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Question and Answer

Doesn’t Hebrews 6:1–8 teach loss of salvation? 

This challenging passage seems to say that believers can fall away. When they reject faith, they re-crucify and shame the Lord Jesus, and it is impossible for them to be renewed to repentance (Heb. 6:4–6).

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers in Jesus who had begun to experience persecution for their faith. Some were considering abandoning their faith and returning to Judaism without Jesus. The warnings are given to let them know that the mark of genuine salvation is endurance in the faith (Heb. 3:6, 14).

The elementary teaching they are to leave is not the foundational principles of the Christian faith but the Old Testament preparation for that faith. One of the phrases used to describe that foundation is “cleansing rites” (6:2), referring to Old Testament ritual washings (although it is sometimes mistranslated “baptisms”). They are told to press on to “maturity” (6:1), a word better translated as “perfection,” referring to the standing believers receive when they trust in Jesus.

The writer fears they understood Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy but did not necessarily comprehend His spiritual provision (see 2 Peter 2:20–22). Maybe they had “tasted the heavenly gift,” meaning they had experienced the Holy Spirit’s conviction but not His indwelling (see Matt. 27:34). Possibly they tasted God’s Word and God’s power because of their presence in the community of faith but not by personal experience.

These doubters must consider whether they were genuine in their faith in Jesus, and if not, they must put their trust in Him (Heb. 6:4–6). Moreover, the author is convinced that, once considered, they will recognize their own genuineness of faith: “Dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation” (Heb. 6:9).

BY Dr. Michael Rydelnik

Dr. Michael Rydelnik is professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute and the Bible teacher on Moody Radio’s Open Line, answering listener Bible questions on over 200 stations nationwide across Moody Radio. The son of Holocaust survivors, he was raised in an observant Jewish home in Brooklyn, N.Y. As a high school student, Michael became a follower of Jesus the Messiah and began teaching the Bible almost immediately. He is the author of Understanding the Arab Israeli Conflict and The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? He is the co-editor of the Moody Bible Commentary, a commentary on the whole Bible by the faculty of Moody Bible Institute. Michael served on the translation team of the Holman CSB Bible and contributed to several other books and study Bibles. Michael is a regular contributor to the Day of Discovery television program and appeared in the Lee Stroebel video The Case for Christ. Michael and his wife, Eva, have two adult sons who call and write all the time. The Rydelniks live in Chicago, Ill., and enjoy leading study groups to Israel and hiking with their two collies.

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