Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 11

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-35



38, 39. “But my righteous man shall live by faith.” Among all the spiritual graces constituting the economy of salvation, faith constitutes the climax and bears the palm. It is really the grand human hemisphere, while grace is the divine counterpart, constituting the globe of salvation. While radical and thorough repentance is indispensable to put the sinner on believing ground for justification, it is equally true that complete and bottom-rock consecration is the sine qua non indispensable to put the Christian on believing ground for entire sanctification. In repentance, the sinner gives up all of his bad things to the devil where they belong, and leaves sin and Satan forever. In consecration, the Christian gives up all of his good things to God to be used for His glory forever. Thus the sinner is freely justified by the grace of God in Christ, received and appropriated by faith. It is equally true that the Christian is freely and fully sanctified by the grace of God in Christ received by faith. During the dark ages, Satan succeeded in utterly eviscerating the Gospel and leaving nothing but the bony skeleton, all spiritual truth having been eliminated out of the pulpit. God used Martin Luther to restore the great fundamental doctrine of justification by faith, independently of all priestly manipulations and absolutions. While Luther was in Rome agonizing for the satisfaction of his longing heart, through priestcraft and papistical benefactions, while climbing up and down the stone stairway of Pilate on his bare knees, punishing his body for the good of his soul, he heard a voice from heaven, “The just shall live by faith.” Obedient to the heavenly voice he comes down, leaves Rome, returns to Germany, and begins to preach justification by faith alone like a messenger from heaven. While Luther’s preaching was shaking all Germany, the Pope wrote to his bishop in that country, “Why do you not stop that man’s mouth with gold?” The bishop having done his best to bribe Luther, wrote back to the Pope, “The German beast does not love gold.” When the Pope sent his bull of excommunication to Wittenberg, which meant the burning of Luther, behold, Luther kindles a fire on the public square and burns the Pope’s bull. When summoned to the city of Worms to stand before the Pope and his grave hierarchy and answer charges for heresy, involving martyrdom, and importuned by friends not to go, he responded: “I will enter Worms if there are as many devils in the city as tiles on the roofs.” There he boldly defended the truth amid the thunders of the Vatican and the lightnings of martyrdom; and amid the popular uproar which broke up the council, his enemies aimed to seize him for the faggot and flame. Fortunately, his friends get hold of him, carry him far away to an old ruined castle on the summit of a lofty mountain. There in a deep subterranean dungeon, having incarcerated him they kept him a prisoner a whole year; meanwhile he thinks he is in the hands of his enemies, but, behold, they are his friends, preserving his life till the seeds of truth, which he has sown in Germany, can spring up and bring forth the glorious harvest of the Protestant Church, in open defiance of the Papal hierarchy. One hundred years later God used Wesley and his compeers to restore to the Church the long-lost doctrine of entire sanctification. Wesley frequently certified that this was his only doctrine, the great despositum committed to the Methodists to propagate throughout the world. It is the glory of the present holiness movement to restore to the Church the great Bible doctrines of divine healing, woman’s ministry, the Lord’s second coming, and the millennial reign.

1. “Faith is the realization of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is the glorious summary grace which makes real unseen creations, worlds, entities, felicities and eternities. The faith by which a sinner is justified and a Christian sanctified, is but an act put forth by the full volition of the human spirit; meanwhile the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire which follows, develops the substantiality of faith, i.e., erects the glorious experimental superstructure.

2. “For by it the elders received the witness of the Spirit.” The phrase “good report” is certainly a very unintelligent translation of this beautiful Greek word, emartureetheesan, which is the passive verb from martyr, which is a pure Greek word and means witness; hence the simple statement of the Holy Ghost is that the patriarchs, prophets and saints of the old dispensation enjoyed the witness of the Spirit, like we do, and that they received it through faith. Oh, how few church members enjoy the witness of the Spirit, even to their regeneration, to say nothing about sanctification Most assuredly it is a demonstration that their faith is deficient. Where your faith is all right, the Holy Spirit always does His work, invariably witnessing to the same. Hence, if you have not the witness of the Spirit, re-examine your consecration, go down to bottom- rock and take on another Benjamin’s mess of faith.

3. “... That which is seen was not made from things which do appear.” The man of faith has no trouble to believe that God created this world and all other worlds out of nothing at all. It is only the poor, dreary, caviling skeptic and the bankrupt infidel that needs the science of evolution to lielp him out on the problem of creation.

