Can Christians fall away? (Hebrews 6:4-6)

One of the benefits of believing the gospel of grace is that it changes the way you read the Bible. You realize that God is not in the bait and switch business of drawing you in with love only to hammer you with law. He is love all the way through.

When you see this you will no longer get frightened when you read a passage like Hebrews 10:26 or this one four chapters earlier:

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Heb 6:4-6)

If you wear the lenses of performance-based Christianity, this is a scary scripture. It sounds like your salvation hinges on your behavior. Do good, get good, but fall away and you’re lost forever. If that’s how this scripture appears to you, change your glasses! What you look through determines what you see. Read this scripture through the lens of Jesus.

So who and what is this passage describing?

Some say this scripture is referring to Christians – those who have become sharers or partakers in the Holy Spirit. If so, then the argument being made is deliberately nonsensical. If they fall away it is impossible for them to get saved again because Jesus would have to come and die again. Since Jesus isn’t going to die again, then it’s impossible for them to fall away. Instead of being a threat to your eternal salvation, this verse supports it.

How many times can you be born again?

I heard a reputable teacher say that if you are saved through an act of your free will, then you can get unsaved through an act of your free will. I guess the conclusion follows the premise but how true is the premise? Were you born into this world through an act of your free will? No, you had absolutely no say in the matter. So what about your spiritual birth?

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (Joh 1:12-13).

To be born again literally means to be born “from above” or, as John puts it, “born of God.” It is 100% a work of the Spirit.

You may think that you came to God of your own free will, but reflect for a moment on what actually happened. Who was it that planted and watered the seed of the gospel? (Not you.) Who was it that made the seed grow? (Not you.) Who was it that lifted the veil so that you could see things as they really are? (Not you.) Do you see? You would never have called on the name of the Lord if he had not first called you.

Here’s my point: When you were dead in the trespasses and uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with Christ (Col 2:13). You were dead; now you are alive – all this is because of him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, (2 Cor 5:17-18a)

The important thing is not how you got saved, but that you are saved. When you received the gift of salvation, you became a new creation. If you were to fall away, it would be impossible for you to be born again because you have already been born again. It would be like an adult trying to return to the womb and re-enter the world through the birth canal.

Just as it can’t happen in the natural, it can’t happen in the spiritual. Once you’re born you’re born! To claim that you can lose your salvation – that you can undo what God has done – is like saying that God makes mistakes. Which he doesn’t.

You may act like an old creation just as a butterfly may act like a caterpillar. But when you do, you are acting contrary to your true identity. We used to say that Christians who fell into sin were back-sliders. But a more accurate description is that they are hypocrites. They are acting contrary to their true identity in Christ.

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12:14)

“Be holy” is not an instruction for improving performance; it’s an admonition to be who you truly are. Be holy, because you are, in fact, holy. “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus once for all” (Heb 10:10).

Eat the bread of life, don’t just taste it

Others say that this scripture (Heb 6:4-6 remember?) is referring to unbelievers. It is describing those who have tasted but not eaten the heavenly gift. They have seen the light but preferred the darkness. They may have received the gospel with joy but the seed never took root and grew. When trouble came they fell away.

Consider Judas. Along with the other disciples Judas was involved in a supernatural ministry that saw him casting out demons and healing the sick (Mark 6:13). He may have even prophesied in Jesus’ name. Judas tasted the goodness of the word of God but ultimately he rejected it. When he walked out of the first communion he walked out on Jesus. He was basically saying, “Your blood and your body are not good enough for me.” Judas preferred DIY religion to the grace of God.

Hebrews 6:4-6 says that it is impossible for people like Judas to be brought back to the place of repentance. Why? Because they have heard the truth and rejected it. Those who have never heard the good news of God’s grace may yet receive it. But those who have heard and hardened their hearts toward it, are well and truly lost.

A hard heart is a deadly thing. It will keep you from repenting. It will keep you restless and in bondage to works:

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert.” (Heb 3:7-8)

Judas heard the voice of the Living Word but hardened his heart. He became restless to the point of suicide. He never came to the place of repentance, and he never entered that rest which comes only through faith in Christ.

Righteous rain

In Hebrews 5 and 6 we learn that Jesus has been designated by God as a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. To a Hebrew reader raised on the covenant of law, this would have been an astonishing announcement: “Jesus, the eternal high priest, will forever mediate a new and superior covenant of grace underwritten by the unshakeable oath of God.” There are only two possible responses to such an announcement:

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Heb 6:7-8)

We can either receive the blessing of God that comes down from heaven like rain and, by so doing, become fruitful and blessed, or we can reject what God offers us and be worthless and in danger of being cursed. The righteousness that God gives comes to us is like rain:

You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the Lord, have created it. (Isa 45:8)

God sends his rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. All we can do is respond. We can either put up umbrellas of religious works and say, like Judas, “No thanks, I don’t need it.” Or we can say, “Rain on this filthy sinner and make me clean.” The bad news of the old covenant is that no one will be declared righteous by observing the law (Rom 3:20). The good news of the new is that the righteousness gifted by God comes through faith in Jesus to all who believe (Rom 3:21).

Short version: Hebrews 6 is NOT saying you can lose your salvation.


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93 Comments on Can Christians fall away? (Hebrews 6:4-6)

  1. Thank you for shareing the true word of God. Being bound by religion for thrity years. I am set free. All of this teaching is new to me. I feel like a weight has been lifted off me. Thank you so much for shareing the word of God.

