Hebrews 11:29-31 Commentary

Hebrews 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted * it, were drowned. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Pistei diebesan (3SAAI) ten Eruthran THalassan os dia ceras ges, es peiran labontes (AAPMPN) oi Aiguptioi katepothesan. (3PAPI)

Amplified: [Urged on] by faith the people crossed the Red Sea as [though] on dry land, but when the Egyptians tried to do the same thing they were swallowed up [by the sea]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

NLT: It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians followed, they were all drowned. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: By faith the people walked through the Red Sea as though it were dry land, and the Egyptians who tried to do the same thing were drowned. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: By faith they passed through the Red Sea as through dry land, which the Egyptians having attempted, were drowned. 

Young's Literal: By faith they did pass through the Red Sea as through dry land, which the Egyptians having received a trial of, were swallowed up;

BY FAITH THEY PASSED THROUGH THE RED SEA AS THOUGH THEY WERE PASSING THROUGH DRY LAND; AND THE EGYPTIANS, WHEN THEY ATTEMPTED IT, WERE DROWNED: Pistei diebesan (3SAAI) ten Eruthran THalassan os dia ceras ges, es peiran labontes (AAPMPN) oi Aiguptioi katepothesan. (3PAPI):

  • Exodus 14:13-31; 15:1-21; Joshua 2:10; Nehemiah 9:11; Ps 66:6; 78:13; 106:9-11; Ps 114:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 136:13, 14, 15; Isaiah 11:15,16; 51:9,10; 63:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Habakkuk 3:8, 9, 10
  • Hebrews 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Ex 14:10, 13, 14,
Ex 14:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30


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) Click for Dr Wayne Grudem's 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.

John MacArthur reminds us that "Faith is trusting completely in God’s Word. It is unconditional confidence in what He says, strictly on the basis that He has said it. The fact is that we either trust what God says or we are left to trust our own intellect, instincts, and attitudes. These are our only two options. Our own way is the way of unbelief; God’s way is the way of faith. The faith illustrated in Hebrews 11 is that which takes the bare word of God and acts on it, risking all. It is faith that does not question or ask for signs or miraculous direction. Looking for signs and wonders and explanations that we can understand or glory in is not faith. It is doubt looking around for proofs. Anything that demands more than God’s Word is doubt, not faith. God sometimes gives explanations and reasons for His Word, but He is not obligated to give them, and faith does not require them. As Jesus said to Thomas, "Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed" (John 20:29). Faith is therefore opposite from human nature, opposite from the world system. It often requires accepting from God that for which we can see no logic or reason. (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press)

They - Who is "they"? Obviously this refers to the nation of Israel.

They passed through the Red Sea - Their action was a response to their faith in God's Word. They believed God and acted upon His promise.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees
And looks to God alone.
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, “It shall be done.”

Guzik - The difference between the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and the Egyptians who followed them was not courage, but faith. The Egyptians had as much (or more) courage than the Israelites, but not the same faith - and they each had different fates. The Israelites passed through, and the Egyptians were drowned. (Hebrews 11 Commentary)

Spurgeon - There you have the difference between faith and presumption: faith goes through the sea, presumption is drowned in the sea. There are two redemptions: redemption by price and redemption by power. Redemption by price was typified in the paschal lamb and the Passover. Redemption by power was typified in the passage of the Red Sea, when the children of Israel went through it dry-shod and the Egyptians were drowned.

Passing through dry land - This fact is repeated three times in the Exodus account to emphasize the miraculous nature of Jehovah's way of salvation.

Here is the original text...

Exodus 14:13 But Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 "The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent."

15 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 16 "As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. 17 "As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 "Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen."

God's promise of the humanly "impossible" was safe travel through the impassable Red Sea, although at this point He does not state exactly what He will do to the Egyptians. Biblical faith is trust in God's Word (including His promises) and as in the present case that faith is manifest by appropriate response (cp obedience) by walking through the obstacle via the way God had promised.

