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Hebrews 11:32-34 meaning

The Pauline Author recognizes that he cannot acknowledge all of the faithful believers, but he names some of the incredible trials they endured for their faithfulness.

In the previous sections, the Pauline Author recounted stories of the early believers from Adam and Eve through Moses. All of the believers who had great faith in God between Joshua and Christ are too many to count and tell of. He then writes, And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets (v 32). The Pauline Author lists a few specific people and the great acts their faith led to and then gives many examples of trials suffered by those who had faith. Those who have faith must be prepared to suffer in this life.

The Pauline Author continues his chronological march through the history of Israel. He lists several judges: Gideon (Judges 6-7), who by faith in God scattered the Midianite host with only 300 men blowing trumpets;  Barak, who by faith ended the tyranny of a powerful Canaanite king who oppressed the Israelites for 20 years (Judges 4); Samson, who did many mighty things by the Lord's power, one of which was to slay 1000 Philistines with only a donkey's jawbone as his weapon (Judges 14-16); Jephthah, whose forces tore through twenty cities of the Ammonites (Judges 11). The Author also mentions King David (2 Samuel 5) and Samuel the prophet (1 Samuel 3) as examples of faith.  

He alludes to many might acts of deliverance, perhaps including the time of the Babylonian captivity, where Daniel exhibited great faith when God shut the mouths of lions (Daniel 6) and quenched the power of fire for Daniel's three friends (Daniel 3). These believers by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight (vv 33-34). All of these believers were only able to do incredible things because of their faith in God.

He also recounts the many great victories experienced because of faith. The Pauline Author makes clear that in many cases people of faith who were willing to trust God saw deliverance and reward in this life. They did not always have to wait until the next life. 

However, there is no guarantee that things will turn out like we hope in this world, as the next section will make clear. It is why the Author wrote in Chapter 6 that we should be "imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:12). A life of faithful obedience will certainly require patience through suffering, just as Jesus received "glory and honor because of the suffering of death" (Hebrews 2:9). All things will work together for good for those who love God and live faithfully, but as in the case of Jesus and many others, that reward comes in the next life (Romans 8:28, Hebrews 11:1-2). That is the end-goal of our faith, to share in Jesus's glory (Hebrews 2:10). 

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