  2. Not entirely sure I agree with this one. You said: “It is describing those who have tasted but not eaten the heavenly gift.” The same word for “tasted” was used to describe Jesus tasting death for every man in 2:9. Did Jesus merely taste or experience death? One can look the word up in a Strong’s Concordance and see that “taste” often refers to experience. “Taste and see that the Lord is good…Shall never taste of death… In Acts 10:10; 20:11; 23:14, the ‘same’ Greek word for “taste” is translated as “eaten.” Jesus clearly tasted death for every man and not merely got a small taste of it. I believe the author was remaining consistent with how he used the word “taste” back in chapter 2.

    The author sure seems to go out of his way to describe such people that mirror the same words to describe believers. Why go out of his way to use such words to describe them if they never believed at all? I cannot find any other author that used such a description like that to refer to imposters. All I am saying is that it appears to be a real stretch here in chapter 6. It clearly states that they WERE MADE Partakers of the Holy Ghost that Romans 8:9 seems to suggest believers only. Hebrews already defined partakers in Hebrews 3:1 as being believers. They were “once” enlightened, and you cannot get around the Greek that means “once for all” and not some “partial sight.”

    The word “repentance” seems to be defined by the context as a return to a repentance of “dead things.” These people were returning back to the temple. I do not believe salvation was lost here, but these Jewish believers were to know that what they were turning to was impossible.

    I think the passage is quite clear that believers were in the context right from verse 1. Our eyes can plainly see that believers are being described, as it is very hard for someone to accept that the author was using all of those colorful words to describe an almost believer. This is why so many struggle with the arguments that the author was not describing a believer here when it is very clear he was. It would be as trying to argue that my comments left here were really not left here, as anyone can see they were left here. Not criticizing your blog, but I just find your view a little hard to accept.

    • Hi Dale,
      Thanks for your comment. I’ll grant that the word “partakers” could be describing believers but it could also be describing people like the false prophet Balaam. Permit me to give you four more reasons why this may be describing unbelievers. (I didn’t list these in the post because they are subsidiary to the point I hoped to make.)

      1. The author is describing people who are “slow to learn” (5:11), who need someone to teach them “the elementary truths of God’s word all over again” (5:12). They need to hear the gospel again because they clearly haven’t grasped it.
      2. He says they live on milk and are “not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness” (5:13). This is a reference to the gospel that reveals a righteousness from God (Rom 1:17).
      3. He is exhorting them to leave the elementary and old covenant teachings pertaining to repentance from dead works, faith in God (as opposed to the faith of God), ritual baptisms, etc. We may get confused between OT shadows and NT realities until we recall he is addressing Hebrews schooled in the Mosaic Law and has just spent three chapters explaining Jesus using old covenant terms.
      4. Then he says “even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation.” In other words, the things he has just been speaking of are things which do not accompany salvation. He has been describing religious people who have had a taste – they’ve heard the gospel, benefited from signs and wonders – but they haven’t believed it. They need to hear it/see it all again. They have tasted and seen that the Lord is good but so far they have not actually put their trust in Him (Ps 34:8).

      At the end of the day, I don’t really have a strong view as to whether this is describing believers or unbelievers. It could be either or both. This could be one of those verses that has relevance for everyone. My point is this – the author’s intention is not to frighten his “dear friends” (6:9). He writes to reassure them that the hope God offers us is a “firm and secure anchor for the soul” (6:19). Although this verse may suggest we can lose our salvation when we read it thru the lenses of performance-based Christianity, once you understand what Christ has done in chapters 3, 4 and 5, you will find unshakeably good news in chapter 6. What’s our part in this? “Drink it in and receive the blessing of God” (6:7).

      • Paul, I completely agree with your perspective on this issue. Like you, I too am unsure if it’s addressed to unbelievers or believers, but I think that your explanations make sense regarding both of those possibilities and the implications of either being the case. Your explanation in this preceding comment makes perfect sense to me. Most scholars believe that Hebrews was addressed to Jews because of the covenant and priestly language used throughout. In light of that, it would make sense them being referred to as “partakers” … of the old covenant. The old covenant was also instituted by God, although most of them misunderstood it, and they had received from the Holy Spirit, etc. In this context, the author may have very well been calling them to move past their former understanding and cling to the new covenant. Falling back into their old lawkeeping mindset disgraces the work of the cross and says that what Jesus accomplished wasn’t good enough.

      • Great response Paul. I have been taught that the author is indeed describing believers in chapters 5-6. The whole theme here was that the hebrews couldn’t go on to MATURITY or as Hal Lindsey put it” Move From Pablum to Porterhouse, until they REPENTED (Changed their Mindset ) about how they approached God and the things mentioned in the first 2 verses. Verse 3 is the key verse in that God wouldn’t PERMIT the Hebrews to advance or mature to the next level until they understood the old jewish traditions/sacrifices etc. were no longer necessary under the new covenant.

    • James Tomy Abraham // January 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm // Reply

      Agree with you Dale. All of these preachers of grace actually twist everything out of context and turn grace into lascivious ness. In the light of God’s word they fall apart but they deceive the simple and the ignorant in Christ.

  3. If Jesus Himself is my salvation {and He is},how can I be lost? Anyone who believes in Jesus has {present tense} eternal {never ending} life.Salvation should not be confused with probation.

  4. Brian Lawrence // February 28, 2012 at 9:29 am // Reply

    Best post yet!!! Keep up the incredible insights. I used to struggle with Hebrews 6 when I was younger, and the church that I went to would reinforce that fear by its legalistic teachings. It is time for the emancipation to begin!

