. γεύεσθαι is here, as John 2:9, construed with the accusative, which occurs only in the Hellenistic, never with the Greek classic writers. To assume, however, a different signification in the case of the two constructions,

Bengel: “alter (genitivus) partem denotat; nam gustum Christi, doni coelestis, non exhaurimus in hac vita; alter (accusativus) plus dicit, quatenus verbi Dei praedicati gustus totus ad banc vitam pertinet, quanquam eidem verbo futuri virtutes seculi annectuntur;” Bloomfield: “here (Hebrews 6:4) γεύσασθαι signifies to have experience of a thing, by having received and possessed it; whereas in the clause following it signifies to know a thing by experience of its value and benefit;” Delitzsch (comp. also Moll): “with γευσαμένους τῆς δωρ. τῆς ἐπουρ. is combined the conception that the heavenly gift is destined for all men, and is of inexhaustible fulness of intent; with καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα, however, the conception that God’s precious word was, as it were, the daily bread of those thus described,”—is already forbidden by the homogeneity of the statements, Hebrews 6:4 and Hebrews 6:5.

The expression ῥήματα καλά serves, LXX. Joshua 21:45; Joshua 23:15, Zechariah 1:13, for the rendering of the Hebrew הַדָּבָר הַטו ̇ב and דְּבָרִים טו ̇בִים, and is used of words of consolation and promise spoken by God or the angel of God. In accordance therewith, we shall best also here refer καλὸν θεοῦ ῥῆμα to the gospel, inasmuch as God thereby gives promises, and fulfils the promises given. So Theodoret ( τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν τῶν ἀγαθῶν), Estius, Schlichting, Grotius, Limborch, Owen, Whitby, Abresch, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, de Wette, Stengel, Tholuck, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Maier, Kurtz.

Others, as Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Faber Stapulensis, Jac. Cappellus, Piscator, Bengel, Peirce, Heinrichs, Alford, understand the expression of the gospel in general; in connection with which some, as Calvin and Braun, see denoted in καλόν a contrast with the Mosaic law, the characteristic of which was judicial severity. According to Bleek, finally, we have to think of a personified attribute of God; which is supposed to be here mentioned because the gospel, with its consolatory message, is an efflux from the same,—an interpretation, however, which finds no sort of support in the context.

δυνάμεις τε μέλλοντος αἰῶνος] and powers of the world to come. What is intended is the extraordinary miraculous powers wrought by the Holy Ghost, as these were called forth by the new order of the world founded by Christ. The αἰὼν μέλλων, namely (comp. οἰκουμένη μέλλουσα, Hebrews 2:5), is for the author nothing purely future,—so that we have not, with Jac. Cappellus, Schlichting, Böhme, Kurtz, and others, to think of the everlasting life, or of the glory coming in with the Parousia of Christ, of which believers have received a foretaste here upon earth,—but already begins, according to his view, with the appearing of Christ upon earth, in that only its consummation still belongs to the future, namely, the time of Christ’s return.


Verse 6

Hebrews 6:6. καὶ παραπεσόντας] and (in spite of this) have fallen, i.e. have fallen away again from Christianity.

πάλιν] belongs to ἀνακαινίζειν. The taking of the same with παραπεσόντας (Heinsius, Alting, Peirce, and others) has the position of the word against it. A pleonasm, however (Grotius), is not produced by πάλιν along with the ἀνα in ἀνακαινίζειν. For ἀνα marks out the becoming new as a change ensuing, in opposition to the preceding state of the old man; whereas πάλιν has reference to the fact that the class of men described have already experienced that change, namely, at their first conversion.

ἀνακαινίζειν] to renew, to fashion inwardly new. To supplement an ἑαυτούς to the verb (Erasmus, Vatablus, al.), according to which the preceding accusatives of the object would be changed into accusatives of the subject, is arbitrary.

εἰς μετάνοιαν] not equivalent to διὰ μετανοίας (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Zeger, Corn, a Lapide), but under the form of conception of the result: in such wise that change of mind or repentance should arise therefrom.

ἀνασταυροῦντας κ. τ. λ.] since they, etc. Note of cause to ἀδύνατον ἀνακαινίζειν. The impossibility of the renewal is explained by the magnitude of the culpability. By their action such men bear witness that the Son of God is in their estimation a transgressor and deceiver who has been justly crucified.

The compound form ἀνασταυροῦν occurs with classic writers only in the sense of “nailing up to the cross.” Comp. L. Bos, Exercitatt., and Wetstein ad loc. In itself, however, the explanation is equally admissible: “crucify afresh.” Thus it is accordingly taken without questioning by the Greek interpreters, and probably was so meant by the author.

ἑαυτοῖς] Dativus incommodi: to their own judgment. Vatablus: in suam ipsorum perniciem. Too weak, Bleek,—to whom Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 769), and Alford give in their adhesion,—“they crucify Him to themselves, in so far as, by that crucifying again, they rob Him of themselves, who were in His possession.” False is the interpretation of Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, Jac. Cappellus, Limborch, Böhme, Bisping: as much as in them lies, ὅσον τὸ ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς; Heinrichs: each one for himself; Schulz: by themselves [by their own act]; Grotius, Abresch, Tholuck, explaining by the supposition of the so-called Dativus localis: in themselves; Hofmann: as regards their own persons; Klee: to their contentment; Stengel: to the joy and pleasure of their obdurate heart; Kurtz: to the gratification of their hatred or their enmity against Him. Over refinedly Bengel and Delitzsch: sibi, as an opposition to παραδειγματίζοντας, ostentantes, sc. aliis.

τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ] A more palpable manifestation of the enormity of the crime than would have been the case had he written τὸν χριστόν or ἰησοῦν. Comp. Hebrews 10:29.

παραδειγματίζειν] to expose to scorn and insult; here, inasmuch as the death of the cross was a shameful one. παραδειγματίζειν stronger than the simple δειγματίζειν, Matthew 1:19.

Concluding remarks on Hebrews 6:4-6.

