Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
DEFINITION OF THE
EXAMPLES FROM THE
1. Description of the great things which faith (in
its widest sense: not here restricted to faith in the Gospel
sense) does for us. Not a full definition of faith in its whole
nature, but a description of its great characteristics in relation to
the subject of Paul's exhortation here, namely, to perseverance.
substance, &c.--It substantiates promises of God which we hope
for, as future in fulfilment, making them present realities to us.
However, the Greek is translated in
"confidence"; and it also here may mean "sure confidence." So
ALFORD translates. THOMAS
MAGISTER supports English Version, "The
whole thing that follows is virtually contained in the first principle;
now the first commencement of the things hoped for is in us
through the assent of faith, which virtually contains all the things
hoped for." Compare Note, see on
"tasted . . . powers of the world to come." Through faith,
the future object of Christian hope, in its beginning, is
already present. True faith infers the reality of the objects believed
in and honed for
HUGO DE ST.
VICTOR distinguished faith from
hope. By faith alone we are sure of eternal things that
they ARE: but by hope we are confident that
WE SHALL HAVE them. All hope presupposes faith
evidence--"demonstration": convincing proof to the believer: the
soul thereby seeing what the eye cannot see.
things not seen--the whole invisible and spiritual world: not
things future and things pleasant, as the "things hoped for," but also
the past and present, and those the reverse of pleasant. "Eternal life
is promised to us, but it is when we are dead: we are told of a blessed
resurrection, but meanwhile we moulder in the dust; we are declared to
be justified, and sin dwells in us; we hear that we are blessed,
meantime we are overwhelmed in endless miseries: we are promised
abundance of all goods, but we still endure hunger and thirst; God
declares He will immediately come to our help, but He seems deaf to our
cries. What should we do if we had not faith and hope to lean on, and
if our mind did not emerge amidst the darkness above the world by the
shining of the Word and Spirit of God?" [CALVIN].
Faith is an assent unto truths credible upon the testimony of God (not
on the reasonableness of the thing revealed, though by this we
may judge as to whether it be what it professes, a genuine revelation),
delivered unto us in the writings of the apostles and prophets. Thus
Christ's ascension is the cause, and His absence the crown, of our
faith: because He ascended, we the more believe, and because we believe
in Him who hath ascended, our faith is the more accepted [BISHOP PEARSON]. Faith believes what
it sees not; for if thou seest there is no faith; the Lord has gone
away so as not to be seen: He is hidden that He may be believed; the
yearning desire by faith after Him who is unseen is the preparation of
a heavenly mansion for us; when He shall be seen it shall be given to
us as the reward of faith [AUGUSTINE]. As
Revelation deals with spiritual and invisible things exclusively, faith
is the faculty needed by us, since it is the evidence of things not
seen. By faith we venture our eternal interests on the bare word of
God, and this is altogether reasonable.
2. For--So high a description of faith is not undeserved; for
. . . [ALFORD].
by it--Greek, "in it": in respect to . . . in
the matter of," it, "or, as Greek more emphatically, "this."
the elders--as though still living and giving their powerful
testimony to the reasonableness and excellence of faith
Not merely the ancients, as though they were people solely of
the past; nay, they belong to the one and the same blessed family as
(Heb 11:39, 40).
"The elders," whom we all revere so highly. "Paul shows how we
ought to seek in all its fulness, under the veil of history, the
essential substance of the doctrine sometimes briefly indicated"
[BENGEL]. "The elders," as "the fathers," is a
title of honor given on the ground of their bright faith and practice.
obtained a good report--Greek, "were testified of,"
namely, favorably (compare
It is a phrase of Luke, Paul's companion. Not only men, but God, gave
testimony to their faith
(Heb 11:4, 5, 39).
Thus they being testified of themselves have become "witnesses" to all
The earlier elders had their patience exercised for a long period of
life: those later, in sharper afflictions. Many things which they hoped
for and did not see, subsequently came to pass and were conspicuously
seen, the event confirming faith [BENGEL].
3. we understand--We perceive with our spiritual intelligence
the fact of the world's creation by God, though we see neither Him nor
the act of creation as described in
The natural world could not, without revelation, teach us this truth,
though it confirms the truth when apprehended by faith
Adam is passed over in silence here as to his faith, perhaps as being
the first who fell and brought sin on us all; though it does not follow
that he did not repent and believe the promise.
worlds--literally, "ages"; all that exists in time and space,
visible and invisible, present and eternal.
framed--"fitly formed and consolidated"; including the creation
of the single parts and the harmonious organization of the whole, and
the continual providence which maintains the whole throughout all ages.
