Hebrews 6:4-6 and the Peril of Apostasy -- By: Philip Edgcumbe Hughes

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 35:2 (Winter 1973)
Article: Hebrews 6:4-6 and the Peril of Apostasy
Author: Philip Edgcumbe Hughes

Hebrews 6:4-6 and the Peril of Apostasy

Philip Edgcumbe Hughes

In the Epistle to the Hebrews there are repeated warnings against the danger of falling away into apostasy, expressed variously in terms of drifting away from what we have heard, careless unconcern for the great salvation that is ours in Christ (2:1–3), the development of an evil, unbelieving heart causing one to fall away from the living God, being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and failing to hold our first confidence in Christ firm to the end (3:12–14), being excluded by disobedience from the rest promised to the people of God (4:1, 6, 11), sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth and thereby facing a fearful prospect of judgment (10:26f, 31), abandoning the Christian struggle because of hardship and affliction (12:1, 3, 7, 12f, 16f), rejecting Him who warns from heaven (12:25, 29), and being led away by diverse and strange teachings (13:9). But nowhere are the readers more strikingly admonished of this peril by which they are threatened than in chapter 6:4–6, where the author solemnly declares that

it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the words of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt,

and in chapter 10:29, where in similar manner he speaks of the dreadful punishment that will be deserved by

the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace.1

It is plain that the author’s concern is not simply lest his readers

should remain at a standstill on th...

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