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Bible Commentaries

Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation

Hebrews 11

Verse 1

A DEFINITION AND A DESCRIPTION of faith, with an illustration of its action, is contained in these first two verses of Chapter Eleven. To repeat, Faith is a giving-substance-to, (making real) hoped-for things, a test (R.V., margin) of things when they are not yet seen. ("By _faith we are sure of eternal things that they are; by _hope we are confident that we shall have them." J.F.B. Commentary, in loc.)

Hoping for something is not yet faith! Faith says, "I have it!" Things not seen shows there is no consulting of human faculties or "feelings." The ark is the test of faith. When Noah entered the ark, there was the same conviction of the fact of the coming flood that he had during the years of building the ark. God had spoken! That was all that was before his mind. He never looked at the sky. Faith is a conviction of things when they are not seen! a giving-substance-to (Greek, _hupostasis) things hoped for.

This Greek word for confidence, _hupostasis, is used only five times in the New Testament, three of them in Hebrews: Chapters 1:3; 3:14; 11:1. That in Chapter 3:14 we remember, reads, "If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end," and indicates the same exercise of the soul as set forth in our text in Chapter 11:1; and the third is in Chapter 1:3: "the very image of His substance (_hupostasis)." This is the correct reading (R.V.)

* Thayer remarks concerning _hupostasis, "It is very common in Greek authors in widely different senses:

  1. "A setting or placing under, that is, a foundation.
  2. "That which has foundation, is firm. Hence, (a) that which has actual existence (b) The substantial quality or nature of any person or thing, as of God (Heb. 1:3). (c) Steadiness of mind, firmness, resolution, confidence, firm trust, assurance." (Here we may class 3:14, and 11:1.)

We speak thus in particular because of the ever-present temptation to confuse faith with feeling--trusting God's Word, with looking for signs. But Paul says, "We walk by faith, not by sight." And our Lord's words in Mark 11:23, following His command, "Have faith in God," vividly illustrate this giving substance to things hoped for:

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he saith cometh to pass; he shall have it. Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye received them, and ye shall have them."

"Believe that ye received" (aorist tense), that is, received them when asking! Faith therefore becomes a power; as Jehovah said through Isaiah, "Concerning the works of My hands, command ye Me" (Isa. 45:11). Westcott well says, "Faith essentially deals with the future and with the unseen; the regions not entered by direct physical experience." Rotherham's happy translation is, "But faith is of things hoped for, a confidence, of facts a conviction, when they are not seen."

Let us remark that it is the subjective state and attitude of the human heart that is in view in these first verses, and indeed right through this chapter. That is, it is not here faith as a "gift from God" that is in view. That true faith is a gift from God, a blessed gift, we fully recognize. But we find on the other hand that doubt, distrust, unbelief, are sins. No man has a right to doubt God for one moment! Our Lord's great command which we have quoted, "Have faith in God," and His questions, such as "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" show that there is a positive sense in which faith may be, should be, exercised by us!

And this human side (if I may call it that) is before us in Hebrews 11. Here in verse 1 there are certain blessings hoped for, but Faith is the substantiating, or giving-substance-to these hoped-for things. (The King James rendering, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for," is devoid of meaning, and disregards the other occurrences of the Greek word _hupostasis, which we have listed. We love the King James Version, but we must speak plainly here. For instance, how absurd it would be to render Heb. 3:14, "If we hold fast the beginning of our substance"! Therefore, Chapter 11:1 should be rendered, Faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the sure expectation of these things--arising from a spiritual realization of the things: a giving substance to things hoped for!)

Again, in the second statement of verse 1, Faith is a conviction of things not seen, "conviction" (Gr., elegchos) means not merely a "conviction," but a putting that conviction to the test, as we have noted in Noah's building the ark.

We must reflect deeply upon God's order in this matter of faith, for no plague of our hearts is more pernicious than the placing "feeling" before faith.

Verse 2

Verse 2: For therein the elders had witness borne to them: The term "the elders" has in view the Old Testament saints, especially those pointed to in this chapter as prominent in the activity of faith. The assertion is not that they "obtained a good report" in this world; nor does it refer to their reputation among the saints; but rather to that inner "witnessing" of 1 John 5:10, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."

The Authorized ("King James") Version of verse 2, by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report, is very unfortunate. The Greek word translated "obtained a good report," is martureo, used eight times in Hebrews (7:8, 17; 10:15; 11:2, 4 [twice], 5, 39). We read in verse 4 that Abel through his more excellent sacrifice than Cain, had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts. The same word in verse 2 is wrongfully rendered in the Authorized Version "obtained a good report." The word here used in Chapter 11 as connected with personal faith expresses the approval by God of that faith to the consciousness of him exercising it. The "elders" obtained from the Divine side a conscious inner testimony. The word has absolutely nothing to do with any "good report" to those outside! In fact, "the elders" of verse 2, and those associated with them, so far from having from the world "a good report," are described in verses 35,38 as "tortured," "mocked," "scourged," "imprisoned;" "stoned," "tempted," "slain with the sword," "going about in sheepskins, in goatskins," "destitute," "afflicted," "ill-treated," "wandering in deserts and mountains and caves, and the holes of the earth"!

And now notice another mistranslation in the Authorized Version, verse 39. The Revised translation, These all, having had witness borne to them through their faith, is correct. They had indeed a good report" (Authorized Version) in glory, but you see how they were named and treated in this wicked world!

Get a Revised Version New Testament, for although it is not perfect, very many such mistranslations are corrected in it, and you should always seek to know just what God has said.

We shall note this in the various cases following. For example, Abel had witness borne to him that he was righteous ... Enoch had witness borne to him that ... he had been well-pleasing to God (verses 4, 5).