As creation is the foundation and a specimen of the whole divine
economy, so faith in creation is the foundation and a specimen of all
by the word of God--not here, the personal word
but the spoken word (Greek, "rhema"); though by
the instrumentality of the personal word
not made, &c.--Translate as Greek, "so that not out of
things which appear hath that which is seen been made"; not as in the
case of all things which we see reproduced from previously existing and
visible materials, as, for instance, the plant from the seed, the
animal from the parent, &c., has the visible world sprung into being
from apparent materials. So also it is implied in the first clause of
the verse that the invisible spiritual worlds were framed not from
previously existing materials. BENGEL explains it
by distinguishing "appear," that is, begin to be seen (namely,
at creation), from that which is seen as already in existence,
not merely beginning to be seen; so that the things seen were
not made of the things which appear," that is, which begin to be
seen by us in the act of creation. We were not spectators of
creation; it is by faith we perceive it.
4. more excellent sacrifice--because offered in faith.
Now faith must have some revelation of God on which it
fastens. The revelation in this case was doubtless God's command to
sacrifice animals ("the firstlings of the flock") in token of
the forfeiture of men's life by sin, and as a type of the promised
bruiser of the serpent's head
the one coming sacrifice: this command is implied in God's having made
coats of skin for Adam and Eve
for these skins must have been taken from animals slain in
sacrifice: inasmuch as it was not for food they were slain,
animal food not being permitted till after the flood; nor for mere
clothing, as, were it so, clothes might have been made of the
fleeces without the needless cruelty of killing the animal; but a coat
of skin put on Adam from a sacrificed animal typified the covering or
atonement (the Hebrew for atone means to cover)
resulting from Christ's sacrifice. The Greek is more literally
rendered [KENNICOTT] by WYCLIFFE, "a much more sacrifice"; and by Queen
Elizabeth's version "a greater sacrifice." A fuller, more ample
sacrifice, that which partook more largely and essentially of the true
nature and virtue of sacrifice [ARCHBISHOP MAGEE]. It was not any intrinsic merit in "the firstling
of the flock" above "the fruit of the ground." It was God's appointment
that gave it all its excellency as a sacrifice; if it had not been so,
it would have been a presumptuous act of will-worship
and taking of a life which man had no right over before the flood
The sacrifice seems to have been a holocaust, and the sign of the
divine acceptance of it was probably the consumption of it by fire from
Hence, "to accept" a burnt sacrifice is in Hebrew "to turn it to
Margin). A flame seems to have issued from the Shekinah, or
flaming cherubim, east of Eden ("the presence of the Lord,"
where the first sacrifices were offered. Cain, in unbelieving
self-righteousness, presented merely a thank offering, not like
Abel feeling his need of the propitiatory sacrifice appointed on
account of sin. God "had respect (first) unto Abel, and (then) to his
Faith causes the believer's person to be accepted, and then his
offering. Even an animal sacrifice, though of God's appointment, would
not have been accepted, had it not been offered in faith.
he obtained witness--God by fire attesting His acceptance
of him as "righteous by faith."
his gifts--the common term for sacrifices, implying that
they must be freely given.
by it--by faith exhibited in his animal sacrifice.
dead, yet speaketh--His blood crying front the ground to
God, shows how precious, because of his "faith," he was still in
God's sight, even when dead. So he becomes a witness to us of the
blessed effects of faith.
5. Faith was the ground of his pleasing God; and
his pleasing God was the ground of his translation.
(Ge 5:22, 24).
Implying a sudden removal
(the same Greek as in
from mortality without death to immortality: such a
CHANGE as shall pass over the living at Christ's
(1Co 15:51, 52).
had this testimony--namely of Scripture; the Greek
perfect implies that this testimony continues still: "he has
been testified of."
pleased God--The Scripture testimony virtually expresses that he
pleased God, namely, "Enoch walked with God." The
Septuagint translates the Hebrew for "walked with God,"
6. without--Greek, "apart from faith": if one be
destitute of faith (compare
to please--Translate, as ALFORD does, the
Greek aorist, "It is impossible to please God at all"
Natural amiabilities and "works done before the grace of Christ are not
pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ;
yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed them to be
done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin" [Article XIII,
Book of Common Prayer]. Works not rooted in God are splendid
he that cometh to God--as a worshipper
must believe--once for all: Greek aorist tense.
that God is--is the true self-existing Jehovah (as contrasted
with all so-called gods, not gods,
the source of all being, though he sees Him not
as being "invisible"
So Enoch; this passage implies that he had not been favored with
visible appearances of God, yet he believed in God's
being, and in God's moral government, as the Rewarder of
His diligent worshippers, in opposition to antediluvian skepticism.
