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Dairy Queen or Steak and Ale (Hebrews 6:4-8)

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1 Therefore we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, 2 teaching about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this is what we intend to do, if God permits. 4 For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 tasted the good word of God and the miracles of the coming age, 6 and then have committed apostasy, to renew them again to repentance, since they are crucifying the Son of God for themselves all over again and holding him up to contempt. 7 For the ground that has soaked up the rain that frequently falls on it and yields useful vegetation for those who tend it receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is useless and about to be cursed; its fate is to be burned (Hebrews 6:1-8).1

Introduction

After suffering through “Mother Miller’s” cafeteria food, consisting of “mystery meat” and scrambled eggs with chunks of salt, my roommates and I determined that we could do better preparing our own meals off campus. At least it turned out to be less expensive. But our “menu” was far from tempting. It consisted (as I recall – I’ve tried to forget over the years) of tomato soup, macaroni and cheese, and chuck steak.

I must confess that we were a bit misled by the word “steak” when it was attached to “chuck.” We decided that we would indulge ourselves with some chuck steak, only to discover that you don’t cook it the same way you might a cube steak. To put it candidly, that steak was tough. There’s only one way to enjoy chuck steak, and that is to cook it slowly, until it is tenderized.

I was reminded of chuck steak and college days when I arrived at Hebrews 6. The author has urged his readers to improve their milk diet to a meat diet. Well, to be more precise, he has urged his readers to progress beyond their milk diet to “solid food”:2

11 On this topic we have much to say and it is difficult to explain, since you have become sluggish in hearing. 12 For though you should in fact be teachers by this time, you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God’s utterances. You have gone back to needing milk, not solid food. 13 For everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced in the message of righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14).

If the author has challenged his readers to move on to “meat,” it didn’t take him long to introduce them to steak – “chuck steak.” Here is a serving of meat that will keep them (and us) chewing for some time.

We should not find it unusual that there are difficult texts in the Bible. Peter – who was no stranger to difficult texts3 – observed that Paul provides us with some as well:

14 Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence. 15 And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as also our dear brother Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him, 16 speaking of these things in all his letters. Some things in these letters are hard to understand, things the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they also do to the rest of the scriptures. 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard that you do not get led astray by the error of these unprincipled men and fall from your firm grasp on the truth. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the honor both now and on that eternal day (2 Peter 3:14-18).

These difficult texts not only pose us with challenges in interpreting and applying them, they also provide the opportunity for false teachers to twist and distort them so that they become proof tests for all sorts of error. Therefore, we must exercise not only great diligence, but also great caution when we seek to interpret this text in Hebrews, clearly one of those “hard to understand” texts.

My Approach in This Lesson

I might as well forewarn you that I am going to throw my readers a curve in this lesson. I will not seek to present my interpretation of this text as the definitive solution for centuries of study and debate. Instead as I begin, I will borrow from a sermon by John Piper in which he seeks to explain “Why God Inspired Hard Texts.” Then I shall attempt to summarize five of the most popular interpretations of our text by evangelical scholars. Having done this, I will draw some preliminary conclusions. Then I will let you, my readers, “stew” over this text until the next lesson, when I will return to my exposition of this same text.

Why God Inspired Hard Texts4

Piper’s lesson was not occasioned by our text in Hebrews, but rather by Romans 3:1-8. Nevertheless, what we find in this sermon applies also to the hard texts in the Book of Hebrews. Piper cites four reasons why God inspired the hard texts:

1. Desperation. Hard texts force us to recognize our inability to grasp them, and thus we see our need to depend upon the Holy Spirit to enable us to understand God’s Word:

The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

2. Supplication. The hard texts bring us to our knees, beseeching God to help us understand them:

Guide me into your truth and teach me.

For you are the God who delivers me; on you I rely all day long (Psalm 25:5).

Open my eyes so I can truly see

the marvelous things in your law! (Psalm 119:18)

3. Cogitation.While the Holy Spirit illuminates the Scriptures, we must also exert ourselves to understand them. The hard texts force us to think, pondering the words until the meaning becomes clear to us.

