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In 1979 Dr. Larry Reynolds moved to Denton, Texas, to become the founding pastor of Southmont Baptist Church. During his twenty-eight year ministry at Southmont, the church grew to a membership of more than 1800. The church, which began in a small storefront, now meets on a campus that includes three educational buildings, a fellowship hall, an activities center, and sanctuary. After retiring as the Senior Pastor of Southmont in December, 2006, Pastor Reynolds has remained active in the Denton area conducting weddings, funerals, and leading Bible studies. He and his wife, Carol, have traveled extensively. In addition to five trips to Israel, they have visited Jordan, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Hebrews 6:11-6:20 (Part 1)

Hebrews 5:11-6:20 (Part 1)

We have seen that interspersed throughout Hebrews is a series of passages often referred to as “warning passages.”  In my opinion, these passages are directed toward Jewish Christians in the 1st century who were considering abandoning Christianity and reverting back to Judaism.  Warren Wiersbe categorizes the passages this way:

Drifting from the Word—2:1–4 (neglect)

Doubting the Word—3:7–4:13 (hard heart)

Dullness toward the Word—5:11–6:20 (sluggishness)

Despising the Word—10:26–39 (willfulness)

Defying the Word—12:14–29 (refusing to hear)

In our journey through Hebrews we have come to the third of these passages.  Hebrews 5:11-6:20 is a parenthetical expression in the middle of a larger passage concerning the superiority of Jesus as our high priest in Hebrews 5 – 9.  Notice the reference to Melchizedek in 5:10 and then again in 7:1.  Everything in between those two verses consists of the parenthetical expression and third major warning passage of the book.

The key question in dealing with this warning is determining to whom it is addressed.  John MacArthur argues that the audience for this warning is unbelieving Jews who had heard the gospel, understood the gospel, but rejected the gospel.  Others, and I fall in to this camp, hold that this warning is directed toward Christian Jews who are not progressing in the faith and who are in danger of falling away.

Verse 11

            “him” – Either Melchizedek (MacArthur) or Christ (Utley).  May mean both in the sense that the point the writer is making in this larger section is that Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek.

            “we” – Literary plural

“dull” - Made up of two Greek words, one meaning "no" and the other meaning "push"...literally it means "no push or slow or sluggish"...in this passage the writer uses the word in the sense of spiritual dullness or sluggishness...the tense (perfect active indicative) indicates a settled state of being…this word is used in the New Testament only here and in Hebrews 6:12 where the NASB translates it as “sluggish”

Joey Miller and Matthew McNelly concocted an ingenious disguise before trying to break into an apartment.  Well, we use the term "ingenious" very loosely. Matthew and Joey spurned more traditional disguises like masks or balaclavas, instead choosing to draw on their own faces with permanent markers. Here's the thing about permanent marker. It's extremely difficult to erase. So when the pair was pulled over by police after the bungled break-in, they were easily recognizable.  The stunt earned Joey and Matthew the nickname "dumb and dumber".  [http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/the-10-dumbest-criminals-in-the-world/story-fnixwvgh-1226708128173] 

While it may not be as obvious as that, the truth is that it is easy for us to become characterized by a spiritual dullness. 

            “have become” - Indicates they weren't always "dull of hearing" but that they became that way over time...I doubt that any Christian makes it his or her goal to be spiritually slow or sluggish...when person first becomes a Christian there is an enthusiasm an excitement about his or her Christian life...there is desire to learn more and more and to grow as a disciple of Christ...but it is possible to drift into spiritual lethargy without even realizing it is happening to us…(cf. Hebrews 2:1)…

Some years ago I conducted a funeral service of man who died in a most unusual way...he and some of his buddies were camping... were staying in large recreational vehicle in isolated area...was hot time of year and were running the air-conditioning system ...something wrong with exhaust and deadly carbon monoxide fumes began seep into RV...gradually the fumes filled the vehicle and the men died...they were found sitting at the dinner table...from all appearances had no idea what was happening to them...

And tragically, over the years I've seen that process or one similar to it repeated in the lives of many Christians...people who start well...people who begin with enthusiasm and commitment but who gradually and steadily drift away from God and His church...usually blame their lack of involvement on some person or some situation, but truth is most of those who fall away do so because they have gradually over time drifted into spiritual dullness...no longer really care about the things of God...

In the verses that follow in this chapter, the writer points out several negative things that spiritual dullness does to us

Verse 12a  – Spiritual dullness makes us unproductive…

“time”Chronos as opposed to chairos…refers to the linear passage to time rather than a specific moment of opportunity…(cf. Colossians 4:5)…enough time had elapsed where they had not excuse for not progressing in the faith…

“ought” – Strong word denoting a moral obligation…a necessity that is imposed by duty or law or obligation…describes is something that is a moral imperative, not open to dispute…

“teachers…teach” – Note the play on words.  While by this time they should have progressed to the point of teaching others, they were still in need of being taught!

“elementary principles”stoichea…used here, in Hebrews 6:1, and twice in Colossians …the word is translated numerous ways…

            NKJV – “first principles”

            NRSV – “the basic elements”

            TEV – “the first lessons”

The primary idea behind the phrase is the basics or, as we would say, the ABC’s of a subject.  They were so immature that they needed to be taught the basics again!

“oracles of God” - From the Greek word used also in Romans 3:2, and Acts 7:38, and refers to divine utterances. [1]  Certainly would include the Old Testament but would also include the testimony of the Apostles.

The point of this statement in 12a is that by this time in their spiritual pilgrimage they should have been teaching others, they were still in need of being taught.


Verse 12b-13 – Spiritual dullness makes us immature…

“milk…solid food” – A common New Testament figure of speech regarding spiritual growth…(cf. 1 Cor. 3:2; 1 Peter 2:2)…

“word of righteousness” - Probably, however, in the foreground of the writer’s thought was the word spoken by the Son (ch. 1:2); the salvation which at first was spoken by the Lord (ch. 2:3).*[2]

Verse 14 – Spiritual dullness impairs our judgment…this verse points out that the spiritually mature have the ability "to discern good and evil" ...however, the spiritually dull do not have this ability...

                  --a baby has very little concept of what is good or bad for it...of what will hurt it and what will help it...therefore, a baby will stick almost anything in its mouth, touch anything it can reach, and go anywhere it can manage to crawl...

                  --the same principle is true in the spiritual realm... immature Christians have great difficulty discerning between right/wrong...truth/falsehood...what is helpful/ harmful...what should be embraced/avoided...

            Nothing so sweet and innocent and cute as little baby...but when see a child or youth or adult who has not progressed intellectually or emotionally or physically much beyond baby stage, not attractive any longer...we find that sad and repulsive...

We need constantly to be on guard against spiritual dullness. In chapter 6 the writer tells us how to do that.

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English reader (Heb 5:12). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
[2] Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Heb 5:13). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.