Also Moses was not so favored before he left Egypt the first time
still he believed.
and . . . is--a different Greek verb from the
former "is." Translate, "is eventually"; proves to be;
rewarder--renderer of reward [ALFORD]. So
God proved to be to Enoch. The reward is God Himself diligently
"sought" and "walked with" in partial communion here, and to be fully
enjoyed hereafter. Compare
"I am thy exceeding great reward."
of them--and them only.
diligently seek--Greek, "seek out" God. Compare "seek
Not only "ask" and "seek," but "knock,"
"Strive" as in an agony of contest.
7. warned of God--The same Greek,
"admonished of God."
moved with fear--not mere slavish fear, but as in
Greek, "reverential fear": opposed to the world's sneering
disbelief of the revelation, and self-deceiving security. Join "by
faith" with "prepared an ark"
by the which--faith.
condemned the world--For since he believed and was saved, so
might they have believed and been saved, so that their condemnation by
God is by his case shown to be just.
righteousness which is by faith--Greek, "according to
faith." A Pauline thought. Noah is first called "righteous" in
Christ calls Abel so,
Compare as to Noah's righteousness,
Eze 14:14, 20;
"a preacher of righteousness." Paul here makes faith the
principle and ground of his righteousness.
heir--the consequence of sonship which flows from faith.
8. From the antediluvian saints he passes to the patriarchs of
Israel, to whom "the promises" belonged.
The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "He that was called
Abraham," his name being changed from Abram to Abraham, on the occasion
of God's making with him and his seed a covenant sealed by
circumcision, many years after his call out of Ur. "By faith, he who
was (afterwards) called Abraham (father of nations,
in order to become which was the design of God's bringing him out of
Ur) obeyed (the command of God: to be understood in this reading),
so as to go out," &c.
which he should after receive--He had not fully received even
this promise when he went out, for it was not explicitly given
him till he had reached Canaan
(Ge 12:1, 6, 7).
When the promise of the land was given him the Canaanite was still in
the land, and himself a stranger; it is in the new heaven and new earth
that he shall receive his personal inheritance promised him; so
believers sojourn on earth as strangers, while the ungodly and Satan
lord it over the earth; but at Christ's coming that same earth which
was the scene of the believer's conflict shall be the inheritance of
Christ and His saints.
9. sojourned--as a "stranger and pilgrim."
in--Greek, "into," that is, he went into it and
as in a strange country--a country not belonging to him,
but to others (so the Greek),
Ac 7:5, 6.
dwelling in tabernacles--tents: as strangers and
sojourners do: moving from place to place, as having no fixed
possession of their own. In contrast to the abiding "city"
with--Their kind of dwelling being the same is a proof that
their faith was the same. They all alike were content to wait for their
good things hereafter
Jacob was fifteen years old at the death of Abraham.
heirs with him of the same promise--Isaac did not inherit it
from Abraham, nor Jacob from Isaac, but they all inherited it from God
directly as "fellow heirs." In
Heb 6:12, 15, 17,
"the promise" means the thing promised as a thing in part
already attained; but in this chapter "the promise" is of
something still future. However, see on
10. looked for--Greek, "he was expecting"; waiting for
with eager expectation
a city--Greek, "the city," already alluded to.
Worldly Enoch, son of the murderer Cain, was the first to build his
city here: the godly patriarchs waited for their city hereafter
(Heb 11:16; 12:22; 13:14).
foundations--Greek, "the foundations" which the
tents had not, nor even men's present cities have.
whose builder and maker--Greek, "designer
[Eph 1:4, 11]
and master-builder," or executor of the design. The city is
worthy of its Framer and Builder (compare
Compare Note, see on
11. also Sara herself--though being the weaker vessel, and
though at first she doubted.
was delivered of a child--omitted in the oldest manuscripts:
then translate, "and that when she was past age"
she judged him faithful who had promised--after she had ceased
to doubt, being instructed by the angel that it was no jest, but a
matter in serious earnest.
12. as good as dead--literally, "deadened"; no longer having, as
in youth, energetic vital powers.
stars . . . sand--
13-16. Summary of the characteristic excellencies of the
died in faith--died as believers, waiting for, not
actually seeing as yet their good things promised to them. They
were true to this principle of faith even unto, and especially
in, their dying hour (compare
These all--beginning with "Abraham"
to whom the promises were made
and who is alluded to in the end of
[BENGEL and ALFORD]. But the
"ALL" can hardly but include Abel, Enoch, and
Noah. Now as these did not receive the promise of entering literal
Canaan, some other promise made in the first ages, and often
repeated, must be that meant, namely, the promise of a coming Redeemer
made to Adam, namely, "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's
head." Thus the promises cannot have been merely temporal, for Abel and
Enoch mentioned here received no temporal promise [ARCHBISHOP MAGEE]. This promise of
eternal redemption is the inner essence of the promises made to Abraham
not having received--It was this that constituted their "faith."
