Doctrines You Need to Know — Milk & Meat
The most critical area in which Christians fall short is their knowledge of Bible doctrine. The deficiency relates to both “milk” and “meat” (solid food) dogmas, the two categories in which Scripture classifies doctrine, as seen in the following passages:
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food [KJV: meat]; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.
(1 Corinthians 3:1-3a)
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food [KJV: meat]. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food [meat] belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word that you may grow thereby.
(1 Peter 2:2)
It is God’s desire that His children wholeheartedly study His written Word — today’s physical expression of “the Word” who existed in the “the beginning” and was indeed God, who “became flesh,” Jesus the Christ — for only by studying and comprehending Bible doctrine (the Word) will His children be sanctified (purified) and able to stand against the wiles of Satan in this life, able to successfully progress through the wilderness of sin, and able to eventually secure the goal of their salvation as they take their place in the Bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7, 8; 20:4-6) beside Christ in the coming Messianic Era.
Sanctify [purify] them by Your truth. Your Word is truth. (John 17:17)
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)
Brethren, do not be children (babes) in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20)
And to this end God had established a variety of key personnel — instructors — within the Church (the Body of Christ [Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30]) in order to enable His children in becoming knowledgeable (mature: progressing from “milk” to “meat”) in His Word so that they may:
1) Be equipped (perfected) for ministerial work, i.e., reaching others for Christ.
2) Be edified (built up, strengthened) in holiness.
3) Be unified in the faith and in the knowledge of His Word.
4) Know Christ (become filled with Him) with maturity.
5) Avoid being tricked by false doctrine.
6) Speak truth (correct doctrine) in love.
7) Edify (strengthen) themselves in love.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (lit. pastor-teachers), for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
In the book of Hebrews the Holy Spirit best delineates the concept of rightly progressing in the study of the Word, evolving from the “milk” to the “meat” of it. This is skillfully addressed in the book, Let Us Go On, by Arlen L. Chitwood, a book that may be obtained in its entirety from www.bibleone.net. The following two sections are taken from chapters three and four of the book.
From Milk to Meat
Called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,”
of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food [KJV: strong meat].
For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
But solid food [strong meat] belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:10-14)
In Hebrews 5:1-6 there is a progression in thought from the present ministry of Christ in the sanctuary (after the order of Aaron) to the future ministry of Christ when He ascends the throne (after the order of Melchizedek).
Christ’s ministry in the sanctuary occurs in heaven, He is ministering on behalf of those destined to ascend the throne with Him, and this ministry will extend throughout the present dispensation.
At the conclusion of this ministry, Christ will come forth from the sanctuary as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek; and His co-heirs, for whom He had previously ministered in the heavenly sanctuary, will then reign as kings and priests with Him. Christ’s ministry, in that day, will occur from locations both in the heavens and on earth — in the heavens in relation to the earth (from the place where Satan and his angels presently rule) and upon the earth (from the land of Israel, among the Jewish people).
Thus, when Christ exercises the Melchizedek priesthood, He will have a dual reign. He will sit on His own throne in the heavenly Jerusalem, ruling over the earth with His co-heirs, His consort queen; and He will also sit on David’s throne in the earthly Jerusalem in the midst of His people, Israel (the nation that will look upon the Pierced One and be saved at His second advent). Occupying a dual reign of this nature, Christ will thus be a King-Priest in both the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem.
This will be in perfect keeping with both heavenly and earthly promises associated with Abraham and his seed, first brought to light in connection with the first mention of Melchizedek in Scripture (Genesis 14:18, 19). Melchizedek blessed Abraham as “possessor of heaven and earth”; and the seed of Abraham, both heavenly and earthly, are to “possess the gate of [rule over] his enemies” (Genesis 22:17, 18).
Beyond Genesis 12:1-3 in Scripture (i.e., beyond the call of Abraham and God’s promises to Abraham), all divine blessings that mankind receives must flow through Abraham and his seed (through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons and their descendants). The nation of Israel is Abraham’s seed (through Jacob and his twelve sons). Christ is Abraham’s Seed (through Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David); and Christians, because of their position “in Christ,” are likewise Abraham’s seed (Galatians 3:16, 18, 29).
(Blessings of the preceding respect, through Abraham, actually go back to Shem, nine generations preceding Abraham [Genesis 9:25-27]. It is through Abraham, Shem’s descendant, that God brings to fruition His previously-introduced national work in this respect.
That is, a nation emanating from the loins of Abraham, which, following the creation in Jacob [Isaiah 43:1], and the subsequent adoption [Romans 9:4], could be seen as God’s firstborn son [Exodus 4:22, 23], the nation in possession of the rights of primogeniture.)
Thus, during the coming age, Abraham’s Seed (Christ and His co-heirs) will rule from a heavenly sphere; and Abraham’s Seed (Christ and the nation of Israel) will rule from an earthly sphere. And by means of this rule, from both spheres, the Gentile nations of the earth will be blessed, in fulfillment of Genesis 12:3; 14:19; 22:17, 18.
Corresponding with the preceding, Hebrews 5:7-9 deals with a “salvation” in connection with the One who has been,
Called by God as High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5: 10; cf. v. 6).
Predating His present ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (after the order of Aaron), Christ learned “obedience by the things that he suffered”; and with God bringing matters to a predetermined goal in the person of His Son through this process, Christ “became the Author [‘source’] of eternal salvation [‘salvation for the age’] to all them that obey Him” (vv. 8, 9; ref. previous chapter in this book, Chapter 2, pp. 28-30).
This salvation is being extended to those for whom Christ is presently ministering in the heavenly sanctuary; and this salvation, contextually, has to do with that future time when Christ exercises the Melchizedek priesthood. This is the salvation of the soul (cf. Hebrews 6:19, 20; 10:36-39), and it has to do strictly with the “kings and priests” who will ascend the throne with the great King-Priest in that coming day (Revelation 4:10; 5:8-10).
(Note in Hebrews 5:6 that Christ is said to be “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” “Forever” is a translation of the Greek words eis ton aiona, which appear twenty-nine times in the Greek New Testament. Depending on the context, this expression can be understood either one of two ways — “with respect to the age [one age],” or “with respect to eternity [all the ages].” It is used both ways in the Greek New Testament [cf. Matthew 21:19; 1 Peter 1:23]. The word aiona [the word aion in a different case form] is the singular noun form of the adjective aionios, which is also used both ways in the Greek text [ref. Chapter 2 in this book, pp. 30, 31].
