The disciples here have received a teaching, based on Hebrews 6:4-6, that people who have fallen away can never come back. We understand that there are different types of falling away in the Bible, but they are all translated into English by "fall away," whereas in the Greek different words are used (just as Greek also has different words for the different types of love). We would love to help the disciples have a biblically-based faith and to be absolutely clear on the subject. Could you please give us the different Greek words for the different types of falling away, and also for the different types of love? We have done a personal study on falling away, but if you have a study for us we'd appreciate the help. -- Denise and Marcus Araujo (Maputo, Mozambique)

There are two or three pieces already at the website on your question, but I will certainly be happy to answer your question, and I hope this will help the Christians in Mozambique.

The Greek word for fall / fall away = piptein. The Greek word for stumble = skandalidzesthai. Unfortunately, the NIV mistranslates skandalidzesthai as "fall away" in the English gospels. But that is wrong. Hebrews 6 is clear that if one has fallen away there is no repentance. How can people come back? James 5:19-20! If they have wandered away, they can return. But falling away means having crossed that line after which there is no repentance, and thus no forgiveness. See Proverbs 29:1 for a similar idea.

The best solution: change our terminology! The remaining question: exactly when does one cross that line? The good news: that is God's call, not ours. He knows. Still, of course, we ought not to play with fire.

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