Saturday, May 7, 2011


Karen posted a question about Hebrews 6:4-6 on "Christ in Prophecy," a group site I read on Facebook, and she added, "I don't belong to a church to ask." Sadly, there are about 100,000 churches in the United States, and I doubt that Karen's question could be adequately answered by any. This passage is one that Christians will be debating until Jesus returns. I am not arrogant enough to suggest that I have a definitive answer to Karen's question, but I would like to present a few observations.

1. Whenever the Word of God appears to contradict itself, the problem always lies in the interpretation of the two texts. The source of God's Word, the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:70; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21), being God (Acts 5:3-4), cannot lie (Heb. 6:18).
2. Scripture must always be interpreted by what the entire Bible has to say on a subject. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor. 2:13).
3. Never take one person's opinion on what the text means. The Apostle Peter wrote, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" (2 Pet. 1:20).
4. Every verse in the Bible must be taken in context. Look at what the writer had to say before and after the text in question. Look for connecting words such as "and," "but," "wherefore," therefore," etc.
5. Remember both the writer and those translating the Word may have had a different use of the word than we do today. For example, we all know that the sun does not rise or set, but that the planet rotates on its axis, and a cow is not called a "kind."
6.Figurative language is almost always obvious, and should be interpreted in the same way one would interpret the grammatical form in any other writing. Watch for metaphors, similes, parables, estimates, etc.
7. Always apply a literal interpretation of the text when it is consistent with the context and does not contradict other passages of Scripture. Every prophecy concerning Christ's First Coming was fulfilled literally.

Now concerning Hebrews 6:4-6, the main source of confusion is found in the word "partakers." The Greek word is μετέχω (metechō), which appears four times in Hebrews (3:1 , 14; 6:4; 12:8), and five times in 1 Corinthians (9:10, 12; 10:17, 21, 30), means "to be or become a partaker." There is little doubt that the text is speaking of those who have been born of the Spirit (Jn. 3:3-8). However, an understanding of the word "if" in verse six may help. There are four conditions of the word "if" in the Greek: 1) If (and it is true), 2) If (and it is not true), 3) If (maybe it is and maybe it is not), and 4) If (but it is not). I suggest you chose the one that makes the statement doctrinally consistent.

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