Basic Teachings to Leave Behind

What is involved with progressing to maturity?

Hebrews 6:1 “Consequently, having left the basic teachings of the Christ, may we pass along to perfection, not laying a foundation again of [elementary principles].” [21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures - NCMM]

Paul writes that mature Christians move beyond basic teachings, or elementary Christian doctrine. [TCN] Paul will go on to list these “basic teachings” or “elementary principles.” It will prove interesting what he includes and what he omits. New disciples were to advance beyond these ‘beginnings’ and continue growing in the Word. [Colossians 1:10] In moving beyond the fundamentals they would be “progressing toward maturity [TELEIOTETA].” [WMS] The disciple is to strive for perfect, or mature growth, in relation to the “doctrine of Christ.” Largely this involves the Christian Bible as well as those portions of the Hebrew Bible applied and interpreted by the inspired disciples of Jesus. [1 Corinthians 13:11; 14:20; Ephesians 4:13]

In contrast to most church-goers in modern times, Paul exhorts, “let us not lay over and over again the foundation truths.” [PME] This author was once most disappointed when first accepting Christ and being baptized as a Baptist. For months he had heard the “altar call” to repent and accept Christ. However, after doing this, the following week the pastor’s sermons was the same. And the week after, and the week after, and the week after. NEVER, did the minister go beyond the most fundamental of Christian teachings.

The disciple is to pass beyond the introductory truths and progressively understand more and more “the deep things of God.” [1 Corinthians 2:10; 3:10; Proverbs 2:1-9] What are these “basic truths” or “first principles of the doctrine of Christ”? We should consider the six doctrines or beliefs every Christian should be well-founded in.

Basic Teaching Number One: Repentance

Hebrews 6:1, 2 “Consequently, having left the basic teachings of the Christ, may we pass along to perfection, not laying a foundation again of [elementary principles], namely ….repentance from dead works.” [NCMM]

Paul mentions “repentance from dead works” among the six basic teachings of the fundamental doctrine of Christ. What is “repentance”? What are included in “dead works”? Clearly it indicates the disciple has felt regret over former conduct, speech and attitudes, turning away from and ceasing former “dead works.” Some of the “dead works” would include what Paul lists as the “works of the flesh” -- “Now you know full well the doings [works] of our lower natures. Fornication, impurity, indecency, idol-worship, sorcery; enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of passion, intrigues, dissensions, factions, envyings; hard drinking, riotous feasting, and the like. And as to these I forewarn you, as I have already forewarned you, that those who are guilty of such things will have no share in the Kingdom of God.” [Galatians 5:19-21 Weymouth Translation] Repentance presupposes that the Nazarene disciple has stopped the habitual practice of these works.

The mature Christian should know the Biblical verses dealing with repentance and moved beyond them into those things “hard to explain.” [Hebrews 5:11]

Basic Teaching Number Two: Faith

Hebrews 6:1, 2 “Consequently, having left the basic teachings of the Christ, may we pass along to perfection, not laying a foundation again of [elementary principles], namely ….faith toward God.” [NCMM]

The second teaching Paul lists involves conviction in God, or “faith which turns toward God.” [KNX] At first this sounds very simple, but when one considers the subject of God it becomes enlarged. Who is God? What is God and what is God not? What characteristics would you attribute to God? What is God’s “eternal purpose”? Surely the subject of the Trinity would have to be addressed by modern Christians as well as any other local teachings which are not rooted in the Bible. It is noteworthy Paul does not say, “faith in Christ” that that is a truth revealed elsewhere. Of course, faith in God means to also trust in His provision for the salvation of humanity - Jesus Christ.

The mature Christian should move beyond teachings on faith and progress into those things “hard to understand.” 

Basic Teaching Number Three: Baptisms

Hebrews 6:1, 2 “Consequently, having left the basic teachings of the Christ, may we pass along to perfection, not laying a foundation again of [elementary principles], namely ….teachings on baptisms.” [NCMM]

The Knox translation puts this: “instructions about the different kinds of baptism.” This is the third item Paul lists. He uses the plural -- “baptisms.” There are several types of baptisms taught in the Christian Bible. What are these? Water baptism, spirit baptism, baptism into the Body of Christ, baptism into the leadership of Christ, baptism into death. There was also John’s baptism in repentance for violations of the Law of Moses and a baptism into fire which was fulfilled upon the Jews in 70 AD.

The mature Christian should progress beyond the fundamentals dealing with baptisms and begin to understand those things “hard to understand.” 

Basic Teaching Number Four: Laying on of Hands

Hebrews 6:1, 2 “Consequently, having left the basic teachings of the Christ, may we pass along to perfection, not laying a foundation again of [elementary principles], namely ….laying on hands.” [NCMM]

This is the fourth item listed by Paul. Who would lay on hands? This would infer a central authority as demonstrated in the first century Church. [Acts 8:17, 18; 1 Timothy 4:14; 5:22] What are some situations where hands might be laid on others? [See notes on 2 Timothy 1:6] Though gifts of the spirit have ceased or passed away, the appointment of godly and qualified men as elders in offices of apostle, prophet, teacher, shepherd, and missionary by the laying of hands still seems appropriate.

Mature Christians should understand the authority involved in the laying on of hands and move beyond this into those things “hard to understand.” 

Basic Teaching Number Five: Resurrection

Hebrews 6:1, 2 “Consequently, having left the basic teachings of the Christ, may we pass along to perfection, not laying a foundation again of [elementary principles], namely ….[the] resurrection of the dead.” [NCMM]

The resurrection of the dead is Paul’s fifth listed doctrine. What is the resurrection? Who was the firstfruits of the resurrection? When will Christians be resurrected? When will humankind be resurrected? What is the purpose of the resurrection? [1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 50-54; Revelation 20:4-6, 11-13] This subject would likely also include: What is the condition of the dead? What is the soul? What are two outcomes to the resurrection? [John 5:29] These are all related questions and subjects to Paul’s 5th basic teachings.

The mature Christian should know and understand all those Bible verses dealing with the resurrection and progress beyond them into those things “hard to understand.” 

Basic Teaching Number Six: Everlasting Judgment

Hebrews 6:1, 2 “Consequently, having left the basic teachings of the Christ, may we pass along to perfection, not laying a foundation again of [elementary principles], namely ….ageless condemnation.” [NCMM]

Paul lists last as one of the “basic teachings of the Christ” - ageless condemnation. This is also rendered: KJV: eternal judgment; BECK: everlasting judgment; GDSP: final judgment; MOF: eternal punishment. This is Paul’s last elementary doctrine: judgment. The Greek may also mean “condemnation” and here it is of an unending kind. What does the Bible say about “judgment”? When will Christians be judged? When will humankind in general be judged? Who is the Judge? Do others share in this judging? Some might observe certain words Paul did not include in his short list of “basic teachings.” For example: salvation, justification, redemption, ransom, nor even ‘Christ crucified’ - though all of these may be inferred. [From notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

The mature Christian ought to know all those Bible verses dealing with “judgment” and progress beyond this into those things “hard to understand.”

“Regarding [Jesus] we have the word to speak and hard to interpret since you have become sluggish in your hearing. For there are those who ought to be teachers by now, but you have a need to be taught by someone all over again from the beginning the elementary principles the sacred words of The God. You have become those needing milk and not solid nourishment. For every person partaking of milk is really unfamiliar with the word of righteousness because they remain babies. However, solid nourishment belongs to mature persons, those who through the use of their sensory organs have been trained like an athlete to be able to distinguish between what is good or bad. … Consequently, having left the basic teachings of the Christ, may we pass along to perfection. … And, indeed, this we shall do if The God permits. [Hebrews 5:11-14; 6:1, 3 NCMM]

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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