Having introduced the idea that Jesus is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10), the author sees a need to digress. He must address a serious condition that is threatening the recipients: T hey have become 'dull of hearing'. To understand what this means, I think we need to look firstly at Hebrews 6:11-12, where the word for 'dull' is translated 'sluggish', and then at Hebrews 6:13-20, where the ideas of promise and hope are further discussed (and after which the digression ends). In Hebrews 6:11-12, the state of being 'sluggish' (dull) is contrasted with what he desires, namely that they would be diligent in having full assurance of hope . He wants them to be earnest towards having hope so that they would not be sluggish, but so that they would be like those who inherit the promises . God made a promise to Abraham (Hebrews 6:13), that included a promise to bless his offspring/ heirs (e.g. Genesis 22:17-18). The inspired author tells us (Hebrews 6:17) that God wanted to show the heirs that he meant it, so that they might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before them, so he guaranteed his promise with an oath. What is this hope set before them? It relates to the fact that Jesus has gone into the very throne room of God in heaven (see Hebrews 9:11-12) on our behalf (Hebrews 6:20). In summary, the author wants the readers to not be slugglish, but to be earnest in their hope, a hope in God's promise to bless, which is secure in Jesus who is now the believer's representative before God in heaven. So then, the opposite of being 'dull of hearing' is having hope in Jesus as the fulfilment of God's promises; and being 'dull of hearing' is failing to hope in Jesus as the fulfilment of God's promises. I think we can also see this in Hebrews 5:11-6:3 (but it was helpful for me to look first at Hebrews 6:11-20) . The orginal recipients needed to be taught again the basic principles of the oracles of God, that is, the Old Testament scriptures properly understood in light of Jesus. We know they had heard the good news (Hebrews 2:3-4, Hebrews 4:2), but their hope in Jesus was becoming dull. They needed to be taught again, and then through practice learn to become skilled in the word of righteousness: to discern good from evil, (which I think means) to discern how God's promises are fulfilled in Jesus, and so hope in him. And so the exhortation: with the beginnings (Hebrews 6:1 NASB note) of the teaching of Christ (i.e. the Old Testament) in place, let us see them as fulfilled in Jesus, and let us go on to maturity. When we see things this way, we can start to learn what Melchizedek teaches us about Jesus.
About this we have much to say,
About this (Christ a high priest in the order of Melchizedek) we have a lot to say
and it is c hard to explain,
however it is difficult to explain
since you have become dull of hearing.
because your spiritual heart has become sluggish.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
That is , by this time you should be teachers
you need someone to teach you again d the basic principles of the oracles of God .
however , you need someone to explain to you, once again, the basic truths about God.
You need e milk,
That is , you need easily digestable gospel basics,
not solid food,
not the weighty doctrine,
for everyone who lives on milk
Because, if someone lives on milk
is unskilled in the word of righteousness ,
then they don't know how to handle the word
since he is f a child.
because they are spiritual children.
But solid food is for g the mature,
But solid food is for the spiritually mature
for those who have their powers h of discernment trained
that is , for those who have their perceptive faculty trained
by constant practice
by regular use
to distinguish good from evil.
to discern good and evil.
Therefore i let us leave j the elementary doctrine of Christ
Therefore , let us move beyond the beginning doctrine of Christ
and go on to maturity,
and so be taken forward to maturity
not laying again a foundation of repentance k from dead works and of faith toward God,
[by] not laying over again the foundations of turning away from dead works and faith in God
and of l instruction about washings, 1 m the laying on of hands,
and instructions about washing and laying on of hands
n the resurrection of the dead, and o eternal judgment.
and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement.
And this we will do
And we will move on
p if God permits.
if God allows us.
They heard and believed the gospel, but somehow, their hope had dulled, and so they were not growing.
What are the 'oracles of God'? OT Scriptures (Acts 7:38 (the law at Sinai), Rom 3:2 (all OT revelation), 1 Peter 4:11). Truths about God, that, properly responded to, cause someone to have an active hope in God. Jesus is not mentioned, but the letter elsewhere states that Jesus is central to how God has revealed himself. So, in the context, the oracles of God are the OT Scriptures interpreted in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The implication is that dullness is removed through a proper understanding of the oracles of God. i.e. Oracles of God --> proper understanding --> trust --> effectual hope --> constant practice ---> growth & ability to teach (as God allows). What of all the teaching that goes on that is not propelled by hope in Jesus, but is simply academic??