The declaration of Hebrews 6:4-6 has been of importance for the controversy of the early church, as to the question whether those who relapsed from the gospel renounced for ever the hope of salvation, or whether by means of sincere repentance they might once more attain to a state of salvation. The rigoristic view was especially maintained by the Montanists and Novatianists; and already Tertullian, de Pudicitia, c. 20, appeals to our passage in favour thereof. In opposition to this view, another sense was universally put upon the passage in the orthodox church from the time of the fourth century. The words were interpreted of an impossibility of imparting a second time the baptism once administered, and the consequent condemnable character of such an act, in that according to a later usus loguendi (first met with in Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 62, 65) they took φωτίζειν to be a designation of baptism, referred ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν to the repetition of baptism, and in ἀνασταυροῦντας κ. τ. λ. found the indication of that which such repetition would produce or involve. (Comp. e.g. Theodoret: τῶν ἄγαν ἀδυνάτων, φησίν, τοὺς τῷ παναγίῳ προσεληλυθότας βαπτίσματι καὶ τῆς τοῦ θείου πνεύματος χάριτος μετειληφότας καὶ τῶν αἰωνίων ἀγαθῶν-g0- δεξαμένους-g0- τὸν-g0- τύπον-g0- αὖθις-g0- προσελθεῖν-g0- καὶ-g0- τυχεῖν-g0- ἑτέρου-g0- βαπτίσματος-g0-. τοῦτο-g0- γὰρ-g0- οὐδέν-g0- ἐστιν-g0- ἕτερον-g0-, -g0- πάλιν-g0- τὸν-g0- υἱὸν-g0- τοῦ-g0- θεοῦ-g0- τῷ-g0- σταυρῷ-g0- προσηλῶσαι-g0- καὶ-g0- τὴν-g0- γεγενημένην-g0- ἀτιμίαν-g0- πάλιν-g0- αὐτῷ-g0- προσάψαι-g0-. ὥσπερ-g0- γὰρ-g0- ἅπαξ-g0- τὸ-g0- πάθος-g0- αὐτὸς-g0- ὑπέμεινεν-g0-, οὕτω-g0- καὶ-g0- ἡμᾶς-g0- ἅπαξ-g0- αὐτῷ-g0- προσήκει-g0- κοινωνῆσαι-g0- τοῦ-g0- πάθους-g0-. συνθαπτόμεθα-g0- δὲ-g0- αὐτῷ-g0- διὰ-g0- τοῦ-g0- βαπτίσματος-g0- καὶ-g0- συνανιστάμεθα-g0-. οὐχ-g0- οἷόν-g0- τε-g0- οὖν-g0- ἡμᾶς-g0- πάλιν-g0- ἀπολαῦσαι-g0- τῆς-g0- τοῦ-g0- βαπτίσματος-g0- δωρεᾶς-g0-. χριστὸς-g0- γὰρ-g0- ἀναστὰς-g0- ἐκ-g0- νεκρῶν-g0- οὐκ-g0- ἔτι-g0- ἀποθνήσκει-g0-, θάνατος-g0- αὐτοῦ-g0- οὐκ-g0- ἔτι-g0- κυριεύει-g0-. -g0- γὰρ-g0- ἀπέθανε-g0-, τῇ-g0- ἁμαρτίᾳ-g0- ἀπέθανεν-g0- ἐφάπαξ-g0-, -g0- δὲ-g0- ζῇ-g0-, ζῇ-g0- τῷ-g0- θεῷ-g0-. καὶ-g0- ἡμῶν-g0- δὲ-g0- -g0- παλαιὸς-g0- ἄνθρωπος-g0- συνεσταυρώθη-g0- ἐν-g0- τῷ-g0- βαπτίσματι-g0-, τοῦ-g0- θανάτου-g0- τὸν-g0- τύπον-g0- δεξάμενος.) That this interpretation, which is still followed among later expositors by Faber Stapulensis, Clarius, and Calmet, is a wrong one, is now generally admitted. The justification, however, of this passage, which furnished to Luther a determining reason for denying to the epistle canonicity in the narrower sense (see the Introduction, p. 18), is afforded by the fact that—as is also pointed out, Hebrews 10:26-31—the author is speaking not of a falling away in general, but of a clearly defined falling away, i.e., as is rightly urged by Calvin, Beza, Jac. Cappellus, Estius, Seb. Schmidt, Peirce, Carpzov, Tholuck, Ebrard, Bisping, Delitzsch, Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 341 f. 2 Aufl.), Maier, and others, those Christians are described who commit the sin against the Holy. Ghost (Matthew 12:31 f.; Mark 3:28 f.; Luke 12:10), or the ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον (1 John 5:16). For Christians are described who fall away, not, e.g., from mere weakness, from a mere wavering of conviction, but in spite of a better knowledge, and in spite of having experienced the treasures of grace in Christianity; Christians who, according to the parallel passage, Hebrews 10:26 ff., against their better consciousness and conscience, tread under foot the Son of God as though He were a deceiver, brand His blood shed for redemption as the blood of a transgressor, and scoff at the Spirit of grace as a spirit of falsehood. In regard to men of this kind, the ἀδύνατον πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν is employed in its full right, since with them there must be inwardly wanting every kind of receptiveness or receptibility for the μετάνοια. The reference of the declaration to the sin against the Holy Ghost is, moreover, so much the more unquestionable, inasmuch as the author by no means says that the readers have already committed it, but, on the contrary, only sets at once before their eyes as a terrible warning the extreme length to which their conduct may lead them.


Verse 7-8

Hebrews 6:7-8. Confirmation of the ἀδύνατον κ. τ. λ. on its objective side; since in connection with so great culpability and such ingratitude the divine punishment cannot fail to ensue. This thought is rendered manifest by means of a similitude. The common subject for Hebrews 6:7 and Hebrews 6:8 is not merely γῆ, but γῆ πιοῦσα τὸν ἐπʼ αὐτῆς ἐρχόμενον πολλάκις ὑετόν taken together. For the intention of the author is to point to the diversity of result arising from equally favourable preliminary conditions. The main point of the similitude, however, lies in Hebrews 6:8, while Hebrews 6:7 serves only by way of preparation, and as a means of bringing out into bolder relief the following opposition.

γῆ γὰρ πιοῦσαὑετόν] for the field which has drunk in the rain frequently coming down upon it. Figure of the men before described, who ofttimes have experienced God’s gracious benefits, and have received the same into themselves.

The participle aorist πιοῦσα is chosen, while then participles present ( τίκτουσα, ἐκφέρουσα) follow, because the fact already historically completed is to be emphasized, from which, then, two different effects are developed for the time present.

A πίνειν, τίκτειν, etc., is ascribed to the γῆ, because this, as in general is very frequently the case, is personified as a part of the life-displaying, assiduously productive nature.

ἐπʼ αὐτῆς] The construction of ἐπί with the genitive, after a verb of motion, is distinguished from the more usual one with the accusative, in this respect, that the former includes in itself at the same time the notion of tarrying. Comp. Winer, Gramm. 7 Aufl. p. 352.

καὶ τίκτουσα] In place of this, merely τίκτουσα or τίκτουσα μέν would have been more correctly written. καί, however, does not stand in the sense of “also” (Hofmann), but is the ordinary “and.”

