Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. (NASB: Lockman)
|Greek: Pistei kai peri mellonton (PAPMPG) eulogesen (3SAAI) Isaak ton Iakob kai ton Esau
Amplified: [With eyes of] faith Isaac, looking far into the future, invoked blessings upon Jacob and Esau. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
NLT: It was by faith that Isaac blessed his two sons, Jacob and Esau. He had confidence in what God was going to do in the future. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It was by faith that Isaac gave Jacob and Esau his blessing, for his words dealt with what should happen in the future. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: By faith, and that concerning things to come, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: By faith, concerning coming things, Isaac did bless Jacob and Esau
BY FAITH ISAAC BLESSED JACOB AND ESAU EVEN REGARDING THINGS TO COME: Pistei kai peri mellonton (PAPMPG) eulogesen (3SAAI) Isaak ton Iakob kai ton Esau: (Ge 27:27-40; 28:2,3) (Reciprocal References: Genesis 27:4 - that my Genesis 27:23 - he blessed Genesis 27:28 - of the dew Genesis 27:33 - yea Genesis 27:39 - Behold Numbers 6:23 - General, Hebrews 7:7 - the less)
In these next 3 verses the writer looks at the end of the lives of the next three patriarchs after Abraham to emphasize how their lives (albeit not perfect) were examples of those who remained faithful. Remember the writer is speaking primarily to Jews who are being tested and tempted to revert to Judaism and he wants these examples of perseverance to the end to encourage his readers (cp He 11:13-note). The faith of these patriarchs was focused on the things above (unseen, spiritual, cp Col 3:1-note, Col 3:2-note), the things of heaven not in things of this world (see Abraham - He 11:9, 10-note) This begs the question - What are you looking for? What are you living for? ...Today? ...This present world (cp Gal 1:4)? ...This world which is passing away (1Jn 2:17-note)? ...What you can see with your natural eyes (2Cor 4:18-note)? ...Or what you can see with the eyes of faith (2Cor 5:7)?
We each need to take careful inventory of our lives so that we might (if necessary) re-order our priorities to the unseen and the eternal and doing so not out of legalism but out of love for God and the sure hope that the best is yet to come! God has promised, so it will be so (cp Josh 23:14, 2Co 1:20KJV). If we believe Him, really believe Him, we will live lives governed by that belief and we will enter into the fulness of His joy even in this temporal world (Ps 16:11-note)! Remember that our life is but a vapor (Jas 4:14)...don't waste your life (Eph 5:16-note)! And it all comes down to a matter of daily, moment by moment choices! Choose for yourself today to serve Jehovah Jesus and not the gods of this present evil age (Joshua 24:15).
By Faith - All uses in NAS in Heb 11 - Heb 4:2; 10:38; 11:3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33.
Each example of faith in Heb 11:3-31 is formally introduced with this specific phrase "by faith" (pistei)
Faith (4102)(pistis) is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth of anything, but in Scripture speaks of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. As pistis relates to God, it is the conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things well as the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. As faith relates to Christ it represents a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Stated another way, eternal salvation comes only through belief in Jesus Christ and no other way.
For more discussion on the meaning of faith see commentary on Hebrews 11:1-2.
Faith is believing that God will keep His promises, despite circumstances that seem to be to the contrary! True faith that saves one's soul includes at least three main elements - (1) firm persuasion or firm conviction, (2) a surrender to that truth and (3) a conduct emanating from that surrender. In sum, faith shows itself genuine by a changed life. (Click for W E Vine's definition of faith)
Note that this discussion of pistis is only an overview and not a detailed treatise of this vitally important subject. Those interested are directed to respected, conservative books on systematic theology for more in depth discussion (eg, Dr Wayne Grudem's book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine is an excellent, uncompromising, imminently readable resource for the lay person. See especially Chapter 35 (Click for online outline of Conversion and/or Listen to the Mp3 of Conversion) which addresses the question "What is saving faith?" in an easy to understand manner.) Much of this "definition" deals with the general word group for faith (pistis = noun, pistos = adjective, pisteuo = verb)
Wuest on Isaac blessed - Isaac pronounced a blessing, and that concerning things to come,” namely, things beyond the lifetime of Jacob and Esau. The blessing was an act of faith.
Blessed (2127)(eulogeo from eu = good + lógos = word; see cognates eulogetos and eulogia) means speak good or well. When eulogeo is used by men toward men it means to speak well of with praise and thanksgiving (English "Eulogy" = an address in praise for one deceased ). To say good or positive things. Eulogeo can be from men to God, from men to men, and from God to men. When God blesses men He grants them favor and confers happiness upon them.
