Hebrews 6:2 continues from verse 1 naming the foundational teachings of Christ upon which the superstructure of the faith must be built. Hebrews 6:1-2 says, “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, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” The first foundational issue is that we repent of our confidence in our works and rest confidently in Christ’s work for us on the cross. It’s easy to see why the writer would include this as the first foundational issue. The second issue deals with 2 other items that could be connected to the idea of dead works. One commentary said, “Dead works may represent the efforts connected with the earthly sanctuary system to secure cleansing and acceptance before God.”[1] The instructions about washings and laying on of hands deal with offering sacrifices under the Old Testament economy. It has to do with the purification of sinners through blood sacrifices.

It’s faith in God and the sacrifice offered by Jesus on the cross of Calvary that replaces all that. It’s foundational to our faith to see that there need not be any more blood sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. That’s been taken care of! It’s foundational. The author of Hebrews will make this all perfectly clear in Chapter 9 verses 13-14 when he writes, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

“Laying on of hands” is another ritual of the Jewish religious system. Another commentary explains, “The rite symbolized transfer. On the Day of Atonement hands were placed on the head of a goat as the priest confessed the sins of Israel (Lev. 16:21). Then the goat was sent away into the wilderness where he typically carried the sins which he bore, never to return with them again.”[2] The foundational issues associated with washings and laying on of hands as practiced in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in Christ. Like salvation by grace through faith alone, the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins is foundational. Your sins have been atoned for and taken away as far as the east is from the west to never return. If you don’t grasp this truth, you’ll not understand Jesus meat! He says (John 6:55-56), “My body is real food. My blood is real drink. Anyone who eats my body and drinks my blood remains in me. And I remain in him.”

[1] J. Paul Tanner, “The Epistle to the Hebrews,” in The Grace New Testament Commentary, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), 1052.

[2] Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1962), 50.