4. This verse not only affirms the faith of Abel, but certifies that he had the witness of the Spirit. Abel plunged beneath the crimson flood of the Savior’s blood, emblematized his bleeding lamb, four thousand years before the great Antitype bled on Calvary. Cain was a very religious man, the patriarch of the great antediluvian and-holiness church, a fac simile of the bloodless popular churches which belt the globe this day, and hasten to the swift destruction of the great Tribulation, typified by Noah’s flood, which swept away the antediluvian millions with all their churchisms. Seth was the successor of Abel on the holiness line, perpetuating the testimony of the cleansing blood, symbolized in all their sacrifices by the bleeding lamb, typical of the innocent Savior. About one hundred and fifty years before the flood the holiness people, designated the “sons of God,” unfortunately united in matrimony with the “daughters of men,” i. e., the Lord’s people entered into matrimonial alliances with the people of this wicked world. This proved fatal to the antediluvian church, which was soon engulfed in the world-wide vortex of the anti-holiness ecclesiasticism founded by Cain. Therefore, God took up the only surviving family in the ark, leaving a godless world to grapple with the devouring flood. The old Methodists never intermarried with the wicked, neither did the members of the Apostolic Church. This universal phenomenon at the present day lifts the flood-gate and pours the wicked world into the church, drowning out every spark of spiritual fire and expediting the awful doom of the oncoming Tribulation, when Babylon shall go down in a dismal night of blood; meanwhile the cloud emblematized by Noah’s ark will descend and deliver the Lord’s true people.

5. Here we have the inspired affirmation that Enoch, having enjoyed the sanctified experience for three hundred years, was translated to heaven by faith. Let us all learn this lesson and govern ourselves accordingly. Just as we are regenerated by faith and sanctified by faith, so are we translated by faith. Hence the pertinency that all of God’s saints should live in the constant exercise of translating faith, as we know not at what moment our Lord will ride down and translate the true members of His bridehood. As Enoch was translated by faith, so shall we be. Just as we live in the constant expectancy of our Lord to come and translate us, so we ought to live in the perpetual exercise of faith for tratislation.

6. “... That He is and that He becomes a rewarder to them who seek him out,” i. e., seek Him till they find Him. The Greek here is ekzeetousin. Zeeteoo means seek, and ek means out. Hence the Holy Ghost says that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him out, i. e., seek Him till they find Him. Hence you see that you’re to seek the Lord by the job, and not by the hour nor the day. That job is to find Him, amid the clear attestations of the Holy Spirit. Hence you must never conclude that you are justified or sanctified till you actually find the Lord in the experience of those graces.

7. This is the beautiful testimony of the Holy Ghost in reference to Noah. Just as he believed God, built the ark, rode above the devouring flood and a dying world, and became the heir of this world after the flood, so the Lord’s true people, who now hear His warning voice, get sanctified wholly, robed and ready to enter the cloud when the Lord descends, will rise above the destructive storms of premilennial judgment, emblematized by Noah’s flood and destined to engulf this wicked world; will descend with Jesus when He shall ride down on the throne of His millennial glory, and become the heirs of this world under the triumphant coming kingdom.

8. When God called Abraham out of the land of Chaldea to become a pilgrim and sojourner in the earth he went out not knowing whither he went. Abraham is the father of the faithful, and illustrates; the pilgrimage of all God’s true people, led by the Spirit, knowing not whither they go. The Divine leadership is always in the present tense, and seldom adumbrates the future.

9. When Abraham came out of Mesopotamia, he sojourned in Canaan four hundred years before the conquest of Joshua.

10. Though God made Abraham rich in herds and flocks and silver and gold, he refused to dwell in a house, lest it might detract his affections from his house in heaven. When I was in the Holy Land, in 1895, I visited the Plain of Mamre, where the patriarch abode in his tent when our Lord, accompanied by the two angels, visited him, announcing the conception of Isaac and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is certainly very unwise on the part of God’s people to erect costly mansions, since they certainly wield a potent influence in the centralization of the affections on earthly things. We would all do well to emulate the example of Father Abraham dwelling in a tent, with his gold and silver, herds and flocks consecrated to God.