  5. A logic-based “faith” leaves a person susceptible to every nuance of interpretation of scripture. Such “faith” is fed by the greek “if then else”. If you do this… then I will bless you… or curse you.
    God defies logic. With Him… it’s “I absolutely love you… no strings attached at all… ever!” No “if then else”. Faith is letting go of disbelief… allowing God to love oneself. If this is one’s foundation… the scripture reveals truth… otherwise it’s just a lot of legalistic gobbledegook.

    Still Paul… you’re ability to make sense of the tangle of scripture is impressive. Good word!

  6. Dear Paul, it is alway is a joy to read what you write – encouraging. Blessings always,

  7. I fear that you are not reading this passage so much through glasses, but through sunglasses – there seem to be some parts that you are just not reading. The passage says “it is impossible … if they fall away to be brought back”, yet you interpret this as “it’s impossible for them to fall away” – perhaps I’m missing something, but you’ve turned the logic of the verse back to front to fit your argument? The passage clearly (to me at least!) seems to describe what happens if a believer falls away. If it was impossible for a believer to fall away, why on earth would the writer not clearly say that?
    I agree that the passage is highly uncomfortable reading. But if I reinterpreted everything I found uncomfortable in scripture through my previous beliefs, then I would never grow in my knowledge, wisdom in faith.

    • I think you misunderstood Paul’s argument and interpretation. He was saying there are several different ways of looking at what is said in that Scripture, and he pointed out how in light of salvation being secure that if it were possible to fall away “it is impossible” to return. However, the passage you are referring to does not use the term believer as you are assuming or implying. It is not clear at all if it is referring to believers or simply hearers. It is more likely referring to those who have previously been under the old covenant because Hebrews is addressed to Jews and is referring to the measure of the Holy Spirit that they were partakers in under the provision of the old covenant. Hebrews is ripe with passage referring to Jesus as the new and only high priest and the mediator of a new covenant, and the author is calling them forward into the new promise. The “falling away” would be for them to return to their old covenant lawkeeping mindset.

  8. Great post by you Paul thanks for sharing the revelation.

  9. BOOOOOMMMMMMM! Another “killer” scripture disarmed and brought into the beautiful light of the New Covenant!! Well done Paul!

    • Boom… Yes…. but assent to logical constructs does not change anything. The only place to find life is in the acceptance of His love (aka faith). Perceiving the world through logic is vain… unless… somehow… miraculously that logic leads a person to faith.

      • Hi Tom, you make some excellent points about faith that I agree with whole-heartedly. I don’t write these posts to convince unbelievers about Jesus – that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. (And this is why I am wary of Christian apologetics.) I write so that we can take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. The religious market is full of arguments and theories and reasonings that stand against the knowledge of God. These things make Christians insecure and anxious. They tarnish faith with doubt. My aim is to revel in Jesus and what He has done. My purpose with these scripture studies is to exhort with sound doctrine and maybe, just maybe, convince a few gainsayers.

      • Hi Paul. Just to share a powerful truth I learned recently; KJV 2 Cor 10:5 the OBEDIENT OF CHRIST (bringing into captivity every thought to the Finished Work of Christ at the cross).

  10. Thsnks Paul. Your sharing reminds me of 2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Here it clearly says DOG & SOW not SHEEP.

  11. Heb 6:4-6 Is a STRONG phrase COMPLIMENTING Heb 6:1-4
    Heb 6:4-6 paints a picture of how IMPOSSIBLE looks like

    “…LET US LEAVE the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity”
    “…BECAUSE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE for Jesus to die again at the Cross”

    – grace and peace

  12. Great Paul: Check out John Sheasbys series on Hebrews. He does such a great Job, nearly more than on hour on each chapter approx.

  13. Thomas Fontenot // May 12, 2012 at 3:20 am // Reply

    don’t know exactly what the term “fall away” means in this scripture, but, if it means going back to a life of drugs and defilement (like I did 3 times) then I’m living a lie right now in Christ walking in Victory (not perfect but..) for the last 7 years. If once you get saved (born again) and one time or another fall back into some old sinful habits, and could NEVER repent from them again…..then God’s grace is not sufficient..

    • Praise God. for your life renewed. We can always turn to God. When we accept Him as our savior and lord we are sealed in Him. He will never, ever, ever leave or forsake us.
      The Prodigal Son mentioned above humbled himself and went back to his father’s house. I believe some people have distorted this story. I don’t remember the son ever saying to himself ” I’ve been a bad son, disrespectful, unloving, greedy, and disobediant. Nope, it was all about him. I would be better off as a servant in my father’s house than I am now. I will say to him (his father)….But if I remember correctly that when he got home his father hugged him, clothed him, threw him a party and I can’t remember where the son ever did say to his father all the things he had planned to say to get into his father’s good graces.
      God is always there ready to give us his love. I also believe the Holy Spirit keeps right on prompting us to return. Sometimes I believe things will happen that were set in motion by God to help us to make that journey back.
      With me it was a friend who kept calling me to pray for someone. I kept saying you know I don’t pray, My prays will not do them any good because I’m not walking with God. But as the months went by I finally gave in just to hopefully stop the nagging. Wow, that’s all it took, glory to God. I didn’t stop praying, reading the Word, praising God, and praying in tongues almost none stop for weeks. It felt so good to be home. Then about six months later I started watching Joseph Prince and after that Andrew Wommack. Wow God’s even better than I thought He was. Jesus is Lord and He loves you. I’m so happy for you.

