The Warning of Hebrews Six -- By: Rodney J. Decker

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 05:2 (Fall 2001)
Article: The Warning of Hebrews Six
Author: Rodney J. Decker

The Warning of Hebrews Six

Rodney J. Decker

Associate Professor Of Greek And New Testament
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania


On one thing most commentators are agreed concerning Hebrews 6—it is a difficult passage. Theological problems abound as do proposed solutions. An answer that will persuade all or even most students of this text will probably never be written. Every explanation offered faces problems. In a real sense the interpreter selects the solution that offers the fewest problems rather than the one that has the clear dominance of support. Theological positions established elsewhere in Scripture will largely dictate which options any particular interpreter will consider as viable explanations. Even granting this, however, an honest interpreter must admit that there is more than one defensible position.

The following paragraphs will set the passage in its context, summarize the major alternatives that have been offered, evaluate key exegetical issues, and propose a tentative answer that both accounts for the details of the text with minimal problems and also correlates with the original setting of the letter. Detailed evaluation of each proposed solution will not be attempted, though several key weaknesses will be identified at various points. Nor will a detailed exegetical defense be offered at every point. At some junctures it will be necessary to suggest the conclusion that has been reached but only point to other studies that have established the exegetical basis for the position. No attempt has been made to survey all the exegetical literature available. Instead major discussions have been selected as representative of the most common conservative positions.

Analysis Of The Argument Of Hebrews 5:11-6:12

The crux of the passage under consideration, 6:4–8, occurs in the larger section of 5:11–6:12. The parameters of this literary unit are identified by the inclusio framed by νωθροί in 5:11 and again in

6:12.1 The passage is in four parts, structured around the hortatory subjunctive, φερώμεθα (“let us go on”), in 6:1.

The initial section, 5:11–14, sets forth introductory observations r...

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