Keep this in mind as we begin the marvelous rehearsal of the deeds of men of faith of the Old Testament. But first, to begin at the beginning, we see:

Verse 3

By faith we understand that the ages (aionas) have been framed by the word of God (the uttered word, Gr. hrema): so that what is seen (the visible universe) hath not been made out of things which appear (visible matter).

Yea, indeed, the Word begins at the beginning--at the first of Genesis, for "the beginning" in Scripture narration refers to the creation of the "Heavens and the earth." The ages date from that creation. We know from such a passage as Ephesians 1:4, concerning those now in the Risen Christ, that God chose them in Him "before the foundation of the world"; as also in 2 Timothy 1:9: "God saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of ages." See also Titus 1:2, "In hope of eternal life, which God, Who cannot lie, promised before the times of ages"--same Greek word, aion.

Now faith is the laying hold of God's revealed Word. But this necessitates an understanding of the facts revealed. So that we turn to Genesis 1 and read: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Here the word "create" is the Hebrew word barah. This word is used three times in Genesis 1: in verse 1 as quoted; in verse 21 concerning the "great sea monsters"; and in verse 27, concerning men. It means, to call into existence out of nothing! The other word used is asah, and concerns the framing what has already been called into existence.

It is evident that there is a great gap between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis One. For, in Isaiah 45:8, God says of the original creation of the earth that He "created it not a waste" (Heb., tohu), but "formed it to be inhabited," whereas the next verse declares: "And the earth was (or became) waste," (a desolation) tohu; and adds, "and void"--bohu; that is void of inhabitants!

"And the spirit of God moved (or, was brooding) Upon the face of the waters, And God said Let there be light! And there was light" (Gen. 1:2-3). As Paul says, "God said Let light shine out of darkness" (2 Cor. 4:6): that is, by creative fiat--not light reflected from some other region where it already existed!

Then follows the "framing" of the six days in which the earth was made habitable for man; and those conditions and creatures which should accompany man's history on earth, were brought into being. Men do not like to study these things. Find the reason, in 2 Peter 3:5-7.

But it is blessed to know that this faith of which Hebrews 11 is speaking fears not to go back to the beginning, and find not only created beings, called into existence by God, but the ages framed by Him! So that "evolution" does not lift its head in the presence of true faith, which, having Divine light shed upon the Divine Word, perceives Divine truth--and knows it is truth!

Verse 4

We come now to four great men of faith: ABEL, ENOCH, NOAH, ABRAHAM; and one woman of faith, SARAH; each illustrating a special phase of the operation of faith, and its fruit. (Note the "these all" of verse 13, summing up those who have been mentioned; and the "these all" of verse 39, gathering up all those of faith of "old time.")

ABEL. We read that By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.

  1. Mark immediately that Abel and Cain came to worship the same God--the true God! In Genesis 4:2 we read, "Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground" (as God sent the race out of Eden to be).
    But Cain forgot the ground was cursed; he came to God with some of his crop, as a patronizer, acknowledging God's existence, desirous of His favor, but not acknowledging himself a sinner, and that "the wages of sin is death", he refused responsibility; went out from the presence of Jehovah; dwelt in the land of Nod (Wandering); begat children and built himself a city--the first city of man; gave it his son's name; and began a line and a civilization, without God--the beginning of the world, with its "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and vain "glory of life."
    God had brought in death, when He "made coats of skins, and clothed" Adam and Eve; so that they had taught their children that death must come--the death of a substitute, if they were to stand before God!
    Verse 4: By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain--(1) Abel recognized his sinnerhood, his guilt, his inability to approach God.* This is the first step toward salvation!
    * It seems that until the flood the cherubim stood with "the flame of a sword" at the gate of Eden. And while there is no mention in Genesis of Jehovah's being there in any direct manifestation, yet He is spoken of over and over as seated "above the cherubim." His throne is always connected with them. From Gen. 3:24: "He placed at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life," we are compelled to deduce that worship was carried on there, So we read, "Cain went out from the presence of Jehovah" (Gen. 4:16). Even Cain and his descendants knew where the worship of the true God should be carried on!
  2. Abel was a keeper of sheep, and brought "of the firstlings of his flock," that is, a lamb, when he came to worship God. This lamb he slew: he poured out the life-blood. Marvelously had God taught man, both as to his own guilt, and as to the offering of a substitute, the poured out life-blood of which should take the place of his own death. Abel brought death to God, instead of life, as Cain had brazenly done.
  3. We see that Abel's sacrifice was accepted. Doubtless the fire of Jehovah fell upon it, visibly, as at the tabernacle (Lev. 9:24) and at the temple in Israel's time (2 Chron. 7:1); and upon David's and Elijah's offerings (1 Chron. 21:26; 1 Kings 18:39).
  4. Next we read that Abel had witness borne to him that he was righteous, that is, righteous before God. Abel was just as truly a sinner as Cain, for God says, "There is no distinction; for all have sinned"; and "There is none righteous, no, not one." God bore witness in respect of Abel's gifts, not his character! God did not need anything, as Cain's contribution seemed to indicate that He did. But that a sinner should judge himself to be a sinner, worthy of death, and also at the same moment dare to exercise faith in a holy God, on the ground of a sin-offering alone, a substitute, pouring out its life-blood in the sinner's place--this double thing God could with joy accept. This was faith; this was God's way. Cain lacked self-judgment as a sinner, and, consequently, did not have faith; for none but self-condemned sinners can really trust a holy God! Cain was "of the evil one," we read in 1 John 3:12.
    What a precious witness Abel carried around in his bosom: "I am righteous, I who have no righteousness! I have been accepted on the ground of poured-out blood!"
  5. Finally, he being dead yet speaketh. How? through it, on account of it--that is, his faith. Not only shall the righteous "be held in everlasting remembrance," but their faith speaks with a living voice down through the centuries.