Think about what I am saying and the Lord will give you understanding of all this (2 Timothy 2:7).

4. Education. Those who have struggled with hard texts can then instruct others, so that they can also help those who seek to understand what God is teaching:

And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well (2 Timothy 2:2).

In addition to these four reasons why God inspired hard texts, I would like to add a couple more.

5. Humility. The hard texts keep us from becoming arrogant about our knowledge of Scripture. The hard texts humble us, which is the beginning of wisdom.

May he show the humble what is right!

May he teach the humble his way! (Psalm 25:9)


    When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

but with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).

6. Hard work. God did not scatter his pearls about for us to pick up as though we were picking wild strawberries in the woods. God buries His secrets deep so that we have to dig for them. It is those who are willing to work hard who will get the meaning of the hard texts.

1 My child, if you receive my words,

and store up my commands within you,

2 by making your ear attentive to wisdom,

and by turning your heart to understanding,

3 indeed, if you call out for discernment

– raise your voice for understanding –

4 if you seek it like silver,

and search for it like hidden treasure,

5 then you will understand how to fear the Lord,

and you will discover knowledge about God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom,

and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.

7 He stores up effective counsel for the upright,

and is like a shield for those who live with integrity,

8 to guard the paths of the righteous

and to protect the way of his pious ones (Proverb s 2:1-8).

All of this is to say that the hard texts serve to produce some very good things. This is something I will pursue further at the end of this lesson. For now, let us turn to some of the most popular interpretations of our text.

The Five Major Interpretations of Hebrews 6:4-85

Preface

Let me make a few comments about these four interpretations, and then about those who hold them. First, I must confess to you that in presenting these four views I am acting contrary to my normal inclinations. I am fully aware that there are any number of evangelical books which present a number of opposing views, and generally I have avoided them. It runs contrary to my nature to pose multiple options instead of just presenting your own viewpoint. But I believe that it is necessary and proper here.

Second,as a preacher, I must come to our text and these differing interpretations with a question: “What is my responsibility to you in this message as a preacher of the gospel?” I believe that the answer is found in the purpose of the author (or should I say Author) of the text. I should be encouraging you to respond in a way that is consistent with God’s purpose in writing our text. I must warn you that it may not be to make this difficult text easy for you, so that you do not have to agonize over it.

Third,I believe that the author has been purposely vague in his use of terms in our text. Some of the terms or expressions in our passage are not common, so that we can understand them from occurrences elsewhere in the Bible. This vagueness allows for a wider range of possible meanings, making the interpretation of our text more difficult. My point is that the “hardness” of our text is not accidental, but purposeful.

Fourth,most of those who hold to these divergent interpretations are genuine believers, men and women of integrity. We would do well not to characterize those who hold views different from ours as poor students or false teachers. I have not sensed an arrogance or confrontational attitude in those whose views I have considered. Some have mellowed in their thinking or may even have changed their position (as I have). There is no need for hostility here nor for attacking those who hold different views, if they have sincerely studied the Scriptures and have sought to discern God’s leading in these matters.

The Arminian View

Summary: A Christian may turn away from his faith and thus may lose his salvation.

Main elements:

Those warned are genuine believers.

Future salvation is not assured (no eternal security).

The warning concerns eternal judgment (hell).

Positive aspects:

It appears to take the description of those warned at face value.

It appears to take the warnings literally.

Concerns:

It contradicts the doctrine of eternal security and raises doubt as to the certainty of one attaining salvation.

Visually represented:

The Loss of Rewards View

Summary: A Christian may fall away and thus lose future rewards, as well as encounter severe discipline in this life.6

Main elements:

Those warned are viewed as genuine Christians.

Future salvation is assured for every true believer.

The warnings concern future rewards and earthly discipline.

Positive aspects:

The warnings apply to Christians (just as the exhortations do).

The warnings are taken seriously, as a very real possibility.

This view undergirds assurance and confidence in one’s confession.

Difficulties:

Is “earthly discipline” as severe as the description of the judgment on the one who falls away?

Is “earthly discipline” severe enough to match the description of judgment?

