Hebrews 6:1-3 – Leaving Elementary Teachings Behind

Open BibleThe context of the notoriously difficult “falling away” passing in Hebrews 6:4 is critically important.  In Hebrews 6:1-3 the author of Hebrews implies his readers are immature and have failed to grow at an expected pace. They need to “build again” on the foundation and re-learn the basics of the faith. In all of the Jewish Christian literature, there is a struggle to integration Judaism and Christianity. How much of the “old covenant” ought to be brought over to the new faith?  Hebrews 6:1-3 lists six foundational items (three pairs), all of which fit into the Jewish Christian world of the original authors, but need to be considered in the light of the New Covenant.

Repentance from Sin. Both Peter (Acts 2:38) and Paul (Acts 17:30-31, 26:20) preach repentance from sin in the book of Acts. Although turning to God is turning away from sin, the phrase “acts which lead to death” is unique to Hebrews 6:1. It is similar to James 2:17, “dead faith.” The original readers of Hebrews were not pagans converted from a sinful life, but faithful Jews who may have been (from an Old Covenant perspective), not all that sinful. The emphasis is on unproductive works vs. faith. So what exactly needs to be confessed and repented of when one comes to Christ? Perhaps the readers are overly concerned with outlining the exact nature of that repentance rather than repenting and then maturing!

Faith in God. Perhaps this is simply the natural partner of “works which lead to death,” the active sense of repentance. Since the audience is Jewish, it is unlikely that they worshiped idols.  The acts that lead to death and faith in God have to do with their participation in salvation, two sides of the same coin.

Instruction on Baptisms. The word “teaching” here may be an introduction to the final four items since they are all under the heading of “teaching.” This is a fairly difficult exegetical problem; the noun didach'” was used at the end of the first century of a body of instruction on these sorts of things (Didache, for example). That the noun for baptism is plural is a strong indication the readers were still practicing Jewish ceremonial washings in mikvoth.  If this is so, then either this is evidence Jews in Rome practiced ritual purity at a much higher level than we might have thought, or that the book of Hebrews was sent to Jerusalem, where there is clear evidence of mikvoth and ritual washing. In either event, plural “baptisms” likely does not refer to Christian baptism as we understand it, an “initiation ritual.”

Laying on of Hands. Like baptisms, it is tempting to read this in terms of later Christian practice, but “laying on of hands” was practiced in Judaism before it was taken over by Christians (Gen 48:14, Num 27:15-23, Deut 34:9). Since this is paired with baptisms, it is possible that laying on of hands was associated with the beginning of Christian life in the Jewish churches (Cf. Acts 8:16-17, 19:5-7).

Resurrection of the Dead. The final pair in this list are not practices but doctrines which were subject to strong (and perhaps emotional) debates among first century Jews.  One only needs to recall the division between Sadducees and Pharisees to know that the resurrection was a controversial issue (both for Jesus, Mt 22:23-33) and Paul, Acts 23:6).

Eternal Judgment.  A related theological problem in first century Judaism was the final judgment.  If there is a resurrection in the future, what will happen to those who are raised from the dead and condemned?  Is there “eternal torment”?  There are a number of texts from the Second Temple period which describe eternal torment of the unrighteous dead.  2 Enoch and 3 Enoch, for example, seem to indicate that at least some Jews of the first century did think that the dead would face eternal (and sometimes ironic) punishment.

The author does not say these “foundational items” are unimportant, but that these ought to be settled by now to that the readers are ready to move on to more mature doctrines. The “deeper” things in this case is next section of Hebrews, the teaching on Melchizedek and the Tabernacle.  The readers are fretting over foundational issues (who is in/out, details of theology which are not critical), and they are therefore unprepared for the difficulty of the argument which he is about to make.

But more important for the writer of Hebrews, the readers are unprepared for the possibility of persecution. If they have not progressed beyond the first things of the faith, will they be willing and able to endure physical persecution in the near future? Are the mature enough to continue in their faith in Jesus?

It is fairly easy to draw some analogies to Christian maturity in the western church. Although there are some large and wealthy churches, it is possible most members of those congregations have not moved much beyond the basics (an initiation ritual and when to stand for worship, basic teachings or what political party to support). Just as for the audience of Hebrews, when persecution comes, these will not be enough to ensure loyalty to Jesus Christ.

