Hebrews 11:40
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
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(40) For us.—Rather, concerning us, that without (or, apart from) us they should not be made perfect. “Some better thing”—better than they had received (Matthew 13:17; 1Peter 1:10-11). The design of God was that they and we may be perfected together; first in the joint reception of mature knowledge and privilege through the High-priestly work of the Lord Jesus (comp. Ephesians 3:10; 1Peter 1:12); and then that we with them may, when the end shall come, “have our perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul, in the eternal and everlasting glory of God.” See further the Note on Hebrews 12:23.

Hebrews 11:40. God having provided some better thing for us — Believers under the gospel, than any bestowed upon them, which better thing is Christ himself manifest in the flesh, with the various privileges and blessings of the gospel dispensation, far exceeding those of the two dispensations that preceded it. For, as the divine last quoted further observes, “It ought to be put out of question with all Christians, that it is the actual exhibition of the Son of God in the flesh, the coming of the promised seed, with his accomplishment of the work of redemption, and all the privileges of the church, in light, grace, liberty, spiritual worship, with the boldness of access to God that ensued thereon, which is intended. For were not these the things which they received not under the Old Testament? Were not these the things which were promised from the beginning; which were expected, longed for, and desired by all believers of old, who yet saw them only afar off, though through faith they were saved by virtue of them? And are not these the things whereby the church state of the gospel was perfected; the things alone wherein our state is better than theirs? For, as to outward appearances of things, they had more glory, costly ceremonies, and splendour in their worship, than is appointed in the Christian Church; and their worldly prosperity was, for a long season, very great, much exceeding any thing that the Christian Church enjoyed in the apostle’s days. To deny, therefore, these to be the better things that God provided for us, is to overthrow the faith of the Old Testament and the New.” That they without us should not be made perfect — The expression without us, is the same as without the things which are actually exhibited to us, the things provided for us, and our participation of them. They and we, that is, the believers under the old dispensations, and those under the new, though distributed by divine appointment into distinct states, yet, with respect to the first promise, and the renewal of it to Abraham, are but one church, built on the same foundation, and enlivened by the same Spirit of grace. Wherefore until we, that is, Christian believers, with our privileges and blessings, were added to the church, it could not be said to be made perfect, or to have attained that perfect state which God had designed and prepared for it in the fulness of times, and which the believers in those ages foresaw should be granted to others, but not to themselves. See 1 Peter 1:11-13. “I cannot but marvel,” says Dr. Owen, “that so many have stumbled in the exposition of these words, and involved themselves in difficulties of their own devising; for they are a plain epitome of the whole doctrinal part of the epistle; so as that no intelligent judicious person can avoid the sense which the words tender, unless he divert his mind from the whole scope and design of the apostle.” 11:39,40 The world considers that the righteous are not worthy to live in the world, and God declares the world is not worthy of them. Though the righteous and the worldlings widely differ in their judgment, they agree in this, it is not fit that good men should have their rest in this world. Therefore God receives them out of it. The apostle tells the Hebrews, that God had provided some better things for them, therefore they might be sure that he expected as good things from them. As our advantages, with the better things God has provided for us, are so much beyond theirs, so should our obedience of faith, patience of hope, and labour of love, be greater. And unless we get true faith as these believers had, they will rise up to condemn us at the last day. Let us then pray continually for the increase of our faith, that we may follow these bright examples, and be, with them, at length made perfect in holiness and happiness, and shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father for evermore.God having provided some better thing for us - Margin, "foreseen." That is, "God having provided, or determined on giving some better thing than any of them realized, and which we are now permitted to enjoy." That is, God gave them promises; but they were not allowed to see their fulfillment. We are permitted now to see what they referred to, and in part, at least, to witness their completion; and though the promise was made to them, the fulfillment more particularly pertains to us.

That they without us should not be made perfect - That is, complete. The whole system of revelation was not complete at once, or in one generation. It required successive ages to make the system complete, so that it might be said that it was finished, or perfect. Our existence, therefore, and the developments in our times, were as necessary to the perfection of the system, as the promise made to the patriarchs. And as the system would not have been complete if the blessings had been simply conferred on us without the previous arrangements, and the long scheme of introductory measures, so it would not have been complete if the promises had been merely given to them without the corresponding fulfillment in our times. They are like the two parts of a tally. The fathers had one part in the promises, and we the other in the fulfullment, and neither would have been complete without the other. The "better things" then referred to here as possessed by Christians, are the privilege of seeing those promises fulfilled in the Messiah; the blessings resulting from the atonement; the more expanded views which they have under the gospel; the brighter hopes of heaven itself, and the clearer apprehension of what heaven will be, which they are permitted to enjoy. This, therefore, accords entirely with the argument which the apostle is pursuing - which is, to show that the Christians whom he addressed should not apostatize from their religion. The argument is, that in numerous instances, as specified, the saints of ancient times, even under fiery trials, were sustained by faith in God, and that too when they had not seen the fulfillment of the promises, and when they had much more obscure views than we are permitted to enjoy. If they, under the influence of the mere promise of future blessings, were enabled thus to persevere, how much more reason is there for us to persevere who have been permitted, by the coming of the Messiah, to wittess the perfection of the system!

