Amazing Grace: A Question about Hebrews 6

The same correspondent asked about this passage —

(Heb 6:1-8 ESV) Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,  2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  3 And this we will do if God permits.

4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,  5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,  6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.  8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

She asks,

Do these phrases in bold imply maturity or do they mean at the point someone becomes a Christian? Even though I was baptized at age 10 (and again at 19) it has only been in the last few years that I feel like I’ve actually done those things.  Does that make sense? Verse 1 even talks about maturity. 

I’m persuaded that the author of Hebrews is addressing all saved people, not just the mature. I’ll explain why shortly. But he is only speaking of those who have fallen away (v. 6), and someone has only fallen away if he is no longer able to repent (v. 6). Therefore, if someone repents, he has never fallen away.

Let’s trace how the author uses these various concepts.


(Heb 10:32-33 ESV)  32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,  33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.

The author sure seems to use “enlightened” in the sense of “saved.” After all, persecutions don’t wait until you’re mature!

Heavenly Gift

(Heb 3:1-2 ESV) Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,  2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.

The  Greek word used for “gift” is not used anywhere else in Hebrews, but “heavenly” appears several times, usually to refer to something literally in heaven. The only other use prior Heb 3:1, where he refers to our “heavenly calling,” which is shared by all saved people. Many commentators would take “gift” to refer to the “gift of the Holy Spirit” from Acts 2:38, but it seems more likely to me that he’s referring to the calling.

Either way, he is referring to something all Christians have, not just the mature.

Holy Spirit

As a rule, Christians receive the Spirit at baptism, as taught in Acts 2:38. All Christians have the Spirit (Rom 8:9-11).

It’s deeply tragic that many in the Churches of Christ have long denied the indwelling of the Spirit, but Hebrews is written on the assumption that the readers are better educated in the elementary things of God.

The goodness of the word of God

Obviously, all Christians have heard the word of God.

The powers of the age to come

“Powers” can refer to miracles, as in Heb 2:4, but I’m not sure I see how speaking in tongues, prophecy, or healing are tied to the “age to come.” Therefore, I see the sense as more like —

(Heb 7:15-16 ESV) 15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,  16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.

The “age to come” is the new heavens and new earth. The power of that age is the power of the resurrection, the power to escape destruction. Hence, I think the author is referring to the hope we find in Jesus’ resurrection, the power given by the Spirit to survive death, to be resurrected, and to live forever with God.

Either way, the reference is to all Christians, not just the mature. After all, in Acts, we see miraculous powers given to people as they arise from the baptistry!

Hebrews 10:26-31

Notice how closely Heb 6:4-6 parallels —

(Heb 10:26-31 ESV)  26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

There’s an obvious parallel between Heb 6:5 “they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” and 10:29 “one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant.” Both speak of sinning against the Spirit. “Knowledge of the truth” in 10:16 parallels “tasted the goodness of the word of God” in 6:5.

Therefore, I’m persuaded that Heb 6:4-6 refers to any Christian who falls away so as to be unwilling to repent or, equivalently, to deliberately go on sinning.

The passage also teaches us what it’s supposed to be like for a new convert. Any convert should have been taught about these things — about the Spirit, about the gospel, the powers granted by God, and about the serious danger of falling away.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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4 Responses to Amazing Grace: A Question about Hebrews 6

  1. Joe Baggett says:

    Maybe I am misunderstanding the readers question, but it seems that the context of her question may be different than was interpreted. It is important that the reader asks the question about spiritual maturity. She states that she was baptized twice, once at the age of 10 and once at the age of 19. You would be surprised at how many in our fellowship are re-immersed. Multiple dunkings shows how messed up we have taught the plan of salvation. This shows first that we don’t really require any maturity at baptism. If the kid can spell baptism and answer the confession we dunk them. Then when they get older and reach another level of maturity we dunk them again. Then like the reader in this post it is not until quarter or even mid life that a true life of prayer, repentance and maturity begins. First of all we must learn that it is not the physical act of baptism that saves us but the pledge of a good conscience toward God, as it states in I Peter 3:21. By grace through faith you are saved. People must come to actual faith not just a confession or some subscription to a list of doctrines. We should probably require a little more spiritual maturity before we dunk them. The idea that God is going to send a child to Hell because they haven’t been dunked by the age of say 12 or so is wrong! Physical dunking is not an insurance policy that we stick in the desk drawer for safe keeping until the day Christ returns. I would reassure the reader of the validity of her baptism and then also reassure her that just because she started her spiritual process of maturity and probably really turned her heart toward God in the recent years as she states, that God is faithful.

  2. John says:

    Joe, you have some good points, but I stop short of requiring a “demonstrable maturity level” before baptizing.

    Let me suggest, at the risk of causing much consternation, something similar to “Confirmation”. Now, I said similar. Meaning that children who have been baptized are put through classes teaching them a better understanding of what they went though and what it means as they mature. Also, in these classes they are reassured of their place in Christ . At the end of these classes they would stand before the congregation and would be given the assurance by their brothers and sisters of their place in God’s family.

    Some of you can take a breath now.

  3. Randall says:

    Above the author said the following:
    I’m persuaded that the author of Hebrews is addressing all saved people, not just the mature. I’ll explain why shortly. But he is only speaking of those who have fallen away (v. 6), and someone has only fallen away if he is no longer able to repent (v. 6). Therefore, if someone repents, he has never fallen away.

    Does this sound like it might be circular logic?

    The author also said the following:
    As a rule, Christians receive the Spirit at baptism, as taught in Acts 2:38.

    By all means let’s make Acts 2:38 normative for everything. It would be un-Church of Christ like to follow any other path.

  4. Jay Guin says:


    Heb 6:4-6 raises the question of who has the Spirit. The answer — universally acknowledged except in the Churches of Christ — is all saved people and only saved people. This is clear from many passages, not just Acts 2:38 but also —

    <blockquote(Rom 8:9-11 ESV) 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    Therefore, when the author of Heb 6:4-6 refers to those who “ave shared in the Holy Spirit” (Heb 6:4 ESV), the natural reading is he is referring to all Christians.

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