 

 

33 thoughts on “Hebrews 6:1-3 – Leaving Elementary Teachings Behind

  1. I completely agree with the point that the church today is drifting just like the people whom the book of Hebrews was written to. I see Christians today forgetting, or not even realizing, the gravity of the faith they claim to believe in. Our culture and the norms of today make it a difficult walk to follow God and live biblical lives because the age we live in is so comfortable; why hold onto something that doesn’t come easily? In reading Hebrews 12:6, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart,” it is hard for us to relate to being opposed to because most of us do not experience much opposition or persecution. I think that this throws a red flag, we should be going so contrary to culture that we don’t exactly “fit” in, but today’s church is so blended with culture and norms, there is not much difference between the two. I think the author of Hebrews would have spoken some of the same harsh words to today’s culture as he did to the receivers of Hebrews to warn them of not falling away. Our lives should reflect what Karen Jobes said, “one’s initial faith in Jesus Christ for the purification of sins must be the starting point of a lifelong commitment of growth toward spiritual maturity and holiness, persevering in faith even through times of temptation to turn away.”

    • I agree with your perspective on this point. In today’s society it is so difficult to live the biblical lives all of the time. A lot of people like to put their life into different sections and be one person at school, one person at church, on person at work, etc. I know that I am guilty of not always living a biblical life everywhere that I go, and I think that most people will agree that they don’t either. It is something that is hard to do in today’s culture but it needs to happen. In today’s society we are facing different types of persecution and opposition like you had mentioned from Hebrews 12:6. Today’s persecution isn’t the same in this culture as back in the culture that the book of Hebrews addressed. As a Christian, we need to live out our faith in such a way that others can tell that there is something different about us. The moment that we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, transformation needs to take place not only in our hearts and minds, but in our everyday actions and life. We need to live a life worthy of the calling that we have received (Ephesians 4:1). Great post!

  2. I find it interesting that in Hebrews 6, the author calls things such as baptism and judgement elementary teachings, and today we don’t have anywhere near a united teaching on much of anything. Churches today split over trivial things such as music. If baptism is something which every Christian should know and understand as a basic, I can’t imagine what kind of things America would receive in a letter written today. One point that interested me is Hebrew’s emphasis on perseverance. To me this means not only to resist temptation but also to progress in your faith in a way that you don’t remain stagnant. I think if we don’t have endurance and perseverance to fight temptation and progress in faith, maybe we truly weren’t in the race anyways. I also think, however, in terms of the race analogy, we have the ability to give up and forfeit what we have entered. If we are have fallen away and have abandoned what we have been living for, can we again enter the race? I’m not sure but the context of Hebrews 4 was helpful to me because I never knew the warnings were for Christians who were simply immature, but thought that it was rather for true Christians who fell away. It seems to me that the immature Christian is almost lazy, unwilling to persevere, something that Jobes points out is extremely important. Is it possible for someone who is truly dedicated to lose their salvation? Or is the warning for those who were never willing to compete in the first place?

  3. I agree with the statement that basic level teachings are not enough to merit a eternal pass to the kingdom of heaven. These principles shown in your post are definitely important from the Old Testament teachings, but there is infinitely more to know about God and how we are to become more and more like him everyday. As Adam commented on his post above, i agree that immature Christianity consists of a standstill in learning and continuing on in the practices of Christ. Our modern day church services have become so ritualistic, that the congregation can just get caught up in the routine and not notice that there is little to no growth in their own lives because they can only “experience God through the church setting that they are used to.” I feel that this is wrong, and we shouldn’t just rely on what we learn in church to be the only growth we experience in our faith.

  4. I would have to state that this raises some important questions not even just to those first believers but the believers even now still today. Hebrews 6 discusses many things that the average believer knows about but it does the raise the question of do we as believers need to go above and beyond this. Also as the end draws closer it pegs the question even personally if faith is strong enough to endure persecution. I feel that if believers spend a ton of time fretting over little and foundational parts of faith they could miss out on the deeper relationship with Christ that is essential to the beliefs of Christians. I feel sometimes even still the church is battling with foundational issues versus the more important and deeper things that could be taught. I would say that mature Christians can be enough to continue in the faith. Also the mature are the ones who are able to pour into those who are not. We should never stop trying to become more mature in faith no matter the costs holding tight to what the author of Hebrews says.