19 The angel of God (cp Angel of the LORD ), who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

23 Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea. 24 At the morning watch, the LORD looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion. 25 He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from Israel, for the LORD is fighting for them against the Egyptians."

26 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen."

27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh's entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. 29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.

31 When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.

Passed through (1223)(diabaino from dia = through + baino = to step) means to step across, to pass through or over as for example, a body of water, a chasm, a valley, etc. (cf uses in Lxx - Ge 31:21; 1 Sa 13:7). BDAG - "to proceed from one side to another over a geographical area."

Gilbrant on diabaino is used extensively in classical Greek and appears over 120 times in the Septuagint to translate different forms of the Hebrew term ‛āvar, meaning “pass over, through, by.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Liddell-Scott on diabaino - I. to make a stride, walk or stand with the legs apart, of a man planting himself firmly for fighting, Il. With accusative - to step across, passive - over a ditch or river, Ib. 2. absol. to cross over, Lat. trajicere, Hdt., etc.

Diabaino - 3 uses in the NT - Lk. 16:26; Acts 16:9; Heb. 11:29

Lk. 16:26+ - ‘And besides all this, between us (LAZARUS IN "ABRAHAM'S BOSOM") and you (THE RICH MAN) there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’

Acts 16:9+ A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

Steven Cole in his sermon on Overcoming Faith (Hebrews 11:27-29 writes...

Faith trusts God for deliverance from overwhelming problems (He 11:29).

This verse shifts from Moses’ faith to the faith of Israel. I do not know why the shift did not take place in He 11:28, since all Israel had to believe in the Passover sacrifice. Either way, there is a difficulty, in that as the author of Hebrews has already told us, the generation that came out of Egypt was evil and unbelieving (He 3:8, 9-note, He 3:10, 11-note, He 3:12-note).

The apostle Paul explained that although all Israel was baptized into Moses, so to speak, when they passed through the sea, “with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness” (1Co 10:2, 5). But here the author indicates that they passed through the Red Sea by faith.

Probably the solution is that the faith of the believing believing remnant (note) is generalized to cover the entire nation (John Owen, An Exposition of Hebrews [The National Foundation for Christian Education], 7:170; Calvin, p. 299 adopts a similar solution). There is a similar situation in the New Testament when everyone on the ship with Paul was saved because of Paul’s faith, even though they did not believe God. In both cases, it was temporal deliverance only for the unbelievers. But the exodus pictures spiritually how genuine faith delivers us from overwhelming problems, beginning with the salvation of our souls. Briefly, note two things:

A. Faith does not exempt us from overwhelming problems, but rather it often leads us into such problems.

If Israel had stayed in Egypt, they wouldn’t be in the mess they were in at the Red Sea. Some of the unbelievers sarcastically said to Moses (Ex 14:11),

Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?

But the fact is, Moses had not led them to the dire situation that they were in; God had led them there and He had hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would chase after them (Ex 14:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)!

So by God’s direct actions, this defenseless bunch of slaves had the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army charging at them from behind. They were doomed unless God intervened, which He planned to do. But they had to learn that salvation is completely from Him. There was no place for human ingenuity or some scheme to escape. God led them into this desperate situation to teach them to trust Him as their only option.

That’s how God grows our faith. We know in our heads that we must trust Him totally, but we don’t believe it in practice until He throws us into situations where there is no way out if He does not act. We need to learn in experience that “salvation belongs to the Lord” (Ps 3:8-Spurgeon's note).

B. God delights to turn our overwhelming problems into exhibitions of His mighty power when we trust Him.

The situation that the enemy thought would bring them an easy victory led to their defeat. God miraculously piled the water up as a wall on both sides for Israel to walk through on dry ground (Ex 14:21, 22). He moved the pillar of cloud behind them until they all passed through. Then He let the Egyptians pursue them in blind fury. They should have looked to both sides and seen the trap. But as John Owen observes (pp. 173-174),

There is no such blinding, hardening lust in the minds or hearts of men, as hatred of the people of God and desire for their ruin.

