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Hebrews 6:5

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And have tasted the good word of God - Have had this proof of the excellence of the promise of God in sending the Gospel, the Gospel being itself the good word of a good God, the reading and preaching of which they find sweet to the taste of their souls. Genuine believers have an appetite for the word of God; they taste it, and then their relish for it is the more abundantly increased. The more they get, the more they wish to have.

The powers of the world to come - Δυναμεις τε μελλοντος αιωνος . These words are understood two ways:

  1. The powers of the world to come may refer to the stupendous miracles wrought in confirmation of the Gospel, the Gospel dispensation being the world to come in the Jewish phraseology, as we have often seen; and that δυναμις is often taken for a mighty work or miracle, is plain from various parts of the gospels. The prophets had declared that the Messiah, when he came, should work many miracles, and should be as mighty in word and deed as was Moses; see Deuteronomy 18:15-19. And they particularly specify the giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, strength to the lame, and speech to the dumb; Isaiah 35:5, Isaiah 35:6. All these miracles Jesus Christ did in the sight of this very people; and thus they had the highest evidence they could have that Jesus was this promised Messiah, and could have no pretense to doubt his mission, or apostatize from the Christian faith which they had received; and hence it is no wonder that the apostle denounces the most awful judgments of God against those who had apostatized from the faith, which they had seen thus confirmed.
  • The words have been supposed to apply to those communications and foretastes of eternal blessedness, or of the joys of the world to come, which they who are justified through the blood of the covenant, and walk faithfully with their God, experience; and to this sense the word γευσαμενους have tasted, is thought more properly to apply. But γευομαι, to taste, signifies to experience or have full proof of a thing. Thus, to taste death, Matthew 16:28, is to die, to come under the power of death, fully to experience its destructive nature as far as the body is concerned. See also Luke 9:27; John 8:52. And it is used in the same sense in Hebrews 2:9; of this epistle, where Christ is said to taste death for every man; for notwithstanding the metaphor, which the reader will see explained in the note on the above place, the word necessarily means that he did actually die, that he fully experienced death; and had the fullest proof of it and of its malignity he could have, independently of the corruption of his flesh; for over this death could have no power. And to taste that the Lord is gracious, 1 Peter 2:3, is to experience God's graciousness thoroughly, in being made living stones, built up into a spiritual house, constituted holy priests to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God; see 1 Peter 2:5. And in this sense it is used by the purest Greek writers. See several examples in Schleusner.
  • It seems, therefore, that the first opinion is the best founded.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    And have tasted the good word of God - That is, either the doctrines which he teaches, and which are good, or pleasant to the soul; or the Word of God which is connected with good, that is, which promises good. The former seems to me to be the correct meaning - that the Word of God, or the truth which he taught, was itself a good. It was what the soul desired, and in which it found comfort and peace; compare Psalm 119:103; Psalm 141:6. The meaning here is, that they had experienced the excellency of the truth of God; they had seen and enjoyed its beauty. This is language which cannot be applied to an impenitent sinner. He has no relish for the truth of God; sees no beauty in it; derives no comfort from it. It is only the true Christian who has pleasure in its contemplation, and who can be said to “taste” and enjoy it. This language describes a state of mind of which every sincere Christian is conscious. It is that of pleasure in the Word of God. He loves the Bible; he loves the truth of God that is preached. He sees an exquisite beauty in that truth. It is not merely in its poetry; in its sublimity; in its argument; but he has now a “taste” or “relish” for the truth itself, which he had not before his conversion. Then he might have admired the Bible for its beauty of language or for its poetry; he might have been interested in preaching for its eloquence or power of argument; but now his love is for “the truth;” compare Psalm 19:10. There is no book that he so much delights in as the Bible; and no pleasure is so pure as what he has in contemplating the truth; compare Joshua 21:45; Joshua 23:15.

    And the powers of the world to come - Or of the “coming age.” “The age to come” was a phrase in common use among the Hebrews, to denote the future dispensation, the times of the Messiah. The same idea was expressed by the phrases “the last times,” “the end of the world,” etc. which are of so frequent occurrence in the Scriptures. They all denoted an age which was to succeed the old dispensation; the time of the Messiah; or the period in which the affairs of the world would be wound up; see the notes on Isaiah 2:2. Here it evidently refers to that period, and the meaning is, that they had participated in the special blessings to be expected in that dispensation - to wit, in the clear views of the way of salvation, and the influences of the Holy Spirit on the soul. The word “powers” here implies that in that time there would be some extraordinary manifestation of the “power” of God. An unusual energy would be put forth to save people, particularly as evinced by the agency of the Holy Spirit on the heart. Of this “power” the apostle here says they of whom he spake had partaken. They had been brought under the awakening and renewing energy which God put forth under the Messiah. in saving the soul. They had experienced the promised blessings of the new and last dispensation; and the language here is such as appropriately describes Christians, and as indeed can be applicable to no other. It may be remarked respecting the various expressions used here Hebrews 6:4-5,(1) that they are such as properly denote a renewed state. They obviously describe the condition of a Christian; and though it may be not certain that any one of them if taken by itself would prove that the person to whom it was applied was truly converted, yet taken together it is clear that they are designed to describe such a state. If they are not, it would be difficult to find any language which would be properly descriptive of the character of a sincere Christian. I regard the description here, therefore, as what is clearly designed to denote the state of those who were born again, and were the true children of God; and it seems plain to me that no other interpretation would have ever been thought of if this view had not seemed to conflict with the doctrine of the “perseverance of the saints.”

