And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Tasted the good word of God.—There is a change of construction in the Greek which suggests that the words rather mean, tasted that God’s word is goody—tasted the excellence of God’s word, and of the powers, &c. God’s word was “spoken through the Lord” (Hebrews 2:3); the Hebrew Christians had heard and received this word, and had proved for themselves its excellence. (Comp. 1Peter 2:3.)
Powers of the world to come.—Literally, powers of a coming (or, future) age. As has been before remarked, the last word is different from that which we find in Hebrews 2:5, the one relating to time, the other to the world as inhabited by man. Perhaps we may say that this is the only difference; the same future is contemplated in both places, namely, the age of the Messianic reign. We have seen (see Hebrews 1:2) that in the earliest days of the Church little account was taken of the period separating the pre-Christian age from that of the full manifestation of the kingdom of God; the “powers” received from God by those who believed (Hebrews 2:4) belonged to no earthly state, but were as truly anticipations of a future age of glory as was the “heavenly gift” an anticipation of the “heavenly fatherland” (Hebrews 11:16).Psalm 119:103; Psalm 141:6. The meaning here is, that they had experienced the excellency of the truth of God; they had seen and enjoyed its beauty. This is language which cannot be applied to an impenitent sinner. He has no relish for the truth of God; sees no beauty in it; derives no comfort from it. It is only the true Christian who has pleasure in its contemplation, and who can be said to "taste" and enjoy it. This language describes a state of mind of which every sincere Christian is conscious. It is that of pleasure in the Word of God. He loves the Bible; he loves the truth of God that is preached. He sees an exquisite beauty in that truth. It is not merely in its poetry; in its sublimity; in its argument; but he has now a "taste" or "relish" for the truth itself, which he had not before his conversion. Then he might have admired the Bible for its beauty of language or for its poetry; he might have been interested in preaching for its eloquence or power of argument; but now his love is for "the truth;" compare Psalm 19:10. There is no book that he so much delights in as the Bible; and no pleasure is so pure as what he has in contemplating the truth; compare Joshua 21:45; Joshua 23:15.
And the powers of the world to come - Or of the "coming age." "The age to come" was a phrase in common use among the Hebrews, to denote the future dispensation, the times of the Messiah. The same idea was expressed by the phrases "the last times," "the end of the world," etc. which are of so frequent occurrence in the Scriptures. They all denoted an age which was to succeed the old dispensation; the time of the Messiah; or the period in which the affairs of the world would be wound up; see the notes on Isaiah 2:2. Here it evidently refers to that period, and the meaning is, that they had participated in the special blessings to be expected in that dispensation - to wit, in the clear views of the way of salvation, and the influences of the Holy Spirit on the soul. The word "powers" here implies that in that time there would be some extraordinary manifestation of the "power" of God. An unusual energy would be put forth to save people, particularly as evinced by the agency of the Holy Spirit on the heart. Of this "power" the apostle here says they of whom he spake had partaken. They had been brought under the awakening and renewing energy which God put forth under the Messiah. in saving the soul. They had experienced the promised blessings of the new and last dispensation; and the language here is such as appropriately describes Christians, and as indeed can be applicable to no other. It may be remarked respecting the various expressions used here Hebrews 6:4-5,
(1) that they are such as properly denote a renewed state. They obviously describe the condition of a Christian; and though it may be not certain that any one of them if taken by itself would prove that the person to whom it was applied was truly converted, yet taken together it is clear that they are designed to describe such a state. If they are not, it would be difficult to find any language which would be properly descriptive of the character of a sincere Christian. I regard the description here, therefore, as what is clearly designed to denote the state of those who were born again, and were the true children of God; and it seems plain to me that no other interpretation would have ever been thought of if this view had not seemed to conflict with the doctrine of the "perseverance of the saints."
(2) there is a regular gradation here from the first elements of piety in the soul to its highest developments; and, whether the apostle so designed it or not, the language describes the successive steps by which a true Christian advances to the highest stage of Christian experience. The mind is:
(a) enlightened; then.
(b) tastes the gift of heaven, or has some experience of it; then.
(c) it is made to partake of the influences of the Holy Spirit; then.