βοτάνη] in the N. T. only here, employed by the LXX. as a rendering of דֶּשֶׁא (Genesis 1:11-12), עֵשֶּׂב (Exodus 9:22; Exodus 10:12; Exodus 10:15), and חָצִיר (Job 8:12), denotes, according to its derivation from βόσκω, originally herbage or pasturage, but then also every kind of vegetation or produce of the field.

εὔθετος] well-placed, fit, profitable. Comp. Luke 9:62; Luke 14:35.

ἐκείνοις] may be referred to εὔθετον (Böhme and the majority), but it also admits of being referred to τίκτουσα (Bleek, Alford, Hofmann).

διʼ οὕς] for whose sake. Grammatically false, the Vulgate, Zeger, and others: a quibus; Calvin: quorum opera; Erasmus, Vatablus, Heinrichs, and others: per quos; Luther: for those who till it; Schulz: for those who labour on it; Wieseler (Comm. üb. d. Br. P. an die Gal., Gött. 1859, p. 111): at whose command and disposal.

καὶ γεωργεῖται] it also (or even) is cultivated, brings into relief the naturalness of the τίκτειν βοτάνην εὔθετον ἐκείνοις, in that the ἐκεῖνοι are the proprietors of the land, to whom the cultivation and produce of the same pertains. Incorrectly Schlichting (as likewise Böhme, Kuinoel, Hofmann): Ait autem “et colitur,” ut ad imbrium irrigationem etiam terrae istius diligentem accedere culturam ostendat. In the application of the figure, the ἐκεῖνοι, διʼ οὓς καὶ γεωργεῖται are God and Christ; not God alone (Schlichting, Grotius, Cramer, de Wette, Tholuck, Alford), since in this way justice is not done to the plural.

μεταλαμβάνει εὐλογίας ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ] receives part in the blessing at the hand of God, namely, in that its fruitfulness is progressively augmented. Comp. Matthew 13:12; John 15:2. Too weak, Grotius, Wittich: it is praised or commended by God.

ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ] from God (as the bestower), is best connected with μεταλαμβάνει, not with εὐλογίας.


Verse 8

Hebrews 6:8. The contrast.

ἐκφέρουσα] as to its signification not different from the preceding τίκτουσα. Without justification by usage is it supposed by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Wittich, Valckenaer, Klee, and Bloomfield, that the word is to be taken in malam partem, namely, in the sense: “Ejicere quasi abortus.”

ἀκάνθας καὶ τριβόλους] Thorns and thistles. Proverbial designation of rankly springing weeds and wild growth. Comp. Genesis 3:18; Hosea 10:8 ( קו ̇ץ וְדַרְדַּר); Matthew 7:16.

ἀδόκιμος] sc. ἐστίν, it fails to stand the test, is rejected, namely, in the judgment of God, as is self-evident from the ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ in the preceding clause. Wrongly, therefore, Hofmann: it is unworthy to be treated as arable land.

καὶ κατάρας ἐγγύς] and near to the curse, i.e. not: devoted to the execration of men (Hofmann), but exposed to the peril of being abandoned by God to everlasting barrenness and desolation. Enhancement of ἀδόκιμος. At the same time, however, there is to be found in ἐγγύς a softening of the expression, manifestly with a reference to the fact that it is not yet too late for the readers to combat their lustings after defection, and to return fully into the right way (comp. Hebrews 6:9 ff.). Chrysostom: βαβαί, πόσην ἔχει παραμυθίαν λόγος. κατάρας γὰρ εἶπεν ἐγγύς, οὐ κατάρα· δὲ μηδέπω εἰς τὴν κατάραν ἐμπεσὼν ἀλλʼ ἐγγὺς γενόμενος καὶ μακρὰν γενέσθαι δυνήσεται.

ἧς τὸ τέλος εἰς καῦσιν] sc. ἐστίν, and its ultimate fate issues in burning. ἧς is referred by Camerarius, Abresch, Heinrichs, Stuart, Bleek, to κατάρας; but more correctly by Chrysostom, Theophylact, Luther, Seb. Schmidt, Bengel, Carpzov, Schulz, Böhme, Kuinoel, Stengel, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 773), Alford, Maier, Kurtz, Ewald, Woerner, and the majority, to the main subject; in such wise that the relative is to be complemented by γῆς, ἐκφερούσης ἀκάνθας καὶ τριβόλους. In connection therewith, however, to take εἶναι εἰς, with Carpzov, Böhme, Kuinoel, Ebrard, Bisping, Maier, and others, as a Hebraism ( הָיָה לְ), is inadmissible. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 173.

The understanding, moreover, of a burning of the field, or of its produce, in order that the land may be improved, as that which is intended by καῦσις (Schlichting, Bloomfield, and others), is forbidden by the connection, since no other than the divine punitive judgment bursting in upon it has to be described. What is meant is the burning up of the field itself by fire and brimstone coming down from heaven; by which, e.g., the soil of Sodom and Gomorrha was rendered for ever incapable of tillage (Bleek, Tholuck, Ebrard, Alford, Maier, Moll, al.). Comp. Genesis 19:24; Deuteronomy 29:23; also Hebrews 10:27 : πυρὸς ζῆλος ἐσθίειν μέλλοντος τοὺς ὑπεναντίους.


Verse 9

Hebrews 6:9. Softening of the foregoing warning representation by attestation of the confidence, that this description will not be applicable to the readers.

πεπείσμεθα δὲ περὶ ὑμῶν] But we are convinced in regard to you. Comp. Romans 15:14.

πεπείσμεθα] stronger than πεποίθαμεν.

περὶ ὑμῶν] has the emphasis. It is therefore already placed here, not first after σωτηρίας.

The appellation ἀγαπητοί only here in the epistle. Schlichting: Apposite eos sic vocat, ne putarent, eum aliquo ipsorum odio laborare, sed ut scirent, eum amore Christiano erga ipsos flagrare, qui amor facit, ut semper meliora ominemur iis, quos amamus, et, si quid severius dicimus, animo corrigendi non nocendi cupido dicamus.

τὰ κρείσσονα] of that which is better. This may refer to the subjective side, but it may also refer to the objective side of the foregoing comparison. In the first case the sense is: that your condition is a better one, than that you should be compared to a land bringing forth thorns and thistles; in the latter case: that your fate will be a better one than curse and perdition. On account of the plural τὰ κρείσσονα we shall do best to combine both factors together, as, indeed, the last is but the consequence of the first. When, however, Hofmann thinks that τὰ κρείσσονα does not at all point to the foregoing comparison, but stands by itself without any reference, in that it denotes only the good in opposition to the bad, this is not only opposed to the context, but also grammatically false, since the comparative is never placed for the positive. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 227 f.

