Hebrews – The Interpretive Challenge of the Bible
The book of Hebrews is probably the most difficult book of the Bible to Interpret. There are probably as many as six different interpretations. The one that appears to be most popular with those who believe in Eternal Security was the view held by John Calvin which is the “Apostacy view”. John Calvin came up with this interpretation and many since his day have followed it like docile sheep. This view holds that the people addressed in Hebrews 6:4-6 were only professors of faith in Christ but not true believers. This view never appealed to me because it had so many internal contradictions. My college professor in Hebrews held this view. For years it seems that many Bible teachers held this view. The Hebrews 6:4-6 has probably been the major cause for believers to come to the conclusion that a true believer can loss his salvation. I was at a church and a young Trinity Seminarian was teaching the class. He came out and boldly stated that he had come to the conclusion that a true believer could lose his salvation. When I queried him why he had come to this conclusion, he victoriously open his Bible to Hebrews 6:4-6 and exclaimed that this passage clearly proved his point. To which I counter that the rule of Hermeneutics is that a clear passage or clear passages should not be interpreted by obscure passages. At that point I quoted John 10:27-31 which I believe is perfectly clear.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one. John 10:27-30 (KJV)
I stated that this passage was very clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal about the true believer having and retaining permanent Eternal Life. I then mention that both the Father and the Son guarantee permanent Eternal Life in these verses. Since the Hebrews 6:4-6 as well as other passages are not reliable challenges to the clarity of these verses, these verses literally shout and scream the teaching of Eternal Security.
Then I also stated that the Holy Spirit likewise proclaims our Permanent Eternal Security in Ephesians 1:13,14 by his permanent sealing of us.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Eph 1:13-14 (KJV)
At that point many in the class asked for the reference to the verses in John, to which I responded with the reference of both John 10:27-31 and Ephesians 1:13-14. So we have clear statements of the total Trinity securing us.
The view that I hold is that those in the letter of Hebrews were true believers. They were true believers but they were having a serious conflict of their faith because of persecution. My opinion is that Messianic believers were being persecuted because of their perceived disloyalty to Judaism. They were living immediately before the time of destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. In order to avoid persecution from fellow unbelieving Jews, some of the Messianic Jews were possibly returning to Temple worship. In about 9 June 68 A.D. Nero had committed suicide and the Jews were starting their uprising. It was truly an unsettling time. Also, I believe that the Author of Hebrews is mentioning the prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 23:34-39 when he writes in Hebrews 10:24-25. Instead of the Second Coming of Christ he is talking about the upcoming destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Matt 23:34-39 (KJV)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb 10:24-25 (KJV)
There appears to be a parallel passage in I Corinthians 7:26 where the author advises that it is not a good time to marry because of the “present distress”. I believe that the “present distress” is the coming Jewish war about which Josephus writes concerning.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.1 Cor 7:26 (KJV)
Paul clearly states that it is not a good time to marry or take on any major changes.
I have included three articles related to Hebrews which should be helpful:
1) Bibliography: Not loss of Salvation, but loss of Rewards
2) Interpreting Hebrews: Beginning with the Readers
3) Hebrews 6 – An Age-Long Battle Ground!