What does Hebrews 6:4-6 mean?

I just read this passage:

Hebrews 6:4-6
“For it is impossible for those who were once enoightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

To me, this sounds at first reading that it’s saying that Christians who willfully sin cannot come back to a state of grace. But I know that that’s against Church teaching, so what am I missing? Here is another passage in Hebrews that troubles me for the same reason:

Hebrews 10:26-27
“for if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

Thanks!

…purgatory? maybe?

“Tasted of the heavenly gift” is a reference to Eucharist. They have been baptized, and partaken of the Eucharist.

This passage is about the “unforgivable sin”. Unless we trust in Christ for salvation, there is no other name under heaven by which we may be saved. Those who have been incorporated with Him in baptism and Eucharist are sealed with the Holy Spirit. A person may stray from Him, but if they fail to return before death, they remain separated eternally.

This is a reference to apostasy - denying Christ. The Church was heavily persecuted for the first 300 years, and those who denied Him were considered lost.

Matthew 10:33 “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

No, this is final impenitence. Anyone can be absolved if they repent and confess, but those who persist in denial until their death cannot.

A person who returns to a lifestyle of sin and godlessness cannot expect any salvation. These verses must be understood in balance with other verses.

1 John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

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Excellent answer.

Hope this helps.

God bless.

Cathoholic

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Forgiveness and salvation are offered until death. Is there a sin more powerful than God? To die in our sins is eternal sin but I don’t think this is addressed in this passage…

I think this is addressed to the Jews? It is pointing out the fact that to reject the Gospel that does forgive sins and then return to the Old Covenant that can’t forgive sins, then who is going to forgive your sins because their isn’t going to be another sacrifice for them.

again,
I think this passage is about rejecting the real thing and returning to the shadow. If one can taste the the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and receive God in as much as can be received., then return to wait for the messiah again, there is no more sacrifice for sin.

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Are there any clues from the passage I’m missing that connote final impenitence? Your answer is a good one, I’m just struggling to see the “final” part.

Thanks!!

@Cathoholic I will take a look! Thanks!

This would make sense.

The clue for me is that in neither passage is there mention of the sinner repenting, or even desiring to repent.

Heb. 6:4-6 “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh
One who repeatedly [“afresh”] willfully sin and deny Christ)

Heb. 10:26-27 “if we sin willfully…”
Note that this is not past tense (“if we have sinned”). Rather it’s like a deliberate choice (willful) to continue to sin - a willful present and ongoing state of mind and heart.

In the state so described, repentance is absent because they (the sinner/s) will it to be. Thus, as long as they remain in that state, there can be no forgiveness (“impossible … to renew them again” Hebrews 6 passage).

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No, it follows a few chapters later:

Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment,

Catholics do not extract the doctrines of the faith from single passages, as many Protestants do. We understand the Scriptures as a whole, and read them in the light of the faith that was passed down to us from those who penned the words.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

2 Peter 2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

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The key phrase in this passage is ‘fall away’. Notice, it does not merely say ‘those who [fall]’. Because, in Proverbs, “The just man falls seven times a day”. - St Thomas Aquinas

Those who sin, even mortally before death, have not fallen away from final repentance into eternal apostasy. The fallen angels and those who die in mortal sin, have fallen away eternally; and, if those were given a second chance, especially the Baptized who have tasted the living waters and Body and Blood of Our Lord, it would be as if they were re-crucifying the Son of God again.

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Agatha_Sicily. . .

Are there any clues from the passage . . . that connote final impenitence?

Yes Agatha_Sicily there are.

The “final” part is because the Greek word denotes “persistence” in their sin.

So persistence in that sin carried out . . . right through their judgment . . . . illustates the final impenitence.

This is a great question Agatha_Sicily.

(I will expound more on my answer in the next post too.)

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HEBREWS 6:4-6 4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.

If we throw in the language key to the text it becomes more clear:

HEBREWS 6:6 6 if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify (AND KEEP CRUCIFYING or “anastaurountas”) the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.

.

Parenthetical addition above mine.

.

Hebrews 6:4-6 describes people who are unrepentant and REMAIN unrepentant of their sin.

Hebrews 6:4-6 is specifically describing the people who KEEP CRUCIFYING Jesus. (They remian obstinate in their sin).

This passage is describing people who NOT ONLY apostatize or “fall away” (parapesontas), . . . .
. . . . but CONTINUE to apostatize (or continue to crucify or anastaurountas the Lord within their flesh).

