Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Hebrews 6:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Whither the forerunner - The word προδρομος, prodromos, does not merely signify one that goes or runs before another, but also one who shows the way, he who first does a particular thing; also the first fruits. So in the Septuagint, Isaiah 28:4, προδρομος συκου signifies the first fruits of the fig tree, or the first ripe figs.

To this meaning of the word Pliny refers, Hist. Nat., lib. xvi., c. 26: Ficus et praecoces habet, quas Athenis Prodromos (προδρομος ), vocant. "The fig tree produces some figs which are ripe before the rest, and these are called by the Athenians prodromos, forerunner." The word is interpreted in the same way by Hesychius; it occurs in no other part of the New Testament, but may be found in Ecclus. 12:8, and in Isaiah 28:4, quoted above from the Septuagint. From this we may at once perceive the meaning of the phrase: Jesus is the first fruits of human nature that has entered into the heavenly kingdom; the first human body that was ripe for glory, and ripe long before the rest of the children who are partakers of flesh and blood. And he is entered for us, as the first fruits of all who have found redemption in his blood. Compare John 14:2; (note); 1 Corinthians 15:20; (note), 1 Corinthians 15:23; (note); and the notes there.

The metaphorical allusion is to the person who carries the anchor within the pier head, because there is not yet water sufficient to carry the ship in; and to this I have already referred.

After the order of Melchisedec - After a long digression the apostle resumes his explanation of Psalm 110:4, which he had produced, Hebrews 5:6, Hebrews 5:10, in order to prove the permanency of the high priesthood of Christ.

  1. We have in this chapter a very solemn warning against backsliding and apostasy, and that negligence and sloth which are their forerunners. A man cannot be careless about God and heaven, till he has lost his relish for sacred things; and this relish he cannot lose while he is diligent and faithful. The slightest departure from truth and purity may ultimately lead to a denying, and even reviling, of the Lord who bought him.
  • Every obedient believer in Christ Jesus has both the oath and promise of God that he will make all grace abound towards him, for in blessing God will bless him; he may be greatly agitated and distressed, but, while he continues in the obedience of faith, he will ride out the storm. His anchor is within the veil while his heart is right with God. Jesus is gone before to prepare a place for him; and where the first fruits are, there will soon be the whole lump. He who perseveres unto death shall as surely see God as Jesus Christ now does. God's oath and promise cannot fail.
  • Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Whither - To which most holy place - heaven.

    The forerunner - The word used here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. A “forerunner” - πρόδρομος prodromos- is one who goes before others to prepare the way. The word is applied to light troops sent forward as scouts; Diod. Sic. 17,17; compare “Wisdom of Solomon” (apoc) 12:8. “Thou didst send wasps, forerunners of thy host, to destroy them by little and little.” The meaning here is, that Jesus went first into the heavenly sanctuary. He led the way. He has gone there on our account, to prepare a place for us; John 14:3. Having such a friend and advocate there, we should be firm in the hope of eternal life, and amidst the storms and tempests around us, we should be calm.

    Made an high priest forever - see the notes on Hebrews 5:6, Hebrews 5:10. To illustrate this fact, was the object for which this discussion was introduced, and which had been interrupted by the remarks occurring in this chapter on the danger of apostasy. Having warned them of this danger, and exhorted them to go on to make the highest attainments possible in the divine life, the apostle resumes the discussion respecting Melchizedek, and makes the remarks which he intended to make respecting this remarkable man; see Hebrews 5:11.Remarks1. We should aim at perfection in order that we may have evidence of piety; Hebrews 6:1. No man can be a Christian who does not do this, or who does not desire to be perfect as God is perfect. No one can be a Christian who is “satisfied” or “contented” to remain in sin; or who would not “prefer” to be made at once as holy as an angel - as the Lord Jesus - as God.

    2. We should aim at perfection in order to make great attainments; Hebrews 6:1. No man makes any great advance in anything, who does not set his standard high. Men usually accomplish about what they expect to accomplish, If a man expects to be a quack physician, he becomes such; if he is satisfied to be a fourth-rate lawyer, he becomes such; if he is willing to be an indifferent mechanic, he advances no higher; if he has no intention or expectation of being a firstrate farmer, he will never become one. If he sincerely aims, however, to excel, he usually accomplishes his object. And it is so in religion. If a man does not intend to be an eminent Christian, he may be certain he never will be. Religion is not produced by chance - any more than fine fruit is, or than a good harvest is. One of the principal reasons why President Edwards became so eminent a Christian, was, that in early life he adopted the following resolution, to which he appears always to have adhered, that “on the supposition that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true lustre, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part, and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, To act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time.” Life, by S. E. Dwight, D. D., p. 72.