There is no part of the New Testament of more value than this chapter; none which deserves to be more patiently studied, or which may be more frequently applied to the circumstances of Christians. These invaluable records are adapted to sustain us in times of trial, temptation, and persecution; to show us what faith has done in days that are past, and what it may do still in similar circumstances. Nothing can better show the value and the power of faith, or of true religion, than the records in this chapter. It has done what nothing else could do. It has enabled people to endure what nothing else would enable them to bear, and it has shown its power in inducing them to give up, at the command of God, what the human heart holds most dear. And among the lessons which we may derive from the study of this portion of divine truth, let us learn from the example of Abel to continue to offer to God the sacrifice of true piety which he requires, though we may be taunted or opposed by our nearest kindred; from that of Enoch to walk with God, though surrounded by a wicked world, and to look to the blessed translation to heaven which awaits all the righteous; from that of Noah to comply with all the directions of God, and to make all needful preparations for the future events which he has predicted, in which we are to be interested - as death, judgment, and eternity - though the events may seem to be remote, and though there may be no visible indications of their coming, and though the world may deride our faith and our fears; from that of Abraham to leave country, and home, and kindred, if God calls us to, and to go just where he commands, through deserts and wilds, and among strange people, and like him also to be ready to give up the dearest objects of our earthly affection, even when attended with all that can try or torture our feelings of affection - feeling that God who gave has a right to require their removal in his own way, and that however much we may fix our hopes on a dear child, he can fulfil all his purposes and promises to us though such a child should be removed by death; from that of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to regard ourselves as strangers and pilgrims on earth, having here no permanent home. and seeking a better country; from that of Moses to be willing to leave all the pomp and splendour of the world, all our brilliant prospects and hopes, and to welcome poverty, reproach, and suffering, that we may identify ourselves with the people of God; by the remembrance of the host of worthies who met danger, and encountered mighty foes, aud vanquished them, let us learn to go forth in our spiritual conflicts against the enemies of our souls and of the church, assured of victory; and from the example of those who were driven from the abodes of human beings, and exposed to the storms of persecution, let us learn to bear every trial, and to be ready at any moment to lay down our lives in the cause of truth and of God. Of all those holy men who made these sacrifices, which of them ever regretted it, when he came calmly to look over his life, and to review it on the borders of the eternal world?

None. Not one of them ever expressed regret that he had given up the world; or that he had obeyed the Lord too early, too faithfully, or too long. Not Abraham who left his country and kindred; not Moses who abandoned his brilliant prospects in Egypt; not Noah who subjected himself to ridicule and scorn for an hundred and twenty years; and not one of those who were exposed to lions, to fire, to the edge of the sword, or who were driven away from society as outcasts to wander in pathless deserts or to take up their abodes in caverns, ever regretted the course which they had chosen. And who of them all now regrets it? Who, of these worthies, now looks from heaven and feels that he suffered one privation too much, or that he has not had an ample recompense for all the ills he experienced in the cause of religion? So we shall feel when from the bed of death we look over the present life, and look out on eternity.

Whatever our religion may have cost us, we shall not feel that we began to serve God too early, or served him too faithfully. Whatever pleasure, gain, or splendid prospects we gave up in order to become Christians, we shall feel that it was the way of wisdom, and shall rejoice that we were able to do it. Whatever sacrifices, trials, persecution, and pain, we may meet with, we shall feel that there has been more than a compensation in the consolations of religion, and in the hope of heaven, and that by every sacrifice we have been the gainers. When we reach heaven, we shall see that we have not endured one pain too much, and that through whatever trials we may have passed, the result is worth all which it has cost. Strengthened then in our trials by the remembrance of what faith has done in times that are past; recalling the example of those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises, let us go cheerfully on our way. Soon the journey of trials will be ended, and soon what are now objects of faith will become objects of fruition, and in their enjoyment, how trifling and brief will seem all the sorrows of our pilgrimage below!

