- Locate the passage.
Hebrews 6:20 concludes the major discourse section begun at 5:11 and resumes the topic of Christ’s high priesthood compared to Melchizedek of 5:10. This section is marked by “a formalized closure” with the exact repetition of the phrase “in the order of Melchizedek” at 5:10 and 6:20.
- Determine the structure of the text
Hebrews 6:13–20 is introduced by the Greek subordinating conjunction gar, “for,” which indicates the grounds for the preceding statement about “blessings.” The ground for the statement is in the form of an illustration about Abraham and Isaac, which the author then connects to his readers by way of application in vv. 18–20.
Verses 13–15 make up a paragraph unit summarizing the experience of Abraham and Isaac recorded in Genesis 22. It is semantically a conclusion the grounds for which are given in vv. 16-20.
Verses 16–20 comprise one sentence in the Greek text introduced by gar, “for,” which gives the grounds or reason for the entire thought of 13–15 generally.
- Exegete the passage
6:13-15. The reference is to God’s testing of Abraham in Genesis 22.
6:15 Verse 15 begins with the conjunction houtōs, “so,” which is connected with the main verb “received.” The participle functions in a temporal sense of antecedent attitude and action to the main verb: “After waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” The “promise” refers to Abraham’s many descendants and begins with its fulfillment at Isaac’s birth, continues with Abraham and Isaac’s experience in Genesis 22, and is further reinforced by God’s oath concerning the promise in Genesis 22.
For more detailed exegetical data on this text, see Neva Miller, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Analytical and Exegetical Handbook, 182-91; J. Harold Greenlee, Hebrews: An Exegetical Summary, 212-24; and David L. Allen, Hebrews, 396-405.
- Let the structure of the text drive the structure of the sermon.
I. 6:13-15 (God’s oath to Abraham ends all doubt concerning the future of God’s promises.)
II. 6:16-20 (God’s oath applies to us as well so that we may have strong encouragement
concerning the future fulfillment of God’s promises to all believers.)
Note the application the author makes to his audience in 6:16-20.