on Hebrews 6 :1
Therefore - Because ye have been so indolent, slow of heart, and have still so many advantages.
Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ - Ceasing to continue in the state of babes, who must be fed with milk - with the lowest doctrines of the Gospel, when ye should be capable of understanding the highest.
Let us go on unto perfection - Let us never rest till we are adult Christians - till we are saved from all sin, and are filled with the spirit and power of Christ.
The words τον της αρχης· του Χριστου λογον might be translated, The discourse of the beginning of Christ, as in the margin; that is, the account of his incarnation, and the different types and ceremonies in the law by which his advent, nature, office, and miracles were pointed out. The whole law of Moses pointed out Christ, as may be seen at large in my comment on the Pentateuch; and therefore the words of the apostle may be understood thus: Leave the law, and come to the Gospel. Cease from Moses, and come to the Messiah.
Let us go on unto perfection. - The original is very emphatic: Επι την τελειοτητα φερωμεθα· Let us be carried on to this perfection. God is ever ready by the power of his Spirit, to carry us forward to every degree of light, life, and love, necessary to prepare us for an eternal weight of glory. There can be little difficulty in attaining the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls from all sin, if God carry us forward to it; and this he will do if we submit to be saved in his own way, and on his own terms. Many make a violent outcry against the doctrine of perfection, i.e. against the heart being cleansed from all sin in this life, and filled with love to God and man, because they judge it to be impossible! Is it too much to say of these that they know neither the Scripture nor the power of God? Surely the Scripture promises the thing; and the power of God can carry us on to the possession of it.
Laying again the foundation of repentance - The phrase νεκρα εργα, dead works, occurs but once more in the sacred writings, and that is in Hebrews 9:14 of this epistle; and in both places it seems to signify such works as deserve death - works of those who were dead in trespasses, and dead in sins; and dead by sentence of the law, because they had by these works broken the law. Repentance may be properly called the foundation of the work of God in the soul of man, because by it we forsake sin, and turn to God to find mercy.
Faith toward God - Is also a foundation, or fundamental principle, without which it is impossible to please God, and without which we cannot be saved. By repentance we feel the need of God's mercy, by faith we find that mercy.
But it is very likely that the apostle refers here to the Levitical law, which, in its painful observances, and awful denunciations of Divine wrath against every breach of that law, was well calculated to produce repentance, and make it a grievous and bitter thing to sin against God. And as to faith in God, that was essentially necessary, in order to see the end of the commandment; for without faith in him who was to come, all that repentance was unavailable, and all ritual observances without profit.
on Hebrews 6 :1
Therefore - "Since, as was stated in the previous chapter, you ought to be capable of comprehending the higher doctrines of religion; since those doctrines are adapted to those who have been for a considerable time professors of Christianity, and have had opportunities of growing in knowledge and grace - as much as strong meat is for those of mature years - leave now the elements of Christian doctrine, and go on to understand its higher mysteries." The idea is, that to those who had so long been acquainted with the way of salvation, the elements of Christianity were no more adapted than milk was for grown persons.
Leaving - Dismissing; intermitting; passing by the consideration of with a view to advance to something higher. The apostle refers to his discussion of the subject, and also to their condition. He wished to go on to the contemplation of higher doctrines, and he desired that they should no longer linger around the mere elements. "Let us advance to a higher state of knowledge than the mere elements of the subject." On the sense of the word "leaving," or quitting with a view to engage in something else, see Matthew 4:20, Matthew 4:22; Matthew 5:24.
The principles - Margin: "The word of the beginning of Christ." Tyndale renders it: "let us leave the doctrine pertaining to the beginning of a Christian man." Coverdale, "let us leave the doctrine pertaining to the beginning of a Christian life." On the word "principles" see the note on Hebrews 5:12. The Greek there, indeed, is not the same as in this place, but the idea is evidently the same. The reference is to what he regarded as the very elements of the Christian doctrine; and the meaning is, "let us no longer linger here. We should go on to higher attainments. We should wholly understand the system. We should discuss and receive its great principles. You have been long enough converted to have understood these; but you linger among the very elementary truths of religion. But you cannot remain here. You must either advance or recede; and if you do not go forward, you will go back into entire apostasy, when it will be impossible to be renewed." The apostle here, therefore, does not refer to his discussion of the points under consideration as the main thing, but to their state as one of danger; and in writing to them he was not content to discuss the elements of religion as being alone suited to their condition, but would have them make higher attainments, and advance to the more elevated principles of the gospel.