(d) there is experience of the excellence and loveliness of the Word of God; and,And have tasted the good word of God; so as to relish comfort and sweetness in the doctrine and promises of the gospel through self-flattery; for these hearing of pardon of sin, and crediting it, are filled with joy by it; as a condemned malefactor, hearing of a general pardon, believeth himself to be one of the pardoned, and rejoiceth in it: see Matthew 13:20,21 Lu 8:13. So did many of the Jews rejoice in John’s doctrine, John 5:35.
And the powers of the world to come; thus some of them were affected with the powerful doctrines of the gospel, concerning the final judgment, as their natural conscience was wrought on by the Spirit in the word, that they feel it as it were begun in them, the sparks of the wrath of God having set their consciences in a light flame for their sins, as in a Felix, Acts 24:25. As on the other hand, being acquainted by the Spirit in the word, of Christ’s being a Redeemer, to save them from the wrath to come, and to instate them into happiness, beyond what is attainable on earth; self-love doth externally close with the revelation and apply it to itself, as Balaam did, Numbers 23:10. All these five instances are the workings of the Holy Spirit on corrupt nature for its improvement, and in their falling from these supernatural operations, they do sin in tanto against the Holy Ghost. Psalm 45:1 , "my good word", or "the word of my goodness", in the Targum on Isaiah 55:11 for it is the word of righteousness, reconciliation, peace, pardon, life, and salvation. And there is a special and spiritual taste of this good, word, which is delightful, relishing, and nourishing; and such who have it can never totally and finally fall away; because they who taste it, so as to eat and digest it, and be nourished by it, to them it becomes the ingrafted word, which is able to save them: but there is such a taste of this word as is disrelishing, as in profane sinners, and open opposers and persecutors of the word, or as in hypocrites and formal professors; which is only an assent to the Scriptures, as the revelation of God, or a superficial knowledge of the doctrines of the Gospel without the experience of them, and a temporal faith in them, and a natural affection for them, and pleasure with them for a time; as the Jews, and Herod with John's ministry, and the stony ground hearers.
And the powers of the world to come; meaning either the state of the church, and the glorious things relating to it, after the first resurrection, which they might have some notional apprehensions of; or the ultimate state of glory and happiness, the powers of which are the immortality, incorruption, and glory of the body, the perfect holiness and knowledge of the soul, entire freedom from all evils of every kind, full communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, and a complete enjoyment of all happiness for ever; which hypocrites may have a notional knowledge of, a natural desire after, and delight in the contemplation and hope of, as Balaam had; or rather the miracles and mighty works in the former part of the Gospel dispensation, or times of the Messiah, the Jews' world to come; see Gill on Hebrews 2:5, are intended; which many, as Judas and others, were able to perform, who were not sincere Christians, or true believers.And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 6:5. Καὶ καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα] and have tasted the refreshing word of God. That the author already makes use afresh in this place of the verb γεύεσθαι, after he has only just before employed it Hebrews 6:4, Bleek ascribes, not wrongly, to a certain perplexity on the part of the writer about finding for the idea to be expressed another term of the same import. For the supposition of Delitzsch, that the repetition of the same expression is to be explained from the design of bringing out so much the more strongly the reality of the experiences made and of their objects, would be admissible only if the second γευσαμένους, like the first, were placed emphatically at the beginning of its clause, and there were not already another verb inserted between the two γευσαμένους. γεύεσθαι is here, as John 2:9, construed with the accusative, which occurs only in the Hellenistic, never with the Greek classic writers. To assume, however, a different signification in the case of the two constructions,
Bengel: “alter (genitivus) partem denotat; nam gustum Christi, doni coelestis, non exhaurimus in hac vita; alter (accusativus) plus dicit, quatenus verbi Dei praedicati gustus totus ad banc vitam pertinet, quanquam eidem verbo futuri virtutes seculi annectuntur;” Bloomfield: “here (Hebrews 6:4) γεύσασθαι signifies to have experience of a thing, by having received and possessed it; whereas in the clause following it signifies to know a thing by experience of its value and benefit;” Delitzsch (comp. also Moll): “with γευσαμένους τῆς δωρ. τῆς ἐπουρ. is combined the conception that the heavenly gift is destined for all men, and is of inexhaustible fulness of intent; with καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα, however, the conception that God’s precious word was, as it were, the daily bread of those thus described,”—is already forbidden by the homogeneity of the statements, Hebrews 6:4 and Hebrews 6:5.