Visually represented:

The Calvinistic View

Summary: If an apparent Christian apostatizes (falls away by denying the faith), then we know he was never really saved in the first place.

Main elements:

Those warned and disciplined are not true believers.

Only an unbeliever can apostatize or fall away from the faith.

The warning of eternal judgment is for unbelievers.

Positive aspects:

It is consistent with the doctrine of eternal security.

It means that a Christian can never lose his faith.

It takes the warning of judgment seriously (for unbelievers).

Difficulties:

Can those described in verses 4-5 really be unsaved?

The emphasis falls on unbelievers, rather than believers (to whom the author appears to have

consistently been speaking up to this point).

Does this view undermine the confidence and assurance of believers in their confession? Will

true believers always be doubtful of their salvation?

Visually represented:

The Hypothetical View

Summary: If a believer could apostatize, he would be eternally doomed (which will never happen), and thus there is no reason to continue to dwell on the ABC’s of the faith. This is the reason for moving from milk to meat.

Main elements:

It addresses believers hypothetically.

An apostate cannot be restored to salvation.

One should press on toward maturity.

Positive aspects:

It is consistent with the doctrine of eternal security.

It seeks to urge people on to maturity.

Difficulties:

It is only a theoretical view.

It doesn’t mean what the text appears to say.

It undermines the warnings.

It is an inferior motivation for growth.

Visually represented:

One Additional View: The Historically Unique View

Summary: The situation this group of professing Jewish believers faced is unique and is not like any situation believers face today; thus the warnings are for those people in those days, but not so much for us.

Main elements:

This is a unique situation.

Thus its application to us is minimized.

Positive aspects:

The historical setting is taken into consideration in the interpretation.

Difficulties:

It sets a bad precedent. No circumstance described in Scripture is ever identical to our circum-

stances. Do we take this same interpretive approach with every passage that has its own setting?

The failure of the first generation of Israelites in the desert was unique, and yet both the author

of Psalm 95 and the author of Hebrews believed that there were lessons for us to learn from Israel’s failures. Paul applies the same lessons in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.

It blunts the force of the author’s argument.

Visual representation: None.

Reflections on “Milk” and “Meat”

As I consider our text (and listen to others who have agonized over it), it does appear that the author is somewhat vague where clearer language was possible. Thus, some can read verses 4-6 of chapter 6 and conclude that they describe a genuine Christian, while others conclude the opposite. Could the author not have been more precise, and thus avoid widely differing interpretations? Of course, the ultimate author (the Spirit of God) could have done so, but He did not. And since God is both omniscient and sovereign, He gave our text just as we have it, knowing and intending that it would produce the effects that it has. Hear me well: God intended for us to struggle with this text. The wording was designed to produce these effects.

The question, therefore, must be “Why?” Why would God give us this difficult text to struggle over, and to end up with different conclusions? The answer must be (for those who recognize that God is sovereign) that this text has been given to us as is to promote His purposes for us. And what are these purposes? Where has the Epistle to the Hebrews been taking us? I believe that God’s purposes can be found in the exhortations that we find in Hebrews, especially those we find in close proximity to our text. These would be . . .

    To gain an appreciation for the sufficiency of Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest (1:1—2:18)

    To recognize our inadequacies and our dependence upon God’s provisions through His Son (3:7—4:13)

    To draw near to Him for help in our time of need (4:14-16)

    To pay closer attention to God’s Word (2:1-4; 4:12-13)

    To press on from “milk” to “meat” (5:11—6:3).

Think of how this difficult passage in Hebrews 6:4-8 (along with others like 10:26-31) presses us toward the obedience of these exhortations. The vagueness of some of the descriptions results in differing interpretations among believers. The bottom line is that we are forced to go outside of our immediate text to other texts. We must first seek to understand the context by tracing the flow of the argument of the larger context to which our text contributes. To put it plainly, our text forces us to study, to become students of Scripture. Thus, we must determine the setting (which is not immediately apparent), the purposes of the author in writing this epistle, and the intended outcome. We must look elsewhere in Hebrews and the whole of Scripture to see how certain terms or concepts are used.

