Hebrews 5:11–6:12 comment (0)
October 5, 2006
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Hebrews 5:11–6:12
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Determine to Mature
The degree to which Christians mature spiritually varies. Their level of maturity may depend on how interested they are in spiritual growth and how aggressively they seek to grow. All Christians can progress to a higher level of spiritual maturity than they currently possess. We all should desire to grow spiritually and to help others to grow.
New believers especially need to be growing because there is so much to be learning and doing in ministering to others. Maturing Christians need to make progress in developing their fellowship with Jesus.
This week’s lesson is about the immature status of the Hebrew-Christians addressed in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This passage encourages all Christians to be continually moving toward spiritual maturity.
Are You Mature? (5:11–14)
The writer of the Epistle could not continue his teaching concerning Melchizedek because of his readers’ lack of spiritual depth; they had become “dull” in their hearing of spiritual truth. They had lapsed into a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that hindered understanding and spiritual discernment. Considering the length of time they had been believers, they should have become teachers of others. Instead they needed someone to teach them again the basic truths of God’s Word.
Spiritually mature Christians grasp the profound truths of Scripture and use Scripture to discern good from evil and to practice a lifestyle of righteousness. The Hebrew-Christians had had plenty of time to mature but had not done so. They were, like the nation of Israel under Moses’ leadership, in danger of failing in spiritual discernment and so failing to move on to their promised inheritance.
It is impossible to stand still in Christian living — we either go forward and receive God’s blessing or we go backward and wander around aimlessly. God wants us always to be moving toward greater spiritual maturity.
How Can You Tell? (6:1–8)
Despite his readers’ poor spiritual condition, the writer wanted them to move from spiritual dullness to spiritual maturity. It is normal for Christians to grow; it is abnormal for them to remain in arrested development. The writer mentioned several foundational doctrines of Christianity, which are also foundational to Judaism. If the recipients of this letter go back to Judaism in order to escape persecution, they would only be leaving the perfect for the imperfect, the substance for the shadow, the mature for the immature.
Verses 4–6 is a much-debated passage. Some Bible students believe that the people described there are Christians who lose their salvation by renouncing their faith in Christ. If this were so, the passage would be teaching that it is impossible for such a person to be saved again.
However, other clearly expressed passages in the New Testament (John 10:28–30; Rom. 8:38–39) teach that genuine Christians cannot lose their salvation but can lose earthly blessings and heavenly rewards because of the lack of spiritual maturity. Other students see these verses as describing people who are not genuine believers but rather people who profess to be believers while lacking a genuine conversion faith in Christ.
Perhaps it is best to understand these verses in the context of the Hebrew-Christians who were thinking of returning to Judaism. The peril they faced was the peril of arrested Christian growth, by means of which they would be falling short of their ultimate destiny in Christian behavior and ministry. If they went back, they would be missing growth in grace, knowledge and service. The writer’s words in verse 9 appear to confirm this latter view of verses 4–6.
What Will You Do? (6:9–12)
The writer voiced his conclusion that his readers are growing Christians and he desires that they remain faithful to Christ. Their work and love had demonstrated their relationship to Christ.
The writer encouraged them to be diligent in their following Christ. As a result, they will respond to the call for action to grow in faith, hope and love.