Verse 5

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him: for he hath had witness borne to him that before his translation he had been well-pleasing unto God:--As we have seen, ABEL represents the path of salvation by faith in the blood of a substitute. ENOCH is the next step: one who is declared righteous is seen walking with God; NOAH represents the next result Of faith--testimony of coming judgment. And ABRAHAM, a tent-dwelling pilgrim, living on Divine promises.

Verse 6

And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that seek after Him: God having made faith the condition of relation with Himself, and being the very God of truth, can be pleased with nothing else than faith. In this verse faith is resolved into its two great primary elements or characteristics: (a) There must be belief that the living God exists: and (b) that He is a Rewarder of them that seek after Him. These elements of faith had Enoch, "the seventh from Adam," who "prophesied" (Jude 14), walked habitually with God, "begat sons and daughters ... and was not; for God took him" (Gen. 5:22-24). These two elements seem most simple, but, alas, how many professing Christians act as if God were not living; and how many others, though seeking after Him, are not expecting from Him as Rewarder!

Verse 7

By faith NOAH, being warned concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Here is a perfect example of the two elements of faith of the preceding verse. We find NOAH in living knowledge and communication with God; and second, we see him building the great ark, expecting to be preserved through it. And so we read that this faith of his had the double effect of condemning the world--which heard Noah's warning as preacher of righteousness, and saw the mighty ark preparing--and, second, the effect of making Noah "heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."

Verse 8

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.--ABRAHAM is the next step, the pilgrim character. The world has been judged by the Flood, and as soon as possible set out to build the tower of Babel! Led by Nimrod, idolatry and deification of man set in. Abraham represents separation, pilgrimhood. He is called to leave everything, his country, his kin, even his father's house, going out not knowing whither he went, and, with Isaac and Jacob later, called strangers and pilgrims (vs. 13).

  1. * Adam represents federal, racial headship--and failure through sin.
  2. Noah represents God's gracious preservation of His own from the utter destruction of the Flood (Gen. 6:6,8, 13; 7:1).
  3. Abraham reveals God's counsels of salvation and mercy: "To Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his Seed ... which is Christ" (Gal. 3:16). God promised: (1) To be a God to Abraham and his seed. (2) To bless the world through him.
  4. But now, also in Abraham, the principle of strangerhood is first seen: Abraham is called out; for the world had left God. So God's people are to leave it today.
  5. Abraham obeyed ... not knowing. So should Christians!

So here we have a precious element of the believer's life: he is a pilgrim out from his land, his city, and, if need be, his father's house, his relatives. On what principle? That of simple faith!

If we had stopped Abraham's caravan to question him, something like this would have been heard:

"Whence do you come?" "From the land of Shinar." "Where are you going?" "I do not know, but I am going to a land that I am to receive for an inheritance." "Who told you that you would find such a land?" "The God Whose I am." At these replies, the world would shake its head and say, "This man has lost his mind!"

But so it is with every obedient Christian. He has come out from the world, for His Lord has said, "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 15:18-19; 17:16). The Christian is journeying on to the City that hath foundations--that glorious City of the last two chapters of the Bible. He has not seen it, but he reads, and believes! Faith is the conviction of things not seen.

Verse 9

By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. Round about him were the high-walled cities of the Canaanite nations, yet this land now belonged in promise, which was in fact, to Abraham. But he accepted the principle voiced by David, when he said, "We are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as all our fathers were" (1 Chron. 29:15). And he waited for the realization of the promise. Meditate on these verses. It is great food for faith! God says, "The meek shall inherit the earth." And they certainly will! But if they are walking as their father Abraham, they are not seeking now to inherit it, nor are they striving to accumulate as much of its goods as they can!

What an example Abraham set! First, see his family: Isaac, his son, devoted himself to his father's will even unto death (Gen. 22). Had not God said, "Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I do? ... I have known him to the end that he may command his children and his household after him" (Gen. 18:17-19). And his grandson, ambitious Jacob, humbled by God, saying, at last, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Jehovah" (Gen. 49:18), and they were laid to rest in the only "real estate" that Abraham had--Machpelah (Gen. 23). Even the Hittites said to Abraham, "Thou art a prince of God among us." What a blessed testimony! And lastly, Abraham got God's vision of the glorious coming city!

Verse 10

For he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose Architect and Maker is God: What a vision of truth God gave this pilgrim! Our Lord said of him, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8:56). And now this second revelation, of the city which hath the foundations. Read Revelation 21:19-20.

Verse 11

By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted Him faithful Who had promised: Dear Sarah! Always admirable in that subjection to Abraham which is true queenliness in God's sight. For does not Peter thus commend her: "As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord"? And self-sacrificing: see the story of Hagar, Genesis 16. But God waits thirteen years between Genesis 16 and 17, and then changes the names of both Abram (17:5), and Sarai (vs. 15), Abraham, ninety-nine; Sarah, ninety. Abraham laughs, not in derision, at the thought of his begetting and Sarah's bearing, a child. Sarai's new name, Sarah, is Princess! And she had herself laughed (Gen. 18:9-15). Scores of years before, she had given up "hope." But the record now is, By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age. For we read, She counted Him faithful Who had promised. Ye Christian women, let 90-year-old, wrinkled Sarah, teach you: For she laughed at first in unbelief, and then learned to laugh in faith (Gen. 21:6), saying "God hath made me to laugh; everyone that heareth will laugh with me."

Verse 12

Wherefore also there sprang of one, and him as good as dead ... as the stars ... and as the sand--uncounted multitudes. Even Sarah, to whom the promise had not been made directly, entered into the blessing of it. She therefore shows in a remarkable way the power of the principle of faith in bringing blessing from God. By faith Sarah ... wherefore also there sprang of Abraham--multitudes! She counted Him faithful: There is no more complete definition of the power of faith than these simple words: "she counted Him faithful Who had promised."