11. Paul, in Galatians 4:0, elucidates regeneration from the birth of Isaac by the supernatural intervention of the Holy Ghost, while Ishmael, the patriarch of carnal religion, was born by natural generation. Here we have the bold antithesis between the worldly and the spiritual Church. The former, like Ishmael, originates from human manipulation, and the latter, like Isaac, from the supernatural intervention of the Holy Ghost.

12. The wonderful fulfillment of this prophecy is reserved for the millennial reign, “when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” When the bright day of Eden passed into eclipse under the black wing of Satan, a dismal night of six thousand years supervened, during which the saved are only here and there a traveler, recognized by Inspiration as the “first fruits,” adumbratory of the grand oncoming millennial harvest, when Satan and his myrmidons will be cast out of the earth and the glory of holiness envelope the world.

13. .. “Not receiving the promises.” By way of pre-eminence among the thirty-two thousand promises of God to His people, those focalizing in the incarnation of Christ are called “the promises” by way of conspicuity and emphasis, as they truly absorb and eclipse all others. Before the expulsion of humanity out of paradise, Jehovah preached to them the first gospel sermon, culminating in that grand Messianic promise, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head,” thus spanning the cloudy canopy of the fallen world with the rainbow of infallible promise, that a Son should rise from the unfortunate twain, destined to conquer the devil, regain paradise and restore a fallen world. So vivid were their hopeful anticipations of the glorious restoration, that Mother Eve saluted her first- born son as the Lord’s Messiah, exclaiming in her enthusiasm, “I have brought forth the man Jehovah.” [English, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.”] O, how her heart was crushed when Cain; instead of proving himself the world’s Redeemer, turned out to be a murderer. Fondly and lovingly was Christ anticipated by the antediluvian saints. The post- diluvian ages revived the same glowing expectancy, which accumulated new luster while the Messianic prophets flooded the Old Testament with their vivid predictions of the coming Shiloh, until every Jewish damsel dared to hope for ‘e honored maternity of her Lord.

14-16. In harmony with the Greek significance of the divine ecclesia, i. e., the called out of the world, God’s ancient people always and everywhere distinctly maintained their pilgrim character, ignoring their identity with this wicked world and testifying that they were pilgrims and strangers upon the earth, seeking a city beyond the stars, whose Builder and Maker is God. O, what a contrast with the worldly churchisms of the present day! If the holiness people would verify their claims to real saintship, they must not be indifferent to their pilgrim attitude toward the world. When we settle down, entering into worldly identities and secular alliances, we forfeit our testimony, lose our power and cease to bear in our foreheads the marks of true saintship.

17-19. In the Old Testament account of this transaction it says, “God tempted Abraham.” It should read as in this passage, “God tested Abraham.” Well does James (1:13) say, “God can not be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man.” This notable trial of Abraham’s faith pours a flood of light on the saints of all ages who “walk in the steps of Abraham,” the father of the faithful. The great dogma of infidelity of ages has been the antagonism of reason to revelation. No doubt but Abraham was a man of extraordinary natural intelligence, far transcending the skeptical wiseacres of modern times. Fortunately, unlike the infidels. he had sense enough t. know he was a fool. Paul (1 Corinthians 3:0) assures us that if any man would be wise he must first become a fool, i. e., the first lesson we learn in the curriculum of true wisdom is that we are fools. Abraham had learned that lesson which gloriously fortified him against the suicidal mistake of exercising his puny ratiocination against the divine ipse dixit. God had repeatedly assured Abraham that Isaac was to be the progenitor of Christ, the Savior of the world. He now positively orders Abraham to offer Isaac for a burnt offering on the summit of Moriah. The pinnacle rock of Moriah, on which Abraham offered Isaac, is now enclosed in the great Mosque of Omar, which occupies the site of Solomon’s temple. The Mohammedan Arabs claim that Abraham offered Ishmael instead of Isaac, as he is their ancestor, and they do their utmost to steal all the promises from the Jews and the Christians. Despite the flat and irreconcilable contradiction, i. e., that Isaac was to be the progenitor of Christ and that Abraham should offer him for a burnt-offering on Mount Moriah, the stalwart faith of the patriarch wavered not.