If they had "received" THE THING PROMISED (so "the
promises" here mean: the plural is used because of the frequent
renewal of the promise to the patriarchs:
says he did receive the promises, but not the thing
promised), it would have been sight, not faith.
seen them afar off--
Christ, as the Word, was preached to the Old Testament believers, and
so became the seed of life to their souls, as He is to ours.
and were persuaded of them--The oldest manuscripts omit this
embraced them--as though they were not "afar off," but within
reach, so as to draw them to themselves and clasp them in their
embrace. TRENCH denies that the Old Testament
believers embraced them, for they only saw them afar off:
he translates, "saluted them," as the homeward-bound mariner,
recognizing from afar the well-known promontories of his native land.
ALFORD translates, "greeted them." Jacob's
exclamation, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord"
is such a greeting of salvation from afar
confessed . . . were strangers--so Abraham to the
children of Heth
and Jacob to Pharaoh
Worldly men hold fast the world; believers sit loose to it.
Citizens of the world do not confess themselves "strangers on
pilgrims--Greek, "temporary (literally, 'by the way')
on the earth--contrasted with "an heavenly"
"our citizenship is in heaven" (Greek:
"Whosoever professes that he has a Father in heaven, confesses himself
a stranger on earth; hence there is in the heart an ardent longing,
like that of a child living among strangers, in want and grief, far
from his fatherland" [LUTHER]. "Like ships in seas
while in, above the world."
14. For--proof that "faith"
was their actuating principle.
declare plainly--make it plainly evident.
seek--Greek, "seek after"; implying the direction
towards which their desires ever tend.
a country--rather as Greek, "a fatherland." In confessing
themselves strangers here, they evidently imply that they regard
not this as their home or fatherland, but seek after another and a
15. As Abraham, had he desired to leave his pilgrim life in
Canaan, and resume his former fixed habitation in Ur, among the carnal
and worldly, had in his long life ample opportunities to have done so;
and so spiritually, as to all believers who came out from the world to
become God's people, they might, if they had been so minded, have
easily gone back.
16. Proving the truth that the old fathers did not, as some
assert, "look only for transitory promises" [Article VII, Book of
now--as the case is.
is not ashamed--Greek, "Is not ashamed of them." Not
merely once did God call himself their God, but He is
NOW not ashamed to have Himself called so, they
being alive and abiding with Him where He is. For, by the law,
God cannot come into contact with anything dead. None remained dead in
(Lu 20:37, 38).
He who is Lord and Maker of heaven and earth, and all things therein,
when asked, What is Thy name? said, omitting all His other titles, "I
am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"
[THEODORET]. Not only is He not ashamed,
but glories in the name and relation to His people. The "wherefore"
does not mean that God's good pleasure is the meritorious, but
the gracious, consequence of their obedience (that obedience
being the result of His Spirit's work in them in the first instance).
He first so "called" Himself, then they so called Him.
for--proof of His being "their God," namely, "He hath
prepared (in His eternal counsels,
Mt 20:23; 25:34,
and by the progressive acts of redemption,
for them a city," the city in which He Himself reigns, so that their
yearning desires shall not be disappointed
(Heb 11:14, 16).
a city--on its garniture by God (compare
17. offered up--literally, "hath offered up," as if the work and
its praise were yet enduring [ALFORD]. As far as
His intention was concerned, he did sacrifice Isaac; and in actual fact
"he offered him," as far as the presentation of him on the altar as an
offering to God is concerned.
tried--Greek, "tempted," as in
Put to the proof of his faith. Not that God "tempts" to
sin, but God "tempts" in the sense of proving or
he that had received--rather as Greek, "accepted," that
is, welcomed and embraced by faith, not merely "had the
promises," as in
This added to the difficulty in the way of his faith, that it was in
Isaac's posterity the promises were to be fulfilled; how then could
they be fulfilled if Isaac were sacrificed?
offered up--rather as Greek, "was offering up"; he was in
the act of offering.