    • Its easy to understand Hebrews if you understand WHO Paul was writing to. He was writing to HEBREW believers. They were Jewish Christians NOT gentiles. All the warnings in the book of Hebrews were written to tell them to stop leaving the finished work of Christ to go back to there own works righteousness and animal sacrifices. They were professing Christians but they kept going back and offering sacrifices at the temple. that was the “backsliding” Paul was talking about. None of these warnings were supposed to instill fear about our salvation, they were meant to clarify that we live by FAITH in the FINISHED work of Christ and to stop going back to the old way of living by the law and animal sacrifices!

  14. Andre van der Merwe // February 12, 2013 at 7:44 pm // Reply


    This was a good article! I have to ask though (even though I know where you stand on this issue), you harped in one section about how salvation has nothing to do with us and everything with what God has done. I agree, it’s all about what God has provided by His grace.

    But isn’t a relationship with God exactly that, a RELATIONSHIP? You seemed to completely nullify the concept of “free will” in this post. Do we not have any choice in the matter? Are we merely puppets in God’s grand design?

    Thanks 😉

    • You know I’m a big believer in relationship and responding to God’s overtures. Love never forces itself on anyone. And yet, those words of John 1:12-13 really make me think. What exactly was John describing?

      I recall when Camilla got saved. She went from being a hard-as-concrete godless atheist to being totally smitten by Jesus. She said something I’ll never forget: “Once you see him, he’s irresistible.” I agree! Jesus is the beauty that saves the world. Camilla found him irresistible. So do I. How much of that is my desire to be loved by him and his desire to love me – I don’t know.

      I really need to think more about this passage, but I just got home from a run and dinner’s on the table. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on John 1:12-13.

      • Paul,
        Grace & peace to you.
        How we interpret scripture depends on our picture of God. God’s heart is what is most vital to connect with; It Is what allows us to make sense of what the Bible is saying.
        My experience is as your wife’s but I am uncomfortable with God CHOSING to discard some while welcoming others when neither deserve His Grace. As love is unconditional, apart from that the recipient wants it, Grace must be freely available to all if desired (I beleive).
        I don’t know why I have a relationship with God. But the thought that God choses to remain far from some terrifies me.
        This doesn’t seem like the heart of God as I perceive it.
        Ps Is it significant that the word for recieve (v11) is not the same as recieved (v12)?
        Could it be that even a weak reception (v11) just giving God any sort of genuine hearing could by His Grace allow us to truly receive Him?

  15. Hi Paul, you should listen to Andrew Wommack’s explanation in his teaching called “Hebrews Highlights”. I think his explanation makes the most sense. We do have a free will and we can renounce our faith in Jesus. I believe this is what this verse is referring to but it applies to a mature believer doing this. Some young believers may do this immaturely and of course they are just children not knowing what they are really doing and they can return to the Lord because they renounced their faith based on ignorance.

    • I am familiar with AW’s teachings on Hebrews and eternal security in general. While I consider AW one of the true giants in grace, I don’t share the view that older Christians are more in danger of being lost than younger Christians, for reasons I explain here.

  16. If you have real faith in Jesus to renounce it is to commit suicide Hebrews 11;1 tells us what faith is.If you believe Jesus saved you from sin , you will probably end up rejecting the jesus you believe in , but if you by revelation not believe but know that he has given you life.I will say no more.It really depends on what religious bullshit you have been fed.Hebrews plainly says once you have moved on to the revelation of the fullness of Christ’s teaching,on to perfection, the final victory,there is no possibility of turning back.Not ressurection of the dead but ressurection of the living.If you have rejected life knowing it is life ,what is left for you to turn to.What repentance is left.

  17. How do we distinguish between those who are truly saved and those who aren’t? Recently I’ve felt more and more that not everyone who professes to be a Christian is really saved. In Matt 7, Jesus even says that “not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” This is very important to me because I’ve begun to question if members of my family are truly saved and simply don’t know the full truth of what salvation means, or if they are so bent on works and following the law that they are unwittingly denying Christ. Please help if you can.

    • We don’t. We leave the judging to Jesus. Our part is to preach the gospel, encourage the timid, help the weak, show mercy to those who doubt and be patient with everyone (Mk 16:15, 1 Th 5:14, Jude 1:22).

      • Aaron Grijalva // January 7, 2016 at 2:42 pm //

        Even though small, this comment is one of my favorite things you have ever written. Maybe it’s just one of those timing things that I needed to hear 😉

  18. Great discussions people , spirit of truth is within , Acts 17:11 is a good starting place for all believers and the following most astounding biblical truth is a continuum of setting me free , here goes: “. YES JESUS LOVES ME !!😜😀👍🙏

  19. I read the part about Judas and see myself. I fear I have hardened my heart and although I once had the assurance of Christs love, I fell away and deliberately chose to walk away from living the Christian life to full blown open sinning, even though I knew it was wrong. Now I struggle with believing I am forgiven which leads me to believe I have hardened my heart since I am so sin conscious. Do you believe there is a remedy for someone like me? All during my open rebellion I believed I was still covered by Jesus blood. It was only within the past year that I doubted to the point of telling God I didn’t believe in Him and that is why I did those things. I think I opened the Pandora’s box and hardened my heart toward His love at that moment. How can I get back under the warmth and embrace of His love and forgiveness again?

    • Is there a remedy? Yes! It’s called repentance. Change your unbelieving mind that says “my sin is greater than God’s grace,” and put your trust in Jesus. Doubt your doubts and trust his many good promises to you. This is a battle you can win! You can’t control what thoughts come to your mind but you can CHOOSE what you will believe. Don’t believe those lying thoughts and believe what your heavenly Father says instead. You are his beloved child!

