Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hebrews Warning Passages: What Do They Mean?

Tonight, I start You Asked For It, my summer Q&A series, with my youth group. We'll get things started by tackling a question submitted by one of my students about how to approach the Biblical passages about falling away. We're going to dive in headfirst to one of the more difficult such passages - the warning of Hebrews 5-6. I'll post a summary of the lesson tomorrow to give you my take, but I'd be curious to hear from any of you on how you approach this text.


Kenny Montano said...

My contention is that this warning passage, along with the others, is written to converted Hebrews who are stuck in the doctrines and rituals of Judaism. I think the writer is trying to tell them to stop relaying that which is foundational to the gospel (OT ceremonial washings, scapegoat and ritual laying on of hands, OT doctrine of the resurrection, and the eternal judgment. They are to stop relaying this foundation and see how Christ fulfilled all of those things...move from shadow to substance. This is why the writer must make this excursus from talking about the priesthood of Melchisedec and press them towards maturity.

I don't believe these passages make sense apart from being to actual Christians and I don't think they have anything to do with losing one's salvation, but are a warning against slipping back into the rituals and shadow of the OT thereby ignoring Christ's fulfillment of them - "If they shall fall away [back into the OT ritual], to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." We can't get saved again, so we shouldn't revert to the time before Christs coming for that would suggest he needed to be crucified again because we are still stuck in the OT ritual and shadow.

D.J. Williams said...

Well, as you can see from the post now, I took it a different way. I'm very persuaded by MacArthur's argument that the author is addressing on-the-fence Jews here rather than actual Christians. What contextually points you in the other direction?