As we continue our study of the Seven Foundational Experiences for All Believers, I believe it wise to also see what the writer is saying as he presses into these elementary doctrines. Listed below is the initial verse in various translations.
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, (NASB: Lockman)
Wuest: Therefore, having put away once for all the beginning word of the Messiah [the first testament in animal blood, i.e., the Mosaic economy], let us be carried along to that which is complete [the new testament in Jesus’ blood], not again laying down a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God (Eerdmans)
Amplified: THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, (Amplified Bible – Lockman)
Using the word “therefore“, the writer points us back to his prior statements concerning Melchizedek and dullness of hearing as well as spiritual immaturity of the believers. He reprimands them for not being teachers by now but those who are in need of being taught again these elementary principles. Heb. 5:12 refers to these as “the first principles of the oracles of God“. The “oracles of God” is a synonym for the Scriptures and refers to divine utterances as found in (Rom 3:2; 1 Pet 4:11; Acts 7:38). Heb. 1:1-2 tells us that Christ is now the ORACLE of the Father to men. Kevin Conner teaches, “The Son is the final word and revelation of the Father. When therefore these First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ were spoken then it was God speaking His Oracle, His Only Begotten Son, from the Glory veiled in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14-18).” It is not that they did not know these things which he calls elementary. It was that for some reason they were choosing not to function based on their had been taught or the knowledge they had been given. He further states that by now they should have been spiritually ingesting solid food but because of their condition they were still in need of or drinking the milk of the Word. It is from here that he exhorts them to leave “the elementary teaching about the Christ“. But what is he actually saying?
To “leave” is “aphiemi Gk (863) (aphiemi from apo = prefix implies separation + hiemi = put in motion, send) and conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and means to send from one’s self, to forsake, to hurl away, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and refers to total detachment, total separation, from a previous location or condition. It means to send forth or away from one’s self. It refers to the act of putting something away or of laying it aside. Says Vincent, “Leaving or dismissing does not imply ceasing to believe in elementary truths or to regard them as unimportant, but leaving them “as a builder leaves his foundation in erecting his building”. In other words, these believers were being exhorted to “leave shadows, types, pictures, and sacrifices of the old economy and come to the reality of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. To paraphrase it the writer is saying ‘Leave the pictures of the Messiah and go on to the Messiah Himself,’”
They are exhorted specifically to leave “the elementary teaching about the Christ.” “Elementary” (746) (arche) means the first, the beginning (the things that occurred prior in time). It can mean supreme in rank but clearly that is not the meaning in this verse. In relation to time, arche refers to the beginning of anything, the first. The writer is telling his readers to leave the elementary teaching concerning the doctrines upon which their prior religious life had been based. Leave the milk! These elementary doctrines were those teaching that Christianity had in common with Judaism, the teaching they had received from the Old Testament. They had to move past those teachings that Judaism had in common with Christianity, or otherwise they would never move on to maturity. (Precept Austin) This points back to Heb. 5:12, the principles of the doctrine of Christ or the “steps” or “elementals”. As we will discover these are steps leading to “perfection”
The word “teaching” referred to here is “logos” (3056) (logos from lego = to speak intelligently source of English “logic, logical”) means something said and describes a communication whereby the mind finds expression in words. Although Lógos is most often translated “word” which Webster defines as “something that is said, a statement, an utterance”, the Greek understanding of lógos is somewhat more complex. In the Greek mind and as used by the secular and philosophical Greek writers, lógos did not mean merely the name of an object but was an expression of the thought behind that object’s name. Logos refers to total expression.
