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The Anchor and the Forerunner (6: 19, 20).
pp. 130 - 135
Having seen that the hope was not to be looked upon as a "refuge", but rather as
something to run for and obtain, this hope is now likened to an anchor:
"Which we have as an anchor of the soul" (Heb. 6: 19).
The use of the figure is most suggestive. It is part of the equipment of a ship that is
not ordinarily used until the voyage is ended. If the anchor is called into use before the
journey's end, the suggestion is that ordinary seamanship is of no avail. If we read the
context of the only other occurrences of the word anchor in the New Testament we shall
appreciate its place in Heb. 6: the better:
"But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven to and fro in the Sea of
Adria, about midnight the sailors surmised that they were drawing near to some country,
and they sounded, and found twenty fathoms: and after a little space, they sounded
again, and found fifteen fathoms. And fearing lest haply we should be cast ashore on
the rocky ground, they let go four anchors from the stern, and wished for the day"
(Acts 27: 27-29).
The Hebrews were in the throes of a great "fight of afflictions". The storm of
opposition was rising, and they were in danger of "making shipwreck concerning the
faith". This latter expression is found in I Tim. 1: 19. There we find the alternative is
"holding faith and a good conscience", which is parallel with the thought of Heb. 6:
This was the anchor that held the worthies of Heb. 11: These are set forth as examples
of those who "believe unto the gaining of the soul", a translation which we shall explain
Why is the hope called an anchor of the soul? Why not spirit? Scripture distinguishes
between soul and spirit (Heb. 4: 12; I Thess. 5: 23; I Cor. 15: 44, 45). The meaning
that attaches to the soul in Hebrews we may find by reading Matt. 16: 24-27 (R.V.):
"If any man will to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and
follow Me . . . . . For whosoever is willing to lose his soul (psuche) for My sake shall find
it . . . . . For the Son of Man shall come . . . . . then shall He render unto every man
according to his deeds."
Here it will be observed that the Lord bids His disciples to "lose their soul", not to
"save it"! What is involved in the losing of one's soul? Self-denial, the taking up of
one's cross, and the following of the Lord. When we have a Scriptural conception of the
word "soul", we shall realize that to lose one's soul means to forfeit many of the
pleasures and good things of this life for the truth's sake. Abraham lost his soul. He left
Ur of the Chaldees, and kith and kin, to become a dweller in tents, looking forward to the
future when in resurrection he should "find" or "gain" his soul, and under happier and
holier conditions enjoy to the full those things which he had foregone in this present evil
age. Moses lost his soul, that he might gain it. Before him lay a dazzling prospect. He