The expression ῥήματα καλά serves, LXX. Joshua 21:45; Joshua 23:15, Zechariah 1:13, for the rendering of the Hebrew הַדָּבָר הַטו̇ב and דְּבָרִים טו̇בִים, and is used of words of consolation and promise spoken by God or the angel of God. In accordance therewith, we shall best also here refer καλὸν θεοῦ ῥῆμα to the gospel, inasmuch as God thereby gives promises, and fulfils the promises given. So Theodoret (τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν τῶν ἀγαθῶν), Estius, Schlichting, Grotius, Limborch, Owen, Whitby, Abresch, Böhme, Kuinoel, Klee, de Wette, Stengel, Tholuck, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Maier, Kurtz.
Others, as Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Faber Stapulensis, Jac. Cappellus, Piscator, Bengel, Peirce, Heinrichs, Alford, understand the expression of the gospel in general; in connection with which some, as Calvin and Braun, see denoted in καλόν a contrast with the Mosaic law, the characteristic of which was judicial severity. According to Bleek, finally, we have to think of a personified attribute of God; which is supposed to be here mentioned because the gospel, with its consolatory message, is an efflux from the same,—an interpretation, however, which finds no sort of support in the context.
δυνάμεις τε μέλλοντος αἰῶνος] and powers of the world to come. What is intended is the extraordinary miraculous powers wrought by the Holy Ghost, as these were called forth by the new order of the world founded by Christ. The αἰὼν μέλλων, namely (comp. οἰκουμένη ἡ μέλλουσα, Hebrews 2:5), is for the author nothing purely future,—so that we have not, with Jac. Cappellus, Schlichting, Böhme, Kurtz, and others, to think of the everlasting life, or of the glory coming in with the Parousia of Christ, of which believers have received a foretaste here upon earth,—but already begins, according to his view, with the appearing of Christ upon earth, in that only its consummation still belongs to the future, namely, the time of Christ’s return.Hebrews 6:5. καὶ καλὸν γευσαμένους … “and tasted God’s word that it is good”. ῥήματα καλά in LXX (vide Joshua 21:43) are the rich and encouraging promises of God, cf. Zechariah 1:13, ῥήματα καλὰ καὶ λόγους παρακλητικούς. Here it probably means the Gospel in which all promise is comprehended; cf. 1 Peter 1:25, ῥῆμα Κυρίου … τοῦτο δέ ἐστι τὸ ῥῆμα τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν εἰς ὑμᾶς. Persons then are here described who have not only heard God’s promise, but have themselves tasted or made trial of it and found it good. They have experienced that what God proclaims finds them, in their conscience with its resistless truth, in their best desires by quickening and satisfying them. The change from the genitive, δωρεᾶς, to the accusative, ῥῆμα, after γευσ. is variously accounted for. Commonly, verbs of sense take the accusative of the nearer, the genitive of the remoter source of the sensation; but probably the indiscriminate use of the two cases in LXX and N.T. arises from the tendency of the accusative in later Greek to usurp the place of the other cases. Yet it is not likely that so careful a stylist as our author should have altered the case without a reason. That reason is best given by Simcox (Gram., p. 87), “γεὐεσθαι in Hebrews 6:4-5, has the genitive, where it is merely a verb of sense, the accusative where it is used of the recognition of a fact—καλόν being (as its position shows) a predicate”. With this expression may be compared Proverbs 31:18, ἐγεύσατο ὅτι καλόν ἐστι τὸ ἐργάζεσθαι. Bengel’s idea that the genitive indicates that a part, while accusative that the whole was tasted, may be put aside. Also Hofmann’s idea, approved by Weiss, that the accusative is employed to avoid an accumulation of genitives. δυνάμεις τε μέλλοντος αἰῶνος “and [tasted] the powers of the age to come” [that they were good, for καλάς may be supplied out of the καλόν of the preceding clause; or the predicate indicating the result of the tasting may be taken for granted]. δυνάμεις is so frequently used of the powers to work miracle imparted by the Holy Spirit (see Hebrews 2:4, 1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Corinthians 12:12; and in the Gospels passim) that this meaning is generally accepted as appropriate here. See Lunemann. αἰὼν μέλλων is therefore here used not exactly as in Matthew 12:32, Ephesians 1:21 where it is contrasted with this present age or world, but rather as the temporal equivalent of the οἰκουμένη ἡ μέλλουσα of chap. Hebrews 2:5, cf. also Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 10:1.; and Bengel’s