Life in ABEL, walk in ENOCH, witness in NOAH, pilgrimhood in ABRAHAM, and the power of faith to bring blessing to the weakest, in SARAH.

Verses 13-16

Note the words _these _all, of verses 13 and 39. Verse 13, speaking of the saints of the Old Testament, says, These

all died in faith. Now the Greek of the word in (_kata) here means according to: or, as we might say, in the line of, in the path of, the way of. They believed the promises, and kept believing, and died believing: though what was promised had not yet come. Note, in verse 13, that the words "not having received the promises", do not at all mean that the promises failed, or that they lost them! A promise depends on the faithfulness and ability of the person promising!

The second thing noted concerning them is that the promises were ever in their delighted view: Having seen them and greeted them from afar!

The third thing which is noted is that they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and any real trust in God's Word makes a stranger and pilgrim on this earth out of any one!

The fourth blessed word is (vs. 16), Now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly. This marvelous mark on the brow of those bound for Heaven, only enlightened eyes see!

We could almost expect the next words of verse 16: Wherefore God is not ashamed of them to be called their God! We cannot shrink from saying, that of many whose faith is not real, God is ashamed. But think of the King of the universe saying of poor us, "I am not ashamed of him"!

Lastly, He hath prepared for them a City. This City was described in verse 10 as looked for by the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Our thoughts are instantly drawn to Revelation 21:1-4, which I have no doubt was in Abraham's vision expectantly. Furthermore, we must not forget the Jerusalem millennial city and temple, with its mountain foundations, yet to appear (Isa. 2:2, 4; Ezek. chaps. 40-48, etc.).

Verse 17

By faith Abraham, being tried, hath offered up Isaac--the verb reads thus in the Greek, and should be thus translated. God on His side, when a man believes Him, reckons that faith's account is closed. Abraham took the knife to slay his son, the final action of a completed faith--a faith under extremest trial. God reckoned it done!

Verses 18-19

Note the double action of faith within Abraham's heart: first, he remembered that God had said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called--that Isaac would be the father of the coming, promised seed. Second, he remembered that God was able to raise up, even from the dead--for he did expect to slay Isaac. This was indeed to give "substance" to "things hoped for." The result? He did also in a figure receive him back ... from the dead (vs. 19).

Trial comes in the pathway of faith, and trial often touches our affections--what is nearest and dearest to us. God does not delight to deprive us of what we treasure. On the contrary, Paul tells us to have our hope "set on God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy." So to prevent His saints from forgetting the only Giver of good things--and thus passing into a life of selfishness, leading on to death, He is continually saying to His own, "Put back into My hands what I have given you." Blessed are they who, like Abraham, prove to God their love for Him above all, by surrendering all. The words of God out of Heaven when Abraham had offered Isaac, are most touching!

"Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me ... And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of Heaven, and said, by Myself have I sworn, said Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying, I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the Heaven ... and in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed My voice" (Gen. 22:2-18).

When God tries faith, it is to give still greater blessing. Let us not fear, let us not fail God, but as at the beginning of the life of faith, so in the trial of it, be like our father Abraham.

Verse 20

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come: Read Genesis 27:27-29; 39-40 (in R.V. if possible, for it is more accurate, and also gives the verses in the poetical form in which they are in the Hebrew). Despite Isaac's craving a venison dinner, there was in him that living faith that spoke the very words God desired. This is proved by his subsequent refusal to change the blessing of the firstborn back to Esau, as he said, "I ... have blessed him, yea, and he shall be blessed" (Gen. 27:33).

Verse 21

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph; and worshiped, leaning upon the top of his staff. What a beautiful picture! Jacob dying, blessing, worshiping, leaning! It had taken many years for Jacob, by nature so strong and self-sufficient, to sit for this photograph! Years afterward in Egypt we read (Gen. 49:18) his words, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Jehovah!"

* The God of all grace calls Himself "the God of Jacob" more often than "the God of Abraham"--over 70 times, in fact: hunt them out in your concordance. So we read in Mic. 7:20: "Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the lovingkindness to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old." It was "lovingkindness" to Abraham, all undeserved; it was "truth" to Jacob, so undeserved! Because our God "delighteth in mercy" (Heb., lovingkindness), God's grace, in which He delights, extends to Jacob. Not that Jacob is the cause; God is the cause, and Jacob the object.

Verse 22

By faith Joseph, when his end was nigh, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones: Like his father Jacob, Joseph when his end was nigh had clear vision and excellent choice. In Isaac's, Jacob's and Joseph's cases, there was the prophetic vision, and the knowledge of what God desired done. But mark this: there was also the essential element of faith in their utterances. It was by faith that Jacob claimed Ephraim and Manasseh as his own (Gen. 48:5). It was by faith that he placed Ephraim before Manasseh (Gen. 48:14, 19, ff). Neither Isaac nor Jacob nor Joseph was an automaton. Each saw God's mind for the future, and said it would be so. Each had a "confidence of things hoped for, a conviction of facts not seen."

How beautiful was the choice by Joseph, the lord of all Egypt, land of magnificent monuments to the dead, to be carried up to humble Shechem for burial in the land of Canaan! "He was put in a coffin in Egypt" (the last words of Genesis). But Joseph was not of Egypt. He had faith, and wanted to be where the people of God were! "A coffin in Egypt" is all any of us will finally hold in this world! It was all Joseph got! But his bones were carried up to be buried in the piece of ground bought by Abraham when Sarah died (Gen. 23:1-20). Moses remembered to carry them up (Ex. 13:19).