What is meant by milk? What is meant by solid food? Why does he say they need milk? Comparisons of bible truth with milk. Options: One option is like in 1 Peter 2:2 = milk encouraged for all Christians, fervency. Babies cry out for milk and drink it fervently. There is a contrast between a baby's fervency and the recipients' current dullness. They need milk to re-calibrate their palates (so that dullness is transformed into eagerness and hope (Heb 6:11-12)). 1 Cor 3:2 = milk needed due to immaturity. They need straightforward, easily digestible teaching about Christ. In this case, I think it is the latter.
What does it mean to live on milk? Drinking milk is elsewhere encouraged (1 Peter 2:2). How does living on milk relate to one's skill with the word? What does this have to do do with spiritual maturity?
In this context, 'teachers' is not only referring to those with the gift of teaching (Rom 12:7, 1 Cor 12:28-29, Eph 4:11, 1 Tim 1:6) but all believers who after a period in the faith should have sufficient maturity to lead others into maturity. (O'Brien Hebrews p.206)
For when God made a promise to Abraham,
When God made a promise to Abraham
since he had no one greater by whom to swear,
He had no one greater by whom to secure his word,
e he swore by himself,
therefore he secured his word by his own name,
saying, f “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”
that is , he swore to bless and multiply Abraham
And thus Abraham, 1 [...] obtained the promise
And the result was that Abraham gained what was promised
[having patiently waited], [...].
by waiting, patiently.
For people swear by something greater than themselves,
Because people swear by appealing to greater things
and in all their disputes h an oath is final for confirmation.
furthermore such guarantees end any doubt.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to i the heirs of the promise j the unchangeable character of his purpose,
Therefore, when God wanted to more persuasively show the heirs of the promise that his purpose is unchangeable,
k he guaranteed it with an oath,
he guaranteed it (the promise) with an oath,
so that by two unchangeable things, in which l it is impossible for God to lie,
so that by two things, that will not change, and where God can not lie,
we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope m set before us.
we who have run to Christ might have courage to stay with the hope set before us.
We have this [ hope ] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul,
We have this [ hope, the promise of God fulfilled in Jesus ] as a secure grounding weight for our innermost man
a hope that enters into n the inner place behind the curtain,
[explaining the hope] it is a hope that is connected into the very inner sanctuary, behind the real curtain,
where Jesus has gone o as a forerunner on our behalf,
that is , into the place where Jesus has led the way for us
p having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
because he has become an eternal high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
The promise resulted in God's blessing to Abraham. That is, the blessing was certain, because of the promise. And yet Abraham did need to wait, patiently (cf. Heb 6:12 ).
More is said about the outworking of Abraham's faith in Heb 11:8-10 and Heb 11:17-19.
Abraham received the promise, and others are now heirs of the promise. Jesus is the heir of all things Heb 1:3.
The author talks about a time 'when God desired to show their heirs of the promise something? When was that time? "... he guaranteed it with an oath". What did he guarantee with an oath? When did he guarantee what with an oath? God desired to show the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose. I think this is referring to His overflowing goodness to his children: He promised to bless, and he is unchanging in that promise. He is good, He is generous. (This is evident in Hebrews 2 as he made the author of his children's salvation perfect through suffering.) Who are the heirs of the promise? The children of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16), those whom he is bringing to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
The two things: his promise and his oath.
The Christian's perseverence in faith is a main theme of the letter. God has seen to it that the Christian has very strong grounds for endurance.
c.f. 'drifting' in Ch 2:1
Abraham is an example of those whom the listeners are encouraged to imitate, those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb 6:12). But it is also more than that: God promised Abraham that through him he would bless the world - this is God's unchanging purpose.
Which promise is being referred to? Peter t. O'Brien, p. 239 'The text does not specify what this promise and this oath are.' Options: 1. Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4, since these are brought together and applied to the Son of God in Heb 5:5, 6. 2. Psalm 110:4 which proclaims Christ as High Priest and the oath in the same context. 3. The promise and oath to Abraham about blessings which Abraham's heirs are to receive. (Gen 22:17) What are the two unchangeable things, by which those who have fled for refuge might have hope? The promise (17a) and the oath (17b) that confirms the promise.
Sure and steadfast.
The purpose of an anchor is to provide a secure tether.
More, than what? Is this another occasion when the author shows us something that is true (i.e. Abraham waited patiently and obtained the promise) and then argues the greater over the lesser. That is, for you who are heirs of the promise, God has shown the unchangeable character of his purpose even more convincingly, so that we might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
I think the stress here is not on the temporal (' when God wanted to show') but on the fact that ' ... God wanted to show ..', and what he did as a consequence.