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faith, did not
Amplified: And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of]
their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, .
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: And these all, having obtained a good report through faith,
received not the promise:
NLT: All of these people we have mentioned received God's approval
because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: All these won a glowing testimony to their faith, but they did
not then and there receive the fulfilment of the promise. (Phillips:
Wuest: And these
all, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did
not receive the promise. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and these all, having been testified to through the faith, did not
receive the promise,
W A Criswell
J Ligon Duncan
Explore the Bible
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Today in the Word
Hebrews Study Guide
Hebrews 11 Commentary
Hebrews 11:32-40 Faith's Reward
Hebrews 11 Commentary
Hebrews 11:40 That
Better Thing That God Hath Prepared
Hebrews 11:30-40 The World Was
Not Worth It
How can I get to Heaven?
Hebrews 11 Exhibit Your Faith
Hebrews 11:32-40 The Story of Faith
Hebrews 11:32-40 The Remnant of the
Hebrews 11:30-40 The
Pinnacle of Faith
Hebrews 11 Sermons -
by Puritan writer - >1000 page Pdf!
Thru the Bible Commentary
Hebrews 11:39 Some
Better Thing for Us -p 473
Hebrews 11:32-40 The Triumph of
Hebrews 11:35, 36
Hebrews 11 Word Pictures
Letter to Hebrews -
329 page commentary
Hebrews 11 Exposition
Hebrews 11:13,14 An Inscription for the
Mausoleum of the Saints
Faith Made Visible
Hebrews 11:39-40 Something Better for Us
Hebrews 11: Word
Hebrews Inductive Study Part 2
AND ALL THESE, HAVING GAINED APPROVAL
THROUGH THEIR FAITH: Kai houtoi pantes
marturethentes (APPMPN): (He 11:2,13; Luke 10:23,24; 1Peter
And all of these - All those
mentioned and those unmentioned (as implied by "And what more shall I
say? For time will fail me..." He 11:32a) in the "Hebrews Hall of
Gained approval - Their
faith bore witness.
Hughes explains that they
well attested by their faith in
that their faith, so far from being extinguished, was constant and
prevailed in the face of the severest testing and opposition and thus
declared the genuineness of their profession (A Commentary On The
Epistle To The Hebrews)
Having gained approval (3140)
(martureo from mártus = witness, one who has information
or knowledge of something & hence can bring to light or confirm
something; English ~ martyr) ) means to be a witness, to testify, to
give evidence, to give testimony, to affirm that one has seen or heard
or experienced something. To be well reported. It means to provide
information about a person or an event concerning which the speaker
has direct knowledge. Martureo in some context is used in the
sense of making an important and solemn declaration. It can be used in
the sense of confirmation or approval and so to affirm n a supportive
Martureo is another key word
in Hebrews, with 7/81 (almost 10% of the NT uses)
Hebrews 7:8 (note)
- In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one
receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on.
Hebrews 7:17 (note)
- For it is attested of Him, "YOU AREA PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK ."
Hebrews 10:15 (note)
- And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
Hebrews 11:2 (note)
- For by it the men of old
Hebrews 11:4 (note)
- By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through
which he obtained the testimony that he was
righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith,
though he is dead, he still speaks.
Hebrews 11:5 (note)
- By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE
WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness
that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
Hebrews 11:39 (note)
- And all these, having gained approval through their faith,
did not receive what was promised
THROUGH THEIR FAITH, Now, what was the result for those who were
faithful in persecution, deprivation, and death? Beautifully, it was
and is the same as for those who experienced great public triumphs in
their lives (the Noahs and Moseses and Gideons).
First, they “were all commended for
their faith” (v39a). This is the way the chapter began—“Now faith is
being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This
is what the ancients were commended for” (v1, v2)—and this is how it
ends. All the faithful (the known and unknown, the famously triumphant
and those who anonymously persevered in suffering) were “commended for
their faith.” God forgets no one who loves and serves him! It is his
great pleasure to commend faith!
