Hebrews 6:4-6 is one of two passages (The other is Hebrews 10:25-27) in the book of Hebrews that has been used to support the premise that believers can lose their salvation, yet the grammar proves this to be untrue.
If you would take the time to consider our previous extensive articles on Eternal Security, and observe the overabundance of Scripture which proves that salvation not only comes from God, but is an eternal condition which cannot be undone, you would find that the few scriptures that seem to support the opposing view, when compared to the overwhelming passages which support eternal security, pale in comparison.
There are many individuals who do not understand the Greek language and grammar, who utilize the English translation as their sole anchor concerning the subject, yet they do so to their own misunderstanding.
There is a principle within biblical interpretation (Called: “Perspicuity“) that when there is an abundance of passages which are clear and which support one interpretation, you do not utilize a few opposing passages which are more ambiguous.
It is the clarity of a multitude of passages that the prudent Bible student should adhere to concerning any biblical subject – God is a good Father who is not ambiguous with His children concerning those issues which are of paramount importance – it is foolish to attempt to promote your own presupposition based upon a few ambiguous passages; especially if you do not dig deep into the Greek grammar to understand what these passages really mean.
The first question becomes does God give every human being a fair chance at salvation – the only righteous answer is yes.
Is There an Example of Un-Regenerated Man Perceiving that which is Spiritual – Yes
One example is found in Hebrews 6:4-6, which is one of two Scriptures (The other is Hebrews 10:25-27) thought to be examples of how a believer could lose their salvation – yet, this is an incorrect interpretation, grammatically speaking.
The following will display how an individual can be an unbeliever, and yet a follower of Christ for a while – commonly referred to as apostasy.
One of the best examples of the word apostasy is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which states:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [Greek: apostasia, English: apostasy] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”
According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary (Which utilizes generic Greek words, not specific to the text, and deals little with the grammar), the general use of the word apostasy is generically rendered:
Feminine of the same as G647; defection from truth (properly the state), (“apostasy”): – falling away, forsake.
SIDE THOUGHT The problem that many Bible students encounter when dealing with Greek dictionaries, is that many sources (such a Strong's) do not deal with the specific word in a specific passage which is different from other passages due to a breakdown in the grammatical definition of the word. In the English Bible you can have the same word in different places that utilize different grammar and change the understanding of that word - this is a generic rendering of the Greek words in the Bible. Yet the advanced student who specifically breaks down Greek words according to their individual spelling and context will achieve the correct interpretation. We must remember that Strong's purpose was to create a generic concordance regarding the words used in the Bible, yet to do so correctly would mean listing specific words in their passages to achieve the correct meaning, Vines is closer to this purpose than strong's. Every time I have debated individuals who oppose Eternal Security they utilize resources such a Strong's, that was never meant for the purpose of specific interpretation of specific words. It is by taking each Greek word, letter by letter, that you come to a correct understanding of the grammar, and therefore a correct interpretation of a specific word. If you are a teacher of God's word, use Strong's Concordance as a concordance, not the dictionary in the back which is generic and will mislead you if you attempt to cross-reference Greek words without specifically dealing with each individual word. Word Studies can achieve this, yet the only approach that should be utilized is to gain an understanding of the grammar and break down the words individually yourself - quit regurgitating other men's folly. It is God's Spirit within you that will lead you to correct interpretation if you are willing to set aside your own presuppositions. For decades I disputed Eternal Security in ignorance using such sources as Strong's, and did not learn the truth until I was willing to oppose my own presuppositions and learn the Greek grammar for myself. I am still a student, who has had to let go of many wrong presuppositions which I was taught, which is painful; yet God honors. People need to quit preaching their denominational doctrines, and start letting God's word interpret God's word based upon the grammar which God chose to use in the koine Greek. God did not deliver his word in the sloppy English, which violates every rule it makes, changes the meaning of words, is inconsistent, especially within its linguistics (spelling is a good example, in order to spell well many times you must memorize words, rather than phonics, due to the exceptions to basic spelling rules).