    3. We should aim to acquire as much “knowledge” of religious truth as we possibly can; Hebrews 6:1-2. True piety is “principle.” It is not fancy, or dreaming, or visions, or enthusiasm. It is based on knowledge, and does not go “beyond” that. No man has any more religion than he has “knowledge” of the way of salvation. He cannot force his religion to overstep the bounds of his knowledge; for “ignorance” contributes nothing to devotion. There may be knowledge where there is no piety; but there can be no true religion where there is no knowledge. If, therefore, a Christian wishes to make advances, he must gain a knowledge of the truth. He must understand the great doctrines of his religion. And in like manner, if we wish the next generation to be intelligent and solid Christians, we must train them up to “understand” the Bible.

    4. The consequences of the judgment will be eternal; Hebrews 6:2. No truth is more solemn than this. It is this which makes the prospect of the judgment so awful. If the consequences of the sentence were to continue for a few years, or ages, or centuries only, it would be of much less importance. But who can abide the thought of “eternal judgment?” Of an “eternal sentence?” Here the most fearful and solemn sentence is for a short period. The sentence will soon expire; or it is mitigated by the hope of a change. Pain here is brief. Disgrace, and sorrow, and heaviness of heart, and all the woes that man can inflict, soon come to an end. There is an outer limit of suffering, and no severity of a sentence, no ingenuity of man, can prolong it far. The man disgraced, and whose life is a burden, will soon die. On the cheeks of the solitary prisoner, doomed to the dungeon for life, a “mortal paleness” will soon settle down, and the comforts of an approaching release by death may soothe the anguish of his sad heart.

    The rack of torture cheats itself of its own purpose, and the exhausted sufferer is released. “The excess (of grief,) makes it soon mortal.” But in the world of future woe the sentence will never expire; and death will never come to relieve the sufferer. I may ask, then, of my reader, Are you prepared for the “eternal” sentence? Are you ready to hear a doom pronounced which can never be changed? Would you be willing to have God judge you just as you are, and pronounce such a sentence as ought to be pronounced now, and have the assurance that it would be eternal? You seek worldly honor. Would you be willing to be doomed “always” to seek that? You aspire after wealth. Would you be willing to be doomed to aspire after that “always?” You seek pleasure - in the frivolous and giddy world. Would you be willing to be doomed “always” to seek after that? You have no religion; perhaps desire to have none. Yet would you be willing to be doomed to be always without religion? You are a stranger to the God that made you. Would you be willing to be sentenced to be “always” a stranger to God? You indulge in passion, pride, envy, sensuality. Would you be willing to be sentenced always to the raging of these passions and lusts? How few are they who would be willing to have an “eternal” sentence passed on them, or to be doomed to pursue their present employments, or to cherish their present opinions for ever! How few who would “dare” to meet a sentence which should be in strict accordance with what was “just,” and which was never to change!

    5. With the righteous it should be matter of rejoicing that the judgment is to be eternal; Hebrews 6:2. They can desire no change of the sentence which will assign them to heaven; and it will be no small part of the joy of the heavenly world, that the results of the judgment will be everlasting. There will be no further trial; no reversing of the sentence; no withdrawing of the crown of glory. The righteous are the only ones who have not reason to dread a “just eternal sentence;” and they will rejoice when the time shall come which will fix their doom forever.

    6. We should dread apostasy from the true religion; Hebrews 6:4. We should habitually feel that if we should deny our Lord, and reject his religion, there would be no hope. The die would be cast; and we must then perish for ever. By this solemn consideration God intends to preserve his people, and it is a consideration which has been so effectual that there is not the least reason to suppose that anyone who has ever had any true religion, has fallen away and perished. Many have been “almost” Christians, and have then turned back to perdition Matthew 7:2, Matthew 7:23; Acts 26:28, but there is no reason to suppose that any who have been true Christians have thus apostatized and been lost. Yet Christians are not kept without watchfulness; they cannot be kept without the most sincere and constant endeavors to preserve themselves from failing.

    7. If the sin of apostasy is so great, then every approach to it is dangerous; and then every sin should be avoided. He that habitually indulges in sin “cannot” be a Christian; and every sin which a sincere Christian commits should be measured by the guilt which “would” exist should it become final, and should he wholly fall away. No man can indulge in sin and be safe; and no professed Christian who finds himself disposed to indulge in sin, should cherish the expectation of reaching heaven; Hebrews 6:4-6.