40. provided—with divine forethought from eternity (compare Ge 22:8, 14).

some better thing for us—(Heb 7:19); 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 these verses (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 Heb 12:2, "perfecter (Greek) of our faith." Now that Christ is come, they in soul share our blessedness, being "the spirits of the just made perfect" (Heb 12:23); so Alford; however, see on [2593]Heb 12:23. Heb 9:12 shows that the blood of Christ, brought into the heavenly holy place by Him, first opened an entrance into heaven (compare Joh 3:13). Still, the fathers were in blessedness by faith in the Saviour to come, at death (Heb 6:15; Lu 16:22).

God having provided some better thing for us: the causes of their not receiving the promise, are summed up in this verse; the efficient of it is God’s providence unto believers before and after the incarnation of the Messiah. God having from eternity foreknowledge of those who would believe in God the Son incarnate, Romans 8:29, predestinated them to be called to the faith in him, and provided better for New Testament believers than for the Old ones, that what they had of Christ in types and veils, these should have in truth; what they had in promise, these should have in sight and possession; what they had in hope, as to his first coming, these should have it past, and as an earnest of his second coming; what they had by measure of his Spirit and grace, these should have in fulness, Luke 10:23,24 Joh 1:14,16 7:39 2 Corinthians 3:8 Ephesians 3:8-11 Titus 2:13 1 Peter 1:12.

That they without us should not be made perfect; the final cause of this gracious providence was, that the former aud later believers might be completed together; they shall not reach that perfect state of grace and glory by a re-union of their bodies and souls until the general resurrection, when they shall not prevent us, nor we them; but as soon as the trumpet alarms the dead to rise, in the same moment, and twinkling of an eye, shall the living be changed, and all be caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall be ever with the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. The ground of which perfection of all believers in all ages being in the last time, is from his choosing them all to be but one body of Christ, and him their Head; so as one member cannot be perfected but in the perfection of the whole, Matthew 8:11 Ephesians 4:4. In which perfection of it, God is resolved to be all in all; not in one, or in some, but when Christ hath subdued all his enemies, and gathered all his members, then shall his body and kingdom be perfected, and God be all in all, 1 Corinthians 15:28. God having provided some better thing for us,.... Not a better state of the church, in such respect, as to be free from suffering reproach and persecutions; for this is the case of saints under the New Testament as under the Old; nor the felicity of the soul after death; nor any greater degree of happiness in the other world; nor the perfection of blessedness in soul and body; things common to all believers; but Christ, as now exhibited in the flesh: Jesus Christ was the same in the yesterday of the Old Testament, as he is in the present day of the Gospel dispensation; he was slain from the foundation of the world; and the saints then were saved as now, by his grace and righteousness: only with this difference between them and us; they had Christ in the promise, we have him himself that was promised; they had him in type and shadow, we have him in reality and truth; they believed in, and were saved by Christ, who was to come; we believe in him, and are saved by him, as being come. Hence our case is, with respect to these circumstances, better than theirs; we have a better covenant, or a better administration of the covenant of grace; we have a better priesthood, and a better sacrifice; the Gospel is dispensed in a better manner, more dearly and fully: our condition is better than theirs; they were as children under tutors and governors, and were under a spirit of bondage; but we are redeemed from under the law, and are clear of its burdensome rites, as well as of its curse and condemnation; and have the spirit of liberty and adoption. And this God has provided for us in his council and covenant: for this denotes God's determination, designation, and appointment of Christ, to be the propitiatory sacrifice for sin; and has respect to the nature and circumstances of his death, which were fixed in the purposes of God; as well as the time of his coming into the world, and the season of his death; and in all this God has shown his great goodness, his amazing love, and the riches of his grace: and his end herein is,

that they without us should not be made perfect; the Old Testament saints are perfectly justified, perfectly sanctified, and perfectly glorified; but their perfection was not by the law, which made nothing perfect, but by Christ, and through his sacrifice, blood, and righteousness; and so were not made perfect without us; since their sins and ours are expiated together by the same sacrifice; their persons and ours justified together by the same righteousness; they and we make up but one church, and general assembly; and as yet all the elect of God among the Jews are not called, and so are not perfect in themselves, or without us. Jews and Gentiles will incorporate together in the latter day; and besides, they and we shall be glorified together, in soul and body, to all eternity.

God having provided some better thing for us, that they {z} without us should not be made perfect.

(z) For their salvation depended on Christ, who was exhibited in our days.

