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Eternal Security & Hebrews
- Response & Reply - #1

By Gary F. Zeolla


Below is a response I received to my article Eternal Security and Hebrews, along with my reply. The responder’s comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

Baby Christians or Hypocrites?

>I note you give no reference for your conclusion that Hebrews was written also to "hypocrites".<

For passages discussed in the article, I give my reason why I think the reference is to people who claim to be Christians but who have not really been regenerated. So I saw no need to reference the verses at the beginning of the article as I would be getting to them.

Hebrews 2:1-3

>You state that the key word here is "neglect". The key word is actually to "drift away" which is parrarhueo. The question is "drift away" from what? Can an unsaved person "drift away" from being unsaved and end up unsaved? Your interpretation does not make sense in this context.<

"drift away" from attending church and fellowshipping with Christians. If they do, it will show they have "neglected" the Gospel message and will no longer be in a position to hear and respond to it (see Heb 10:24f, cp. 1John 2:19).

Hebrews 3:5,6,14

>Your interpretation would be fine if there was any compelling reason to assume that this is a description instead of a warning. The compelling reason to believe that it is a warning of course is the fact that the entire book of Hebrews is a warning.<

The entire book of Hebrews is a warning? As I read it, the book is mainly devoted to describing and exalting the Son of God and His activities for our salvation.

>Also this immediate context:
"See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:12-13; NIV).

Turn away is aphestemi = depart, remove, rebel. How can you depart from where you have never been?<

If someone has a "sinful, unbelieving heart" they are not saved. The writer is saying they should be sure that they do not have such a heart.

As for "depart" it can refer to leaving the presence of God without never having been in genuine fellowship with Him (see Luke 4:13; 8:13; 13:27).

This passage is similar to Paul’s injunction in 2Cor 13:5, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-- unless indeed you are disqualified."

Hebrews 4:11

>Spoudazo means to make effort on a consistent basis.<

First, I stated that spoudazo "can mean ‘to hasten to, to hurry to, to do quickly’" By "can mean" I am indicating the word has more than one possible definition. In such cases, context determines the meaning of the word. And I give in the article my reasons why I think the above definition best fits the context.

This definition was from Louw, Johaness and Eugene Nida, eds. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. This lexicon was strongly recommend by my Greek professor at seminary.

My PC Study Bible defines the word: "4704 spoudazo (spoo-dad'-zo); from 4710; to use speed, i.e. to make effort, be prompt or earnest."

My Online Bible defines it: "4704 spoudazo {spoo-dad'-zo} from "4710"; TDNT - 7:559,1069:
1) to hasten, make haste
2) to exert one's self, endeavour, give diligence."

Moreover, the word is translated as "eager" in Gal 2:10 in the NKJV and other Bible versions.

So it was consistent with this lexical information for me to interpret this verse as saying, "The writer is urging the hypocrites among the recipients of this epistle to ‘hasten’ to truly trust Christ."

>Why do all of your interpretation require some expanded meaning? Why can't these scriptures stand on their own and be interpreted by what they say, not by what you say they mean?<

What is the "obvious" meaning of a passage of Scripture to one person, just might not be so obvious to another. For instance, at the end of the article I quote several verses from Hebrews that I believe "clearly" teach the eternal security of the true believer. In fact, I believe they are so clear that I just let them "stand on heir own" without comment. But somehow I got a feeling that these verses would not be so "clear" to you in this fashion.

Hebrews 6:4-6

>Acts 1:25: "That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place" (KJV).

Judas "fell". How can someone who has never been saved "fall".<

The text specifically says he fell from "this ministry and apostleship.’ It doesn’t mentioned salvation. In other words, he fell from his office of being an apostle.

But, might you ask, how could someone who wasn’t saved be an apostle? First, John quotes Jesus as saying, "But there are some of you who do not believe." Note, "do not believe" - not, "no longer believe."

John then comments, "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him" (John 6:64).

So a harder question would be, why did Jesus call someone whom He knew would betray Him? Answer this question and you would have the answer to how someone who wasn’t saved could be an apostle.

In addition, as to Judas’ salvation while he was an apostle, John writes:
"Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it" (John 12:4-6).

So Judas was a thief during the time of his apostleship. Moreover, note the words, "was" and "used to take" - these words are in the imperfect tense. In Greek imperfect tense indicates an action that was ongoing over a period of time in the past. The implications seems to be that Judas was a thief throughout the time that he was an apostle.

