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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 11

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-2

Faith Defined Hebrews 11:1-2 serves as an introduction to the author’s doctrinal discourse on faith that perseveres through divine service.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 Word Study on “faith” The two-fold definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 is typical of the Hebrew way of thinking, and of Hebrew poetry. This parallelism is a form of Hebrew poetry, in which two statements have a parallel thought.

Hebrews 11:1 Word Study on “things” Strong says the Greek word πρα ͂ γμα (G4229) means, “a deed, an affair, an object.” Thus, it refers to “happenings, events.”

Hebrews 11:1 Comments - Hebrew Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is being assured in one’s heart that certain future events are going to take place based upon the promises of God. These testimonies give us examples of people who believed in such future events. For example, Abraham looked for a city, whose builder and maker was God (verse 10). The family of Abraham sought a better country, a heavenly one (verses 14-16). Isaac, Jacob and Joseph all prophesied of future events (verses 20-22). Moses looked for an eternal reward, not esteeming the treasures of Egypt (verse 26). Others looked for a better resurrection (verses 35).

The list of testimonies in Hebrews 111-40 give us examples of things we are hoping for, and things not seen. For example:

1. Verse 7, “not see as yet” - Referring to the flood.

2. Verse 13, “having seen them afar off” - Referring to Jesus.

3. Verse 27, “seeing Him who is invisible” - Referring to God.

Keep in mind that the noun “faith” ( πίστις ) (G4102) is the same Greek word in its verb form of “believe” ( πιστεύω ) (G4100), so that the acting out of our faith means to believe. Hebrews 11:1-40 is a testimony of those who have believed.

We must keep this definition of faith in mind throughout chapter 11, as it helps to explain the actions of men of faith. While Paul defined faith in the epistle of Romans as an event that justifies us before God, faith in the epistle of Hebrews is a decision that helps us to persevere through a life of persecutions.

Hebrews 11:1 Comments - Rod Parsley quoted Lester Sumrall as saying, “Faith is simply knowing God.” [243] Jerry Savelle once said that just as faith is the substance of things hoped for, fear is the substance of things dreaded, because the opposite of hope is dread. When we speak the Word of God in faith, the divine laws of God begin to work to set things in order the way God intended for His creation to be. [244]

[243] Rod Parsley, Breakthrough (Columbus, Ohio: Rod Parsley Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 26 July 2001.

[244] Jerry Savelle, interviewed by Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Hebrews 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Hebrews 11:2 “For by it” Comments - In Hebrews 11:2, the pronoun “it” in the phrase “for by it” is feminine, referring to “faith,” which is a feminine noun.

Hebrews 11:2 “the elders” Comments - Hebrews 11:2 introduces the elders that are listed in the following verses. Hebrews 11:39-40 restates and summarizes Hebrews 11:2 by adding additional information. These elders listed in the following passage are Abel, Enoch Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Rehab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, and others.

The elders in the Old Testament did have hope of eternal life.

Hebrews 11:2 “obtained a good report” - Comments - BDAG says that they were “well spoken of, approved.” The testimonies of these elders were reported to the following generations thru the Scriptures.

Hebrews 11:2 Comments (1) In essence, prior to the Cross man looked forward by faith to the promise of the coming Messiah in order to be justified by God; after Calvary man looks back in faith to Christ’s redemptive work in order to be justified.

It is interesting to note that no person listed in Hebrews 11:1-40 is noted for any great worldly accomplishments, nor for some great fame or ambitious career. Only the faith that they appropriated, or practiced, in their life is recognized by God after their death; thus, it will be with us on the great day of judgment. Hebrews 11:1-40 seems to illustrate John 6:28-29.

John 6:28-29, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

Hebrews 11:2 Comments (2) Hebrews 11:2 and Hebrews 11:39 serve as book ends for the list of Old Testament individuals who lived by faith in God as they open and close this list of testimonies.

Hebrews 11:2, “For by it the elders obtained a good report.”

Hebrews 11:39, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:”

Verses 1-40

Divine Service - Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40 emphasizes our divine service based upon the available priesthood of Jesus Christ who ever lives to intercede for the saints. Hebrews 10:19-25 reflects back upon the message contained in Hebrews 5:1 to Hebrews 10:18 by telling us how we are to respond to Jesus’ present-day ministry as our Great High Priest. The previous discussion explained the superior priesthood of Jesus (Hebrews 7:1-28) and His superior sacrifice (Hebrews 8:1 to Hebrews 10:18). We now have the access and boldness to enter into the holy place because of His one-time blood sacrifice (Hebrews 10:19-20) and because He now intercedes for us as our Great High Priest (Hebrews 10:21). We now can maintain our sanctification: spirit, soul, and body. We can draw near to God and serve Him with a pure heart (Hebrews 10:22), and hold fast our confession, reflecting our mental decisions (Hebrews 10:23), and walk in love towards others, which indicates our physical actions (Hebrews 10:24-25). The author then gives a warning against falling away in Hebrews 10:26-39 for those who refuse to decide to this great revelation of the depth of his redemption in Christ Jesus.