The second result is that
“none”—that is, none of the great triumphant members of the Hall of
Faith or those who persevered without earthly triumphs—“none of them
received what had been promised” (v39b). Although many promises had
been given and fulfilled in their lifetimes, they did not receive the
great promise—namely, the coming of the Messiah and salvation in Him.
Every one of the faithful in Old Testament times died before Jesus
appeared. They entered Heaven with the promise unfulfilled.
Why is this? The answer is given
in our final verse: “God had planned something better for us so that
only together with us would they be made perfect” (v40). No one was
“made perfect” under the Old Covenant, because Christ had not yet
died. They were saved, but not until Jesus’ work on the cross was
complete could salvation be perfect. Their salvation looked ahead to
what Christ would do. Ours looks back to what he has done—and ours is
"more" perfect now but someday in glory totally perfect. Amen.
is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth
of anything, but in Scripture usually speaks of belief respecting
man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the
included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with
It is notable that only the book of
Romans surpasses the book of Hebrews (click
to study the uses of pistis in Hebrews)
in the number of uses of
(Romans = 35, Hebrews = 31, out of 243 NT
for links to all 243 uses of pistis (NAS) which is translated: faith, 238; faithfulness, 3; pledge, 1;
As pistis relates to God, it is the conviction
that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things well as the
Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. As faith relates
to Christ it represents a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus
is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation and entrance into
the Kingdom of Heaven. Stated another way, eternal salvation comes only
through belief in Jesus Christ and no other way.
See related studies on the
specific phrases (1) "the
faith" and (2) the "obedience
See also study on
True faith that saves one's soul includes at
least three main elements
(1) firm persuasion
or firm conviction,
a surrender to that
(3) a conduct
emanating from that surrender. In sum, faith shows itself genuine by a
changed life. (Click
W E Vine's similar definition of faith)
Respected theologian Louis Berkhof
defines genuine faith in essentially the same way noting that it includes an
intellectual element (notitia), which is
a positive recognition of the
truth”; an emotional element (assensus), which includes “a deep
conviction of the truth”; and a volitional element (fiducia), which
involves “a personal trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, including a
surrender … to Christ.” (Louis
Berkhof, Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939)
Faith is relying on what God has done rather than on one’s own efforts.
In the Old Testament, faith is rarely mentioned. The word trust is
used frequently, and verbs like believe and rely are used to
express the right attitude to God. The classic example is Abraham, whose
faith was reckoned as righteousness (Ge 15:6). At the heart of the
Christian message is the story of the cross: Christ’s dying to bring
salvation. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives
God’s good gift of salvation (Acts 16:30,31) and lives in that awareness
thereafter (Gal 2:20; cf. Heb 11:1).
J. B. Lightfoot discusses the concept of faith in his commentary on
Galatians. He notes that in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the definition of the
word for faith
"hovers between two meanings:
trustfulness, the frame of mind which relies on another; and
trustworthiness, the frame of mind which can be relied upon...the senses
will at times be so blended together that they can only be separated by some
arbitrary distinction. The loss in grammatical precision is often more than
compensated by the gain in theological depth...They who have faith in God
are steadfast and immovable in the path of duty."
Faith, like grace, is not static. Saving faith is more than just
understanding the facts and mentally acquiescing. It is inseparable from
repentance, surrender, and a supernatural longing to obey. None of those
responses can be classified exclusively as a human work, any more than
believing itself is solely a human effort.
Faith is manifest by not believing in spite of evidence but obeying in
spite of consequence. John uses the related verb pisteuo to demonstrate the
relationship between genuine faith and obedience writing...
"He who believes (present
tense = continuous) in
the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see
life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36)
Charles Swindoll commenting on faith and obedience in John 3:36
In 3:36 the one who “believes in the Son
has eternal life” as a present possession. But the one who “does not obey
the Son shall not see life.” To disbelieve Christ is to disobey
Him. And logically, to believe in Christ is to obey Him. As I
have noted elsewhere, “This verse clearly indicates that belief is
not a matter of passive opinion, but decisive and obedient action.”
