February 13, 2013 by Jason Hood
I’ve just finished writing roughly 200 pages on imitation, and I didn’t even cover everything in the Bible. One important passage I didn’t explore (part of my “Paralipomena,” if you will) was Hebrews 6:10-15, although I do sum up what it says in several places.
The author is of course building on everything before in Hebrews. But in the near context, note the way in which he appears to evoke Jesus’ parables on fruit-bearing and good soil (6:7-8) as a way to urge the audience to continue in the things “that belong to salvation”—things which he is sure they possess.
After all, God knows their history of love and works (6:10). He’s not unjust; he knows when you serve his people. Again, perhaps there’s an echo here of Jesus’ parable in Matt 25:31-46 (particularly in light of Heb 10:32-34 and 13:3).
Assurance of hope in 6:11 is fed by our earnestness in that same work. The author is concerned that ongoing temptations and threats might pull his audience off the way, just as it did for the Israelites in the wilderness (Heb 3-4). They fell because of “sluggishness” which manifested itself in disbelief and disobedience. Accordingly, he wants his audience to continue in belief and obedience, like Abraham (6:15) and others (6:12) who inherited God’s promises.
Just as the Israelites were negative examples in Hebrews 3-4 (see 3:18-19, 4:2, 6), so other “heroes” who believed and obeyed were positive examples in Hebrews 11. Crucially, it is faith that works, or living faith, that inherits what God has promised (6:12-14) and Jesus has secured (6:19-10:25).