The four times this expression appears in the book of Hebrews relative to Christ being “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” [5:6; 6:20; 7:17, 21] should, contextually, be understood, as Christ being “a priest with respect to the age after the order of Melchizedek.” The reference is to the coming age, that with which the book of Hebrews deals.
It might help to note a plural form of this same Greek expression in Hebrews 13:8 — eis tous aionas, “with respect to the ages.” This verse, literally translated, would read, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and with respect to the ages [all the future ages, i.e.,‘forever’].” Christ exercising a priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” in Hebrews chapter five through seven has to do with one age, but Christ being unchangeable [for the Father and the Son are “one,” and God is unchangeable (Malachi 3:6)] has to do with all the ages — past, present, and future.
Christ will continue to reign beyond the Millennium, but matters as they will exist during the Millennium [one age] and beyond the Millennium [the succeeding unending ages, comprising eternity] will be quite different. Christ’s reign “over the house of Jacob” [Luke 1:33], for example, is expressed in the Greek New Testament by the same words which appear in Hebrews 13:8, eis tous aionas [with respect to the ages]; but there will be differences between His reign “over the house of Jacob” during the Millennium and beyond the Millennium [note that this is the natural man, “Jacob,” not the spiritual man, “Israel.” The nation will thus evidently dwell on earth in natural bodies of flesh, blood, and bones throughout not only the Millennium but the eternal ages that follow as well].
During the Millennium, Christ will occupy the role of King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek, seated on His own throne in the heavenly Jerusalem and on David’s throne in the earthly Jerusalem. Conditions during that coming age will necessitate a King-Priest. There will be sin, resulting death, etc. And Christ must reign until He has “put all things under His feet.” “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” And when “all things” have been brought under subjection, the kingdom will be “delivered up” to the Father “that God may be all in all” [lit., “that God may be all things in all,” i.e., that God may be all things in all of these things (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)]. This is actually the purpose for the Messianic Era — to rectify conditions in the one province in the kingdom of God where ruin, resulting from sin, ensued.
Then, when “all things” have been brought under subjection to the Son, and the Son has delivered “the kingdom” up to the Father, conditions will be quite different. During the ages beyond the Millennium [the eternal ages] there will be “a new heaven and a new earth,” the New Jerusalem will be on the new earth [probably a much larger earth than presently exists, easily accommodating a city of this size as its capital (a city some 1,500 miles across and in height)], and God Himself will reside on the new earth [ruling the universe, from that time forth, from this new location rather than from the present location].
Sin and death, along with all the former associated things, will no longer exist. And it will no longer be necessary for God to have a Priest dwelling among men to represent man to God and God to man [Revelation 21:22]. In that day, God “will dwell with them [with mankind, on the new earth], and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” [Revelation 21:1ff].
And Christ, in that day, will continue to reign in a kingly position [which will be of a universal nature rather than restricted to this earth, as during the Millennium]. He will be seated on “the throne of God and of the Lamb [a throne from which universal rule will emanate]” [Revelation 22:1, 3], others will continue to occupy the throne with Him [Revelation 21:5], and Christ will also continue to occupy “the throne of His father David” [Luke 1:32, 33].)
In Hebrews 5:11, the writer moves into a section of the book that has to do with spiritual growth, from immaturity to maturity. The broader picture — moving beyond the Millennium — is really not what the writer had in mind though. Rather, he concerns himself with the Messianic Era, not with the eternal ages beyond. The broader picture has been presented only to show that Christ’s ministry “after the order of Melchizedek” is a ministry having to do with activity during one age alone, activity during the Messianic Era.
The writer of Hebrews, leading into his statements in 5:11ff, had called attention to a progression in God’s economy from Christ’s present ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (after the order of Aaron) to His future ministry (after the order of Melchizedek), crowned and seated on His own throne in the heavens and on David’s throne on earth (vv. 1-6).
Following this, the writer called attention to a salvation awaiting those presently obeying Christ (v. 9); and this salvation, contextually, is to be realized during the coming age when Christ exercises the Melchizedek priesthood (vv. 6, 10). It is to be realized by Christ’s co-heirs through/by their ascending the throne with Him (His own throne in the heavens, not David’s throne on earth).
It is this whole line of thought — centering on Melchizedek (v. 10) — which the writer had in mind when he stated,
Of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. (v. 11)
The writer wanted to say many things about that future day when Christ would be the great King-Priest “after the order of Melchizedek,” with others occupying positions as kings and priests alongside Him.
But, there was a problem . . . .
Many Things to Say
The writer of Hebrews could not just come out and begin relating to his readers various truths about Christ’s coming rule and reign over the earth “after the order of Melchizedek.” This is what he wanted to do, but such was not possible; the recipients of this epistle lacked the necessary background in their spiritual growth to comprehend these truths (5:11-14).
Though they were on the foundation, which is Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11), they had not built upon this foundation after a fashion that would allow them to understand things about Christ drawn from type-antitype teachings concerning Melchizedek.
1) Hard to Explain
The things pertaining to Christ’s coming ministry “after the order of Melchizedek” were things “hard to explain.” That is, these things were “difficult to be explained.” And, to be able to grasp these things at all, it was absolutely necessary for a person to have grown enough spiritually that he could easily partake of solid food.
Things surrounding the antitype of the Melchizedek priesthood were not simply meat or solid food per se, but these things were said to be strong meat, food not easily digested and assimilated (vv. 12, 14 [there is a qualifying word used only here in the Greek text in connection with the word for “food” — stereos, meaning, “strong,” “solid,” “firm”]). And these were, accordingly, not things for those still on the milk of the Word, which presented a problem for the writer of Hebrews.
Those to whom he was writing were still on milk and, correspondingly, “unskillful in the Word of righteousness.” And not only did they need to be weaned from the milk but they also needed to be able to partake of solid food, after at least some fashion, before they could go on into and understand things surrounding the “strong meat” associated with Christ’s coming reign as King-Priest “after the order of Melchizedek.”
At the beginning of the Christian life a person can only partake of what Scripture calls, the “sincere [unadulterated, pure] milk of the Word” (cf. Hebrews 5:12, 13; 1 Peter 2:2). Milk is for “newborn babes,” whether in the spiritual or physical realm. And, as in the physical realm where individuals grow physically and leave the milk for solid food, so must it be in the spiritual realm to assure proper growth. A “newborn babe” is to begin on milk, but he is not to remain on milk indefinitely. He is to grow spiritually; and through this growth he is to progressively, in what could only be considered a natural sense within this growth, gradually leave the milk and, in its place, partake of solid food.
