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Emphatic Negations in Hebrews 6 (introducing verses 9-12)

If you are joining us for the first time, please be sure to read the previous posts in this series:

We are now going to look at Hebrews 6:9-12:

“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

In verse 9, the author of Hebrews begins a response to the readers of his epistle with regard to what he just said in verses 4-8 concerning the very real possibility that there are some who, having professed a belief in Jesus, and even having “been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,” can utterly reject Jesus and turn away from all they experienced, and thus, be as one who does not have a saving relationship with Jesus at all. However, in verses 9-12, it is evident he doesn’t believe this applies to those whom he is sending this epistle to. In discussing this very issue in the previous blogs, I pointed out what I see in this portion of Scripture as a clear reference to the “second soil” described in Luke 8:6 & 13, and, therefore, if you have not read anything before this blog concerning this matter, I strongly encourage you to go back and read what has already been written because I will not be going into detail again on this critically important issue. Just note that the “second soil” represents someone whose relationship with Jesus and experience of the Holy Spirit is an emotionally superficial one that may last for an indefinite period of time, but because this person has no “root,” or a genuinely deep and real born again encounter with Jesus, this person will eventually turn completely away from Jesus.

However, before we begin looking at verse 9 and the other verses in this section, let me first of all say that the reason I attempt to explain as clearly as possible the meaning of the grammatical and syntactical aspects of the Greek of these verses is this: there was a reason God had the Old Testament written in both the Hebrew and Aramaic languages and the New Testament written in the Greek, and that reason was, and is, that all three of these languages contain an inherent wealth of linguistic expression that God chose to use to reveal His living truth; therefore, if He had intended for this truth to be disseminated thoroughly to a lost and dying world for salvation, redemption, healing, and restoration through some other linguistic means, then He would have done so. But He didn’t.

As a young believer at Mississippi State University, I would often hear preachers and teachers come and teach on various subjects and refer to the Greek and Hebrew. And then, I would hear other preachers and teachers deprecate those who attempted to explain more clearly the Word of God using the original languages by saying that knowledge of those languages was totally unnecessary. Interestingly, as you may have guessed, the latter were the ones who didn’t know the languages, and oftentimes, even as a young believer and a ‘meathead’ (i.e., a football player), I would discern that their teaching was lacking and their emphases not fully supported by their reasoning and arguments. Thus, I determined, as we say back home in Mississippi,  to “go to the horse’s mouth” and see firsthand what was being said without being dependent on some other person to make that explanation for me.

Thus, God opened the door for me to learn and become immersed in the original languages of the Old and New Testaments, as well as many of the cognate languages of both texts for the very purpose of more clearly, accurately, and simply communicating His living and abiding truth to nonbelievers who need to come to Christ, and then also to believers that they might grow in Christ to the maturity and discipleship He has called them to. Having said this, therefore, we will now begin to look at Hebrews 6:9-12.

In verse 9, we read, “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.”

The phrase “we are convinced” is a powerful statement in English, but in the Greek, it is really powerful. The actual verb is πεπείσμεθα (pepeismetha), and it comes from the root verb πειθώ (peithō), which means “to come to a particular point of view or course of action.” In addition, in this particular instance, the verb is in the perfect tense, which indicates a completed action with an ongoing and continuous result. It is also in what is called the passive voice, which means that someone or something has caused someone “to come to a particular point of view or course of action.” That is, in the context of this passage, the writer of Hebrews is saying that it was their lifestyle that caused him to be “convinced” that they had genuinely committed their lives to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and are truly born again. When the perfect tense is added, it is emphasizing the fact that the author sees their commitment as a “deep rooted” commitment to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and the result of that commitment is that there is an ongoing and persevering walk with the Lord by means of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

In addition, this ongoing and persevering walk is even in the face of personal failures, mistakes, misdirection, etc., because in the face of and through all of these hindrances, setbacks, and spiritual, mental, intellectual, emotional, and even physical hurdles, these believers have pressed forward in Christ through repentance, brokenness, faith, and daily surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus over their lives, and all of that has in turn produced the visible ‘fruit’ of surrendered lives to Jesus’ Lordship, whereby the author says, “we are convinced of better things concerning you.”

However, the next clause is equally powerful because it buttresses what he just said about being “convinced” of their genuine salvation in Christ when he adds, “and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.” The phrase, “and things that accompany salvation” may literally be written, “and the things that indicate one continuously has salvation.” There are only two Greek words in this phrase, σωτηρίας (sōtērias), which means “salvation,” and the Greek verb, ἐχόμενα (echomena), from the root verb, ἔχω (echō), which means “to have.”

The form of ἐχόμενα (echomena) that is used in this instance is what is called a present, middle, plural, neuter participle, which means the following:

  1. the present tense is indicating an ongoing, continuous action;
  2. the middle voice emphasizes the person or thing as carrying out the action specifically;
  3. plural simply means it is more than one person or thing producing the action;
  4. neuter is not referring to a person as such, but rather aspects or characteristics of whatever is being discussed;
  5. and the participle is what is called a verbal adjective, which means it is describing an active state about a person, thing, or event.

Thus, when we put all of this together, ἐχόμενα (echomena) is describing the continuous inward and outward “things” that manifest one is a genuine, born again believer who has an eternal, forever relationship with Jesus, as Jesus describes in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”

(Stay tuned for more…)