I believe that we cannot interpret our text in isolation, but in the light of all the Scriptures. We cannot determine the meaning and the message of this passage of Scripture without employing theology. Every text of Scripture, every warning, every exhortation, comes from a certain set of circumstances, and from a particular point of view. Systematic theology seeks to look at matters from the vantage point of the Scriptures as a whole.

Let me attempt to illustrate what I am saying by considering the matter of prayer. In our reading of the Bible, we come across a text like this:

“Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you” (Matthew 18:19).

We could easily (and simplistically) conclude that all we have to do is to get one other person to agree with our prayer and we will get anything we ask for. Not necessarily, because there are other passages of Scripture that put this promise into perspective.

5 But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind (James 1:5-6).

2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions (James 4:2-3).

So, not only do we need to ask, it is advisable to ask others to join with us, in agreement with our prayers. And beyond this we must be careful to ask for what is best in God’s wisdom, rather than to ask God to satisfy our fleshly desires. Furthermore, we should ask in the Son’s name and for His glory.

In short, we cannot understand prayer from only one passage of Scripture, especially if that one text seems to validate our selfish desires. We can only understand and practice prayer as mature Christians by considering all of the biblical texts which bear on this vital aspect of our Christian lives.

Here is where we come to the difference between “milk” and “meat.” Unfortunately, there are a number of preachers who serve only milk. They over-simplify the truth, peddling what immature believers want to hear:

17 For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit, but we are speaking in Christ before God as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God (2 Corinthians 2:17).

1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, we do not become discouraged. 2 But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).

18 For by speaking high-sounding but empty words they are able to entice, with fleshly desires and with debauchery, people who have just escaped from those who reside in error. 19 Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved (2 Peter 2:18-19).

Please don’t misunderstand me here. I am not trying to say that all those who teach only “milk” are false teachers. But they don’t progress beyond the milk stage. One very successful mega church conducted a study which produced some very unexpected results. They learned that while they did a good job of attracting “seekers” and of evangelizing many, they had done far too little to instruct and challenge those who were more mature believers. They were a “Dairy Queen” church, but not a “Steak and Ale” church. The fact is that we must be both. We must nurture new believers by feeding them “milk”and we must challenge those older in the faith with “meat.”

Because the problem passages in Hebrews don’t provide us with quick and easy (“milk”) solutions, we are effectively challenged to move on to the “meat.” In my opinion, theology is meat. There may be other kinds of “meat,” but theology is one variety of “meat.” It does not come without a consideration of the teaching of the whole Bible. One must then harmonize all of the texts and teachings which bear on a particular subject or theme. One must sometimes hold in tension truths that might appear to be incompatible – truths like the sovereignty of God and man’s responsibility. It is hard work, even if one only studies systematic theology by reading the works of respected scholars. And sometimes there are truths that are difficult to “swallow” (so to speak). We may prefer to think that we found God, when, in truth, it was God who chose us and called us to faith in Himself. Indeed, He gave us the faith to believe in Him. This doesn’t flatter us, nor should it, because it is to God that we should give the glory (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 10:31).

What I have been seeking to show is that God purposely made our text in Hebrews difficult (so too with some other texts) so that we would be pressed to move on from “milk” to “meat.” If we are to interpret and apply our text correctly, we must look to the teaching of the entire Bible; in other words, we must approach our text from the vantage point of theology.

I would like to illustrate the value of theology (“meat”) by addressing the issue of suffering. “Milk” teaching will sometimes take this form: “If you have enough faith, you won’t have to suffer, or even to die.” Another form of milk teaching promises success and prosperity if you only trust God (and send in your contribution). There are a few simple steps to a happy, prosperous life. We don’t have to suffer if we know the keys to success – or so we are told by the “health and wealth gospeleers.”

Look at what the psalmist has to say about suffering and the Word of God in Psalm 119:

67 Before I was afflicted I used to stray off,

but now I keep your instructions.

68 You are good and you do good.

Teach me your statutes!

69 Arrogant people smear my reputation with lies,

but I observe your precepts with all my heart.

70 Their hearts are calloused,

but I find delight in your law.

71 It was good for me to suffer,

so that I might learn your statutes.