his only-begotten son--Compare
"Take now thy son, thine only son." EUSEBIUS
[The Preparation of the Gospel, 1.10, and 4.16], has preserved a
fragment of a Greek translation of Sanchoniatho, which mentions
a mystical sacrifice of the Phœnicians, wherein a prince in royal
robes was the offerer, and his only son was to be the victim: this
evidently was a tradition derived from Abraham's offering, and handed
down through Esau or Edom, Isaac's son. Isaac was Abraham's
"only-begotten son" in respect of Sarah and the promises: he sent away
his other sons, by other wives
Abraham is a type of the Father not sparing His only-begotten Son to
fulfil the divine purpose of love. God nowhere in the Mosaic law
allowed human sacrifices, though He claimed the first-born of Israel as
18. Of whom--rather as Greek "He (Abraham, not
Isaac) TO whom it was said" [ALFORD]. BENGEL supports English Version. So
uses the same Greek preposition, "unto," for "in respect to," or
"of." This verse gives a definition of the "only-begotten Son"
in Isaac shall thy seed be called--
The posterity of Isaac alone shall be accounted as the seed of Abraham,
which is the heir of the promises
19. Faith answered the objections which reason brought against
God's command to Abraham to offer Isaac, by suggesting that what God
had promised He both could and would perform, however impossible the
performance might seem
(Ro 4:20, 21).
able to raise him--rather, in general, "able to raise
from the dead." Compare
"God who quickeneth the dead." The quickening of Sarah's dead womb
suggested the thought of God's power to raise even the dead, though no
instance of it had as yet occurred.
he received him--"received him back"
in a figure--Greek, "in a parable." ALFORD explains, "Received him back, risen from that
death which he had undergone in, under, the figure of the ram."
I prefer with BISHOP PEARSON,
ESTIUS, and GREGORY OF NYSSA, understanding the figure to be the
representation which the whole scene gave to Abraham of Christ in His
death (typified by Isaac's offering in intention, and the ram's actual
substitution answering to Christ's vicarious death), and in His
resurrection (typified by Abraham's receiving him back alive from the
jaws of death, compare
2Co 1:9, 10);
just as on the day of atonement the slain goat and the scapegoat
together formed one joint rite representing Christ's death and
resurrection. It was then that Abraham saw Christ's day
accounting God was able to raise even from the dead: from which state
of the dead he received him back as a type of the resurrection in
20. Jacob is put before Esau, as heir of the chief, namely, the
concerning things to come--Greek, "even concerning
things to come": not only concerning things present. Isaac, by
faith, assigned to his sons things future, as if they were
21. both the sons--Greek, "each of the sons"
(Ge 47:29; 48:8-20).
He knew not Joseph's sons, and could not distinguish them by sight, yet
he did distinguish them by faith, transposing his hands
intentionally, so as to lay his right hand on the younger, Ephraim,
whose posterity was to be greater than that of Manasseh: he also
adopted these grandchildren as his own sons, after having transferred
the right of primogeniture to Joseph
and worshipped--This did not take place in immediate connection
with the foregoing, but before it, when Jacob made Joseph swear that he
would bury him with his fathers in Canaan, not in Egypt. The assurance
that Joseph would do so filled him with pious gratitude to God, which
he expressed by raising himself on his bed to an attitude of
worship. His faith, as Joseph's
consisted in his so confidentially anticipating the fulfilment of God's
promise of Canaan to his descendants, as to desire to be buried there
as his proper possession.
leaning upon the top of his staff--
Hebrew and English Version, "upon the bed's head." The
Septuagint translates as Paul here. JEROME
justly reprobates the notion of modern Rome, that Jacob worshipped
the top of Joseph's staff, having on it an image of Joseph's power,
to which Jacob bowed in recognition of the future sovereignty of his
son's tribe, the father bowing to the son! The Hebrew, as
translated in English Version, sets it aside: the bed is
alluded to afterwards
(Ge 48:2; 49:33),
and it is likely that Jacob turned himself in his bed so as to
have his face toward the pillow,
(there were no bedsteads in the East). Paul by adopting the
Septuagint version, brings out, under the Spirit, an
additional fact, namely, that the aged patriarch used his
own (not Joseph's) staff to lean on in worshipping on his
bed. The staff, too, was the emblem of his pilgrim state
here on his way to his heavenly city
(Heb 11:13, 14),
wherein God had so wonderfully supported him.
"With my staff I passed over Jordan, and now I am become," &c.
the same thing is said of David's "bowing on his bed," an act of
adoring thanksgiving to God for God's favor to his son before death. He
omits the more leading blessing of the twelve sons of Jacob; because
"he plucks only the flowers which stand by his way, and leaves the
whole meadow full to his readers" [DELITZSCH in
22. when he died--"when dying."
the departing--"the exodus"
(Ge 50:24, 25).
Joseph's eminent position in Egypt did not make him regard it as his
home: in faith he looked to God's promise of Canaan being fulfilled and
desired that his bones should rest there: testifying thus: (1) that he
had no doubt of his posterity obtaining the promised land: and (2) that
he believed in the resurrection of the body, and the enjoyment in it of
the heavenly Canaan. His wish was fulfilled
23. parents--So the Septuagint has the plural, namely,
Amram and Jochebed
the mother alone is mentioned; but doubtless Amram sanctioned all she
did, and secrecy. being their object, he did not appear prominent in
what was done.
a proper child--Greek, "a comely child."
