Remember that the strong warning passage of 6:4-8 shifted from the “we” and “you” language to “those”. We mentioned that this shift is significant because the author of Hebrews did not explicitly state that “those who have fallen away” are the readers themselves. This shift is now made unambiguous in the treatment of verses 9-12 in which the author expresses his hope for the community.
The author is sure that his audience belongs to “better things—things that belong to salvation.” He is persuaded that his readers are committed to Christ, “[b]ut he wants each of them to show the same diligence that they did in the past, working out the implications of their Christian hope in everyday living, and persisting in faith and patience to the end (6:9–12)” (Peterson, in loc.). Again we see that persistence in the Christian walk shows the reality of such “to have the full assurance of hope until the end.”
We also observe that the community to which the epistle/sermon is written consists of Christians who are known by God for their “work and the love” which they have “for his name in serving the saints”. And this is not only a past experience as the clause “as you still do” indicates. The community is a faith expressing community, yet they are some in the congregation on the verge of turning their backs toward this faith – hence we have the intense warning passages throughout this work.
The desire of the writer is that “each one” of the community keeps on pursuing the eternal inheritance; i.e., mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Again Peterson, “This is a vivid way of saying that we have secured the promised eternal inheritance through faith in Jesus and his work” (in loc.). The writer of Hebrews speaks of the eschatological kingdom of God (cf. “the place” in 11:8; “the heavenly homeland in 11:16; “the unshakable kingdom” 12:28; and “the abiding city which is to come” 13:14; cf. O’Brien, 483).
In v.12 he makes the transition to the promises of God which he will further elaborated in verses 13-20, before he will turn to the subject he already started all the way back in 5:10 where he stated that Jesus was designated by God “a high priest after the order of Melchizedek”.
In order to strengthen the readers’ confidence in the trustworthiness of the promises by God, the author of Hebrews harkens back to God’s promise made to Abraham. This promise God confirmed with an oath (Gr.: horkos; a terminology which will play an important part in the author’s treatment of Jesus’ priesthood in chapter 7 – but we will get there in due time). Thus “[t]he hope that this offers us is like an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (6:13–20)” (Peterson, in loc.). “Jesus has gone as a forerunner” preparing a place for us—the rest for the people of God (spoken of in chapter 3 and 4). Now finally the author will come back to the theme of the high priesthood after the order of Melchizedek which will be treated in chapter 7 and in the next post.
Therefore we can come with confidence to the “throne of grace” (4:16). Jesus himself is preparing as place for us. He made the way possible to enter into the Holy of Holies. In the gospel according to John (14: 1-4) we read of Jesus saying:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Then the apostle Thomas said: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (verse 5) and Jesus answered in the well known verse 6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
O’Brien, Peter T. The Letter to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; 2010.
Peterson, David. “Hebrews.” New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. Ed. D.A. Carson, et al. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.