The author supports his opening exhortation (Hebrews 10:19-39) by giving the example of those who served God under the Old Covenant in order to reach glorification by their persevering faith in God (Hebrews 11:1-40).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. 4 th Exhortation: Good Works Hebrews 10:19-39

2. 4 th Doctrinal Discourse Hebrews 11:1-40

Verse 3

The Testimony of the Creation Story (Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 ) - Hebrews 11:3 serves as the testimony of the Creation Story by focusing upon the fact that God spoke the worlds into existence. The phrases “and God said” (used ten times) and “God called” (used three times) are found through the Creation Story, revealing how everything was created by His spoken Word. This passage of Scripture reveals the type of faith that God expects us to live by in order to inherit the promises. In this verse, we see that God fulfilled His purpose and plan by operating in the principle of faith as He spoke the World into existence by His Word. As we hear the testimonies of many men and women from the Old Testament in the following verses (Hebrews 11:4-40), we realize that God would not have asked us to do something that He is not had to do Himself. He is holding fast to His confession of faith without wavering, as He has also called us to do (Hebrews 10:23). If He were to waver in His faith, all of creation would come to an end. Hebrews 11:3 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

Illustration: The Power of the Spoken Word - In August 1988 I packed up my belonging in an old pick-up truck and left Panama City, Florida headed to Fort Worth, Texas. The Lord had laid on my heart that He had opened up a door for me to go back to school. I had stepped out of the Southern Baptism denomination and its largest seminary five years earlier in order to join a charismatic church. I did not understand much about these new teachings, but I knew that they seemed more powerful and anointed than the teachings I had been raised on. After a few dreams, the witness of my heart, and some obvious circumstances that confirmed this decision to go to Texas, I said good-by to my family and packed my few belongings. So, here I was, on the road, headed to Fort Worth in an old pick-up that I had paid $300.00 for. And my personal belongings easily fit in the bed, with plenty of room to spare. I had seen in a dream that my brother, who recently graduated from the Baptist seminary in Fort Worth, would soon leave this town. So, by faith, I drove out here and stayed with him and his wife for six months, at which time, they moved back to Florida, our home state. This had given me just enough time to find a steady job and rent a one-bedroom apartment.

I did not have much materially, but I had spent the last five years learning these new "full gospel" teachings, reading books by Kenneth Hagin, John Olsten and the Scriptures and I knew in my heart that I had faith in God. So, when the manager of the apartment complex asked me to work as a maintenance man, I was desperate for a steady job. I had to pick up the grounds in the morning, and work in apartments during the day. Fortunate, this manager was a Christian who believed like I did, so I joined her church.

After about six months, I came to her and suggested that we begin the workday with prayer and give all of the employees an opportunity to join us. We had both been thinking about doing this for several months prior to starting this early morning prayer. She was in agreement. So, I began leading prayer each morning for a few minutes before we began work. About three weeks into this commitment, I was praying along nice and normal so as not to offend some of the backsliders that would reluctantly join us each morning, when these words rolled out of my mouth, "Occupy 'till I come." I had not been thinking about this passage in Matthew when I prayed it, but had learned enough about the work of the Spirit to realize that the Lord was speaking to me by quickening this verse during prayer. As I went home later that night to re-read this passage, I picked up on the idea that the Lord was wanting me to take spiritual authority over that apartment complex and begin to break the devil's strongholds off of our work place. So I began to use Scriptures and pray more aggressively than just, "Lord, bless so-and-so," or, "Lord, help us have a good day at work."

Several months later, as I was waking up, these words came into my heart, "Prophesy what the men of God in the Bible prophesied and pray for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit." Of course, I did not know what it really meant. I had heard of gifted ministers who could prophesy and certain men in the Bible and in the church today who were filled with the Holy Spirit. As I simply began to do what I felt was a word from God, this morning prayer endeavor began to take on an entirely new meaning. He seemed to say to me, “Lay hands on others to be filled with the Lord,” and, “David and Samuel, see what they prophesied to those around them and do the same.” Also, study what other men of God prophesied.

As I begin to explain what began to happen, I pray that it will somehow change your life as dramatically as it has changed my life. I did not realize until later that the Lord was teaching me how to set this time of early morning prayer in order and how to pray effectively. I studied the Scripture passages where men of God would speak a blessing over others. I studied Jeremiah, where God set him over nations and kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. All this was done simply by prophesying. All of a sudden, faith began to rise in my heart to speak the Scriptures in faith believing that they would also come to pass.

This teaching of the Scriptures began to open up to me unlike anything I had ever understood before. I began the workday calling things which were not as though they were. I began to call our apartment a delightsome land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and that nations were rising up and calling us blessed. How could I say this in faith? Because I was a tither and the Bible says that this would happen to those who tithe. Within a few months of praying this every day, the owners came and repaired and painted all of the buildings on the property. The apartment began looking like the Word of God said it should. Prospects would come into the office and comment on how nice this place was beginning to look (nations were rising up and calling up blessed). Out of Romans, chapter four, I began to call this apartment complex "filled with a multitude." I saw that the Lord began to call Abraham this name long before it came to pass, so I was doing the same.

Every time I would see a Scripture, I would add it to my list of confessions of faith. I knew that few people in our prayer group understood why I was praying like this, especially when the Christian manager and I would have to pray for months at a time with no one else joining in. I guess we looked and sounded pretty strange. However, I was on to something. I would find those passages where the priests in the Old Testament were to bless the children of Israel (Numbers 6:23-27), or where Boaz would begin the work day by saying to his workers, "The Lord be with you," and they would respond by saying, "The Lord bless thee," (Ruth 2:4). Or, out of Isaiah, I would call every desolate apartment inhabited. Where the Bible says, "there is none to say restore , " I began to prophesy restoration, for all of the years that this property had been under the curse and the locust, the cankerworm, the caterpillar and the palmerworm had consumed, I said, “Restore.” I would call to the north to give up, to the south to hold not back and to the east and west to bring good prospect from afar. I world rejoice when people would come from out of state to rent these apartments and they became filled with a multitude with high occupancy. During the mornings when I did not feel like prophesying, I would speak Joel 3:10, "Let the weak say, I am strong."

