Hebrews 6:1-14 . WARNING AGAINST RETROGRADING, WHICH SOON LEADS TO APOSTASY; ENCOURAGEMENT TO STEADFASTNESS FROM GOD'S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS WORD AND OATH.
11. And--Greek, "But."
desire--Greek, "earnestly desire." The language of fatherly affection, rather than command.
every one of you--implying that all in the Palestinian churches had not shown the same diligence as some of those whom he praises in Hebrews 6:10 . "He cares alike for great and small, and overlooks none." "Every one of them," even those diligent in acts of LOVE ( Hebrews 6:10 ), needed to be stimulated to persevere in the same diligence with a view to the full assurance of HOPE unto the end. They needed, besides love, patient perseverance, resting on hope and faith ( Hebrews 10:36 , 13:7 ). Compare "the full assurance of faith," Hebrews 10:22 , Romans 4:21 , 1 Thessalonians 1:5 .
unto the end--the coming of Christ.
12. be not--Greek, "become not." In Hebrews 5:11 , he said, "Ye have become dull (Greek, 'slothful') of hearing"; here he warns them not to become "slothful absolutely," namely, also in mind and deed. He will not become slothful who keeps always the end in view; hope is the means of ensuring this.
followers--Greek, "imitators"; so in Ephesians 5:1 , Greek; 1 Corinthians 11:1 .
patience--Greek, "long-suffering endurance." There is the long-suffering patience, or endurance of love, 1 Corinthians 13:4 , and that of faith, Hebrews 6:15 .
them who . . . inherit the promises--Greek, "who are inheriting," &c.; to whom the promises are their inheritance. Not that they have actually entered on the perfect inheritance, which Hebrews 11:13 Hebrews 11:39 Hebrews 11:40 explicitly denies; though doubtless the dead in Christ have, in the disembodied soul, a foretaste of it; but "them (enumerated in Hebrews 11:2-40 ) who in every age have been, are, or shall be, inheritors of the promises"; of whom Abraham is an illustrious example ( Hebrews 6:13 ).
13. For--confirming the reasonableness of resting on "the promises" as infallibly sure, resting as they do on God's oath, by the instance of Abraham. "He now gives consolation, by the oath of God's grace, to those whom, in the second, third, and fourth chapters, he had warned by the oath of God's 'wrath.' The oath of wrath did not primarily extend its force beyond the wilderness; but the oath of grace is in force for ever" [BENGEL].
14. multiplying . . . multiply--Hebraism for superabundantly multiply.
thee--The increase of Abraham's seed is virtually an increase of himself. The argument here refers to Abraham himself as an example; therefore Paul quotes Genesis 22:17 , "thee," instead of "thy seed."
15. so--thus relying on the promise.
16. for confirmation--not to be joined, as English Version, to "an oath"; but to "an end" [ALFORD]. I prefer, "The oath is to them, in respect to confirmation (of one's solemn promise or covenant; as here, God's), an end of all contradiction (so the Greek is translated, Hebrews 12:3 ), or "gainsaying." This passage shows: (1) an oath is sanctioned even in the Christian dispensation as lawful; (2) that the limits to its use are, that it only be employed where it can put an end to contradiction in disputes, and for confirmation of a solemn promise.
17. Wherein--that is, Which being the case among men, God, in accommodation to their manner of confirming covenants, superadded to His sure word His oath: the "TWO immutable things" ( Hebrews 6:18 ).
willing . . . counsel--Greek, "willing . . . will"; words akin. Expressing the utmost benignity [BENGEL].
more abundantly--than had He not sworn. His word would have been amply enough; but, to make assurance doubly sure, He "interposed with an oath" (so the Greek). Literally, He acted as Mediator, coming between Himself and us; as if He were less, while He swears, than Himself by whom He swears (for the less among men usually swear by the greater). Dost thou not yet believe, thou that hearest the promise? [BENGEL].
heirs of promise--not only Abraham's literal, but also his spiritual, seed ( Galatians 3:29 ).
18. immutable--Translate, as in Hebrews 6:17 , "unchangeable."
impossible . . . to lie--"ever to lie"; this is the force of the Greek aorist [ALFORD]. His not being able to deny Himself is a proof, not of weakness, but of strength incomparable.
consolation--under doubts and fears, and so "encouragement," literally, "exhortation."
fled for refuge--as if from a shipwreck; or, as one fleeing to one of the six cities of refuge. Kadesh, that is, holy, implies the holiness of Jesus, our Refuge. Shechem, that is, shoulder, the government is upon his shoulder ( Isaiah 9:6 ). Hebron, that is, fellowship, believers are called into the fellowship of Christ. Bezer, that is, a fortress, Christ is so to all who trust in Him. Ramoth, that is, high, for Him hath God exalted with His right hand ( Acts 5:31 ). Golan, that is, joy, for in Him all the saints are justified and shall glory.
lay hold upon the hope--that is, the object of our hope, as upon a preservative from sinking.
set before us--as a prize for which we strive; a new image, namely, the race course ( Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:2 ).
19. Hope is found represented on coins by an anchor.
sure and steadfast--sure in respect to us: steadfast, or "firm" [ALFORD], in itself. Not such an anchor as will not keep the vessel from tossing, or an anchor unsound or too light [THEOPHYLACT].
which entereth into that--that is the place
within the veil--two images beautifully combined: (1) The soul is the ship: the world the sea: the bliss beyond the world, the distant coast; the hope resting on faith, the anchor which prevents the vessel being tossed to and fro; the encouraging consolation through the promise and oath of God, the cable connecting the ship and anchor. (2) The world is the fore-court: heaven, the Holy of Holies; Christ, the High Priest going before us. so as to enable us, after Him. and through Him, to enter within the veil. ESTIUS explains, As the anchor does not stay in the waters, but enters the ground hidden beneath the waters, and fastens itself in it, so hope, our anchor of the soul, is not satisfied with merely coming to the vestibule, that is..is not content with merely earthly and visible goods, but penetrates even to those which are within the veil, namely. to the Holy of Holies. where it lays hold on God Himself. and heavenly goods. and fastens on them. "Hope, entering within heaven, hath made us already to be in the things promised to us, even while we are still below. and have not yet received them; such strength hone has. as to make those that are earthly to become heavenly." "The soul clings, as one in fear of shipwreck to an anchor, and sees not whither the cable of the anchor runs--where it is fastened: but she knows that it is fastened behind the veil which hides the future glory."
veil--Greek, "catapetasma": the second veil which shut in the Holiest Place. The outer veil was called by a distinct Greek term, calumma: "the second (that is, the inner) veil."
20. The absence of the Greek article requires ALFORD'S translation, "Where. As forerunner for us (that is, in our behalf), entered Jesus" [and is now: this last clause is implied in the 'where' of the Greek, which implies being IN a place: 'whither' is understood to 'entered,' taken out of 'where'; whither Jesus entered, and where He is now]. The "for us" implies that it was not for Himself. as God, He needed to enter there, but as our High Priest, representing and introducing us, His followers, opening the way to us, by His intercession with the Father. as the Aaronic high priest entered the Holiest Place once a year to make propitiation for the people. The first-fruits of our nature are ascended, and so the rest is sanctified. Christ's ascension is our promotion: and whither the glory of the Head has preceded. thither the hope of the body, too, is called. We ought to keep festal day, since Christ has taken up and set in the heavens the first-fruit of our lump, that is, the human flesh [CHRYSOSTOM]. As John Baptist was Christ's forerunner on earth, so Christ is ours in heaven.