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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Hebrews 11

Verse 1

Now faith is (εστιν δε πιστις). He has just said that "we are of faith" (Hebrews 10:39), not of apostasy. Now he proceeds in a chapter of great eloquence and passion to illustrate his point by a recital of the heroes of faith whose example should spur them to like loyalty now.

The assurance of things hoped for (ελπιζομενων υποστασις).

Hupostasis is a very common word from Aristotle on and comes from υφιστημ (υπο, under, ιστημ, intransitive), what stands under anything (a building, a contract, a promise). See the philosophical use of it in Hebrews 1:3, the sense of assurance (une assurance certaine, Menegoz) in Hebrews 3:14, that steadiness of mind which holds one firm (2 Corinthians 9:4). It is common in the papyri in business documents as the basis or guarantee of transactions. "And as this is the essential meaning in Hebrews 11:1 we venture to suggest the translation 'Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for'" (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, etc.).

The proving of things not seen (πραγματων ελεγχος ου βλεπομενων). The only N.T. example of ελεγχος (except Textus Receptus in 2 Timothy 3:16 for ελεγμον). Old and common word from ελεγχω (Matthew 18:15) for "proof" and then for "conviction." Both uses occur in the papyri and either makes sense here, perhaps "conviction" suiting better though not in the older Greek.

Verse 2

Therein (εν ταυτη). That is, "in faith," feminine demonstrative referring to πιστις.

The elders (ο πρεσβυτερο). More nearly like "the fathers," not the technical sense of elders (officers) usual in the N.T., but more like "the tradition of the elders" (Mark 7:3; Mark 7:5; Matthew 15:2).

Had witness borne to them (εμαρτυρηθησαν). First aorist passive of μαρτυρεω (cf. Hebrews 7:8), "were testified to."

Verse 3

By faith (πιστε). Instrumental case of πιστις which he now illustrates in a marvellous way. Each example as far as verse Hebrews 11:31 is formally and with rhetorical skill introduced by πιστε. After that only a summary is given.

We understand (νοουμεν). Present active indicative of νοεω, old verb (from νους, intellect) as in Matthew 15:17; Romans 1:20. The author appeals to our knowledge of the world in which these heroes lived as an illustration of faith. Recent books by great scientists like Eddington and Jeans confirm the position here taken that a Supreme Mind is behind and before the universe. Science can only stand still in God's presence and believe like a little child.

The worlds (τους αιωνας). "The ages" as in Hebrews 1:2 (cf. Einstein's fourth dimension, time). Accusative case of general reference.

Have been framed (κατηρτισθα). Perfect passive infinitive of καταρτιζω, to mend, to equip, to perfect (Luke 6:40), in indirect discourse after νοουμεν.

So that (εις το). As a rule εις το with the infinitive is final, but sometimes as here it expresses result as in Romans 12:3 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1003).

Hath been made (γεγονενα). Perfect active infinitive of γινομα.

What is seen (το βλεπομενον). Present passive articular participle (accusative case of general reference) of βλεπω.

Of things which do appear (εκ φαινομενων). Ablative case with εκ (out of) of the present passive participle. The author denies the eternity of matter, a common theory then and now, and places God before the visible universe as many modern scientists now gladly do.

Verse 4

A more excellent sacrifice (πλειονα θυσιαν). Literally, "more sacrifice" (comparative of πολυς, much). For this rather free use of πλειων with the point implied rather than stated see Matthew 6:25; Luke 10:31; Luke 12:23; Hebrews 3:3.

Than Cain (παρα Καιν). For this use of παρα after comparative see Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 1:9. For the incident see Genesis 4:4.

Through which (δι' ης). The sacrifice (θυσια).

He had Witness borne to him (εμαρτυρηθη). First aorist passive indicative of μαρτυρεω as in verse Hebrews 11:2, "he was witnessed to."

That he was righteous (εινα δικαιος). Infinitive in indirect discourse after εμαρτυρηθη, personal construction of δικαιος (predicate nominative after εινα) agreeing with the subject of εμαρτυρηθη (cf. Romans 1:22, εινα σοφο).