The Egyptians abandoned reason and common sense and rushed into the sea to their own destruction. And so a helpless, defenseless, unorganized band of two million slaves were delivered from a powerful, well-equipped army. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord (Jer 32:17)! Overcoming Faith (Hebrews 11:27-29

Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Pistei ta teiche Iericho epesan (3PAAI) kuklothenta (APPNPN) epi epta emeras

Amplified: Because of faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encompassed for seven days [by the Israelites]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

NLT: It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho seven days, and the walls came crashing down. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: It was by faith that the walls of Jericho collapsed, for the people had obeyed God's command to encircle them for seven days. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: By faith the walls of Jericho fell, having been encircled seven days. 

Young's Literal: by faith the walls of Jericho did fall, having been surrounded for seven days;

BY FAITH THE WALLS OF JERICHO FELL DOWN, AFTER THEY HAD BEEN ENCIRCLED FOR SEVEN DAYS: Pistei ta teiche Iericho epesan (3PAAI) kuklothenta (APPNPN) epi hepta hemeras:


By faith - Faith in Jehovah's unusual command was manifest by obedience to His charge. Once again we see that faith that pleases God is faith that obeys God. To say one believes and yet to fail to obey is not true faith.

By faith (4102)(pistis) - For more discussion on the meaning of faith see commentary on Hebrews 11:1-2.

Spurgeon - Believing and obeying always run side by side...Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. He that obeys God, trusts God; and he that trusts God, obeys God...(In short) Obedience is the hallmark of faith.

Joshua 6:20

Jericho - Jericho like the Red Sea presented an obstacle to Israel. We need to remember that obstacles to us are "opportunities" for God to show Himself great and mighty in our life.

Here is the account of this great God glorifying event from Joshua 6...

1 Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in.

2 The LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. 3 "You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4 "Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 "It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead."

6 So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, "Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD." 7 Then he said to the people, "Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the LORD."

Faith believes the promise of God and acts on that promise, regardless of how unusual that promise might be. If God says it, that settles it. Our choice will always be to believe it or not. Belief is not manifest by halting hesitation but by immediate obedience, an obedience which is complete and without "caveats" or "disclaimers"! It is trusting in Jehovah with all our heart and not leaning on our own understanding. Joshua exhibited such a great faith. Notice that he does not interrogate or hesitate but instead he motivates his priests and people to obey implicitly.

8 And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the LORD went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. 9 The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, saying, "You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, 'Shout!' Then you shall shout!" 11 So he had the ark of the LORD taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

12 Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 14 Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days. 15 Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times.

16 At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout! For the LORD has given you the city. 17 "The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 "But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. 19 "But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD." 20 So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.

The walls of Jericho fell down - Liberal scholars try to explain away this supernatural intervention, but faith sees it as a clear indicator of God's mighty power at work on the part of His people. Beloved, we need to remember that He is the same mighty God in each of our lives. What are the insurmountable walls in our life?

Spurgeon - On they went with steady tramp, and though they saw no corpses blocking up their pathway, though their arms were not red with blood, though they heard no shriek of those that fly, and could utter no shout of victory, yet they were as confident as they were when actually the walls began to rock, and the dust and smoke went up to heaven, and the shrieks of the slain made glad the foeman’s ear. We must encompass this city in full faith. You could not see faith at work on those solid walls. Those huge ramparts and battlements seemed to stand fast and firm, yet they “fell down, after they had been marched around seven days.” No battering rams played upon them, but faith can do better work than battering rams or dynamite.