This is “the elementary teaching about the Christ” which these Jewish believers are being exhorted to move beyond. “The Christ” is the Messiah. Webster reveals Messiah is a title given to “the promised Deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.” Messiah is derived from the Hebrew word mashiach which means “anointed one” and which corresponds to the NT title of “Christ” (Christos = anointed one). “The majority of Jews (and this Gentile writer) have come to salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) as the Spirit unveiled the OT messianic prophecies (2 Cor 4:6, John 3:8) to clearly show “Jesus (is) the Messiah appointed for” them and for us, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek (anyone not Jewish).” (Acts 3:20, Rom 1:16). In fact the main purpose of John’s Gospel is that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name.” (John 20:31) Jesus is the Anointed One, the fulfillment of the three OT offices which God anointed (selected and set apart for special service): Prophet (Psalms 105:15, Deut 18:18, fulfilled = John 7:40), Priest (Ex 29:7, Lev 4:3, Ps 110:4 fulfilled = Heb 6:19-20) and King (1Sa 2:10, Ps 2:2,6 shadows of Messiah fulfilled = Mk 15:26, Rev 19:16). Norman Geisler adds that the concept of MESSIAH (Christ) ‘is the key to the interpretation of the Bible, not only in that He is the fulfillment of OT types and prophecies, but in that Christ (Messiah) is the tie between the Testaments, the content of the whole canon and the unifying theme in the Bible!’ In short the entire Bible is “Messiah-centric” or “Christo-centric!” Beloved brethren, God’s Anointed is appointed, and we shall not be disappointed! “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name!, Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all.” (Perronet)
Kenneth Wuest provides this analysis, “Now what does the writer exhort these Hebrews to abandon, and to what does he urge them to allow themselves to be borne along? Well, what does a mariner do when he is at a loss as to exactly where he is? He checks his position by his instruments. The aviator in a similar situation checks his course by the radio beam. An exegete in a similar situation will consult the historical background and analysis of the book. And that is exactly what we will do. We found that the writer proves twice over that the New Testament in Jesus’ Blood is superior to and takes the place of the First Testament in animal blood. After proving this, he shows that faith is the only way of appropriating the salvation which the High Priest procured for sinners at the Cross. In the light of this demonstration, he warns them against falling away. He exhorts them to go on to faith in the New Testament Sacrifice. Having left the temple sacrifices, and having identified themselves with the visible Church, from what could they fall away but from their profession of Messiah as High Priest, and to what could they fall back to but First Testament sacrifices? Thus the words, “the principles of the doctrine of Christ,” must refer to the First Testament sacrifices, for these Jews are exhorted to abandon them. Likewise, the word “perfection” must speak of the New Testament Sacrifice to which they are exhorted to allow themselves to be borne along. Our analysis has guided us to the correct interpretation.” (Hebrews Commentary online)
It is from here that these Christians are urged to go on. The scripture says, “let us press on to maturity“. See these references verses: (Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 12:13; Proverbs 4:18; Matthew 5:48; 1 Corinthians 13:10; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:12; Philippians 3:12-15; Colossians 1:28; Colossians 4:12; James 1:4; 1 Peter 5:10; 1 John 4:12).
What is this portion of the scripture saying? Twelve times this phrase “let us” appears in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The writer to the Hebrews is urging them all to press on to maturity. “Press on” (KJV = go on) (5342) (phero) is to be borne along like a ship by the wind. The use of the passive voice emphasizes the exertion of power on the individual from an outside source. passive voice also conveys the the thought of the need of the recipient to willingly surrender to this outside influence. In this case, the outside force is the Holy Ghost. The present tense emphasizes the continual need for this activity. Note the writer lumps himself in this group needing to be continually borne along. The idea is “Let us be carried along (by God’s Spirit).” Maturity (5047) (teleiotes related to teleios from telos = an end, a purpose, an aim, a goal) describes one as being in a state of completion or perfection in the sense of maturity (and in contrast to the stage of elementary, ABC, knowledge). The related word teleios means complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, in good working order. Teleios signifies consummate soundness, includes the idea of being whole. Interestingly the Gnostics used teleios of the one fully initiated into their mysteries and that may have been why Paul used teleios in this epistle. (Precept Austin)
To what location or aim are they to press on? To maturity is the destination to which they are to press. They are being urged just as are we to press on beyond the elementary teachings of the Christ and on to maturity in Christ. Our ultimate destiny is to be conformed to the image of the Christ. In other words, we are to become just like the only begotten Son of God! Kenneth Wuest comments, “Our Lord in His life of faith on earth, became the perfect or complete example of the life of faith. Thayer speaks of our Lord as ‘one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith.’” (Hebrews Commentary online)
Finally, these Hebrew Christians were being exhorted to hit the target established by the Lord – CHRISTLIKENESS! Until next time, hit His target!