1. Therefore--Wherefore: seeing that ye ought not now to be
leaving--getting further forward than the elementary
"principles." "As in building a house one must never leave the
foundation: yet to be always laboring in 'laying the foundation' would
be ridiculous" [CALVIN].
the principles of the doctrine--Greek, "the word
of the beginning," that is, the discussion of the "first
principles of Christianity
let us go on--Greek, "let us be borne forward," or "bear
ourselves forward"; implying active exertion: press on. Paul, in
teaching, here classifies himself with the Hebrew readers, or (as they
ought to be) learners, and says, Let us together press forward.
perfection--the matured knowledge of those who are "of full age"
in Christian attainments.
foundation of--that is, consisting in "repentance."
repentance from dead works--namely, not springing from the
vital principle of faith and love toward God, and so counted,
like their doer, dead before God. This repentance from dead
works is therefore paired with "faith toward God." The three pairs
of truths enumerated are designedly such as JEWISH
believers might in some degree have known from the Old Testament, but
had been taught more clearly when they became Christians. This accounts
for the omission of distinct specification of some essential
first principle of Christian truth. Hence, too, he mentions "faith
toward God," and not explicitly faith toward
Christ (though of course included). Repentance and faith were
the first principles taught under the Gospel.
2. the doctrine of baptisms--paired with "laying on of hands,"
as the latter followed on Christian baptism, and answers to the rite of
confirmation in Episcopal churches. Jewish believers passed, by
an easy transition, from Jewish baptismal purifications
"washings"), baptism of proselytes, and John's baptism, and legal
imposition of hands, to their Christian analogues, baptism, and
the subsequent laying on of hands, accompanied by the gift of
the Holy Ghost (compare
Greek, "baptismoi," plural, including Jewish and
Christian baptisms, are to be distinguished from
baptisma, singular, restricted to Christian baptism. The
six particulars here specified had been, as it were, the Christian
Catechism of the Old Testament; and such Jews who had begun to
recognize Jesus as the Christ immediately on the new light being shed
on these fundamental particulars, were accounted as having the
elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ [BENGEL]. The first and most obvious elementary
instruction of Jews would be the teaching them the typical
significance of their own ceremonial law in its Christian fulfilment
resurrection, &c.--held already by the Jews from the Old
Testament: confirmed with clearer light in Christian teaching or
eternal judgment--judgment fraught with eternal consequences
either of joy or of woe.
3. will we do--So some of the oldest manuscripts read; but
others, "Let us do." "This," that is, "Go on unto perfection."
if God permit--For even in the case of good resolutions, we
cannot carry them into effect, save through God "working in us both to
will and to do of His good pleasure"
The "for" in
refers to this: I say, if God permit, for there are cases where
God does not permit, for example, "it is impossible," &c. Without God's
blessing, the cultivation of the ground does not succeed
4. We must "go on toward perfection"; for if we fall
away, after having received enlightenment, it will be impossible
to renew us again to repentance.
for those--"in the case of those."
once enlightened--once for all illuminated by the word of God
taught in connection with "baptism" (to which, in
as once for all done," once enlightened" here answers); compare
This passage probably originated the application of the term
"illumination" to baptism in subsequent times. Illumination,
however, was not supposed to be the inseparable accompaniment of
baptism: thus CHRYSOSTOM says, "Heretics
have baptism, not illumination: they are baptized in
body, but not enlightened in soul: as Simon Magus was baptized, but not
illuminated." That "enlightened" here means knowledge of the word of
truth, appears from comparing the same Greek word
with Heb 10:26,
where "knowledge of the truth" answers to it.
tasted of the heavenly gift--tasted for themselves. As
"enlightened" refers to the sense of sight: so here taste
follows. "The heavenly gift"; Christ given by the Father and
revealed by the enlightening word preached and written: as conferring
peace in the remission of sins; and as the Bestower of the gift of the
(Ac 8:19, 20),
made partakers of the Holy Ghost--specified as distinct from,
though so inseparably connected with, "enlightened," and "tasted of the
heavenly gift," Christ, as answering to "laying on of hands" after
baptism, which was then generally accompanied with the impartation of
the Holy Ghost in miraculous gifts.
