(1-12) The author of Hebrews knows that in order for faith to mature, his readers will have to move beyond the basic principles of salvation and baptism. Although there are many disagreements as to what exactly Paul is saying in 6:4-7, I think that the best understanding is that Paul is addressing those within the congregation who have not yet believed. They participated in the community, experienced the preaching of the Word, and observed the presence of the Spirit at work around them. Even after all that, they refused to believe. They never truly embraced the gospel and displayed genuine faith, love, and service. If they had, then they would have persisted and become “imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises.” While there are many other understandings of this passage (believers losing their faith, believers losing rewards, believers being warned by the use of hypotheticals), the argument itself seems geared to those who are genuine believers and will stay that way: “But in your case, dear friends, even though we speak like this we are convinced of better things relating to salvation.” The challenge for us is the same as the challenge to them: to grow and mature, and to make sure that we move from milk to solid food (5:12)!
(13-20) The Jews would argue about the significance of oaths, and which oaths meant more because of what you were swearing them by (Matthew 23:16-22). What can God swear by that is greater than Himself? He can’t lie. He doesn’t change. He made a promise to Abraham, and He makes a promise to us through Jesus Christ. Jesus went behind the veil and offered Himself as the eternal sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:6-7). He is “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (which we’ll see explained tomorrow). Our perseverance and growth are signs that God is with us, and the guarantee that we will inherit His promises!