καὶ ἐχόμενα σωτηρίας] and of that which stands in contact with salvation, i.e. that you will attain to salvation. ἐχόμενον, with the genitive, denotes that which is closely joined to an object, that which is either outwardly (logically or temporally) or inwardly bound up with it. Instances in Bleek, II. 2, p. 220 ff.

εἰ καὶ οὕτως λαλοῦμεν] Chrysostom: βέλτιον γὰρ ὑμᾶς τοῖς ῥήμασι φοβῆσαι, ἵνα μὴ τοῖς πράγμασιν ἀλγήσητε.

οὕτως] sc. as was done Hebrews 6:4-8.


Verse 10

Hebrews 6:10. Reason for the good confidence expressed Hebrews 6:9.

οὐ γὰρ ἄδικος θεός, ἐπιλαθέσθαι] for God is not unjust, that He should forget. God exercises retributive righteousness. Since, then, the readers have performed, and do still perform, actions worthy of Christian recognition, it is to be expected that God will be mindful thereof, and, provided they will only perform their own part fully (comp. Hebrews 6:11-12), will conduct them with His grace and lead them to the possession of salvation. A claim to demand salvation of God, on account of their behaviour, is not conceded by the words of Hebrews 6:10; only as a factor which God, by virtue of His retributive righteousness, will take into account in connection with the final result, is this brought forward for the consolation and encouragement of the readers; while, moreover, reference is at once made anew, Hebrews 6:11 f., to the still unsatisfactory character of their Christian state, and in general to the peril of falling again from their state of grace.

ἐπιλαθέσθαι] The infinitive aorist expresses the mere verbal notion, without respect to the relation of time. See Kühner, II. § 445, 2. It is to be taken neither in the sense of a preterite (Seb. Schmidt: ut oblitus sit) nor of a future (Bisping and others).

τοῦ ἔργου ὑμῶν] your work (as lying completed), i.e. that which you have done. The expression is quite general. A more precise limitation thereof may be found in the following καὶ τῆς ἀγάπης, by taking καί as the epexegetic “and indeed,” “and that.” So Peshito, as also Kurtz and Woerner. But since, in any case, the passage Hebrews 10:32 ff. is to be compared as a real (though not verbal) parallel to the statement Hebrews 6:10, and there, in addition to the love displayed, the stedfastness manifested by the readers under persecutions is lauded, it is most natural, with Schlichting, Grotius, and others, to suppose that just to this the general τοῦ ἔργου ὑμῶν in our passage also more especially alluded.

τῆς ἀγάπης] has not in itself alone the notion of love “to the brethren,” in such wise that εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ would have to be translated: “for His name” (Matthew 10:41-42; Matthew 18:20), i.e. to His honour (Vulgate: in nomine ejus; Böhme and others: ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ, Matthew 18:5). On the contrary, τῆς ἀγάπης acquires its object in the εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, to be construed in relation to ἧς ἐνεδείξασθε (not to διακονήσαντες κ. τ. λ., to which Beza was inclined). Thus: the love which ye have shown to His name (sc. God’s name, not Christ’s, Ernesti and others). This is the more general object, which only then obtains its more special reference and indication of purport by διακονήσαντες κ. τ. λ. A love exercised towards Christian brethren, inasmuch as Christians, as God’s children, bear the name of God.

διακονήσαντες τοῖς ἁγίοις] in that ye have rendered service to the saints (the fellow-Christians), have aided them when they were in distress and affliction (not specially: in poverty). But that this was not merely a virtue exercised once for all, but one still continuously exercised, is clearly brought out by the addition καὶ διακονοῦντες.


Verse 11-12

Hebrews 6:11-12. To that which the author hopes with regard to the readers, he now attaches that which he wishes to see performed by them.

ἐπιθυμοῦμεν δέ] now we long, most ardently desire. Stronger expression than θέλομεν or βουλόμεθα [to set one’s heart on it, Matthew 13:17; Acts 20:33; 1 Timothy 3:1, etc.].

ἔκαστον ὑμῶν] More emphatic and accentuating than the mere ὑμᾶς would be. There is denoted by it, on the one hand, that the heart-felt interest which the author cherishes in the readers extends to every single one of them. On the other hand, there lies in it the thought that if haply single individuals among the readers already correspond to the demand here made, it is still of supreme importance that every one of them should so comport himself as is mentioned.

In the sequel, τὴν αὐτὴν ἐνδείκνυσθαι σπουδήν is not in such manner to be taken together with ἄχρι τέλους that the main stress should fall upon this, and πρὸς τὴν πληροφορίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος be regarded as a mere subsidiary factor. In connection with this mode of interpretation, adopted by Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Grotius, Seb. Schmidt, Limborch, and others, the demand of the author would amount to this, that the readers should manifest the same zeal which, according to Hebrews 6:10, they have already displayed, even to the end or in all future time. But in such manner it is assumed that the author has every reason for being satisfied with the Christian condition of the readers, and desires nothing more than a continuance of the same, whereas the whole epistle testifies that the state of things with the Hebrews was very different from this. Hence it is evident that the emphasis rests quite as much upon πρὸς τὴν πληροφορίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος as upon ἄχρι τέλους. The thought must thus be: the author longs for the readers to display the same zeal which they have already manifested in regard to an active love, in equal measure also in another relation, namely, in regard to the πληροφορία κ. τ. λ. (so Bengel, Cramer, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Böhme, Stuart, Bleek, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Alford, Conybeare, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, and others), in connection with which, however, ἄχρι τέλους is best taken, not, as is generally the case even with this correct determination of the thought, with ἐνδείκνυσθαι, but in close juxtaposition with πρὸς τὴν πληροφορίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος.

πρὸς τὴν πληροφορίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος ἄχρι τέλους] in regard to the full certainty of conviction concerning the Christian’s hope, unto the end, i.e. in such manner that ye cherish and preserve to the end the Christian’s hope of the Messianic kingdom to be looked for at the coming again of Christ, as a firm confidence of faith, untroubled by any doubts. Comp. Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14. Opposite is the wavering conviction that the subject of the Christian hope is one founded in objective truth; the standing still upon the path of Christianity before the goal is reached, and the tendency to fall away again from Christianity and to relapse into Judaism.