(quoting J. Carl Laney)...Tragically many people are convinced that it
doesn’t really matter what you believe, so long as you are sincere. This
reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is returning from a
disastrous baseball game. The caption read, “174 to nothing! How could we
lose when we were so sincere?” The reality is, Charlie Brown, that it takes
more than sincerity to win the game of life. Many people are sincere about
their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong!" (Swindoll,
C. R., & Zuck, R. B. Understanding Christian Theology.: Thomas Nelson
Publishers) (This book is
recommended if you are looking for a very readable, non-compromising work on
"systematic theology". Wayne Grudem's work noted above is comparable.)
Subjectively faith is firm
persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or
faithfulness (though rare). Objectively faith is that which is
believed (usually designated as "the faith"), doctrine, the received
articles of faith.
separate study of "the
True faith is not based on empirical evidence but on divine assurance.
Spurgeon wrote that...
Faith is the foot of the soul by which it
can march along the road of the commandments.
was translating the
Scripture for the South Sea islanders, he was unable to find a word in their
vocabulary for the concept of believing, trusting, or having faith. He had
no idea how he would convey that to them. One day while he was in his hut
translating, a native came running up the stairs into Paton's study and
flopped in a chair, exhausted. He said to Paton,
“It’s so good to rest my whole weight in
Paton had his word: Faith is resting your whole weight on God. That
word went into the translation of their New Testament and helped bring that
civilization of natives to Christ. Believing is putting your whole weight on
God. If God said it, then it’s true, and we’re to believe it.
Nothing before, nothing behind,
The steps of faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The rock beneath -- Whittier
Without “confidence” in God - in
his fidelity, his truth, his wisdom, his promises. The essence of
faith consists in believing and receiving what God has revealed, and
may be defined as that trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus
Christ whom He has sent, which receives Him as Lord and Savior and
impels to loving obedience and good works (Jn 1:12; Ja 2:14 - 26).
Clearly faith is a key word in Hebrews. Study the 31 uses of
in context (click the Scripture links to go to the notes on each verse)...
- For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but
the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith
in those who heard.
- Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press
on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works
and of faith toward God,
-so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith
and patience inherit the promises.
- let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having
our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed
with pure water.
- BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL
HAS NO PLEASURE IN
- But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those
who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
- Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things
- By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of
God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
- By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which
he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his
gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.
- By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT
FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his
being taken up he was pleasing to God.
- And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God
must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence
prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned
the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to
- By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which
he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he
- By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign
land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same
- By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the
proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.
- All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen
them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that
they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
- By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had
received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
- By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.
- By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and
worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
- By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons
of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
- By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his
parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid
of the king's edict.
- By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of
- By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured,
as seeing Him who is unseen.
- By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that
he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.
-By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing
through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
- By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for
- By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were
disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
-who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained
promises, shut the mouths of lions,
- And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive
what was promised,
- fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the
joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down
at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and
considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
DID NOT RECEIVE WHAT WAS PROMISED:
ouk ekomisanto (3PAMI) ten epaggelian:
It lay in the future to them far
more than it does to us, for Christ has now come, and we look hack to
that glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, but they had
altogether to look forward.
They did not live to see Christ
come. They expected Him; but, before the time when (the writer of
Hebrews) was writing,— before the actual coming
of Christ, they had all passed away: “These all, having
obtained s good report through faith, received not the promise:”
Christ did not come in their day;
the hour for the fulfillment of the great promise had not then struck.
True faith has the courage to
count on salvation. These faithful saints had to live in hope. They
knew very little about the nature or the time or the means of God’s
salvation. But they knew it was coming, and this was the basis of
their trust. They had abiding confidence that one day God would do the
necessary thing to redeem them and reward them. What happened to them
before that time was not consequential. They did not receive what was
promised but they had gained approval through their faith. Their faith
was not in some immediate fulfillment, but in the ultimate fulfillment
of the promises. Here is where faith is most tested and where it most
The ultimate promise was of a
redeemer, the Messiah, and of His covenant that would bring
righteousness before God. “As to this salvation, the prophets who
prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and
inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ
within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ
and the glories to follow” (1 Pet. 1:10-11). All these, from Enoch
through the prophets, had that courageous faith which counts, without
reservation, on final salvation.
