The Writer is anxious to move on with his exposition of the high-priesthood of Christ. But how could his readers follow such exalted teaching … ? * * * The epistle to the Hebrews is evidence enough that the correct way to interpret Old Testament Scripture is in a Christocentric manner. Quite apart from its specific teachings, the letter viewed overall makes this abundantly clear. Jesus himself showed ‘in all the Scripture the things concerning himself’ (Luke 24:25 – 27) and told the Pharisees that the Old Testament testified of Him (Jn. 5:39).
Yet today, evangelical Christians often forget this ‘first principle’ of Old Testament interpretation. They find many things of value in the Old Testament, such as history, eccliesiology, the holiness and sovereignty of God, incomparable moral teaching, the nature of man, and much more. But, fatally, they often fail to discern Christ in all the scriptures.
As a result, they teach many things from the Old Testament that are actually inconsistent with God’s free grace in Christ. They teach salvation by works, bondage to law, false notions of theocratic government, priestly orders and the like. And all because they do not see that these things had no value in themselves but prefigured a new covenant and a new order which is established in Christ.
Edgar Andrews, A Glorious High Throne, pp. 157 – 8 [bold emphasis added (italics sic)].
The instant writer, too, is eager to “move on with [the] exposition of the high-priesthood of Christ”; again quoting Ellingworth’s paraphrase of Hebrews 6:3: “We will go on to maturity, if God permits.” However, as the Writer found it necessary to warn those self-satisfied with “milk” before beginning the exposition, we must first understand at least to whom the warning does not pertain.
For it is impossible, in the case of those once enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
Jesus’ assurance that “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28), along with concomitant instruction found elsewhere in the New Covenant Scriptures, precludes application of the warning(s) found in Hebrews to the regenerate elect. It is not the purpose of the instant “post” to exhaustively examine arguments regarding perseverance (Thomas Schreiner and D.A. Caneday’s The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance is highly acclaimed regarding such issue); exegesis of the instant verses does, however, corroborate the doctrine (perseverance).
“What we have to understand is that the experiences described in these verses attach, not to the elect, but to some who mimic true believers, … .” (Andrews at p. 165) Those “once enlightened” (v. 4) “had apparently understood the gospel of Christ, at least intellectually … but relapsed into the darkness of works-religion and ritualism. This is never true of one born of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit never ceases to enlighten the child of God concerning Christ (John 16:14 – 15).” (Andrews at p. 166)
“Tasted” is repeated within v. 4 and again within v. 5. To Ezekiel (Ezk. 3:3) and to John (Rev. 10:9 – 10), God’s word tasted “sweet as honey”. Jesus employed a different metaphor — one about which most Christians are quite aware — which must be considered next.