An Encouraging Word
Following the warning passage in Hebrews 6:4-8, the writer of Hebrews comes to a transition. In verse 9 he uses “But beloved,” a term of endearment likely intended to soften the severity of the warning just given. This is the only place in Hebrews where the readers are referred to as “beloved.” I believe this adds credence to the evidence that genuine Christians are in view throughout this warning passage. The “better things” reflect the writer’s confidence that his readers ultimately would not fall away from the truth. He believed that these Jewish believers would not turn back to the Judaism that had rejected Jesus. The attitude of the writer seems almost pastoral in nature as he writes of the confidence that the consequences of the apostasy would not fall upon them.
The “things that accompany salvation” refers to the full salvation awaiting them, which the writer had been discussing throughout Hebrews. At the end of Hebrews 1, in verses 13 and 14, the writer, quoting from Psalm 110, talks about the victory the King Messiah would attain through the Father, and how the believers would inherit that victory with their King. Hebrews 3 and 4 described the inheritance rest, which the believers would be allowed to enter. The writer of Hebrews is saying that his expectation was that these believers would ultimately persevere to the end and inherit those blessings. It was a message of encouragement. The statement, “though we are speaking this way,” reiterates that he recognized the harshness of the warning previously given to them.
This group of believers, though struggling in their faith sometimes, were still doing wonderful work in the name of the Lord, ministering to other fellow believers which the author considered an act of “love shown toward His name.” The writer knew that God is not unjust, which was a way of showing through use of the double negative that God is in fact eminently just. Because God is just, He would justly reward their work and ministry to the saints. He would remember their work and the love they showed Him in helping other believers and in their continuing to do so. These words of encouragement were intended to exhort them to keep up the good work and rely on God to help them accomplish what they needed to continue to do in ministry.
The author’s desire was that they would diligently stick to the good course they were already pursuing and that they would live their lives for God with the same diligence with which they were serving others and of which God was fully mindful. Doing that, they would realize the full assurance of the hope given to those who persevere to the end. In contrast to this the author writes, “so that you do not become sluggish”, or some translations use lazy. Their immaturity earlier warned against was attributed to sluggishness or laziness. Their lack of prioritizing their Christian walk and their sluggishness and laziness in the Word made them susceptible to immaturity and falling away. The remedy for this sluggishness was to be imitators of those “who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” The theme of imitation will occur again in Hebrews 13:7. Find a leader whose faith, through the way their lives are lived for Jesus, will encourage you to persevere to the end. Ultimately the goal should be the inheritance set before us.
Even though the reality of the danger of falling into apostasy his readers faced was real, the writer of Hebrews believed they would avoid it. These verses speak of “love,” “hope,” and “faith,” which we see together in many other portions of the New Testament. Therefore, he concluded this warning in Hebrews 6 with an encouraging word. A word intended to encourage them to persevere and receive the promised inheritance.