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The next phrase in Hebrews 6:6 is crucial in understanding what is being described here, and that is, “since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.” The verbs “crucify” and “put to open shame” are both present, active participles, indicating an ongoing and continuous action – ἀνασταυροῦντας (anastaurountas – “crucifying”) and παραδειγματίζοντας (paradeigmatizontas – “putting to an open shame”). Thus, in this last phrase, what we have being described is an ongoing, continuous lifestyle of someone who is constantly and indefatigably renouncing, denying, and mocking Christ in an incessant manner.
Therefore, as we put all of this together, what we have is the following explanation of what is being stated in Hebrews 6:4-6:
- The verbs in verses 4-5 – φωτισθέντας (phōtisthentas – “enlightened”), γευσαμένους (geusamenous – “tasted”), and γενηθέντας (genēthentas – “have been made”) – all indicate an action that occurred, but there is no hint of how long the “enlightenment, taste, and being made” actually occurred. That is, it could have been for an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade, etc., because there are not adjectival or adverbial modifiers attached to indicate a time frame.
- All of these participles are in a concessive mode, indicating the ultimate result or consequence of some action that has brought about the Ἀδύνατον γὰρ (adunaton gar – “for it is impossible”) adjective to be used and applied to this situation.
- The situation being described here is that of an individual who has “been enlightened, tasted of the heavenly gift, the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and been made a partaker of the Holy Spirit,” and then “they have fallen away,” continually and indefatigably renouncing, denying, and mocking Christ in an incessant manner.
- The consequence of all this occurring is that “it is impossible (Ἀδύνατον γὰρ – adunaton gar)” to “continually renew” such a person to a rear, genuine, and life-changing “repentance (μετάνοιαν – metanoian)” because they are continually and incessantly “crucifying (ἀνασταυροῦντας (anastaurountas) and putting to an open shame (παραδειγματίζοντας – paradeigmatizontas) the Son of God.”
- Thus, what we have presented here is not a true, born again believer who has backsliden into a compromising situation with some type of sin, but who is also constantly believing in and trusting Jesus as His Savior while under the constant conviction of the Holy Spirit concerning his sin, and with whom God is dealing through His loving “discipline” as already mentioned in Hebrews 12:10-11, but rather what we have is someone who is exhibiting a lifestyle of an absolute and constant denial of Jesus in every way as his or her Lord and Savior, with no pretense of any conviction of his or her sin as being wrong and a need for μετάνοια (metanoia), versus μεταμέλομαι (metamelomai). In addition, the word for “fallen away,” παραπεσόντας (parapesontas), in Hebrews 6:6 is made up of two Greek words: the Greek preposition, παρά (para), which means “from, as a marker of an extension away from something”; and the Greek verb πίπτω (piptō), which means “to move with relative rapidity in a downward direction so as to collapse and fall to pieces.” Together, therefore, the root verb παραπίπτω (parapiptō) means “to fail to follow through on a commitment, thus, to fall away.” In this instance, παραπεσόντας (parapesontas) is also an aorist participle, but unlike the three other verbs used in Hebrews 6:4-5 that were aorist – φωτισθέντας (phōtisthentas – “enlightened”), γευσαμένους (geusamenous – “tasted”), and γενηθέντας (genēthentas – “have been made”) – παραπεσόντας (parapesontas) does have an adverbial time element associated with it, and that is the Greek adverb πάλιν (palin), which means “to repeat in the same manner as was previously done in a time past, thus, again, once more, and anew.” Consequently, it is saying that for those who “have been enlightened, tasted, and been made a partaker of the Holy Spirit” at some point in the past, “after they have fallen away” from any pretense of believing in or following Jesus at a subsequent point of time, “it is impossible to continue to renew them again to μετάνοια (metanoia), or true, genuine, and permanent repentance.”
However, the question that presents itself to us is this:
Just how could such a person “have been enlightened, tasted, and been made a partaker of the Holy Spirit” and turn away from the Lord in such an all inclusive manner?
The answer to that question is found in the “Parable of the Sower”
And when a great multitude were coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: 5 “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road; and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 And other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it out. 8 And other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 And His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable might be. 10 And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, in order that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12 And those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.
In this famous parable, Jesus is comparing the four soil types to four types of individuals who hear the Gospel.
The first soil
The first soil described in 8:5 & 11-12 are those individuals who hear the Word, but “then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they may not believe and be saved.” Thus, these people never make any type of commitment at all, but as the saying goes, what they heard “went in one ear and out the other,” and Satan is the one who is facilitating their disinterest in the Word.
