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.
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 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).