Also, I would pray for God to fill each of us with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, and of the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him... that we might know what is the hope of his calling, what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. I prayed for wisdom out of James 1:5. I prayed for days, weeks, months, even years before seeing some of these things come to pass. When we are filled with the spirit of God and his wisdom and strength, we can do a better job at work each day. We will have inspired ideas, health and the courage to have a good attitude.

About one year into this commitment, the Lord spoke to me two verses in order to help me understand why the things that I were praying for were coming to pass. He spoke to me John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word." The Lord said to me that everything begins with the spoken word. And He gave me Genesis 1:2, "and the earth was without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said..." The Lord began to say to me that this is what many people's lives are like, their lives are without form or purpose and their heart are void and empty, that they walk in darkness each day groping about trying to find peace. The Lord also said to me that He would not have asked me to do something that He Himself would not have had to do also. You see, no one has ever faced a worse world of circumstances that God. And the way He handled it was that He began to prophesy and say, "Let there be..." When God spoke, life and circumstances began to conform to the word of God, and life began to take on purpose and direction. We too, are created in the image of God, even down to our tongue and our words. I saw that I no longer had to be ruled in life by circumstances, but rather a confession on faith in God's word, when spoken in faith, would prevail over any circumstance.

For four years I called Brown Trail Apartments the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. Finally, our property won the "best-overall-property-of-the-year" award and the most-improved-property-of-the-year award. I saw those two awards as a testimony to the power of God's word mixed with faith. At that time, in May of 1993, I was given a promotion into the regional office where the Lord set me over ten properties to prophesy. Jeremiah 29:7 says, "...seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace." I had sought and prayed for peace where I worked and was used to walking in that peace. I will never forget the change of atmosphere from a property where God's presence prevailed to a new office of honky tonk music, swearing and cigarette smoke. No believers worked in this office. So after hours, I would walk my new "city" and take authority over it. All but one of those employees are gone now, there is no worldly music, nor cigarette smoke here, because God's word prevails.

During the three years that I have been here, the Lord has continually given me favor with the president and vice-president of the company. God is teaching me how to be a Godly leader in this company and has given me much authority. I now have the authority to prophesy over every property in Texas. I have been calling DMJ Management Co. filled with a multitude of residents and new properties. This past year has seen the highest overall occupancies and income in history, and this coming year will be a time of buying more income properties.

I worked under two godly men who lift up my hands each day as I endeavor to lift up their hands. And this journey has taught me that there is nothing in my life that I cannot do or attain, if I base it on God's word mixed with faith in His word. I live in victory, and not defeat. I have more dreams and visions that I have time to pursue. Life and circumstances are not overcoming me, but rather I have learned to overcome life's circumstances. Praise be to the glorious name of Jesus.

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” - Comments - Hebrews 11:3 refers to the Story of Creation. As we study the Scriptures, we find that there are a number of passages that reveal the events in the Story of Creation. We have the testimony of the Father’s role in Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4 as the One who has planned and foreknown all things. We have the testimony of the Son’s role in John 1:1-14 as the Word of God through whom all things were created. In Proverbs 8:22-31, we have the testimony of the role of the Holy Spirit in creation as the Wisdom and Power of God. Job 38:1 to Job 39:30 reveals the majesty and glory of God Almighty by describing the details of how His creation came into existence. 2 Peter 3:5-7 refers to the story of creation with emphasis upon God’s pending destruction of all things in order to judge the sins of mankind. Hebrews 11:3 tells us how it is by faith that we understand how the world was created by the Word of God. We can many other brief references to the creation of the earth throughout the Scriptures.

Someone once said that if a person can believe the story of Creation as recorded in Genesis, then he can believe the rest of the Holy Bible. This story serves as a foundation for man’s faith in God.

“so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” - Comments - Hebrews 11:3 tells us that the things that we see were created, or made, not by the chemical reactions of elements that are visible, but that they were ultimately created by the Word of faith. In contrast, the theory of evolution states that life was created by chance from the elements of nature rather than by the spoken Word of God

Scripture References - Note other passages on the story of Creation:

Psalms 33:6, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”

Psalms 33:9, “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”

Psalms 119:89-91, “LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.”

Psalms 146:5-6, “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:”

Proverbs 3:19, “The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.”

Jeremiah 10:11-12, “Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”

Romans 4:17, “(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”

Verse 4

Testimony of Abel in the Genealogy of the Heavens and the Earth (Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 4:26 ) - The most appropriate testimony of a man who fulfilled his divine commission and received his heavenly promise in the Genealogy of the Heavens and the Earth (Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 4:26) is Abel. Thus, Hebrews 11:4 serves as the best testimony of the progression of man’s faith in God in the pre-flood world in that Abel reveals the type of faith that God expects us to live by in order to inherit the promises although it cost him his life, as it will others mentioned later in Hebrews 11:32-40. Like Rahab's act of faith in receiving the Israelite messengers, Abel acted out his faith in God and brought his faith to perfection by bringing a more excellent sacrifice than that of Cain. Every man’s actions demonstrate, or prove, his faith in God (James 2:18). Hebrews 11:4 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

James 2:18, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Hebrews 11:4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” Comments - The Scriptures tell us that Abel brought his best offering to sacrifice, being a firstfruits and the fat of the animal (Genesis 4:4), while the quality of Cain’s offering is not emphasized (Genesis 4:3). Abel brought his offering as an act of faith, since it was the first fruits, and he shed blood. We also know that God is more interested in the attitude of the heart than He is the sacrifice itself (Psalms 51:17).

Genesis 4:3-4, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:”

Psalms 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

Scripture References - Note:

Proverbs 21:27, “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?”