πληροφορία] We have not, with Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Schulz, Bleek, de Wette, Stengel, and others (after the example of the Vulgate: “ad expletionem spei”), to apprehend in the active sense of “perfecting, making full or complete;” but to take it, as everywhere in the N. T. (1 Thessalonians 1:5; Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 10:22; comp. also Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5), with Erasmus, Vatablus, Zeger, Calvin, Beza, Estius, Jac. Cappellus, Schlichting, Calov, Wolf, Abresch, Heinrichs, Böhme, Tholuck, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Moll, and the majority, in the passive sense.

ἄχρι τέλους] unto the end, i.e. until (at the Parousia of the Lord) hope passes over into the possession [of the kingdom] itself.


Verse 12

Hebrews 6:12. Further prosecution of πρὸς τὴν πληροφορίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος ἄχρι τέλους, Hebrews 6:11.

ἵνα μὴ νωθροὶ γένησθε] that ye become not sluggish. The γένησθε, pointing to the future, stands in no contradiction with γεγόνατε at v. 11. There, the sluggishness of the intellect was spoken of; here, it is sluggishness in the retaining of the Christian hope. There is therefore no need of the conjecture νόθοι (after Hebrews 12:8) for νωθροι (Heinrichs).

μιμηταὶ δὲ τῶν διὰ πίστεως καὶ μακροθυμίας κληρονομούντων τὰς ἐπαγγελίας] but rather imitators of those who, through faith and perseverance, inherit the promises. Of the two substantives πίστεως καὶ μακροθυμίας, the latter forms the leading idea; comp. Hebrews 6:15, where only μακροθυμήσας is placed. καί is therefore the more nearly defining “and indeed.” Thus: by faith, and indeed by persevering constancy in the same.

The μακροθυμία, elsewhere usually the divine attribute of long-suffering or forbearance, is likewise predicated of men, Colossians 1:11; James 5:7-8; James 5:10; LXX. Isaiah 57:15 ( ὀλιγοψύχοις διδοὺς μακροθυμίαν), and frequently, and in the first-named passage combined with ὑπομονή as a synonym.

The ἐπαγγελίαι are those given by God in the time of the Old Covenant, which by means of Christianity attain to their full realization. Comp. Hebrews 7:6, Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 11:17; Hebrews 11:33; Romans 9:4; Romans 15:8; 2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 3:16. Comp. also the singular ἐπαγγελία, Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 10:36, Hebrews 11:39.

κληρονομεῖν τὰς ἐπαγγελίας denotes: to enter into the heritage of these promises, i.e. to attain to the enjoyment or possession of the blessings placed in prospect by them. That in our passage (comp. Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 10:36, Hebrews 11:39) κληρονομεῖν τὰς ἐπαγγελίας cannot be understood, with Schulz and Bleek, of the mere “receiving of the imparting of the promises as such, apart from their fulfilment,” is shown by the very position of the words, according to which the main force of the statement is contained not in τὰς ἐπαγγελίας, but in κληρονομούντων. Comp. also Hebrews 6:15, where for the same reason ἐπέτυχεν is placed before the substantive τὰς ἐπαγγελίας. Besides, it is also evident from the fact that in such case there would be nothing in Hebrews 6:12 to correspond to the conception of the ensuing possession itself, indicated as this is in the ἄχρι τέλους of Hebrews 6:11.

In connection with τῶν κληρονομούντων almost all expositors, including Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Kluge, think of the patriarchs, especially Abraham, and of them either alone or with the inclusion of all believers of the New Covenant. This interpretation, however, to which they were without any necessity led by the consideration of Hebrews 6:13, is untenable. For, in order to harmonize with it in its first-named form, the writing of κληρονομησάντων would have been necessary,—for which, accordingly, many will have the participle present to be taken; to harmonize with it in its last-named form, the writing of κληρονομησάντων τε καὶ κληρονομούντων would have been required. The characterizing οἱ διὰ πίστεως καὶ μακροθυμίας κληρονομοῦντες τὰς ἐπαγγελίας is, on the contrary, quite a general one, and the participle present marks out that which assuredly takes place, or in accordance with a constant and fixed rule (as a rewarding of the fulfilled preliminary condition of πίστις καὶ μακροθυμία). The thought is therefore, not that the readers should take the patriarchs as a model, but in general that they should take as such those who manifest persevering constancy in the faith, and, on that very account, beyond doubt attain to the possession of that which is promised.


Verses 13-15

Hebrews 6:13-15. Proof of the general truth that stedfast endurance leads to the possession of the promised blessing, from the special instance of Abraham. Calvin: exemplum Abrahae adducitur, non quia unicum sit, sed quia prae aliis illustre.

τῷ γὰρ ἀβραὰμ ἐπαγγειλάμενος θεός] for when God had given promise to Abraham. ἐπαγγειλάμενος we have, with de Wette, to take as in point of time anterior to ὤμοσεν. It has reference to the promises which God had already, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 17:5-6; Genesis 18:18, imparted to Abraham, and which were then, Genesis 22:16-18, not merely repeated to him by God, and confirmed by an oath, but likewise, in part at least, were fulfilled (see at Hebrews 6:15).

ἐπεὶ κατʼ οὐδενὸς κ. τ. λ.] because there was no greater or higher ( οὐδενός, masculine, not, as Hofmann supposes, neuter), by whom He could swear, He sware by Himself. Relation of the words, LXX. Genesis 22:16 : κατʼ ἐμαυτοῦ ὤμοσα, λέγει κύριος, with the reason for this form of declaration inserted. Comp. Philo, Legg. allegor. 3:98 E (with Mangey, I. p. 127), where, with regard to the same passage of Scripture, it is said: εὖ καὶ τῷ ὂρκῳ βεβαιώσας τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν, καὶ ὅρκῳ θεοπρεπεῖ. ὁρᾷς γὰρ ὅτι οὐ καθʼ ἑτέρου ὀμνύει θεός

οὐδὲν γὰρ αὐτοῦ κρεῖττον

ἀλλὰ καθʼ ἑαυτοῦ, ὃς ἐστι πάντων ἄριστος.


Verse 14

Hebrews 6:14. εἰ μὴν κ. τ. λ.] Adducing of the declaration, Genesis 22:17, with the difference, that in the case of the LXX. πληθυνῶ τὸ σπέρμα σου is in harmony with the original put in place of πληθυνῶ σε. This deviation is not to be explained by the supposition that the author chose σε instead of τὸ σπέρμα σου merely “for brevity’s sake” (Jac. Cappellus), or “in order to present the promise in a form as concentrated as possible” (Delitzsch), or that he cited from memory (Abresch), or that he wished to place in the background all thought of the merely physical descendants of Abraham, and direct the glance of the reader exclusively to the spiritual or heavenly posterity of Abraham, which was appointed to him through Christ (Böhme, Bisping, and others). It has its ground simply in the fact that the author was here occupied exclusively with the person of Abraham himself (Bleek, de Wette, Maier).

