Chapter Context MHCC: The strain of this chapter differs from that of the foregoing chapters. Those were generally made up of reproofs for sin and threatenings of wrath; but this is made up of exhortations to repentance and promises of mercy, and with these the prophet closes; for all the foregoing convictions and terrors he had spoken were designed to prepare and make way for these. He wounds that he may heal. The Spirit convinces that he may comfort. This chapter is a lesson for penitents; and some such there were in Israel at this day, bad as things were. We have here, I. Directions in repenting, what to do and what to say (v. 1-3). II. Encouragements to repent taken from God’s readiness to receive returning sinners (v. 4, 8) and the comforts he has treasured up for them (v. 5-7). III. A solemn recommendation of these things to our serious thoughts (v. 9).
I want to do something completely out of the ordinary today and concentrate on one word in our text, “Apostasy”. The reason is simple CONTEXT, like so many other things today the context of this word has changed from OT to NT to Modern English.
The Merriam-Webster definition of apostasy includes two senses of the term:
1. An act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith
2. The abandonment of a previous loyalty: DEFECTION
Now that we have a worldly definition, let’s discuss a biblical one.
In the OT it is the Hebrew word מְשׁוּבָה (meshubah or meshubah), and it is found 12 times once in Proverbs, nine times in Jeremiah, and twice in Hosea. Strong’s, NAS and BDB have it defined as backsliding, turning away and the NASB further breaks it down as follows: apostasies (3), apostasy (2), faithless (4), faithlessness (1), turning (1), waywardness (1). We read throughout the OT about the nation of Israel’s rebellion (turning away) from God. Yet God has made a covenant declaring these are His people and He will not forsake them. Note this applies to the people as a whole, not individuals.
In the NT, the greek words used are; parapipto [parapivptw], aphistemi [ajfivsthmi], apostasia [ajpostasiva]). Baker’s Dictionary defines this as the; Defection from the faith, an act of unpardonable rebellion against God and his truth. The sin of apostasy results in the abandonment of Christian doctrine and conduct. Note the context here, unpardonable rebellion against God means no return because of the complete and utter abandonment of Christian doctrine and conduct.
Compare to the OT Covenant which was with the nation of Israel, the NT covenant is with Individuals. God sent His son as a propitiation of sin for His chosen people (individuals both Jew and Gentile). Christ is the Bridegroom and the “church” made up of redeemed individuals His Bride. Apostasy occurs when individuals lust after (worship) something greater than Christ. I love the following quote:
Maybe the most controversial passage of scripture on the matter is Hebrews 6:4-6. Maybe the best and most complete address of this I have found is here at Simon Wartanian’s blog post on the matter. Instead of demanding one takes the Covenant theology vs. the Arminian approach to the matter he systematically addresses both views before coming to a (what I believe) proper theological conclusion. I will leave it to you to read.