Yet more specifically concerning this word, the Complete Greek Word Study Dictionary (Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D.), says:
apostasía; gen. apostasías, fem. noun from aphístēmi (G868), to depart. Departure, apostasy. Occurs in Act_21:21 translated “forsake” and in 2Th_2:3, “a falling away”; Sept.: 2Ch_29:19; Jer_29:32. In Act_21:21 the new Christian believers among the Jews, having departed from Moses and coming to Jesus Christ, decided that they should stay apart from Moses, i.e., their Judaistic practices, for they were in a new dispensation. They were not Judaizing Christians, but Christians standing apart from Moses. In 2Th_2:3 the word apostasía does not refer to genuine Christians who depart from the faith, but mere professors who, without divine grace, succumb to the Satanic deception of the Antichrist. If those who are truly Christ’s and through the Holy Spirit have become members of His body (1Co_12:13) could be detached, then the assurances Jesus gave that His own will not perish would be made null and void (Joh_10:28-29). See Sept.: 2Ch_29:19.
It is an understanding that apostasy, the “falling way,” does not necessitate that the individual was saved, but that they were a follower. Jesus commonly told all men to follow him, yet how many of those that followed him became true believers. Whenever the cost was too much, many followers began “falling away,” and what was Jesus question to the 12, “will you leave to“ (John 6:66-67). And we must remember that verse 66 states that these that followed him no more were called “disciples.”
There is a vast difference between being a follower of Jesus Christ, and a believer in Jesus Christ. Is everyone who attended church, which would be a follower; are they all saved?
Apostasy has to do with falling away from that which was once followed, it never necessitates that the follower is a true believer – this is an assumption made by many. Do we forget that one of his followers, Judas, was not a true believer, yet he was an apostate of the true faith in Jesus Christ.
Before addressing the text directly we need to first examine the biblical context of this book.
The book of Hebrews is written to Jewish Christians concerning those issues which affected them at that day, as opposed to Gentile believer’s issues.
Among the many issues central to the Hebrews was that of converting from Judaism to Christianity, and the fact that to the Jews Christianity was anathema (“Damned of God”), as a heresy.
We 21st-century Gentiles have no capacity to understand what this meant to the Jew in Jesus’ day.
The Temple Life
For the Jew, the Temple in Jerusalem or the synagogue in outlying areas, was the reference point of their daily lives.
The trade guilds that journeymen belong to were run with the control of the synagogues or Temple (The Temple to be included with the term synagogues for the sake of brevity) if it was in Jerusalem.
The markets which provided food were run by the synagogues.
synagogues are the place of meeting, the place of marriage, and the place of family was the synagogues.
Therefore, to become a Christian meant to completely change one’s life, and completely lose one’s identity, ability to make money, provide the necessities of life, and even congregate with one’s family.
So when we see the book of Hebrews, where Jews are addressed concerning becoming Christians, the predominant issue at hand is conversation itself; and the singular sin this passage of the book of Hebrews addresses is that of “drawing back to Judaism.”
In fact the paramount issue this whole book addresses, that of forsaking the truth concerning Christianity, and returning to Judaism, which is to “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh,” (Hebrews 6:6) by returning to the Levitical system (Notice that they don’t actually crucify the son of God afresh, it is to “themselves” alone that they retry Jesus Christ, yet according to the un-regenerated man, they find Christ guilty as a man – because a man is sinful and could not die for the sins of anyone, which is what the Jews taught concerning Jesus of Nazareth).
How unusual, that for centuries, before Christ, the Levitical system was God’s tool, which now became a hindrance to the Jew (Actually they were Israelites, Hebrews; “Jew” was a term that they inherited after the Babylonian captivity, taken from the same root word as a tribe of “Judah”).
And for the Hebrew, who is a new convert to Christianity, not established in their faith, at that place of determining their commitment to Christ, how detrimental is this choice.