Verses 23-28

By faith MOSES--(1) When born, "fair unto God" (Acts 7:20, R.V., margin: "I am persuaded, from that expression of Stephen, 'fair unto God,' that there was an appearance somewhat Divine and supernatural, which drew the thought and minds of the parents unto a deep consideration of the child." With these words from John Owen we fully agree. Later Moses' face was so bright that the children of Israel could not look upon him!) (2) grown up, refusing royalty, (3) choosing ill-treatment with the people of God, (4) rejecting the pleasures of sin, the treasures of Egypt, for the reproach of Christ, (5) eyes fixed on the (Divine) recompense of the reward, (6) he forsook Egypt: the people with him, but he having the God-given faith. (7) He endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible: FAITH defined in a phrase! (8) He hath kept the passover. The people went through the form, but the faith that preserved the nation Jehovah gave to His servant Moses! Note that verse 28 begins, By faith he has kept--and ends, that the destroyer of the firstborn should not touch them.

Verse 29

By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were swallowed up: At last we come to By faith they! 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 was fulfilled: "Our fathers ... were all baptized into (Gr., eis) Moses in the cloud and in the sea." Remember Exodus 14:27 to 15:1:

"And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and Jehovah overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea ... all the host of Pharaoh ... there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea ... Thus Jehovah saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore. And Israel saw the great work which Jehovah did upon the Egyptians, and the people feared Jehovah: and they believed in Jehovah, and in His servant Moses. Then sang Moses and the children of Israel ... unto Jehovah."

Verse 30

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about seven days: It seemed the quintessence of weakness just to go around blowing horns! But it was what God had commanded, and they by faith obeyed. Believer, keep on blowing the horn of faith. No matter how high the walls about you and before you, keep praying and praising! The walls will fall in due season.

Verse 31

By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient, having received the spies with peace. Note the following seven points about Rahab:

  1. Rahab was a common sinner, even a harlot. God says as to all of us, "There is no difference; for all have sinned."
  2. Rahab's faith (josh. 2:8-11) was confessed by her in the words, "I know that Jehovah hath given YOU the land, and that the fear of You is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you."
  3. This belief meant complete turning against her own People. just as a believer now comes out from, and is no longer of, the world.
  4. It included belief that Jericho would be destroyed (2:13); and it brought concern for her own kin.
  5. It brought about the beautiful typical picture of the scarlet cord, tied up in her window, by which the spies also escaped (2:15-21). How that cord reminds us of the shed blood of Christ!
  6. By her faith she, her father, her mother, her brethren, and all her kindred--"Whosoever shall be with thee in the house"--(2:19), were preserved (6:22-23, 25).
  7. She became the mother of Boaz (Matt. 1:5), great grandfather of David the king! (Ruth 4:21-22).

Now let us go back and run over the names--familiar, blessed, sweet names they--of the "witnesses" of verses 4 to 31, who "had witness borne to them."

BY FAITH--

ABEL learned--and offered a blood sacrifice; ENOCH was told--and believed; NOAH was warned--and took warning; ABRAHAM was called--and obeyed; was tried, and offered up Isaac. ISAAC saw things to come; JACOB blessed each of the sons of JOSEPH and worshiped; JOSEPH (though exalted) clung at his end to Israel and their departure from Egypt; MOSES was hid ... by his parents,* refused royalty, chose ill-treatment, rejected sin's pleasures and Egypt's treasures, looking unto the recompense of the reward: forsook Egypt, endured, kept the passover.

* Moses' parents discerned that God would use him, and were filled with faith. Cf. Hannah, 1 Sam. 1; and John the Baptist, Lk. 1:13-17, where Zacharias displayed unbelief concerning God's purposes for John the Baptist.

BY FAITH Israel passed through the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho fell down, Rahab perished not.

Verse 32

Right through this great eleventh of Hebrews these men and women of God act in reliance upon Him or His stated Word, wholly apart from their own feelings.

Take Gideon (vs. 32): Go to the book of judges and read his record: how he trembled and shrank at the thought of taking a step in leadership of God's hosts. God met his trembling heart, of course, not only twice in the matter of fleece, but afterwards in the dream his servant was given to hear (Jud. 7:9-15). And that trembling heart became strong so that he was able to say to the people of Israel: "Jehovah HATH delivered into your hand the host of Midian." This is Mark 11:24 again, "a conviction of things not seen."

* The proper place of what we call "feeling" is perfectly illustrated in the case of this woman who "heard the things concerning Jesus, came in the crowd behind, and touched His garment" (Mk. 5:25-34). and

First, we read of her wretchednesss: she "had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse."

Second, observe she had "heard the things concerning Jesus." Now we know that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ," so we saw she "came in the crowd ... and touched His garment. For she said, If I but touch His garments, I shall be made whole." There was no maybe-so about it: her faith gave substance to the thing she hoped for.

Third, we have the miracle: "And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up." God answers faith! Oh, that we all might touch HIM with the finger of faith!

Fourth, we have the proper place of feeling: "She felt in her body that she was healed of her plague."

And before we pass, note two more points, vitally connected:

Our Lord said, "Who touched My garments?" calling her out to testify before all. "The woman ... fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth," as Luke says (8:47), "in the presence of all the people."

The last thing Jesus said unto her was, "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole." Here we have grounds for assurance. No matter how she felt the next day or any other day, she could say, "The Lord, Who healed me, said I was made whole, and I am."

I am convinced that many, because of an unwillingness to come out openly and confess all that the Lord hath done for them (whether they be men or women) are robbed of the assurance that belongs to them.

Then Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel and the prophets, of whom the apostle writes: What shall I more say? for the time will fail me! What a. history of triumph he does crowd into the next words:

Verse 33

Who through faith subdued kingdoms--David is chief here, though Joshua preceded him, and Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, yea, and the Maccabean brethren, faithfully followed him. Wrought righteousness--Elijah, Elisha, and "all the prophets" come in here; and along with them we must not forget King Josiah--read his story: 2 Kings 22 to 23:30. Obtained promises--here comes Caleb, claiming and receiving a promise of God given forty years before (josh. 14:6-14). Find the promises Gideon and Barak claimed and received. Stopped the mouths of lions--Daniel shines here: "My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths." Remember also David's victory over the lion and the bear (1 Sam. 17:34), and forget not Samson (Jud. 14), nor David's mighty man, Benaiah (1 Chron. 11:22), who "went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow"--"a difficult thing in a difficult place at a difficult time."