    • HE never left you even tho you did what you did, HE is FAITHFUL.

  20. Tonia…I to can identified with your troubles and when younger was very close to God and loved Him greatly! In the military I fell into sin and denied God and lived a rebellious lifestyle. Then one day blackness appeared in my life and I cried out to God but it seemed as if there was no answer. Great fear fell over me as I desperately sought God. Four years I lived in a dark empty existence until one day an old preacher shared a story about a lamb who would leave the flock and constantly go astray. The shepherd would leave the flock, search for the lamb and bring it back. However the lamb continued to wonder off and sometimes ended up in a thicket of thorns or was susceptible to hungry wolves. In the days of old the shepherd would carry a staff with a hook at the end. As the shepherd approached the lamb and the lamb saw the shepherd coming he would try and run away but the shepherd would catch the lamb by the hindquarters with his staff and pull the lamb to himself. In order to correct the lamb the shepherd would then break the leg of the lamb, put a splint on the lambs leg and carried the lamb around his neck until the break healed. Once healed the shepherd would remove the splint and placed the lamb by his feet. After that the lamb would never the shepherds side. That’s what happened to me in my time of dispair! I believe loving discipline is very much a believers experience and it is not out of punishment so much as it is out of His great love for us. I believe wholeheartedly in the security if the believer and I believe wholeheartedly that you are born of God. If you weren’t of God you wouldn’t care and I can tell by your post you care deeply. But know He loves you greatly, you are His and that is forever. Turn to Him with a true heart knowing your sin is already paid for and welcome home!!!

  21. Love your insights and truth that sets people free! I was reading Hebrews 10:26 where it says “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins”, and a thought came to me. If he was writing to Jews on the fence, could he be letting them know that after they have heard the truth, the sacrifices THEY offer no longer have any effect. Meaning some we’re offering sacrifices for their sins when receiving this from Paul, and Paul is pointing them to the eternal sacrifice of Jesus and saying look guys, what your doing is worthless now that you have heard the truth… The truth that Jesus was our sacrifice once and for all!

  22. I came across the 6th chapter of Hebrews years ago after entering a very bad period of my life spiritually. I had sinned and thought it was after reading Hebrews too late for me. I cannot tell you the terror and fear I felt. About a year or two later the Lord finally showed Himself to me in my sleep one night and actually put me to sleep. I woke up and decided that I was going to put all of my spiritual worries in God’s hands and let Him work them out in His own time.

  23. Wow thanks Paul what a relief to read this, I’ve worried about this scripture for years!!

  24. I am of the conclusion that this is in reference to true believers. However, the Greek “apostasia” is not used here. It is “parapipto”, which is a form of falling but it is not a falling away, rather a stumbling. These Christians were allowing their fellowship with God to be interrupted. This does not refer to salvation at all, but rather things which accompany it.

  25. Hi Paul
    If we become born again not by our will then what about those who God doesn’t seem to birth again?
    The Bible “seems” to talk of a group who are always estranged from Him which, although the details are sketchy, is very definitely a very bad place to be.
    This doesn’t sound like something I think God would arrange/permit.
    Do you think God is going to make it right eventually for all His children and if not how do you reconcile the position?

  26. Paul; love the way you simplified this. I myself for a Loooooong time struggled with this one verse. Your post re assured me. I backslid for several years and came back through conviction, came back even stronger in the Lord and no one can do that except by the Holy Spirit. You have a real gift brother. Keep informing.

  27. I really enjoyed This. I love the lord .But i know its his love for me . Im So blessed To be loved by Jésus

  28. This site has been an eye opener for me, I to have been going through the “Have I lost my salvation” state. I have seen Hebrews 6 but it never really Hit me this hard. Recently(Like in the last week) I have abandoned my sinful habits and turned back. I have been Scouring the internet.. and I mean every chance I could get, I would look for “can you lose your salvation”,Eternal Security, etc. Believe it or not that is how I found this site. My desire right now is to get my heart right again and build a relationship with the Lord. I know I am running my poor pastor crazy but he told me this: “IF you are worried that you have lost your salvation, then you have not, If you had you wouldn’t care. You would not even care to have a relationship with the Lord. You wouldn’t want to leave your lifestyle” Makes sense to me.

    I think the one thing that could be the bomb to Hebrews 6:4-6 is 1 Corinthians 5:5 basically it is talking about the man that is willfully sinning ( I say willfully sinning because that church was a carnal church, and Paul told the church to stop) It says that he was handed over to Satan so his flesh could be destroyed but his Spirit saved.

  29. It is impossible to renew these people AGAIN to repentance. Does this imply that the people in question repented before, then fell away after they repented?

    • No. As long as you have breath it’s always possible to repent. The prodigal repented.

      The passage is not talking about people who want to repent, but people who don’t. They’ve heard the good news and rejected it. They’ve tasted the good things of God and spat them out. Having hardened their hearts and made up their minds they are lost. Hence the exhortation, “Today, if you (meaning you Hebrews) hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert” (Heb 3:7-8).

