1 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,
2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this we will do if God permits.
Therefore (v.1) — looking back to the fact that the Hebrews were spiritual babes
leaving (v.1) = lit. “having abandoned” — one cannot go on without first separating from that to which he is attached
principles (v.1) — should be “first principles” or “elementary principles” as the same word is translated in Hebrews 5:12 — They were to leave behind those things that Christ taught when He was on earth.
They had left Judaism years before, taking their stand with the “little flock” of Christ’s disciples. But a fresh and final departure was needed, for their occupation with the earthly Christ had inevitably brought them back into some aspects of Judaism: circumcision, the sabbath, the Jewish feast days and other aspects of “the Jews” religion,” faithfully observed by Christ. They had taken a stand with Christ in “the camp” of Judaism; now the apostle urged them to take a further stand: “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). — The Epistle to the Hebrews, by C.R. Stam, page 68
Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer (2 Corinthians 5:16).
Christ (v.1) — Messiah — none of His other names are used here, only His Jewish title
let us go on (v.1) = let us be carried along
perfection (v.1) = maturity — the same root word as “full age” in Hebrews 5:14.
dead works (v.1) — not “evil works,” but “religious” works associated with Judaism which could not save
faith toward God (v.1) — to be replaced by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me (John 14:1).
In the Old Testament, washings, whether of people or things, are called “baptisms.” In Mark 7:1-5, where the subject is unquestionably that of washing, two Greek synonymns are used alternately five times: nipto, to rinse, and baptismos, to wash. This passage alone shows how erroneous it is to associate baptism with burial. Neither then, nor now have men ever buried their dead in water, except in burials at sea, which were unavoidable.
From our Lord’s earthly ministry through Pentecost, repentance and baptism were the very keys to the kingdom (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38), but these Hebrews were now to go on from “the doctrine of baptisms” to the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5. By this “one baptism” the “one Spirit” baptizes believers into “one body.” (See 1 Corinthians 12:13, cf. Ephesians 4:5).
How can we possibly reconcile “the doctrine of baptisms” with the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5, especially when Hebrews 9:10 informs us that these “divers baptisms” were imposed on them until the time of reformation.” — Stam, page 72
laying on of hands (v.2) — a symbol of identification, as of a sinner with his sacrifice (Leviticus 16:21) or the high priest on a priest just entering into his official duties — to be replaced by unity and identification with Christ
resurrection/eternaljudgment (v.2) — perhaps because these were elementary principles that should no longer have been subjects for debate
This doesn’t have much to do with this particular passage, but studying this passage made me think about it.
The Old Testament promises to Israel regarding the Kingdom, the land and the throne were:
- Real but conditional — So, if Israel had accepted the Messiah, all the promises would have been fulfilled, but since the Messiah was rejected, Israel missed her chance. But this possibility is ruled out by Romans 11:25-27.
- Types, pointing to a spiritual kingdom — But, the Jews, when Christ was on earth, thought the promises were real, and Jesus allowed them to think so during His ministry. He rode a literal colt into a literal city; He threw money changers out of a literal temple. So, if the promises were types, Christ allowed them to be misled,which isn’t possible.
- Real and unconditional — The generation that rejected the Messiah missed out, but the promises will still be literally fulfilled.