(e.g. john 8 32)

Hebrews 6:2  (King James Version)

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Adam Clarke
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Hebrews 6:2

Of the doctrine of baptisms - " There were two things," says Dr. Owen, "peculiar to the Gospel, the doctrine of it and the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Doctrine is called baptism, Deuteronomy 32:2; hence the people are said to be baptized to Moses, when they were initiated into his doctrines, I Corinthians 11:2. The baptism of John was his doctrine, Acts 19:3; and the baptism of Christ was the doctrine of Christ, wherewith he was to sprinkle many nations, Isaiah 52:15. This is the first baptism of the Gospel, even its doctrine. The other was the communication of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, Acts 1:5; and this alone is what is intended by the laying on of hands; and then the sense will be the foundation of the Gospel baptisms, namely preaching and the gifts of the Holy Ghost."

I am afraid, with all this great man' s learning, he has not hit the meaning of the apostle. As teaching is the means by which we are to obtain the gifts of the Holy Ghost, surely the apostle never designed to separate them, but to lead men immediately through the one to the possession of the other. Nor is the word baptism mentioned in the passage in Deuteronomy which he quotes; nor, indeed, any word properly synonymous. Neither , baptism, ̔ , sprinkling, nor any verb formed from them, is found in the Septuagint, in that place. But the other proofs are sufficiently in point, viz. that by baptism in the other places referred to, doctrine or Teaching is meant; but to call Teaching one baptism, and the gifts of The Holy Ghost another baptism, and to apply this to the explanation of the difficulty here, is very far from being satisfactory.

I am inclined to think that all the terms in this verse, as well as those in the former, belong to the Levitical law, and are to be explained on that ground.

Baptisms, or immersions of the body in water, sprinklings, and washings, were frequent as religious rites among the Hebrews, and were all emblematical of that purity which a holy God requires in his worshippers, and without which they cannot be happy here, nor glorified in heaven.

Laying on of hands - Was also frequent, especially in sacrifices: the person bringing the victim laid his hands on its head, confessed his sins over it, and then gave it to the priest to be offered to God, that it might make atonement for his transgressions. This also had respect to Jesus Christ, that Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The doctrine also of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment, were both Jewish, but were only partially revealed, and then referred to the Gospel. Of the resurrection of the dead there is a fine proof in Isaiah 26:19, where it is stated to be the consequence of the death and resurrection of Christ, for so I understand the words, Thy dead shall live; with my dead body shall they arise: awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. The valley of dry bones, Ezekiel 37:1, etc., is both an illustration and proof of it. And Daniel has taught both the resurrection and the eternal judgment, Daniel 12:2 : And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Now the foundation of all these doctrines was laid in the Old Testament, and they were variously represented under the law, but they were all referred to the Gospel for their proof and illustration. The apostle, therefore, wishes them to consider the Gospel as holding forth these in their full spirit and power. It preaches,

1.Repentance, unto life.

2.Faith in God through Christ, by whom we receive the atonement.

3.The baptism by water, in the name of the holy Trinity; and the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

4.The imposition of hands, the true sacrificial system; and, by and through it, the communication of the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, for the instruction of mankind, and the edification of the Church.

5.The resurrection of the dead, which is both proved and illustrated by the resurrection of Christ.

6.The doctrine of the eternal or future judgment, which is to take place at the bar of Christ himself, God having committed all judgment to his Son, called here , eternal or ever during judgment, because the sentences then pronounced shall be irreversible.

Some understand the whole of the initiation of persons into the Church, as the candidates for admission were previously instructed in those doctrines which contained the fundamental principles of Christianity. The Hebrews had already received these; but should they Judaize, or mingle the Gospel with the law, they would thereby exclude themselves from the Christian Church, and should they be ever again admitted, they must come through the same gate, or lay a second time, , this foundation. But should they totally apostatize from Christ, and finally reject him, then it would be impossible to renew them again to repentance - they could no more be received into the Christian Church, nor have any right to any blessing of the Gospel dispensation; and, finally rejecting the Lord who bought them, would bring on themselves and their land swift destruction. See the 4th and following verses, and particularly the notes on Hebrews 6:8-9 (note).

Other Adam Clarke entries containing Hebrews 6:2:

1 Timothy 4:16


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