Hebrews 11:40. The ground for the οὐκ ἐκομίσαντο τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν lay in the decree of God, that those believers should not apart from us attain to the consummation.

τοῦ θεοῦ περὶ ἡμῶν κρεῖττόν τι προβλεψαμένον] God having, with regard to us, foreseen (predetermined) something better.

προβλέπειν] in the N. T. only here.

On account of the emphatically preposed περὶ ἡμῶν, which forms the contrast to οὗτοι πάντες, Hebrews 11:39, κρεῖττόν τι cannot be placed absolutely: “Something better than would otherwise have been our portion” (Schlichting, Seb. Schmidt, Huët). With this thought, moreover, ἵνα μὴ χωρὶς ἡμῶν τελειωθῶσιν would not have been in keeping, since, instead thereof, ἵνα σὺν αὐτοῖς τελειωθῶμεν must have been written. The sense can only be: in regard to us something better than in regard to them. In regard to us something better, inasmuch as when they lived the appearing of the Redeemer as yet belonged to the distant future, and was an object of longing desire (Matthew 13:16 f.; Luke 10:23 f.); but now Christ has in reality appeared, has accomplished the redemption, and presently after a brief interval will return, to bring to full realization the Messianic kingdom with all its blessings of salvation. Comp. Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 10:36 f.

ἵνα μὴ χωρὶς ἡμῶν τελειωθῶσιν] Declaration of the divine design: that they not without us should attain to the consummation. Without us, i.e. without our having entered into the joint participation in the consummation, they would have attained to the consummation, if Christ had already appeared in their time, and so they had already attained during their lifetime to the possession of the promised Messianic bliss. For then we should not have been born at all; since, according to the declaration of the Lord (Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35 f.), in the consummated kingdom of God a marrying and being given in marriage will no longer take place.40. God having provided some better thing for us] Lit., “Since God provided” (or “foresaw”) “some better thing concerning us.” In one sense Abraham, and therefore other patriarchs “rejoiced to see Christ’s day,” and yet they did but see it in such dim shadow that “many prophets and kings desired to see what ye see, and saw not, and hear the things which ye hear, and did not hear them” (Matthew 13:17), though all their earnest seekings and searchings tended in this direction (1 Peter 1:10-11).

that they without us should not be made perfect] “Not unto themselves but unto us they did minister” (1 Peter 1:12). Since in their days “the fulness of the times” had not yet come (Ephesians 1:10) the saints could not be brought to their completion—the end and consummation of their privileges—apart from us. The “just” had not been, and could not be, “perfected” (Hebrews 12:23) until Christ had died (Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 8:6). The implied thought is that if Christ had come in their days—if the “close of the ages” had fallen in the times of the Patriarchs or Prophets—the world would long ago have ended, and we should never have been born. Our present privileges are, as he has been proving all through the Epistle, incomparably better than those of the fathers. It was necessary in the economy of God that their “perfectionment” should be delayed until ours could be accomplished; in the future world we and they shall equally enjoy the benefits of Christ’s redemption.Hebrews 11:40. Κρεῖττόν τι, some better thing) This better thing is the clearer revelation of the promised salvation; its confirmation on higher testimony; a nearer expectation, by Christ having been exhibited to us; and at last salvation itself and glory.—προβλεψαμένου, having provided) A word of exquisite meaning. GOD provides (foresees) what faith does not yet see; Genesis 22:8; Genesis 22:14; John 6:6. From this provision (foresight) flowed the whole economy of ages, and the testimony of GOD to the men of old.—χωρὶς ἡμῶν, without us) Meiosis: not only not without us were they perfected, but they are rather perfected with us, than we with them. He does not say, that we not without them, but that they not without us. We should carefully hold this fast; for not merely is our being gathered to them intimated, but our condition superior to theirs, who were waiting for His appearance.Having provided (προβλεψαμένου)


For us (περὶ ἡμῶν)

The better thing is for us. It was not for them: they lived in the assurance of a future time better than their own, and in this assurance of faith, did their work and bore their burden in their own time. It is one of the achievements of faith to be cheerfully willing to be only a stage to some better thing which we cannot share.

That they without us should not be made perfect (ἵνα μὴ χωρὶς ἡμῶν τελειωθῶσιν)

Each successive stage of history gathers up into itself the fruit of preceding stages. This passage teaches the solidarity of humanity in its work as well as in itself. The man of the present requires the work and suffering and achievement of the men of the past to complete him and his work. The future men will, in like manner, require the work and suffering and achievement of the men of today to complete them. The whole creation, in all its successive aeons, moves together toward

"The one far-off, divine event."

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