5. tasted the good word of God--distinct from "tasted
OF (genitive) the heavenly gift"; we do not yet
enjoy all the fulness of Christ, but only have a taste
OF Him, the heavenly gift now; but believers may
taste the whole word (accusative case) of God already, namely,
God's "good word of promise." The Old Testament promise of
Canaan to Israel typified "the good word of God's" promise of the
Therefore, there immediately follows the clause, "the powers of the
world to come." As "enlightening" and "tasting of the heavenly gift,"
Christ, the Bread of Life, answers to FAITH: so
"made partakers of the Holy Ghost," to CHARITY,
which is the first-fruit of the Spirit: and "tasted the good word of
God, and the powers of the world to come," to HOPE. Thus the triad of privileges answers to the
Trinity, the Father, Son, and Spirit, in their respective works toward
us. "The world to come," is the Christian dispensation, viewed
especially in its future glories, though already begun in grace
here. The world to come thus stands in contrast to course of
this world, altogether disorganized because God is not its spring
of action and end. By faith, Christians make the world to come a
present reality, though but a foretaste of the perfect future. The
powers of this new spiritual world, partly exhibited in outward
miracles at that time, and then, as now, especially consisting in the
Spirit's inward quickening influences are the earnest of the coming
inheritance above, and lead the believer who gives himself up to the
Spirit to seek to live as the angels, to sit with Christ in heavenly
places, to set the affections on things above, and not on things on
earth, and to look for Christ's coming and the full manifestation of
the world to come. This "world to come," in its future aspect, thus
corresponds to "resurrection of the dead and eternal life"
the first Christian principles which the Hebrew believers had
been taught, by the Christian light being thrown back on their Old
Testament for their instruction (see on
"The world to come," which, as to its "powers," exists already in the
redeemed, will pass into a fully realized fact at Christ's coming
6. If--Greek, "And (yet) have fallen away";
compare a less extreme falling or declension,
"Ye are fallen from grace." Here an entire and wilful apostasy is
meant; the Hebrews had not yet so fallen away; but he warns them that
such would be the final result of retrogression, if, instead of "going
on to perfection," they should need to learn again the first principles
to renew them again--They have been "once"
already renewed, or made anew, and now they need to be
"renewed" over "again."
crucify to themselves the Son of God--"are crucifiying to
themselves" Christ, instead of, like Paul,
crucifying the world unto them by the cross of Christ
"trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the
covenant, wherewith . . . sanctified, an unholy thing." "The
Son of God," marking His dignity, shows the greatness of their offense.
put him to an open shame--literally, "make a public example of"
Him, as if He were a malefactor suspended on a tree. What the carnal
Israel did outwardly, those who fall away from light do inwardly, they
virtually crucify again the Son of God; "they tear him out of the
recesses of their hearts where He had fixed His abode and exhibit Him
to the open scoffs of the world as something powerless and common"
[BLEEK in ALFORD]. The
Montanists and Novatians used this passage to justify the lasting
exclusion from the Church of those who had once lapsed. The Catholic
Church always opposed this view, and readmitted the lapsed on their
repentance, but did not rebaptize them. This passage implies that
persons may be in some sense "renewed," and yet fall away finally; for
the words, "renew again," imply that they have been, in
some sense, not the full sense, ONCE
RENEWED by the Holy Ghost; but certainly not that they are "the
elect," for these can never fall away, being chosen unto everlasting
The elect abide in Christ, hear and continuously obey His voice, and do
not fall away. He who abides not in Christ, is cast forth as a withered
branch; but he who abides in Him becomes more and more free from sin;
the wicked one cannot touch him; and he by faith overcomes the world. A
temporary faith is possible, without one thereby being
constituted one of the elect
(Mr 4:16, 17).
At the same time it does not limit God's grace, as if it were
"impossible" for God to reclaim even such a hardened rebel so as
yet to look on Him whom he has pierced. The impossibility rests in
their having known in themselves once the power of Christ's sacrifice,
and yet now rejecting it; there cannot possibly be any new means
devised for their renewal afresh, and the means provided by God's love
they now, after experience of them, deliberately and continuously
reject; their conscience being served, and they "twice dead"
are now past hope, except by a miracle of God's grace. "It is the curse
of evil eternally to propagate evil" [THOLUCK].
"He who is led into the whole (?) compass of Christian experiences, may
yet cease to abide in them; he who abides not in them, was, at the very
time when he had those objective experiences, not subjectively
true to them; otherwise there would have been fulfilled in him,
"Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more
so that he would have abided in them and not have fallen away"
[THOLUCK]. Such a one was never truly a Spirit-led
disciple of Christ
The sin against the Holy Ghost, though somewhat similar, is not
identical with this sin; for that sin may be committed by those
outside the Church (as in
Mt 12:24, 31, 32);
this, only by those inside.
7. the earth--rather as Greek (no article), "land."
which drinketh in--Greek, "which has drunk in";
not merely receiving it on the surface. Answering to those who have
enjoyed the privilege of Christian experiences, being in some sense
renewed by the Holy Ghost; true alike of those who persevere and those
who "fall away."
the rain that cometh oft upon it--not merely failing over
it, or towards it, but falling and resting upon it so as
to cover it (the GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH