The Warning Passages
By Daniel Thompson
The Hebrew Warnings
||Give earnest heed to the things which we
||Lest we drift away from the things heard.
||For if the word spoken through angels was
steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward/recompense.
||How shall we escape if we neglect so great
a salvation, spoken first by the Lord and confirmed by those that heard
||Beware brethren and exhort one another while
it is called “Today.”
||Lest there be in any of you an evil heart
in departing from the Living God.
||“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not
harden your heart as in the rebellion.” Compare v. 8.
||For we are (have become) partakers of Christ
if we hold the beginning of our confidence to the end.
||Let us fear (v1)...,Let us therefore be diligent
to enter that rest...,(v11)
||Lest any of you should seem to fall short
of it (rest).
||Those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the
wilderness(3:17)..., So you see they could not enter because of unbelief
(3:18), cf. “fell,” “enter,” (4:11).
||Lest anyone fall after the same example of
||Let us go on to maturity,
||For it is impossible ... if they fall away,
to renew them again to repentance.
||Since by rejecting enlightenment, the heavenly
gift, the Spirit, the Word, and the Power, they crucify the Son and openly
||For the earth drinks in the rain ... if it
bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose
end is to be burned.
||Recall the former days.
||If we willfully sin after we receive the
knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin.
||Anyone who rejected Moses’ law dies without
||How much worse punishment do you suppose,
will he be thought worthy who has trampled under foot the Son of God ...
counted the blood of the covenant ... a common thing ... and despised the
Spirit of Grace.
||Do not cast off your confidence, which has
great reward ... For you have need of endurance...
||... If any draws back, my soul has no pleasure
||The just shall live by faith (Hab 2:4) cf.
||But we are not of those who draw back to
perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
|Heb 12: 12-17
||Strengthen the feeble knees ... make straight
paths for your feet ... Pursue peace ... looking diligently.
||Pursue peace ... and holiness without which
no man shall see the Lord.
||Esau, cf. 12:16,17.. . he was rejected ...,no
place for repentance...,profane.
||Lest anyone fall short of the grace of God
... any root of bitterness ... defile.
||See you do not refuse Him..., Let us have
grace ... to serve God.
||... If they did not escape who refused Him
who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from
Him who speaks from heaven,
||... whose voice then shook the earth, but
now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only earth
||Let us serve God acceptably, for our God
is a consuming fire.
The Hebrew Warnings
English Word (NKJV)
2) slip away (v1)
3) salvation (v3)
the neglect is a positive rejecting, 1 aor.
2) the slipping
away is 2 aor., definitive.
3) salvation is the
subject clearly here, 6:9, and in 10:39.
Matt 22:5; Heb 8:9; 2 Pet 1:12.
2) Proverbs 3:21
3) Heb 1:l4;2:10;5:9;6:9;10:39.
2) have become (v14)
2) perfect tense,
proof of our partaking.
Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 2:19.
2) Jn 17:13; 19:30
(examples of perfect tense).
2) fall (4:11)
3) disobedience (4:11)
the connection between the unbelief / fall / disobedience of Israelite
history and its parallel to the recipients of the Hebrew letter.
2) fall (3:17; 4:11)
3) disobedience (3:18;
2) open shame (v6)
uses of this Greek word are of a reprobate / castaway / rejected spiritual
state. In this difficult text, what is clear is that the “rain”
of verse7 is illustrative of the privileges listed in 4-5.
Peter 2:20.22 for an exact parallel in a parallel context to Hebrews 6:4-6
(see 2 Peter 2:1 ff).
1) see Rom 1:28;
2 Cor 13:5,6,7.
2) other use, Matt
1:9, is public/open shame.
2) unholy (v29)
certain judgment falls because turning from the faith is to crucify the
Son again, put Him to shame (6:6), as well as trample the blood of the
Son, count it as common (unclean), and despise the Spirit of grace (10:29).
our Lord’s words in Matt 10:32,33.
2) That which is
common to Jews was also unholy/unclean, cf. Peter in Acts 10:14.
2) draw back (v38)
who persevere display the true saving work of the Spirit, cf. Heb 3:14.
To draw is to perish. This is always the way the word is used (again, see
2 Peter 2:1-3).
“if” clauses, Rom 8:13; Col 1:23
1) used in Acts 8:13,
“your money perish with you.”
2) “withdraw” in
Ga! 2:l2 (i.e. separate).
verb is used in Matt 12:5 and Acts 24:6 of profaning the temple.
is a reprobate man, cast off without hope of repentance (v17, cf. Heb 6:4-6),
and even hated of God (Mal 1:3, cf. Rom 9:13).
of turning to or from God (cf. Acts 3:26;Tit 1:14).
is clear as to the turning being that of 2 Tim 4:4, that is, away from
Summary Comments on
|Opening Comments: The foremost idea needed to correctly
analyze the warning passages of Hebrews
is to understand that with only differences is some of the wording, all
the passages deal with the same basic issue which is faith and its consequences,
or rather unbelief/disobedience and its consequences. These readers are
given differing truths regarding the faith they confess to hold to, followed
by warnings concerning departing from the faith which includes the truth
previously expounded (e.g. The Sonship of Christ vs. angels/warning-1:1-2:4,
the once-for-all atonement of Christ/warning-10:10-10:39) etc. Thus the
Ideas, truths, and vocabulary of The Hebrew warning passages are more or
less interchangeable —the changes being not in the basic dangers warned
against — but the warnings as they related to the truths just expounded
upon (e.g. Christ’s priesthood, Christ’s Sonship, etc.).
issue at hand is summarized by “how shall we escape (flee) if we neglect
so great a salvation. ‘ The reason for such a warning of this type is because
of the statement and exposition of v4, “(Christ) being made so much better
than the angels” and that angels “are ministering spirits...,” v14. The
obvious superiority of the Son over angels causes the writer to press home
the obvious: if the word of angels was steadfast, and every transgression
... received a just recompense (judgment) - v2, how would these readers
escape neglecting the words of the Son of God which had been witnessed
to by God Himself as well as some of the saints of God, v.v. 3,4? We will
find this logic again of greater punishment because of greater transgression
(i.e. O.T. hardening and its judgment vs. N.T. hardening and its greater
judgment) in chapter 3-4,10,12, as well as other places.
we find a clear example of Paul’s principle in his famous Eph 2:8-10. God’s
gifts of grace and faith arc not isolated in salvation but include good
works, works that He has ordained to come from the grace He has given each
saint. To put it another way: true salvation can be understood as a gate,
and a way, which leads to life (Matt 7:14); or, as Paul expresses it theologically
in Rom 6:22, “... having been set free from sin, and having become servants
of God (gate), you have your fruit unto holiness (way), and its end, everlasting
life (life). In Hebrews, the writer warns the readers not to depart from
the living God (v.12 - Greek, apostenai
fall away), for we have became partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning
of our confidence steadfast to the end (v 14); that is, the gate (“have
become partakers of Christ”), the way (our confidence/faith), life everlasting
(“to the end”).
as in the O.T. history of hardening/unbelief/disobedience led to a generation
never entering the promised rest of Canaan, so the same was true of the
Hebrew readers spoken to in 3:16-4:11. There was still a rest to be entered
(4:11), and they stood in the position of failing to enter (4:1 cf. 3:19).
That a great rest was promised in the Old Testament is proven by comparing
4:4, 4:8, and 4:9-11). For the readers to trust and return to the Old Covenant
way as understood in the first century was to forget that even with the
Sabbath rest (Gen 2, Ex 20) and the promise land rest of Joshua, there
was a greater rest that David spoke of long after both (Ps 95). The warning
is that as those of long ago hardened their hearts, sinned, fell, and therefore
did not enter Canaan, so to is the fate of all those who turn from the
gospel (4:2). They shall also fall short of the Christian promised rest,
that is, entering glory.
professed saints spoken to must move on in their spiritual lives. The illustration
of the five gospel blessings (delineated in v.v. 4-5) is of rain falling
and producing a crop. One is fruit blessed of God, the other is thorns
and briers to be burned*,
a symbol of destruction (or, to look at it conversely, the opposite of
the writer’s “confident of ... things ... which accompany salvation “-v.9).
Note: fire is an awesome word in this epistle (here, 10:27; 12:18,29).
As noted previously, 2 Pet 2:20-22 can give us light on this difficult
part of the Word.
it must be noted that the “sin willfully” of v.26 must refer in the context
of Hebrews to apostasy and not just any sin, for surely most, if not all
sin is willful. The resultant statement “no more sacrifice for sin”(a phrase
analogous to the “impossible repentance” of chp 6:4,6), makes this interpretation
sure for it fits the context (cf. v29), the other warnings, and the book
as a whole. We meet people who have, by their “willful sin,” trampled underfoot
the blood of the Son, counting this symbol of the atonement as common (e.g.
unclean, cf. Rom 14:14; Mk 7:2), and despised the Spirit of Grace. The
same is said in chapter 6 (crucifying the Son and shaming Him, shaming
being public, open shame, cf. Matt 1:19, Greek).
is enough to just look at and ponder the weight of verse 39. Those who
cast away their confidence/faith are those who “draw back” and go to perdition
(v39a), for God has no pleasure in them (38b). The writer exhorts these
readers to press on and endure to the saving of the soul (39b,36a, cf.
there be any doubt that holiness is an absolute part of the salvation that
God, having begun, will complete (see Phil 1:6; 1 Thess 5:23,24), Hebrews
12:14 should lay all such doubts to rest. Again we must call to mind the
“impossible ... to renew to repentance” of 6:4-6 and the “no more sacrifice
for sin” of 10:26,27 because they lay the foundation for understanding
the illustration used by the writer of Esau who, although he sought diligently
and with tears the inheritance he had sold away, was rejected and he found
no place with God. This man is the example put before the readers who might
be thinking of leaving off diligence or allowing a root of bitterness to
arise (v. 15). Such would leave them, as in 4:1, short of the grace of
God and the issuance of that grace. The term “rejected” is terribly strong,
always used for the rejection of Christ (see Matt 21:42; Lk 9:22; 17:25
1 Pet 2:4,7).
danger of the book is evident to the end: “Do not refuse Him who speaks”
(v.’25). The word “refuse” (Greek, paraiteomai,
mid. voice) is used in 12:19 as "entreat (KJV)” or “begged (NKJV),” and
is used of an urgent request, in this case turned aside. It is enough that
the writer concludes that God is a consuming fire, an exhortation consistent
with the “shaking” of v. 26,27. We serve God in the gospel, for to refuse
what is true of Christ and the gospel is to “not escape” the wrath of God,
who’s holiness shakes worlds and consumes.