The solid food that he first begins to partake of is more easily digested and assimilated than solid food that he may partake of after additional growth. Growth is always progressive, and the object of growth is always the same. Whether in the physical or spiritual, progressive proper growth always leads toward the same goal. It always leads toward maturity, adulthood.
The whole panoramic picture of growth after this fashion is set forth in spiritual lessons drawn from events occurring during the six days of Genesis chapter one; and the purpose for this growth is intimately connected with that which occurred during the seventh day in chapter two.
Events occurring during the first three days set forth divisions. Viewing the antitype, events occurring during the first day pertain to man’s presently possessed eternal salvation, wherein a division is established between the soul and the spirit (cf. Genesis 1:3, 4; Hebrews 4:12). Then, events occurring on days two and three (a division of waters from waters, the land from the water, etc.) picture the newborn babe in Christ learning divisions, distinctions in the Word — i.e., learning the basics — elementary teachings that would have to do essentially with milk rather than solid food.
It is only when one reaches that point in his spiritual growth depicted by events on days four through six that solid food of any real substance comes into the picture. At this point in his understanding of Scripture he can begin to sink deep shafts down into the Word and mine its treasures.
He can begin to scale the heights or the depths in his spiritual understanding, as the birds are able to ascend into the heavens (day four), or as the marine creatures are able to plunge to the depths of the sea (day five); or he can begin to roam through the Word with ease in his spiritual understanding, as the giant land creatures are able to easily roam the earth (day six).
And all of this is for a purpose, which has to do with man, on the seventh day, realizing the reason for his existence: “. . . let them have dominion.”
It has to do with man, on the seventh day (the seventh Millennium, the earth’s coming Sabbath, the Messianic Era), being placed in a position to exercise dominion with “the second Man,” “the last Adam” (cf. Genesis 1:26-2:3; 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47; Romans 11:29).
It has to do with the same thing that the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he referred to things that were “hard to explain [‘difficult to understand’]” (5:11). He was writing to individuals who were, in their spiritual understanding, still in that period typified by events on days two and three in Genesis chapter one.
And this whole matter was not something that could be discussed with individuals still on the Milk of the Word. This was strong meat, which, insofar as one’s spiritual growth and understanding were concerned, could fit only within the framework of that depicted by events on days four through six, for it had to do with the seventh day.
(For a detailed discussion of Genesis 1:1-2:3, as these verses pertain to the Christian life [birth, maturity, purpose] within a type-antitype framework, see the author’s book, From Egypt to Canaan, Chapters 5-8.)
2) Dull of Hearing
The word, “dull” in Hebrews 5:11 is the translation of a Greek word (nothros) that means, “lazy” or “careless.” This is the same word also appearing in Hebrews 6:12, the only other occurrence of this word in the New Testament:
That you do not become sluggish [nothros, ‘lazy,’ ‘careless’], but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
The word nothros, as it is used in chapter 5, has to do with hearing and receiving the Word of God. Those addressed had become “lazy,” “careless” in this respect. Thus, the thought of sluggish in hearing or hard of hearing because of “laziness” or “carelessness” would best describe what is meant by the use of nothros in this section of Scripture.
Such an attitude toward the Word on their part would, in turn, have negative ramifications in two interrelated realms:
1) Their present spiritual growth.
2) The “end [goal]” of their faith, the salvation of their souls (James 1:21; 1 Peter 1:4, 5, 9; cf. Hebrews 6:11, 12, 19; 10:36-39).
Then a verb tense used in the Greek text shows that the individuals being addressed in Hebrews 5:11ff had not always been in this spiritual condition. Rather, they had become this way. The latter part of the verse should literally read,
. . . you have become sluggish in hearing [because of your carelessness, laziness (as it pertains to the reception of the Word of God and your spiritual growth)].
The same thought (their having become this way) is set forth in the latter part of verse twelve, which should literally read,
. . . you have become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat (solid food).
Thus, though the text deals with spiritual babes “in Christ,” it does not deal with spiritual babes who had never made a concerted effort to grow spiritually. Rather, the text deals with Christians who, at one time, were receiving the Word and growing in a spiritual manner. But something happened, which is very common in Christian circles today. They had become “lazy” and “careless” in the spiritual realm of their lives; and, correspondingly, they had become “sluggish in hearing” the Word.
They had been saved long enough that they should, themselves, have been teaching the Word. But such was not the case at all. Rather, because of the spiritual condition in which they had become, they needed someone to take the Word and begin at the very basics of the Christian faith, teaching them once again things that they had previously been taught (v. 12).
When for the Time
The whole area of spiritual growth from immaturity unto maturity, as it is presented in Hebrews chapters five and six, needs to be understood contextually. Beginning on milk, being weaned from the milk, and partaking of solid food is not just moving from something relatively simple to something more complex in biblical doctrine. Rather, proper spiritual growth involves moving from what could be termed the letter of the matter to the spirit of the matter (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6-18).
When Christ, following His resurrection, instructed the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He followed a certain procedure. Christ began “at Moses and all the Prophets”; and, using the writings of Moses and all the Prophets, “He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” And by so doing, He showed these disciples, from the Old Testament Scriptures, a dual picture of Himself. He showed them both the sufferings that He had just endured and His glory that would one day be revealed (Luke 24:25-27).
How did Christ do this? How did He go to the Old Testament Scriptures and draw spiritual truths from these Scriptures that not only dealt with His past sufferings and future glory but that also resulted in the eyes of these two disciples being opened?
The answer is very simple. Christ first went to the historic accounts in the writings of Moses, and then He went to the writings of other Prophets (the writings of the other Prophets could have been both historic accounts and/or prophetic accounts). And using these Scriptures to arrive at teachings of this nature, Christ could only have followed one procedure: He could only have dealt first with the letter of Old Testament revelation and then with the spirit of this revelation.
In this respect, to illustrate a basic distinction between “milk” and “meat” (solid food), the letter would have to do with the historicity of the account itself. It would have to do with simply viewing the account as it is presented in Scripture from a literal, historic perspective. And this is where one must begin, for no progress in spiritual growth can possibly be made until one first learns and understands basic things about that which is stated in the letter of the Word.
