Read verses 4-6
Q: To whom is the writer referring: Christians, non-Christians, or those who appear to be Christians but aren’t really born again?
A: The writer is specifically referring to Christians. There can be no other good explanation based on the phrase, “...and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit.” These are born-again Believers.
Q: Is the writer discussing the salvation of these Believers, or something else?
A: There are no grounds for interpreting that salvation is the issue, nor that their “falling away” is the equivalent to a loss of salvation. The issue is apostasy; that is, Christians who are true Christians but fall away from the faith.
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
— Matthew 24:24
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,”
— 2 Thessalonians 2:3
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,”
— 1 Timothy 4:1
“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.”
— Hebrews 3:12
Q: How does the phrase “...it is impossible to renew them again to repentance..” fit into this teaching?
A: This is the explanation of “fallen away” in v.6. If one falls away from Christ, where else will he or she go to find the repentance from sin, guilt and/or shame? If one leaves Christ, repentance from some other source is impossible. These are true Christians who are no longer walking with Christ. A peak at next week’s reading explains their situation:
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
— Hebrews 10:26-31