Here is the critical basis for understanding the epistle [to the Hebrews]; and here is where people often get mixed up, especialy in interpreting chapters 6 and 10. * * * The key to interpreting any part of Hebrews is to understand which group is being addressed. If we do not understand that, we are bound to confuse the issues. … . We must always understand what group it is to whom He speaks . … . The primary message is addressed to believers. Periodically, there are interspersed warnings to the [ ] unbelieving groups. In a masterful way, in a way that could only be divine, the Holy Spirit speaks to all [ ]. He meets every one of their particular needs and their specific questions in this one supernatural masterpiece.
None other than Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., wrote what you’ve just read [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary ~ Hebrews (pp. xi, xv)]! Not only is the foregoing quote apt, employment of it provides opportunity to acknowledge more prominently than via comments that the contributions of Dr. MacArthur and The Master’s Seminary in the pursuit and teaching of Truth are, arguably, unparalleled. That fact, however, cannot offset the simultaneous opposition to Truth resultant from Spirit-quenching, dogged adherence to their Israel-centered hermeneutic. Mike Adams’ TMSJ/NCT series, rather than “Got Solid Food?” — the instant post, anyway — is the locus of teaching most pertinent to that issue, though.
Hebrews 6:9 is the text at immediate issue: Even though we are speaking this way, dear friends, in your case we are confident of the better things connected with salvation. (HCSB)
A paraphrased reading would be, ‘Beloved fellow Christians, though we have been speaking about these awesome and fearful warnings to unbelievers, we know that far better things apply to you. You have the accompaniments of salvation, not of unbelief. These warnings to apostates [ ] are put in this letter to you because these people are in your midst.
MacArthur at 153.
“Dear friends”. Those two English words are key to understanding 2 Peter 3:9, as they’re the first two words of 3:8 and of 3:1. As 3:1 informs us that “this is the second letter [Peter has] written to you”, and 1 Peter 1:2 informs us that Peter wrote to the “elect” (NKJV), we unequivocally understand that the “any” in “not wanting any to perish, but to come to repentance” are the elect!
“Dear friends” at Hebrews 6:9, though, requires that we understand the original language in order to understand the referent. George H. Guthrie and Douglas J. Moo, at p. 39 of Hebrews, James (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary), instruct:
The verb form of this word, agapao, was used at times in Greek literature to mean ‘greet with affection,’ and the use of the word agapetos in 6:9, as indicated by the NIV, is meant to be an affectionate greeting.
New Covenant Theology Pastor Kerry Kinchen (Bridgeway Bible Church, San Antonio, TX), as delineated via Biblically Defending Salvation (his book; available to be read online), observes as to “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking this way”:
This statement of being “convinced” of better things concerning you (‘you’ meaning saved Hebrews) is reflective of what Paul wrote to the Philippians:
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
[T]he writer has been talking about unsaved Hebrews with the pronouns — “they” and “those” — who had been enlightened, tasted, and shared … . But, now the writer turns his attention to the truly saved Hebrews, calling them “we”, “you”, and “beloved” … .
Pastor Kinchen’s analysis is, of course, far more in-depth than any excerpt may demonstrate; his work is there (see link above) for the edifying, and he would surely be edified by comments thereto. As he has commented to previous “Got Solid Food?” posts, we must understand that the Writer of Hebrews employs “brothers” to address fellow ethnic Israelites, and “holy brothers” (hagios) to address fellow Christians (including some fellow ethnic Israelites); furthermore, we must understand grammatical indicia such as Greek verb tenses, which voice is employed, etc., if we are to understand what was inspired by the Holy Spirit. As Haddon Robinson teaches, it can never mean what it never meant. It can’t mean today what it didn’t mean then. It can’t mean to us what it didn’t mean to them. That is, of course, considering progressive revelation!
Moo and Guthrie (at p. 39) comment as to “in your case we are confident of the better things connected with salvation“:
Expressing confidence in an audience or recipients of a letter was a rhetorical device used to create a sense of obligation or to persuade those addressed to take a certain course of action. Paul uses the device to good effect, for instance, at Romans 15:14: ‘I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another’.
That said, Paul Ellingworth, via NIGTC/Hebrews [for link, see “Plowboy Would ‘Get’ This?!” (Feb. 24)], observes that the original language indicates “that the author does not disown what he has just written; indeed, he will return to the same theme in 10:26 – 28.”.
Deo volente, we’ll get to that “same theme” at Hebrews 10; first, though, we must consider the balance of Hebrews 6, then … drumroll please … the “solid food” (Hebrews 7:1 – 10:18)! Of course, Mike’s TMSJ/NCT series is all about “solid food”; Hebrews 7:1 – 10:18 is key to full understanding thereof.