Spurgeon - Isaac was old and blind, so that he did not know which of his sons came for the first blessing, yet he could see into the future sufficiently to bless both his sons “concerning things that were going to happen.” What wondrous power there is in faith even when it is exercised by very imperfect individuals! concerning things that were going to happen He looked into the future, although he was blind. He was a poor old man, lying upon his bed, with his eyes so dim that he could not tell one of his sons from another. But he could yet look into the future, and bless his sons “concerning things that were going to happen.” Oh, what sharp eyes faith has, even when the eyes of bodily vision have become dim! We may see far more by faith than we can by sight.
Amplified: [Prompted] by faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in prayer over the top of his staff. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
NLT: It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It was by faith that the dying Jacob blessed each of Joseph's sons as he bowed in prayer over his staff. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped upon his staff. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: by faith Jacob dying--each of the sons of Joseph did bless, and did bow down upon the top of his staff;
BY FAITH JACOB, AS HE WAS DYING, BLESSED EACH OF THE SONS OF JOSEPH, AND WORSHIPED, LEANING ON THE TOP OF HIS STAFF: Pistei Iakob apothneskon (PAPMSN) ekaston ton uion Ioseph eulogesen, (3SAAI) kai prosekunesen (3SAAI) epi to akron tes rabdou autou: (Genesis 48:5-22) (Genesis 47:31) (Reciprocal:, Genesis 30:24 - And she Genesis 48:9 - bless them Genesis 48:15 - blessed Numbers 6:23 - General, 1 Kings 1:47 - bowed Acts 7:15 - died Hebrews 7:7 - the less Hebrews 9:14 - the living)
Dying is a frightening thought to many because everyone knows the truth of the aphorism "You can't take it with you!" In fact as one sage succinctly phrased it...At death we leave behind all we have and take with us all we are.
Nathaniel Emmons put it this way...Death stamps the characters and conditions of men for eternity. As death finds them in this world, so will they be in the next.
Matthew Henry wrote that...Death strips the soul of all the disguises wherein it appeared before men, that it may appear naked and open before God. Our grave-clothes are night-clothes...Damned sinners in hell shall not be allowed their light, being cast into utter darkness; and glorified saints in heaven shall not need their light, for God himself will be their everlasting light...Death to a godly man is like a fair gale of wind to convey him to the heavenly country; but to a wicked man it is an east wind, a storm, a tempest, that hurries him away in confusion and amazement, to destruction.
Dying (599) (apothnesko from apo = marker of dissociation implying a rupture from a former association, separation, departure, cessation + thnesko = die) literally means to die off and can speak of literal physical death (Ro 6:9-note) as in this context. It is notable that as life was never meant to be merely existence, death which is the antonym of life does not mean non–existence. The important point is that to die does not mean one is annihilated as some falsely teach. Everyone who has every been born will continue to exist, either in the presence of God or banished from His presence and destined to experience conscious eternal existence in separation from God's majesty and glory and power (see 2Th 1:9).
Apothnesko is used figuratively of a believer's death to sin (Ro 6:2-note, Ro 6:7-note, Ro 6:8-note, Col 3:3-note), self, Satan, the law (Ro 7:6-note, Gal 2:19) and the world (Col 2:20-note, cp Gal 6:14-note - crucified used instead of died) which was effected when Christ was crucified and when by faith we believed in Him and in God's reckoning (albeit a "mysterious" teaching) were crucified with Him (Ro 6:6-note).
As John Blanchard says...When death strikes the Christian down, he falls into heaven.
The great Puritan writer Thomas Brooks phrased it this way...Death to a saint is nothing but the taking of a sweet flower out of this wilderness, and planting of it in the garden of paradise. (adding that) It is no credit to your heavenly Father for you to be loath to go home.
Worshiped - What a way to end one's life! Worshipping. The perfect preparation for entrance into the presence of the only One Worthy of worship! Jacob's example of how to die well sets the bar high but imminently attainable by faith. Faith in the Father's promise of a forever future is the only way to truly handle the prospect of death. The patriarchs trusted in God's promised resurrection, and thus were enabled to face death with a calm serenity. How else could you describe Jacob's worshiping God while resting on his staff. Mark it down that the mark of genuine believer is their approach to death with a peace that passes all human (natural) understanding because it comes from a Supernatural Source, God Himself! Death to a believer like Jacob is exchanging a prison for a palace and a putting off of our worthless rages for His righteous robes.
Jacob's attitude was a lot like D L Moody's who once quipped...Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don't you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.
Billy Graham's comment is also apropos to Jacob's worshiping even though dying...I have talked to doctors and nurses who have held the hands of dying people, and they say that there is as much difference between the death of a Christian and a non-Christian as there is between heaven and hell. ("Amen" or "Oh my!")
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (What is DEATH) quotes from the poem by Minister James Powis Smith which expresses the triumphant attitude of Jacob (and all the patriarchs) in the face of that last enemy death...
