- Locate the passage.
With this encouragement found in Heb 6:9–12, the author concludes the unit he began at 5:11. This section comprises four paragraphs, alternating negative and positive, which creates a sense of balance in this warning passage. Hebrews 5:11–14 is negative, followed by the positive counterpart in 6:1–3. Hebrews 6:4–8 is the heart of the warning passage, followed by the encouragement of 6:9–12. All this is bracketed by the use of nōthroi, “sluggish,” in 5:11 and 6:12, marking off the section as a semantic unit.
Hortatory. Verses 11-12 express mitigated exhortation to the readers to be diligent in pressing on in their Christian life.
- Determine the structure of the text
6:9. As a new paragraph, Heb 6:9–12 is introduced by de, “but,” and indicates a contrast with the preceding paragraph. The author now moves from warning to encouragement. He calls his audience “beloved” in v. 9, the only time in the epistle where this term occurs.
6:10. Verse 10 is introduced with gar, “for,” giving a two-fold reason for the author’s confidence expressed in v. 9: God’s righteous character and the reader’s previous love and good works.
6:11–12. The next two verses are one sentence in the Greek text, introduced by de left untranslated by the NIV. Many commentators find a note of contrast in the use of de, taking it in the sense of “but.”
The NIV begins a new sentence at v. 12, but the Greek text continues the sentence begun in v. 11 with a subordinate hina clause that expresses either purpose or result.
- Exegete the passage
For more detailed exegetical data on this text, see Neva Miller, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Analytical and Exegetical Handbook, 178-82; J. Harold Greenlee, Hebrews: An Exegetical Summary, 203-11; and David L. Allen, Hebrews, 393-96.
- Let the structure of the text drive the structure of the sermon.
The text is structured in two halves: vv. 9-10, and vv. 11-12. The semantic focus is on vv. 11-12 and the mitigated exhortation that is found in v. 11. In 6:9-10, there is a shift from warning to reassurance.
A. 6:9 (Reassurance that the readers can progress on to spiritual maturity)
B. 6:10 (Grounds for the conclusion of assurance in v. 9 – readers’ past service)
I. 6:11-12 (In v. 11, shift to mitigated exhortation – the author “desires” the readers to be
A. 6:12 (Expresses the purpose [note the use of hina, “so that,” in the Greek text] for the
exhortation in v. 11)
The main focus of the text is the exhortation in 6:11.