Hebrews | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4:1-10 | 4:11-16 | 5:1-6 | 5:7-14 | 6:1-8 | 6:9-20 | 7:1-10 | 7:11-22 | 7:23-28 | 8-13 | PDF |

These small group Bible studies of Hebrews contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Hebrews 6:1-8 Bible Study Guide With Discussion Questions


I. Summary of the foundational principles (1-3)
II. Warning against apostasy (4-8)

I. Summary of the foundational principles (1-3)

Discussion Questions

• What is the connection between this passage and the last passage?
• Does he review the elementary teachings? Does the writer lay again this foundation?
• What are some of the foundational principles of the gospel that are mentioned in verses 2-4?
• What do you think the author meant by “dead works?”
• What do the washings and laying on of hands refer to?

Cross References

Matthew 23:25-28 – Here Jesus describes the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

Verses on maturity:

1 Corinthians 14:20 – Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

Ephesians 4:13-15 – Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. In the last passage in chapter five, the writer is encouraging his readers to
wake up from their spiritual lethargy. They need to start paying attention, start obeying, and start passing on the things they have learned. Here is yet another encouragement for them to move forward, to press on for maturity. No matter what spiritual level we are at, either a newborn Christian, or a believer for decades, we must always be pushing on for a closer relationship with Christ. Do not be satisfied with your current spiritual level or allow yourselves to become complacent. Perhaps last year you read through the whole Bible, last week memorized a chapter, or today have already shared the gospel with 5 people. Still, do not rest on your past laurels. Be quick to forget the successes of the past so that you don’t become complacent or prideful.

2. Elementary teaching/foundation – The readers have been exposed to the core principles of the gospel many times, especially some principles from the Old Testament. The writer doesn’t want them to get stuck on those same points and never move forward. When will a teacher review a lesson? When will a parent repeat an instruction? When the student/child doesn’t do what they were supposed to.

Illustration: When growing up, there were several instructions my father repeated many times. One was to turn off the lights when we left a room. I probably heard that several hundred times growing up. Why? Every time I heard it because one of us had “forgotten” and not done it. He had to keep reviewing the “elementary” teaching because we weren’t listening/obeying.
In verses 1b-2, the writer briefly summarizes some of those basic teachings they should have mastered by now. These include:

A. Repentance from dead works – This could include empty religious rituals which had become commonplace in New Testament times. The Pharisees had compiled instruction books with thousands of rules governing every area of life. There were rules on keeping the Sabbath, rules on giving, rules on vowing, and basically everything else.

As we see in Matthew 23:25-28, they looked very respectable on the outside. They took great care to be honored by people.

What are some things they did in the gospels to obtain honor? They stopped combing and washing their hair when fasting so that others would see them. They tried to sit at the place of honor at banquets. They showed others how much they gave. They prayed loudly on street corners to get attention. And the list goes on. These could be some of the dead works which are referenced here. In general, dead works include anything good we do with ulterior motives or anything good we do to try to earn salvation by ourselves.

B. Faith toward God – In fact, as we have learned in James, faith toward God is proven to be genuine faith if it is accompanied by works. These are not the dead works just discussed but a natural outpouring of our love and appreciation for what God has done for us (Ephesians 2:10).

C. Washings and laying on of hands – This could refer to the Old Testament Levitical rules for washing (Leviticus 16:4, 24,26,28). Laying on of hands may refer to a person who made a sacrifice. He would lay his hands on the animal being sacrificed to symbolically pass his sin to the animal (Leviticus 1:4, 3:8, 13, 16:21). In the New Testament, washing could be the spiritual regeneration in the heart of the believer (Titus 3:5). Laying on of hands could be for prayer or to receive the Holy Spirit. Because these were topics that had recently been covered with this group, it is hard for us to tell whether it is a reference to the Old or New Testament.

D. Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment (these two are linked) – In Acts 23:8 we see that the Pharisees believed this. This teaching comes from the Old Testament in Daniel 12:2.

Daniel 12:2 – And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

3. There are two possible ways to interpret this passage in Hebrews 6. One is that they were already believers having heard and believed these elementary principles. But they were not growing. The other is that they believed all of these things like most Jews did, but were not saved yet because they didn’t embrace Christ. A good pharisee would actually believe all that we saw in verse 1b-2. But he wouldn’t be saved because he rejected Christ. It is possible that this group of Hebrews or at least some of them were in a similar boat. They believed in the Old Testament, but they had yet to fully embrace Christ (which is why the author would spend a lot of time on the superiority of Christ and warnings about apostasy). Most likely there were both real believers in the group/church as well as some who were on the fence who didn’t fully commit themselves to Jesus yet.

II. Warning against apostasy (4-8)

Discussion Questions

• What kind of case is referred to in verses 4-6?
• Could it be referring to someone losing their salvation? Why or why not?
• If it doesn’t refer to someone losing their salvation, how to explain their “enlightenment,” “tasting,” and “partaking of the Holy Spirit?”
• Keeping in mind one of the repeated themes throughout Hebrews, what do you think is the big picture warning here?
• Taking a step back from the doctrinal discussions, what practical impact should this verse have on us?
• What does it mean that these people “crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame?”
• What is the point of verses 7-8? In this mini-parable, who does the ground refer to? Who does “for whose sake it is tilled” refer to? Can you think of any similar wording anywhere else in the Bible?

Cross References

Verses on assurance of salvation:

John 5:24 – Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

1 John 5:13 – I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

John 10:28-30 – I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Romans 8:28-30 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified

Other cross references:

John 1:9 – The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

Hebrews 2:4 – God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Matthew 3:10 – The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Verses 4-6 are controversial. Some who believe that you can lose your salvation use these verses as their cornerstone. What do you think they mean? A rule of biblical interpretation is that when you are confused, interpret the less clear passages by the clearer biblical passages. Using this rule of interpretation, we can rule out loss of salvation as a meaning of these verses. Se