Now Paul declared, "… thieves … will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you" (1Cor 6:10-11).

So a thief is not saved. Moreover, if a thief becomes a true Christian he will be delivered out of his life of crime. Judas was a thief and remained a thief throughout his time with Jesus. Together, this all seems to me to indicate that Judas was never saved.

>About Simon the Sorcerer:

Acts 8:13: "Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done" (KJV).

The word for believe is:
4100 pisteuo (pist-yoo'-o); from 4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ): KJV-- believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

used in:
[Acts 10:,39,43; 13:48; Rom 3:22; snip full verse quotes]

There is no indication that this is an "apparent faith". The word is used many more times in the book of acts, whenever it talks about people being saved. Were the 3,000 who believed on the day of Pentecost saved?<

In Luke 8:13 Jesus declares, "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away."

Now, to me, if someone’s faith "has no root" is not a genuine faith. God changes us from the inside out (Rom 10:9f; 2Cor 5:17). So the "belief" here would not be genuine belief but "apparent" belief.

But this passage may not be a "clear" example for you of the Bible teaching that there can be a faith that is not genuine, so I will refer to another.

James writes, "What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" (James 2:14; NASB).

First, the word faith is pistis which is the noun form of the verb "believe." I quote this verse from the New American Standard Bible as it brings out an important point that many other translations miss.

Note the word "that" in the second sentence. This is here because the word "faith" has a definite article. In this case, it would be an article of previous reference.

So James is asking, can that faith, the kind of faith that does not produce good works save a person. His conclusion is, "faith without works is dead" (2:26; NASB).

The point is, the verse is saying there is a kind of faith that is not genuine. Moreover, genuine vs. non-genuine faith can be determine by one’s actions.

So Simon’s faith (or belief) is seen to be not genuine in the almost immediate way in which he abandons it. He would be an example of the type of person Jesus describes in the above quoted Luke 8:13.

On the other hand, the 3000 baptized on Pentecost are demonstrated to be genuinely converted by their subsequent actions (see Acts 2:42-47 and note especially the word "steadfastly" in verse 42).

Please note, in all of this I am NOT teaching perfectionism. Christian can and do sin (1John 1:6-8). But it is one thing to be tempted to steal once or twice; it is another thing entirely to make crime a way of life.

I believe a true believer’s life will be one of ever-increasing holiness. We may stumble and fall at times; but Christ will never let us go; instead, He will always pick us up and put us back on the road to righteousness (John 10:27-30; 1Cor 10:13; Phil 1:6).

>People who have turned away cannot again be saved, according to Hebrews 6:4-6<

Hey, we agree about one thing. IF this passage is teaching that a true believer can loose his salvation, then it also is teachings that once someone has been saved, then lost, he cannot be resaved.

I mention this as the idea that one can be saved, lost, and then resaved is a common position among Arminians.

For instance, in my article I quote from an article by E.T. Quanabush from The Evangel (Jimmy Swaggart’s magazine). In this article, Quanabush takes the saved, lost, resaved position. But interestingly, he does not quote Heb 6:4-6 in his article.

Hebrews 10:26,27 and Hebrews 10:38,39

>This is all really one passage, and the key to the context is the conclusion drawn in v.39. The word for draw back is :
5288 hupostello (hoop-os-tel'-lo); KJV-- draw (keep) back, shun, withdraw.

Also used in Gal 2:12, "For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, HE WITHDREW AND SEPARATED, fearing them which were of the circumcision" (KJV).

You can only draw back from where you were.

The contrast is between those who "draw back" (or "withdrawal") from the Gospel message and "them that believe to the saving of the soul." So it's not salvation they are drawing back from but the message to be believed.

I hope the above is helpful.


Dear brother,

Thanks a lot for all your hard work. I pray that God will bless you mightily according to His heavenly riches. I truly enjoyed going over your site, it really was a blessing to me. I especially enjoyed reading your response about the eternal security. You gave excellent points.

The way I look at it is that if we lose our salvation it simply means that our God is a failure. He sends His only precious Son Jesus to save us and yet He cannot completely save us, because we have to work hard to keep our salvation.

It also implies that our God is not a good father: When He adopted us, we became His children. There is no way anybody can break this relationship. You can break the fellowship but not the relationship.

Blessings to you.
Love in Christ,
S.A. Chicago

Note: All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above e-mail exchange was posted on this Web site in July 1997.

Eternal Security and Salvation
Calvinism (Reformed Theology)

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