Verse 34

Quenched the power of fire--Here we think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Babylon, who said to the king, "Our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of Thy hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." "And the satraps, the deputies, and the governors, and the king's counsellors (after the furnace) saw these men, that the fire had no power upon their bodies" (Dan. 3:17-18, 27). And why? They trusted God!

Escaped the edge of the sword--Whether it be King Saul's sword or Goliath's, beloved David speaks again: "Jehovah, 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." Jeremiah, also, blessed man, who for Jehovah's sake made countless hating foes, escaped the edge of the sword.

* "Now the word of Jehovah came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the guard, saying ... I will deliver thee in that day, saith Jehovah; and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely save thee, and thou shall not fall by the sword ... because thou hast put thy trust in Me." (Read Jer. 39.)

From weakness were made strong--Remember weak Sarah, who "By faith ... received power"; and Gideon (of whom we have spoken above), who when Jehovah said to him, "Go in this thy might" answered, "My family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." Then the trembling faith that put out the fleece, and the sending Gideon forth against the mighty host of the Midianites with only three hundred men! as Abraham, with only eighteen more men, conquered all the kings of Mesopotamia (Gen. 14).

Isaiah as he began his service said, "Woe is me! for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips." And Jeremiah, "Ah, Lord Jehovah! I know not how to speak, for I am a child." (If you are a lonely witness amid hostile surroundings, I beg you, read and reread Jeremiah.) And how weak was Job made: "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." But from weakness he was made strong, an intercessor, mighty with God, listed in His Word as one of "these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job" (Ezek. 14:14).

Waxed mighty in war--Hear David again: "By my God do I leap over a wall," "Jehovah my rock, Who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." Or take the thrilling tale of David's mighty men, in 1 Chronicles 11 and 12; or King Asa against a million, in 2 Chronicles 14; or Jehoshaphat's great prayer of faith in 2 Chronicles 20:12:

"O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee!"

Someone has well called this "a prayer of the irresistible might of weakness."

Turned to flight armies of aliens: This, as we have said, did Abraham; also Moses' mighty praying; Joshua's fighting against Amalek (Ex. 17); and Joshua's obeying with power the Divine command, "Concerning the work of My hands, command ye Me" (Isa. 45:11). For we read:

"Then spake Joshua to Jehovah in the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; And thou, moon, in the valley of Aijalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, Until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies" (josh. 10:12-13).

The armies of aliens were those who refused the royal government of the earth through Israel, Jehovah's elect nation.

Verse 35

Women received their dead by a resurrection:--So it was with the widow who sustained Elijah, and still more strikingly with the Shunammite, who, leaving her dead child upon Elisha's bed in the prophet's chamber of her home, replied to his question, "Is it well with the child?" "It is well" (2 Kings 4). Blessed faith, here!

And others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance; (lit. the redemption: they could have escaped!) that they might obtain a better resurrection:--Eleazer says in 2 Maccabees 6:30, "Whereas I might have been delivered from death, I now endure sore pain." "The people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Dan. 11:32) refers to, and was fulfilled also in, the noble Maccabeans and their followers.

* While the Apocrypha, in which the books of the Maccabees are found, is not inspired, and was never a part of the Bible, it has been very useful as history of the "four hundred silent years" between the Old and New Testaments. The Maccabees, Books 1 and 2, are, on the whole, godly, earnest, historically accurate, and especially valuable. We here quote portions of 2 Mac.: Ch. 7:

"The constancy and cruel death of seven brethren and their mother in one day, because they would not eat swine's flesh at the king's commandment:

"And when he (the first brother) was at his last gasp, he said, 'Thou like a fury takest us out of this present life, but the King of the world shall raise us up, who have died for His laws, unto everlasting life!'" (vs. 9).

"So when he (the fourth brother) was ready to die, he said thus, 'It is good, being put to death by men, to look for hope from God to be raised up again by Him: as for thee, thou shalt have no resurrection to life'" (vs, 14).

"But the mother was marvelous above all, and worthy of honorable memory: for when she saw her seven sons slain within the space of one day, she bare it with a good courage, because of the hope that she had in the Lord. Yea, she exhorted every one of them in her own language, and ... said unto them:

"'Doubtless the Creator of the world, Who formed the generation of man, and found out the beginning of all things, will also of His own mercy give you breath and life again, as ye now regard not yourselves for His law's sake.'

"Now Antiochus, whilst the youngest was yet alive, assured him with oaths that he would make him both a rich and happy man if he would turn from the laws of his fathers (that is, apostatize) ... But the young man said,

"'Whom wait ye for? I will not obey the king's commandment: but I will obey the commandment of the Law that was given unto our fathers by Moses ... Then the king, being in a rage, handled him worse than all the rest, and took it grievously that he was mocked. So this man died undefiled, and put his whole trust in the Lord. Last of all, after the sons, the mother died" (vss. 20-41).

Verse 36

And others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: Sometimes God tries faith directly, as in verses 17 ff. Only God and Abraham were--privately, so to speak--in such a trial. The trial of mockings and scourgings from the world is of a different character. Observe this carefully, dear saints: God may take you, as He took Abraham, into trial that will bring the way of God Himself into question, to the very foundations of your own soul. Be not dismayed! Be like Abraham when God called for Isaac; or like the Shunammite woman, whose trial was not from the world, but from God's loving ways with her; or like Ezekiel (Ch. 24) when God took away his wife "with a stroke" for a parable to those to whom Ezekiel must minister. Or like John Bunyan, who testified that he walked in despair for seven years, yet called God "The God of my salvation," as in Psalm 88 and 18:

"O Jehovah, the God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before Thee. ... Lover and friend hast Thou put far from me, And mine acquaintance into darkness."