1 John 3:12, “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.”

Hebrews 11:4 “by which he obtained witness that he was righteous” The same Greek verb μαρτυρέω (G3140) is used in Hebrews 11:2, “obtained a good report,” and in Hebrews 11:4, “obtained witness.”

Hebrews 11:4 “God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” The word “it” is feminine in the phrase “by it,” referring to the feminine word “sacrifice”; so, we may translate this phrase, “by the sacrifice.” Abel’s is the better sacrifice, so it accepted by God.

How does Able still speak? He continues to speak through the written word, so that “God is testifying of his gifts.” How powerful is the written word. Kenneth Hagin has become perhaps the most power Bible teacher of the twentieth century through the writing of books. I believe that these anointed writings will be available throughout eternity.

Verses 5-6

The Testimony of Enoch in the Genealogy of Adam (Genesis 5:1 to Genesis 6:8 ) The testimony of Enoch in pleasing God (Hebrews 11:5-6) best represents the fulfillment of the divine commission found in the Genealogy of Adam (Genesis 5:1 to Genesis 6:8), which statement reflects the theme of divine service emphasized in Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40. Enoch is the only individual in this genealogy that fulfilled the commission to the seed of Adam found in the opening verse, which says, “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” (Genesis 5:2)

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Hebrews 11:5 “for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” Comments - In Hebrews 11:4 Abel’s testimony, or witness of his faith, was in the fact that he offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. In Hebrews 11:5 Enoch’s testimony, or outward evidence, of his faith is that he pleased God. Since no other acts of faith are recorded of Enoch’s life, the author of Hebrews can still conclude that Enoch had faith, since his translation proved that he pleased God. This was the evidence of his faith. It is interesting to note the reading of the LXX in Genesis 5:22; Genesis 5:24.

Brenton, “ Enoch was well-pleasing to God after his begetting Mathusala, two hundred years, and he begot sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:22)

Brenton, “ And Enoch was well-pleasing to God , and was not found, because God translated him.” (Genesis 5:24)

When translating Genesis 11:5 in the Massoretic text of the Hebrew Scriptures, it reads, “Enoch walked with God” ( BHS); thus, it appears that the author of the epistle of Hebrews was more familiar with the reading of the LXX than with the Hebrew Scriptures because he says Enoch “pleased” God ( ευ ̓ αρεστε ́ ω ) (G2100) ( LXX) rather than “walked” with God ( הָלַךְ ) (H1980) (Hebrew text).

Genesis 5:22-24, “ And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: Enoch walked with God : and he was not; for God took him.”

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him” Comments - We see that the early church grew through acts of faith (Acts 2:37; Acts 16:13-14; Acts 16:30). These people sought God for salvation.

Acts 2:37, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Acts 16:13-14, “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”

Acts 16:30, “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Hebrews 11:6 “for he that cometh to God must believe that he is” Word Study on “that he is” The Greek phrase “that he is” ( οτι εστιν ) is in reference to God’s existence. Acts 17:18 uses this Greek verb to make a similar statement in the phrase “and have our being” ( εσμεν ).

Acts 17:28, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being ; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

Comments - The phrase “for he that cometh to God must believe…” goes on to explain why it is impossible to please God without faith. In the phrase “he is,” one must believe that God is alive; He is real; He is living and acting in our lives (Psalms 90:2).

Psalms 90:2, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”

Hebrews 11:6 “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” Comments - The adjective “diligent” implies a condition of one's heart when seeking God becomes a priority in one's life. God is not easily moved with casual interest in Him. God is quickly moved by desperate faith, just as you quickly respond to the cry from your child when her prayer is desperate. When your pursuit of God becomes a priority in your heart, then your prayer becomes a priority in the heart of God.

God does not reward those who seek Him with worldly sins in their hearts. We must come to God with genuine repentance in a pure heart. Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

“O My people, I have called thee to repentance and confession and forgiveness and cleansing; but ye have listened to My words as though they were but slight rustlings in the tree-tops as though they were of little consequence and could be brushed aside at will. Behold, I say unto thee: Ye cannot resist My Spirit without suffering pain; and ye cannot turn a deaf ear to My words without falling thereafter into the snare of the enemy. Ye have not cried unto Me with all your hearts, buy ye have complained that I have not heard your prayers. Lo, is it not written, ‘The Lord is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him?’ And again, ‘ Then shall ye find Me, when ye seek for Me with all thy heart .’ Look no more to My hand to supply freely thy needs when ye have not humbled your hearts and cleansed your hands and come to Me with the sacrifice which I have required even a broken and a contrite heart. Ye need not listen for Me to speak to thee when your ears are heavy from listening to evil reports.” [245]

[245] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 54.

“Hold fast that which thou hast, and let no man take thy crown. Let no man hinder thee in pursuit of the reward. Let nothing stand in the way of thy complete victory. Let no weariness or discouraging thought cause thee to unloose the rope of faith, but bind it the tighter and anchor fast to My Word. For My Word can never fail, yea, and all My good promises I will surely fulfill . Have not I said, ‘He that seeketh shall find’? And have not I promised to be the rewarder of them that diligently seek Me? Not of the dilatory seeker, but of the diligent seeker. Not of him whose seeking is in reality only wishing, but of him who has grown so intent in his quest that he has become wholly absorbed to the extent that he is unmindful in hi toiling of the sweat upon his brow. To the extent that he has ceased reckoning the cost, indeed, verily, has quit offering bribes, as though the fullness of God might be purchased, and has set out on foot, deserting all else to follow the call of the Spirit until…Until hunger is swallowed up in fullness….” [246]

[246] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 108.

Scripture References - Note similar verses in Scripture:

Deuteronomy 4:29, “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

2 Chronicles 15:12, “And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul ;”

2 Chronicles 31:21, “And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered .”

Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart .”

