LEAVING THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS #2
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1, 2, KJV)
Reading Hebrews 6:1 and 2, we are immediately aware that we are told to leave something or “having left something” (ABP+ version). That something is called “the principles of the doctrine of Christ” in the text. Or, as another version, the American Standard, expresses it, “the doctrine of the first principles of Christ.” Within the preceding verses of this context, back in chapter 5:12, the KJV calls it“the first principles of the oracles of God.” “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” (Hebrews 5:12). The principles are the “first principles” which suggest that there are second principles for us to obey.
Notice the Greek word for “beginning” is in both passages but are translated in the KJV as “principles.” This should help us to understand more what the character of the “principles” listed in the text.
1. First, we are instructed to proceed from “first principles” of the “doctrine of Christ.”
2. We are to proceed “unto perfection.”
3. This is a growing requirement then. It is accomplished by not laying again the foundation of basic truths but progressing toward “completeness” (Strong’s Dictionary of Greek and Hebrew). Hebrews 5:12 compares it to human baby using milk.
4. The foundation includes “the doctrine of baptisms.” This doctrine of baptisms obviously is contained in the first principles. That is, (a) the doctrine of baptisms is a foundation of (b) the doctrine of Christ.
It is interesting to me that in the original language the mentioned “doctrines” are actually two different words in the original language.
1. “LOGOS” DOCTRINE
The word “doctrine” in verse 1 is not the same as the “doctrine” of verse 2. These are two different Greek words in the original Greek text from which the English word “doctrine” has been translated.
On the one hand, the word “doctrine” of Christ in verse 1 is the same word used in John 1:1 and 14, where Jesus is proclaimed to be the “Word” of God; i.e., the “Logos” of God. The translators could just as well have translated John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Doctrine and the Doctrine was with God and the Doctrine was God.” We know therefore that those that claim that we should just preach Jesus and not doctrine is in error. Jesus is the Doctrine of God personified according to the apostle and witness John. Consequently, although we perceive this to be true, nevertheless, we can also deduce from this personification that “Logos” is more than what we often “think of” when we say “doctrine.”
The LogosG3056 of Christ. We use the Greek word “logos” profusely in the English language. Logos, as used in English, means the same as its Greek original which is "word, speech, statement, discourse," also referring to "computation, account, especially "reason."i Some examples where logos is used in English compounds are: “biology” which is “the science of life [bios] or living matter”; “geology” which is “the science that deals with the dynamics and physical history of the earth [geo]”; “theology” which is “the field of study and analysis that treats of God [theos].” So, our subject “logos” has to do with the discourse or reasoning of God in John 1:1 and of Christ in Hebrews 6:1, or to the reader, the “science or study” of Christ.
2. “DIDACTIC” DOCTRINE
On the other hand, the “doctrine” of baptisms in verse 2 is διδαχηG1322 . It is the very same word as the apostles’ “doctrine” that’s pursued by the first Christians in Acts 2:42.
Thayer’s Greek Definitions define “didactic” broadly as 1) to teach 1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses 1b) to be a teacher 1c) to discharge the office of a teacher, conduct one’s self as a teacher 2) to teach one 2a) to impart instruction 2b) instill doctrine into one 2c) the thing taught or enjoined 2d) to explain or expound a thing 2f) to teach one something. Briefly, then it has to do always with teaching.
“Didactic” doctrine has been defined according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary simply as “instruction.” In our text, it is the teaching of baptisms. But remember, we are told that such teaching is only a section of principles in the Logos of Christ. But it is definitely a section of the matter of Christ.“Didactic” doctrine has been defined according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary simply as “instruction.” In our text, it is the teaching of baptisms. But remember, we are told that such teaching is only a section of principles in the Logos of Christ. But it is definitely a section of the matter of Christ.
The translators of the KJV obviously considered both words at least in this context to be equivalent or synonymous. So trusting the translators, we can conclude that the context is talking simply about the study of Christ of which the study of “baptisms” is a basic and important instruction. One version of verse 1 says, it is “the matter of Christ.”
The reader is commanded to “leave the principles” of the basic matter of Christ which includes the study of baptisms.
Summary so far…
1. We cannot teach Christ without teaching His doctrine (verse 1 and John 1:1,14).
2. We cannot teach the matter of Christ without teaching about baptisms.