Many of them never received the
land. Sometimes they had earthly victory; sometimes they did not.
Sometimes their faith saved them from death; sometimes it brought them
death. No matter. They knew that God had provided something better.
Steven Cole -
Faith's Reward (Pastor
Cole's sermons are highly recommended
Sermons by Book)
The last two verses of the chapter
show us that…
3. God will bless all who trust Him with eternal rewards (He 11:39,
“All these” refers to both groups. They all gained approval (or “a
testimony”) through their faith, yet none received “the promise”
(literal translation). Abraham received the promise of Isaac (He
11:17). Others “obtained promises” by faith (He 11:33). But none
received the promise, which refers to Christ. They saw Him from afar
in types and shadows, but we see Him clearly revealed in the New
Testament. Most of them were under the old covenant, but God “provided
something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made
perfect.” That something better is the new covenant in Christ’s blood.
The old covenant with its sacrifices could not make the worshipers
perfect (He 10:1). But the new covenant has sanctified us “through the
offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (He 10:10). The Old
Testament saints were saved, but their salvation was not complete
until the cross. Ours is complete because Jesus is the perfect
The author’s point is that if the Old Testament saints were faithful
through all of these trials, even though they didn’t receive the
promise of Christ in the flesh, how much more should we be faithful,
since we have Christ! John Calvin (Calvin's Commentaries [Baker], p.
308) put it, “A small spark of light led them to heaven; when the sun
of righteousness shines over us, with what pretence can we excuse
ourselves if we still cleave to the earth?”
Any yet, although we have the promise of Christ, we do not yet have
the full experience of the glory that is to be revealed with Him in
heaven. And so we must, like the Old Testament saints, live by faith
in God’s promise as we await the final consummation when Jesus
returns. We must endure whatever trials come, even persecution, by
fixing our eyes on Jesus (He 12:1, 2, 3).
Let me sum up this section with four applications. I cannot expand on
these, but I encourage you to think about how they apply more
extensively to your life:
(1) Faith is ready to sacrifice present comfort for future reward with
Christ. Faith recognizes that this life is very short in
comparison with eternity. With Paul, faith recognizes that “momentary,
light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far
beyond all comparison” (2Co 4:17). In Paul’s case, this “light
affliction” included beatings, imprisonments, being stoned,
shipwrecked, and often being in danger of death (2Co 11:23, 24, 25,
26, 27)! When you experience “light affliction,” do you grumble or do
you joyfully trust God?
(2) Faith lives with a God-ward focus, not with a focus on people
or things. The saints mentioned in our text could endure mockings,
scourgings, imprisonments, and death because their focus was on God,
not on other people or things. They were looking to eternity, not to
this vapor of life here. Calvin put it this way, “we ought to live
only so as to live to God: as soon as we are not permitted to live to
God, we ought willingly and not reluctantly to meet death” (ibid., p.
(3) Faith trusts and obeys God, leaving the results to His
sovereignty. Some trust and obey God and He grants spectacular
results. Others trust and obey the same mighty God and He enables them
to endure horrific trials in His strength. The difference is not in
the people or in their faith, but in God’s sovereign purpose in each
situation. We know the same God that these Old Testament saints knew,
and we have even more, in that we know Christ personally. So we should
trust Him as they did, whether He chooses to put us to death, as He
did with the apostle James, or to deliver us from death for a while,
as He did with Peter.
(4) Faithfulness to Jesus Christ counts more than anything else,
even than life itself. As Martin Luther put it (“A Mighty
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.
Trust God in whatever difficult
situations you face. One day soon you will hear, “Well done, good and
faithful slave…. Enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 24:21)
Where is the balance between accepting our shortcomings and yet
striving by faith to overcome them?
Why is faith not opposed to preparation, planning, and hard work? How
can we know whether the power is from God or from our planning and
Why is it wrong to judge whether we have God’s blessing by the visible
results? How can we know if we have His blessing?