εἰ μήν] in place of the Greek μήν, or of the εἰ μή, formed after the Hebrew אִם־לֹא, is met with elsewhere in the LXX. (Ezekiel 33:27 ; Ezekiel 34:8; Ezekiel 35:6; Ezekiel 36:5, al.), not, indeed, so far as concerns our passage in the Cod. Alex. and Cod. Vatic., but yet in other ancient MSS.; and in any case, our author found it in the copy of the LXX. used by him.

The combination of the participle with the tempus finitum of the same verb ( εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω κ. τ. λ.) is a well-known Grecising of the Hebrew infin. absol., occurring exceedingly often in the LXX., and serving generally—as here—for the augmented and solemn emphasizing of the idea contained in the verb. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 332.


Verse 15

Hebrews 6:15. καὶ οὕτως] and in this way, i.e. since God on His part had in such manner afforded documentary evidence for the solemnity of His resolve. οὕτως belongs to ἐπέτυχεν. The combining of it with μακροθυμήσας, as is done by Stein, Tholuck,(79) and Bisping, and consequently taking the participle as an epexegesis of οὓτως, is inadmissible, because in that case the ΄ακροθυ΄ία of Abraham in particular must have been spoken of immediately before. The opinion of Delitzsch, however, who is followed by Maier, that “the combination of the two combinations” is “the right one,” refutes itself, since it requires that which is logically impossible.

΄ακροθυ΄ήσας] because he showed [or: had shown] persevering stedfastness (sc. in the faith, comp. Hebrews 6:12), in particular by the fact that he had just now been so ready at God’s behest to sacrifice his son Isaac, although this soon appeared to afford the only hold for the realization of the divine promise.

ἐπέτυχεν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας] he obtained the promise, i.e. the thing promised, inasmuch, namely, as not only Isaac was given back alive to Abraham, but he further lived to see the time when two sons were born to Isaac (comp. Genesis 21:5; Genesis 25:7; Genesis 25:26), and thus the divine promise was fulfilled in its earlier stage. Not a fulfilment, which Abraham first witnessed in the life beyond the grave (Maier, Hofmann), is intended. Nor have we here to take ἐπαγγελία, with Bleek, in the active sense [the giving of a promise], and to refer it to the Messianic salvation placed in prospect. For, apart from the consideration that in this case ἐπέτυχεν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας would, in relation to ἐπαγγειλά΄ενος, Hebrews 6:13, indicate no advance, the emphatically preposed ἐπέτυχεν can be understood only of the obtaining possession of the promised object itself. The promise repeated to Abraham, Genesis 22:17-18, presented itself under a two fold point of view. His seed was to be multiplied, and in his seed were all nations of the earth to be blessed. Only the first of these in its earlier stage could Abraham, from the nature of the case, live to see; the fulfilment of the latter was attached to the appearing of Christ upon earth, which was to be looked for in the distant future. The first-named reference obtains Hebrews 6:15. The last-named mode of contemplating the subject underlies the κληρονό΄οις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, Hebrews 6:17. That, too, which we read Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 11:39, is spoken from the last-named point of view, on which account there is not to be found in these passages a contradiction of ours.


Verse 16

Hebrews 6:16. γάρ] establishes the ἐπεὶ κατʼ οὐδενὸς κ. τ. λ. ὤμοσεν καθʼ ἑαυτοῦ, Hebrews 6:13. Not, however, Hebrews 6:16 merely (against Hofmann), but the whole paragraph, Hebrews 6:16-18, is to be looked upon as an establishing of these words. For Hebrews 6:16 is only a lemma, only a preparation for Hebrews 6:17 f.; and, indeed, Hebrews 6:16 states the practice valid among men with regard to the taking of the oath, while Hebrews 6:17 f. there is shown in connection with this the object contemplated by God in His declaration upon oath.

κατὰ τοῦ μείζονος] by the Higher One. μείζονος is not neuter (M‘Caul: “to a thing that is greater, e.g. the temple, the altar;” Hofmann), but masculine, and thereby God is intended.

With καί the second half of the sentence, Hebrews 6:16, is closely attached to the first: “and so,” “and consequently.” To the habitual practice of men just mentioned, the legal relation therefrom arising is joined on.

πάσης αὐτοῖς ἀντιλογίας πέρας εἰς βεβαίωσιν ὅρκος] the oath is to them an end to every kind of (every conceivable) contradiction, unto establishment. Comp. Philo, de sacrificiis Abelis et Caini, p. 146 (with Mangey, I. p. 181): τοῦ τε μὴν πιστευθῆναι χάριν ἀπιστούμενοι καταφεύγουσιν ἐφʼ ὄρκον ἄνθρωποι· δὲ θεὸς καὶ λέγων πιστός ἐστιν· ὥστε καὶ τοὺς λόγους αὐτοῦ βεβαιότητος ἕνεκα μηδὶν ὅρκων διαφέρειν.… οὐ γὰρ διʼ ὅρκον πιστὸς θεός, ἀλλὰ διʼ αὐτὸν καὶ ὅρκος βέβαιος.

For ἀντιλογία as “contradiction” (Bleek, Bisping, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Woerner), comp. Hebrews 7:7, also Hebrews 12:3; Jude 1:11. The signification “dispute,” “litigation,” assumed by Theophylact, Erasmus, Zeger, Cameron, Jac. Cappellus, Schlichting, Heinrichs, Böhme, Stengel, and the majority, is certainly perfectly warranted by the usage alike of the classical writers (Xen. Hellen. 6:3. 9) as of the LXX. (Exodus 18:6, Heb. דָּבָר ; Deuteronomy 19:7, הָרִיב ; Proverbs 18:18, מִדְיָנִים, al.). But here this meaning is remote from the connection, since Hebrews 6:16 serves for the explanation of the trustworthiness of a divine declaration, but not the explanation of a contention between God and men (Bleek). The meaning “dubitatio,” “doubt,” assigned to the word by Grotius and Cramer, it never has.

εἰς βεβαίωσιν] unto ratification, or the creation of an indefeasible claim. Wrongly do Jac. Cappellus, Peirce, Paulus, and others take eh εἰς βεβαίωσιν—which belongs to the whole second clause, not merely to πέρας (Böhme, Bleek, Bisping, Alford)—along with ὅρκος: “the oath given in confirmation,” which must have been expressed by εἰς βεβαίωσιν ὅρκος.