This is what Hebrews 6:4-6 is dealing with, not the person who has become a true Christian (The term Christian is a cognate of two words: “Christ,” meaning “anointed,” or as from the Greek Septuagint Scripture of the Hebrews, the Christian Old Testament, the term “Messiah“; which when used with the definite article referred to God’s deliverer of His people. The suffix “ian”, meant a person that followed whoever placed before it as a word; in this case a Christian is a follower of the Christ. Christ, which is a title for Jesus of Nazareth – The Son of God – His name was not Jesus Christ, it was His title; He should be called: “Jesus The Christ“) – not one that has actually become a Believer, who is not saved, but a temporary follower.
It is the same as in our current vernacular we state that a Christian is one that goes to church, or that they are a Christian because of their politics. We talk about the warring tribes being the Christians and the Islamist in Eastern Europe, this is the sense of the word for Christian, does not mean a true follower of Jesus Christ.
There is a difference between the term Christian as applied to where you come from, who your family’s, or what your culture is, as compared to a legitimate individual that specifically follows Jesus Christ and does what Jesus said to do.
It is the difference between being a hearer and a doer – as between a goat and a sheep – or as between a tare and wheat.
Jesus addressed this many times in the Gospels, such as seen in parable of the seeds, as presented in Matthew 13:20-21, which states:
“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
or perhaps as found in verse 22, which states:
“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”
Those that Prophesy, Cast Out Devils, or Work Miracles
Or when Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.“
Or lastly as Christ explained in Matthew 13:24-30, which states:
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Tares and Wheat Better Understood
One aspect of this last parable that is so interesting is the integrity of God’s Word, as seen even in the examples that Jesus utilized (Which is true of every parable Jesus presented).
From the outside a tare looks just like wheat, it is the inside that makes all the difference.
The inside of the wheat is filled with fruit that when it falls in the ground produces more fruit.
A tare is empty inside, is void which is the same word that comes from the root of the word pride – which is the basis for our expression when we say someone is full of hot air.
The way that tare and wheat are separated is that close to the top of the hill, at a place that the wind blows, just prior to the crest of the hill, the worker would dig a hole, and then take a rake like device filled with wheat and tares and throw it above the whole.
The wheat, which had substance and therefore weight would fall into the whole to be collected. But the tares, which had no substance and therefore no weight were caught by the wind in blown away.
The difference between a true Christian and a person that looks like a Christian is on the inside, and will not be fully exposed into the rapture where the separation process takes place. Though the one thing to look for is that of producing fruit, which aligns with Jesus teaching in the 15th chapter of John.
But then again busy work is not necessarily spiritual work. There are many religions that they workers appear to work very hard and produce others like themselves. However, this is not bearing spiritual fruit as Jesus spoke about – numbers mean nothing – being doers of jesus’ word is what counts (James 1:22, 23, 25). Now back to the text at hand.
Hebrews 6:4-6, says:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
And though it would appear that the individuals in question are fully Believers, the text says otherwise.
Hebrews 6:4, uses the term “partakers of the Holy Ghost”, with the word “partakers” being the same word translated “partners” in Luke 5:7, with diverse grammar, which states:
“And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.”
The Greek word “partaker” has usages which include ”limited partnership,” (Greek: metochos, meaning “partner, though limited.” Used only once in the New Testament in this form of the word regarding the grammar – here in the dative case [an indirect object, “with“], plural number, and masculine gender. This grammatical form displays a limited, indirect partnership), such as seen in the above Luke passage wherein there was not a full partnership.
They did not share in the full experience in the same way, in the same ship, receiving the same load of fish. Simon Peter and Andrew went back out alone at the charge of Jesus, their ship started to sink, unlike James’s and John’s ship back at the shore came to help them.
These two ships were limited partners, separate – but still two, and there was not total equality – there was a limited partnership with another ship.