The pale horse stands and will not bide,
Worshiped (bowed down) (4352)(proskuneo from pros = before + kuneo = kiss or adore) means to prostrate oneself in homage before another in the full sense of worship, not mere reverence or courtesy. When Jesus Christ was born into this world, He was attended and worshipped by angels. (Lk 2:13, 14). The word proskuneo literally means to kiss toward someone, to throw a kiss in token of respect or homage, to prostrate oneself in homage, to do reverence to, to adore and so to worship and show respect. In the ancient Oriental (especially Persia) the mode of salutation between persons of equal rank was to kiss each other on the lips. When the difference of rank was slight, they kissed each other on the cheek. When one was much inferior, he fell upon his knees touched his forehead to the ground or prostrated himself, and as he was bowing down he would be throwing kisses toward the superior. It is this latter mode of salutation that is intended by the Greek writers in the use of the verb proskuneo .
In summary, proskuneo represents the most common Near Eastern act of adoration and reverence and also carries the idea of profound awe and respect. Some believe that the root word kuneo may be related to kuon which is the Greek word for dog and which then could be picturing a dog licking his master's hand.
Ironside quips of Jacob...A worshiper at last instead of a schemer.
Spurgeon - If only by faith can a dying Jacob bless his descendants, so only by faith can we bless the sons of men. Have faith in God, and the instruction that you give shall really edify, the prayers you offer shall bring down showers of mercy, and your endeavors for your sons and daughters shall be prospered. God will bless what is done in faith; but if we do not believe, our work will not be established. Faith is the backbone and marrow of the Christian’s power to do good. We are weak as water until we enter into union with God by faith, and then we are omnipotent. Faith can bless other people as well as the believer himself. It not only brings good cheer into a man’s own heart, but it enables him to speak words of love and consolation to his children. Dying Jacob pronounces living blessings upon his sons, and upon their sons generation after generation. His legacies were all blessings that he possessed by faith only. He gave to Ephraim and Manasseh a portion each—but where and what? Did he fetch out a bag from the iron safe and say, “Here, young men, I give you the same portion of ready money as I give my sons”? No, there does not seem to have been a solitary shekel in the case. Did he call for the map of the family estates and say, “I give over to you, my boys, my freehold lands in such a parish, and my copyhold farms under such a manor”? No, no, he gave them no portion in Goshen, but each had a lot in Canaan. Did that belong to him? Yes, in one sense, but not in another. God had promised it to him, but he had not yet a foot of land in it. The Canaanites were swarming in the land; they were dwelling in cities walled up to heaven, and held the country by the right of possession, which is nine points of the law. But the good old man talks about Canaan as if it was all his own, and he foresees the tribes growing into nations as much as if they were already in actual possession of the country. He had, as a matter of fact, neither house nor ground in Palestine, and yet he counts it all his own, since a faithful God had promised it to his fathers.
Spurgeon on Jacob's staff - That staff of his!—you know why he used it. I believe he loved it, because it made him remember the brook Jabbok where “he was limping because of his hip” (Gen 32:31). It had long been his companion, for he said, “With only my staff I crossed this Jordan” (Gen 32:10). But it became more necessary to him than ever after he had won that victory and had also learned his own weakness. And now, as if in memory of the God who had blessed him, he leans upon the top of his staff and blesses the sons of Joseph.
Amplified: [Actuated] by faith Joseph, when nearing the end of his life, referred to [the promise of God for] the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his own bones. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
NLT: And it was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, confidently spoke of God's bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt. He was so sure of it that he commanded them to carry his bones with them when they left! (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It was by faith that Joseph on his death-bed spoke of the exodus of the Israelites, and gave confident orders about the disposal of his own mortal remains. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: By faith Joseph, when coming near to the end of his life, remembered the exodus of the sons of Israel and so gave a command concerning his bones. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: by faith, Joseph dying, concerning the outgoing of the sons of Israel did make mention, and concerning his bones did give command.
BY FAITH JOSEPH, WHEN HE WAS DYING, MADE MENTION OF THE EXODUS OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL, AND GAVE ORDERS CONCERNING HIS BONES: Pistei Ioseph teleuton (PAPMSN) peri tes exodou ton uion Israel emnemoneusen, (3SAAI) kai peri ton osteon autou eneteilato. (3SAMI): (Genesis 50:24,25; Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32; Acts 7:16) (Reciprocal:, Genesis 30:24 - And she Genesis 47:29 - bury me not Genesis 49:33 - had made Acts 7:15 - died)
By faith - Faith is trusting in the Word of God and the God of the Word and obeying Him implicitly, regardless of the circumstances or consequences. Joseph even while staring death in the face, did not suffer dimming of his spiritual eyesight for he kept his eyes of faith firmly fixed on His faithful Father! His body may have been dying, but not his faith. Joseph's faith is even more remarkable because he had been sold into slavery and out of the promised land of Canaan at age 17 (Ge 37:2) and lived in a foreign land until his death at 110 (Ge 50:26). But despite his time away from the promised land, his faith remained sure because it was based on the faithful promise of God.
