Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
These opening words for chapter 6 call the readers to a higher level of living. It is time for them to move beyond the elementary teachings and go on to maturity. They evidently had just a basic understanding about Christ. They had just started the journey but had not gone any further in their faith. Like are like the ancient Israelites camped at the border of the promised land. They had not given themselves totally in consecration to God but were wanted to keep some of their old life. The danger for them is that it was too easy to fall back into the old life of sin. They needed to step out in faith and follow through in obedience to claim God’s promises. They were not mature in their faith.
The author lists some of the things that were tempting them. “The foundation of repentance” marks the entry into God’s kingdom signified by leaving behind the life of sin and embracing the new life in Christ. The “acts that lead to death” clearly refers to sins, although the author does not list what these are here. It is noteworthy also that this is first in the list as the most basic need in entering a new life. Repentance should be followed by “faith in God.” We turn from sin and turn to God. “Instruction about cleansing rites” suggests a possible Jewish background for the readers. These rites are described in Leviticus. Other religions have these types of rites also. Baptism could be interpreted as a cleansing rite as it symbolizes the washing away of sin. The “laying on of hands” was done with ordination or commissioning. It was also done as part of prayer. If the sequence of this list is Christian, then this might represent those who are called to specialized ministry in the local church, such as what Timothy experienced with the laying on of hands. “Resurrection of the dead” is another key Christian doctrine. The author may be thinking of the whole sequence of the Christian life. “Eternal judgment” is the last experience we have before eternity. The author wants the readers and himself not to get caught up in the debates about these things but in the being in relationship that comes through faith.
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