|Dr. Couch, what is going on in Hebrew 6:1-9? I have had people say it is teaching the loss of salvation. Please explain.|
ANSWER: I was privileged to take the book of Hebrew in graduate Greek from one of the best Greek teachers in America . And I can assure you this is not what the old "having fallen away" passage is all about!
I came to the conclusion years ago that the book of Hebrews, though passed on to believers in the church, is mainly addressing those Jews who had heard the gospel but had not received Christ as their Savior! They knew of Christ but were rejecting the message of salvation through Him! I stuck to my guns about the meaning of the passage because I'm a pretty good observer and that's what the verses are really all about—these folks were never believers! I discovered a few years back that one of the most brilliant Greek scholars of the last century, Kenneth Wuest, held to the same view.
It would take too long here to spell out the full reason that this is the case, so I can't do that in this short question and answer. But here is just one point that I think is important. When the author of Hebrews starts this section he uses the third person ("those, them"), and not the second person ("you"). In other words, he's writing about the rejecters who refused to believe that Christ was the Savior and the promised Jewish Messiah! He concludes the section by saying: "But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning YOU, and things that accompany salvation, …" (v. 9). Below are just a few of the comments that Wuest makes on the passage:
"The readers were enlightened as every sinner is enlightened who comes under the hearing of God's Word. But as the unsaved in an evangelistic meeting today clearly understand the message of salvation but sometimes refuse the light and turn back into the darkness of sin and continued unbelief, so these Hebrews (the readers) were in danger of doing a like thing. … The translation reads therefore, 'if they fell away.' [The writer] here presents a hypothetical case, warning these unsaved Hebrews from making such a thing a reality. Now the writer gives the reason why these Hebrews cannot be brought back to the place of repentance, should they return to the First Testament (the OT Law) sacrifices. They would crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame. Vincent adds, 'the greatness of the guilt is aggravated by the fact that they thus treat the Son of God.'"
Again, it would take too long here to explain the passage completely, but I hope that this helps some.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch