on Hebrews 6 :20
Whither the forerunner - The word προδρομος, prodromos, does not merely signify one that goes or runs before another, but also one who shows the way, he who first does a particular thing; also the first fruits. So in the Septuagint, Isaiah 28:4, προδρομος συκου signifies the first fruits of the fig tree, or the first ripe figs.
To this meaning of the word Pliny refers, Hist. Nat., lib. xvi., c. 26: Ficus et praecoces habet, quas Athenis Prodromos (προδρομος), vocant. "The fig tree produces some figs which are ripe before the rest, and these are called by the Athenians prodromos, forerunner." The word is interpreted in the same way by Hesychius; it occurs in no other part of the New Testament, but may be found in Ecclus. 12:8, and in Isaiah 28:4, quoted above from the Septuagint. From this we may at once perceive the meaning of the phrase: Jesus is the first fruits of human nature that has entered into the heavenly kingdom; the first human body that was ripe for glory, and ripe long before the rest of the children who are partakers of flesh and blood. And he is entered for us, as the first fruits of all who have found redemption in his blood. Compare John 14:2 (note); 1 Corinthians 15:20 (note), 1 Corinthians 15:23 (note); and the notes there.
The metaphorical allusion is to the person who carries the anchor within the pier head, because there is not yet water sufficient to carry the ship in; and to this I have already referred.
After the order of Melchisedec - After a long digression the apostle resumes his explanation of Psalm 110:4, which he had produced, Hebrews 5:6, Hebrews 5:10, in order to prove the permanency of the high priesthood of Christ.
1. We have in this chapter a very solemn warning against backsliding and apostasy, and that negligence and sloth which are their forerunners. A man cannot be careless about God and heaven, till he has lost his relish for sacred things; and this relish he cannot lose while he is diligent and faithful. The slightest departure from truth and purity may ultimately lead to a denying, and even reviling, of the Lord who bought him.
2. Every obedient believer in Christ Jesus has both the oath and promise of God that he will make all grace abound towards him, for in blessing God will bless him; he may be greatly agitated and distressed, but, while he continues in the obedience of faith, he will ride out the storm. His anchor is within the veil while his heart is right with God. Jesus is gone before to prepare a place for him; and where the first fruits are, there will soon be the whole lump. He who perseveres unto death shall as surely see God as Jesus Christ now does. God's oath and promise cannot fail.
on Hebrews 6 :20
Whither - To which most holy place - heaven.
The forerunner - The word used here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. A "forerunner" - πρόδρομος prodromos - is one who goes before others to prepare the way. The word is applied to light troops sent forward as scouts; Diod. Sic. 17, 17; compare "Wisdom of Solomon" (apoc) 12:8. "Thou didst send wasps, forerunners of thy host, to destroy them by little and little." The meaning here is, that Jesus went first into the heavenly sanctuary. He led the way. He has gone there on our account, to prepare a place for us; John 14:3. Having such a friend and advocate there, we should be firm in the hope of eternal life, and amidst the storms and tempests around us, we should be calm.
Made an high priest forever - see the notes on Hebrews 5:6, Hebrews 5:10. To illustrate this fact, was the object for which this discussion was introduced, and which had been interrupted by the remarks occurring in this chapter on the danger of apostasy. Having warned them of this danger, and exhorted them to go on to make the highest attainments possible in the divine life, the apostle resumes the discussion respecting Melchizedek, and makes the remarks which he intended to make respecting this remarkable man; see Hebrews 5:11.
1. We should aim at perfection in order that we may have evidence of piety; Hebrews 6:1. No man can be a Christian who does not do this, or who does not desire to be perfect as God is perfect. No one can be a Christian who is "satisfied" or "contented" to remain in sin; or who would not "prefer" to be made at once as holy as an angel - as the Lord Jesus - as God.
2. We should aim at perfection in order to make great attainments; Hebrews 6:1. No man makes any great advance in anything, who does not set his standard high. Men usually accomplish about what they expect to accomplish, If a man expects to be a quack physician, he becomes such; if he is satisfied to be a fourth-rate lawyer, he becomes such; if he is willing to be an indifferent mechanic, he advances no higher; if he has no intention or expectation of being a firstrate farmer, he will never become one. If he sincerely aims, however, to excel, he usually accomplishes his object. And it is so in religion. If a man does not intend to be an eminent Christian, he may be certain he never will be. Religion is not produced by chance - any more than fine fruit is, or than a good harvest is. One of the principal reasons why President Edwards became so eminent a Christian, was, that in early life he adopted the following resolution, to which he appears always to have adhered, that "on the supposition that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true lustre, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part, and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, To act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time." Life, by S. E. Dwight, D. D., p. 72.
3. We should aim to acquire as much "knowledge" of religious truth as we possibly can; Hebrews 6:1-2. True piety is "principle." It is not fancy, or dreaming, or visions, or enthusiasm. It is based on knowledge, and does not go "beyond" that. No man has any more religion than he has "knowledge" of the way of salvation. He cannot force his religion to overstep the bounds of his knowledge; for "ignorance" contributes nothing to devotion. There may be knowledge where there is no piety; but there can be no true religion where there is no knowledge. If, therefore, a Christian wishes to make advances, he must gain a knowledge of the truth. He must understand the great doctrines of his religion. And in like manner, if we wish the next generation to be intelligent and solid Christians, we must train them up to "understand" the Bible.