Then the spirit has to do with going beyond the simple historic account within the framework of the manner in which Scripture has been structured. God has interwoven within the historic account an inexhaustible wealth of spiritual truth. All Old Testament history is fraught with types and meaning, which, after some fashion, reflect on the person and work of Christ in His three-fold office. Note in Luke 24:27 — “. . . in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
(One could take a lesson concerning proper biblical interpretation from Stephen’s address to the Jewish religious leaders in Acts chapter seven. Stephen began by calling attention to particular historic accounts in the Old Testament. Then, account by account [7:2ff], once he had these Jewish religious leaders’ attention properly focused on the letter of the matter, he drew spiritual lessons from the historic accounts. And, though the lessons were relatively simple, those whom he addressed got the message because Stephen opened the Scriptures to them after the fashion in which they had been written, moving from type to antitype.
And because Stephen opened the Scriptures to their understanding in this respect, allowing them to understand the proclaimed message, “they gnashed at him with their teeth” [an Eastern expression showing deep contempt (which not only showed their attitude toward Stephen but toward the proclaimed Word itself)].
Note that which a proper proclamation of the Word had done — they had been “cut to the heart,” resulting in their action [7:54].
These religious leaders did exactly the same thing to Stephen that they had previously done to Christ, and for the same reason. In a vain effort to do away with the whole of the matter, they killed Stephen [7:57-60].
And, relative to the preceding, the one daring to do this in Christian circles today might want to keep one thing in mind:
The religious leaders today, as the religious leaders during Stephen’s day, or during the previous time when Christ was upon earth, are not going to like that which the Word really has to say when the Word has been proclaimed after the manner in which it has been recorded and structured.)
The preceding is the evident manner of progression from milk to meat (solid food) in Hebrews 5:10ff. First, attention is called to Melchizedek from the Old Testament Scriptures. In this respect there is the brief historic account in Genesis chapter fourteen. Then there is the account of Messiah’s coming reign over the earth in Psalm 110, which draws from the type in Genesis. And this is the extent of that which is directly stated about Melchizedek in the Old Testament.
The writer of Hebrews though went far beyond a reference to the historic account in Genesis and the use of this account in the Psalms when he stated that he had “many things” which he would like to relate concerning Melchizedek.
First, he had to have in mind understanding things about numerous other Old Testament Scriptures, for properly understanding the things surrounding Melchizedek would, of necessity, be contingent on understanding numerous other parts of the Old Testament.
Second, the writer had to have in mind going beyond the letter within one’s understanding. And from that which is revealed in Hebrews chapter five, it is evident that going beyond the letter had to do with moving into the type-antitype relationship involved in the Melchizedek priesthood.
In other words, there are two corresponding things that one must do in order to properly understand the various things about Christ’s coming reign over the earth as the great King-Priest “after the order of Melchizedek”:
1) He must relate that which is taught in Genesis chapter fourteen and Psalm 110 to Old Testament revelation as a whole.
2) He must study the matter after the fashion in which the Old Testament has been structured, moving, in this respect, from type to antitype.
The account in Genesis chapter fourteen, in reality, comprises the heart of the whole matter. This account, in the antitype, deals with that coming day when Christ, as the great King-Priest, will bless the descendants of Abraham (both heavenly and earthly); and these blessings will, in turn, flow out through the seed of Abraham to the Gentile nations of the earth. In this respect, the whole account is fraught with meaning, which the writer of Hebrews called “solid food” (KJV: “strong meat”).
1) The Word of the Kingdom
Another feature about proper Christian growth in its true New Testament sense is the fact that solid food (meat) appears in passages having to do with Christ’s return and Christian accountability in relation to His return. This can be seen quite graphically in two passages of Scripture — the text under discussion in Hebrews 5:11ff and the account of the Householder and His servant in Matthew 24:45-51. And both are companion passages.
In Matthew 24:45-51, the command of the Householder to the servant placed over His house was to give those in the house “solid food (KJV: meat [same word as in Hebrews 5:12]) in due season” (v. 45). And, textually, “solid food” has to do with a spiritual diet that will properly prepare the recipients for the Householder’s return. Thus, “solid food,” as distinguished from “milk” in this passage and in Hebrews 5:11ff, has to do with the same thing. It has to do with the things surrounding Christ’s return, the coming kingdom, and the place that will be occupied by both the great King-Priest and the kings and priests in that coming day.
The purpose for the entire present dispensation has to do with the coming kingdom. The call is presently going forth concerning proffered positions as co-heirs with Christ during the coming age, and the present dispensation covers that period of time when fruit relating to the kingdom will be brought forth by those destined to comprise the co-heirs.
The faithful servant, dispensing “solid food (meat) in due season,” teaches those placed under his care about the Lord’s return and proffered positions in the kingdom, with a view to fruit bearing by both the one proclaiming the Word and the ones hearing the Word. Then, at the time of the Lord’s return, fruit will be in evidence; and not only will the faithful servant be positioned as “ruler [co-heir with Christ in the kingdom],” but through his previous ministry in the house others will be brought into this position as well.
Should the servant become unfaithful though, the opposite will be true. He will not teach those placed under his care about the Lord’s return and proffered positions in the kingdom. Then, at the time of the Lord’s return, there will be no fruit; and not only will the unfaithful servant face severe chastisement, but those who had been placed under his care, failing to bring forth fruit (as a direct result of the unfaithful servant’s ministry), will find themselves in similar straits.
In this respect, an awesome responsibility falls on the shoulders of those whom the Lord has placed in positions of household responsibility to dispense “solid food (meat) in due season,” for faithfulness or unfaithfulness in properly carrying out their calling will have far-reaching ramifications, affecting not only them personally but others as well. By a proper response to their calling, the salvation of not only their souls (lives) will be realized but the souls (lives) of others as well. But through an improper response, the opposite will be true.
2) Beyond the Veil
The strict letter of the Word, apart from the spirit of the same Word, could, in a sense, be likened to an intrinsic view of the strict letter of the Law given to Israel through Moses. In the words of Scripture, pertaining to the latter, “the letter kills . . . .” And insofar as the understanding and interpretation of Scripture are concerned, there would be no difference in applying the same words to the former should the spirit be removed, for it is the spirit alone that “gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Because Israel viewed matters from the letter alone, the minds of the Jewish people were blinded, there was a veil over their eyes, and “until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament [‘old covenant’].”
