Hebrews 6:1-3 KJV
(1)  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,
(2)  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
(3)  And this will we do, if God permit.

Hebrews 6:1-3 AMPC+
(1)  THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God,
(2)  With teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]
(3)  If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching].

  • We want to advance in our knowledge concerning the basic doctrines of Christ. It is necessary that we get a grip on these basic teachings so that we can move on to greater things. We have to have a good foundation on which to build.

Hebrews 6:1-3 GNB (Good News Bible)
(1)  Let us go forward, then, to mature teaching and leave behind us the first lessons of the Christian message. We should not lay again the foundation of turning away from useless works and believing in God;
(2)  of the teaching about baptisms and the laying on of hands; of the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment.
(3)  Let us go forward! And this is what we will do, if God allows.

  • The Amplified bible describes dead works as "dead formalism".  The Good News Bible describes it as "useless works". 
  • Works have their place. You can have "dead works" or "works that are meaningful", it's the dead and useless works that the writer is talking about here. 

Hebrews 9:14 KJV
(14)  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

  • When we substitute our faith with our works we are performing dead works. Works are no substitute for faith. We perform works because we are saved, we don't perform works to be saved.
  • When our actions are not based on the Word of God they are dead works.
  • Our works can turn into formalism and rituals when they are not framed by the word of God. These are dead works. 
    Works are good when they are wrought in God.

The Book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience. The Jewish religion was filled with all kinds of dutiful works that posed a problem for converted Jews. These rituals (works) were so entrenched in their religious practices that it was very hard for some to let them go. Many people were even murdered because of the practice of doing certain works or lack of doing certain works..

One of the main rituals was that of circumcision. 

Acts 15:1 KJV
(1)  And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

  • They told people they couldn't be saved if they weren't circumcised after the manner of Moses. Being circumcised was a dead work.

1 Corinthians 7:19 KJV
(19)  Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

  • The Apostle Paul points out that the only thing that matters is keeping the commandments of God. Here is where most of us fall short. Keeping the commandants of God takes a whole lot of self denial. Most of us are simply not willing to go through the pain of self denial.

John 7:19 KJV
(19)  Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?

Jesus rebukes them by pointing out that Moses gave them the law but none of them could keep it. This should be a vital first step in understanding that we cannot be saved based on doing rituals, tradition, or any works whatsoever.


Ephesians 2:8-10 KJV
(8)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(9)  Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(10)  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

  • We are saved through FAITH.
  • We are saved because of GRACE
  • None of it comes because of us. ALL OF IT IS A GIFT FROM GOD!
  • We were created in Christ Jesus unto good works. In other words we perform good works because of who we are in Christ Jesus. Not to brag, or boast, or anything else but to simply bring glory and honor to God and His kingdom.

John 3:16-21 KJV
(16)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(17)  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(18)  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
(19)  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
(20)  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
(21)  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

  • There is a such thing as good works (deeds).  As believers we want to have our lives filled with good works. Good works are doing those things motivated by love and respect for God, which includes our fellow man.

Matthew 5:16 KJV
(16)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

  •  Our life as believers should be filled with good works. Works based on service to God and our fellow man.
  •  There is nothing wrong with doing good works before people. Jesus said it, and He himself did it all the time. The problem comes when we do it just to be seen of men and receive glory from man and fail to give God the glory.


Edward E. Hill