What are some reasons that God does not always deliver those who trust
in Him? (Faith's
Reward (Pastor Cole's sermons are highly recommended
Sermons by Book))
better for us,
apart from us
they would not be
Amplified: Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in
view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should
not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us
should not be made perfect.
NLT: For God had far better things in mind for us that would also
benefit them, for they can't receive the prize at the end of the race
until we finish the race. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: God had
something better planned for our day, and it was not his plan that
they should reach perfection without us. (Phillips:
Wuest: God having provided some better thing for us,
in order that they without us should not be brought to completeness. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: God for us something better having provided, that apart from us
they might not be made perfect.
BECAUSE GOD HAD PROVIDED SOMETHING BETTER FOR US:
tou theou peri hemon kreitton ti problepsamenou: (He 7:19,22;
8:6; 9:23; 12:24)
The something better
for us - This denotes the reality we as NT believers have found in Christ, which the
men and women of faith in the OT would attain only after their earthly
life ended. We are already recipients of the blessings of the new
covenant in His blood (See
Covenant: Why the New is Better). They would not fully know these
blessings until the resurrection of
Christ, the firstfruits Who at apparently at the time between His
death on the Cross and His resurrection set free a host of captives of
OT saints from Abraham's bosom so that they are now present with Him
in heaven, awaiting the establishment of His kingdom for His 1000 year
reign at the beginning of which they will receive their resurrected
bodies (as best I can tell...not much Scripture on this so be careful
not to be too dogmatic).
How great is our advantage!
Right now, we live in the so much better New Covenant. We now have a
high priest who has offered a perfect sacrifice for our sins once and
for all. Our Savior/Priest sits at the right hand of the Father and
prays for us. We have a better hope!
The hope of being made perfect
includes the hope of physical resurrection, as many Scriptures
declare. In the future “first resurrection” (see the concept of
The Two Resurrections
- "First" and "Second" - on a timeline)
believers of both old and new covenants will participate and in this
way together with us they will be made perfect.
Calvin caught the thrust of this chapter:
“If those on whom the great light of grace had not yet shone showed
such surpassing constancy in bearing their ills, what effect ought the
full glory of the gospel to have on us? A tiny spark of light led them
to heaven, but now that the Sun of righteousness shines on us what
excuse shall we offer if we still cling to the earth?”
Our motivation and inspiration
is fuller than theirs, for we have Jesus himself to sustain us. It is
to that powerful support that the author now turns his reader’s
explains this passage as follows...
firstly, the Hebrew believers whom
the writer was addressing, whilst they had to walk by faith as Old
Testament believers had, yet had greater privileges than they. God had
reserved some better thing for the times of the rejected Messiah.
Heavenly things have become the possession of believers now through
their union with Christ and access into the Holiest by His blood. Our
citizenship is in heaven. That was not the case with saints of old.
But, secondly, whilst none are yet “made perfect,” they and we are to
be glorified together in resurrection power and conformity to Christ’s
body of glory, and thus we shall all be perfected, as the Lord prayed
in John 17:23. Christ has Himself been made perfect in this day (Heb.
5:9 and He 7:28. r.v., “perfected for evermore”).
APART FROM US THEY SHOULD NOT BE MADE PERFECT: hina me choris hemon
teleiothosin (Teleioo: 3PAPS):
(He 9:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15; 10:11, 12, 13, 14; Ro
3:25, 26) (He 5:9; 12:23; Revelation 6:11)
Apart from us
- And so in some way, the writer says that his believing readers and
himself (and by implication we who live some 2000 years later) are
part of the completion of this chapter on the "Hall of Faith".
Who are "they"?
