Quotes from Bible Commentaries
On Hebrews Chapter 6
Sadly, most people who fear they are unforgivable suffer from a psychological disorder that makes them like hypochondriacs who, upon being told by two doctors that they are well, will want the opinion of another and another, in a fruitless search for peace. Their pathological uncertainty will always drive them to want more “proof” than anyone can ever find. Such people need treatment for their illness, not Bible Commentaries. I have webpages to help these people, but this one won’t help them. The following is provided for those not stricken with this affliction.
Thomas Hewitt, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Introduction and Commentary The Tyndale Press: London, 1960, pages 106-111
The writer . . . is putting forward a hypothetical case as the RSV translation, ‘if they then commit apostasy’, suggests. . . .
The difficulty of interpretation of one of the severest warnings given in Scripture cannot be exaggerated. This part of Holy Scripture must be interpreted in the light of other parts of Holy Scripture and one part should not contradict another. . . .
‘The case’, says Westcott, ‘is hypothetical. There is nothing to show that the conditions of fatal apostasy had been fulfilled: still less that they had been fulfilled in the case of any of those addressed. Indeed the contrary is assumed (verse 9ff.).’
Donald Gunthrie, The Letter to the Hebrews: An Introduction and Commentary Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983, pages 140-145
Anyone who turned back from Christianity to Judaism would be identifying himself not only with Jewish unbelief, but with that malice that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. . . .
Since repentance is an act involving the self-humbling of the sinner before a holy God, it is evident why a man with a contemptuous attitude toward Christ, has no possibility of repentance. The hardening process provides an impenetrable casing which removes all sensitivity to the pleadings of the Spirit.
A.B. Davidson, The Epistle to the Hebrews with Introduction and NotesT & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1959, pages 120-122
Falling away does not mean falling into sin, even grievous sin, but renouncing the faith of Christ holy. It is called “sinning wilfully,” that is apostatizing against experience and better knowledge, in x.26 [Hebrews 10:26], where the history and experience described above in vers. 4,5 is called “receiving the knowledge of the truth.”
F.F Bruce. The Epistle to the Hebrews: The English Text With Introduction, Exposition and Notes Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1964, pages 118-125
We know, of course, that nothing of this sort is ultimately impossible for the grace of God, but as a matter of human experience the reclamation of such people is, practically speaking, impossible.
This warning has been both unduly minimised and unduly exaggerated. . . .
. . . the context here shows plainly that the wilful sin which he has in mind is deliberate apostasy. People who commit this sin, he says, cannot be brought back to repentance: by renouncing Christ they put themselves in the position of those who, deliberately refusing His claim to be the Son of God, had Him crucified and exposed to public shame. Those who repudiate the salvation procured by Christ, will find none anywhere else. . . .
God has pledged Himself to pardon all who truly repent, but Scripture and experience alike suggest that it is possible for human beings to arrive at a state of heart and life where they can no longer repent.
Leon Morris, Hebrews in Frank E. Gaebelein (General Editor) The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume Twelve, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1981, pages 54-56
Notice that he does not say “cannot be forgiven” or “cannot be restored to salvation” or the like. It is repentance that is in mind, and the writer says that it is impossible for these people to repent. . . .
The marginal reading “while they are crucifying the Son of God” is attractive, but in the end it really amounts to a truism and scarcely seems adequate. The tense, however, does convey the idea of a continuing attitude.
Phillip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews Eerdmans, Michigan, 1977, pages 207-222
The situation to which the author is addressing himself, however, involves considerably more than the question of the irremissibility of a particular sin. It is not so much an act as an attitude of which he is speaking – an attitude, to be sure, which would disclose itself into disgraceful acts inconsistent with a profession of Christian faith. Yet even an act of adultery, coupled with virtual murder, as in the case of David, does not necessarily portray an attitude of apostasy. That David’s attitude, despite the enormity of his sin, was not that of apostasy is plain from the content of Psalm 51. . . .
Henry A. Virkler , Allaying Fears About the Unpardonable Sin, Published in The Journal of Psychology and Christianity Vol. 18, No.3, pp. 254-269, Christian Association for Psychological Studies, 1999
“The apostle is not talking here about theft or perjury or murder of drunkenness or adultery,” comments Calvin. “He is referring to a complete falling away from the Gospel, in which the sinner has offended God not in some one respect only but utterly renounced his grace.”
. . . by a deliberate and calculated renunciation of the good he has known, he places himself beyond forgiveness.
Henry Virkler (Professor of Psychology) sees a “basic similarity” between the Jews the book of Hebrews was written to and the Pharisaical theologians whom Jesus warned about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Both groups, having ample evidence of the power and presence of God in their midst through the person of the Holy Spirit, deliberately hardened their hearts and repudiated this Spirit as being from God, either explicitly (as in the Pharisees’ accusation that it was actually the power of Satan) or implicitly by their actions (as with the Hebrews who were in danger of rejecting His saving work in their lives).
Persons who harden themselves to the extreme point where they call the Holy Spirit’s work the work of Satan are, like the Pharisees, unlikely to ever repent. Thus persons who are sincerely concerned about whether they have committed the unpardonable sin can probably be assured that they have not done so.
In commenting on Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-29 and Luke 12:10 about the unpardonable sin, Virkler writes:
[Beside Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-29 and Luke 12:10] There are three other Scriptures that seem to discuss an unpardonable sin. These include 1 John 5:16-17, Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-27. While occasionally an expositor questions whether these passages are discussing the same sin (e.g., Liefield, 1984, p. 960), the vast majority of expositors believe these passages are related (e.g., Berkhof, 1941; Carson, 1984; Jewett, 1975; Mullins, 1996; Ress, 1996; Thiessen, 1949, etc.). The biblical reason for believing that these passages are connected is that since Matthew 12:31 states that there is only one sin that cannot be pardoned, and each of these passages appears to be discussing an unpardonable sin, it follows that there must be a connection between the concepts expressed in the Synoptics [Matthew, Mark and Luke] and in them.
As explained by the last quote, an examination of the passages in Hebrews is best viewed in the light of Jesus’ reference to the unforgivable sin. If you have not already read my discussion of Jesus’ statement and how we should view all seemingly condemning Bible passages, please read:
Are you guilty of the unpardonable sin?
Testimonies About Hebrews 6:
Forsaken by God?
Condemned by Hebrews 6:4-6