God bearing witness (μαρτυρουντος του θεου). Genitive absolute with present active participle of μαρτυρεω.

Through it (δι' αυτης). Through his faith (as shown by his sacrifice). Precisely why Abel's sacrifice was better than that of Cain apart from his faith is not shown.

Being dead (αποθανων). Second aorist active participle of αποθνησκω, "having died."

Yet speaketh (ετ λαλε). Cf. Genesis 4:10; Hebrews 12:24. Speaks still through his faith.

Verse 5

Was translated (μετετεθη). First aorist passive indicative of μετατιθημ, old verb to transpose, to change as in Hebrews 7:12; Acts 7:16.

That he should not see death (του μη ιδειν θανατον). Here again του with the infinitive usually expresses purpose, but in this case result is the idea as in Matthew 21:23; Romans 1:24; Romans 7:3, etc. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1002).

He was not found (ουχ ηυρισκετο). Imperfect passive of ευρισκω from Genesis 5:24. Was still not found.

Translated (μετεθηκεν). First aorist active of same verb as μετετεθη just before.

Translation (μεταθεσεως). Substantive from the same verb μετατιθημ, used already in Hebrews 7:12 for change. See also Hebrews 12:27. Our very word "metathesis."

He hath had witness borne him (μεμαρτυρητα). Perfect passive indicative of μαρτυρεω, stands on record still, "he has been testified to."

That he had been well-pleasing unto God (ευαρεστηκενα τω θεω). Perfect active infinitive of ευαρεστεω, late compound from ευαρεστος (well-pleasing), in N.T. only in Hebrews 11:5; Hebrews 13:16. With dative case θεω. Quoted here from Genesis 5:22; Genesis 5:24. The word is common of a servant pleasing his master.

Verse 6

Impossible (αδυνατον). Strong word as in Hebrews 6:4; Hebrews 6:18. See Romans 8:8 for same idea with αρεσα (αρεσκω, Galatians 1:10).

Must believe (πιστευσα δε). Moral necessity to have faith (trust, πιστευω). This is true in business also (banks, for instance).

That he is (οτ εστιν). The very existence of God is a matter of intelligent faith (Romans 1:19) So that men are left without excuse.

He is a rewarder (μισθαποδοτης γινετα). Rather, "becomes a rewarder" (present middle indicative of γινομα, not of ειμ). Only N.T. example of μισθαποδοτης, late and rare double compound (one papyrus example, from μισθος (reward) and αποδιδωμ (to pay back) like μισθαποδοσια (Hebrews 10:35; Hebrews 11:26).

Seek after (εκζητουσιν). That seek out God.

Verse 7

Being warned of God (χρηματισθεις). First aorist passive participle of χρηματιζω, old word for oracular or divine communications as already in Hebrews 8:5 (cf. Matthew 2:12; Matthew 2:22, etc.).

Moved with godly fear (ευλαβηθη). First aorist passive indicative of ευλαβεομα, old verb from ευλαβης (from ευ and λαβειν, to take hold well or carefully), to show oneself ευλαβης, to act circumspectly or with reverence, here only in N.T. (save Textus Receptus in Acts 23:10), often in LXX.

An ark (κιβωτον). Genesis 6:15; Matthew 24:38. Shaped like a box (cf. Hebrews 9:4).

Through which (δι' ης). Through his faith as shown in building the ark.

The world (τον κοσμον). Sinful humanity as in verse Hebrews 11:38.

Heir (κληρονομος). In 2 Peter 2:5 Noah is called "a preacher of righteousness" as here "heir of righteousness." He himself believed his message about the flood. Like Enoch he walked with God (Genesis 6:9).

Verse 8

Not knowing whither he went (μη επισταμενος που ερχετα). Usual negative μη with a participle (present middle from επισταμα, old and common verb to put the mind on). Present middle indicative (ερχετα) preserved in the indirect question after the secondary tense εξηλθεν (went out) from which επισταμενος gets its time. Abraham is a sublime and graphic example of faith. He did not even know where the land was that he was going to receive "as an inheritance" (εις κληρονομιαν).

