Hebrews 6:4-6 (Backslidden vs. Fallen Away)

I take umbrage with the word “backslidden” as opposed to the king james “fallen away.”

The vast majority of the terminology in the Jubilee Bible begins in the OT and develops through the prophetic books (which are quoted profusely in the NT allowing translators to make the right match between the Hebrew key word and its Greek counterpart. We have used the scholarship of the early Reformation in the light of two or three witnesses. The translation of Hebrews 6:4-6 is not a mistake. 

Here is some of the trajectory of the word through the OT as the word “backslide” is introduced and developed by God.

The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways, and the good man shall be separated from him. Proverbs 14:14

Therefore a lion out of the forrest shall slay them, and a wolf of the desert shall destroy them and a tiger shall lie in wait over their cities; anyone that goes out from there shall be torn in pieces because their rebellions have been multiplied, and their backslidings are increased. Jeremiah 5:6

How long wilt thou wander, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD will bring forth a new thing upon the earth, A woman shall compass the man. Jeremiah 31:22

Why glories thou in the valleys? Thy valley has slipped, O backsliding daughter that trusted in her treasures, she that saith, Who shall come against me? Jeremiah 49:4

The OT use of this word, backsliding, comes with serious warnings to Israel and to Ammon (meaning of the people) and also holds out hope for restoration after going through severe chastisement.

The Greek usage in Hebrews 6 is also a serious warning that those who blatantly sin with their eyes wide open cannot be renewed by simple repentance. They will definitely suffer serious consequences. It is summed up in the next verses:

For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes often upon it and brings forth herbs in season for those by whom it is dressed receives blessings from God; but that which bears thorns and briers is rejected and is near unto cursing whose end shall be by fire. Hebrews 6:7, 8

This means that those “backsliders” who receive the discipline and correction of the Lord will be blessed if this causes them to bring forth good fruit. Those who bring forth evil fruit “thorns and briers” are given yet another serious warning.

Also, the literal Greek is quite graphic giving yet another witness to why the early reformers chose this translation.

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