But, there was/is a solution. The veil could/can be “done away in Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). And such was/is accomplished through simply looking beyond the letter.
That is exactly what occurred when Christ dealt with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus following His resurrection. He opened the Old Testament Scriptures to their understanding. That is, He carried them beyond the letter to the spirit.
Through looking beyond the letter in the Old Testament Scriptures, when they were later breaking bread, they saw their Messiah. They then turned to the Lord, the veil was removed, and their eyes were opened (cf. Luke 24:25-31; 2 Corinthians 3:14-16).
And therein is Jewish evangelism presented in its true biblical form. The evangel (the bearer of “good news”) must present the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people from their own Old Testament Scriptures, through more than the letter. He must move beyond the letter to the spirit.
Then, beyond the present day and time, the account in Luke chapter twenty-four forms a type of Israel’s future salvation. The nation will one day turn their attention to the Lord, the veil will be removed, and the eyes of the Jewish people will be opened; and this will be the direct result of Messiah Himself, in their midst at the time of His return, opening the Old Testament Scriptures to their understanding.
And therein as well lies the simple secret that will allow anyone to understand the God-breathed Word given to man. Study Scripture after the fashion in which it was written. Know the letter, but don’t stop there. Rather, look beyond the letter to the spirit, for this Word, unlike any other writing, is “spiritually discerned” (cf. John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:14).
Leaving the Principles
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
And this we will do, if God permit (Hebrews 6:1-3).
Hebrews chapter six continues the thought from chapter five having to do with Christians who had become lazy and careless in their spiritual lives, their spiritual growth (v. 11). They had been saved for a sufficient length of time that they should have been at a mature enough stage in their spiritual growth to be able to teach others. But such was not the case at all. Instead, they were still immature babes in Christ who needed to be taught themselves (v. 12).
Actually, according to the text, they had gone backwards in their spiritual growth. They, at one time, had been taught the elementary truths of the Word. But, because of the lazy and careless manner in which they had been conducting their spiritual lives, they had “come to need milk and not solid food [KJV: strong meat]”; they were back at that point where they needed someone to again teach them “the first principles of the oracles of God.”
(Note that proper spiritual living and growth is inseparably connected with and dependent on one thing: a proper diet of spiritual food that comes from one source alone — from the Word.
The reason for this is seen in the very nature of the Word. The Word is inseparably identified with both the Father and His Son — “the Word was God,” “the Word became flesh” [John 1:1, 2, 14]. The Word became flesh in the person of God’s Son, who was/is God manifested in the flesh.
Accordingly, anything connected with true spirituality [spiritual living, growth] cannot exist apart from the Word, for, existing apart from the Word would be synonymous with existing apart from the Father and His Son [along with the Holy Spirit].
Thus, it is either the Word or nothing. No middle ground exists.)
The writer of Hebrews wanted to discuss things pertaining to the Melchizedek priesthood with those to whom he was writing, but dealing with them on this basis was completely out of the question. Things surrounding the Melchizedek priesthood had to do with the “solid food [strong meat]” of the Word, which could be understood only by those who were “of full age [i.e., by mature Christians who had left the milk and had grown to adulthood in spiritual matters through a progressive intake, digestion, and assimilation of solid spiritual food.
These Christians still on milk, as every Christian “who partakes only of milk,” were “unskillful in the Word of righteousness.” Their spiritual perception of matters was of such an immature nature — i.e., their spiritual senses were so insufficiently developed — that distinguishing between that which was correct and that which was incorrect in spiritual matters could only have presented a real problem for them (cf. vv. 13, 14).
One must know and understand the Word of God, else a normal Christian life — one based on that which is taught in the Word — can never follow. Thus, Hebrews chapter six begins with an exhortation to those in chapter five. They were exhorted to leave the elementary teachings of the Word and begin building upon the foundation, with a view to spiritual maturity (vv. 1, 2).
Within the overall scope of that which is revealed in Hebrews chapters five through seven, the first two verses in chapter six form a connective. These two verses, within the complete text, might be thought of as being similar to a conjunction in a sentence, for they connect that which has preceded with that which is about to follow.
Then, following the exhortation to go on to maturity, there is the statement,
And this we will do [we will go on unto maturity] if God permits [if God permits us to go on to maturity]. (v. 3)
The heart of the third of the five major warnings in Hebrews appears next (vv. 4-6). Then the writer uses an illustration pertaining to the warning, drawn from nature (vv. 7, 8).
Next he deals with the “hope” that Christians possess and the “salvation” set before Christians, associated with this hope (vv. 9-19; cf. Titus 1:2; 2:13; 3:7; 1 Peter 3:15).
Then he moves full-circle back to the subject of Melchizedek, which had been introduced at the beginning of this section in chapter five (6:20-7:1ff).
The Foundation and Beyond
Hebrews 6:1, 2 enumerates six different realms pertaining to a panorama of biblical doctrine. And the things listed in these two verses must be understood contextually. The context has to do with Christian maturity, for a revealed purpose; and that’s exactly where one is led when moving through the six different enumerated areas of biblical doctrine that are set forth in these opening two verses of the sixth chapter.
The six realms listed are introduced by the words,
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection [maturity]. (v. 1a)
The “principles” are the “first principles” from verse twelve of the preceding chapter. These principles have to do with milk rather than solid food, and they are connected with the six enumerated areas of doctrine that immediately follow.
However, the six enumerated areas are not, themselves, part of the foundation. Rather, it is elementary teachings connected with these six areas of doctrine that have to do with the foundation. And, going beyond that, teachings connected with these same six areas can move far beyond foundational teachings. Such teachings can and do — they must, of necessity — move into the realm of the “solid food” referred to in the previous chapter.
There is both the letter and the spirit of the matter, and this would apply to all six of the areas of doctrine listed in Hebrews 6:1, 2. The letter is one thing, but moving out into the spirit, — moving beyond the letter into the spirit in biblical teaching — is something entirely different (ref. Chapter 3 of this book [cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6-18]). And this is exactly what those in Hebrews 5:11-14 were exhorted to do in Hebrews 6:1, 2.
They were exhorted to leave the foundational teachings (teachings that would begin with the letter) and build upon the foundation (which would, of necessity, have to pertain to things beyond the letter, i.e., to the spirit). And, whether letter or spirit, the various teachings would still be drawn from the six enumerated areas of biblical doctrine.
