Hebrews 6:6 "if they shall fall away" and 10:26 "for if we sin wilfully"
Hebrews 6:6 “if they shall fall away” and 10:26 “for if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth”.
These verses have troubled many sensitive or weak Christians, and false teachers often use them to teach that a true Christian, who was redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, can turn away from the faith and end up being lost and condemned.
May God grant a true understanding of his precious words and give us a greater appreciation for what He did for us, his elect people, at the cross of Calvary.
The Scriptures cannot contradict themselves. God makes it abundantly clear in a multitude of passages that those he redeemed at the cross will never perish or be lost.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Nothing and no one can undo or reverse this accomplished redemption of God’s elect people. In the mind of God we are already glorified and seated with Christ in the heavenly places and no one can pluck us out of his hands.
So what do these verses in the book of Hebrews mean?
I will briefly present what I believe they are referring to and then explain it in more detail.
I believe they are referring to those Jews who had been exposed to the truth of the gospel, many of whom had witnessed the public ministry of Christ, and yet had not come to believe in him as the Messiah who fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies, types and shadows.
The book itself is addressed to the Hebrews. It is a mixed audience. Some had believed in Christ, while others had only heard the gospel and were still sitting on the fence - “not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Hebrews 4:2.
For those among them who would harden their hearts and willfully sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth and turn away from the faith in Christ, it would be impossible to renew them again unto repentance. The only thing remaining for such persons is “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:27.
Let’s look at these verses in more detail.
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this will we do, if God permit.
4 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,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 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.”
Side note - Hebrews 6:6 "IF they shall fall away..." The IF clauses: Are they "in the Greek"?
Another common criticism of the King James Bible bites the dust.
The principles of the doctrine of Christ -
The principles of the doctrine of Christ were all taught in the Hebrew Old Testament. They were a SHADOW and a PATTERN of the heavenly reality found in Christ.
“Who serve unto the example and SHADOW of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the PATTERN shewed to thee in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5
“For the law having a SHADOW of good things to come, and NOT THE VERY IMAGE of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” Hebrews 10:1.
A. The Old Testament laid the foundation of REPENTANCE from dead works and of FAITH toward God.
Job REPENTED in dust and ashes. (Job 42:6).
God’s people were told to repent of their wickedness. (Jeremiah 8:6)
“Surely after that I was turned, I REPENTED; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” Jeremiah 31:19
“Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; REPENT, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.” Ezekiel 14:6
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. REPENT, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” Ezekiel 18:30
B. Faith or Belief in God was taught all through the Old Testament.
Abraham “BELIEVED in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6
“That they may BELIEVE that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.” Exodus 4:5
“And the people BELIEVED: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.” Exodus 4:31
“BELIEVE in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; BELIEVE his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20
“I had fainted, unless I had BELIEVED to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13
“Then BELIEVED they his words; they sang his praise.” Psalm 106:12
“Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have BELIEVED thy commandments.” Psalm 119:66
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and BELIEVE me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isaiah 43:10.
C. “Of the doctrine of baptisms” - βαπτισμων
Baptisms or washings were taught as well in the Old Testament.
Hebrews 9:8-10 - The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers WASHINGS (βαπτισμοις), and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
1 Corinthians 10:1-2 - “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
And were all BAPTIZED (εβαπτισαντο) unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea”.
Mark 7:3-4 - “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the WASHING (βαπτισμους) of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables”
D. Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is seen in many O.T. passages like whenever they laid hands on the animal sacrifices they made continually, thus identifying with the sacrifice. Or the laying on of hands that was done to the priests as they were ordained to their office, and the laying on of hands of prophets and a king.
E. Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment
These too were taught in the Old Testament. We see them in such passages as Daniel 10:2 where we read: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Job 19:25- 26 - “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God”.
Psalm 9:17 - “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”
Psalm 16:10 - “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”
Psalm 17:15 - “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”
Psalm 49:15 - “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.”
Isaiah 25:8 - “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.”
Isaiah 26:19 - “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”
Hebrews 6:1 exhorts the readers to “leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ and to “go on unto perfection”, “And this will we do if God permit.”
The Old Testament was filled with types, shadows and patterns that pointed to the fulfillment to come in the perfections of Christ.
In contrast to the shadows of the O.T. Christ himself is “made so much BETTER than the angels” (Hebrews 1:4), “a BETTER hope” (Hebrews 7:19), “Jesus is made a surety of a BETTER testament” (Hebrews 7:22), “the mediator of a BETTER covenant, which was established upon BETTER promises” (Hebrews 8:6), “a BETTER sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:23), we have “in heaven a BETTER and an enduring substance” (Hebrews 10:34), we seek “a BETTER country” (Hebrews 11:16) and “a BETTER resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35).
Then the author of the book of Hebrews gives a stern warning for those who have been exposed to all these truths of the gospel of Christ and yet fall away.
F. “For it is impossible for those who were ONCE ENLIGHTENED AND HAVE TASTED OF THE HEAVENLY GIFT”
These people have clearly heard the truth of the gospel and that Christ is the fulfillment of the O.T. promises, types and shadows. They had “tasted” of the heavenly gift. But it was only temporary, as when Jesus tasted death.
Like those who wandered in the wilderness and did not enter the promised land, they too had heard but provoked, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
F. They “were made partakers of the Holy Ghost”, only in an external way.
They had heard the inspired words of the prophets given by the Holy Ghost. The Gentile nations of the Old Testament did not have this privilege. (See Psalm 147:19-20)
It is likely that many of these same Jews had witnessed the public ministry of the Lord Jesus himself.
