Famous for the great description of faith in verse 1 (“faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”), Hebrews 11 is (arguably most unfortunately) often called the “Hall of Faith” or the “Faith Hall of Fame.” Most of the accounts of people in this chapter are familiar to most people. Some of the references are not so clear, and some maybe not so familiar. Verse 33’s reference to those who “quenched the power of fire” is likely of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from Daniel 2:49-3:30. Verse 35’s women who “received back their dead by resurrection” is likely (among others) of Elijah raising the son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Elisha raising the son of a Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:18-37). Verse 37’s gruesome deaths may refer to the extra-biblical accounts of the deaths of Jeremiah and Isaiah.
But this chapter is not an account of extraordinary men and women with supreme faith. It is rather the story of ordinary men and women like you and me, who because of their faith in God, were blessed with the power and grace of His mighty hand. It is the story of their endurance and perseverance through all manner of evil against them and bitter times, and how that endurance saw them through it by their faith. It is the assurance that the recipients of this letter can persevere by their faith through the endurance the writer encouraged them to have in chapter 10. It is the assurance that we can do it as well. We have a better promise, through a better covenant, and if we are faithful, we will receive our reward – which will be the same perfect reward those mentioned in this chapter will ultimately receive (verses 39-40).
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com. For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.