These six enumerated areas logically fall into three categories, with an interrelated set in each category. The Spirit of God has listed them after the fashion in which they appear, in a specific order, for evident, particular reasons; and they should be studied with this overall thought in view, which fits the contextual subject matter perfectly.
Viewing the six areas of biblical doctrine after this fashion, there would be,
1) “repentance from dead works,” coupled with “faith toward God” (v. 1b).
2) “doctrine of baptisms,” coupled with a “laying on of hands” (v. 2a).
3) “resurrection of the dead,” coupled with “eternal judgment” (v. 2b).
And, as will be demonstrated, moving progressively and orderly through the various biblical doctrines in view — seeing and understanding the letter and then the spirit of the matter — will result in a progressive orderly growth toward maturity.
1) The beginning point concerns repentance and faith.
2) The middle point has to do with cleansing and identification.
3) The terminal point centers on teachings concerning the end or goal of that which has proceeded.
And within these three categories one will find a complete panorama of biblical truth, beginning with the milk of the Word and terminating with the solid food/strong meat of the Word.
1) Repentance, Faith
The first thing listed is “repentance from dead works”; but this cannot be separated from the second thing listed, which is “faith toward God.” The term “dead works” would pertain to the works of a believer performed apart from faith. Works, in order to be viewed as other than “dead works,” must emanate out of faith (James 2:14ff). There must first be “faith toward God”; only then can works pleasing and acceptable to God follow, for, without faith, “it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
There can be no acceptable works on the part of an unbeliever, for he cannot exercise “faith toward God” (he must first believe on the Son; only then will he find himself in a position to exercise faith toward the Father). The believer, on the other hand, is in a position to exercise “faith toward God,” though he may or may not do so.
Should he do so, he can perform works acceptable and pleasing to God in his life (for faith will exist, from which such works can emanate); but should he not do so, he can no more perform works of this nature than the unbeliever can (for faith will not exist; and, resultantly, there can only be “dead works”).
The unbeliever remains “dead in trespasses and sins,” while the believer has “passed from death to life” (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:1). Consequently, the believer, unlike the unbeliever, is in a position to perform acceptable works emanating out of faith (faithfulness). But, as previously stated, he may or may not perform works of this nature, for he may or may not exercise “faith toward God.”
The term “repentance” has to do with a change of mind. Essentially, looking at the matter from the other end, the Christian, bringing forth “dead works,” is to change his mind relative to “faith toward God.” His unfaithfulness has resulted in the “dead works”; and he is to change his mind about the matter and exercise “faith,” with a view to other than “dead works” following.
How does a person exercise “faith toward God”?
According to Romans 10:17,
. . . faith comes by [out of] hearing, and hearing by [through] the Word of God.”
The words “faith” and “believe” are the same in the Greek text. The former is a noun and the latter a verb. They both mean the same thing. That’s why “believe” (the verb) can be used in John 3:16 (a participle, formed from the verb, in the Greek text) and “faith” (the noun) can be used in Ephesians 2:8, referring to the same thing.
“Faith” is simply believing God, which will result in the person governing his life and actions accordingly.
For the unsaved, it is simply placing one’s trust, reliance in God’s Son. He is the Savior, He has paid the price that God required, and a person places their trust in Him for salvation. It’s that simple. Then once the person has been saved, once he has passed “from death to life,” he is to exercise “faith toward God.” And a person does that simply through putting his trust, reliance in that which God has to say in His Word.
Thus, it is easy to understand why the unsaved cannot exercise “faith toward God,” for, not having “passed from death to life,” they have no spiritual capacity for such understanding. They do not have a saved human spirit into which the Word of God can be received; nor do they possess the indwelling Holy Spirit to take this Word and lead them “into all truth” (John 16:13). They, within the scope of their ability to comprehend and understand the Word of God, can only look upon that which God has to say as “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
James 2:14-26 is a central section on “faith and works” in Scripture. And, within this section, the subject of works emanating out of faithfulness has to do with the saving of the soul (cf. James 1:21; 2:14). The saving of the soul, in turn, has to do, not with “milk,” but with “solid food [strong meat].” It has to do with the things surrounding the antitype of Melchizedek from Genesis 14:18, 19, dealt with in Hebrews chapters five through seven.
(For more information on James 2:14-26, refer to the author’s book, Salvation of the Soul, Chapter 5).
Thus, in this respect, “repentance from dead works” and “faith toward God,” the first of the three categories listed in Hebrews 6:1, 2, carries one through the entirety of the Christian experience — from immaturity to maturity. “Repentance” and “faith” are fundamental and primary. And viewing these together is, so to speak, where one must begin. Consequently, the two are listed first among the three categories.
But a Christian in the race of the faith is not to remain on the starting blocks (Hebrews 12:1, 2; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8). He, rather, is to move forward in the race, always progressing steadily toward the goal. And though “repentance” and “faith” are fundamental and primary, they are associated just as much with the end as they are with the beginning.
Thus, insofar as a person going on to maturity is concerned, “repentance” and “faith” have just as much to do with the solid food/strong meat of the Word as they do with the milk of the Word. It is, as in the words of Romans 1:17,
. . . from faith to faith [from the beginning to the end — it is all of “faith”]: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (cf. Habakkuk 2:4; Hebrews 10:36-39; 11:1ff).
2) Baptisms, Laying of Hands
The word “baptisms” is, in the Greek text as in the English text, plural in its usage in Hebrews 6:2; and teachings surrounding that which is in view relative to baptisms, along with teachings surrounding that which is in view relative to the laying on of hands, is taken from teachings surrounding God’s dealings with the Israelites in the Old Testament Scriptures.
The word “baptism,” transliterated from the Greek word, baptizo, simply means to dip or to immerse. And translating the word as “washing” (with the thought of dipping or immersing [in water] in mind [ref. NASB]) would perhaps best convey, to the English reader, that which the writer of Hebrews had in mind.
And to understand what is meant by “washings” in Hebrews 6:2, one must refer back to the rituals performed within the ranks of the Levitical priests who carried on a ministry at the tabernacle on behalf of the people of Israel. The priests underwent a complete washing, bathing of their bodies, upon their entrance into the priesthood. This was something that occurred once, never to be repeated. However, as they subsequently ministered on behalf of the people, there were continual, repeated washings of parts of their bodies — their hands and feet, which repeatedly became soiled in the course of their ministry.
These washings occurred at the laver in the courtyard, which lay between the brazen altar and the Holy Place (Exodus 29:4; 30:18-21; 40:12-15, 30-32).