John Phillips - To them, Jericho was insurmountable, but that is exactly where faith triumphs. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell" (Heb 11:30). Human wisdom would have advocated the purchase of slings and catapults and the amassing of huge stockpiles of stones for ammunition. Human wisdom would have suggested digging trenches to enable sappers to creep up to the walls and undermine them. Human wisdom would have called for starving the people of Jericho into submission. But faith had a better way. Faith does not oppose Satan's devices with human devices. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (2Co 10:4-note). (Exploring Hebrews: An Expository Commentary)

William MacDonald - Reason would claim that such an impregnable fortress could be taken only by superior forces. But faith’s methods are different. God uses strategies that appear foolish to men in order to accomplish His purposes...Military experts would write off the method as ludicrous. But it worked! The weapons of the spiritual warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds (2Co 10:4-note). (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Summary lessons gleaned from Israel's march around Jericho (see Steven Cole's full exposition below)

1) God’s way of victory over these enemies accentuates His power and our weakness.

2) Faith must obey God implicitly.

3) Faith must wait upon God.

4) Faith must wait on God expectantly.

Chrysostom - The soundings of trumpets, though one were to sound for ten thousand years, cannot throw down walls, but faith can do all things (quoted by Jamieson)

Murray - The strength of the enemy, in which he trusted, in view of the impotence of God's people, availed nothing before the power of faith. When shall we learn, in quiet patience and perseverance, to wait upon God our seven days too, the circle of a completed time, until He gives the possession of the promised rest. Let our faith claim it; we are the children of a God who does impossibilities; we are called to a life of faith that expects and receives them. Let our life be—faith in God. (Hebrews 11:32 Faith and Its Power of Achievement -p 465)

Faith to Conquer and Convert
Hebrews 11:30, 31
Josh 2:8-14; 6:2, 3, 4, 5, 22, 23, 24, 25

By Pastor Steven Cole

John Gardner wrote [source unknown], “We are faced with a series of great opportunities-brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” What disguised opportunities do you face today?

Some have trusted Christ as Savior, but have the disguised opportunity of some besetting sin that keeps bringing them down. They promise God that they won’t do it again, only to repeatedly fail. Some are engulfed by problems in their marriages, or with their kids. They don’t see any viable solutions. Some struggle daily with serious health problems or personal problems. Some face problems at work. Others wish they had work to have problems with! They struggle to make ends meet. Some have drifted into worldliness and spiritual apathy, but they don’t even realize that they have a problem. Churches have problems, too, which are a conglomerate of all of the problems of their members.

As a leader in Israel after Moses’ death, Joshua had a pile of disguised opportunities. He had to lead this fledgling nation of refugee slaves out of 40 years in the wilderness, across the Jordan River, and into the promised land that happened to be filled with evil, violent giants. The first disguised opportunity was to conquer the fortified city of Jericho. God gave Joshua the plan for victory. By faith, the walls of that fortress crumbled.

Meanwhile, inside the city, a prostitute had a huge disguised opportunity. She had heard of how God had miraculously delivered this people from Egypt 40 years before. She heard how they had defeated two powerful kings across the river. She knew that her city was next and that she and all of her family would perish, unless somehow the God of the Jews-the God of heaven and earth- intervened on their behalf. Then the impossible happened-two spies from that feared people came to lodge with her. She hid them from the authorities and they promised to spare her family and her, if she followed their directions. By faith, she and her family did not perish when her city was destroyed. These two stories that took place during the conquest of Jericho illustrate how…

God conquers our powerful enemies by faith and converts hopeless sinners by faith.

1. God conquers our powerful enemies by faith (He 11:30).

Faith is not some magical force. Rather, faith links us with the unseen God, who spoke the universe into existence. Faith is the channel through which God’s blessings flow to us.

Jericho was the first obstacle of many that Joshua and the army of Israel faced in conquering Canaan, which God had promised to their forefather, Abraham. As he was pondering how to take this walled city, the Lord appeared to Joshua in human form as the captain of the Lord’s army and revealed to him the plan for victory (Josh 5:13, 14, 15, 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5). The Israelites were to march silently around the city once a day for six days with the tabernacle, while seven priests blew on rams’ horns. On the seventh day, they were to circle the city seven times. When Joshua gave the signal, the priests were to blow the rams’ horns and the people were to shout. The walls of the city would crumble and the Israeli soldiers would march straight into the city and take it.