Joseph even to the very end of his life demonstrated an unshakable faith (even his exalted position and prosperity did not dim his faith) and confidence in God's prophetic promise to Abraham and his offspring (that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan - cp God's covenant in Ge 15:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, cp Ge 17:4, 5, 6, 7, 8) and that God would fulfill this promise in His perfect timing which explains why he left instructions about his burial. Calvin comments that this
The writer of Hebrews makes clear that Joseph and the other patriarchs (Isaac, Jacob) died without entering into the promise that God had made. And yet they had Heb 11:1 faith manifest by the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen! The witness of these patriarchs of a firm faith and solid hope in God and His promises should stir and encourage a similar confidence that God will do good to us in the future (which is the definition of Biblical hope)! (cp "looking for the blessed hope" Titus 2:13-note)
Jamieson writes that...
When he was dying (teleutao = to end, finish, complete) - The Greek more literally is "coming to an end" (from telos = the goal - which congers up the picture of one who has run the race well and crossed the finish line! The related verb teleo is used in 2Ti 4:7-note in which Paul affirmed "I have finished [teleo] the course".)
Vincent - Compare (use of teleutao in) Ge 6:17 ("shall perish"), Septuagint (LXX). The verb means to finish or close, with life understood. Always in this sense in NT See Mt 2:19; 9:18; Lk 7:2, etc. Never used by Paul. Rendered "when near his end."
Spurgeon - Death is a great tester of a man’s sincerity, and a great shaker down of bowing walls and tottering fences. Men have thought that it was all well with them, but when the swellings of Jordan have been about them, they have found matters quite otherwise. Here we see Joseph so calm, so quiet, that he remembers the covenant, falls back upon it, and rejoices in it. He speaks of dying as though it were only a part of living, and comparatively a small matter to him. He gives no evidence of trepidation whatever. No fear distracts him, but he bears his last witness to his brothers who gather about his bed concerning the faithfulness of God and the infallibility of his promise.
Made mention - Wuest notes that "Made mention is the translation of emnemoneuo "to remember." Joseph on his death-bed remembered the promise of God to give the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham (Ge 12:7, 13:5, 15:7), and also the prediction that Abraham's descendants should spend 400 years in bondage in a strange land, and should afterward be brought out thence (Ge 15:13, 14)."
Made mention of the Exodus - A deathbed prophecy by Joseph, a saint who persevered to the end! (cp Mt 10:22)
Moses records "Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here." So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. (Genesis 50:25, 26)
Exodus - appears in three places Lk 9:31 and 2Pe 1:15 referring to death and in this verse to the literal "Exodus" of Israel out of Egypt. In the book of Exodus we read...
In Joshua we read that...
Ironside comments that "the bones of Joseph were buried at last in the parcel of ground that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. There Joseph's bones rest until the morning of the first resurrection. Joseph's faith evidently looked expectantly toward this resurrection. This hope enabled him to maintain his alienage in Egypt, a type of this present evil world. And so this series ends, and in the next verse another begins.
Concerning his bones - This is a metonymy (an expression used as substitute for something with which it is closely associated, e.g. Washington for the US government) which conveys the idea of his burial.
Hughes writes that "The overall point is that all these patriarchs ended well, for they had learned to trust God's bare word. They were sure regarding what would happen after their deaths.
Wiersbe makes the point that "We have to admire the faith of the patriarchs. They did not have a complete Bible, and yet their faith was strong. They handed God's promises down from one generation to another. In spite of their failures and testings, these men and women believed God and He bore witness to their faith. How much more faith you and I should have!
Spurgeon on concerning his bones - A sure proof that he believed they would come out of Egypt. He would not be buried among the Pharaohs, though a prominent place would have been assigned to him there; but he would have his bones lie with those of his ancestors, Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. He wished his unburied body to share with the people of God in their captivity and their return. He was so certain that they would come out of the captivity that he postpones his burial until that glad event, and so makes what would have been but a natural wish a means of expressing a holy and gracious confidence in the divine promise.
John MacArthur has an excellent point of application reminding us that "All three of these men believed God in the face of death. Their faith had sometimes wavered in life, but it was strong and confident in death. Death is the acid test of faith. For hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, courts of law have taken a dying man’s word at face value. The need for lying and deception is over, and what is said on a deathbed is usually believed. So with our testimony of faith. Not only is the need for hypocrisy and pretense over, but it is extremely difficult to fake faith when you know you are facing eternity. A dying man’s faith is believable because a sham cannot stand this test. A Christian who fears death has a serious weakness in his faith, for to die in Christ is simply to be ushered into the Lord’s presence. "For to me, to live is Christ," Paul says, "and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). For those who believe, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor. 15:54).
Steven Cole's sermon...