"exceeding fair," Greek, "fair to God." The "faith" of his
parents in saving the child must have had some divine revelation to
rest on (probably at the time of his birth), which marked their
"exceeding fair" babe as one whom God designed to do a great work by.
His beauty was probably "the sign" appointed by God to assure
the king's commandment--to slay all the males
24. So far from faith being opposed to Moses, he
was an eminent example of it [BENGEL].
refused--in believing self-denial, when he might possibly have
succeeded at last to the throne of Egypt. Thermutis, Pharaoh's
daughter, according to the tradition which Paul under the Spirit
sanctions, adopted him, as JOSEPHUS says, with the
consent of the king. JOSEPHUS states that when a
child, he threw on the ground the diadem put on him in jest, a presage
of his subsequent formal rejection of Thermutis' adoption of him. Faith
made him to prefer the adoption of the King of kings, unseen, and so to
(Heb 11:25, 26)
things, the very last which flesh and blood relish.
25. He balanced the best of the world with the worst of
religion, and decidedly chose the latter. "Choosing" implies a
deliberate resolution, not a hasty impulse. He was forty years old, a
time when the judgment is matured.
for a season--If the world has "pleasure" (Greek,
"enjoyment") to offer, it is but "for a season." If religion bring with
it "affliction," it too is but for a season; whereas its "pleasures are
26. Esteeming--Inasmuch as he esteemed.
the reproach of Christ--that is, the reproach which falls on the
Church, and which Christ regards as His own reproach, He being the
Head, and the Church (both of the Old and New Testament) His body.
Israel typified Christ; Israel's sufferings were Christ's sufferings
As uncircumcision was Egypt's reproach, so circumcision was the
badge of Israel's expectation of Christ, which Moses especially
cherished, and which the Gentiles reproached Israel on account of.
Christ's people's reproach will ere long be their great glory.
had respect unto, &c.--Greek, "turning his eyes away
from other considerations, he fixed them on the (eternal)
(Heb 11:39, 40).
27. not fearing the wrath of the king--But in
it is said, "Moses feared, and fled from the face of Pharaoh." He was
afraid, and fled from the danger where no duty called him to
stay (to have stayed without call of duty would have been to tempt
Providence, and to sacrifice his hope of being Israel's future
deliverer according to the divine intimations; his great aim,
He did not fear the king so as to neglect his duty and not
return when God called him. It was in spite of the king's
prohibition he left Egypt, not fearing the consequences which were
likely to overtake him if he should be caught, after having, in
defiance of the king, left Egypt. If he had stayed and resumed his
position as adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, his slaughter of the
Egyptian would doubtless have been connived at; but his resolution to
take his portion with oppressed Israel, which he could not have done
had he stayed, was the motive of his flight, and constituted the
"faith" of this act, according to the express statement here. The
exodus of Moses with Israel cannot be meant here, for it was made, not
in defiance, but by the desire, of the king. Besides, the chronological
order would be broken thus, the next particular specified here, namely,
the institution of the Passover, having taken place before
the exodus. Besides, it is Moses' personal history and faith
which are here described. The faith of the people ("THEY passed") is not introduced till
endured--steadfast in faith amidst trials. He had fled,
not so much from fear of Pharaoh, as from a revulsion of
feeling in finding God's people insensible to their high destiny, and
from disappointment at not having been able to inspire them with those
hopes for which he had sacrificed all his earthly prospects. This
accounts for his strange reluctance and despondency when commissioned
by God to go and arouse the people
(Ex 3:15; 4:1, 10-12).
seeing him . . . invisible--as though he had not to do
with men, but only with God, ever before his eyes by faith, though
invisible to the bodily eye
1Ti 1:17; 6:16).
Hence he feared not the wrath of visible man; the characteristic
Lu 12:4, 5).
28. kept--Greek, "hath kept," the Passover being,
in Paul's day, still observed. His faith here was his belief in
the invisible God's promise that the destroying angel should pass
over, and not touch the inmates of the blood-sprinkled
"He acquiesced in the bare word of God where the thing itself was not
the first-born--Greek neuter; both of man and
29. they--Moses and Israel.
Red Sea--called so from its red seaweed, or rather from Edom
(meaning "red"), whose country adjoined it.
which . . . assaying to do--Greek, "of which
(Red Sea) the Egyptians having made experiment." Rashness and
presumption mistaken by many for faith; with similar rash
presumption many rush into eternity. The same thing when done by the
believer, and when done by the unbeliever, is not the same thing
[BENGEL]. What was faith in Israel, was
presumption in the Egyptians.
were drowned--Greek, "were swallowed up," or "engulfed."