Simon Peter and Andrew were in their ship which was being over filled, and James and John in the other ship which was not – these were partners in fishing – yet, separate ships, separate owners, separate businesses, separate experiences – unlike the relationship that the Believer has with the Holy Spirit who now lives within the Believer in a non-separate manner. Believers before Pentecost, before the Church dwelt with the Holy Spirit, who was with the Believer, but not in full partnership, dwelling inside the Believers after the creation of the Church at Pentecost – as seen in John 14:17, which states:
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
The Holy Spirit & Salvation
When the Holy Spirit brings a person to the place of decision about conversion, there is a process which takes place in completing the terms of their conversion.
The Holy Spirit is with them, but not living in them until the person becomes truly Born-Again, a true Child of God; this is where the relationship becomes intimate; wherein the person becomes a full partaker with the Holy Spirit.
I personally believe that God gives every person a chance to choose, with their eyes wide open, to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Based upon: 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4), an opportunity to join in relationship with God – to become a full partner with the Holy spirit.
The Holy Spirit is called the “comforter” (Greek) paraklētos, also means an “intercessor,” an “consoler,” an “advocate,” who comes alongside the Believer and helps them walk (As in when someone has a hard time walking, and another comes along side them, and has the person put their arm around the neck of the helper, who helps them walk – this is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit as their partner with the Believer), the Holy Spirit is the Helper who partners with the Believer.
And though we can refer to the date and time that most of us accepted Jesus Christ, we must realize that the Holy Spirit had been moving us to that point for quite some time (In fact, we are really “chosen” before the “foundation of the world” ~ Ephesians 1:3-5).
Once Enlightened & Tasted the Good Word of God
This is a reference to that point in time where God in his fairness and justice gives every individual an opportunity to respond to him in faith, the Holy Spirit enlightens them.
The word “Enlightened” (Greek) phōtizo, means to “exposed to light,” “to shine light on,” “to illuminate.”
Yet, what is not conveyed is a permanence.
The word “tasted“ (Greek) geuomai, means to “eat,” “taste,” “experience.”
And for those that make the statement that the only other place this word is used is Hebrews 2:9, which speaks about Jesus tasting death; which would necessitate a complete consumption, this statement is untrue. This same Greek word translated into the English “tasted,” is found 5 times in the New Testament, with 2 of these passages utilizing the same exact grammar. The same Greek word utilizing the same grammar is found in: Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Colossians 2:21.
Again, what is not conveyed is a permanence.
The word translated into the English is “fall away”, which in the Greek is the word parapipto (G3895), means to fall aside. And can be translated as to stumble, yet without falling completely down. This is the only place in the New Testament this word is translated wherein a solid understanding of this word is limited.
However, if the writer wanted to convey the idea of completely falling out, all the way down they would use the Greek word ekpipto (G1601) which means to totally fall down, to drop away, to be driven out of one’s course; meaning concerning salvation to totally lose one’s salvation.
Most Important Facts
This passage does not indicate that the individuals cannot be renewed again to salvation, but cannot be renewed again to repentance, when it states:
“…If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance…”
Repentance vs. Salvation
Notice that it does not say they cannot be renewed again to salvation. The subject here is not salvation but repentance. We must remember what the word repentance means. It means to “change one’s mind,” though the way that many Christians misuse this word, they think that it means specifically turning to God in salvation, which is not true.
This is interpreting this word in a specific way (denotative) yet the word itself is generic (connotative). You can repent of anything, meaning you can change your mind about anything.
Yet, because the word repentance is used to describe what must occur when the unbeliever changes their mind from going their own way, to going God’s way; most people only use it in this narrow focus (denotative) sense concerning salvation.
However, the subject that the word repent concerns can only be dictated by the direct context of the Scripture concerning the meaning that is implied in that text, such as where Jesus says “repent and believe,” which in this case concerns salvation. However, it is wrong to think that this is the only context the word repent concerns.