It results as a necessary inference from Hebrews 6:16, that the author did not regard the taking of the oath on the part of men as anything forbidden. Comp. Calvin: Praeterea hic locus docet aliquem inter Christianos jurisjurandi usum esse ligitimum.… Nam apostolus certe hic de ratione jurandi tanquam de re pia et Deo probata disserit. Porro non dicit olim fuisse in usu, sed adhuc vigere pronuntiat.


Verses 16-20

Hebrews 6:16-20. Not without design did the author, in connection with the historic fact, Hebrews 6:13-15, make mention also of the divine oath, although the mention thereof in that place was not necessarily required by the relation to Hebrews 6:12. His object, namely, was further to bring into special prominence the practical advantage accruing to the readers from this circumstance. This he accomplishes Hebrews 6:16-20. For, since the promise imparted to Abraham, in so far as it respected the blessing of all nations by means of his seed, could receive its fulfilment only in conditioning connection with Christ, the Saviour of all believers, the Christians are thus the heirs of the Abrahamic covenant; so also by the oath of God there is guaranteed to them, no less than to Abraham, an indefeasible claim to the object of promise. To hold fast to the Christian hope, objectively assured and undisappointing as this is, the Christians therefore must feel themselves most powerfully animated.


Verse 17

Hebrews 6:17. ἐν ] Upon the basis of which fact, i.e. in accordance with this human custom, as one valid among men. ἐν , namely, refers back to the whole contents of Hebrews 6:16 (not merely to ὅρκος), and coheres not with βουλόμενος ἐπιδεῖξαι (Seb. Schmidt, Braun, Rambach, Hofmann, al.), nor yet with the whole clause following (Delitzsch, Alford), but with ἐμεσίτευσεν ὄρκῳ.

περισσότερον] is to be taken along with ἐπιδεῖξαι. It does not, however, signify unto redundancy, since this was not at all required (Beza, Schlichting, Seb. Schmidt, Carpzov, Storr, Klee, and others), but: so much the more, or: more emphatically, than would have been done by the mere imparting of the promise.

τοῖς κληρονόμοις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας] to the heirs of the promise. By the κληρονόμοι, Grotius, Owen, Bleek, Stein, de Wette, Bisping, Delitzsch, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, and others understand the patriarchs as well as all believers; Tholuck and others, only the Old Testament saints; Morus even (notwithstanding the plural), only Abraham; Calvin, the Jews. But, as is clearly apparent from the elucidatory ἵνα ἔχωμεν, Hebrews 6:18, only the Christians can be meant.

τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ] the unalterableness of His decree, namely, to make all believers blessed through the seed of Abraham. Arbitrarily, because to the violent setting aside of the nearest circle of thought furnished by the context itself, Abresch (and similarly Michaelis, Storr, and Delitzsch): “crediderim, non juratam eam promissionem spectari, quam Abrahamo factam in superioribus dixerat, sed illud nominatim jusjurandum, quo Christus sit pontifex creatus ad Melchisedeci rationem” (Psalms 110:4). Neither Hebrews 6:20, nor Hebrews 7:1 ff., nor Hebrews 7:20-21; Hebrews 7:28, nor Hebrews 5:10, contains a justification of this view.

The substantively employed adjective brings out the idea of the unchangeableness, about the accentuation of which the author was here principally concerned, more emphatically than if τὴν βουλὴν αὐτοῦ τὴν ἀμετάθετον had been written.

ἀμετάθετος in the N. T. only here and at Hebrews 6:18.

ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ] He came forward, as an intervening person, with an oath. As an intermediate person, sc. between Himself and Abraham. Men swear by God, because He is higher than they. Thus, in the case of an oath among men, God is the higher middle person [so μεσίτης, Josephus, Antiq. iv. 6. 7], or the higher surety, for the fulfilment of the promise. But when God takes an oath He can only swear by Himself, since there is no higher one above Him, and thus only Himself undertakes the part of the surety or middle person. μεσιτεύειν, in the N. T. only here, is employed transitively and intransitively; in the latter sense here. It is taken transitively by Oecumenius, who supplements τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν; and Böhme, who supplements τὴν βουλήν.


Verse 18

Hebrews 6:18. Indication of purpose to ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ, Hebrews 6:17, and consequently parallel to the participial clause there, περισσότερον βουλόμενος ἐπιδ. τοῖς κληρονόμ. τῆς ἐπ. τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ, but no mere repetition of the same, since the divine purpose, which was there presented purely objectively in relation to Christians, is now subjectively turned in relation to them.

διὰ δύο πραγμάτων ἀμεταθέτων] by virtue of two unalterable facts, namely, by virtue of the promise and the oath. Against the connection (comp. Hebrews 6:13; Hebrews 6:17) Reuss: l’une de ces choses c’est la parole évangélique apportée par Christ, l’autre le serment typique donné à Abraham.

δύο] See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 63; Buttmann, Gramm. des neutest. Sprachgebr. p. 25.

ἐν οἷς ἀδύνατον ψεύσασθαι θεόν] in which (i.e. in connection with their fulfilment) it is impossible that God should have lied (deceived). For God is faithful. His bare word is trustworthy; how much more thus when He confirms it by an oath! To supply a ἡμᾶς to ψεύσασθαι (Heinrichs) is inadmissible.

παράκλησιν] not “consolation” (Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, Jac. Cappellus, Piscator, Schlichting, Grotius, Owen, Böhme, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Bisping, and the majority), but, as the hortatory tendency of our whole section requires: encouragement (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Estius, Semler, Carpzov, Stuart, Bleek, Tholuck, de Wette, Delitzsch, Alford, Conybeare, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, and others).

Upon παράκλησιν ἔχωμεν, not upon οἱ καταφυγόντες (Primasius, Erasmus, Beza, Schlichting, Grotius, Akersloot, Wolf, Carpzov, Abresch, Schulz, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, de Wette, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 749), Alford, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, M‘Caul, and many others), does κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος depend; so that οἱ καταφυγόντες is to be taken, with Oecumenius, Camerarius, Cameron, Seb. Schmidt, Heinrichs, Bleek, Maier, Hofmann, and others, absolutely.

οἱ καταφυγόντες] those who have fled, with the subordinate notion of having found refuge, thus the sheltered, saved ones. As regards the sense, the expression is to be thus filled up: we who have fled out of the sinful world, and have fled to God. As an analogon is compared οἱ σωζόμενοι (Acts 2:47, al.).

κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος] to hold fast (Luther, Schulz, Stuart, Bleek, Conybeare, Maier, Moll, Hofmann, and others) to the hope lying in readiness. To interpret κρατῆσαι as “to lay hold” (Wolf, Tholuck, de Wette, Alford, Kurtz, Ewald, al.), with a right combining with παράκλησιν, is forbidden by the connection; comp. Hebrews 6:11, according to which the readers already possess the ἐλπίς, but not as yet any πληροφορία thereof; comp. further the διὰ μακροθυμίας, Hebrews 6:12, and μακροθυμήσας, Hebrews 6:15.

τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος is not the same thing as τῆς ἐλπίδος τῶν προκειμένων, “to the hope of the blessings of salvation which lie before us, which await us” (Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Maier), in such wise that a mingling of the objective notion of ἐλπίς with the subjective notion thereof would have to be assumed. Still less are we at liberty, with Grotius, Seb. Schmidt, Wittich, Peirce, Limborch, Heinrichs, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, Bloomfield, Alford, Hofmann, and others, to interpret ἐλπίς in itself alone as “res sperata” (comp. Colossians 1:5). On the contrary, Hebrews 6:19 points to the Christian hope in the subjective sense. As προκειμένη, however, lying at hand, or existing in readiness, this is characterized, since it is already infused into the Christians, has already been communicated to them as a blessing for possession, with their reception of Christianity.


Verse 19

Hebrews 6:19. Description of the absolute certainty of this Christian hope.

ἥν] sc. ἐλπίδα. The referring back to παράκλησιν (Grotius and others) is possible only in connection with the erroneous interpretation of this word as “solatium,” whereas, with the right apprehension of Hebrews 6:18, παράκλησιν ἔχωμεν serves for the mere introduction of κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος; ἥν thus most naturally links itself with ἐλπίδος as the last preceding leading thought. To this must be added the consideration that frequently also elsewhere in antiquity—though nowhere else in Holy Scripture—the anchor is already employed as a figure of hope, and appears also upon coins as a symbol thereof. See Wetstein, Kypke, and Kuinoel ad loc.

ἣν ὡς ἄγκυραν ἔχομεν τῆς ψυχῆς] which we possess even as an anchor of the soul, i.e. in which we possess, as it were, an anchor of the soul, which affords it support and protection against the storms and perils of the earthly life.

There exists no good reason for making ἔχειν equivalent to κατέχειν (Abresch, Dindorf, Bloomfield, and others).

ἀσφαλῆ τε καὶ βεβαίαν καὶ εἰσερχομένην κ. τ. λ.] which (sc. anchor) is sure and firm, and reaches into the interior of the veil. Wrongly does Carpzov (and so also Reuss) construe all these words with ἥν (sc. ἐλπίδα). For, in order to render this possible, ἔχομεν must have received its place only after τῆς ψυχῆς, in such wise that ὡς ἄγκυραν τῆς ψυχῆς should admit of being separated by commas from that which precedes and follows. Equally inadmissible is it, however, when Abresch, Böhme, Bleek, Bloomfield, and others take only ἀσφαλῆ τε καὶ βεβαίαν along with ἄγκυραν, and then refer back εἰσερχομένην εἰς τὸ ἐσώτερον τοῦ καταπετάσματος to ἥν (sc. ἐλπίδα). For although the figure of an anchor reaching on high, instead of penetrating into the depths, is an incongruous one, yet metaphors are never to be pressed, and in our passage the choice of the expression εἰσέρχεσθαι εἰς τὸ ἐσώτερον points to the retention of the figure of the anchor, as well as the closely uniting τεκαὶκαί to the intimate coherence of the three characteristics.

καταπέτασμα] with the LXX. usually (Exodus 26:31-35; Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 21:23; Leviticus 24:3; Numbers 4:5, al.), in the N. T. always (Hebrews 10:20; Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45) of the second (Hebrews 9:3), or innermost curtain of the temple, the curtain before the Most Holy Place ( הַפָּרֹכֶת ). Comp. also Philo, de vita Mosis, iii. p. 669 B (with Mangey, II. p. 150): ἐν δὲ τῷ μεθορίῳ τῶν τεττάρων καὶ πέντε κιόνων, ὅπερ ἐστὶ κυρίως εἰπεῖν πρόναον, εἰργόμενον δυσὶν ὑφάσμασι, τὸ μὲν ἔνδον ὂν καλεῖται καταπέτασμα, τὸ δʼ ἐκτὸς προσαγορεύεται κάλυμμα. Ibid. p. 667 C (II. p. 148): ἐκ δὲ τῶν αὐτῶν τό τε καταπέτασμα καὶ τὸ λεγόμενον κάλυμμα κατεσκευάζετο· τὸ μὲν εἴσω κατὰ τοὺς τέσσαρας κίονας, ἵνʼ ἐπικρύπτηηται τὸ ἄδυτον· τὸ δʼ ἔξω κατὰ τοὺς πέντε κ. τ. λ.

τὸ ἐσώτερον τοῦ καταπετεάσματος] the interior of the veil, i.e. that which is the interior with respect to the veil, or exists within the same, thus behind it. Designation of the Most Holy Place. Comp. Exodus 26:33; Leviticus 16:2; Leviticus 16:12; Leviticus 16:15. The Most Holy Place is spoken of as a symbol of heaven, where God is enthroned in His glory, and at His right hand is enthroned the exalted Christ.


Verse 20

Hebrews 6:20. Close of the digression made from v. 11 onwards, and apt return to v. 10.

ὅπου] whither. Inexact, as Luke 9:57, John 8:21 f., and often, instead of the ὅποι, which is never used in the N. T. (see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 439); yet more significant than the latter, since it contains, in addition to the notion of having entered, the additional notion of remaining.

πρόδρομος] as harbinger. The expression, in the N. T. only here, characterizes Christ as the first member in a series, thus glances at the fact that those who believe in Him shall attain to the Most Holy Place. Comp. John 14:2-3.

ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν] in our interest, or for our eternal welfare, namely, to obtain pardon for us (Hebrews 9:12), to represent us in the presence of God (Hebrews 9:24), and to open up for us an entrance into heaven itself (Hebrews 10:19 f.). ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν is to be construed, not with πρόδρομος (Heinrichs, Böhme, Tholuck, Ebrard, and others), but (as already the Peshito) with εἰσῆλθεν.

In that which follows the emphasis rests upon κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄ελχισεδέκ (Böhme, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Hofmann), which on that account is preposed; not upon εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (Bleek, Woerner), which latter, on the contrary, as an additional note of definition is derived only from the κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄ελχις.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Hebrews 6:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/hebrews-6.html. 1832.

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