Verse 9

Became a sojourner (παρωικησεν). First aorist active indicative of παροικεω, old verb to dwell (οικεω) beside (παρα), common in LXX, in N.T. only here and Luke 24:18. Called παροικον (sojourner) in Acts 7:6.

In the land of promise (εις γην της επαγγελιας). Literally, "land of the promise." The promise made by God to him (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8).

As in a land not his own (ως αλλοτριαν). For αλλοτριος (belonging to another) see Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 11:34.

The heirs with him of the same promise (των συνκληρομενων της επαγγελιας της αυτης). Late double compound (συν, κληροσ, νεμομα), found in Philo, inscriptions and papyri, in N.T. only here, Romans 8:17; Ephesians 3:6; 1 Peter 3:7. "Co-heirs" with Abraham.

Verse 10

He looked for (εξεδεχετο). Imperfect middle of εκδεχομα (see on Hebrews 10:13) picturesque progressive imperfect, his steady and patient waiting in spite of disappointment.

The foundations (τους θεμελιους). Not just "tents" (σκηναις, verse Hebrews 11:9). Ahraham set his steady gaze on heaven as his real home, being a mere pilgrim (παροικος) on earth.

Builder (τεχνιτης). Old word from τεχνη (craft) or trade (Acts 17:29; Acts 18:3), craftsman, artificer, in N.T. only here and Acts 19:24; Acts 19:38.

Maker (δημιουργος). Old word from δημιος (public) and εργον, a worker for the public, artisan, framer, here only in N.T.

Verse 11

To conceive seed (εις καταβολην σπερματος). For deposit of seed. See Hebrews 4:3 for καταβολη.

Past age (παρα καιρον ηλικιας). Beyond (παρα with the accusative) the season of age.

Since she counted him faithful who had promised (επε πιστον ηγησατο τον επαγγειλαμενον). Sarah herself (αυτη--Σαρρα). Even Sarah, old as she was, believed God who had promised. Hence she received power.

Verse 12

And that as good as dead (κα ταυτα νενεκρωμενου). Accusative of general reference (ταυτα), sometimes singular as in 1 Corinthians 6:8. The perfect passive participle from νεκροω, late verb to make dead, to treat as dead (Romans 4:19), here by hyperbole.

By the sea shore (παρα το χειλος της θαλασσης). "Along the lip of the sea" (from Genesis 22:17), χειλος here alone in this sense in the N.T.

Innumerable (αναριθμητος). Old compound verbal adjective (alpha privative and αριθμεω, to number), here alone in N.T.

Verse 13

In faith (κατα πιστιν). Here a break in the routine πιστε (by faith), "according to faith," either for literary variety "or to suggest πιστις as the sphere and standard of their characters" (Moffatt).

These all (ουτο παντες). Those in verses Hebrews 11:9-58.11.12 (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob).

Not having the promises (μη κομισαμενο τας επαγγελιας). First aorist middle participle of κομιζω, to obtain, as in Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 11:39. And yet the author mentions Abraham (Hebrews 6:15) as having obtained the promise. He received the promise of the Messiah, but did not live to see the Messiah come as we have done. It is in this sense that we have "better promises."

Greeted them (ασπασαμενο). First aorist middle participle of ασπαζομα, to salute (Matthew 5:47). Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day in the dim distance (John 8:56).

Strangers (ζενο). Foreigners. "To reside abroad carried with it a certain stigma" (Moffatt). But they "confessed" it (Genesis 23:4; Genesis 47:9).

Pilgrims (παρεπιδημο). Late double compound (παρα, επι, δημος), a sojourner from another land, in N.T. only here and 1 Peter 1:1; 1 Peter 2:11.

Verse 14

A country of their own (πατριδα). Land of the fathers (πατηρ), one's native land (John 4:44). Cf. our patriotic, patriotism.

Verse 15

Had been mindful (εμνημονευον)--

would have had (ειχον αν). Condition of second class (note αν in conclusion) with the imperfect (not aorist) in both condition and conclusion. So it means: "If they had continued mindful, they would have kept on having (linear action in both cases in past time).

