John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ - That is, saying no more of them for the present. Let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works - From open sins, the very first thing to be insisted on. And faith in God - The very next point. So St. Paul in his very first sermon at Lystra, Acts 14:15, "Turn from those vanities unto the living God." And when they believed, they were to be baptized with the baptism, not of the Jews, or of John, but of Christ. The next thing was, to lay hands upon them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: after which they were more fully instructed, touching the resurrection, and the general judgment; called eternal, because the sentence then pronounced is irreversible, and the effects of it remain for ever.
Verse 3. And this we will do - We will go on to perfection; and so much the more diligently, because,
Verse 4. It is impossible for those who were once enlightened - With the light of the glorious love of God in Christ. And have tasted the heavenly gift - Remission of sins, sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. And been made partakers of the Holy Ghost - Of the witness and the fruit of he Spirit.
Verse 5. And have tasted the good word of God - Have had a relish for, and a delight in it. And the powers of the world to come - Which every one tastes, who has an hope full of immortality. Every child that is naturally born, first sees the light, then receives and tastes proper nourishment, and partakes of the things of this world. In like manner, the apostle, comparing spiritual with natural things, speaks of one born of the Spirit, as seeing the light, tasting the sweetness, and partaking of the things "of the world to come."
Verse 6. And have fallen away - Here is not a supposition, but a plain relation of fact. The apostle here describes the case of those who have cast away both the power and the form of godliness; who have lost both their faith, hope, and love, Hebrews 6:10, &c., and that wilfully, Hebrews 10:26. Of these wilful total apostates he declares, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance. (though they were renewed once,) either to the foundation, or anything built thereon. Seeing they crucify the Son of God afresh - They use him with the utmost indignity. And put him to an open shame - Causing his glorious name to be blasphemed.
Verse 8. That which beareth thorns and briers - Only or chiefly. Is rejected - No more labour is bestowed upon it. Whose end is to be burned - As Jerusalem was shortly after.
Verse 9. But, beloved - in this one place he calls them so. he never uses this appellation, but in exhorting. We are persuaded of you things that accompany salvation - We are persuaded you are now saved from your sins; and that ye have that faith, love, and holiness, which lead to final salvation. Though we thus speak - To warn you, lest you should fall from your present steadfastness.
Verse 10. For - Ye give plain proof of your faith and love, which the righteous God will surely reward.
Verse 11. But we desire you may show the same diligence unto the end - And therefore we thus speak. To the full assurance of hope - Which you cannot expect, if you abate your diligence. The full assurance of faith relates to present pardon; the full assurance of hope, to future glory. The former is the highest degree of divine evidence that God is reconciled to me in the Son of his love; the latter is the same degree of divine evidence (wrought in the soul by the same immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost) of persevering grace, and of eternal glory. So much, and no more, as faith every moment "beholds with open face," so much does hope see to all eternity But this assurance of faith and hope is not an opinion, not a bare construction of scripture, but is given immediately by the power of the Holy Ghost; and what none can have for another, but for himself only.
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Verse 12. Inherited the promises - The promised rest; paradise.
Verse 13. For - Ye have abundant encouragement, seeing no stronger promise could be made than that great promise which God made to Abraham, and in him to us.
Verse 14. Genesis 22:17.
Verse 15. After he had waited - Thirty years. He obtained the promise - Isaac, the pledge of all the promises.
Verse 16. Men generally swear by him who is infinitely greater than themselves, and an oath for confirmation, to confirm what is promised or asserted, usually puts an end to all contradiction. This shows that an oath taken in a religious manner is lawful even under the gospel: otherwise the apostle would never have mentioned it with so much honour, as a proper means to confirm the truth
Verse 17. God interposed by an oath - Amazing condescension! He who is greatest of all acts as if he were a middle person; as if while he swears, he were less than himself, by whom he swears! Thou that hearest the promise, dost thou not yet believe?
Verse 18. That by two unchangeable things - His promise and his oath, in either, much more in both of which, it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation - Swallowing up all doubt and fear. Who have fled - After having been tossed by many storms. To lay hold on the hope set before us - On Christ, the object of our hope, and the glory we hope for through him.
Verse 19. Which hope in Christ we have as an anchor of the soul -Entering into heaven itself, and fixed there. Within the veil - Thus he slides back to the priesthood of Christ.
Verse 20. A forerunner uses to be less in dignity than those that are to follow him. But it is not so here; for Christ who is gone before us is infinitely superior to us. What an honour is it to believers, to have so glorious a forerunner, now appearing in the presence of God for them.