The second soil
The second soil, however, is quite different, as described in 8:6 & 13: “And other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. . . . And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” Agronomically, due to the rocky soil, the roots of this plant were not able to penetrate through to the alluvial soil whereby the plant could retain water and nutrients necessary for its survival and growth. Thus, as the sun came out, the plant eventually “withered away” and died “because it had no moisture.” Metaphorically, therefore, Jesus says these are the individuals who “when they hear, receive the word with joy.” In other words, there is apparently a great emotional response to their “receiving the word” of the Gospel, and others can obviously see it, giving the impression that these individuals have truly committed their lives to following Jesus as their Lord and Savior. However, Jesus then makes an important statement about these individuals and says, “and these have no firm root.” The word “firm” is in italics because it is not in the original Greek text, but it is put in there as implied by the text. Thus, what Jesus is saying is that these people who “receive the word with joy,” and apparently great emotional fervor, in truth “have no root (i.e., any real ‘spiritual depth’)” at all with their inward commitment.
There is something very interesting and noteworthy in this verse: the word “have” in the Greek is ἔχουσιν (echousin), and it is in the present tense. This actually indicates a continuous and ongoing state. Thus, “they continually have no root” of any real, genuine, and permanent commitment to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Indeed, these are the same individuals described in Hebrews 6:4-5, “who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,” but—once again—there was “no root” of a true and born again commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Of course, there is consequence of this counterfeit “root” in their commitment to Jesus: “they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.”
The word for “believe” here in the Greek is πιστεύουσιν(pisteuousin), and it too is in the present tense, indicating an ongoing and continuous belief. Yes, there is an emotionally superficial appearance that is “for a while.” The Greek translated for “a while” is καιρὸν (kairon), and in this instance it means “a period of time that is limited and not permanent.” Thus, these individuals “continue to believe for a period of time,” which could be for a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade, a quarter of a century, etc., but “in time of temptation fall away.” This in turn coincides with what we described about the aorist verbs in Hebrews 6:4-5 – φωτισθέντας (phōtisthentas – “enlightened”), γευσαμένους (geusamenous – “tasted”), and γενηθέντας (genēthentas – “have been made”) – that they simply state that something happened without making any reference to the time allotted for their being “enlightened, having tasted, and having been made.” Thus, in Hebrews 6:4-5, these people too “were enlightened, tasted, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit” at a point in time, just as the individuals of the second soil in Luke 8:6 & 13. However, just as with the emotional, superficial belief of those in Luke 8:6 & 13, whose belief was temporary “for a while,” so too with the temporary and emotionally superficial belief of those described in Hebrews 6:4-5 – it was not permanent, but simply happened for an undetermined period of time, and then “they fell away.”
“Fall away” in Luke 8 is different than “fall away” in Hebrews 6
The Greek word for “fall away” in Luke 8:13, however, is different from παραπίπτω (parapiptō), “fall away,” in Hebrews 6:6. In Luke 8:13, it is ἀφίστανται (aphistantai), but it is also, like παραπίπτω (parapiptō), made up of two Greek words: ἀπό (apo), which is a preposition. And like παρά (para), it indicates a “a marker to indicate separation from a place, whether person or thing, from, or away from”; the Greek verb, ἵστημι (histēmi), which means “to cause to be in a place or position, to set, place, bring, and allow to come.” Thus, together it means “to cause someone to move from a reference point, to cause to revolt, go away, and withdraw.” What is also important with ἀφίστανται (aphistantai) in this instance is that it is in the present tense and middle voice, with the present tense indicating a continuous, ongoing action of “revolting and going away” from Jesus, and the middle voice in this instance emphasizes the fact that “they are choosing to continually revolt and turn themselves away from Jesus of their own accord,” and it is because of some form of “temptation” they have encountered.
The actual Greek word for “temptation” is πειρασμός (peirasmos), and it means “a trial, test, or temptation and enticement to sin.” Thus, for those who “have no root” in Jesus of a true, genuine, and eternal relationship with Him as their Lord and Savior, either because of some external trial or tragedy in their lives, or through some sin and failure in their own lives, “they continually revolt and turn away from Jesus,” versus coming to the end of themselves and trusting in Him implicitly in their intense trial, or coming to Him in brokenness over their sin and failure, confessing, repenting, and turning from their sin unto Him in His loving restoration and discipline.
—–to be continued—-
Are you enjoying this series? Finding it helpful? We hope so!
Stay tuned for next week, when Justin walks us through the next two soil types.