note. It is the Messianic age begun by the ministry of Christ, but only consummated in His Second Advent. A wider reference is sometimes found in the words, as by Davidson: “Though the realising of the promises be yet future, it is not absolutely so; the world to come projects itself in many forms into the present life, or shows its heavenly beauty and order rising up amidst the chaos of the present. This it does in the powers of the world to come, which are like laws of a new world coming in to cross and by and by to supersede those of this world. Those “powers,” being mainly still future, are combined with the good word of promise, and elevated into a distinct class, corresponding to the third group above, viz.: resurrection and judgment (Hebrews 6:2).” The persons described have so fully entered into the spirit of the new time and have so admitted into their life the powers which Christ brings to bear upon men, that they can be said to have “tasted” or experienced the spiritual forces of the new era.5. and have tasted the good word of God] Rather, “that the word of God is good.” The verb “taste,” which in the previous verse is constructed with the genitive (as in classical Greek), is here followed by an accusative, as is more common in Hellenistic Greek. It is difficult to establish any difference in meaning between the constructions, though the latter may imply something which is more habitual—“feeding on.” But possibly the accusative is only used to avoid any entanglement with the genitive “of God” which follows it. There is however no excuse for the attempt of Calvin and others, in the interests of their dogmatic bias, to make “taste of” mean only “have an inkling of” without any deep or real participation; and to make the preciousness of the “word of God” in this place only imply its contrast to the rigour of the Mosaic Law. The metaphor means “to partake of,” and “enjoy,” as in Philo, who speaks of one “who has quaffed much pure wine of God’s benevolent power, and banqueted upon sacred words and doctrines” (De proem. et poen. Opp. i. 428). Philo also speaks of the utterance (rhema) of God, and God, and of its nourishing the soul like manna (Opp. i. 120, 564). The references to Philo are always to Mangey’s edition. The names of the special tracts and chapters may be found in my Early Days of Christianity, 11. 541–543, and passim.
the powers of the world to come] Here again it is not easy to see what is exactly intended by “the powers of the Future Age.” If the Future Age be the Olam habba of the Jews, i.e. the Messianic Age, then its “powers” may be as St Chrysostom said, “the earnest of the Spirit,” or the powers mentioned in Hebrews 2:4; Galatians 3:5. If on the other hand it mean “the world to come” its “powers” bring the foretaste of its glorious fruition.
It will then be seen that we cannot attach a definitely certain or exact meaning to the separate expressions; on the other hand nothing can be clearer than the fact that, but for dogmatic prepossessions, no one would have dreamed of explaining them to mean anything less than full conversion.Hebrews 6:5. Γευσαμένους, who have tasted) A new taste, likewise involving more than the knowledge of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.—καλὸν ῥῆμα, the good word) Jeremiah 33:14, את הדבר הטוב, the Gospel.—δυνάμεις, powers) of the most exquisite taste. The plural is highly significant. The same word occurs, ch. Hebrews 2:4; comp. Hebrews 11:34. Both passages show the emphasis of the word, δυνάμεις.—μέλλοντος αἰῶνος, of the world to come) Eternal glory is principally intended; comp. Hebrews 6:2, at the end; as the city to come is spoken of, ch. Hebrews 13:14; but the present time is not excluded under the New Testament, for in this sense things to come are also mentioned, ch. Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 2:5, note.
The gospel of Christ as preached. Comp. Hebrews 2:3. To the word are attached life (Acts 5:20); spirit and life (John 6:63); salvation (Acts 11:14); cleansing (Ephesians 5:26); especially the impartation of the Spirit (John 3:34; Acts 5:32; Acts 10:44; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 2:4).
Powers of the world to come (δυνάμεις μέλλοντος αἰῶνος)
Not foretastes of heavenly bliss. The world to come is the world of men under the new order which is to enter with the fulfillment of Christ's work. See on these last days, Hebrews 1:2. These powers are characteristic of that period, and in so far as that dispensation is inaugurated here and now, they assert and manifest themselves.
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