They sank in the sands as much as in the waves of the Red Sea. Compare
"the earth swallowed them."
30. The soundings of trumpets, though one were to sound for ten
thousand years, cannot throw down walls, but faith can do all
seven days--whereas sieges often lasted for years.
31. Rahab showed her "faith" in her confession,
Jos 2:9, 11,
"I know that Jehovah hath given you the land; Jehovah your God, is God
in heaven above, and in earth beneath."
the harlot--Her former life adds to the marvel of her
repentance, faith, and preservation
(Mt 21:31, 32).
believed not--Greek, "were disobedient," namely, to the
will of God manifested by the miracles wrought in behalf of Israel
received--in her house
(Jos 2:1, 4, 6).
with peace--peaceably; so that they had nothing to fear in her
house. Thus Paul, quoting the same examples
(Heb 11:17, 31)
for the power of faith, as James
(Jas 2:21, 25;
does for justification by works evidentially, shows that in
maintaining justification by faith alone, he means not a dead faith,
but "faith which worketh by love"
32. the time--suitable for the length of an Epistle. He
accumulates collectively some out of many examples of faith.
Gideon--put before Barak, not chronologically, but as being more
celebrated. Just as Samson for the same reason is put before
Jephthæ. The mention of Jephthæ as an example of "faith,"
makes it unlikely he sacrificed the life of his daughter for a
rash vow. David, the warrior king and prophet, forms the transition
from warrior chiefs to the "prophets," of whom "Samuel" is mentioned as
33. subdued kingdoms--as David did
&c.); so also Gideon subdued Midian
wrought righteousness--as Samuel did
(1Sa 8:9; 12:3-23; 15:33);
obtained promises--as "the prophets"
did; for through them the promises were given (compare
[BENGEL]. Rather, "obtained the fulfilment
of promises," which had been previously the object of their
Indeed, Gideon, Barak, &c., also obtained the things which God
promised. Not "the promises," which are still future
(Heb 11:13, 39).
stopped the mouths of lions--Note the words, "because he
believed in his God." Also Samson
34. Quenched the violence of fire--
Not merely "quenched the fire," but "quenched the power (so the
Greek) of the fire."
record the last miracles of the Old Testament. So the martyrs of the
Reformation, though not escaping the fire, were delivered from
its having power really or lastingly to hurt them.
escaped . . . sword--So Jephthah
and so David escaped Saul's sword
(1Sa 18:11; 19:10, 12);
&c.; 2Ki 6:14).
out of weakness . . . made strong--Samson
(Jud 16:28; 15:19).
MILTON says of the martyrs, "They shook the powers
of darkness with the irresistible power of weakness."
valiant in fight--Barak
(Jud 4:14, 15).
And the Maccabees, the sons of Matthias, Judas, Jonathan, and Simon,
who delivered the Jews from their cruel oppressor, Antiochus of Syria.
armies--literally, "camps" referring to
But the reference may be to the Maccabees having put to flight the
Syrians and other foes.
35. Women received their dead raised--as the widow of Zarephath
The two oldest manuscripts read. "They received women of aliens by
raising their dead."
shows that the raising of the widow's son by Elijah led her to the
faith, so that he thus took her into fellowship, an alien
though she was. Christ, in
makes especial mention of the fact that Elijah was sent to an alien
from Israel, a woman of Sarepta. Thus Paul may quote this as an
instance of Elijah's faith, that at God's command he went to a Gentile
city of Sidonia (contrary to Jewish prejudices), and there, as the
fruit of faith, not only raised her dead son, but received her
as a convert into the family of God, as Vulgate reads. Still,
English Version may be the right reading.
and--Greek, "but"; in contrast to those raised again to
tortured--"broken on the wheel." Eleazar
(2 Maccabees 6:18, end;
2 Maccabees 19:20,30).
The sufferer was stretched on an instrument like a drumhead and
scourged to death.
not accepting deliverance--when offered to them. So the seven
2 Maccabees 7:9, 11, 14, 29, 36;
2 Maccabees 6:21, 28, 30,
"Though I might have been delivered from death, I endure these severe
pains, being beaten."
a better resurrection--than that of the women's children "raised
to life again"; or, than the resurrection which their foes could give
them by delivering them from death
The fourth of the brethren (referring to
said to King Antiochus, "To be put to death by men, is to be chosen to
look onward for the hopes which are of God, to be raised up again by
Him; but for thee there is no resurrection to life." The writer of
Second Maccabees expressly disclaims inspiration, which prevents
our mistaking Paul's allusion here to it as if it sanctioned the
Apocrypha as inspired. In quoting Daniel, he quotes a book claiming
inspiration, and so tacitly sanctions that claim.
