Re: Hebrews 6:6-PARASEPONTAS

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Mon Jun 15 1998 - 12:32:24 EDT

Sun, 14 Jun 1998 11:50:46 -0700 (PDT); Edgar Foster wrote:
>To Whom does the aorist participle PARAPESONTAS in Heb. 6:6 refer?
>Does it refer to believers? If so, what is the writer saying about
>such ones? Conversely, could the writer's words apply to
>non-Christians instead?

This is probably NOT an appropriate question for bgreek since the
answer will depend as much on one's theological presuppositions
brought to the text as it will on the actual data...moreover to
answer such a question would take an IMMENSELY long response,
dealing with the whole of the book of Hebrews. Nevertheless,
there ARE some grammatical and lexical things involved which you
do need to wrestle with in order to come to a conclusion (I'm
trying to keep it short in the following):

1) PARAPESONTAS is the last participle in a chain of ptcs which
(IMHO) MUST be read as all referring to the same person/people
because there is ONE article governing the whole string. So ALL
the things which are said to be true of these folks ("enlightened,
tasted heavenly gift/eschatological powers, become partners with/
partakers of the HS") includes that they have/can "fall away".
So when you look in the book of Hebrew for other uses of these
concepts ("enlightened" Heb 10:32; "partner" Heb 1:9; 3:1, 14;
12:8), remember that whatever you decide these mean, these
folks can "fall away."

2) "To fall away", IMHO, should be defined FIRST within Hebrews,
not by 20th Century Christian theological jargon. I'd suggest
for your appraisal Heb 3:17; 4:11; also consider AFISTHMI in 3:12.
If these are appropriate cross-references, then that means that
the semantic field of "fall away" is "to not enter into God's
Rest/Palestine". I'd further suggest for your appraisal that
as a result of this definition, a third alternative to the
traditional two--both of which are based on the supposition that
he is discussing their justified/regenerate standing (ie., you
can lose your "salvation", ie., you won't go to heaven; and you
can't lose it)--is warranted. If "fall away" refers to "not
entering rest, but falling in the wilderness", then you have
to deal with the fact that these people had experienced the
Passover (which would seem to be an image of forgiveness and
entrance into covenant, ie., "saved") and that certain ones that
most would expect to be "in heaven" won't be; Moses as the most
prime example. A third alternative would be that what is lost
is not the justified standing, but rather temporal relationship
with God and the body, and eternal rewards; ie., the passage is
dealing with "santification" and "rewards" issues, not
"justification/regeneration" issues...note the context of this
discussion in 6:1 is "go on to maturity".

3) A couple of other things to wrestle with: ADUNATOS can have
both a "objective" and a "subjective" impossibility nuance to
it; ie., there are some things which are objectively impossible
(can't jump to the moon from earth...not even Michael Jordan, its
objectively impossible) and somethings which are objectively
possible, but subjectively impossible (Acts 4:20; Peter and John
COULD have shut their mouths; OU + DUNAMAI). So it may either
be objectively impossible for these folks to come back or it
may be subjectively impossible (ie., from a human perspective
it is unlikely in the extreme)

4) The text is tantilizingly ambiguous as to who the agent in
"renewing to repentance" is; it doesn't say that "they can't
come back"; it doesn't say that "you can't bring them back";
all it says is that its ADUNATOS for "someone" to renew them.
Its important to note that this is a passive concept (cf.,
BAGD, "ADUNATOS," 2), so there is an implied agent. It is
not necessary to read the agent as God, as some do; it could
just as easily be "other members of the community"; though
it would seem unlikely given the passive nature of the phrase
that he's referring to the fallen individuals themselves.

5) The following metaphor of field burning has ONE article
again to indicate the ground which is blessed and "close to
being cursed", ie., the SAME ground. Moreover, the metaphor
is NOT one of destruction, but of attempted restoration.
Every time one sees "fire" in the NT, it doesn't refer to this case field burning is a farming procedure to
destroy certain plants and weeds, esp., thorns, so that
the field can be replanted and become productive again. I
don't know about the rest of the USA, but they still do
this here in Oregon.

Well, those are some things that I found that I had to
wrestle with in terms of trying to figure out what this
passage means; I hope you enjoy your journey... (-:


Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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