STUDY Hebrews 11:35-40
(click here for notes)
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (NIV)
The author of Hebrews has just led his readers through a history of God's redemptive work among his people. Beginning at the beginning, the writer started his account by comparing Abel's offering with Cain's. He led us systematically through the development of Israel and brought us to the establishment of David's throne.
He ends this section with references to many faithful followers of God whom he does not name. Rather, he lists the struggles and persecutions they faced while still remaining faithful.
1. Who were some women who "received back their dead"? (see 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:8-37)
2. Who were some New Testament people who "received back their dead"? (see Matthew 9:18-26; Juke 7:11-15; John 11:1-44)
3. The inter-testament period recorded in the books of Maccabees, which the author of Hebrews and all Jews knew well, contained stories of Godly Jews withstanding unspeakable persecution under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. The were "tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection." (v. 35b) Legend also says Jeremiah was stoned to death, and Isaiah was sawn in two for refusing to participate in idolatry. For accounts of the Maccabean persecution, read 2 Maccabees 7 in the Apocrypha.
4. What are some New Testament examples of God's people being tortured or persecuted? (see Matthew 26:64-68; 27:26-31; Acts 8:1; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10)
More Who Endured
5. Who were some people who were flogged or imprisoned for their integrity and loyalty to God? (see Genesis 39:11-23; Jeremiah 20:2; 37;15-16; Daniel 6:10-23; Acts 12:1-5; 16:19-24; Revelation 1:9)
6. Who were some people, both Old Testament and New, who were stoned and put to death for the sake of God's truth? (see 2 Chronicles 24:20-22; Luke 11:51; Acts 7:54-60; 2 Corinthians 11:25)
7. Who were some people "put to death by the sword"? (see 1 Kings 19:10; Jeremiah 26:20-23; Matthew 13:6-9)
8. Who were some (both OT and NT) who "went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated"? (see 2 Kings 1:7-8; 1 Kings 19:10; Matthew 3:1, 4)
9. Who were some who "wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground"? (see 1 Kings 18:4; 19:9)
Made Perfect by Faith
10. "These were all commended for their faith" (v.39) Each of the people we studied experienced hardship and obstacles to the successful completion of the work they were called to do. Many did not actually win a victory over all the negative circumstances in their lives. What did they really receive? (see v.1- 2, 4)
11. "yet none of them received what had been promised." (v. 39) What had been promised that the Old Testament faithful did not receive? (see v.13; Matt. 13:17; John 8:56; 1 Peter 1:10-12)
12. What is the "something better" even than their lives of faith (v.40) which God planned for us? (see John 11:25-26; 1:4; 14:6; 1 Cor. 15:54-57)
13. How are we "made perfect"? (v. 40) (see Hebrews 2:10-11; Ephesians 5:25-26; Hebrews 12:2-4, 11)
14. What is the "mystery" that became known when God's promises were fulfilled in Jesus? How is this mystery an extension of the statement in v. 40, "Only together with us would they be made perfect"? (see Romans 11:25-26; Ephesians 3:6, 10; Colossians 1:25-28)
15. Whom do you know who has endured suffering for the sake of the gospel?
16. How have truth and the gospel catalyzed trials in your life?
17. On a practical level, how does living by faith affect or change your life?
18. In what area of your life are you living by your own wisdom rather than by faith?
19. What problem or stressor in your life is unchanging or unchangeable and requires you to live with it by faith?
20. What area in your life is God desiring to perfect?
21. What problem is God asking you to stop resisting, accepting its reality in your life and submitting it to him?
22. Ask God to give you his faith, submitting your decisions and time to him, allowing him to live his life through you. Praise him for Jesus, for fulfilling his eternal promises and for giving you eternal life.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised September 23, 2001.