36. others--of a different class of confessors for the
truth (the Greek is different from that for "others,"
trial--testing their faith.
imprisoned by Asa. Micaiah, the son of Imlah, by Ahab
(1Ki 22:26, 27).
37. stoned--as Zechariah, son of Jehoiada
sawn asunder--as Isaiah was said to have been by Manasseh; but
tempted--by their foes, in the midst of their tortures,
to renounce their faith; the most bitter aggravation of them. Or else,
by those of their own household, as Job was
[ESTIUS]; or by the fiery darts of Satan, as Jesus
was in His last trials [GLASSIUS]. Probably it
included all three; they were tempted in every possible way, by
friends and foes, by human and satanic agents, by caresses and
afflictions, by words and deeds, to forsake God, but in vain, through
the power of faith.
sword--literally, "they died in the murder of the sword." In
the contrary is given as an effect of faith, "they escaped the
edge of the sword." Both alike are marvellous effects of faith. In both
accomplishes great things and suffers great things, without counting it
suffering [CHRYSOSTOM]. Urijah was so slain by
and the prophets in Israel
in sheepskins--as Elijah
Septuagint). They were white; as the "goat-skins" were
tormented--Greek, "in evil state."
38. Of whom the world was not worthy--So far from their being
unworthy of living in the world, as their exile in deserts, &c., might
seem to imply, "the world was not worthy of them." The world, in
shutting them out, shut out from itself a source of blessing; such as
Joseph proved to Potiphar
and Jacob to Laban
In condemning them, the world condemned itself.
caves--literally, "chinks." Palestine, from its hilly character,
abounds in fissures and caves, affording shelter to the
persecuted, as the fifty hid by Obadiah
(1Ki 18:4, 13)
(1Ki 19:8, 13);
and Mattathias and his sons
(1 Maccabees 2:28, 29);
and Judas Maccabeus
(2 Maccabees 5:27).
39. having obtained a good report--Greek, "being borne
witness of." Though they were so, yet "they received not the
promise," that is, the final completion of "salvation"
promised at Christ's coming again
"the eternal inheritance"
Abraham did obtain the very thing promised
in part, namely, blessedness in soul after death, by
virtue of faith in Christ about to come. The full blessedness of
body and soul shall not be till the full number of the elect shall be
accomplished, and all together, no one preceding the other, shall enter
on the full glory and bliss. Moreover, in another point of view, "It is
probable that some accumulation of blessedness was added to holy souls,
when Christ came and fulfilled all things even as at His burial many
rose from the dead, who doubtless ascended to heaven with Him"
[FLACIUS in BENGEL]. (Compare
Note, see on
The perfecting of believers in title, and in respect to
conscience, took place once for all, at the death of Christ, by virtue
of His being made by death perfect as Saviour. Their
perfecting in soul at, and ever after Christ's death, took
place, and takes place at their death. But the universal and final
perfecting will not take place till Christ's coming.
40. provided--with divine forethought from eternity (compare
Ge 22:8, 14).
some better thing for us--
than they had here. They had not in this world, "apart from us" (so the
Greek is for "without us," that is, they had to wait for us
for), the clear revelation of the promised salvation actually
accomplished, as we now have it in Christ; in their state, beyond the
grave their souls also seem to have attained an increase of
heavenly bliss on the death and ascension of Christ; and they
shall not attain the full and final glory in body and soul (the
regeneration of the creature), until the full number of the elect
(including us with them) is completed. The Fathers, CHRYSOSTOM, &c., restricted the meaning of
Heb 11:39, 40
to this last truth, and I incline to this view. "The connection is,
You, Hebrews, may far more easily exercise patience than Old Testament
believers; for they had much longer to wait, and are still waiting
until the elect are all gathered in; you, on the contrary, have not to
wait for them" [ESTIUS]. I think his object in
(Heb 11:39, 40)
is to warn Hebrew Christians against their tendency to relapse into
Judaism. "Though the Old Testament worthies attained such
eminence by faith, they are not above us in privileges, but the
reverse." It is not we who are perfected with them, but
rather they with us. They waited for His coming; we enjoy
Him as having come
(Heb 1:1; 2:3).
Christ's death, the means of perfecting what the Jewish law
could not perfect, was reserved for our time. Compare
"perfecter (Greek) of our faith." Now that Christ is
come, they in soul share our blessedness, being "the spirits of the
just made perfect"
so ALFORD; however, see on
shows that the blood of Christ, brought into the heavenly holy place by
Him, first opened an entrance into heaven (compare
Still, the fathers were in blessedness by faith in the Saviour to come,