When we reflect that Paul is writing to earnest Hebrew believers, and that most, if not all, the "Witnesses" of Chapter 11, from Abraham on, were connected with the Hebrew nation, we see how weightily this history would affect them! Such a mighty influence has been exercised upon the soul of Gentile Christians by Fox's Book of Martyrs.

Verse 37

They were stoned--This was peculiarly by Israelitish method of execution. "Stoning was the ordinary mode of Hebrew execution," says the National Encyclopedia (Vol. 4, pp. 250-5, in loc.). (See Ex. 19:13; Josh. 7:25; 2 Chron. 24:21.) Zachariah, son of Barachiah, whom our Lord mentioned in Matthew 23:35, was thus stoned. He in the Old Testament and Stephen in the New, are the most prominent examples of martyrdom by this means. They were sawn asunder--There is a tradition that Jeremiah suffered thus under King Manasseh. (See Jewish Mishna.) Justin Martyr also (158 A.D.) reproached the Jews with this awful accusation concerning Isaiah: "Whom ye sawed asunder with a wooden saw." But these were one or two of many, according to the spirit of this passage in Hebrews 11.

They were tempted--Always, of course, by Satan; but here, probably, especially by those who sought to turn them back from the faithful confession. The word "tempted," standing as it does between the more terrible (physically) sufferings of being "stoned" and "sawn asunder" on the one hand and slain with the sword on the other, has perplexed many; so that some have sought to discover if some other word were not meant. But this will not be entered into by any who have suffered being tempted directly by Satan's guile and power. Do not think that Luther in Wartburg was deceived when he threw the inkstand at Satan! Remember that Peter in his first epistle, the subject of which is suffering, says to saints, "Now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials" (1:6). And Paul speaks of our wrestling as having its "evil day" (Eph. 6:13). There are times and occasions when God permits Satan to assault the spirit directly, as we have said; and the anguish of such hours is greater than any other. It is not so much an allurement to evil, as a direct assault. Bunyan knew it, or he could never have written of the fight with Apollyon. To quote Peter again: "Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). (Thank God for the "may"! Satan must have Divine permission for anything he does!)

They were slain with the sword: So in Acts 12 Herod slew the Apostle James. Millions of God's faithful ones have dyed red with their life-blood the swords of persecutors! They went about in sheepskins, in goatskins. Here were "the excellent of the earth, in whom," God says, "is all My delight." Be ready, O believer, to follow such a path of banishment from man as this indicates! Being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated--there is somehow in our very soul as we look at these words the prophecy that some, probably many, reading them, will experience them.

Verse 38

(Of whom the world was not worthy)--What a glory it would be to have it written thus of us by the Holy Spirit, as He writes it of those who suffered of old as God's own! And now see how ends this great passage descriptive of God's saints: Wandering in deserts and mountains and caves, and the holes of the earth: We know how this continued. These Hebrew saints of old have their counterpart in the Covenanters of Scotland, the Vaudois of France, the Albigenses, the Waldensians; remembering always the persecuted Puritans; and, we may add, every real Protestant. For the Roman Catholic harlot (Rev. 17:1-6, 18), seated on her seven-hilled city (vs. 9), is still "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (vs. 6).

But now, we beg you, hearken to what we are more and more convinced will happen before our eyes, in our days. There is much talk of prayer for a great revival, a world-wide revival, as they call it. But John says, "Ye have heard that Antichrist cometh" (1 John 4:3). Let me say boldly, I profoundly fear that in the hearts of many who pray for world-wide revival, there is that unconscious desire: that we may be delivered back into a time of reverence for God's Word, such as the Puritans brought to these shores; into a time of deliverance from the hideous scandal of Sodomite indecency that flaunts itself more and more before our eyes every day; into an old-fashioned revival in-gathering of thousands into respectable, God-fearing churches; into a condition of things where godly preachers and Bible teachers will be subjects of the old-time regard from men of the world; and their sermons and teachings be welcomed by the public press and read by hundreds of thousands, as Spurgeon's and Talmadge's sermons used to be.

But what if these closing verses of Hebrews 11 should be prophetic of the world's attitude toward true Christians--true men of faith, as of old? Are we ready for this in our prayer? Suppose that our prayer for revival should result in such a quickening of faith and entering into complete separation from the world, that the world would turn upon us in persecution? Are we not praying for a respectable, nay, a regenerate and yet bearable condition, rather than our becoming "the scum and offscouring of all things" with Paul? Will you let your prayer include that? Destitute ... afflicted ... ill-treated! Deserts ... mountains ... holes of the earth! Suppose God should choose to have His Church, before its rapture, as separate as it was on the day of Pentecost? Or suppose, the Church having given its testimony, a "great persecution" should arise against it, such as followed the death of Stephen?

May God in mercy search us all out, making us as sincere as was Paul, who was ready to say at any time, "God is my witness."

God in His wisdom has already permitted His dear saints in many lands to suffer at the hands of their enemies. Devoted missionaries tell of the horrors inflicted upon Christians in many lands; and there come trustworthy reports of believers lying in prison, or starved in concentration camps, in many parts of the earth. The temptation of the devil is for Christians in such trials to question God's kindness or justice. But we learn in this very epistle that God's own dear Son was perfected through the things which He suffered!