19. “Considering that God was able to raise Him -from the dead; whence He received Him even in a panorama.” From this Scripture we see how Abraham in the reconcilement of the contradictory promise and commandment of God, now soliloquizes: “God has repeatedly assured me that my son Isaac is to be the progenitor of Christ, the Savior of the world. He now commands me to offer him for a sacrifice on the pinnacle of Mount Moriah, and burn him into ashes. I know God makes no mistakes and He is able to raise us from the dead. Therefore I shall obey his commandment, offer my son on Mt. Moriah, see him burn into ashes, stand by till God raises him up from his ashes, restores him to my bosom flooded with new life, to return with me, greet his loving mother and relate to her his wonderful experience.” Thus, confident that Isaac will return home with him, he declines to tell the mother the momentous ordeal through which lie is to pass. By the time he reaches Moriah, on the third day, he has fully expounded the matter to Isaac, who is a bright young man of twenty-five years, and so thrilled with heavenly enthusiasm under the preaching of his father that he willingly and gladly carries the wood for his own cremation, bounding with delight at the privilege of dying for God and sweeping into new life. The momentous crisis arises. God takes the will for the deed, cuts the word short in righteousness, and spares the life of Isaac. So vividly had Abraham seen in panorama his son go out in cremation, rise from his own ashes and return with him to his expectant mother, that he exultantly embraces and covers him with kisses as risen from the dead. Let us all learn from this lesson to obey God in the darkness as well as in the light. The truly sanctified always have light within, but frequently providential darkness without. Job ran into a long, dark, providential tunnel, but inward spiritual light enabled him to shout all the way through it. Be not surprised when you run into a providential tunnel, dark as midnight. Be sure you keep your seat, and you will make good time through the tunnel.

20. We observe here that the spirit of prophecy, as well as salvation, is by faith.

21. The wonderful blessings which dying Jacob pronounced on his children, sweeping down the prophetical ages to the end of time, are found in the last chapter of Genesis.

22. Through faith the spirit of prophecy came on Joseph in Egypt, revealing to him the return of his people to the land of Canaan; meanwhile he administered to them his solemn obligation to carry out his body with them and bury him in the promised land. Having carefully preserved his remains one hundred and fifty years during their bondage, they carried them during their perigrinations forty years in the wilderness, finally to sepulture them at Shechem in the land of Canaan. History says the body of Joseph, deposited in a stone coffin on a wagon drawn by twelve oxen, headed the procession during all their long and weary marches, giving it quite the aspect of a funeral train.

23. “... Because they saw that he was a beautiful child.” Wonderful is the biography of Moses, whom God honored above all men on the face of earth. He was more than a prophet: he was a mediator with whom God condescended to talk face to face. His wonderful life of one hundred and twenty years, forty at the court of Egypt, forty with the flocks of Jethro, and the last forty in the leadership of Israel and the legislatorship of the world, is without a parallel in six thousand years. He was born amid that perilous period when Pharaoh’s soldiers were ransacking the land of Goshen with orders to murder every male Hebrew infant. The beautiful and majestic face of the babe inspired the hearts of his parents with the hope of his snrvival and eminent usefulness. When they are no longer able to conceal him from the royal guards, in an ark of bulrushes, thoroughly cemented and waterproof, they commit him to the placid waves of the beautiful Nile. Miriam, seven years his senior, wends along the bank, keeping her eagle eye on the ark containing her beloved little brother. It pauses in an eddy where the queen enjoys her ablution at day dawn. Recognizing it, she orders her maidens to bring and let her see what is in it. His beauty and majesty win her admiration; meanwhile his pitiful cry breaks her sympathetic heart. History says the reigning prince had recently fallen upon an Ethiopian battlefield, leaving the queen without all heir to succeed her in the kingdom. In her enthusiasm to retain and transmit the crown, won by his beauty and moved by her sympathy for the little foundling, she conceives the bold design of his adoption, feigns maternity, banishes the only two maidens who were cognizant of the fact, through the instrumentality of his little sister employs his own mother to serve as royal nurse, bringing the family to the royal palace and employing Amram to superintend the royal gardens. Thus Moses is reared amid all the luxuries, pomp, splendor and culture of the only organized monarchy on the face of the earth; being educated “in all the arts, science and wisdom of the Egyptians, he was mighty in word and deed,” i. e., endued with the highest literary culture and excelling in military tactics. At that time Ethiopia was second only to Egypt in military power, being her only competitor for the throne of the world. During the long and bloody wars between the two nations, Moses arose to eminence as a military chieftain, repeatedly defeating the Ethiopian armies, finally laying siege to Thebes, their magnificent capital. Amid the terrible conflict, the beautiful daughter of the Ethiopian king, from the palace watch-towers, sees Moses, is charmed and won by the beauty and majesty of his person and the gallantry of his achievements. Therefore, sending him love messages, she proposes to maneuver the opening of the gates on condition that he shall receive her hand in wedlock. Thus, as we learn in the Pentateuch, “Moses married an Ethiopian woman.” Of course she had passed away before he wedded Zipporah in the land of Midian.