  30. What do you do accepted grace then went back to law keeping then went back to grace and it was back and fourth because you were truly confused? I felt so good when I discovered grace then heard again that you have to do things keep salvation. I went back and fourth and now it feels my heart is hardened but I do not want to be in hell. I want to be with God. Does this mean I’ve fallen away? I no longer feel Gods spirit

    • Jon Kirschbaum // April 2, 2016 at 4:22 pm // Reply

      J…I know your feeling and confusion about law and grace and have fought this battle many time myself. You need to realize we do not walk with God by emotions but by faith. We believe what He says and know it to be true! Many days I do not feel spiritual or close to God however I know He is there and He has a great love for me as He does for you! You are secure in Him! You are sealed by the Spirit until the day or redemption! Your hidden in Christ until His return. All promises to you my brother! If you weren’t saved you wouldn’t be worried about losing your salvation. Be assured that if you believe in Him you are His. We are saved by faith and are under grace. Our salvation is not dependent on us. It all centers around the cross where your and my sins have been placed. It is His work and His gift to us! All we do is receive it. We have been imputed the the righteousness of Christ and are justified. We are declared not guilty even though we’re not innocent. What a wonderful God! David said in Romans 4:7,8 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
      And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” That my friend is you! Thank Him for His love and for your salvation and He will fill you! Blessings! Jon

    • momzilla76 // April 3, 2016 at 3:05 am // Reply

      If salvation is based upon fleeting emotions then yes you would be lost. But thanks be to God eternity is not based upon such a flimsy thing as feelings and sensations!! John 3:15-18 and Romans 10:9-11. Salvation is based upon faith in Jesus. Faith means being morally convinced that what you have heard is true. The Law and other religious rules can grind a person down. The truth of Jesus will always lift you up! Don’t let other people’s rules and your lack of feelings and emotions make you doubt or feel ashamed.

    • Hi J, I have gone through a similar experience. How are things with you?

  31. Joel Magemeso // August 4, 2016 at 10:46 pm // Reply

    What Does It Mean? That If Am A Minister With Signs And Wonders And I Fall, I Can’t Repent And Hold Grip Again?!

  32. This interpretation still leaves some big questions such as:

    1. If someone can appear to receive the gospel but later walk away only to prove that they never really believed: how do I know that won’t be me in the future?

    2.Aren’t there lots of peopke who “taste” the gospel and reject it, only to repent later on in life and believe? Doesn’t this prove that they can still be renewed to repentance?

    3. What if I’m a believer who doubted, or even walked away fromm the faith for some time and then came back? How do I fit into this verse?

    • I suppose every interpretation raises questions, but only this interpretation is consistent with scripture in general and the Lord’s many assurances about the believer’s security in particular.

      • Another possible interpretation is this:

        The words “crucify afresh” and “put to open shame” are both in the present active participle. I’m not a greek scholare but I believe they could be translated “crucifying afresh” and “putting to open shame.”

        This would make the whole section read something like “for in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, crucifying to themselves the Son of God and putting Him to an open shame.”

        It could be interpreted that as long as they are crucifying Jesus afresh and putting Him to open shame (by going back to the temple worship), it is impossible to renew them to repentance. If, however, they are willing to stop doing that, then it is no longer impossible for them to be renewed to repentance.

        In the whole context he could basically be saying “we won’t spend anymore time covering the basics for those guys who have already heard the gospel and experienced God’s power but have gone back to the temple. They are beyond help as long as they crucify the Lord afresh to themselves and put Him to open shame.” This to me would preserve the theme throughout scripture that it’s never too late for a person as long as they are living. What do you think?

      • Yes, it’s analogous to saying, “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts” (2 Cor 3:15). If you’re veiled, you simply can’t see no matter how hard you look. It’s impossible. But once the veil is removed, that which was impossible becomes easy.

  33. That’s a relief. I’ve always heard this taught (even by those who believe in eternal security), as some kind of “point of no return” verse. I don’t think that’s what he’s saying at all.

  34. This is marvelous!! I Love this post..its life changing…please but i need to be enlightened more on scriptures that say until we persevere to the end then we shall be saved. how do they tally with absolute eternal security

  35. Paul, thanks for the great post.

    While you may be right, I lean toward the ones having “fallen” as being Christians. My reasons are: 1) The context is Heb. 5:11-6:14 where the subject is about Christians who failed to grow. In this case, they “fell off” the path of growth. 2) We know Christians can fall from Gal. 5:4, where they fell from grace back down to law. 3) There is no “if” in the Greek in Heb 6:5. These believers indeed fell, as evidenced by their ignorant behavior towards the finished work of Christ. They are like someone waking up each day praying the sinner’s prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner”. A mature believer says, “God thank you for your great mercy in Christ for making me a saint.”

  36. John Sherman, You are spot on with your analysis. The passage takes on an entire different meaning when you go back to Chapter 5. 6:3 says””3 And this we will do, if God permits.””. Do what you might ask? “Press on to maturity”. Provided they changed their mindset on how they approached God , by faith not by the six Jewish customs mentioned in 6:2 otherwise God will not allow them to move on to maturity. I knew of a saved born again Catholic who was converted yrs ago during the Charismatic movement in the late 1970’s in the Catholic church. Godly man but he stayed in the Church and like the Hebrews in chapters 5 and 6 continued the traditions of the Catholic church (Confessions/lords supper/etc. He led many to Christ but had the maturity of an infant Christian some 30 yrs later. Saved man but never evolved past an infant believer as far as i know. What the catholic Church is doing is equivilant of Crucifying Christ afresh by perpetuating there traditions as these saved Hebrews were doing in 64-70 AD.

  37. Good day. You insinuate that Heb 6:4-6 did not refer to Christians. But verse 4 gave a description of the folks talked about and they couldn’t have been unbelievers. How can an unbeliever taste of the heavenly gift, partake of the Holy Ghost and the power of the world to come?
    That’s definitely talking about a believer.
    But here is not referring to your actions but your renouncing of your faith. Notice it says its impossible for them to come again unto repentance.. If they could repent then they didn’t belong to this category. If they could repent, they would have been forgiven.