Of the doctrine - Literally, "the word" - λόγον logon - "reason, or doctrine of the beginning of Christ." That is, the word or reason that pertains to the elements of his system; the first principles of Christian doctrine.
Of Christ - Which pertain to the Messiah. Either what he taught, or what is taught of him and his religion. Most probably it is the latter - what pertains to the Messiah, or to the Christian revelation. The idea is, that there is a set of truths which may be regarded as lying at the foundation of Christian doctrine, and those truths they had embraced, but had not advanced beyond them.
Let us go on - Let us advance to a higher state of knowledge and holiness. The reference is alike to his discussion of the subject, and to their advancement in piety and in knowledge. He would not linger around these elements in the discussion, nor would he have them linger at the threshold of the Christian doctrines.
Unto perfection - compare the notes on Hebrews 2:10. The word here is used, evidently, to denote an advanced state of Christian knowledge and piety; or the more elevated Christian doctrines, and the holier living to which it was their duty to attain. It does not refer solely to the intention of the apostle to discuss the more elevated doctrines of Christianity, but to" such an advance as would secure them from the danger of apostasy." If it should be said, however, that the word "perfection" is to be understood in the most absolute and unqualified sense, as denoting entire freedom from sin, it may be remarked:
(1) that this does not prove that they ever attained to it, nor should this be adduced as a text to show that such an attainment is ever made. To exhort a man to do a thing - however reasonable - is no proof in itself that it is ever done.
(2) it is proper to exhort Christians to aim at entire perfection. Even if none have ever reached that point on earth, that fact does not make it any the less desirable or proper to aim at it.
(3) there is much in making an honest attempt to be perfectly holy, even though we should not attain to it in this life. No man accomplishes much who does not aim high.
Not laying again the foundation - Not laying down - as one does a foundation for an edifice. The idea is, that they were not to begin and build all this over again. They were not to make it necessary to lay down again the very cornerstones, and the foundations of the edifice, but since these were laid already, they were to go on and build the superstructure and complete the edifice.
Of repentance from dead works - From works that cause death or condemnation; or that have no vitality or life. The reference may be either to those actions which were sinful in their nature, or to those which related to the forms of religion, where there was no spiritual life. This was the character of much of the religion of the Jews; and conversion to the true religion consisted greatly in repentance for having relied on those heartless and hollow forms. It is possible that the apostle referred mainly to these, as he was writing to those who had been Hebrews. When formalists are converted, one of the first and the main exercises of their minds in conversion, consists in deep and genuine sorrow for their dependence on those forms. Religion is life; and irreligion is a state of spiritual death, (compare the notes on Ephesians 2:1), whether it be in open transgression, or in false and hollow forms of religion. The apostle has here stated what is the first element of the Christian religion. It consists in genuine sorrow for sin, and a purpose to turn from it; see the note on Matthew 3:2.
And of faith toward God - see the note on Mark 16:16. This is the second element in the Christian system. Faith is everywhere required in order to salvation, but it is usually faith "in the Lord Jesus" that is spoken of; see Acts 20:21. Here, however, faith "in God" is particularly referred to. But there is no essential difference. It is faith in God in regard to his existence and perfections, and to his plan of saving people. It includes, therefore, faith in his message and messenger, and thus embraces the plan of salvation by the Redeemer. There is but one God - "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and he who believes in the true God believes in him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Author of the plan of redemption, and the Saviour of lost people. No one can believe "in the true God" who does not believe in the Saviour; compare John 5:23; John 17:3. He who supposes that he confides "in any other" God than the Author of the Christian religion, worships a being of the imagination as really as though he bowed down to a block of wood or stone. If Christianity is true, there is no such God as the infidel professes to believe in, any more than the God of the Brahmin has an existence. To believe "in God," therefore, is to believe in him as he "actually exists" - as the true God - the Author of the great plan of salvation by the Redeemer. It is needless to attempt to show that faith in the true God is essential to salvation. How can he be saved who has no "confidence" in the God that made him?
on Hebrews 6 :1
6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ - That is, saying no more of them for the present. Let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works - From open sins, the very first thing to be insisted on. And faith in God - The very next point. So St. Paul in his very first sermon at Lystra, Acts 14:15, Turn from those vanities unto the living God. And when they believed, they were to be baptized with the baptism, not of the Jews, or of John, but of Christ. The next thing was, to lay hands upon them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: after which they were more fully instructed, touching the resurrection, and the general judgment; called eternal, because the sentence then pronounced is irreversible, and the effects of it remain for ever.