24-26. These verses relate the wonderful choice of Moses. Why did he refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, i. e., the king of Egypt? During the childhood and youth of Moses at the court of Egypt he is the admiration of the aristocracy and the nobility for the beauty of his person, the brilliancy of his intellect and his wonderful proficiency in every ramification of learning and of wisdom. They flatter themselves that he will prove the brightest and most glorious king in all the history of Egypt. Having reached majority he not only commanded the Egyptian armies, but relieved his royal mother of the more weighty administrative responsibilities. Finally at the age of thirty-five his queen mother proposed to have him crowned king. Against this he remonstrated: “My beloved mother, so long as you live your head shall wear the crown. Assuredly, I am your humble servant, and will cheerfully bear all the burdens of administration, relieving you as really as if I were king.” Knowing that if the Egyptians ever find that Moses is a Hebrew, they will never permit him to reign, she is afraid that if she died before his coronation something will turn up and the cherished scheme of her life, i. e., her succession by her adopted son, will prove a failure. Finally, Moses yields to her importunities and acquiesces in coronation. He is now committed to the priests and magicians, to carry him through the long and tedious vigils, incantations and ceremonies preparatory and disciplinary preliminary to his public coronation. Amid the prolixity of these preparatory and disciplinary preliminaries, he sees a vision of the scenes transpiring in his infancy passing before him, i.e., the babe rescued from destruction, committed to the Nile, taken out of the water and adopted by the queen. Thus, in a vision, his Hebrew origin is revealed to him. Leaving the preparatory vigils he hastens to the palace, falls down at the feet of his royal mother, divulges the secret of his Hebrew origin and forever abdicates all claim to the kingdom. It is said the queen, now venerable with years, sank under the disappointment in the coronation of her adopted son, and died of a broken heart, at once succeeded by the nearest Egyptian in the blood royal. Meanwhile Moses hastens away to the land of Goshen, identifies himself with his servile consanguinity, espouses the cause of the downtrodden Hebrew, proceeds to the execution of magisterial justice, fully anticipating a general revolt of all Israel rallied under the insurgent banner. In this he was sadly disappointed. They had been in slavery two hundred and fifteen years, and the spirit of liberty was dead.

27. There is now nothing left for Moses but precipitate flight for life. Since his powerful conversion in the preceding vision, in which history says the God of Israel appeared to him, during his coronation vigils, revealing to him his Hebrew origin, his faith has never faltered. “Therefore he went out, as seeing the Invisible One.” Having descended from the throne of royal regent, he becomes a penniless fugitive in the land of Midian, weds Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, a patriarchal priest belonging to a Noachian dispensation, becomes a shepherd in the wilds of Mt. Sinai, studies forty years in God’s theological college, and is gloriously sanctified at the burning bush.

28. He now returns to Egypt radically and intrinsically revolutionized by the sanctifying fire, which had utterly consumed the great military chieftain, who, forty years previously, had sought to deliver Israel vi et armis. No longer the belligerent warrior, he is now a meek and lowly fire- baptized preacher of the Gospel, at the court of Pharaoh as well as the brick kilns and mortar yards. The ten terrible plagues directed by Jehovah against Egyptian idolatry culminate in the death of the first born in all the land of Egypt. Meanwhile Israel enjoys a glorious deliverance through the blood of the slain lamb, typical of the sinner’s ransom through the blood that crimsoned Calvary.

