"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."—Heb 6:4-6.
Any reader of the New Testament ought to see that this language is not to be understood as literal, when he remembers that Peter himself "fell away," and was "renewed again unto repentance." What Paul says is that it is difficult, not impossible, to renew those who have once tasted the heavenly gift.
The word here has the same force as in Matt. 19:26, where it is said to be impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In reply to the apostles' question, "who, then, can be saved?" Jesus said: "With men it is impossible, but with God everything is possible;" or, more exactly, "With men it is hard, but everything is easy with God."
Calmet says: "St. Paul by no means intended to exclude the baptism of tears and repentance, for the expiation of those sins which we commit after regeneration."
Rosenmuller, a celebrated German theologian, says: "Adunaton, in this place, does not mean absolutly impossible, but rather a thing so difficult that it may be nearly impossible; thus we are accustomed to say of very many things in common conversation."
Dr. Macknight observes: "The apostle does not mean that it is impossible for God to renew a second time, by repentance, an apsostate; but that it is impossible for the ministers of Christ to convert a second time, to the faith of the Gospel, one who, after being made acquainted with all the proofs by which God has thought fit to establish Christ's mission, shall allow himself to think him an impostor, and renounce the gospel. The apostle, knowing this, was anxious to give the Hebrews just views of the ancient oracles, in the hope that it would prevent them from apostatizing.
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