All of the great heroes of Hebrews 11. This is amazing statement
regarding amazing grace that we should be accounted in their number as
we exercise faith!
are waiting up yonder for us; the choirs of heaven cannot be completed
without you -and me. Heaven’s full complement, the perfect number of
the divine family of love, can never be made up till we who have
believed go up yonder to join all those who have had like precious
faith. By God’s grace, we shall all be there that they with us may be
There is a something for us, whose
lot is cast in these latter days, to bring, which shall complete the
circle and choir of the Church of Christ, for they without us could
not be made perfect. The Lord grant us grace to be ready for our share
in that glorious consummation, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
The new dispensation is necessary
to complete the old, the New Testament is the complement of the Old
Testament, and New Testament saints join hands with Old Testament
elders. Let us all be worthy of our high pedigree; and may God grant
that, if the saints of these latter days are to perfect the history of
the Church of Christ, the end may not be less heroic than the
beginning was! A true poem should gather force as it grows, and its
waves of thought should roll in with greater power as it nears its
climax; so should the mighty poem of faith’s glorious history increase
in depth and power as it gets nearer to its grand consummation, that
God may be glorified yet more and more, through all his believing
children. So may it be! Amen.
Is it not wonderful that we, who
bring up the rear of the army of faith, are necessary to its
completeness? It cannot be perfect without us. Ay, heaven itself will
not be complete without us who are on the road to it. There would be
empty seats in the holy orchestra, gaps in the sacred circle; so we
who believe must all come there to make them perfect. God help us to
hasten on our road, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.
(teleioo related to
teleios from telos = an end, a
purpose, an aim, a goal, consummate soundness, idea of being whole) means to
accomplish or bring to an end or to the intended goal (telos). It means to
be complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end,
finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness or in good working
order. It does not mean simply to terminate something but to carry it out to
the full finish which is picked up in the translation "perfected". Teleioo signifies the attainment of consummate soundness
and includes the idea of being made whole. Interestingly the Gnostics used
teleios of one fully initiated into their mysteries and that may
have been why Paul used teleios in this epistle.
Hebrews 12:2 (see note)
Jesus is designated as "the author and perfecter of faith" where perfecter
is teleiotes, the Completer, the One Who reached the goal so as to win the
prize so to speak.
this note on the NT word group (telos, teleioo, teleios, teleiosis,
Teleios the adjective, and
teleioo the verb. The adjective is used in the papyri, of heirs being
of age, of women who have attained maturity, of full-grown cocks, of
acacia trees in good condition, of a complete lampstand, of something in
good working order or condition. To summarize; the meaning of the
adjective includes the ideas of full-growth, maturity, workability,
soundness, and completeness. The verb refers to the act of bringing the
person or thing to any one of the aforementioned conditions. When applied
to a Christian, the word refers to one that is spiritually mature,
complete, well-rounded in his Christian character.
Richards commenting on the
word group (telos, teleioo, teleios, teleiosis, teleiotes) writes that
These words emphasize wholeness and
completeness. In the biological sense they mean "mature," or "full grown":
the person, animal, or plant achieved the potential inherent in its
nature. The perfect is the thing or person that is complete, in which
nothing that belongs to its essence has been left out. It is perfect
because every potential it possesses has been realized. (Richards,
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Telioo is used 19 times
of 24 total NT uses in Hebrews, often in the sense of to make perfect or
fully cleanse from sin in contrast to ceremonial (Levitical) cleansing. The writer
is emphasizing the importance of perfection...
(which should cause any Jew who is contemplating the worth of Christ and the
New Covenant to realize his utter hopelessness to every attain perfection
under the Old Covenant).
(note) For it was fitting
for Him, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, in
bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation
through sufferings (What sufferings? Certainly one would consider His temptation by Satan in the
barren wilderness [see Mt 4:1-11, Lu 4:1ff, Mk 1:12, 13] and Gethsemane
[Mt 26:36,44, Lu 22:39,44][in agony He was praying very fervently]).
(Comment: This does not imply any moral imperfection in the Lord
Jesus, but speaks of the consummation of the human experience of suffering
the death of the Cross, through which He must pass if He is to become the
Author or Captain of our salvation.)
Hebrews 5:9 (note) And having
been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the
source of eternal salvation,
(note) (for the Law
nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a
better hope, through which we draw near to God. (Comment:
This means to carry through completely, to make complete, to finish, bring
to an end. The old covenant could bring nothing to conclusion. The Mosaic
economy could reveal sin but it could never remove sin, and so it
had to be removed. It gave no security.
