6:1-8 Every part of the truth and will of God should be set before all who profess the gospel, and be urged on their hearts and consciences. We should not be always speaking about outward things; these have their places and use, but often take up too much attention and time, which might be better employed. The humbled sinner who pleads guilty, and cries for mercy, can have no ground from this passage to be discouraged, whatever his conscience may accuse him of. Nor does it prove that any one who is made a new creature in Christ, ever becomes a final apostate from him. The apostle is not speaking of the falling away of mere professors, never convinced or influenced by the gospel. Such have nothing to fall away from, but an empty name, or hypocritical profession. Neither is he speaking of partial declinings or backslidings. Nor are such sins meant, as Christians fall into through the strength of temptations, or the power of some worldly or fleshly lust. But the falling away here mentioned, is an open and avowed renouncing of Christ, from enmity of heart against him, his cause, and people, by men approving in their minds the deeds of his murderers, and all this after they have received the knowledge of the truth, and tasted some of its comforts. Of these it is said, that it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. Not because the blood of Christ is not sufficient to obtain pardon for this sin; but this sin, in its very nature, is opposite to repentance and every thing that leads to it. If those who through mistaken views of this passage, as well as of their own case, fear that there is no mercy for them, would attend to the account given of the nature of this sin, that it is a total and a willing renouncing of Christ, and his cause, and joining with his enemies, it would relieve them from wrong fears. We should ourselves beware, and caution others, of every approach near to a gulf so awful as apostacy; yet in doing this we should keep close to the word of God, and be careful not to wound and terrify the weak, or discourage the fallen and penitent. Believers not only taste of the word of God, but they drink it in. And this fruitful field or garden receives the blessing. But the merely nominal Christian, continuing unfruitful under the means of grace, or producing nothing but deceit and selfishness, was near the awful state above described; and everlasting misery was the end reserved for him. Let us watch with humble caution and prayer as to ourselves.
6. If—Greek, "And (yet) have fallen away"; compare a less extreme falling or declension, Ga 5:4, "Ye are fallen from grace." Here an entire and wilful apostasy is meant; the Hebrews had not yet so fallen away; but he warns them that such would be the final result of retrogression, if, instead of "going on to perfection," they should need to learn again the first principles of Christianity (Heb 6:1).
to renew them again—They have been "once" (Heb 6:4) already renewed, or made anew, and now they need to be "renewed" over "again."
crucify to themselves the Son of God—"are crucifiying to themselves" Christ, instead of, like Paul, crucifying the world unto them by the cross of Christ (Ga 6:14). So in Heb 10:29, "trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith … sanctified, an unholy thing." "The Son of God," marking His dignity, shows the greatness of their offense.
put him to an open shame—literally, "make a public example of" Him, as if He were a malefactor suspended on a tree. What the carnal Israel did outwardly, those who fall away from light do inwardly, they virtually crucify again the Son of God; "they tear him out of the recesses of their hearts where He had fixed His abode and exhibit Him to the open scoffs of the world as something powerless and common" [Bleek in Alford]. The Montanists and Novatians used this passage to justify the lasting exclusion from the Church of those who had once lapsed. The Catholic Church always opposed this view, and readmitted the lapsed on their repentance, but did not rebaptize them. This passage implies that persons may be in some sense "renewed," and yet fall away finally; for the words, "renew again," imply that they have been, in some sense, not the full sense, ONCE RENEWED by the Holy Ghost; but certainly not that they are "the elect," for these can never fall away, being chosen unto everlasting life (Joh 10:28). The elect abide in Christ, hear and continuously obey His voice, and do not fall away. He who abides not in Christ, is cast forth as a withered branch; but he who abides in Him becomes more and more free from sin; the wicked one cannot touch him; and he by faith overcomes the world. A temporary faith is possible, without one thereby being constituted one of the elect (Mr 4:16, 17). At the same time it does not limit God's grace, as if it were "impossible" for God to reclaim even such a hardened rebel so as yet to look on Him whom he has pierced. The impossibility rests in their having known in themselves once the power of Christ's sacrifice, and yet now rejecting it; there cannot possibly be any new means devised for their renewal afresh, and the means provided by God's love they now, after experience of them, deliberately and continuously reject; their conscience being served, and they "twice dead" (Jude 12), are now past hope, except by a miracle of God's grace. "It is the curse of evil eternally to propagate evil" [Tholuck]. "He who is led into the whole (?) compass of Christian experiences, may yet cease to abide in them; he who abides not in them, was, at the very time when he had those objective experiences, not subjectively true to them; otherwise there would have been fulfilled in him, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance" (Mt 13:12), so that he would have abided in them and not have fallen away" [Tholuck]. Such a one was never truly a Spirit-led disciple of Christ (Ro 8:14-17). The sin against the Holy Ghost, though somewhat similar, is not identical with this sin; for that sin may be committed by those outside the Church (as in Mt 12:24, 31, 32); this, only by those inside.