These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…
I. It is the glory of true faith, that it will not leave them in whom it is, THAT IT WILL NOT CEASE ITS ACTINGS FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND COMFORT IN THEIR DYING; when the hope of the hypocrite doth perish.
II. THE LIFE OF FAITH DOTH EMINENTLY MANIFEST ITSELF IN DEATH, WHEN ALL OTHER RELIEFS AND SUPPORTS DO FAIL.
III. THAT IS THE CROWNING ACT OF FAITH, THE GREAT TRIAL OF ITS VIGOUR AND WISDOM, NAMELY, IN WHAT IT BOTH IN OUR DYING.
IV. HENCE IT IS THAT MANY OF THE SAINTS, BOTH OF OLD AND OF LATE, HAVE EVIDENCED THE MOST TRIUMPHANT ACTINGS OF FAITH IN THE APPROACH OF DEATH.
V. The due understanding of the whole Old Testament, with the nature of the faith and obedience of all the saints under it, depends on this one truth, THAT THEY BELIEVED THINGS THAT WERE NOT YET ACTUALLY EXHIBITED NOR ENJOYED. This is the line of life and truth that runs through all their profession and duties; the whole exercise of their faith and love, without which it was but a dead carcase. It was Christ in the promise, even before His coming, that was the life of the Church in all ages.
VI. GOD WOULD HAVE THE CHURCH FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD TO LIVE ON PROMISES NOT ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED. For although we do enjoy the accomplishment of the great promise of the incarnation of the Son of God, yet the Church continues still to live on promises which, in this world, cannot be perfectly fulfilled.
VII. WE MAY RECEIVE THE PROMISES AS TO THE COMFORT AND BENEFIT OF THEM, WHEN WE DO NOT ACTUALLY RECEIVE THE THINGS PROMISED (ver. 1).
VIII. As OUR PRIVILEGES IN THE ENJOYMENT OF THE PROMISES ARE ABOVE THEIRS UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT, SO OUR FAITH, THANKFULNESS, AND OBEDIENCE, OUGHT TO EXCEL THEIRS ALSO.
IX. No DISTANCE OF TIME OR PLACE CAN WEAKEN FAITH AS UNTO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF DIVINE PROMISES. There are promises still left unto us upon record that are, it may be, afar off; such as those which concern the destruction of antichrist, and the glory of the kingdom of Christ in the latter days. The rule of faith concerning them is given us (Habakkuk 2:3, 4).
X. QUIET WAITING FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF PROMISES AT A GREAT DISTANCE, and which most probably will not be in our days, IS AN EMINENT FRUIT OF FAITH. He that believeth will not make haste.
XI. This firm persuasion of the truth of God in the accomplishment of His promises unto us, upon a discovery of their worth and excellency, is the SECOND ACT OF FAITH, WHEREIN THE LIFE OF IT DOTH PRINCIPALLY CONSIST.
(John Owen, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.