It gave no peace. A man never had a clean conscience.)
For the Law appoints men as
high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the
Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
(note) which is a symbol for
the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which
cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,
(note) For the Law, since it
has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of
things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer
continually, make perfect those who draw near. (Contrast with
Jesus in Hebrews 5:9 above. The idea in Hebrews 10:1 is that the
ceremonial law could not actually save the believer. Its work was always
short of completeness.)
(note) For by one
offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
(Comment: Wuest writes "Here, the completeness of the state of
salvation of the believer is in view. Everything essential to the salvation
of the individual is included in the gift of salvation which the sinner
receives by faith in Messiah’s sacrifice. The words “for ever” here are to
be construed with “perfected.” It is a permanent state of completeness in
salvation to which reference is made. The words “them that are sanctified”
are descriptive of the believer. He is one set apart for God) (ibid)
(note) because God had
provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be
Hebrews 12:23 (note) (But you have
come...) 23 to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are
enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of
righteous men made perfect,
In sum the fundamental idea of telioo is the bringing of a person or
thing to the goal fixed by God.
It is interesting and doubtless no
mere coincidence that in the
teleioo is translated numerous times as consecrated or
consecration, especially speaking of consecration of the priests (cf Jesus
our "great High Priest") (Ex 29:9, 29, 33, 35 Lv 4:5;
8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Nu 3:3). The LXX translators gave the verb teleioo a special sense of consecration to
priestly service and this official concept stands behind the writer's use in
this passage in
Hebrews 5:9 (note).
It signifies that Jesus has been fully equipped to come before God in
God has provided this something
better for us, that is for those under the New Covenant, which is why
apart from us they should not be made perfect. That is, not until our
time, the time of Christianity, could their salvation be completed,
made perfect. Until Jesus’ atoning work on the cross was accomplished,
no salvation was complete, no matter how great the faith a believer
may have had. Their salvation was based on what Christ would do; ours
is based on what Christ has done. Their faith looked forward to
promise; ours looks back to historical fact.
Yet, though their salvation was
not completed in their lifetimes, these were not second-rate
believers. They were believers of the highest order. They courageously
struggled, suffered, and counted on salvation. They believed all of
God’s Word that they had, which is what counts with Him. How much less
faith do we often have, in spite of our much greater light. “Blessed
are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29).
This is survival truth! We must
not succumb to the delusion that gentle rain and sunshine will
continue to fall on the church in America as the culture sinks further
Constable notes that...
Their perfection refers to
their entering into their final rest (inheritance) and rests, as ours
does, on the sacrificial death of Christ (cf. He 9:15).
F B Meyer...
THIS chapter proves that the saints
of all ages are essentially one. There is a link which unites them; a
thrill which passes from hand to hand around the circle. One theme for
many voices; one attitude for many faces; one inspiration for many
hearts. The saints that lived before the Advent and those that have
lived since are one in their faith in the living God, making the
unseen visible, the distant near, and seeing the eternal through the
transient and ephemeral.
And now heaven waits. Its joys are
not complete; its rapture not full. The blessed are blessed; but there
is yet a margin between what they are and what they will be--between
what they enjoy, and what they may enjoy. The choir is not full, and
the anthem cannot be fully rendered till our voices blend in it. There
is a pause, a halt, an expectancy, an incompleteness, till we come.
Your dear ones want you to be there. They have not gone far into the
heart of God's bliss, but are lingering near the gate till you have
From Switzerland your friends write
you to say it is perfectly beautiful, but "it will be better when you
join us; we are reserving the best excursions till you arrive; we are
incomplete without you; make haste." It is thus that the blessed await
us. The spirit of Heaven is well represented by the courtesy of the
old prophet, who would not sit down to meat with Jesse and his sons,
till David, the youngest, had come thither also. And when the whole
family is gathered, there will be a perfecting indeed, from which no
element shall be wanting.
Oh rapture of eternal joy! We
stretch out our hands in yearning desire, and doing so touch other
hands reached toward ours! (F. B. Meyer. Our Daily Homily)
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