Hebrews 11:6 Comments The patriarchs of the Old Testament not only believed in God, but they believed He was a rewarder of those who served Him (Hebrews 11:6) in that He would fulfill His promises to them, which ultimate promise was fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Hebrews 11:6 explains why pleasing God can be an outward sign of faith toward God, since it is impossible to please God without faith (Proverbs 8:11, Romans 14:23).

Proverbs 8:11, “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”

Romans 14:23, “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin .”

Although God loves mankind, He still can be displeased with individuals, just like parents can be disappointed in their children, whom they love.

Verse 7

The Testimony of Noah in the Genealogy of Noah (Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 9:29 ) The testimony of Noah in the Genealogy of Noah (Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 9:29) reveals that this man fulfilled his divine commission in building the ark and saving his soul. Hebrews 11:7 tells us that Noah’s act of faith was in building an ark, demonstrating that he believed God's Word that was revealed to him. In other words, he obeyed and fulfilled his divine commission. Hebrews 11:7 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Hebrews 11:7 Comments Notice how faith is an action word. However, you say, “What about Romans 4:1-3 and Galatians 3:6, where it limited justification for Abraham to faith alone?” Notice Abraham's act or expression of faith is explained in James 2:20-24.

Romans 4:1-3, “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

Galatians 3:6, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

James 2:20-24, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

Illustration - Righteous acts show the evil of the world openly before the eyes of the evil. Luke 11:31-32 tells us that the Queen of Sheba and the city of Nineveh turned to faith in God, which showed that the others were in rebellion to God. The same idea is shown in Hebrews 11:7, when Noah condemned the world.

Luke 11:31-32, “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”

Verses 8-19

The Testimony of Abraham and Sarah in the Genealogy of Terah/Abraham (Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 25:11 ) - In Hebrews 11:8-19 we are given the lengthiest account of a testimony of faith and perseverance in this doctrinal discourse (Hebrews 11:1-40), as seen in the life of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham’s expressions of his faith in God are demonstrated when he left Ur and obeyed God’s call (Hebrews 11:8); he sojourned in Canaan (Hebrews 11:9); he looked for an eternal city (Hebrews 11:10); and he offered up Isaac (Hebrews 11:17). This passage of Scripture begins with Abraham’s divine commission and it ends with the perfection of his faith in God. Thus, the lives of Abraham and Sarah testify to the fulfillment of their divine commissions as seen in Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 25:11. Hebrews 11:8-19 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

The Difference Between a Man and a Woman in Divine Commissions - It is interesting to note that God generally calls men to go out by faith without a full understanding of where they are going or what they will do or say. God called Abraham to go to the land of Canaan, then told him to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar. God also tested Job. This is because God created man differently than a woman. A woman is generally more emotionally based and her mind is concerned about the details of her life and family, while a man is generally more logical and does not need to know details. In other words, it is generally more important for a woman to understand how things are going to work out than for a man. It would be easier for a woman to become stressed in such a call, while the man generally has the ability to focus on the call and remain calm. This has been my experience as a married man having been called to the mission field for many years. I have seen the challenges of a husband taking care of his wife while taking steps of faith similar to those of Abraham. However, it is important to note that God has used women to accomplish great feats of faith.

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Hebrews 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

Hebrews 11:9 Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Genesis 17:8, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

Exodus 6:4, “And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.”

Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:10 “For he looked for a city which hath foundations” Scripture References - Note similar verses regarding our spiritual kingdom (Ephesians 2:20-22) and Heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14; Revelation 21:19-20):

Ephesians 2:20-22, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

Revelation 21:14, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

Revelation 21:19-20, “And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.”

Hebrews 11:10 “whose builder and maker is God” Word Study on “builder” The Greek word “builder” ( τεχνίτης ) means, “architect” (Adam Clarke, [247] BDAG).

[247] Adam Clarke, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Hebrews 11:10.

Word Study on “maker” The Greek word “maker” ( δημιουργός ) means, “the governor of a people” (Adam Clarke), [248] or “craftsman, maker, creator” ( BDAG).

[248] Adam Clarke, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Hebrews 11:10.

Hebrews 11:10 Comments - Abraham’s suffering involved living in a tent all of his life. Therefore, he looked for a heavenly city as a better place to live. It was a custom in ancient times for a patriarch to found a city and name it after himself as a memorial or after some characteristic feature or event. In contrast, Abraham looked for a city founded and built by God. Cain was the first man to build a city, and he named it after his son Enoch (Genesis 4:17). Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-10) built four cities in an attempt to establish a kingdom on earth for himself (Genesis 10:8-10), in contradiction to God’s original commission to mankind. Terah, the father of Abraham, left Ur of the Chaldees, founded a city and named it after his son Haran (Genesis 11:27; Genesis 11:31; Genesis 29:4). Joab threatened to name a city after himself if David did not come and take it (2 Sam 27-28). While men were trying to establish their memorials upon earth, Abraham was seeking an eternal place called Heaven, while abandoning efforts to establish himself upon this earth. As a result, God gave to Abraham and his descendents the entire Promised Land as his reward for being faithful and obedient.

Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Hebrews 11:11 Comments - Notice how Sarah’s conception came about by faith also.

Hebrews 11:11 Comments Assonance is a rhetorical device that uses the repetition of similar sounds. The author of Hebrews uses assonance when describing Sarah as barren with the Greek phrase Σάρρα στεῖρα (Sarra steira). We find a similar example of assonance in the phrase “sterile Cheryl.” [249]

[249] David L. Allen, “Class Lecture,” Doctor of Ministry Seminar, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 25 July to 5 August 2011.