4. The consequences of the judgment will be eternal; Hebrews 6:2. No truth is more solemn than this. It is this which makes the prospect of the judgment so awful. If the consequences of the sentence were to continue for a few years, or ages, or centuries only, it would be of much less importance. But who can abide the thought of "eternal judgment?" Of an "eternal sentence?" Here the most fearful and solemn sentence is for a short period. The sentence will soon expire; or it is mitigated by the hope of a change. Pain here is brief. Disgrace, and sorrow, and heaviness of heart, and all the woes that man can inflict, soon come to an end. There is an outer limit of suffering, and no severity of a sentence, no ingenuity of man, can prolong it far. The man disgraced, and whose life is a burden, will soon die. On the cheeks of the solitary prisoner, doomed to the dungeon for life, a "mortal paleness" will soon settle down, and the comforts of an approaching release by death may soothe the anguish of his sad heart.
The rack of torture cheats itself of its own purpose, and the exhausted sufferer is released. "The excess (of grief,) makes it soon mortal." But in the world of future woe the sentence will never expire; and death will never come to relieve the sufferer. I may ask, then, of my reader, Are you prepared for the "eternal" sentence? Are you ready to hear a doom pronounced which can never be changed? Would you be willing to have God judge you just as you are, and pronounce such a sentence as ought to be pronounced now, and have the assurance that it would be eternal? You seek worldly honor. Would you be willing to be doomed "always" to seek that? You aspire after wealth. Would you be willing to be doomed to aspire after that "always?" You seek pleasure - in the frivolous and giddy world. Would you be willing to be doomed "always" to seek after that? You have no religion; perhaps desire to have none. Yet would you be willing to be doomed to be always without religion? You are a stranger to the God that made you. Would you be willing to be sentenced to be "always" a stranger to God? You indulge in passion, pride, envy, sensuality. Would you be willing to be sentenced always to the raging of these passions and lusts? How few are they who would be willing to have an "eternal" sentence passed on them, or to be doomed to pursue their present employments, or to cherish their present opinions for ever! How few who would "dare" to meet a sentence which should be in strict accordance with what was "just," and which was never to change!
5. With the righteous it should be matter of rejoicing that the judgment is to be eternal; Hebrews 6:2. They can desire no change of the sentence which will assign them to heaven; and it will be no small part of the joy of the heavenly world, that the results of the judgment will be everlasting. There will be no further trial; no reversing of the sentence; no withdrawing of the crown of glory. The righteous are the only ones who have not reason to dread a "just eternal sentence;" and they will rejoice when the time shall come which will fix their doom forever.
6. We should dread apostasy from the true religion; Hebrews 6:4. We should habitually feel that if we should deny our Lord, and reject his religion, there would be no hope. The die would be cast; and we must then perish for ever. By this solemn consideration God intends to preserve his people, and it is a consideration which has been so effectual that there is not the least reason to suppose that anyone who has ever had any true religion, has fallen away and perished. Many have been "almost" Christians, and have then turned back to perdition Matthew 7:2, Matthew 7:23; Acts 26:28, but there is no reason to suppose that any who have been true Christians have thus apostatized and been lost. Yet Christians are not kept without watchfulness; they cannot be kept without the most sincere and constant endeavors to preserve themselves from failing.
7. If the sin of apostasy is so great, then every approach to it is dangerous; and then every sin should be avoided. He that habitually indulges in sin "cannot" be a Christian; and every sin which a sincere Christian commits should be measured by the guilt which "would" exist should it become final, and should he wholly fall away. No man can indulge in sin and be safe; and no professed Christian who finds himself disposed to indulge in sin, should cherish the expectation of reaching heaven; Hebrews 6:4-6.
8. It is a matter of devout gratitude that God "has" kept all his true people from apostasy; Hebrews 6:4-6. If it is true that no one who has been regenerated has ever fallen away; if the means which God has used have been effectual in a world so full of temptations, and when we have hearts so prone to evil; and if it is the intention of God to keep all to eternal salvation who are truly converted, then it should be to us a subject of devout thankfulness and of encouragement. In view of this, we should admire the wisdom of the plan which thus secures salvation; we should look to him with the firm assurance that he "will keep" what we have committed to him to the final day.
9. We should improve the privileges which we enjoy so as to receive a blessing from God; Hebrews 6:7-8. It is desirable that a farm should be well cultivated so as not to be overrun with briars and thorns; desirable that it should produce an abundant harvest, and not exhibit mere barrenness and desolation. Yet, alas, there are many professing Christians who resemble such a field of thorns, and such a scene of desolation. They produce no fruits of righteousness; they do nothing to extend the kingdom of the Redeemer! What can such expect but the "curse" of God? What can the end of such be but to be "burned?"
on Hebrews 6 :20
6:20 A forerunner uses to be less in dignity than those that are to follow him. But it is not so here; for Christ who is gone before us is infinitely superior to us. What an honour is it to believers, to have so glorious a forerunner, now appearing in the presence of God for them.