This implies they are unrepentant.

It is NOT IMPOSSIBLE to bring back someone who is in apostasy (with grace).

But it IS IMPOSSIBLE to bring back someone who is in apostasy (with grace),
if he CONTINUES
to refuse that grace of repentance and thus CONTINUES in his apostasy.

HEBREWS 6:6 6 if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.

.

So it is POSSIBLE to
restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened,
who have tasted the heavenly gift, and
have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
if they then committed apostasy,
but repent of their apostasy.

.

But it IS IMPOSSIBLE to
restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened,
who have tasted the heavenly gift, and
have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
if they then committed apostasy,
but refuse to repent of that apostasy (CONTINUE to commit apostasy) CONTINUING anew or anastaurountas or crucify afresh Christ in their flesh even unto their death.

And they “on their own account” impugn the Truth.

The second scenario here is what Hebrews 6:4-6 alludes to.

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Thank you! This does clear it up. God bless!

Hi, Agatha!

These passages are speaking to those instances when a Believer rejects the Faith.

We know from Scriptures that it is impossible for man to remain holy:

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(1 St. John 1)

So while the Call is to Be (become) Holy; it does not mean that we are. It is the reason why Jesus insisted that the Apostles must remain in Him so that He may Remain in them:

3 Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. (St. John 15)

Now, when a Believer apostatizes he/she is rejecting what was Revealed to him/her:

If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. 17 The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. (St. John 14)

And here how it works:

6 But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him. (Hebrews 11)
26 If any man minister to me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour. (St. John 12)
3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, saith Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost. (1 Corinthians 12)
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in this serveth Christ, pleaseth God, and is approved of men. 19 Therefore let us follow after the things that are of peace; and keep the things that are of edification one towards another. (Romans 14)

When anyone apostatizes he/she is rejecting that Relationship with God which hinges upon the Holy Spirit:

30 He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. 31 Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. (St. Matthew 12)

Rejection of God’s Gift means rejection of the only means to Salvation: God’s Salvific Plan.

Maran atha!

Angel

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To me, it speaks of the line drawn between mortal and venial sin…once we have heard the truth, accepted the truth, and lived the truth, we cannot abandon it.

While those who have not heard the Gospel, or have not had it explained to enough detail for them to accept it as truth, cannot enter into mortal sin, because they are incapable of knowing an act, of even grave matter, is wrong, and therefore cannot willfully enter into sin.

But, those of us who have been well catechized cannot use that excuse.

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The problem with this understanding is that it ignores that it is speaking to those who have had Received the Gift; atheists and unbelievers cannot Receive the Holy Spirit; it is impossible for them to gain knowledge of God since only through Faith is He Revealed.

Maran atha!

Angel

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Well, not quite…

Not receiving the holy spirit is not damning…receiving and abandoning is…there, as Church teaching dictates that not all athiests and nonbelievers will not be saved.

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For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. Rom. 1

God has created every human soul with sufficient capacity to know Him through human conscience and through His Creation. These are evidences of prevenient grace.

Actually, not!

A person who refuses to Receive the Holy Spirit (not accepting God’s Call) cannot Believe because it is impossible for man to initiate Faith:

1 And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: 2 Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. 4 For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: 5 And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying: My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him. 6 For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct? 8 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are made partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12)

Man wants full autonomy–he wants to set his own rules and boundaries. The Holy Spirits Compels us to turn to God–to submit humbly to His Authority; alas, man cannot abide by such demands so he grieves the Holy Spirit rejecting Salvation (St. John 3:14-21; Ephesians 4:1-32; St. James 4:1-17; St. John 14:15-17).

When Believers reject God’s Salvific Plan it is impossible to bring them back to the Fold since no amount of preaching, teaching or urging can compel them to give up the apostasy which they have embraced.

The unbelievers, in their ignorance, still have the possibility of converting:

12 For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But all do not obey the gospel. For Isaias saith: Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ. 18 But I say: Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the whole world. 19 But I say: Hath not Israel known? First, Moses saith: I will provoke you to jealousy by that which is not a nation; by a foolish nation I will anger you. 20 But Isaias is bold, and saith: I was found by them that did not seek me: I appeared openly to them that asked not after me. 21 But to Israel he saith: All the day long have I spread my hands to a people that believeth not, and contradicteth me. (Romans 10)

Maran atha!

Angel

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