Add a bookmarkAdd and edit notesShare this commentary

Hebrews 11:35-38 meaning

God does not always deliver believers in this life, sometimes believers suffer terrible things in this life and do not see their reward or deliverance until the next life.

Here the Pauline Author, in listing the faithful believers in the Old Testament, makes mention of women receiving back their dead by resurrection, which is likely referring to two events in the Old Testament: Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment (vv 35-36). 

In both cases, women suddenly lost their only sons, and they were brought back to life by a prophet (1 Kings 17, 2 Kings 4). In this instance, great loss was recovered when the dead were raised. However, those folks had to die again. 

Although there are sometimes great rewards in this life, as has been recounted so far, the greatest of rewards come later, after this life. The Pauline Author now lists instances where those of faith endured great suffering, and only had a reward in the next life. Some were tortured and killed. They were not delivered, and did not get resurrected in this life, like the two Old Testament stories. Their resurrection is much better because it will be permanent.

The various kinds of pain and suffering named here are difficult to imagine: They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground (vv 37-38). 

It is difficult to imagine enduring that kind of hardship while believing that you are waiting for something greater. As we read earlier in this chapter, 

"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."
(Hebrews 11:13)

These all had faith that there is a greater promise, a greater reward if only we will endure for Christ. They were looking forward to a greater resurrection, not just delivery from suffering or resuscitation, but the knowledge that they will be resurrected to live with Christ and receive a reward. The world is not worthy of men who suffer with such faith, for their true home is a heavenly city Christ is preparing, where they will enter God's rest.

Select Language
AaSelect font sizeDark ModeSet to dark mode
This website uses cookies to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalized content. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies as described in our Privacy Policy.