Setting

The author has expressed his concern for the readers’ spiritual immaturity and warned them about the consequences of falling away. Nevertheless, he is confident of better things about them. In this passage, he encourages them to be diligent and to put their hope in God, who has given us His promise and confirmed it with an oath.

Key Verse

(6:11-12)

Did You Know...?

1. “He swore by Himself” (6:13): This is in reference to Genesis 22:16.
2. The Presence behind the veil (6:19): The holy of holies, which represented the presence of God.

Outline

  • Encouragement to Be Diligent
    (6:9-12)
  • Certainty of God’s Promise
    (6:13-20)

Segment Analysis

  • 6:9-12

    1a.

    What makes the author “confident of better things” about the believers he was writing to?

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    He knows from their work and labor of love that they were people of faith rather than unbelievers who have rejected God. He also knows that God, who is faithful, will reward them accordingly. Thus, he is optimistic about their future, and particularly, their salvation.

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  • 1b.

    If the author is confident of better things about them, why does he still need to admonish them in 5:11-12?

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    According to the passage, the believers had been active in their faith and love, but they seemed to have become stagnant. Although it is not necessarily an indication that they have fallen away, it is surely a cause for concern, for the possibility of falling away is real, not hypothetical.

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  • 2.

    What is required in order for us to have full assurance of hope and inherit the promises?

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    We must be diligent to the very end.

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  • 3.

    What causes sluggishness?

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    Sluggishness could result from complacency and false security (cf. Rev 3:1,17). It may also be caused by sin’s deceitfulness, which leads to apostasy (Heb 3:12-13). The pleasures of this world may harden our hearts and bring about spiritual stagnancy and even backsliding. Regardless of the cause, sluggishness is an indication of unbelief. A true believer is not unproductive but bears fruit and is useful to the Lord (6:7; cf. 2Pet 1:8-11).

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  • 4.

    In what areas should you be particularly more diligent? What are your goals in pursuing maturity?

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  • 6:13-20

    5.

    How does this paragraph continue the thought of verse 12?

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    Verse 12 teaches us to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. The author here goes on to cite Abraham’s example for our imitation.

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  • 6.

    What lesson does the author want us to learn from Abraham?

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    We ought to imitate Abraham’s patient endurance, with which he waited for God’s promise (15).

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  • 7.

    What does an oath add to a promise?

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    It confirms the promise and makes it even more sure, for an oath puts an end to all dispute (16). Whereas human beings would swear by someone greater, who would bring punishment upon the one taking the oath if he fails to keep his word, God swore by Himself since he could swear by no one greater (13). God’s oath, which is an oath of the highest order, adds even greater weight to His promise, which is in itself perfectly reliable. Even though God did not need to swear, He did it to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the immutability of God’s counsel (17).

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  • 8a.

    What are the “two immutable things” (18)?

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    The promise (or counsel) and the oath.

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  • 8b.

    What is the author’s point in discussing the immutable?

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    He tells us that God’s purpose in providing the immutable is to give us consolation, and he assures us that our hope is sure and steadfast (18-19).

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  • 9.

    How have we “fled for refuge”?

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    We have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust in order to be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). Christ is our refuge, in whom we are sheltered from the snare and bondage of the devil.

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  • 10a.

    What is the “anchor for the soul” that enters the Presence behind the veil?

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    This anchor is our hope, which is made possible through the atoning work of Jesus Christ (19-20).

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  • 10b.

    How has your hope in Christ been the anchor of your soul in your doubts, worries, weakness, failures, and sufferings?

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