Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.
In Hebrews 5:11-6:12, the writer of Hebrews laments a problem within the original audience. Hebrews 5:11-12 says, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.” Like the biting critique of an aggravated coach, the writer calls out the readers who were unprepared to understand the argument the writer wanted to make. Instead of being able to discuss a complex topic, they still needed to learn “elementary truths” about the Bible.
The Greek word translated here as “elementary truths” is a word that outside the Bible refers to the letters of the alphabet. It is almost as if the writer is saying to the audience that they still needed to learn the ABCs of Scripture. The Revised English Bible has actually translated it this way, “You need someone to teach you the ABC of God’s oracles over again.” The writer’s point was that even though the original audience was made up of people who had been Christians long enough that they could be teachers of the Bible, they were still students whose faith was at a kindergarten grade level.
It’s important to note that the writer is not addressing new Christians or people who are exploring faith. Nothing is wrong with needing to learn the ABCs of Scripture at these stages in one’s faith journey. Everybody starts learning this way. In fact, you can’t advance to higher levels of learning without the basics. The problem comes when we remain stuck in the basics. When we fail to grow as Christians, both in our knowledge of Scripture and in the application of its principles to our lives, we wind up in a dangerous place. The early readers of Hebrews weren’t just negatively impacting the lives of others by not becoming mature teachers themselves, they actually wound up in a place where they were about to fall away from their faith because of their lack of wisdom and discernment. So the book of Hebrews pleads with them and with us to keep growing. Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity.”
WARNING AGAINST FALLING AWAY
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
6 1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case — the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
In Hebrews 5:12, the author makes a direct correlation between spiritual maturity and teaching others. What the author is saying is that spiritually mature Christians teach or disciple others to help them grow in their faith. Are you ready to disciple others in their faith journey? In what ways do you need to mature in your faith? Who could you begin to disciple?
In Hebrews 5:11, the words “you no longer try” can also be translated from Greek as “you are lazy” or “you are negligent.” That might seem harsh to the readers of this letter, but the author wanted to hold these Christians to a higher standard. The truth is, all Christians are held to a high standard, and spiritual laziness can get in the way of growing in our faith. Have you been lazy in your relationship with God? If so, how?
To grow in our faith, we must learn discernment. We must be able to recognize the difference between right and wrong. Hebrews 5:14, says that through training, we can develop the skill for discernment. What training do you need to help you grow in your discernment?