    (2) there is a regular gradation here from the first elements of piety in the soul to its highest developments; and, whether the apostle so designed it or not, the language describes the successive steps by which a true Christian advances to the highest stage of Christian experience. The mind is:

    (a)enlightened; then.

    (b)tastes the gift of heaven, or has some experience of it; then.

    (c)it is made to partake of the influences of the Holy Spirit; then.

    (d)there is experience of the excellence and loveliness of the Word of God; and,

    (e)finally there is a participation of the full “powers” of the new dispensation; of the extraordinary energy which God puts forth in the gospel to sanctify and save the soul.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    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.
    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 745

    There are, thank God, brighter and more cheering pictures which the Lord has presented to us. Let us group together the blessed assurances of His love as precious treasures, that we may look upon them continually. The Son of God leaving His Father's throne, clothing His divinity with humanity, that He might rescue man from the power of Satan; His triumph in our behalf, opening heaven to man, revealing to human vision the presence chamber where Deity unveils His glory; the fallen race uplifted from the pit of ruin into which sin had plunged them, and brought again into connection with the infinite God, and, having endured the divine test through faith in our Redeemer, clothed in the righteousness of Christ and exalted to His throne—these are the pictures with which God bids us gladden the chambers of the soul. And “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen,” we shall prove it true that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 5T 745.1

    In heaven God is all in all. There holiness reigns supreme; there is nothing to mar the perfect harmony with God. If we are indeed journeying thither, the spirit of heaven will dwell in our hearts here. But if we find no pleasure now in the contemplation of heavenly things; if we have no interest in seeking the knowledge of God, no delight in beholding the character of Christ; if holiness has no attractions for us—then we may be sure that our hope of heaven is vain. Perfect conformity to the will of God is the high aim to be constantly before the Christian. He will love to talk of God, of Jesus, of the home of bliss and purity which Christ has prepared for them that love Him. The contemplation of these themes, when the soul feasts upon the blessed assurances of God, the apostle represents as tasting “the powers of the world to come.” 5T 745.2

    Just before us is the closing struggle of the great controversy when, with “all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness,” Satan is to work to misrepresent the character of God, that he may “seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” If there was ever a people in need of constantly increasing light from heaven, it is the people that, in this time of peril, God has called to be the depositaries of His holy law and to vindicate His character before the world. Those to whom has been committed a trust so sacred must be spiritualized, elevated, vitalized, by the truths they profess to believe. Never did the church more sorely need, and never was God more solicitous that she should enjoy, the experience described in Paul's letter to the Colossians when he wrote: We “do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” 5T 746.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Reflecting Christ, 347.4

    These last-day witnesses are bold soldiers of Jesus Christ. They have tasted of the powers of the world to come. Their feet are not on sliding sand, but on solid rock. They are not easily moved away from the faith once delivered to the saints. These will be strengthened by their leader to cope with difficulties. They are messengers of righteousness, representatives of Christ, revealing the triumphs of grace. RC 347.4

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    Ellen G. White
    My Life Today, 293

    God in My Life

    Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me. Isaiah 46:9 ML 293.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Fundamentals of Christian Education, 173

    There are two classes of educators in the world. One class are those whom God makes channels of light, and the other class are those whom Satan uses as his agents, who are wise to do evil. One class contemplates the character of God, and increases in the knowledge of Jesus, whom God hath sent into the world. This class becomes wholly given up to those things which bring heavenly enlightenment, heavenly wisdom, to the uplifting of the soul. Every capability of their nature is submitted to God, and their thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ. The other class is in league with the prince of darkness, who is ever on the alert that he may find an opportunity to teach others the knowledge of evil. If place is made for him, he will not be slow to press his way into heart and mind. FE 174.1

    There is great need of elevating the standard of righteousness in our schools, to give instruction after God's order. Should Christ enter our institutions for the education of the youth, He would cleanse them as He cleansed the temple, banishing many things that have a defiling influence. Many of the books which the youth study would be expelled, and their places would be filled with others that would inculcate substantial knowledge, and abound in sentiments which might be treasured in the heart, in precepts that might govern the conduct. Is it the Lord's purpose that false principles, false reasoning, and the sophistries of Satan should be kept before the mind of our youth and children? Shall pagan and infidel sentiments be presented to our students as valuable additions to their store of knowledge? The works of the most intellectual skeptic are works of a mind prostituted to the service of the enemy, and shall those who claim to be reformers, who seek to lead the children and youth in the right way, in the path cast up, imagine that God will be pleased with having them present to the youth that which will misrepresent His character, placing Him in a false light before the young? Shall the sentiments of unbelievers, the expressions of dissolute men, be advocated as worthy of the student's attention, because they are the productions of men whom the world admires as great thinkers? Shall men professing to believe in God, gather from these unsanctified authors their expressions and sentiments, and treasure them up as precious jewels to be stored away among the riches of the mind?—God forbid. FE 174.2

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