We will examine the five characteristics of those for whom repentance is impossible given in Hebrews 6:4-5 and explain the meaning of each. In Hebrews, what would it mean to “fall away?” Why is it impossible to renew such a person to repentance?
Hebrews 6:4-6 reads,
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”
The Greek term is ‘photizo’ and means ‘to give understanding to’. This refers to person’s sense of sight, in that they fully see the truth. In 1 Corinthians 4:5, the Lord brings light to reveal things that had been hidden. In Ephesians 1:18 and 3:9, this word is used to show that someone has seen, or understood something. It is also used in Hebrews 10:32 to signify ‘made aware’. This speaks of someone who has been fully instructed.
Tasted the heavenly gift –
The actual term here is ‘geuomai’ and means ‘perceive the flavour of, partake of, enjoy, to take nourishment, eat’. The sense of taste is involved here. A person with a cold can eat and not taste their food, yet they are sustained by the food. This refers to more than that, this refers to someone who has no such problem and is fully able to share in the gastronomical experience of the coming kingdom – including receiving sustenance. In 1 Peter 2:3, this word is translated ‘taste’ and is used to signify experiencing something, as in tasting it. In Acts 10:10, 20:11, and 23:14, this word is used for ‘eat’ to signify the act of eating and taking sustenance. Luke 9:27 and 14:24 use the word as ‘taste’ to indicate an experience. Hebrews 2:9 uses the word to show that Christ ‘tasted’, or experienced, death for every man. The ‘gift’ is not necessarily the Holy Spirit. In John 4:10, the gift of God is salvation. In Acts 2:38, the gift of the Holy Spirit is salvation. In Acts 8:20, Simon tried to purchase the ability to dispense the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:45 and 11:17, the gift of the Holy Spirit was the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:15, 17 speak of the gift of grace and righteousness; in both cases, this speaks of the opposite of what happened to Adam. Thus, this term is used to describe a full and genuine experience of the coming kingdom.
Shared in the Holy Spirit –
The Greek word here is ‘Metochos’ and means ‘partner’. This speaks of being a co-laborer with the Holy Spirit. Balaam’s donkey was a partner with the Holy Spirit but did not possess the Holy Spirit (Num. 22:21-35). This word was used in Luke 5:7 to speak of partners; in Hebrews 1:9, it is translated as ‘fellows’; In Hebrews 3:1,14,6:4, and 12:8, this word is translated as ‘partakers’. In context, this probably speaks of someone who works with the Holy Spirit, participating in and sharing the work of the Holy Spirit.
Tasted the goodness of the word of God and powers of the coming age -
Again, ‘geuomai’ is used here. This speaks of having received or experienced miracles or fulfillment of prophecy. Mark 6:7 and Matthew 10:1-9 show Judas Iscariot shared in miracles of healing, raising dead, and casting out demons.
The term here is ‘parapipto’ which means ‘to deviate from the right path, turn aside, wander’. This speaks of someone choosing to walk a different path. In essence, someone who does this counts the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.
All these terms each linked with the conjunction ‘and’ – this is a polysyndeton, so each member of the list must be considered because each is element is equally important. These verses speak of someone who has come to a full and complete understanding of the God and what He offers and still decides to try to get to heaven by any other means. Judas Iscariot is an example of someone who has done this.
If someone who has a full and complete understanding of the Gospel and consciously refuses it by seeking the kingdom in some other way would be treating the blood of the covenant, the blood of Christ, with disrespect. He would be saying that the saving work of Christ was insufficient to bring the forgiveness of sins necessary for them to enter the kingdom. To be able to get into the coming kingdom, it would take another crucifixion to save them. But Christ Himself said in John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” So to fully understand the truth and deny it is to pass up the only opportunity one has to enter the coming kingdom.