29. The Red Sea emblematizes our actual sins; Egypt, Satan’s kingdom; Pharaoh, the Devil; and Moses, Christ. After weary marches, behold Israel is confronted by the deep rolling sea, environed by mountains, by mountains impassable, and hotly pursued by Pharaoh’s bloodthirsty warriors, ready to tear them to pieces and drag them back into slavery. The last hope takes its flight, and despair seizes them. This is precisely the attitude of the sinner. He never will surrender and cry to God so long as he hopes in church rites, priestly absolution or his own good works. In the moment of desperation, Moses commands them to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” A mighty roaring wind over the Red Sea symbolized a cyclone revival. Meanwhile Moses smites the sea with his rod so furiously as if he would divide it by physical violence. Behold the waters recede, and a vast calm intervenes. They now follow their shouting leader through the sea, forever leaving the land of bondage and cruel Pharaoh. Thus the sinner in his utter desperation is met by some heroic altar worker who smites the sea of his countless sins with the rod of God’s infallible promise, leaps into the breach with a shout of victory, inspiring the desponding penitent with his heroic faith. He leads the van, and the mourner follows with a shout of victory into the kingdom of God, forever leaving sin and the devil. The drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea beautifully symbolizes the utter destruction of our sins, when in true repentance we at once and forever leave the devil and his kingdom.

30. Old Jericho stood in full view of the Jordan ford, fifteen miles toward sunset, on the beautiful Jordan bottom, overshadowed by the mountain of temptation, where Jesus fought and conquered the devil. The successor of Sodom and Gomorrah, twenty miles up the Jordan Valley, Jericho was the great stronghold and metropolis of the Amorites. The impregnable walls of this redoubtable citadel tumbled down amid the uproarious shouts of Israel, having marched around them seven days. This beautifully illustrates the victories of the Canaan life. After you reach the land flowing with milk and honey, Satan will confront you with many a Jericho. But, remember, you can shout them all down. You have nothing to do but shout and Jesus will whip the devil and give you victory on every battlefield. Remember, this is not the shout of feeling but of faith. Almost any coward could have shouted after he saw the walls fall down and the city in their hands. But it took flint and steel to shout when there was no sign of victory before a solitary stone had moved or tower tottered. That was a significant shout, for the walls are still down. I saw them and rode around them in 1895.

31. “By faith Rahab the tavern-keeper perished not with those that believe not, receiving the spies with peace.” The Hebrew word zanah simply means a woman keeping a public house, without discrimination as to her moral character. Unfortunately they were generally bad, hence the translation “harlot.” Rahab was a Christian. She had faith, espoused the cause of Israel, became the wife of an Israelitish man by the name of Salmon, and was honored with the maternity of our Lord.

32. Here Apollos condenses and abbreviates the faith roll. Of course all these stand unimpeached, shining out as paragon saints. The cases of Gideon and Barak pass unchallenged along with David, Samuel and the prophets; but not so with Samson and Jephtha, whose Christian characters are somewhat impeached, though evidently unjustly, or their names would not appear in the catalogue of God’s sainted heroes. Samson, the last of the illustrious line of holiness evangelists sent in divine mercy to apostatizing Israel, who having reached the ultima thule of that fatal backsliding which culminated in their Babylonian captivity, was a Nazarite, i. e., a holiness leader wearing his symbolic locks, indicative of his holy vows. His wonderful supernatural strength, emblematizes the divine power of a holy experience and life. Doubtless this was the reason why carnal Israel was utterly blind to her opportunities. Under the leadership of Samson they might not only have defeated their enemies, but conquered the world. Samson never had an army to help him. His people all forsook him; yet, single-handed and alone, he fought and defeated great armies of Philistine giants. Instead of his people rallying round him and utilizing such a leader as the world never saw before nor since, they only betrayed him to his enemies. Samson was a grand prototype of the present holiness movement. If a man is gloriously sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost so as to qualify him pre-eminently for the leadership of the Church, he is the very man they repudiate, outlaw and decapitate, a sad memento of the mournful fact that we’re living in the last stage of religious apostasy, while awful retribution heaves in view. Did not Samson stop at a bad house at Gaza (Judges 16:0)? That stigma in his Christian character disappears when instead of reading “harlot,” we simply read it “female tavern- keeper.” The sad fall of Samson under the temptations of the beautiful Delilah in the lovely valley of Sorek, is a solemn warning to all the holiness people. How have the mighty fallen! We should all remember that we are never out of reach of temptation till we pass the pearly portals and shout within the jasper walls. This dark page in Samson’s biography is gloriously relieved by his happy reclamation and triumphant death. He died certainly flooded with the power of the Holy Ghost. Oh, that you and I may die like Samson, inundated with victory. Jephtha’s case is still darker, as it is generally supposed that he killed his only child. It is strange that this conclusion ever received popular credence, as it is utterly without foundation in the Word of God. Read Judges 11:0. It says the daughter “bewailed her virginity,” “knew no man,” and after her father had performed his vow relative to her, the daughters of Israel went periodically to converse with her (Hebrew, see margin). There is not an intimation that he slew her, but simply devoted her to the Lord in a life of celibacy, i.e., made her a holiness evangelist, with the understanding that she was to forego matrimony and live single for the glory of God. This was regarded by a Jew as exceedingly calamitous, because every damsel was hoping for the honor of her Lord’s maternity. Again, she was Jephtha’s only child. Therefore her celibacy meant the forfeiture of his inheritance in Israel.

