1/10/16 Hebrews 6:13-20 “We have strong consolation in God who cannot lie”

After looking at where this whole argument in Hebrews is leading, it becomes clear that a major discussion point found throughout Hebrews deals with the problem of apostasy. Apostasy is defined as the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle. Synonyms include renunciation of belief, abandonment of belief, recantation. The word “apostasy” comes from the Greek word ἀποστασία apostasia – a falling away; defection; apostasy. It is used only twice, translated as (a) to forsake (Acts 21:21), and (b) falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

2 Thessalonians 2:3Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;


Hebrews exhorts us to “hold fast” (3 times), and 2 more times (to “hold” and “hold upon”). We are also warned about falling away, plus many other references to what would happen if we did indeed fail to hold on, that is, fall away, or let slip what we should be keeping a hold onto (Hebrews 2:1).


However, concerning the free will we might have in holding on to our salvation is shown clearly in Hebrews 10:26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge (epignosis) of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, where the word “wilfully” means “voluntarily; willingly; of one’s own accord; to sin wilfully as opposed to sins committed inconsiderately, and from ignorance or from weakness.”

Note also that word “knowledge” (epignosis) which has the idea of knowledge being focused upon a particular point of understanding, and is used by Peter to demonstrate a saving knowledge in Christ Jesus.

2 Peter 1:2 – the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord

2 Peter 1:3 – the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue

2 Peter 1:8 – the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

2 Peter 2:20 – the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ


Thus, in Hebrews 10:26, the writer is declaring that if we sin of our own free will after we have received a knowledge of the Saviour, Jesus Christ, then there is no more sacrifice that can be offered as a free gift. What all people are offered is the free gift of salvation from the one perfect sacrifice, and if that were not sufficient, then no further sacrifice can better that perfect sacrifice already offered for all sins. No further sacrifice can be more sufficient than the one already offered freely to all.


It is clear that the sin spoken of here defines a falling away, an apostasy, and that it is by an act of the will of man to choose such. Also, such a free will choice, once made, cannot be reversed, nor can the free gift be claimed a second time unto salvation. Thus, the lack of sufficiency can only result from a failure to fully accept such salvation in the first place. That is, such people have let slip their salvation (Hebrews 2:1), rejecting it because the world offered them a better “salvation” than the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. They have rejected the pearl of great value for the lusts of this world.


Hebrews 6:13-1413 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.


Genesis 22:16-1816 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son]: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Surely – assuredly; most certainly.

Genesis 22:16, in saying “have sworn” is probably relating to the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.


The strength of a promise is in what it is sworn by. Eg, if you swear by promising something of little value if you should break it, then the promise is of little value. The greatest promise is the one that will cost the most if you should break it. And God’s name is of infinite value to God Himself. There is none greater, none at all! If God should break His promise, then the integrity of His great name is at stake.

Isaiah 42:8I [am] the Lord: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Philippians 2:9-119 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; 11 And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Isaiah 45:23I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth [in] righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.


Even if God should swear by heaven and earth, because they will perish, so might His promise. Only by swearing by that which is eternal and unchangeable (that is, by God Himself), can we have a promise which is as enduring and unbreakable.


Thus, God’s promise to bless Abraham and multiply his descendants was as eternal as His own eternalness. This is why Israel will never be cast aside forever, because God has sworn to bless and multiply them with a promise that is as enduring as Himself. And, even if Romans makes the point that there’s a difference between the physical descendants and the spiritual descendants of Abraham, nevertheless, Romans also says that Israel will be returned to God’s favour after the times of the Gentiles (the Church) have been fulfilled.

Romans 11:25-2725 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.


Hebrews 6:15And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.


After Abraham had patiently endured what would have been trials and testings, he was granted the outcome of the promise made to him by God. The promise here would have been at least partially realised during his lifetime, through Isaac, but the major part of this promise would still have been accepted by faith by Abraham as yet to come.

Hebrews 11:12-1312 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, [so many] as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.


Hebrews 6:16For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation [is] to them an end of all strife.


So often we hear of people claiming that they are speaking the truth, such as being innocent of a crime, backing it up with a statement that says that God knows they are innocent: “As God is my witness!” they might claim. Most of these people don’t have a clue concerning the One by whom they are swearing, and many also are probably actually guilty. Others swear by another, usually influential, person, claiming their acquaintanceship to be their bond of truth or innocence. Such people might know someone higher up who can twist a few arms or otherwise apply pressure to ensure that their truth will be accepted. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know that so often makes the difference.


Often people will make seemingly extravagant claims as to the truth (eg evolution) and attempt to back it up by claiming the support of a supposedly absolutely reliable and knowledgeable source. Such statements are supposed to settle the issue, that if a great scientist says something is so, then it must be so. That is, it “is to them an end of all strife”. By swearing an oath by a greater one, you are trying to make your argument stronger and thus more unassailable. The one with the greatest “expert” is therefore the winner of the argument; he/she has put an end to the argument (strife).  


And, if you can claim God to be on your side, then you have sworn the ultimate oath. Of course, it doesn’t always seem to matter if God has agreed to this swearing; note how many nations have gone to war claiming that God was on their side!