  5. Christian maturity has been something of a problem in my experience as a Christian. Though i have gone to church my whole life, I haven’t really been a mature Christian for very long. I had a childlike faith for a while and i have been trying to get back to that since i came to college. If maturing into Christian teaching and life is this hard for me, I know that someone who doesn’t have the incorporated life of a Christian like i have will find it difficult to move forward as well. And your point that “big, wealthy” churches are generally where ‘baby’ Christians might be found, i think it applies that any Christian anywhere can be caught up in the flow of legalism and following their parents to church. It is definitely harder, though, for a churchgoer at a megachurch to receive the same pastoral care and maybe Christian fellowship as one who goes to a small church. The problem that holds people back from maturing as Christians has at least something to do with the voices in their lives vying for their attention. To put it the way we learned in theology, if their paradigms of the focus of life doesn’t shift from temporal to eternal, they will hardly grasp the importance of some of these doctrines.

  6. You have mentioned that the original readers of Hebrews needed to build again on the basics and re-learn the foundations of the faith. This lack of growth was very likely a great frustration to the writer; he had hoped to see them teaching the truths of God’s word, but they were still very immature in their understanding (5:12). Karen Jobes speaks of this as a spiritual laziness or malaise that was “stunting the spiritual growth and maturity of these believers” (p. 135).
    Just as you have drawn analogies to the church today, it is easy to see where Christ must have similar hopes and disappointments in the spiritual growth of today’s Christians. He wants us to study His word: Do we still try to understand the truth? He wants us to teach foundational doctrines to others. In doing so, we can gain a much greater understanding of these things and can mature in our faith. The writer of Hebrews wisely encourages diligence, faith and patience (6:11-12). We would be wise to give attention to these basics of the faith as well.

  7. I completely agree with your analysis on some of the megachurch members and how they treat Christianity. Lots of people profess a faith in Christianity but have no idea of anything beyond the basics and as such cannot properly defend the faith or continue to preserve in the faith when persecution happens. It is embarrassing to see the stellar faith and perseverance of the churches in the Middle East or Asia who are under severe persecution. Should the Western Church be brought under the persecution that those churches are undergoing I have the strong belief that many of the chaff within our Western Church would be burned away (Matthew 3:12). Without that chaff though our faith would be made stronger as the crucible of trials would burn away our impurities and leave us as pure as can be (1 Peter 1:7). In order to persevere, Christians need to develop a deeper understanding of our role in God’s creation and use that understanding to develop the perseverance needed to withstand the persecution that the World wishes to deal us. By understanding the building blocks of Christianity, it is possible for a Christian to build up a faith that will stand the test to time, as well as defend the faith. The deeper and firmer a person builds his foundation, the higher and stronger he can build his faith.

    • I agree that some mega churches may have many people who have not moved passed basics, but at the same time they are not the only ones. My freshmen year in College, I went to a church that you could tell they were pretty much not past basic nor probably will ever be. This church was smaller than an average classroom. There were 20 people on a good day. I too feel like sometimes I never passed basic understanding of the Bible to be honest. I am still trying to work on that I feel like. I think there is a difference of being at basic and working on getting past basic, but when going to a mega church I do feel like it is easier to get distracted and fall into not pushing out of basic knowledge. I think that people need to be reminded of why they believe what they do or else they fall into complacency. Without persecution it is easy to become complacent. This then leads to never really diving deeper into your faith past basics. I hear people complain about the persecution we have here in regards to our faith, but it is nothing like how it is over there in the east. I feel like everyone is slowly, but surely becoming complacent in their faith making the persecution easier to spread making it harder to rise back up. It has to be today not tomorrow that we dig deeper into our faith. People need to get past the foundation they built and start getting past the basics of knowledge of their faith or I fear that persecution will spread making it harder to do so in the long run.

  8. It is immensely dangerous to put religious traditions and rituals ahead of everything else that faith involves. There is definitely a sense that many religious people in Jesus’ day worshipped the law over God himself today. I think that today there is also a sense of people who worship the Church and worship themselves more so than they actually worship Christ. It is important to remember that the things you mention (baptism, repentance of sin, laying of hands, etc) are so much more than just an outward show. Rather, we must make certain that our motives and our hearts are aligned with what the actions point towards. Instead of worshipping Church, each other, rituals, or traditions, we need to remember that these things all point to the only thing worthy of worship; God himself.

  9. hello, I agree with you one can not put religious rituals or traditions ahead of the faith, thanks for posting has helped me a lot!

