Hebrews 6:1-3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 13, 2021 2 comments

by Katie Erickson

“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, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.” -Hebrews 6:1-3

Last week in Hebrews 5:11-14, we discussed the concepts of elementary teachings and maturity. There, the author addressed his audience as not yet being ready for spiritual food but still immature and in need of milk, so we may expect that “milk” is what he’ll give us here. But, that’s not the case! He helps them move toward maturity by giving them some “solid food” teaching.

This passage begins with a concise summary of what we are called to do: “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity” (verse 1). We are not called to stand still in our faith but to move forward toward maturity. He considers “repentance from acts that lead to death” as elementary teaching; don’t lay that foundation again, but move beyond it. We still need that foundation of repenting from our sin as the basis for our mature faith, but to be a mature believer, we should have already accepted, understood, and applied that concept in our lives.

“Faith in God” is also considered elementary teaching, not because it’s not important because it is the most foundational aspect of being a follower of Jesus Christ. This means more than simply acknowledging that there is a God; it means living our lives in a manner that shows we trust Him in all things. We as Christians often stress “faith in Jesus” whereas the author of Hebrews calls out “faith in God,” but since Jesus is God, this is emphasizing that we need to be having a personal relationship with all of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The word “instruction” at the beginning of verse 2 begins a new part of the author’s list. The Greek word that the NIV translates as “cleansing rites” is the word for baptism. But it’s plural here, which indicates that it’s referring to other purification ceremonies and not Christian baptism. Jews had a variety of purification ceremonies in their practices, as did many religions of the day. Therefore, one elementary teaching for people to become Christians would be to learn the distinction between Christian baptism and all those other purification ceremonies.

Next, we see “the laying on of hands.” This was a common practice in that era. This act was often associated with the commissioning of a person for some new adventure. We see it illustrated in Scripture with laying hands on new converts (Acts 8:15-17) and laying hands on Timothy by the leaders (1 Timothy 4:14) and by Paul (2 Timothy 1:6). A new believer would have likely been prayed over with the laying on of hands when they came to faith in God, and so this would have been a foundational concept for them.

The final two topics of this list, “the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment” go together. These are a reminder that this life is not all we will ever experience. While we will die a physical death in this body, that is not the end; we will be raised to life again because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will all be judged one day for our actions in this life, and our eternity will be based on that judgment. One foundational reason to have faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus is so that our eternal judgment is that we spend eternity in heaven with Him and not separated from God in hell. This, too, was elementary teaching of coming to faith in God.

Verse 3 concludes this section: “And God permitting, we will do so.” This verse expresses two things. First, the believers were determined to help new believers move beyond these elementary teachings and into maturity. Second, it is only with the help of God that they can do this. All of this is impossible without God’s involvement in it. We can be as determined as ever to become mature in our faith, but it is impossible for us to do this on our own without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The author of Hebrews and his audience realized this, and the author wanted to affirm this before moving on in his letter.

So, the list of elementary teachings is: repenting from our sin, having faith in God, and being instructed regarding cleansing rites/baptism, the laying on of hands, and resurrection and eternal life. Where are you at on these elementary teachings of the faith? Do you believe all of them? Have you received instruction on them and feel like you grasp them all well?

If you don’t feel like you’ve grasped these well, then perhaps you’re still at the “milk” stage of your faith. That’s perfectly ok! Don’t let anyone look down on you because of where you’re at in your faith; we all have to start somewhere! The important thing is to recognize where you’re at and take the appropriate steps to move forward toward maturity. Talk to your pastor or a spiritual mentor (and if you don’t have one, find one) and ask for instruction wherever you feel weak in these areas.

If you have grasped these foundational concepts, then you may be ready for “solid food” in your faith. Don’t feel like you have “arrived” because of this; even at the “solid food” stage, we all have more growing to do! No one will ever reach full Christian maturity while on this earth, but we can all strive to become as mature as we are able. The important thing is to keep moving forward and growing in your faith. Make sure you are continuing to receive instruction that helps you to grow and mature.

This week, take stock of where you’re at in your faith, and I encourage you to take whatever steps are needed for you to grow just a little bit more. God permitting, we will do so!

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gss said...

Good explanation Katie. Illuminating. I can feel myself maturing in my faith and understanding, and am so humbled by it. I really love your book "The Romans Journey". Just read the chapter called God's Promise and for the first time understood that God's covenant with Abraham was totally based on faith in our TRIUNE God. I hadn't quite grasped that befored. I thank God for you and the insights that you provide to me and to others. Praise God.

Katie said...

Thank you so much! :) I appreciate you reading my posts and my books, and I'm so glad I can be a part of your growing in your faith!