Hebrews 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:13 “not having received the promises” - Comments - This verse is similar to Hebrews 11:39, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise :”

Hebrews 11:13 “but having seen them afar off” - Comments - Note Hebrews 11:1, “of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:13 Comments - Hebrews 11:13 reveals how God’s children were saved in the Old Testament. We know that in this dispensation, a person is saved by looking back at the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. In the Old Testament a person was saved by looking forward to the redemption of the Messiah. Although they did not understand as much as we do now, they did place their hope and faith in God’s promises of redemption. Hebrews 11:13 tells us that God’s children in the Old Testament times embraced these promises as they were persuaded of them. They died in hope of seeing them fulfilled in the future. This qualified them for salvation.

Note that we have been blessed to see these things (Matthew 13:16-17).

Matthew 13:16-17, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

Hebrews 11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

Hebrews 11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

Hebrews 11:15 Comments The author of the epistle of Hebrews continually exhorts his readers to not turn back from their faith in Jesus Christ. The author now points out in the example of men and women of faith the fact that they also could have turned back if they desired. However, they held onto their faith unto the end.

Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

Hebrews 11:17 Scripture Reference - See:

James 2:21, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?”

Hebrews 11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

Hebrews 11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Hebrews 11:19 “from whence” Comments - The Greek conjunction όθεν can be translated, “for which reason,” or “this is the reason.”

Hebrews 11:19 “he received him in a figure” Comments - That is, Abraham received his son back ( κομι ́ ζω ) (G2865) as a type or symbol ( ἐν παραβολῇ ) of the violent death and of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 11:19 Comments - Abraham believed that if he offered up his only son, through whom the promise was made, God would have to resurrect Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His promise to Abraham. Abraham considered that God could raise Isaac from the dead.

Paraphrasing Hebrews 11:19 says, “For this reason Abraham figuratively received Isaac back as resurrected from the dead. This happened figuratively, not literally, by faith.”

Verse 20

The Testimony of Isaac in the Genealogy of Isaac (Genesis 25:19 to Genesis 35:29 ) In Hebrews 11:20 the testimony of Isaac reveals that he fulfilled his divine commission as shown in the Genealogy of Isaac (Genesis 25:19 to Genesis 35:29), which was to bless the two sons born to his wife Rebekah. His prophetic words in blessing his two sons Isaac and Esau (Genesis 27:27-29; Genesis 27:39-40) reveal his faith in God’s promised handed down through his father Abraham. Hebrews 11:20 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

Hebrews 11:20 Comments Isaac’s prophetic blessing upon his son Jacob is recorded in Genesis 27:27-29.

Genesis 27:27-29, “And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed: Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.”

Isaac’s prophetic blessing upon his son Esau is recorded in Genesis 27:39-40.

Genesis 27:39-40, And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.”

Verses 21-22

The Testimony of Jacob and Joseph in the Genealogy of Jacob/Joseph (Genesis 37:1 to Genesis 50:26 ) In Hebrews 11:21-22 the testimony of Jacob and Joseph reveals that Jacob fulfilled his divine commission as shown in the Genealogy of Jacob (Genesis 37:1 to Genesis 50:26), which was to bless the two sons of Joseph. His prophetic utterances over his twelve sons demonstrated his faith in the promised of God handed down from Abraham and Isaac, his fathers, that God would bring them out to inherit the land of Canaan. His efforts to bring his clan of seventy souls down into Egypt to sojourn demonstrated his desire to place his family under the blessings of Joseph until the fulfillment of God’s promises. Hebrews 11:21-22 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

Hebrews 11:21 Comments - Jacob’s witness of his faith in God:

1. He blessed the two sons of Joseph (Genesis 48:1-22). Why? See Genesis 48:16:

a. They received the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

b. They would grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

This blessing corresponds to God’s promise to Abraham. It is being handed down to the next generation

Genesis 48:16, “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

2. He worshipped Perhaps because his bones would be returned to Canaan.

Genesis 47:30, “But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said. And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head.”

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

Hebrews 11:22 Comments - Joseph’s witness of faith:

1. He mentioned Israel departing from Egypt:

Genesis 50:24, “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

2. He gave command concerning his bones:

Genesis 50:25, “And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.”

Exodus 13:19, “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.”

In Genesis 33:18-20, Jacob bought a parcel of ground in Shechem from Hamor for 100 piece of money.

Genesis 33:18-20, “And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.”

Joseph was given his inheritance in the Promised Land by Jacob, his father, while yet in Egypt. Jacob prophesied of this place that he had given to Joseph before he died.

Genesis 48:22, “Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.”

Joseph did not received his inheritance of the Promised Land until his bones were carried out of Egypt and into his inheritance in Joshua’s time. Joseph's bones were buried in Shechem, which was his inheritance. So, Joseph was buried in his inheritance many years later, by faith:

Joshua 24:32, “And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.”

Joseph believed in faith that this time would come of Israel returning from captivity to possess the Promised Land, so he commanded that his bones be carried out of Egypt and be buried in his inheritance.

Genesis 50:24-25, “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.”

Most of the patriarchs are buried in Hebron. In Genesis 23:0, Abraham buys Machpelah (Hebron) from Ephron the Hittite and buries Sarah there.

Genesis 23:19, “And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.”

Abraham is also buried in Hebron:

Genesis 25:10, “The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.”

Isaac was buried there:

Genesis 35:27-29, “And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.”

Jacob was buried there:

Genesis 50:13, “For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.”

Why was Joseph not buried with the other patriarchs in Hebron? The Scriptures tell us that Joseph had faith in the fulfillment of the Promised Land. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, nor Jacob, who are buried there, had not yet received the inheritance. They were not given a portion as an inheritance, as were the twelve sons of Jacob.

