The Enlightened Ones

June 26, 2012

The Enlightened Ones

            Who are the enlightened ones of Hebrews 6:4?  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,   If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” This is a question that has occupied the minds of many great theologians.  I don’t propose to include myself among them.  After studying the conclusions of a number of them, I want to set forth what seems to be the most logical answer to the question of who are the enlightened ones.

To be enlightened is to be made aware of something.  It means that light has been shed on a matter that illuminates it and gives us a clearer understanding of it.  All of us need to be enlightened.  The same Greek word is found also in Hebrews 10:32  “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.”   It is also used in Ephesians 1:18.  “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”   It is God’s will that we have a clear concept of His eternal truth.

In Hebrews 6:4 the enlightened ones failed to act upon the revealed truth.  They came to a turning point and turned back.  The question has always been asked, “Were they saved?”  The most logical answer to the question is, “No, they weren’t saved.”   That leaves us with the task of giving a logical explanation of what is meant by the description that is given of them.

We need to keep in mind that the book of Hebrews was written for Jewish Christians.  The introduction to the book of Hebrews in the Scofield Bible says “It was written with a twofold intent; (1) to confirm Jewish Christians by showing that Judaism had come to an end through the fulfillment by Christ of the whole purpose of the law; and (2) the hortatory passages show that the writer had in view the danger ever present of Jewish professed believers of either lapsing back into Judaism, or of pausing short of true faith in Jesus Christ.”  The key word is “better.”  It is a contrast between the good things of Judaism and the better things of Christ.

It is possible to taste of something without making it your regular diet.  In other words, they were not nourished by it.  First of all, it says they have “tasted of the heavenly gift.”  The heavenly gift is that which God offers to give to people if they will accept it.  It may refer to Jesus forgiveness of sins or perhaps to the ministry of the Holy Spirit that is next mentioned.  They have come close enough to experience something of its benefits to them if they would accept it.  It also says they had tasted the “good word of God.”  Most commentators say this refers to the Messiah who fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament.  They have seen clear evidence of the fact that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah.

It also says they “were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.”  The word “partakers” used here is not the same Greek word that we find in Colossians 1:12 and II Peter 1:4.  The Greek word simply means “companions of.”   It refers to the external rather than the internal.  It doesn’t say their bodies were indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Neither does it say they were “born of the Spirit”(John 3:6).  Perhaps some of them had seen the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the Apostles.

The words “fall away” mean to turn back.  At the time these words were written there were Jews who had come to the point here described of them and had turned back without having accepted the gift of salvation.  If such strong evidence as this was not sufficient to convince them, then there was no hope for them.

Arthur W. Pink, in his commentary on these verses, quotes Dr. John Owen.  He says “It is not for us either to look or hope, or pray for, or endeavor the restoration of such persons unto repentance.  God gives a law unto us in these things, not unto himself.  It may be possible with God, for aught we know, if there be not a contradiction in it unto any of the holy properties of his nature, only he will not have us to expect any such thing from him, nor that he appointed any means for us to endeavor it.  What he shall do we aught trustfully accept; but our own duty towards such persons is absolutely at an end.”

Perhaps there are people in our day who have reached a turning point similar to the one these Jews had reached when these words were written.  There comes a time when believers feel justified in giving up on some unbelievers.  God gives them peace about ceasing to pray for and witness to them.  The only thing to do is to pray that God will bring them to a place of brokenness, humility and repentance.


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