  10. It might be worth noting that the context of 6:1-3 is at least 5:11-14 as indicated by the dio in 6:1 (“therefore”). Also, the word translated as baptisms/washings is not the typical term for baptism. The term is only used four times in the NT and two of those are by the author of Hebrews.

  11. Still being a young Christian it is hard to grasp ahold of the concepts to have a deeper faith, like one that is talked about in this post. Towards the end of the post you state “the readers are unprepared for the possibility of persecution” This can definitely apply today, I know if I were faced with being persecuted I wouldn’t know how to act because I am so small in my faith, would I be so scared and deny my faith, or would I be unashamed of my beliefs and stand up for Jesus? I don’t know what I would do if I were in that situation. In my opinion, large churches are so overwhelming and I think that it is hard to preach to thousands of people deep information, so I think that large mega churches are at a basic level of their faith. That is why small groups are important so you can grow in a family like setting and have people to keep you accountable.

  12. I completely agree with the perspective you’ve taken on the “falling away” of today’s church. The title, “Leaving Elementary Teachings Behind” is fitting for churches to move forward to become deeply rooted. Jobes wrote that a danger is “drifting” from Christ. Drifting“…in Hebrews 2:1 is described as not paying due attention to the message of who Jesus Christ is and what he has achieved” (Jobes, 135). Jobes also said that drifting comes from spiritual laziness and immaturity. Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lazy in showing such devotion. Be on fire with the Spirit. Serve the Lord”. I wonder if the blame is put too heavily on the church. Spiritual immaturity happens from someone not growing in their basic Christian faith and I think that has a lot to do with the spiritual disciplines. If Christians can’t pray, meditate, study the Bible, and grow out of their own desire to be closer to the Lord, then is it really the church that is lacking? Sure, the church could be of blame partially (surface worries such as sound boards and daycare workers), but I think it has a lot to do with the individuals more so in growing in their own walk.

  13. I think that it can be easy to read the Bible and think of the text and only how we relate to the text, and forget the people around us. The first group of people that are to be considered when reading this text are those who want to persecute us. If we are going to be able to stand up to persecutors and answer when they confront us, we have to be prepared with Biblical knowledge. 1 Peter 3:15, a verse that has impacted my life greatly, tells us that we are to be prepared to give an answer, and give it respectfully. So we need to grow beyond the baby steps of Christianity to stand up to religious persecutors. The second group of people to consider reading this passage are those who are not believers, but could be witnessed to and converted to Christianity. If we are unable to answer when they ask, and 1 Peter 3:15 refers to, then how are we going to be able to influence their thoughts about Christianity if we don’t know what we are talking about. Both of these groups of people make it important to mature our faith, as well as the benefits to ourselves of having a deeper relationship with God.

  14. In a modern culture where the answer is “everyone is right if they believe they are”, it is far too easy to stick with newer and more comfortable traditions and ignore the more difficult ones, particularly continually fighting against sin. With many sins so widespread and hard to avoid or ingrained in our culture, it has become easy for us to lessen our desire to fight against sins because “we’ll still be okay” in the long run.

    As Jobes suggests, this can be a dangerous slope directly into apostasy. Being comfortable with passing certain sins and aspects of God can make it easier to eventually pass of God as a concept altogether. Life becomes more about what the person wants rather than what God wants, and God is no longer the true King in the person’s mind. When faced with persecution, the choice becomes obvious: safety is better for the person, and thus it becomes easy to throw away faith. Continually fighting against sin is something that we should never forget to guard ourselves.

  15. I agree with what Dr. Long is saying, in today’s society it is hard to live out authentic, loyal faith to God. I see in the church, school, workplace. When we do not mature in our faith and stay in elementary teaching, I believe we do not see any growth in our lives. There is a stigma of “I’ll be a Christian in front of these people, but live a worldly life with them.” There is no understanding of growth in faith. Using your gifts and talents, and learning more and more about how we need to live a life of being uncomfortable. I think that is a way we can be persecuted, by being too comfortable. Romans 12, explains that perfectly. We are to be transformed and not conformed and allow ourselves to live out the faith, that we are freely given. We are not perfect (holy) in any way, but stiving for it brings us out of our comfort zone, and may allow us to grow out of elementary teaching.