Opportunity to return (καιρον ανακαμψα). Old verb ανακαμπτω to bend back, to turn back (Matthew 2:12), here first aorist active infinitive. Continual hankering would have found a way. Cf. the Israelites in the wilderness yearning after Egypt.

Verse 16

They desire (ορεγοντα). Present middle indicative of ορεγω, old word for stretching out after, yearning after as in 1 Timothy 3:1.

Their God (θεος αυτων). Predicate nominative with the epexegetic infinitive επικαλεισθα (to be called) used with ουκ επαισχυνετα (is not ashamed).

Verse 17

Being tried (πειραζομενος). Present passive participle of πειραζω. The test was still going on.

Offered up (προσενηνοχεν). Perfect active indicative of προσφερω, the verb so often used in this Epistle. The act was already consummated so far as Abraham was concerned when it was interrupted and it stands on record about him. See Genesis 22:1-1.22.18.

He that had gladly received the promises (ο τας επαγγελιας αναδεξαμενος). Αναδεχομα is old verb to welcome, to entertain, in N.T. only here and Acts 28:7. It seemed the death of his hopes.

Was offering up (προσεφερεν). It is the imperfect of an interrupted action like εκαλουν in Luke 1:59.

Verse 18

To whom it was said (προς ελαληθη). First aorist passive indicative of λαλεω (Genesis 21:12). God's very words were in the heart of Abraham now about Isaac "his only son" (τον μονογενη. Cf. Luke 7:12).

Verse 19

Accounting (λογισαμενος). First aorist middle participle of λογιζομα. Abraham had God's clear command that contravened God's previous promise. This was his solution of his difficult situation.

God is able (δυνατα ο θεος). God had given him Isaac in his old age. God can raise him from the dead. It was Abraham's duty to obey God.

In a parable (εν παραβολη). See already Hebrews 9:9 for παραβολη. Because of (οθεν, whence) Abraham's superb faith Isaac was spared and so he received him back (εκομισατο) as almost from the dead. This is the test that Abraham stood of which James speaks (James 2:23).

Verse 20

Even concerning things to come (κα περ μελλοντων). As told in Ge Hebrews 27:28-58.27.40 when Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.

Verse 21

Leaning upon the top of his staff (επ το ακρον της ραβδου αυτου). From Genesis 47:31, but no word for "leaning." The quotation is from the LXX, the Hebrew having "the head of the bed," but the Hebrew word allows either meaning with different vowel points.

Verse 22

When his end was nigh (τελευτων). Present active participle of τελευταω, to finish or close (Matthew 2:19), "finishing his life."

Of the departure (περ της εξοδου). Late compound for way out, exit as here, metaphorically of death as here (Luke 9:31; 2 Peter 1:15).

Concerning his bones (περ των οστεων αυτου). Uncontracted form as in Matthew 23:27.

Verse 23

Was hid (εκρυβη). Second aorist passive indicative of κρυπτω, to hide, as in Matthew 5:14.

Three months (τριμηνον). Old adjective used as neuter substantive in accusative case for extent of time, here only in N.T.

A goodly child (αστειον το παιδιον). Literally, "the child was goodly" (predicate adjective). Old adjective from αστυ (city), "of the city" ("citified"), of polished manners, genteel. In N.T. only here and Acts 7:20, about Moses both times. Quoted from Exodus 2:2 The king's commandment (το διαταγμα του βασιλεως). Late compound for injunction from διατασσω, only here in the N.T.

Verse 24

When he was grown up (μεγας γενομενος). "Having become great" (from Exodus 2:11).

Refused (ηρνεσατο). First aorist middle indicative of αρνεομα, to deny, to refuse. He was of age and made his choice not from ignorance.

Son (υιος). Predicate nominative with λεγεσθα (to be spoken of, present passive infinitive, of λεγω).

Verse 25

Choosing rather (μαλλον ελομενος). "Rather having chosen" (second aorist middle of αιρεω, to take for oneself a position).

To be entreated with (συνκακουχεισθα). Present passive infinitive of the double compound συνκακουχεω (from συν, κακοσ, εχω), to treat ill with (associative instrumental case), only known example save one in the papyri (second century A.D.), though κακουχεω in Hebrews 11:37; Hebrews 13:3.

To enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (προσκαιρον εχειν αμαρτιας απολαυσιν). Literally, "to have temporary pleasure of sin." Απολαυσις is old word from απολαυω, to enjoy, in N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 6:17. Προσκαιρος (from προσ, καιρος) is a common Koine word as the antithesis to αιωνιος (eternal) as in Matthew 13:21; Mark 4:17; 2 Corinthians 4:18 (only N.T. examples). To have been disloyal to God's people would have brought enjoyment to Moses in the Egyptian Court for a short while only.

Verse 26

The reproach of Christ (τον ονειδισμον του Χριστου). See Psalms 89:51 for the language where "the Messiah" ("The Anointed One") is what is meant by του Χριστου, here rightly applied by the writer to Jesus as the Messiah who had his own shame to bear (Hebrews 12:2; Hebrews 13:12). There is today as then (Hebrews 13:13) a special reproach (ονειδισμος, already, Hebrews 10:33) in being a follower of Jesus Christ. Moses took this obloquy as "greater riches" (μειζονα πλουτον) than "the treasures of Egypt" (των Αιγυπτου θησαυρων, ablative case after comparative μειζονα, for which see Matthew 6:19). Moses was laying up treasure in heaven.

For he looked unto the recompense of reward (απεβλεπεν γαρ εις την μισθαποδοσιαν). In perfect active of αποβλεπω, "for he was looking away (kept on looking away)." For μισθαποδοσια see Hebrews 10:35.

Verse 27

Not fearing (μη φοβηθεις). Negative μη with first aorist passive participle of φοβεω here used transitively with the accusative as in Matthew 10:26. Moses did flee from Egypt after slaying the Egyptian (Exodus 2:15), but the author omits that slaughter and ignores it as the dominant motive in the flight of Moses. Θυμον (wrath) is common in the N.T. (Luke 4:28), though here only in Hebrews.

He endured (εκαρτερησεν). First aorist (constative) active indicative of καρτερεω, old word from καρτερος, strong, here only in N.T. Moses had made his choice before slaying the Egyptian. He stuck to its resolutely.

As seeing him who is invisible (τον αορατον ως ορων). This is the secret of his choice and of his loyalty to God and to God's people. This is the secret of loyalty in any minister today who is the interpreter of God to man (2 Corinthians 4:16-47.4.18).

Verse 28

He kept (πεποιηκεν). Perfect active indicative of ποιεω, to make, "he has made," emphasizing the permanent nature of the feast.

The sprinkling of the blood (την προσχυσιν του αιματος). Rather, "the pouring of the blood" (προσχυσις from προσχεω, to pour upon), only here in the N.T. (earliest known example). An allusion to the command in Exodus 12:7; Exodus 12:22 but in the LXX προσχεω is the usual term for the act (Exodus 24:6; Exodus 29:16; Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 1:11; Deuteronomy 16:6).

That the destroyer of the first-born should not touch them (ινα μη ο ολοθρευων τα πρωτοτοκα θιγη αυτων). Negative final clause with ινα μη and the second aorist active subjunctive of θιγγανω, old verb to touch with genitive, in the N.T. only here, Hebrews 12:20; Colossians 2:21. The articular participle ο ολοθρευων is from Exodus 11:23. For πρωτοτοκα see Luke 2:7; Exodus 12:29.

Verse 29

Which assaying to do (ης πιεραν λαβοντες). Literally, "of which taking trial" (second aorist active participle of λαμβανω, to take). The idiom πειραν λαμβανειν occurs in Deuteronomy 28:56, in N.T. only here and verse Hebrews 11:36, though a classical idiom (Demosthenes, etc.).

Were swallowed up (κατεποθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of καταπινω, to drink down, to swallow down (Matthew 23:24).

Verse 30

Fell down (επεσαν). "Fell," second aorist active indicative of πιπτω with first aorist endings as often in the Koine.

After they had been compassed (κυκλωθεντα). First aorist passive participle of κυκλοω, old verb to encircle (from κυκλος, circle) as in Acts 14:20. Antecedent action here.