The Divine movement in this age is not that righteousness shall triumph, but on the contrary, that human wickedness shall have full headway and come to its climax, before being visited by the Great Day of Wrath preceding the Millennium, and be finally judged at the Great White Throne at the Millennium's close. Even during the Millennium it will be peace by compulsion

In the Hebrews narrative of triumphs, pursuits, and escapes on the one hand, and captivity, torment, pursuits and death on the other, we have been seeing that FAITH is victorious under all circumstances. But let us beware of falling into the Delilah arms of a Philistine world. For this world is an armed camp against God, against Christ, and against all operations of the Holy Spirit! Does not Peter warn us, "Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind" (i.e., same expectancy)? It were kinder to young converts to warn them from the first of the deadly foes in the heavenly places and among men, through whom the life of faith takes us, than to let them, unwarned, choose that life--only to "shrink back."

Verse 39

Having had witness borne to them--This precious word "witness" accompanies this "so great cloud of witnesses" from Hebrews 11:2 to Chapter 12. God spoke to them, and they knew it; their hearts were filled with an expectancy--of what? Paul's great general definition of the saints in Romans 2:7 will give the answer: "Them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory" (that is, connected with the presence of God) "and honor" (the opposite of the guilt, disgrace, and uncleanness of sin) "and incorruption" (that is, a state of bodily deliverance).

Through their faith--Their faith brought the witness and the expectation, but not yet the realization. Received not the promise--As Joseph said down in Egypt as he lay dying, "God will surely visit you"; and he asked that his bones be carried up to Canaan, the land of promise, for burial. There they lie yet--waiting.

* We beg you, go through the Word of God studying the word "wait," as toward God. It is one of the great words of Scripture. Jacob said, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Jehovah."

Isaiah:

"They that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength" (40:31).

"They that wait for Me shall not be put to shame" (49:23).

"For from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen a God besides Thee, Who worketh for him that waiteth for Him" (64:4).

Jeremiah:

"Jehovah is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah." (Lam. 3:25-26).

And David:

"I waited patiently for Jehovah, And He inclined unto me and heard my cry" (Ps. 40:1).

"Rest in Jehovah and wait patiently for Him" (Ps. 37:7).

in waiting, the saints give God His place. Blessed is the man who finds himself taken by sovereign grace into His plans of infinite wisdom. God says to the Hebrew believers and to us, "Ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise" (Ch. 10:36-37).

Verse 40

God having provided some better thing for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect: First, here, who are the "us"? They are Hebrew believers spoken to and of, as "partakers of a heavenly calling." (This the Israelites, the "these all" of verse 39, never were and never will be, "Us" discriminates between them and all believers on an exalted, heavenly Christ.) What is the "better thing"? We believe that our heavenly calling, our membership in the Body of Christ, is that "better thing." Oh, let us cherish it! Since the lives of these great believers in Chapter 11, Christ the Son of God has come, has died and been raised; and we died with Him, and were raised with Him into "heavenly places" and "seated" there with Him.

* "This better thing" than the O.T. saints had, is not explicitly described in Hebrews, for the great message of Hebrews is to a religious nation to whom Jehovah had spoken, and given a "religion." But now that God had "Spoken in His Son," former things--temple, sacrifices, days, seasons--were done away. The constant temptation of these Jews was to go back to this Judaism. But the only Priest God now recognized, having been offered for sin on earth--yea, "outside the gate" of Jerusalem itself, was at God's right hand in Heaven.

Infinite love had given Christ to die for sin. But, as today, and ever with wretched man, there was a turning to "religion," from which GOD had turned away! Man said, "I am a Jew"--just as today they say "I am a Presbyterian," "I am a Methodist," "I am a Baptist"--and so on. (And this despite specific forbidding in 1 Cor. 1:12-13.) But Christ died for sinners! Whether Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, infidel or atheist, or idolater, Christ died only for the LOST!

And He is the Great High Priest in Heaven of sinners, who as sinners, helpless, lost, and undone, have come to faith in a God Who "so loved" sinners, and in a Saviour to Whom alone at God's right hand is given the blessed work of maintaining believers on the way and bringing them where He is, in Glory!

They of the Old Testament were continually conscious of the great veil that hung between them and the ark of God's presence. How infinitely "better" it is to be invited "by a new and living way," by the blood of Christ and with Christ, to enter into the presence of God, by the Spirit! They of the Old Testament had a legal yoke which Peter said neither their fathers nor they "were able to bear"--the "ten thousand things" of God's Law. We have fellowship in the Spirit, He dwelling in each believer and, in a peculiar way, in the Assembly of believers. We have the Lord's Supper by which to keep in vivid memory that He has finished, Himself, the work He did at the Cross; and by which we show His death "till He come." And we have the blessed hope of our blessed Lord's return, looking for Him "so much the more, as we see the day drawing nigh" (10:25).

That apart from us they should not be made perfect: Here indeed is a glorious unity of all God's people: Israel with the earthly calling, and the saints now with the heavenly calling, looking forward to that day when shall be consummated in them and for them all their desire, yea, "exceeding abundantly above all they have asked or thought." Concerning the patriarchs our Lord Jesus told the Pharisees: "Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast forth without" (Lk. 13:28). And as to the antediluvian saints, Enoch, for example, has been in Heaven between three and four thousand years. What it will be for Enoch to be "made perfect" must, we believe, concern bodily things; for we read in Chapter 12:23, "Ye are come unto the spirits of just men made perfect." The spirits of these saints, now in heaven, had already been made perfect." The "perfecting" of verse 40 looks forward to that salvation" consummated at the coming of Christ (9:28), which includes the redemption of the body. Compare Romans 13:11.

The same Greek word is used in Chapter 6, where the exhortation is to "press on unto full growth." This "full growth," "no longer babes," is seen in Philippians 3:15, and 1 Corinthians 2:6. That such an adult spiritual condition is attainable in this life is manifest. It corresponds to "him that is spiritual" of 1 Corinthians 2:15: that is, controlled by and walking in the Spirit. May it be the condition of all of us!

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Bibliographical Information
Newell, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 11". Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wnc/hebrews-11.html. 1938.