  16. In the first verses of Hebrews 6, we read some advice given to us. John 14:1 tells us to have faith and believe in God, the God of Israel. Now we are challenged to take our faith a step further and have faith in Jesus Christ as our savior of all sinners. Where no sacrifice is needed. We are challenged to leave “elementary doctrine”. Daring us to go deeper into Christian knowledge. Grabbing hold of Christian understanding and maturity beyond such basic “Sunday school” learning. Growing up in the church, we were always discouraged to give the (what we called it was “respuesta escuela dominical”) “Sunday school answer”, which was the easy, basic elementary answers. Teachers always wanted us to go deeper, be vulnerable, real, and knowledgeable. If we stay children in faith, how can we remain faithful in problems, hard decisions, fears, trials, or even persecution? The “American life” is so easy. I didn’t realize how easy it was till I started living here. There are no life or death trials that Christians must face. We have freedom to believe, have faith and attend church every Sunday. Are we elementary Christians? That the biggest question. Jobes says “people living in the Christian era have the advantage of the full story, which is also the final story. How one responds to what God has spoken by the Son determines ones eternal life” (142).

  17. At the beginning of chapter 6 of Hebrews encourages the author is encouraging the Jewish Christians whom he is writing to that they should grow in maturity. The author of Hebrews makes a distinction between the Law and what the Jews of the era believed about it and their new commitment to Christ. The author of Hebrews discusses washings, a common issue among the Jewish population of Jesus day. In fact, Mark 7:3:4 enlightens us as to the extent to which the Jews would wash, especially in the context of eating and cooking. It is no wonder why the author of Hebrews makes it clear that these washings need to be laid aside to bring about maturity. In fact, one could make the argument from the word “instruction” used in 6:2 that the washings did not come about because of the Law, but because of what had been taught by the religious leaders, such as the Pharisees, of the day.
    Hebrews 6:1 talk about how believers should “go on to maturity”. This is a call of exhortation in Hebrews that as Jobes discusses encourages the readers to continue going forward (127). It encourages the reader to strive in a way that brings about maturity through moving beyond the requirements of the Law to a relational aspect that brings us closer to God.
    Through this passage, there is an understanding that either the readers will strive to grow in their relationships with the Lord or they will leave the faith. The author does not give a third option to his readers.

  18. The author of Hebrews seems to be writing to people that are notorious for wanting the whole revelation before they choose to be fully immersed in their decision. The author seems to write about the maturity of faith because there is clearly a lack of faith. It seems like the author of Hebrews is trying to combat a very legalistic group of people. A group of people that are missing the point of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The author writes specifically a call to leave immaturity behind (6:1). They (the author) know that this kind of encouragement, or for lack of a better term “calling out,” needs to be given to these readers. The specific pair of instructions on baptisms and laying on of hands leads to the questioning of legalism. While understanding how difficult it may be to figure out how to go about integrating Judaism and Christianity, the author of Hebrews clearly shows that it is no excuse for “elementary doctrine” (6:1). And has, so far in his sermon, helped lay some foundational concepts for the Jews in strengthening their faith and doctrine. The author clearly feels that these disputes and matters should be long gone by now. The sanctification process is seemingly stagnant when dwelling on the initial foundations or basics of their doctrine.
    This emphasis on doctrine and faith is due to the rise of persecution. If these people do not have a solid faith then apostasy may happen and that is even worse in the eyes of the author of Hebrews (6:4-6). This seems like it could be prevalent in places that lack persecution. A place like America, where there is seemingly little persecution (unless you are in a very liberal place like Seattle for example where the worst persecution may be getting spat on) there is no need for a mature doctrine. Life is easy and as long as “faith” does not get in the way of the life that you live than it is fine, right? What if your faith did get in the way of a comfortable life? The Church in America might not be making disciples as well as it seems like.

  19. Scriptures that contradict the “P” of TULIP like Heb 6:4 are “notoriously difficult” only in that they require enormous contortions by Calvinism in order to make them say something different than they plainly say. Heb 6:4 is not an isolated one-off reference. “P” is dealt with in the parable of the sower in all 3 synoptic gospels. And the parable of the debtor in Matt 18. And James 5:19-20. And Heb 3:12. And Col 1:23. And in several of the stern warnings to the churches in Revelation. And Ez 18.

