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The Danger of Falling Away


Any serious student of the Word knows that there are some “hard sayings” in the Bible. Sometimes the meaning of a passage is not clear; sometimes the meaning is troubling and difficult to apply. Still others, like our passage today about the danger of falling away, are hard in both ways.

Nevertheless, several important lessons still emerge quite clearly. First, Scripture highlights the danger of an ignorance of God’s Word. Although the author of Hebrews wants to delve deeper into truths about Christ, the community has become “dull of hearing,” as one translation puts it (5:11, ESV). They are still drinking spiritual milk and not eating solid food. As a result, they are unable to teach others and unable to “distinguish good from evil” (5:14). Knowledge of God’s Word would allow them to move “beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity” (6:1).

Second, Scripture warns about the danger of rejecting God. As the passage makes clear, the issue was not merely slacking off in the spiritual life but something much more serious. The author is warning against the influence of people who had seemingly been part of the body of Christ and known the blessing of God’s gifts, word, and power but were now actively rejecting Christ and the gospel. They were “crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (6:6). They are “in danger of being cursed” by God (6:8). While they remained in such a state of active rebellion against God, it would be “impossible” (6:4) to repent.

The pastoral application of today’s passage may be challenging, but one thing is clear: willful rejection of Christ in one’s life is a serious matter.

Apply the Word

Studying Scripture is the antidote to the danger of falling away from God. A mature Christian life requires more than a few favorite Bible verses; we need solid food! In addition to your daily study, consider joining a local Bible study or listening to biblically focused preaching on Christian radio or online.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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