The typology in view, from this Old Testament account, is where Christ drew His teachings surrounding complete and partial washings when He washed the disciples’ feet in John 13:2-20. Christ, relative to that which He was doing, used two different words for “wash” when dealing with Peter — louo and nipto.
He used louo relative to washing “the complete body” and nipto relative to washing “a part of the body.” And, insofar as Peter and the other disciples were concerned, the former had already been performed (never to be repeated), but the latter needed to be performed repeatedly. And the One doing the cleansing would, of necessity, have to provide this service on a continuous basis.
That is, the disciples had been washed completely once (illustrated by Christ’s use of louo). They had been saved, justified. But, following this complete washing, because of their coming in contact with the defilement of the world in which they lived, there was a need for subsequent partial washings (illustrated by Christ’s use of nipto).
The need for partial washings would parallel the defilement experienced by contact with the world. The disciples were in continuous contact with a world which lay “under the sway of the wicked one” [lit., ‘in the wicked one’ (in Satan, the incumbent ruler)]” (1 John 5:19). And, because of their contact with the world after this fashion, there would be no possible way that they could keep from becoming defiled at numerous, various times (1 John 1:8-10). Consequently, there would be a need for cleansing from such contact on a continuous basis.
Christians are New Testament priests, who have been washed completely once — at the time of justification. But, because of continuous contact with the surrounding world, defilement can and does occur. And when such defilement occurs, the defiled person is to avail himself of provided cleansing, a partial washing.
This is what the opening part of the book of 1 John is about (1:3-2:2). Christ, throughout the present dispensation, continuously occupies the office of High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary on behalf of Christians (2:1, 2).
And, with Christ’s high priestly ministry in view, a present cleansing is provided for those who have, in the past, been cleansed (in the antitype of activity surrounding the brazen altar); and this present cleansing is seen in the antitype of subsequent activity occurring at the brazen laver; or, as previously shown, both past and present cleansings for Christians are seen in an initial complete washing of the body and subsequent washings of the hands and feet of the Levitical priests.
Note the preceding as it is presented in I John:
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness [if we say that we have fellowship with Him but have failed to avail ourselves of cleansing through the use of the water in the laver in the courtyard, leaving us in the darkness outside the Holy Place (with its light and bread — the “candlestick” and “shewbread”)], we lie, and do not practice the truth. (1:6)
. . . if we walk in the light, as He is in the light [if we avail ourselves of cleansing through the use of the water in the laver, allowing admittance to the Holy Place, with its light and bread], we have fellowship with one another . . . . (1:7a)
The preceding is viewing the matter more from the framework of the type. Now, note the move from type to antitype.
The latter part of verse seven goes on to state,
. . . and the blood of Jesus Christ His [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin.
Cleansing provided at the laver forms the type, and cleansing provided by “the blood of Jesus Christ,” which is on the mercy seat of the heavenly tabernacle, forms the antitype. Our cleansing today thus comes, not through the water in the laver in the courtyard, but through the blood of God’s Son that is on the mercy seat. One must see and understand the antitype in the light of the type to see and understand the complete picture.
(For a more detailed exposition of complete and subsequent partial washings as set forth in John 13:2-20, in the light of Old Testament typology, see Chapter 8 in the author’s book, From Egypt to Canaan.)
Doctrine surrounding the “laying on of hands,” in connection with doctrine surrounding “baptisms [‘washings’],” is an area of biblical study that also has its basis in Old Testament typology. And, as in “the doctrine of baptisms,” this is where one must go to understand that which is referred to by the “laying on of hands” in Hebrews 6:2.
“Hands” are used in a figurative manner numerous places throughout Scripture. And they are used in these numerous places various ways to represent action on both God’s part and man’s part (cf. Genesis 16:12; Numbers 11:23; 1 Samuel 26:18; Ecclesiastes 2:24).
They, for example, are used as symbols of “power,” or “strength” (cf. Exodus 15:6; Psalm 17:7; 110:1). They are used to demonstrate “pure” or “unjust” actions (cf. Psalm 90:17; Isaiah 1:15). Or, washing the hands, as Pilate did when he was about to deliver Jesus over to the cry of the Jewish religious leaders to be crucified, could, as he sought to do, symbolize an outward show of “innocence” (Matthew 27:24; cf. Deuteronomy 21:6, 7; Psalm 26:6).
The “laying on of hands” then would represent a type action that carries a particular meaning. And the meaning is given, in so many words, in the account of that which the Lord instructed Aaron to do with one of two goats on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:5ff).
Aaron was to take a bullock and two goats. The bullock and one goat (determined by lot) were to be killed, and the blood of these two animals was then to be used “to make an atonement in the holy place” “for himself, and for his household [the priests (v. 33)], and for all the congregation of Israel” (vv. 14-19).
After Aaron had finished with his work of sprinkling blood before and upon the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, he was then to take the live goat and perform a climactic act. He was to lay both hands upon the head of the goat and confess all the “iniquities” and “transgressions” of the children of Israel. And by this act, the Israelites’ “iniquities” and “transgressions,” which had just been atoned for, were placed “upon the head of the goat.” The goat was then to be taken into “the wilderness” and released, never to return back into the camp of Israel (vv. 20-22).
By Aaron laying his hands on the head of the live goat, there was both an identification and a separation. By transferring the sins of the people to the goat, an identification was established. The goat became identified with these sins rather than the people; and this established a separation, which would be even further shown through the goat being taken to an uninhabited part of the land and released.
This thought of identification and separation can be clearly seen in the action of the Apostles after they had chosen certain men to attend to a particular ministry in the early Church (Acts 6:1-6). They chose seven men who were “full of faith and the Holy Spirit.” These men appeared before the Apostles, the Apostles prayed, and they then “laid hands” on the men (vv. 5, 6).
There was an identification of the Apostles with these men who had been separated, set apart from the remainder of the Church for a particular task. And this was shown through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands.
Thus, viewing “baptisms” (lit., “washings”) and the “laying on of hands” together, there is the thought of cleansing, identification, and separation; and these go together like a hand in a glove.
Christians constitute a people who have been separated from the world for a particular purpose (1 Peter 2:9-11). They, forming the “body,” are inseparably identified with their Lord, who is the “Head” of the body (Ephesians 5:23-32; Colossians 1:18). They, positionally, are part of an entirely new creation, the one new man “in Christ” (Ephesians 2:13-15; 2 Corinthians 5:17). And, occupying this position and understanding not only the reason why they have been saved but understanding that which lies out ahead as well, Christians are to keep themselves clean through repeated “washings” at the laver.
