“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,” (Hebrews 6:1, ESV)
To cover chapter 6, will take numerous posts. So please bear with me on this.
When I was a young child, at least in my school, we did not have an official graduation ceremony when one moved from kindergarten to the first-grade. Yet, it is a big deal in many schools today. For it signifies that the young person is moving forward from the elementary things, like the ABCs, to entering the higher level of reading and writing. This picture describes what the author of Hebrews is trying to get across in this letter.
He states, let us leave the elementary teachings and graduate to maturity. So, what are the elementary teachings that he lists in the section? Some consider them the basic entry level teachings of Christianity. However, in view of the author’s Jewish audience and the context of this section, I believe these are the teachings of the Old Testament that foreshadowed their New Testament fulfillment. They are the things of the Old Covenant that Christ has fulfilled in the New Covenant. Thus, the Old Covenant was the foundation, the ABC’s, that pointed to the New Covenant. In verses 1-3, the author lists these foundational teachings, of repentance and faith in God, of ceremonial washings, of laying hands (Perhaps in reference to the sacrifice for sin [Lev 1:1, ff.]), and the resurrection of all unto judgement.
Consider the Jews to whom the author writes. They are in a transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Try to understand their difficulty. In that group, there were likely some who had truly trusted in Jesus for their salvation. These are true believers who had graduated. However, there were also some who intellectually understood the message of Jesus, His atoning sacrifice and the offer of eternal life, but had not expressed true faith. They merely assented to the facts of the gospel.
Many of the Jews who professed Christ may have been trying to live in both worlds at the same time. They may have believed they needed to keep the prerequisites of the Law combined with acknowledgement that Jesus was their Messiah in order to be justified. Thus, their view of justification was muddied. This group would need to leave the elementary teachings that foreshadowed that which was to come and move on to maturity by trusting Jesus Christ alone for their salvation.
Keep this in mind as we move forward to the rest of chapter 6. Here the author addresses a unique group of people. It is very difficult for us Gentiles in the year 2020 to fully grasp their difficulties in transitioning to Christianity. However, these were real difficulties and many of them had not yet graduated to maturity by true faith in Christ.
Considering this, we do have parallels today. We have many in our Postmodern world who have their feet sunk into a wide variety of religious systems. Many in our churches are divided between two or more systems. Many believe there are many ways to salvation. I have met many who say they are Buddhist-Christians. There are others who profess Christ and yet believe they must do good works plus have faith to be saved. The Scriptures are clear. One must trust in Christ alone for salvation. There is only one way to be saved.
We should pray that God would enlighten these misguided souls to the truth and that they trust Christ alone for eternal life. We must also preach the truth, for apart from the truth no one will be saved.