    8. It is a matter of devout gratitude that God “has” kept all his true people from apostasy; Hebrews 6:4-6. If it is true that no one who has been regenerated has ever fallen away; if the means which God has used have been effectual in a world so full of temptations, and when we have hearts so prone to evil; and if it is the intention of God to keep all to eternal salvation who are truly converted, then it should be to us a subject of devout thankfulness and of encouragement. In view of this, we should admire the wisdom of the plan which thus secures salvation; we should look to him with the firm assurance that he “will keep” what we have committed to him to the final day.

    9. We should improve the privileges which we enjoy so as to receive a blessing from God; Hebrews 6:7-8. It is desirable that a farm should be well cultivated so as not to be overrun with briars and thorns; desirable that it should produce an abundant harvest, and not exhibit mere barrenness and desolation. Yet, alas, there are many professing Christians who resemble such a field of thorns, and such a scene of desolation. They produce no fruits of righteousness; they do nothing to extend the kingdom of the Redeemer! What can such expect but the “curse” of God? What can the end of such be but to be “burned?”

    10. God will not fail to reward his faithful people; Hebrews 6:10. What we have done in his service, and with a sincere desire to promote his glory, unworthy of his notice as it may seem to us to be, he will not fail to reward. It may be unobserved or forgotten by the world; nay, it may pass out of our own recollection, but it will never fail from the mind of God. Whether it be “two mites” contributed to his cause, or a “cup of cold water given to a disciple,” or a life consecrated to his service, it will be alike remembered. What encouragement there is, therefore, to labor in the promotion of his glory, and to do all we can for the advancement of his kingdom!

    11. Let us follow those who have inherited the promises; Hebrews 6:12. They are worthy examples. When from their lofty seats in heaven they look back on the journey of life, though to them attended with many trials, they never regret the “faith and patience” by which they were enabled to persevere. We have most illustrious examples to imitate. They are numerous as the drops of dew, and bright as the star of the morning. It is an honor to tread in the footsteps of the holy men who have inherited the promises; an honor to feel that we are walking in the same path, and are reaching out the hand to the same crown.

    12. It is the privilege of those who are truly the children of God to enjoy strong consolation; Hebrews 6:13-18. Their hope is based on what cannot fail. God cannot lie. And when we have evidence that he has promised us eternal life, we may open our hearts to the full influence of Christian consolation. It may be asked, perhaps, how we may have that evidence? Will God speak to us from heaven and assure us that we are his children? Will he reveal our names as written in his book? Will he come to us in the night watches and address us by name as his? I answer, No. None of these things are we to expect. But if we have evidence that we have true repentance, and sincere faith in the Redeemer; if we love holiness and desire to lead a pure life; if we delight in the Bible and in the people of God, then we may regard him as addressing us in the promises and oaths of his word, and assuring us of salvation. These promises belong to us, and we may apply them to ourselves. And if we have evidence that God “promises” us eternal life, why should we doubt? We may feel that we are unworthy; our consciences may reproach us for the errors and follies of our past lives; but on the unchanging word and oath of God we may rely, and there we may feel secure.

    13. How invaluable is the Christian hope! Hebrews 6:19. To us it is like the anchor to a vessel in a storm. We are sailing along the voyage of life. We are exposed to breakers, and tempests. Our bark is liable to be tossed about, or to be shipwrecked. In the agitations and troubles of life, how much we need some anchor of the soul; something that shall make us calm and serene! Such an anchor is found in the hope of the gospel. While that hope is firm we need fear nothing. All is then safe, and we may look calmly on, assured that we shall ride out the storm, and come at last safely into the haven of peace. Happy they who have fled for refuge to the faith of the gospel; whose hope like a steady anchor has entered into heaven and binds the soul to the throne of God; whose confidence in the Redeemer is unshaken in all the storms of life, and who have the assurance that when the tempest shall have beaten upon them a little longer they will be admitted to a haven of rest, where storms and tempests are forever unknown. With such a hope we may well bear the trials of this life for the few days appointed to us on earth - for what are the longest trials here compared with that eternal rest which remains for all who love God in a brighter world?