72 The law you have revealed is more important to me

than thousands of pieces of gold and silver (Psalm 119:67-72, emphasis mine).

The psalmist praises God because of the suffering He sent his way. It was that suffering that drove him to God’s Word, and it was a deeper (“meatier”) understanding of the Word that sustained him in his suffering.

Consider Asaph in Psalm 73. His immature thinking led him to conclude that the godly always prosper, while sinners suffer. And yet his viewpoint did not square with life. The wicked seemed to prosper, and they were arrogant about it. They virtually shook their fists at God and seemingly got away with it. Asaph confessed that he was about ready to throw in the towel, because life didn’t seem fair, and God didn’t seem to care about it, or him.

This was until the psalmist moved from milk to meat, until he came to see life from an eternal perspective. The wicked do prosper, but it is for a moment. They will suffer for all eternity. And besides this, Asaph came to recognize that while he may have endured some measure of suffering, he found himself nearer to God, and God nearer to him in the midst of his affliction. He came to realize that the ultimate good is the nearness of God, not good health or material wealth. And because of this, he was able to enjoy the intimacy of God’s presence in life and throughout eternity. It was theology, biblical theology, that enabled Asaph to see himself and his circumstances in an entirely different light.

We could say the same thing for Job. Now Job was a godly man, as we read in chapter 1 of the Book of Job. But when God allowed suffering to come to his family, and then to Job’s body, Job began to question God’s wisdom. Part of the problem was that Job’s friends did not have good theology, either. They operated on the same assumptions that Asaph held before his transition to meat. They believed that the righteous prosper and the wicked suffer. Since Job was suffering, he must be wicked. Therefore, the solution was to confess his sins and be restored to God’s blessings.

Well, Job’s friends were wrong, and so was Job when he began to question God’s goodness and wisdom in the midst of his afflictions. How did God straighten out Job? He taught him some good theology. He reminded Job that he had not been there to direct Him as He created the universe. He did not tell God to hang one star here, and another there, and this one just a bit higher. Essentially, the lesson God had for Job was that He was not only omniscient (all-knowing); He was also omnipotent (all-powerful), and good. When we trust in a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and entirely good, then our responsibility is to trust and obey, and not to challenge God or put Him to the test (as Israel did). Once this was settled, Job had no more complaints. He had set aside milk for meat.

One final example that is directly relevant to the readers of Hebrews (then and now) is found in Deuteronomy 8. I should begin by reminding you that Hebrews 12:7 refers to Deuteronomy 8. The author’s point is that God uses “discipline” (adversity, suffering, etc.) to bring us to maturity as sons. Thus, discipline is one of the evidences of our sonship.

In Hebrews 3 and 4, the author speaks of Israel’s failures in response to adversity. Deuteronomy 8 speaks of God’s purposes for those instances of adversity.

2 Remember the whole way by which he has brought you these forty years through the desert so that he might, by humbling you, test you to see if you have it within you to keep his commandments or not. 3 So he humbled you by making you hungry and then feeding you with unfamiliar manna. He did this to teach you that humankind cannot live by bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the Lord’s mouth (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).

Get this! God purposed Israel’s adversities in the wilderness for their good. He wanted to humble them – that is to cause them to realize their weakness and His strength (a prominent theme in Hebrews). He wanted them to “draw near” to Him by recognizing and holding fast to His Word as the real source of life. Isn’t it interesting that while God’s purpose was to teach the Israelites to value His Word and to trust in Him, they viewed His intentions in an entirely different way:

3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you7 have brought us out into this desert to kill this whole assembly with hunger!” (Exodus 16:3)

1 Then all the community raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had perished in this wilderness! 3 Why has the Lord brought us into this land only to be killed by the sword, that our wives and our children should become plunder? Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:1-3)

How often God brings us to difficult places to teach us to trust Him, and we accuse God of seeking to bring about our demise. God led the Israelites into the wilderness, so that they were trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. He did so to demonstrate His faithfulness and His power to save. Jonah wanted to die, and so he urged the sailors to throw him overboard. He was swallowed by the great fish, which appeared to be his destruction. Instead, that fish was God’s provision for Jonah’s deliverance (and, it would seem, his transportation to Nineveh).

