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,
not laying again the foundation
The author now lays out six foundational truths that are not be laid again. Some of these doctrines come short of Christian teaching although they have some similarities such as repentance and faith. They are Old Testament allusions to Christianity. All six doctrines listed here were part of the Mosaic economy. All six have similarity to Christianity. These items were Judaistic teachings. The “foundation” here then is the depiction of Christ by Old Testament doctrine.
The phrase “not laying again” reinforces the idea of leaving the “elementary” principles of the earlier part of the verse. The author is not going back to teach the basics again. He will show them how to advance into more mature doctrine.
The “foundation” here is Judaism. It is like the foundation to the superstructure of a building. The Old Testament built a foundation for the New Testament. The ceremonial shadows became the substance or reality in Christ.
Those who hark back primarily to the Old Testament way of life will lay a completely different foundation than New Testament Christianity. It will put the Christian back under a preliminary view of the coming Messiah.
Now the author lists several Old Testament doctrines that distort those living during the church age. The things to be laid aside are the things of verses 2 and 3. There is little in these items that are distinctively Christian; however, all of them can be clearly classified as Jewish. We can divide these six Jewish doctrines into three categories.
-repentance and faith
-washings and laying on of hands
-resurrection and eternal judgment
Nothing is exclusively distinctive Christian in these categories. They are “elementary” or “beginning” in the sense that they were basic Old Testament concepts. It is true that elements of these doctrines surfaced in Christianity later, but similarity is not the same as substance. The error is to take something similar and confuse it with something different. Each of these items will acquire a new significance in Christianity. Reversion to these doctrines does not advance the Christian way of life.
of repentance from dead works
“Dead works” are works that have no value. Dead works is a state of non-function. They are “dead” because they are worthless in God’s eyes. They are pointless because they pertain to regulations of the Levitical priesthood. The “dead works” are external regulations under the Levitical priesthood (He 9:10, 14).
“Dead works” are to be laid aside when the ultimate High Priest comes. There is no effectiveness in what they do. Reversion to the Old Testament doctrine and way of life are radically different from New Testament living.
Those who revert to Old Testament repentance are not able to do what living under the new economy does because the type (sacrifices) cannot do what the Antitype (Christ) can do (He 6:4-6). Reversion will blunt development or maturity in Christ. They need to repent from the type because it is impossible for it to do what the Antitype did. “Repentance” is change of orientation or attitude.
The words “dead works” occur again later in Hebrews referring to Levitical ritual (He 9:14). The “dead works” are external regulations of the Levitical priesthood (He 9:10). The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin; they only illustrate the One who did take away sin by His blood.
and of faith toward God,
The thrust here is “faith toward God,” not Christ. People of the Old Testament had “faith toward God.” This is not the same as “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ac 20:21). Faith here is more than belief in God’s existence but trust in Him to provide.
Leaving the New Testament as the basis of our belief will distort the Christian way of life.
There are Christians who revert to their traditions which are not biblical. However, it is ridiculous to constantly lay the foundation of one’s faith. There is an impropriety of leaving the New Testament about how we live the Christian life. Some evangelicals today go back to teaching in church history that are not biblical.