1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
The problem in this chapter is the desire of converted Jews to go back to the rites of the Old Testament. They put undue emphasis on type rather than antitype; they wanted to abandon the reality for the type. They needed to differentiate between the substance and the shadow. The readers had to grasp the difference between the temporary economy of Judaism and the permanence of Christianity.
The types, ordinances, and ceremonies of the Old Testament economy only foreshadowed the One and His work who was to come. Now that Christ has come and finished His work on the cross, the types have served their purpose. Now shadows are exchanged by substance. All reversion to types diminishes the exclusive sufficiency of Christ and His work.
1 Therefore [so then],
The word “therefore” draws an inference from Hebrews 5:11–14. Because the readers of Hebrews were immature Christians, they needed to press toward maturity. The “therefore” shows the condition of the readers’ inability to assimilate solid food and the necessity to press toward maturity. One example of moving on to solid food is a more complete understanding of the High Priesthood of Christ (He 7:1–10:18).
leaving the discussion [instruction] of the elementary principles [the beginning] of Christ,
The author now moved from a discussion about immaturity (the ABCs of knowing Christ) to a challenge to go on to maturity in Christ (He 5:12). However, the two ideas in 5:12 and 6:1 are quite different. There is no Greek word for “principles” in this verse. Thus, “principles” in 5:12 refers to basic teaching of the New Testament, whereas the idea in 6:1 speaks of Christ presented in Old Testament types.
The idea here is to move beyond the “elementary teachings of Christ.” The Greek is “the word of the beginning of Christ.” The beginning are those things that point to the coming of Christ found in the Old Testament. These basic beginnings of Christ are essential for accumulating future doctrine for spiritual growth.
The “elementary” or beginning refers to revelation in the Old Testament with its typology of Christ. It was difficult for the believing Jews in Jesus to leave the ceremonies and sacrifices under the law. Nevertheless, it was necessary that they leave these things if they were to move toward maturity.
The idea is not to abandon these basics but to build on them in order to advance to a mature view of Christianity. One stage is a springboard to the next. There is nothing here about abandoning basic truth. Six of “beginning” things are listed in verses 1b and 2. The readers were to move beyond it. The things beyond relate to the High Priesthood of Christ, which will be developed in chapter 7.
Although God spoke through the prophets, He has now spoken in His Son (He 1:1–2). The shadow of the old economy has slipped away and Christ, the substance of the new economy, has begun. The idea here is not to leave basic Christian doctrine but to leave early Old Testament teaching about Him.
Leaving does not imply the ideas neglect, ignore, or forsake the basics. The idea is not to abandon elementary teaching but rather to emphasize the importance of recognizing the impropriety of going over the same ground. It is important to move on to the mature view of Christ found in the New Testament. The “leaving” here connotes to leave behind something in order to pass on to something else, to move on to something more mature.
Leaving “the elementary principles of Christ” is a prerequisite for moving on to maturity. It is necessary for the readers to abandon temple sacrifices. They must leave “the beginning” teaching about Christ. These would be the symbols or types of Him in the tabernacle or temple, such as the sacrifices.
One stage of growth is the springboard to the next in order to move toward maturity.
Hebrews 6 does not refer to Christians who lose their salvation. The issue is a mature view of Christianity, not salvation. The Jewish believers’ desire to return to the sacrificial system of the Old Testament would blunt their spiritual growth.
Those who are stuck at the beginnings of their faith cannot move on to maturity. Initial understanding of Christ cannot carry a believer through what lies ahead. Many Christians wade in the shallow water of the ABCs of Christian living. They plateau at the first level of progress.