  38. God’s forgiveness is unending to our sins if we come to him in faith asking to forgive us.

    • I needed to think about this. On the surface you seem to be saying healthy things that Paul posts elsewhere here. You may have intended that. But just to clarify… Forgiveness under the old covenant was something God did, but since the cross it is something God gives. Forgiveness and repentance are free gifts. We may not appreciate when we confess that God has already forgiven us. Indeed it’s a better ending, because it’s a better beginning.

  39. Fredric Schuster // October 16, 2017 at 2:34 am // Reply

    I agree with Paul, that it is impossible. Not to fall away. It is impossible to be born again after you are born again. Just as it is impossible for Jesus Christ to get crucified twice or more. The only thing I disagree about is Judas. Judas was never at the outpouring of the holy spirit. He did not make it to the day of pentecost! He was under the law until the full ministry of Christ was finished and he could receive the faith of Jesus Christ. If you receive the holy spirit as they did in the day of pentecost you are sealed with the holy spirit, and you cannot be like Judas. That is comparing apples to oranges.

  40. Excellent explanation of the passage, Paul! Way to go.

  41. Good job
    Well put

  42. This passage is a great exhortation to continue in the faith towards Christ! The word of God is clear one cannot loose their salvation once they have received Christ. So I believe this passage is talking about how you live your life after being born again, whether mature or not, stumbles (fall’s away) and looses reward having believed and received Christ then building life unwisely and living like an unsaved person. That person is still saved, but in the day of Judgement their works are burned up because of the way they have responded to God.

    Heb 6:9-12
    But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

  43. Fredric Schuster // February 12, 2019 at 4:30 am // Reply

    Paul I just noticed that the “if” in verse Heb 6:6 is not in the Greek!! Who the heck gave the KJV or any other translators the right to add that. Was that their way to control the church?? Well I read Hebrews, like you, either to not yet believers or any age believer. After your read the flow or Heb 6:1-3 It is speaking to the Jews who knew only temple sacrifices and washings.”dead works” then Heb 6:4-6 continues with 3 “kai’s” or “ands” but no “if” There are no ifs for a born again period, so stop putting doubt in our minds religious peddlers!!!

    The flow continues that unlike the returning to the priest everytime you sin, the sacrifice of Jesus cannot be made twice..It is impossible!!! To renew those who are renewed and to sacrifice He who made the sacirifice one time and for all time over and over (like the burnt offerings) Read Heb 10 “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” It is impossible to pay for the sins of the world twice. Impossible for 1) enlightened and 2) gifted, and 3) partakers and 4) stummblers to redo the cross and all it means. The addition of “if’ “afresh” “putting to shame” as not warranted.
    We were born again and renewed once and for all by a kind and loving savior. Titus 3:4, 5

  44. Don’t know why so many giving other references in the Bible but still were taken out of context. I think if we put aside the idea of once saved always saved, we can read the text in context better. For an example John 3:16, why stopped at 3:16? Try to read in context,

    “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

    Jesus made it clear that saving faith is involving deeds. Keep reading John 3:36

    Hebrew 6:4-12 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. 

    • I agree with you David in that as a Christian there should be deeds associated with our faith. If we are born of God then we have the DNA of God and we should have the propensity to do the things that please God. However I believe that deeds are in no way involved with our being a child of God or does it secure our position with Him after salvation. Jesus said that all that the Father gives to Me is will lose none of them. John 6:39. Lack of a changed life may be a sign however that we do not belong to God in the first place! We also can be deceived because there are many who exhibit the deeds of God but don’t yet belong to Him. Jesus said that many will come to Him in that Day and say Lord, Lord did I not cast out demons, heal and prophecy in your name and He will say to them, depart from Me because I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness! Matt 7:21-23. Also, someone can believe without having faith but you can’t have faith without believing. The demons believe and tremble! James 2:19. Someone can believe an airplane can fly but when asked to get into the airplane their reply “No, not me…I don’t trust it! If you believe in Christ you will get in Christ! If someone claims to be a Christian and has yet to come out of darkness then their adoption into the family of God is suspect. Sometimes people are doing deeds on Sunday morning to try and make up for the deeds on Friday night! It is not our deeds that count but His working through us. We cast our crowns at His feet because it was Him all along working through us! Seek God with your whole heart and He will take care of the rest!

  45. Chapter 6 refers to Chapter 5:11-14 and not being a slow learner- becoming a mature “teleion” teacher – 6:1-3 is says : let’s move on to Maturity “teleioteta” !

    The point is about maturing. 6:4 is saying it is impossible for a person to mature- to get a renewed “anakainizoin” changed mind “metanoian” – if one is “holding Him up to contempt” recrucifying Jesus. If one thinks the Cross is not enough which is what some of the Original Jewish readers were doing by going back to Old Covenant rules. If one does not accept the Cross as the final sufficient sacrifive then they will probably never mature as they are not grasping the 6:1 elementary badic teachings of the 6:1 “logon” and the 5:13 “basic principles of the “logion” oracles of God. This passage is not about saved ir not saved, it is about maturing or not maturing. The non grasper of the Cross will not enter the rest of Chapter 4 but will be a drifter as 2:1 suggests. The Hebrews epistle is understood by mature believers- because many immature believers expound on this passage it has gotten such twisted interpretations. 6:9-20 explains the love, assurance, anchor, hope, non sluggishness, diligence “spouden” 6:11 a maturing biever should aim for. Of course it all goes back to Chapters 1-4, then 7-10!! Understanding this produces the Chalter 11 faith – champions – who are the examples of maturity.