Hebrews 2:3-4 - “ How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of THE HOLY GHOST, according to his own will?”
Hebrews 3:7-8 - “Wherefore (as THE HOLY GHOST saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,
8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness”
Hebrews 10:15-16 - “Whereof THE HOLY GHOST also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them”
Acts 10:36-39 - “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with THE HOLY GHOST and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree.”
Mark 12:36 - “For David himself said by THE HOLY GHOST, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Acts 1:16 - “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which THE HOLY GHOST by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”
Acts 7:51 - “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist THE HOLY GHOST: as your fathers did, so do ye.”
Acts 28:25-26 “…Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive”
G. They had tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.
They had heard the gospel message, both from the Lord himself and from those who heard him and knew of these things.
But “IF they shall fall away” it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. If there be in them an evil heart of unbelief and they reject the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and promised Messiah then they cannot be brought again to that point of repentance “seeing they crucify TO THEMSELVES the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
The next few verses seem to confirm this view when he says:
Hebrews 6:7-9 - “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”
Both types of earth receive the same outward benefits of the rain, but one produces the desired growth while the other bears thorns and briers and ends up being burned.
Then, by contrast, the writer comforts those who had believed and he assures them of their salvation.
9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."
Hebrews 10 is basically repeating the same truths about the same people.
After explaining the finality of the sacrifice of Christ for his people - “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14) and “Now where remission of these is, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN.” (Hebrews 10:18) he goes on to address what happens to those who reject this sacrifice.
26 "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
To sin willfully is not referring to the general type of sins that all of us, as Christians, are prone to commit on a regular basis. We all continue sin in various ways and to varying degrees. Just look at Romans chapter 7 or at the list of things in each epistle that we are told not to do and to put off.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
Nor does this passage refer to backsliders. A true Christian can backslide, even for some length of time, and yet he is still a Christian. I speak from bitter experience.
Jeremiah 3:14 - “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you”
Jeremiah 3:22 - “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.”
Hosea 14:4 - “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.”
Hebrews 10:26 is referring to the willful sin of rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and the final and only sacrifice for sin - “there remaineth no more offering for sin.” There IS no other way to have your sins forgiven.
The only thing that awaits such a person is judgment. He has “trodden under foot the Son of God and done despite (to treat with contempt) unto the Spirit of grace.”
Objections raised and answered.
I believe some misunderstand a couple of things in these verses of 10:26-31. When it says that this person “hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, and unholy thing” the words “he was sanctified” do not refer to the sinner who rejects Christ, but rather to Christ himself who was “sanctified”.
To sanctify means to set apart for a specific use or purpose.
Compare John 17:19 - “And for their sakes I SANCTIFY MYSELF, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”
And John 10:36 - “ Say ye of HIM, WHOM THE FATHER HATH SANCTIFIED, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”
Another objection I have heard refers to where it says: “The Lord shall judge his people.” The word “to judge” is often used in the sense of to vindicate or to rule in favor of someone.
God will take vengeance on those who reject Christ, and vindicate (judge in a favorable way) those who are his people.
Here are a few examples.
Genesis 30:6 - “And Rachel said, God hath JUDGED me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.”
Psalm 50:4-5 - “He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may JUDGE his people.
5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
Psalm 35:24 - “JUDGE me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.”
Another objection I have heard is the use of the term “brethren” as in Hebrews 3:12 - “Take heed, BRETHREN, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
Jews used the term “brother” or “brethren” when referring to a fellow Jew, even though they may not be a born again believer.
See how the term is used all through the law of Moses and in places in the New Testament when the apostle Peter or Stephen would preach to the Jews or Paul would visit the synagogues where he would preach Christ.
See Acts 1:16; 2:29, 37; Acts 3:17 - “(Peter) And now, BRETHREN, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.”, Acts 3:22, Acts 7:2 (Stephen) - “And he said, Men, BRETHREN, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham”, Acts 7:26 - (Moses) “Sirs, ye are BRETHREN, why do ye wrong one to another?”, Acts 13:15 (rulers of the synagogue) - “Ye men and BRETHREN, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”, Acts 13:38 (Paul to fellow Jews) - Be it known unto you therefore, men and BRETHREN, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins”, Acts 22:1 (Paul to his accusers) - “Men, BRETHREN, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.”, Acts 23:1 and 5 (Paul again to his accusers) - “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and BRETHREN, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”, “Then said Paul, I wist not, BRETHREN, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.”
Neither Hebrews chapter 6 nor Hebrews chapter 10, when properly understood, refer in any way to a true Christian who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ and has been given the gift of faith to believe on him and to call on his name.
Nor do they refer to a backslidden child of God who can still repent and turn to walk with the Lord again in close fellowship.
Instead they refer to a person, particularly a Jewish person alive at that time, who was familiar with the Old Testament types, shadows and prophecies, who hears the gospel clearly presented and may even have seen miracles and lives transformed by the living God and yet he trods under foot the Son of God, crucifies him again to himself and does despite unto the Spirit of grace.
There is no other offering for sin than the Lamb of God who loved us and gave himself for us. Once a person rejects the Christ of God, the only thing that awaits him is the fiery indignation and condemnation of God.
I hope this has been of some help to those sincere Christians who may have been struggling with these passages. The very fact that you may have been concerned about them shows that the passages are not talking about you.
Hebrews 9:12 - “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
All praise to the Lamb of God.
Return to Articles -