6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.

Hebrews 6:1–3 ESV Read More

Isn’t it wild to see this list of “elementary doctrine” after everything we’ve been through in Hebrews?

  • Repentance away from dead works and toward faith in God
  • Washings (baptism? Washing hands before eating?)
  • Laying on of hands (this is related to prayer and blessing, it wasn’t associated with ordination for a few hundred years later)
  • Resurrection of the dead
  • Eternal judgement

It can be easy for us to talk about all kinds of details in the Christian life and not mention these very much. It could be because we are all so mature that we don’t have to talk about it anymore. It could also be because we’re so immature that we can’t even make it up to this level. Honestly, it’s hard to know what we don’t know sometimes, isn’t it?

I remember when I was learning a foreign language. I was humming along, memorizing my numbers. No big deal, right? I made a little rhythm and rhyme in my head to count to 10, then I worked my way up through the teens. Just like a preschool kid, I nailed counting by tens all of the way to one hundred. There was no 2-digit number I couldn’t conquer.

And then I saw the alphabet.

My keyboard won’t even allow me to show you the strange things I saw. There was a backward letter N with a mark above it and it sounded like {ee}. There was this one letter that had 6 different points like an injured octopus and it made a {sh} sound.

I had no idea what I was getting into.

But without learning that, I wouldn’t be able to function. I wouldn’t even be able to know the difference between a men’s and women’s bathroom. (The 6 legged thing was the letter for Women, even though it looked like a W sitting on top of an M.)

sign in russian pointing out a women's bathroom

So when the Bible mentions some kind of teaching as explicit as this list, it’s worth paying attention to. The writer here even uses an idiom like we say “learn your ABCs.” It’s not that you have to learn the alphabet, but there are some things about following Jesus and being a Christian that are as foundational as reading letters.

This is the list. I didn’t make it up, I just pulled it from the New Testament itself. It’s worth meditating on and looking up in the Gospels. Take a look at what all Jesus says about this list and you’ll see that it really is the starting point for everything else.

  • Repentance away from dead works and toward faith in God
  • Washings (baptism? Washing hands before eating?)
  • Laying on of hands (this is related to prayer and blessing, it wasn’t associated with ordination for a few hundred years later)
  • Resurrection of the dead
  • Eternal judgment

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