There is no denotative (specific) understanding of the word repentance – it always means “to change one’s mind” – not to specifically “change one’s mind by following Christ unto salvation.” Our ears have become numb to the understanding of this word, rather than what God’s word says in conjunction with the language and grammar He chose, not based upon denominational shortcuts regarding this term.
What If This Did Mean You Could Lose Your Salvation
For those that would state that this passage regards salvation, let’s consider what the statement would mean according to their own interpretation, so for the sake of argument let us say that these individuals are true Christians, once they would backslide they could never ever repent again and turned back to Christ. A person would have only one chance to follow Christ in perfection never backsliding are turning back again such as like Peter did when he cursed and stated he didn’t know the Lord. People don’t truly think about what this passage would mean if they interpret the way that they desire, their own salvation would be uninsured to the extent that everyone, I mean everyone has backslid at some point in their Christian life. We have all sought to sin openly and willingly after having learned the truth, so according to their own dictates actually no one could become and stay saved – if we only had one chance at getting it right.
Thankfully this is not what the word repentance solely means especially in the context of this passage. This passage is not speaking about salvation, it’s speaking about repentance – a person changing their mind.
Therefore we see that even for those that claim the believer is what this text is alluding too, again the subject matter is not salvation. And do you not think that our precious heavenly Father would not say directly that it was regarding salvation.
The fact that this direct warning is left out indicates it is not the subject matter – to state that this text regards salvation is reading into the text something that is not there.
There are a multitude of verses which proclaim the security of the believer who is given eternal life. How can you lose that which is eternal? Therefore, to attempt to prove that a born-again believer can lose their salvation based on a few vague and hard to understand passages defies biblical interpretation. It is always the preponderance of clear Scripture that we must submit to, not a few ambiguous passages.
The Grammar of Salvation
And on top of this, the Greek grammar – the verbs regarding the words used for salvation are always in the present tense, meaning “a continuous action that never stops,” or in the perfect tense, meaning “an action completed in the past with results in the present,” or in the aorist tense, meaning an action occurred in the Past (“Once & for all”) “an action which is thoroughly completed;” and always in the Indicative Mood, which is the “Mood of Certainty” (A Reality); without exception!
Sheep & Goats, Wheat & Tares
This goes back to the idea that sheep never become goats, goats don’t become sheep; tares never become wheat, we never turns into tares; believers never become unbelievers. And last of all, when Jesus chose to use the terminology born-again in reference to salvation, tell me what part of baby has in their own birth, none; it is when 2 human beings come together and intimacy that they create the baby. We must understand that salvation is God’s gift to us we do not earn it in exchange for faith, we are not saved by faith. We are saved by grace wherein God has mandated that we utilize faith to receive God’s grace, his unmerited favor unto salvation. How can we lose what we did not gain in the first place.
And for those that would think this creates license to live in sin they missed the point. We all get to heaven equally because of the value of the blood of Christ. Yet once we get into heaven there are all different types of roof boards based upon service and sacrifice done on earth. This is where those that live more in their flesh as believers will lose out, and those that sacrificially put Christ at the center of their life will gain greater reward. For those that think that the teaching of eternal security is unjust or unrighteous, they display their own hypocrisy and envy of those that can sin on earth and still be called believers. Yet it is the justice of God that those that use their talents to the greater extreme will receive greater reward in heaven. And those that demand that eternal security is not eternal question the integrity and ability of God the father to keep that which is his own and that which he is given his son – it is a heresy to say that God can do any other.
Concerning the grammar regarding salvation, please see the following links:
“ETERNAL SECURITY – ITS ABOUT GOD (A NOTABLE WORK)” – LINK
“PROOF OF ETERNAL SECURITY ~ EPHESIANS 2:8 (NOTABLE WORK)” – LINK
“WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION ~ PHILIPPIANS 2:12-13 (NOTABLE WORK)” – LINK
“To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license.
Nobody actually reads it.
They just scroll to the bottom and click ‘I agree.’