"It wasn't a potential atonement actuated by the sinner, it was an actual atonement initiated by the savior."

John MacArthur

for by faith - my daily journal

What does Hebrews 6:5-6 mean?

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Hebrews 6:5-6

Hebrews 6:5-6 is an intriguing verse. It reads “having tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and having fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

What this verse is simply stating is that there are serious consequences to knowing and rejecting the gift of salvation.


We often talk of Christians who have fallen away. But we need to be clear as to what we mean.

If we are referring to “rocky road” believers, like the kind described in Matthew 13:20-21 “the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away” we need to understand that this person appeared to be, but never was a true believer, he is an apostate.

He is similar to the one who may remain but is deceived in Matthew 7:21-23 and says “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven…and then I will declare to them, I never knew you…” and is like the departed church member in 1 John 2:19 that warns “they went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they were of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be manifested that they all are not of us.”

Again, these are false Christians and apostates – those who have the knowledge, and a taste of the word but reject the truth.

You may know of someone in this situation. Certainly, we should continue to pray for them, but this verse clearly warns that at some level, “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.”

In other words, rejection comes with severe and fatal consequences, even before death.

Supporting verses

Hebrews 10:26 and 29  and 2 Peter 2:21 underpins this concept when it states “if we go on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins remains…” and “how much more severely do you think one deserves to be punished who has trampled on the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant that sanctified Him, and insulted the Spirit of grace” and finally “it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to turn away from the holy commandment passed on to them.”

God is serious about the consequences of rejecting salvation and even warns that rejection with knowledge results in more severe punishment (cf Luke 12:48).

Denying in the Tribulation

A similar verse applies to the time of the Tribulation. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, it states “…for those who refused to receive the love of the truth so as to be saved,  for this reason, God sends upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Here, there is a level of knowledge and understanding coupled with abject rejection that rises to the acquisition of a deluding influence from God Himself.

Now we know that Satanblinds the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and God “blinded the eyes” of Israel (John 12:40) but in 2 Thessalonians 2:11, those who refused to receive the love of the truth” But here, God Himself sends a powerful delusion so that they will not believe.

When does this occur? 2 Thessalonians 2:8 states “when that lawless one (the AntiChrist) will be revealed.” Since the antichrist is revealed in the Tribulation, this is a Tribulation verse, slightly different from Hebrews 6:5-6. Yet it carries with it a present and serious consequence for rejection.

It should be understood that with the Two Witnesses, the Three gospel-declaring Angels circling the world, and 144,000 Jewish evangelists, the Tribulation will be a time of enormous spiritual revival and salvation, but not to those who “refused to receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.”

God effectively seals their choice of rejection.


Who is responsible for denying Christ? 1 Peter 2:8 states “they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this stumbling, they were also appointed.”

Man is not appointed to rejection, however, men who reject are appointed to punishment.

Ultimately, man is responsible through his own free will, for rejecting Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, the more knowledge man has of the truth, the more consequential the rejection.


You can read more about man’s rejection here.