Note that Joseph was the only one of the twelve patriarchs that was buried in the Promised Land. The other eleven were buried in Egypt.

Note also that Joseph could have been one of the saints that was resurrected from the dead at Jesus' death on Calvary.

Matthew 27:52-53, “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

Verses 23-29

The Testimony of Moses as Recorded in Exodus Hebrews 11:23-29 gives us the testimony of Moses as a man who persevered in faith and fulfilled his divine commission. His parents hid him as a baby (Hebrews 11:23); he suffered with the Israelites rather than enjoy the luxuries of the king (Hebrews 11:24-26); he took the Israelites out of Egypt (Hebrews 11:27); he kept the Passover (Hebrews 11:28); and he took the Israelites through the Red Sea. All of these acts of obedience were demonstrations of his faith in God. Hebrews 11:23-28 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

Hebrews 11:23 Hidden as a baby

Hebrews 11:24-26 Chose to suffer affliction with Israel

Hebrews 11:27 Left Egypt

Hebrews 11:28 Kept the first Passover and sprinkling of blood

Hebrews 11:29 He took the Israelites through the Red Sea

Hebrews 11:25 Comments - Proverbs 20:17 says that the bread of deceit is sweet at first, but brings its bitter rewards at a later date.

Proverbs 20:17, “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.”

This is what Hebrews 11:25 implies by saying that sin brings pleasure for a season, but implies that judgment comes afterwards. It is interesting to note that Satan is constantly trying to get mankind to seek things without following the divine laws of sowing and reaping. Satan makes people think that they can violate God’s laws and get by with it. But God’s laws work to being judgment as well as blessings. The phrase “sin for a season” refers to the fact that it takes a seed sown a season of time before producing a harvest. But rest sure, a harvest will come.

Hebrews 11:27 “as seeing him who is invisible” Comments - Note verse 1, “things not seen.”

Verse 30

The Testimony of Joshua in the Book of Joshua Hebrews 11:30 records the testimony of Joshua and the Israelites as they obeyed God’s command and the walls of Jericho tumbled down. They had to persevere for seven days before they saw the promise and power of God demonstrated before their eyes. Hebrews 11:30 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

Hebrews 11:30 Comments We would expect to see the author of Hebrews mention the individual named Joshua in association with the walls of Jericho falling down. However, he does not do so, perhaps because the name Joshua in Greek Ἰησοῦς is the same word for Jesus. He may have been saving the name of Jesus for Hebrews 12:2, and he did not want to confuse his readers and detract from his message in Hebrews 11:30.

Verse 31

The Testimony of Rahab in the Book of Joshua - Hebrews 11:30 records the testimony of Rahab as she feared God and hid the Israeli spies. Hebrews 11:30 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Hebrews 11:31 Comments - Hebrews 11:31 gives us the testimony of Rahab’s faith in God. The story of Rahab the harlot is recorded in Joshua 2:1-21; Joshua 6:17; Joshua 6:22-25. When we compare the references to Rahab in Hebrews 11:31, there is an emphasis made about her faith in God, which is a condition of the heart. This reflects the theme of Hebrew. The epistle of James emphasizes the believer’s works as a part of his perseverance in sanctification. Therefore, the reference to Rahab in James 2:25 reflects upon her works. She does make confession of faith in YHWH as the true God in Joshua 2:9-11.

The receiving of spies seems to be the demonstration of and perfecting of, her faith in God (See James 2:25). In other words, she has confessed that the Lord was God in Joshua 2:11, but this act demonstrated her faith in the God of Israel, just as God told Abraham that his act of faith in offering up Isaac was evidence of his faith (Genesis 22:12).

James 2:25, “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

Joshua 2:11, “And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

Genesis 22:12, “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

Verses 32-38

The Testimonies of Other Israelites in the Old Testament - Hebrews 11:32-38 gives a brief list of various acts of obedience from Israelites which serves as their testimonies of faith towards God. Some acts of faith are demonstrated through lives of victory over the enemy (Hebrews 11:32-35 a), while others testified through lives of perseverance in the midst of persecutions (Hebrews 11:35-38).

Extra-biblical Sources - It is interesting to note that not every story comes from the Old Testament canon. For example, the phrase “they were sawn asunder” very likely refers to the story of the martyrdom of the prophet Isaiah, found outside the Scriptures in the pseudepigraphal work entitled The Martyrdom of Isaiah. Hebrews 11:32-38 reflects the theme of Hebrews 10:19 to Hebrews 11:40, which is perseverance in our divine service.

Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Hebrews 11:32 Comments Samson made a lot of mistakes in his spiritual life; but Hebrews 11:32 tells us he finished his life by faith. He brought the pagan Philistine temple down upon the enemies of God as his last great feat of strength.

Hebrews 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Hebrews 11:33 “Who through faith subdued kingdoms” Comments - Some of the Old Testament testimonies of men subduing kingdoms comes from the first five individuals listed in the previous verse. We read of how Gedeon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha and David all fought battles and subdued nations.

In November 1998 while being a part of managing Lighthouse Television in Kampala, Uganda, the Lord quickened this verse to me as a way of showing to me the effects that this new Christian television station is going to have on the nation. In 2001 the Lord gave me a dream in which I was told that the famous French military general, Napoleon Bonaparte, was an illustration of a man who had faith to subdue kingdoms. [250] As I studied his life, I began to see how he won extraordinary military battles in his life because of the way he believed.

[250] William Milligan Sloane, Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, 4 vols. (New York: The Century Company, 1896).