Hebrews 6:17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed [it] by an oath:


heirs of promise – literally “heirs of the promise” which was made to Abraham. Here, in the context of 6:18 these heirs are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, that is, Christians.

immutability – not transposed, not to be transferred, fixed, unalterable

counsel – counsel; purpose


In this fashion, God wanted to give the most abundant assurances to Christians of the unchangeability of His purpose or intentions for them, so He confirmed this by the swearing of an oath. If oaths are sworn by one greater than the person making the oath, then God cannot swear by any greater than Himself, so He must by logic swear by Himself, thus this is the greatest of all promises. God is guaranteeing by His own oath that His promises to His people are unchangeable.

This relates to the unchangeability of God in

Hebrews 13:8Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Malachi 3:6aFor I [am] the Lord, I change not;


Hebrews 6:18That by two immutable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:


We have two unchangeable things, the promise and the oath. God’s promises are sure, and He backs this up by swearing an oath guaranteed by Himself. God can neither lie in His promise, nor can He lie in His oath.

Expositor’s commentaryIt is impossible for God to break His promise, impossible also for him to falsify His oath.

Numbers 23:19God [is] not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?


consolationparaklesis (exhortation; admonition; encouragement; consolation; comfort; solace) Note that the Holy Spirit is called parakletos – “Comforter” but probably more correctly used as “Advocate” for Jesus Christ in 1 John 2:1.

strong – strong; violent; forcibly uttered; firm; sure. It suggests the hard blows of a mighty man upon his enemy.


Thus we (Christians) who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope in the promises that God has set before us should be strongly comforted or encouraged by the strength of God’s truth. Titus says that the hope is of eternal life.

Titus 1:2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;


Also, once again, Christians are depicted as laying hold upon the hope set before us, that is, something which we must grasp hold of, and thus something presumably we shouldn’t let go of, such as letting it slip from our grasp because presumably we weren’t paying attention.


Hebrews 6:19Which [hope] we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;


It is that same hope of eternal life that we have laid hold of that anchors our soul in safe harbour, that is, our Sabbath rest as already discussed in Hebrews 4:9. The writer regularly encourages us to seek to enter that Sabbath rest by holding fast to that hope or, as in the following, to labour to enter that rest.

Hebrews 4:9, 11a9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest,


The anchor (which is dealt with in more detail in Vs 20) is both sure (certain, true) and stedfast (stable, firm) and is placed within the veil, that is, within the Holy of Holies. That veil separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

Exodus 26:33-3433 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy [place] and the most holy. 34 And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy [place].


It was that same veil that was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died, thus opening up the way for others to follow.

Matthew 27:51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Hebrews 10:19-2019 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;


This anchor, based as it is upon the unchangeability of both the promise and the oath, is as sure and stedfast as the One who has made both promise and oath, the One who has already entered in behind the veil ahead of us – the forerunner. “captain” in the following has the idea of one who goes ahead, leading by example.

Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.


Hebrews 6:20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, [even] Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.


C. Stanford D.D.The idea appears to be this: — A ship shattered with" the battle and the breeze," at length gets near the port; but owing to the shallow waters, or the sweeping tempest, or the temporary prohibition of the authorities on shore, she is not permitted at once to enter the harbour. The sailors then heave out the sheet-anchor, and by means of the boat it is carried within the royal lock; and though the ship cannot herself get in, she is thus prevented from being drifted away into the deep sea. To enter into that within the veil, is to enter within the harbour of eternal repose — this may not at present be permitted, but we may cast our anchor there, and meanwhile wait in safety here. To convey the whole of the idea which the apostle has in view, two images are combined. Let us forget the nautical allusion, and think only on the image which is borrowed from the Temple. "The veil" is that which divides earth and heaven; and our anchor "entereth into that which is within the veil."


Here Jesus is pictured as that sure and stedfast anchor of our souls, One who has already entered into that safe harbour behind the veil (which may be seen as the eternal world that we may not see because it is presently hidden behind the veil).

2 Corinthians 4:18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.


Jesus is not only the Author (Leader; Captain – Hebrews 2:10 – One who leads by example) of our salvation, but the Finisher (Perfector; Completor) also.

Hebrews 12:1-2a1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith;

Although note that Hebrews 12:2 really reads “the Author and Finisher of faith” – “the” isn’t in the original.


And being made a high priest after the order of Melchizedek brings this section of Hebrews back to where it started, with the admonition that they (the listeners) were being told great truths (concerning Christ who was a priest after the order of Melchizedek) that they were not understanding because they were “dull of hearing”.

Hebrews 5:9-119 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. 11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.


We have spent the past three lessons looking at the problems associated with a possible falling away if they remain at the new-born stage of being a Christian (“the first principles of the oracles of God” – Hebrews 5:12). It is clear that many of the listeners to this epistle may have been shallow in their understanding, remaining so because they probably lacked the deeper teachings that would be able to take them on toward perfection and away from the danger zone where they were greatly at risk of falling away again (and thus never to be renewed again unto repentance). The writer has now warned them of their shallow understanding and its possible consequences, and the need to understand more fully the great extent of their salvation.

Hebrews 2:3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];


They now need to understand that God’s sure promises are backed up by His absolute oath, that nothing has changed since they first believed. What they believed regarding God’s promises then still applies to them later on. Salvation has been assured and guaranteed. Why should they want to fall away?


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