STUDY Hebrews 5:11-6:3
(click here for notes)
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. (NIV)
A Call to "Grow Up"
The author of Hebrews has just introduced the idea of Jesus being a priest "in the order of Melchizedek." He apparently feels frustrated, however, because he's having a hard time getting his audience to understand him. "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn." He continues by saying they should be teachers themselves by now, but they need someone to re-teach them the "elementary truths of God's word all over again."
1. What condition necessitates the believers needing milk instead of solid food? (1 Cor. 3:1-3)
2. What constitutes the difference between people who are "spiritual", or mature, and those who are "worldly", or "infants"? (1 Cor. 2:6; 2:14-16; Eph. 4:13-16; 1 Cor. 1:20-21; 3:11)
3. Why is distinguishing "good from evil" the province of the "mature", and how does one train him/herself (v. 14) to do such distinguishing?
The writer specifies "the elementary teachings about Christ" and calls his readers to go beyond them to maturity.
1. What is meant by "leav[ing] the elementary teachings about Christ" and proceeding to maturity? (see Philippians 3:12-14)
2. What are these elementary truths or teachings? (Hebrews 6:1-2)
3. What is the maturity, or mature understanding, to which the author is calling the Hebrews? (see Hebrews 5 and 7)
Elementary Teachings Examined
An alternate translation for the phrase "acts that lead to death" in 6:1 is "useless rituals". The NASB translates the phrase "dead works".
1. What are the "acts that lead to death" from which the Hebrews must repent? (see Hebrews 9:14)
2. How are "repentance" and "faith in God" related?
3. How are "repentance" and "faith in God" part of "the foundation", or "the elementary teachings" they must leave and get beyond?
More Elementary Teachings
1. Why might baptism be a subject about which Hebrew Christians could argue or which they could pervert in some way? (see John 3:22-26; 4:1-2; Mark 7:3-4; Matthew 15:2; Acts 19:4; Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:4)
2. Why is Christian baptism to be considered foundational and not part of the focus of "mature" Christians?
3. The laying on of hands has a long history. For what purpose(s) was it practiced in the Old Testament? (see Genesis 48:13-20; Leviticus 1:3-4; Numbers 27:22-23)
4. For what purposes was the laying on of hands used in the New Testament? (Acts 28:8; Mark 1:41; Mark 10:16; Acts 6:5-6; 13:2-3; 1 Timothy 5:22; Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-7;
5. Why might the author of Hebrews consider the laying on of hands to be an elementary teaching?
Resurrection and Judgment
1. Among Jews, Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. The Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul but not in the resurrection or immortality of the body. What are the implications for Christians of Jesus' resurrection? (see Acts 2:24, 32; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; 17:18, 31, 32; Romans 6:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:15; Eph. 1:20; Co. 2:12; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 1:21)
2. What does the resurrection promise for the future? (see John 5:25-29; 11:25; 2 Cor.4:14)
3. What is the teaching of "eternal judgment"? (see Hebrews 9:27; 10:27; Matthew 25:45, 46)
4. Verse 3 says, "And God permitting, we will do so." To what does the author refer in this statement?
Many of us were raised with faulty teachings and had to "lay again the foundations".
1. Which of the "elementary teachings" listed above did you have to lay again?
2. Are there any which still seem unclear to you? Which ones?
3. Have you "trained [yourself] to distinguish good from evil"? (v. 5:14)
4. In what ways are you still feeding on "milk"?
1. What resistance do you have to moving farther toward spiritual maturity?
2. What do you fear God might require of you if you move beyond "milk" to "the teaching about righteousness"? (v. 13)
3. What spiritual immaturity do you need acknowledge and give to Jesus, asking him to transform you and grow you according to his will?
4. Praise God for laying again the foundations of your faith, and ask him be your strength and courage and to bring you to maturity in him.
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