  20. That is what I am wondering about those who are in faith, will they endure the physical persecution? I have gone to small churches and big churches, seeing people at the service got me thinking if they are listening to the message and are they prepared for the possibility of persecution. I sometimes think the Christians or churches are not taking it seriously. I would take my faith seriously because this is real. We have to be prepared when God comes to get his people. There are other Christians are mature in their faith and may or may not be ready when our final day comes. I know churches are doing their basic teachings with a little about the Bible so they can understand, learn, and grow more in God’s word. That is how it should start off until the children will grow through their adolescent years what they learned in the Bible. There are youths that are going to bible study and are still learning to continue to grow in God’s word. As the youths start to get older when they go to college, they will decide whether they want to continue to grow spiritually to follow God’s path or change their belief or slip away from their faith of what they were taught in Sunday school. There are Christians that had slipped away from their faith because of sin. Sometimes Christians will go back to their faith, or they will not go back to their faith. I guess it depends on what the churches are doing that would make people want to leave.

  21. The book of Hebrews refers to the following as elementary teachings: the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, faith in God, instructions in cleansing rites, the laying of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (6:1-2). Repentance from sin is preached within the book of Acts, but from acts that lead to death’ is unique to Hebrews. A reference to dead faith. Faith in God has to do with participation in salvation. Ritual baptism or cleansing rites is referred to more as ceremonial washing and cleanliness to remain Kosher (clean) so one can enter the presence of God. Baptism in modern times is something very different, as it is viewed as an outward expression of an inward faith, an act of faith someone performs to testify about God.
    The laying of hands was practiced by Judaism before Christians. The laying of hands was usually paired with baptism and seen as the beginning of Christian life within churches. In today’s culture, the laying of hands is an encouragement of protection. This is seen in the book of Acts as the disciples lay their hands on Paul and Barnabas to send them on their way to perform the will of God (Acts 13:2-3). A penitential practice closer to prayer than healing.
    As far as the resurrection of the dead, there was a huge controversy between Pharisees and Sadducees over the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees believed in the entire Old Testament, containing the resurrections performed by Elijah and Elisha, whereas the Sadducees only believed in the first five books of the Old Testament, not containing any stories of resurrection. Speaking of eternal judgment, elementary teaching today has their main goal set to prepare the student for the future. As a student matures through the stages of school, so does a believer move through stages of understanding faith. These stages build a foundation for the believer to stand upon and seek God. The audience of Hebrews appears to be unaware about the coming persecution they are going to face soon for their faith.

  22. It seems to me that the “repentance from sin” and “instruction on baptisms” are two closely connected elementary teachings. In my Bible, the NIV Life Application Study Bible, the “acts that lead to death” has a footnote at the bottom that says, “Or from useless rituals” (2011, p. 2068). This makes me think that some Jewish Christians were still participating in Jewish atonement rituals so they could continue to ease their guilt for sinning. This is a possibility that Jobes discusses in chapter three. Even though Jewish Christians knew that their previous sins were forgiven once and for all, what about sins they committed after they became Christians? There did not seem to be a specific way of repenting or certain “cleansing rites” to do in the same way the Jewish tradition did (Heb 6:2). So perhaps these Jewish Christians had fallen back to their old ways so that they could at least psychologically feel like the sins they committed after their conversion were atoned for. However, these rituals were useless. As Hebrews goes on to say in a few chapters: “it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship” (10:1). These elementary teachings were so closely related because true repentance did not involve the traditional Jewish rituals anymore.

  23. Whenever I read this part of scripture, the leaving behind of elementary teachings, I can’t help but think about some of the churches in our culture today. Specifically, the “celebrity churches” where the preaching is mostly eisegetical and pretty surface level. Though, for some new believers, that is the kind of content that they might need, but what I’ve witnessed with these churches’ messages is that they do not go deeper than that, they continue being fed milk rather than solid food. With the audience of Hebrews, it appears that they have not gone beyond the milk teachings. Paul says to the Corinthians that they were not ready or mature spiritually for solid food teachings; he thought it unhelpful and dangerous to give them more advanced teachings (1 Cor 3:2, ESVSB). But at the same time, the less spiritually mature they are, the greater the likelihood they are to fall away (Jobes). Just as the parable of the Sower talks about the one who sowed his seeds on rocky ground – he hears the word and receives it joyfully, but because there is no root or foundation or maturity, when persecution comes, he falls away (Matt 13:20).