Hebrews 11:33 “stopped the mouths of lions” Comments - The phrase “stopped the mouth of lions” reminds us of the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, and may have been in the mind of the author of Hebrews when he wrote this statement. However, the Old Testament Scriptures record a number of individuals who fought and slew lions, as well as one reference to Paul the apostle. However, Paul’s statement may be taken figuratively, rather than literally.

1. Samson

Judges 14:5-6, “Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.”

2. David

1 Samuel 17:34-37, “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.”

3. Benaiah

2 Samuel 23:20, “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:”

4. Daniel

Daniel 6:21-22, “Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”

5. Paul

2 Timothy 4:17, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”

Hebrews 11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Hebrews 11:34 Comments The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace serves as an excellent example of the phrase “quenched the violence of fire” (Daniel 3:19-28). There are numerous examples of the Israelites “escaping the edge of the sword,” such as God destroying the Egyptian army in the Red Sea or as David fleeing from King Saul in the wilderness. The phrase “out of weakness being made strong” can be illustrated in the lives of Gideon and Samson. The phrase “waxed valiant in fight can be illustrated in the life of Abraham when he defeated the five kings, or in the lives of David and his mighty men (2 Samuel 23:1-39). The phrase “turned to flight the armies of the aliens” can be illustrated by the numerous battles in which Israel defeated invading armies.

Hebrews 11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

Hebrews 11:35 “and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection” - Comments - We find one reference in 2 Maccabees 6-7 of the Jews being tortured, not accepting deliverance, in the story of the mother and her seven sons being tortured to death by Antiochus. [251]

[251] R. H. Charles, ed., The Apocryphal and Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1913), 139-142.

Hebrews 11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

Hebrews 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

Hebrews 11:37 “they were sawn asunder” - Comments - Scholars believe that this is a reference to the death of the prophet Isaiah, whose means of death is stated in the pseudepigraphal work entitled The Martyrdom of Isaiah:

The Martyrdom of Isaiah 1:7-10, “And whilst he (Hezekiah) gave commands, Josab the son of Isaiah standing by, Isaiah said to Hezekiah the king, but not in the presence of Manasseh only did he say unto him: 'As the Lord liveth, whose name has not been sent into this world, [and as the Beloved of my Lord liveth], and as the Spirit which speaketh in me liveth, all these commands and these words shall be made of none effect by Manasseh thy son, and through the agency of his hands I shall depart mid the torture of my body. And Sammael Malchira shall serve Manasseh, and execute all his desire, and he shall become a follower of Beliar rather than of me. And many in Jerusalem and in Judaea he shall cause to abandon the true faith, and Beliar shall dwell in Manasseh, and by his hands I shall be sawn asunder .' And when Hezekiah heard these words he wept very bitterly, and rent his garments,”

The Martyrdom of Isaiah 5:2-3, “And he sawed him asunder with a wood-saw. And when Isaiah was being sawn in sunder Balchlra stood up, accusing him, and all the false prophets stood up, laughing and rejoicing because of Isaiah.”

The Martyrdom of Isaiah 5:7-14, “good.”' And this he said to him when he began to be sawn in sunder . But Isaiah was (absorbed) in a vision of the Lord, and though his eyes were open, he saw them” And Balchlra spake thus to Isaiah: 'Say what I say unto thee and I will turn their heart, and I will compel Manasseh and the princes of Judah and the people and all Jerusalem to reverence thee.' And Isaiah answered and said: 'So far as I have utterance (I say): Damned and accursed be thou and all thy powers and all thy house. For thou canst not take (from me) aught save the skin of my body.' And they seized and sawed in sunder Isaiah, the son of Amoz, with a wood-saw. And Manasseh and Balchlra and the false prophets and the princes and the people [and] all stood looking on. And to the prophets who were with him he said before he had been sawn in sunder : 'Go ye to the region of Tyre and Sidon; for for me only hath God mingled the cup.' And when Isaiah was being sawn in sunder, he neither cried aloud nor wept, but his lips spake with the Holy Spirit until he was sawn in twain.” [252]

[252] The Martyrdom of Isaiah, trans. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol. 2, 155-162, ed. R. H. Charles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913).

Hebrews 11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Hebrews 11:38 “Of whom the world was not worthy” - Comments - The book of Hebrews demonstrates the plight of faith and patience that makes these lives worthy of eternal remembrance.

Hebrews 11:38 Comments - David wandered in deserts, mountains and in dens and caves when he was running from King Saul (1 Samuel 23-24).

Verses 39-40

Summary Hebrews serves as a summary and application to the previous passage in Hebrews 11:1-38 in which he tells us that all of the men of faith in the old Testament put their faith in the “the promise” of God. This promise has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

Hebrews 11:39 “received not the promise” - Comments - See the similarity in Hebrews 11:13, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises , but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

Hebrews 11:39 Comments Hebrews 11:2 and Hebrews 11:39 serve as book ends for the list of Old Testament individuals who lived by faith in God as they open and close this list of testimonies.

Hebrews 11:2, “For by it the elders obtained a good report.”

Hebrews 11:39, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:”

Hebrews 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:40 Comments - The context of Hebrews 11:1-40 is that these people of faith looked forward to a heavenly country (Hebrews 11:6), to a city built whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10), to an eternal reward (Hebrews 11:26), and to a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35). Therefore, we can interpret this verse to mean that God intended to bring us all into perfection when we are all finally gathered together in Heaven. This may refer to the First Resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:23), but more fully, it seems to imply the time after the thousand-year Millennial reign of Christ on earth and after the Great White Throne Judgment when all things will be restored to perfection. God has an order for all things in His divine plan of redemption for mankind.

1 Corinthians 15:23, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Hebrews 11". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/hebrews-11.html. 2013.
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