34. These verses describe the bloody martyrdom and heroic adventures of the Old Testament saints and impute it all to their faith.

35. God raised the dead, through the instrumentality of His prophets, especially Elijah and Elisha. God’s saints were tortured in all sorts of ways. It is said that Isaiah, the prophet, was sawn in twain. All these terrible sufferings did they endure that they might obtain a better resurrection.

Verses 36-39



“Better” is not antithetical to bad, but to good. Hence the logical sequence follows that while there is a bad resurrection for the wicked, there are also two resurrections for the righteous the good and the better, the first and the last. It is stated positively

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power, they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

This Scripture, as well as others, settles the question of the two resurrections without the possibility of cavil. I am sorry this important revelation has been obscured by the spiritualization of the first resurrection. This is a gross and flagrant error, utterly untenable, as it breaks up and destroys the antithesis, doing away with the corporeal resurrection altogether, and plunging headlong into the Swedenborgian heresy. The Greek is ezeean in both cases, which simply means, “they lived.” If it is spiritual in one sense it is in the other, and physical resurrection is forever gone. Hence we see the utter untenability of this construction and receive unequivocally the doctrine of the two resurrections. In the rapture described by Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), we have another graphic account of the first resurrection, when the Lord shall come after His bride, preparatory to His millennial kingdom. Philippians 3:11,

“If perchance I may attain unto the resurrection which is out from among the dead.”

The Old Testament saints were not ignorant of the glorious reality of the Lord’s bridehood. Therefore they suffered the most terrible tortures of martyrdom that they might have a place in the first resurrection; which will take place before the millennium, the last resurrection being postponed till the final judgment. It is certainly a glorious privilege to rise and shout o my grave a thousand years before the general resurrection, especially when we consider the glorious privileges of the bridehood to reign with Christ during the millennial ages.

36-38. Here the Holy Ghost describes the terrible tortures inflicted by a wicked world and a fallen Church on the Old Testament martyrs. They shouted in the fires anticipating the glories awaiting them in the Lord’s bridehood and the first resurrection.

39. “All these having received the witness of the Spirit through faith, obtained not the promise.”... While the Bible is flooded with thousands of promises, especially considering the synonymy of promise and commandment in the Greek and Hebrew, by which the number is doubled, the great Messianic promise of the Lord’s incarnation and the world’s literal and actual redemption by the bleeding Christ on the cross, his triumphant resurrection, glorious ascension and mediatorial coronation and intercession throughout the Bible is magnified as “the promise” by way of pre-eminence and exaltation. While the saints of all ages lived in glowing anticipation of this wonderful prophetical fulfillment, and the realization of the Messianic promise, yet they all died without the sight. Contrastively with the verification of this promise, theirs was a dispensation of Christian imperfection. Yet their stalwart and sanguine hope swept onward through the lights of type and prophecy into the personal experience of Christian perfection. This grand faith brigade lived, testified and shouted, in the realization of Gospel experiences many centuries in advance of their age and generation, while the rank and file of the Church barely reached perfection in the article of death, passing into eternity in a state of spiritual infancy, like the great bulk of the Gospel Church of the present day. Their case was apologizable, as they were in harmony with their dispensation, while the unsanctified millions of the Church of the present day, both clerical and laic, are blundering along amid the fogs of carnality, three thousand years behind the age.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 11". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".