  24. The title of this post was what originally captured my attention. I think it was so interesting to think about elementary teachings. When thinking about the Bible, I never thought about the fact that some teachings are simpler than others. While it may seem obvious as we get older, we understand more, so it is likely the depth at which we understand things is greater. However, this idea that we don’t always grasp the greater meaning is interesting. Knowing that the author is writing to the Jewish Chiristians with the intention of encouraging them to remain strong in their faith (ESVSB, 2008, 2358), adds to this notion of finding deeper understanding in the lessons.

    Adding to the idea of the author of Hebrews’ purpose and the idea of chrisitanity in the western church, there are so many similarities. Often today there are so many christians functioning at the surface level, rather than feeding into the desire to dig deeper. There is persecution of chrisitans all around the world still to this day, yet there are so many that take our freedom for granted. Getting to understand these “foundational items” at a deeper level is an opportunity we and the reader’s of Hebrews have been awarded, yet don’t see the value in.

  25. Understanding the New Covenant as a Jewish-Christian who had also lived under the Old Covenant during the first century, must have been very difficult to believe, follow, and comprehend. The author of Hebrews is writing to help the audience understand that there is a higher calling, new meanings, to the faith than what they had previously known. As Long discussed in this blog post, many were confused on what repentance in Christ looked like and how that applied to a Jewish Christian’s daily living. As there was no more need for a sacrificial system, realizing that repentance was in the heart and not just done by acts or deeds was probably difficult to understand. I also found it very interesting that for Jews, the sacraments of baptism or the act of laying on of hands was not a totally new concept but rather an old. For me, as I am in Jewish-Christian literature, it is important to read the words of the author of Hebrew through a Jewish-Christian lens. Although these practices were not fairly new, it was like coming out of the Old Covenant into the New. This was just one more thing that God changed in the New Covenant that might’ve been hard to fully grasp and accept with a receptive heart.

  26. I think that the idea of the fact that we are immature in our readings and the pace in which we study is slow compared to the past is simply untrue, and my argument for this is the fact that everybody who studies Christ and the bible take things and interprets things at their own pace. I know for myself that I didn’t even read or understand Christianity until I was in High School, and some people spend their whole lives not knowing who Christ or God is. I think that we must cover the elementary teachings that is said in Hebrew 1 and take that as a foundation on the journey toward knowing and living Christ, and then as we carry on into our studies we dive more deep into what verses mean and how each person can interpret them in our own voices. God has no time card of when we should be experts in what he has said in the bible, as long as we are faithful in our readings and prayers and we know the elementary teachings we are tought in the bible. I think the basic elementary teachings are the most important aspect in growing in our relationship in Christ. Something that the author says that bounces off the concept of what im saying is Christ’s sustaining role of the Universe might be a fruitful meditation” (Page 165)

  27. It was very important for the original readers and also the modern audience to heed this warning. Repentance from sin is something talked about in the Bible all the time, we see the Israelites repenting and sin cycle, we see Jesus as the ultimate salvation from sin. But as Christians we are still called to repent from sin and follow a Godly life. Something almost scary from the author is the idea of eternal judgment, the author meant to warn the audience about ignoring Jesus’ death and resurrection and that it means eternal judgment. The author calls the readers out by saying that they should know these simple truths by now and should not need reminding, and yet they do need it. Jobes talks about the importance of the Son of God being fully man and fully human and how the author found this topic very important for setting up Christ as the Great High Priest.

  28. I don’t believe this passage will every cease in being relevant in any time period. What happens here is that these believers are apathetic to the progression of maturity in faith. We can easily relate this to what we see in many churches and christians today. The lack of growing in knowledge and truth, while holding on to simple theological discussions that aren’t moving them any further in their relationship with God. The author of Hebrews is trying to point them to a greater truth, of Jesus Christ and a New covenant that he has establish, yet their lack of maturity has caused it to be difficulty to understand. The difference I see is that these believers still had theological discussions they were wrestling with that the author of hebrews encourages to get figured out so they can discuss the more important things that are at hand. What I see today though is that some churches haven’t even tasted the milk. The things that the Author of Hebrews wanted to discuss with the audience aren’t even on the next line of progression for most people today. While we might want to jump to the deeper, more grown up things that the author of Hebrews encourages his readers to discuss, we can’t miss the point that he makes that they need to “build again” the foundations and re-learn the basics of faith. How can we handle the solid food if we haven’t been feed milk yet? What I hope to take from this and to share is that we need to have a solid foundation of our belief so we can continue to grow in maturity, and as we grow we continue to move forward and not become apathetic to what we are learning.

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