Baptism And Reception
There are a number of points in “Notes on Hebrews” which could be questioned, among these the attempted interpretation of chapter six.
To be bold enough to state that there is restoration for an apostate does not make the statement correct. Paul was bold enough to call the high priest a “whited wall”, but he spoke unethically and unscripturally, as he acknowledged in his apology. Something more than assumed courage is necessary to substantiate such a contention.
In the interpretation of chapter six, and one admits that it is a difficult passage, there is an unnatural stressing and straining to force an idea into language that does not support it. To suggest that the statement, “It is impossible for those who were once enlightened … if they fall away to renew them again unto repentance,” could mean that they had repented once and were now real Christians, therefore, they could not return to an initial repentance for that was a once for all experience, is to ignore the true value of words, and to disregard the immediate and remote contexts.
The verb to renew means to make different, to make entirely new, to make again; consequently, in verse six, to make again a former entirely different condition from that which at present prevails. The context implies that to renew that former condition of repentance on the part of some of the Hebrews would be desirable but because of another conflicting condition it was impossible.
The author is here writing of some who had apostatized from Christianity, some who had rejected Christ as really and actually as had the Jewish leaders at the time of His crucifixion; these were as guilty as they for they had put Him to an open shame as had the rabble crowd which mocked Him in the hours of His agony.
The verb to taste in verse six is a contrast to the verb to drink in verse seven and suggests a matter of degree, varying degrees, not necessarily full participation or possession. A child may ask a taste of the coffee its parent is drinking, and may receive that taste without becoming even in later life a habitual coffee drinker.
The author uses the verb to drink in as a figure to show that the reception of the gospel benefits does not always give the same results. This is sometimes beneficial as in the case of the true believer; it produces that which is acceptable (V. 7). Then, at other times it results in a curse (This is the portion of those who receiving the message do not believe it.) of which thorns and briers are the symbol.