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).