Verse 31

Having received the spies with peace (δεξαμενη τους κατασκοπους μετ' ειρηνης). First aorist middle participle of δεχομα, to welcome (Luke 10:8; Luke 10:10). Κατασκοπος is an old compound (κατασκοπεω, Galatians 2:4), used of scout or spy, in LXX, here only in N.T.

Verse 32

And what shall I more say? (Κα τ ετ λεγω;). Deliberative present active subjunctive (same form as indicative, λεγω). It is both a literary and an oratorical idiom here. He feels helpless to go on in the same style as he has done from Abel to Rahab (Hebrews 11:4-58.11.31).

Will fail me if I tell about (επιλειψε με διηγουμενον περ). Literally, "will leave me telling about." Present middle participle of διηγεομα, to lead through, carry a discussion through, and masculine (disposing of Priscilla as possible author) with με. Vivid and picturesque description of the author's embarrassment of riches as he contemplates the long list of the heroes of faith during the long years in Palestine. He mentions six names (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha, David, Samuel) and then summarizes the rest under "the prophets" (των προφητων, the for-speakers for God) of whom Samuel was the leader.

Verse 33

Through faith (δια πιστεως). Change thus from the routine πιστε used so far.

Subdued kingdoms (κατηγωνισαντο βασιλειας). First aorist middle indicative of καταγωνιζομα, Koine verb to struggle against, to overcome, here alone in the N.T. Used by Josephus of David's conquests. The author has here (verses Hebrews 11:33; Hebrews 11:34), "nine terse clauses" (Moffatt) with no connective (asyndeton) with great rhetorical and oratorical force (sledge-hammer style). For "wrought righteousness" (ηργασαντο δικαιοσυνην, first aorist middle indicative of εργαζομα) see Acts 10:35.

Obtained promises (επετυχον επαγγελιων). Second aorist active indicative of επιτυγχανω, old verb (already in Hebrews 6:15) with genitive. But they did not see the fulfilment of the Messianic promise (Hebrews 11:39).

Stopped the mouths of lions (εφραξαν στοματα λεοντων). First aorist active indicative of φρασσω, old verb to fence in, to block up. See Daniel 6:18-27.6.23.

Verse 34

Quenched the power of fire (εσβεσαν δυναμιν πυρος). First aorist active indicative of σβεννυμ (Matthew 12:20). See Daniel 3:19-27.3.28.

Escaped the edge of the sword (εφυγον στοματα μαχαιρης). Second aorist active indicative of φευγω, old verb to flee. "Mouths (στοματα) of the sword" (Luke 21:24). See 1 Samuel 18:11; 1 Kings 19:2.

Were made strong (εδυναμωθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of δυναμοω, late verb from δυναμις as in Colossians 1:11.

Waxed mighty in war (εγενηθησαν ισχυρο εν πολεμω). "Became strong in battle" (Psalms 18:34).

Armies of aliens (παρεμβολας αλλοτριων). Late compound (παρα, εν, βαλλω) for encampment (Polybius, Plutarch), barracks (Acts 21:34; Acts 21:37), armies in battle line (Revelation 20:9 and here as in LXX and Polybius). Apparently a reference to the campaigns of Judas Maccabeus.

Verse 35

By a resurrection (εξ αναστασεως). Cf. 1 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 4:8-12.4.37.

Were tortured (ετυμπανισθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of τυμπανιζω, late verb from τυμπανον (kettledrum, drumstick), to beat the drum, to beat to death (cf. II Macc. 7 about Eleazar and the Mother and the seven sons), once in LXX (1 Samuel 21:13).

Not accepting their deliverance (ου προσδεξαμενο την απολυτρωσιν). Offered at the price of disloyalty as in II Macc. 6:21-27.

That they might obtain a better resurrection (ινα κρειττονος αναστασεως τυχωσιν). Purpose clause with ινα and the second aorist active subjunctive of τυγχανω to obtain with the genitive case. A "better resurrection" than the temporary ones alluded to in this verse by the women.