Incidentally, Jonah needed a large dose of theology. He seemed to think that God owed Israel blessings, while the Gentiles deserved torment. He did not grasp the grace of God; indeed, he protested because God was gracious.8 He did not realize that Israel’s unbelief opened the door for Gentile evangelism nor did he understand that the captivity of God’s people would ultimately be for their deliverance, just as his “captivity” in the great fish was his deliverance:

“King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon devoured me and drove my people out. Like a monster from the deep he swallowed me. He filled his belly with my riches. He made me an empty dish. He completely cleaned me out” (Jeremiah 51:34).

The Hebrews were about to enter into another9 period of persecution. There was theology to be learned from their failure that would apply as well to their own times (and ours). But we shall see more about that in our next lesson.

Conclusion

What I’ve sought to demonstrate in this lesson is that the difficulty of our text is by divine design. It is intended to move us along from “milk” to “meat,” from a simplistic approach to the Scriptures and to our Christian life, to one which gives us greater insight and discernment, and this through a more mature understanding of the teachings of the Bible (aka “doctrine” or “theology”). Our text has prompted many Christians to study God’s Word more diligently and to think more deeply about our Lord and the life we are called to live by faith.

Our text was not set forth merely as a challenge to scholars and preachers. Our job is not to solve all the problems and give our audiences a quick and easy solution. Our text was given to challenge every Christian to think more deeply about the teachings of God’s Word, and then to draw near to our Great High Priest for help in our times of need. It is by this means that we will know God better and find Him even more powerful, more faithful, and more worthy of our faith and worship. It is this deeper knowledge which will sustain us in the difficult times of life, which the Bible assures us we will experience.

And so may I challenge you to become a “Steak and Ale” Christian, rather than merely a “Dairy Queen” Christian? That means you will have to commit to more than just reading “Our Daily Bread” each day. Even though this is good devotional material, you will need more meat than this. You will need to study larger portions of Scripture, considering the argument of an entire book of the Bible, and then pressing on to theology (the overall teaching of the Bible on various topics).

To start with, commit yourself to a serious study of our text. Read through the entire Book of Hebrews a number of times. Seek to track the flow of the argument. Then consider the theological implications of our text. What interpretations are not permissible, given what we know from other Scriptures? Then seek to find an interpretation that really fits the context and the teaching of the Bible as a whole.


1Copyright © 2008 by Robert L. Deffinbaugh. This is the edited manuscript of Lesson 13 in the series, Near to the Heart of God – A Study of the Book of Hebrews, prepared by Robert L. Deffinbaugh on October 5, 2008. Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with or without credit.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the NET Bible. The NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION, also known as THE NET BIBLE, is a completely new translation of the Bible, not a revision or an update of a previous English version. It was completed by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide an electronic version of a modern translation for electronic distribution over the Internet and on CD (compact disk). Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study. In addition, anyone who wants to share the Bible with others can print unlimited copies and give them away free to others. It is available on the Internet at: www.netbible.org.

2 Technically, most translations render the word used here “solid food,” rather than “meat” (as we find in the KJV), but we are not out of bounds if we contrast “milk” with “meat.”

3 For example, see 1 Peter 3:18-22.

4http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1999/1074_Why_God_Inspired_Hard_Texts/

5 I am presenting the first four of these views largely as set forth in The Race Set Before Us by Thomas R. Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2001). These authors actually hold a different view, which the book seeks to set forth. The illustrations also represent the work of Schreiner and Caneday, with only slight variations.

6 The portion I have in italics is not found in Schreiner and Caneday, but I think it is an important element that most of those who hold this position would insist upon. The warning is not just that a Christian who falls away faces future loss; that individual faces the possibility of severe earthly discipline (e.g., 1 Corinthians 5:5) for his willful waywardness.

7 Granted, here the people are accusing Moses of leading them to their death, but in verse 8, Moses tells them that their accusations are not against him, but against God.

8 See Jonah 4:1-4.

9 See Hebrews 10:32-34.