(The section leading into [8:1-10:22] the fourth of the five major warnings in Hebrews [10:23-39] concerns itself more specifically with this overall matter.
Because of Christ’s high priestly ministry [which He performs on the basis of His shed blood on the mercy seat of the heavenly tabernacle], present cleansing is available for a separated, set apart people who are inseparably identified with their Lord.)
3) Resurrection, Eternal judgment
The third of the triad of teachings dealt with in Hebrews 6:1, 2 can, as the other two parts, pertain to both “milk” and “sold food” (“strong meat”) within the scope of that which is in view. There are elementary teachings when one comes to the overall subject of resurrection and subsequent judgment, but there are also teachings that go far beyond the elementary.
Concerning resurrection, there is simply the teaching that the dead will, in the future, be raised. Then within this teaching one will find the more specific biblical teaching that all the dead will not be raised at the same time. Every man will be raised “in his own order [‘company’].”
Christ was raised as “the first fruits those who have fallen asleep,” anticipating the resurrection of all others, both the saved and the unsaved. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). The two uses of “all” in the verse are all-inclusive. All who die “in Adam” (which includes all humanity) will be made alive “in Christ.”
That is, every man who dies (whether saved or unsaved) will one day be raised on the basis of the fact Christ was raised. But, every man will be raised “in his own order [‘company’].”
The Church forms one company, the Tribulation saints another, and the Old Testament saints another. And at the conclusion of the Messianic Era there will be yet another company of individuals raised from the dead — the unsaved dead of all the ages (1 Corinthians 15:22-24; cf. Ezekiel 37:1-14; Luke 24:5, 6; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Revelation 20:4-6, 11-15).
Then there is the biblical teaching that judgment always follows resurrection. There is first death, with announced subsequent judgment (Hebrews 9:27). This is the biblical order, but this order doesn’t stand alone. Scripture elsewhere presents the dead being judged only following resurrection (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 1:10-18 [cf. 4:1ff]; 20:4).
Every man will not only be resurrected “in his own order [‘company’]” but he will also be judged, following resurrection, “in his own order [‘company’].” Particular future judgments will occur only following particular companies of individuals being raised from the dead.
The Church will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, preceding the Tribulation (2 Corinthians 5:10, 11; cf. Revelation 1:10-20); Israel (along with Old Testament saints preceding Abraham) and the martyred Tribulation saints will be judged following Christ’s return at the end of the Tribulation (Job 14:14; 19:25-27; Ezekiel 20:33-38; Revelation 20:4-6); and the unsaved dead of all the ages will be judged at the end of the 1,000-year Messianic Era, which follows the Tribulation (Revelation 20:11-15).
The basics of the preceding though would really have to do more with milk than meat within the framework of biblical doctrine. This is merely the outline of the matter, apart from specifics. But a person must understand the outline before he can begin to properly understand specifics within the outline.
That which is in view concerning the “resurrection of the dead” and “eternal judgment” in Hebrews 6:2, contextually, must pertain to Christians, not other companies of individuals — either saved or unsaved. The whole panorama of doctrine thus far in the opening verses of the sixth chapter has had to do with Christians alone, and the summation of the matter can be no different.
The words “eternal judgment” in this passage though would really convey an incorrect thought relative to a future judgment of Christians, for Christians have already been judged insofar as eternal verities are concerned (cf. John 3:18); and the only type of judgment awaiting them has to do with “an age” — the Messianic Era (decisions and determinations emanating from the things revealed at the judgment seat of Christ will have to do with the Messianic Era alone, not with the eternal ages).
The seemingly textual problem though is easily resolved by understanding that the Greek word translated eternal in this passage (aionios) can be understood as either “age-lasting” or “eternal,” depending on the context. And the context here demands the former, not the latter.
(Refer to Chapter 2 of this book, for a discussion of how aionios is used in the Greek New Testament.)
But what is there beyond simple, factual teachings surrounding the future resurrection and judgment of Christians that could be categorized as “solid food” rather than “milk”? The answer is evident. Beyond the simple facts there are teachings surrounding an out-resurrection, and the out-resurrection is inseparably connected with the issues of the judgment seat. The out-resurrection actually results from the purpose and outcome of this judgment.
The “out-resurrection” and that to which it pertains can be found in Philippines 3:11 (the word “resurrection” in this verse is a translation of the Greek word, exanastasis, which should literally be translated “out-resurrection”). And the context (vv. 10, 12-14) has to do with present Christian activity in view of future decisions and determinations emanating from the things revealed at the judgment seat.
(The Greek word anastasis, translated “resurrection” [e.g., Philippines 3:10], is a compound word meaning “to stand up.” Ana means “up,” and stasis means “to stand.” Anastasis appears in Philippines 3:11 with the Greek preposition “ek,” meaning “out of [i.e., ‘from within’],” prefixed to the word [becoming “ex” when prefixed to words beginning with a vowel, as in this case]. Thus, ex-ana-stasis means “to stand up out of.”
This “standing up out of” — the “out-resurrection” of Philippines 3:11 — simply refers to a further separation that will occur at the judgment seat. The resurrection [anastasis] of Christians will separate all Christians from all non-Christians [Jew or Gentile]; and the subsequent out-resurrection [exanastasis] will separate one group of Christians [the faithful] from the remaining Christians [the unfaithful].)
At the judgment seat of Christ there will be a “standing up” of certain Christians “out of” the remaining Christians, based on decisions and determinations rendered by the righteous Judge. And standing separate from the others within this select group in that day will be a privilege accorded those previously found to have exercised faithfulness in their assigned household responsibilities during the time of their Lord’s absence.
It is in this realm where one finds the meat and strong meat pertaining to resurrection and judgment awaiting Christians; and it is also in this realm where one finds the end or goal of all that which is referred to through the triad of doctrinal teaching delineated in Hebrews 6:1, 2.
A Suggested List
Rather than a list of various doctrinal issues, the following is a list of websites from which the reader may acquire a wealth of knowledge of various doctrines within God’s Word. It should be noted that one or two of the websites offer studies in book form at a price, which the writer of this document does not encourage. On the other hand, the vast amount of doctrinal material offered by these sites is totally without charge.