Verse 36

Of mockings and scourgings (εμπαιγμων κα μαστιγων). Εμπαιγμος is from εμπαιζω (Matthew 20:19), late word, in LXX, here alone in N.T. Μαστιγων (μαστιξ, a whip, a scourge) is old and common enough (Acts 22:24).

Verse 37

They were stoned (ελιθασθησαν). Like Zechariah son of Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24:20). "A characteristic Jewish punishment" (Vincent). First aorist passive indicative of λιθαζω (John 10:31).

They were sawn asunder (επρισθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of πριω or πριζω, old verb (πριον, a saw). Cruel Jewish punishment (Amos 1:3) said to have been inflicted on Isaiah.

They were tempted (επειρασθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of πειραζω. The MSS. vary greatly in the text here and the order of these two items. This mild word seems an anticlimax after επρισθησαν. One of the seven brothers was fried (II Macc. 7:4) and so επρησθεσαν (were burned) from πιμπραω (Acts 28:6) has been suggested.

With the sword (εν φονω μαχαιρης). "In (by) slaughter of the sword" (Ionic form of the genitive μαχαιρες as in Exodus 17:13; Numbers 21:24). The fate of unpopular prophets (1 Kings 10:10; Jeremiah 26:23).

They went about (περιηλθον). Constative aorist active indicative of περιερχομα (picturesque compound verb). Here the sufferings of the living.

In sheep skins (εν μηλωταις). Late word from μηλον (sheep), rough garment of prophets as Elijah (1 Kings 19:13; 1 Kings 19:19), here only in N.T. In Byzantine Greek a monk's garb.

In goatskins (εν αιγειοις δερμασιν). Δερμα, old word from δερω, to flay (Matthew 21:35), here only in N.T. Αιγειος, old adjective (from αιξ, goat), here only in N.T.

Being destitute (υστερουμενο). Present passive participle of υστερεω, old verb to be left behind, used by Paul of himself (2 Corinthians 11:9).

Afflicted (θλιβομενο). Present passive participle of θλιβω, common verb to oppress.

Evil entreated (κακουχουμενο). Present passive participle of κακουχεω, late compound verb from obsolete κακουχος (κακος and εχω), in LXX (1 Kings 2:26), in N.T. only here and Hebrews 13:3. See συνκακουχεισθα in Hebrews 11:25.

Verse 38

Of whom the world was not worthy (ων ουκ ην αξιος ο κοσμος) Graphic picture in a short parenthetical relative clause (ων, genitive plural with αξιος), a phrase to stir the blood of the readers.

Wandering (πλανωμενο). Present middle participle of πλαναω, like lost sheep, hunted by wolves.

Caves (σπηλαιοις). Old word from σπεος (cavern) as in Matthew 21:13.

Holes (οπαις). Old word, perhaps from οπς (root of οραω, to see), opening, in N.T. only here and James 3:11. Cf. 1 Kings 18:4; II Macc. 5:27; 10:6 (about Judas Maccabeus and others).

Verse 39

These all (ουτο παντες). The whole list in verses Hebrews 11:5-58.11.38. Cf. verse Hebrews 11:13.

Through their faith (δια πιστεως). Here rather than πιστε as so often.

Received not the promise (ουκ εκομισαντο την επαγγελιαν). First aorist middle of κομιζω. The Messianic promise they did not live to see (Hebrews 11:13), though they had individual special promises fulfilled as already shown (Hebrews 11:33).

Verse 40

God having provided (του θεου προβλεψαμενου). Genitive absolute with first aorist middle participle of προβλεπω, late compound to foresee, here only in the N.T.

Some better thing (κρειττον τ). "Something better," "the better promises" of Hebrews 8:6.

That apart from us they should not be made perfect (ινα μη χωρις ημων τελειωθωσιν). Negative purpose clause with ινα μη and the first aorist passive subjunctive of τελειοω. But this glorious and gracious purpose (foresight) of God is not due to any special merit in us. It is simply the fulness of the time in God's dispensation of grace of which we are the beneficiaries. But all the same and all the more (noblesse oblige), we should prove worthy of our heritage and of God's goodness to us and be loyal to Christ.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 11". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/hebrews-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.