  46. Justin Hall // April 30, 2019 at 7:53 am // Reply

    So what is falling away I ask? Is a confused child of God that really wants Gods love in his life an apostate? Forget about depression and all the other worldly troubles. Must I try harder? Pray more ask for more grace to be like you joy filled Christian’s? All I do know for certain is that God knows my heart. And I will NEVER stop trying so all you people saying you lose salvation or what ever. I dont know if God has let me go but I do know I will still get up and try again through his GRACE!

    • Jared Westendorp // May 3, 2019 at 1:21 pm // Reply

      hey Buddy, He is grace. 🙂

      • Justin Hall // May 9, 2019 at 3:01 am //

        Thanks brother really trying to forget the past and push forward! We all face different circumstances but only through his love can we push on. Thus get irritated with the above scripture like a stumbling block.

      • Justin Hall // May 9, 2019 at 3:02 am //

        Are you from RSA?

      • Jared Westendorp // August 11, 2019 at 1:53 am //

        Sorry Justin for misunderstanding what you wrote earlier which I get now after revisiting this post and rereading most of the replies to it. I am not from RSA and the reason I called you “buddy” is I was trying to not be misunderstood as being critical instead of encouraging.

  47. Maybe a simplistic answer but eternal means eternal. It doesn’t become that once some finish line has been crossed.

    And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: -Genesis 3:22

  48. Joe Wehrwein // July 7, 2020 at 8:29 am // Reply

    I think the key to this verse is “and the powers of the coming age”.

    Have you tasted the powers of the age to come? They did! This book was written during the Acts period when all the gifts of the spirit where given out. Healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons ect. Can you do any of those things? No! Show me one person who has the power to heal the sick and I will send all the coronavirus cases to them, have them walk up and down a cancer ward healing all the kids.

    No, those gifts have ceased and were only a SIGN to the Jews, remember the Jews require a sign. Once the Acts period was over, the Kingdom went to the Gentiles. Look at the gifts mentioned in Corinthians, same gifts but Corinthians was also written during the Acts period when the miraculous gifts were still abounding. Ok, go look at Ephesians, written after the Acts period where God no longer used those as a sign for the Jews, God was now going to the Gentiles. In Ephesians, Paul NO LONGER lists those as the gifts, now the gifts are teachers, pastors, evangelists, and look around what we have now, pastors, teachers evangelists hmmm. Those are the gifts now, but those are not tasting of the powers of the age to come like they did in Acts period. Paul had to even leave a disciple of his behind sick! No more of those gifts.

    That is what it means to taste the “powers of the coming age”. In Hebrews 6 Paul is saying that once you have all these amazing gifts of the holy spirit (healing, casting out demons, raising the dead) and NOW you fall away, you cant be brought back because you are already indwelt fully and you cast that off, now you have nothing left.

    None of us have tasted the powers of the coming age, if you have I would like to know who you are.

    • I have healed the sick and cast out demons. I certainly don’t heal 100% of the people I pray for, but I’ve seen amazing life-saving miracles. And I know many people who have seen far more amazing miracles than me. All glory to God. Don’t let your inexperience shape your theology. The Holy Spirit did not retire at the end of the book of Acts and Jesus’ promises are as good as ever.

      BTW, Judas tasted these things too (Mark 6:13), yet he fell away.

      • Hey Brother, I do not doubt that God heals through prayers still. The gifts of healing is different and is gone since the Kingdom after Acts. If you have healed 1 in a 100 Id say get down to St Jude and pray for these kids now. And if you know anyone with that gift they should do the same and would make national news healing kids with cancer, even 1 out of 100. Can God do it, absolutely, but its not the same as the gifts of healing talked about then.

        Healing was a sign for the Jews to know the Kingdom was there now. Hence why when Judas had those powers he fell away Hebrews 6. The powers of the age to come, gifts, will be back once God deals with Israel in the trib.

      • I disagree with the notion that God doesn’t heal people now to the same extent he once did. Healing is healing. If we don’t see it to the same extent as the New Testament church, the fault is not the Lord’s. In the west we don’t see as much persecution and martyrdom either. Doesn’t mean those things have stopped. I also disagree that God is going to “deal with” Israel in the Tribulation.

    • Not trying to bash you or be unloving in any way, I Just have to say that your comment is based off a theology that not even the author of the blog embraces (as far as I am aware), as the theology that the “gifts have ceased” is not embraced by everyone, especially because it seems not present in scripture when looked in context. It is a hard scripture though, but ultimately God sees mans heart and whether someone can fall away/be apostate is something he only knows.

  49. Hello Paul,
    This article was written about 8 years ago, but to me, it is as fresh as if you just wrote it. I am still navigating my way through these articles. After Just reading a few of them, I have come to the conclusion that majority of us need to LOSE OUR SALVATION so that we can RECEIVE HIS SALVATION. Religion is preventing us from seeing Jesus as He really is and enjoying Him as OUR BREAD OF LIFE.

    I am convinced that the reason Jesus has not come back yet is because the true gospel has not yet been preached to a dead world (Matthew 24:14).

  50. Eder Faggiani // April 10, 2021 at 7:08 am // Reply

    I just think he is talking to believers, confirming that they own an eternal salvation, even if they are infants and do not comprehend or let go their beliefs in the grace. In other words, he is just saying that it`s impossible to restore/clean what is already restored/clean!

    It`s one sacrifice forever, one high priest forever, that`s is supposed to be our anchor of eternal salvation for our souls (Hb. 6:19), not our acts after salvation, including a vain repentance post salvation.

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