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The hope here meant, is a sure looking for good things promised, through those promises, with love, desire, and valuing of them. Hope has its degrees, as faith also. The promise of blessedness God has made to believers, is from God's eternal purpose, settled between the eternal Father, Son, and Spirit. These promises of God may safely be depended upon; for here we have two things which cannot change, the counsel and the oath of God, in which it is not possible for God to lie; it would be contrary to his nature as well as to his will. And as He cannot lie; the destruction of the unbeliever, and the salvation of the believer, are alike certain. Here observe, those to whom God has given full security of happiness, have a title to the promises by inheritance. The consolations of God are strong enough to support his people under their heaviest trials. Here is a refuge for all sinners who flee to the mercy of God, through the redemption of Christ, according to the covenant of grace, laying aside all other confidences. We are in this world as a ship at sea, tossed up and down, and in danger of being cast away. We need an anchor to keep us sure and steady. Gospel hope is our anchor in the storms of this world. It is sure and stedfast, or it could not keep us so. The free grace of God, the merits and mediation of Christ, and the powerful influences of his Spirit, are the grounds of this hope, and so it is a stedfast hope. Christ is the object and ground of the believer's hope. Let us therefore set our affections on things above, and wait patiently for his appearance, when we shall certainly appear with him in glory.
    Ellen G. White
    Early Writings, 253

    As Jesus died on Calvary, He cried, “It is finished,” and the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom. This was to show that the services of the earthly sanctuary were forever finished, and that God would no more meet with the priests in their earthly temple, to accept their sacrifices. The blood of Jesus was then shed, which was to be offered by Himself in the heavenly sanctuary. As the priest entered the most holy once a year to cleanse the earthly sanctuary, so Jesus entered the most holy of the heavenly, at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8, in 1844, to make a final atonement for all who could be benefited by His mediation, and thus to cleanse the sanctuary. EW 253.1

    [See Appendix.]

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    Ellen G. White
    The Great Controversy, 489

    The intercession of Christ in man's behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, “whither the forerunner is for us entered.” Hebrews 6:20. There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; the sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. Jesus has opened the way to the Father's throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God. GC 489.1

    “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. If those who hide and excuse their faults could see how Satan exults over them, how he taunts Christ and holy angels with their course, they would make haste to confess their sins and to put them away. Through defects in the character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads in their behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares to all who would follow Him: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29, 30. Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them. GC 489.2

    We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. GC 489.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Christ's Object Lessons, 149

    Personal effort for others should be preceded by much secret prayer; for it requires great wisdom to understand the science of saving souls. Before communicating with men, commune with Christ. At the throne of heavenly grace obtain a preparation for ministering to the people. COL 149.1

    Let your heart break for the longing it has for God, for the living God. The life of Christ has shown what humanity can do by being partaker of the divine nature. All that Christ received from God we too may have. Then ask and receive. With the persevering faith of Jacob, with the unyielding persistence of Elijah, claim for yourself all that God has promised. COL 149.2

    Let the glorious conceptions of God possess your mind. Let your life be knit by hidden links to the life of Jesus. He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness is willing to shine in your heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will take the things of God and show them unto you, conveying them as a living power into the obedient heart. Christ will lead you to the threshold of the Infinite. You may behold the glory beyond the veil, and reveal to men the sufficiency of Him who ever liveth to make intercession for us. COL 149.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Great Controversy, 421

    Thither the faith of Christ's disciples followed Him as He ascended from their sight. Here their hopes centered, “which hope we have,” said Paul, “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever.” “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Hebrews 6:19, 20; 9:12. GC 421.1

    For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record. As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ's work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of His solemn work—to cleanse the sanctuary. GC 421.2

    As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation—a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. Revelation 22:12. GC 421.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 742

    Our hope is to be constantly strengthened by the knowledge that Christ is our righteousness. Let our faith rest upon this foundation, for it will stand fast forever. Instead of dwelling upon the darkness of Satan and fearing his power, we should open our hearts to receive light from Christ and to let it shine forth to the world, declaring that He is above all the power of Satan, that His sustaining arm will support all who trust in Him. 5T 742.1

    Said Jesus: “The Father Himself loveth you.” If our faith is fixed upon God, through Christ, it will prove “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the Forerunner is for us entered.” It is true that disappointments will come; tribulation we must expect; but we are to commit everything, great and small, to God. He does not become perplexed by the multiplicity of our grievances nor overpowered by the weight of our burdens. His watchcare extends to every household and encircles every individual; He is concerned in all our business and our sorrows. He marks every tear; He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. All the afflictions and trials that befall us here are permitted, to work out His purposes of love toward us, “that we might be partakers of His holiness” and thus become participants in that fullness of joy which is found in His presence. 5T 742.2

    “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” But the Bible in strongest terms sets before us the importance of obtaining a knowledge of God. Says Peter: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” “His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” And the Scripture bids us: “Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace.” 5T 742.3

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