The Warning Passages in Hebrews Part 3: The Thorn-Infested Ground in Hebrews 6:4-12 -- By: Thomas Kem Oberholtzer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 145:579 (Jul 1988)
Article: The Warning Passages in Hebrews Part 3: The Thorn-Infested Ground in Hebrews 6:4-12
Author: Thomas Kem Oberholtzer


The Warning Passages in Hebrews
Part 3:
The Thorn-Infested Ground in Hebrews 6:4-12

Thomas Kem Oberholtzer

Pastor
Victoria Bible Church, Victoria, Texas

The third warning in the Book of Hebrews is in 5:11–6:12 —a passage infamous for its interpretive problems. The various theological perspectives on this portion of God’s Word are as numerous as any in the New Testament.

The eschatological section of the passage is found in 6:7–8 in the illustration of the soil, rain, fruit, and thorns. Even a casual reading of the passage reveals that a judgment is in view. It is the thesis of this article that the judgment is of true believers, in which disobedience may result in divine discipline in this life and in loss of future rewards in the millennium. The passage motivates Christians to live according to Scripture and to experience life to the fullest in the present and in the coming kingdom.

The Relationship of Hebrews 5:11-6:3 to 6:4-12

Hebrews 5:1–10 discusses Christ’s qualifications to be a high priest, since His priesthood comes not from the Aaronic line but from the order of Melchizedek. Following a brief introduction concerning Melchizedek, the author shifted his discussion to the warning of 5:11–6:12 .1 The readers’ spiritual dullness and immaturity might

cause them to misapprehend the truth about Melchizedek.2

Hebrews 5:11–14 rebukes the spiritual immaturity of the readers and their failure to apply the principles of the Word of God to discern good and evil. The readers obviously had been exposed to the teaching of doctrine for an extended period of time (διὰ τον̀ χρόνον, “because of the time,” v. 12), yet they had failed to mature in their faith.3 They should have matured to the point of being teachers but instead they needed τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς (“the elementary principles”). These principles were the ABCs of the revelation that had come through Christ (1:1),4 which would include His teachings on the coming kingdom (...

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