There are many lessons in that story, but I focus on five:

A. Salvation brings us into conflict with powerful enemies.

We saw this with Israel and Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea. But it bears repeating. Salvation does not insulate you from huge problems. Rather, it often brings you into conflict with problems that didn’t even bother you before you were saved. Before you were saved, selfishness, pride, greed, lust, and many other sins didn’t trouble you. You may even have thought that some of them were virtues! But then you get saved and realize that there are many fortified cities that must be conquered, and many of them are en-trenched in your heart!

Not only do you face these enemies within, but now you face enemies from without that previously caused you no problems. Family members don’t like your newfound faith, because it threatens their favorite sins. Bosses don’t like the fact that you won’t help them cheat to make a profit. Former friends malign you be-cause you won’t join them at their corrupt parties (1Pe 4:3, 4).

B. God’s way of victory over these enemies accentuates His power and our weakness.

Marching your army around a walled city for seven days while blowing trumpets is not a sensible plan for victory! It must have seemed silly to many in Israel and to everyone inside Jericho. If Joshua had held meetings with his top commanders, none of them would have suggested this plan. One might have argued for a direct assault, with siege ramps and battering rams to overpower the city. Another may have suggested waiting it out until the city was starved into submission. But no one would have suggested doing what God commanded Joshua to do.

Why did God choose this strange approach? I think that He wanted to teach Israel a major lesson at the outset of their conquest of Canaan: Victory over powerful enemies comes when we do not trust in our-selves, but trust totally in the Lord. The repeated trips around Jericho served to drive home the lesson, “You cannot conquer this city in your strength. You must trust in My power.”

Often our problem is not that we are too weak, but that we think that we are strong in ourselves. Because we’re so prone to pride, if God granted us victory, we would take at least some of the credit for ourselves. So God’s plan for victory humbles our pride by accentuating His power and our weakness.

You see this in the story of Gideon and his army trying to conquer the hordes of Midianites (Judges 6-7). He rallied an army of 32,000 men against 135,000 enemy troops, but God told Gideon that he had too many soldiers, not too few. If they won, they would boast in their victory (Judges 7:2). So, Gideon sent home 22,000 warriors who were afraid. But God said, “You’ve still got too many.” So Gideon weeded them out until he was left with 300 soldiers. Finally, being weak enough, God could grant them victory and they would give Him the glory!

Paul entreated the Lord to take away his thorn in the flesh, but the Lord told him that His power is perfected in weakness. Paul testified, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Cor. 12:10). Hudson Taylor said that when God wanted to open inland China to the gospel, He looked around for a man weak enough for the task.

So God’s means for victory always involves faith, because faith acknowledges our inability and God’s total ability (see 2Chr 20:1-12). Faith humbles our pride and exalts God’s glory.

C. Faith must obey God implicitly.

Faith and obedience are inseparable, just as unbelief and disobedience go together. Genuine faith always obeys God. Israel could have said, “That’s an interesting plan, Joshua, and we believe that God could do it that way. But we’re going to try a more sensible approach.” That would have been faithless and disobedient.

To obey God, they had to march silently around the city once a day for six days. The seventh day, when Joshua told them to march around it seven times, there may have been some groans. Each time around the city took between 30 minutes to an hour (depending on whom you read), so the seven times took at least three and a half hours. By the seventh day, some could have been grumbling under their breath, “This is dumb. Nothing has happened yet.” But if any said that, it is not recorded. They obeyed what God had commanded. When they shouted, the walls miraculously came crashing down.

There are two factors involved in such obedience:

(1) To obey God, we must know what His Word says about our situation.

God had appeared visibly and spoken audibly to Joshua. While I often wish that He would do that today (I’d settle for the audible voice!), such direct communication from God is very rare. How does God speak to us? He “has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:2), and the sum of His word to us is recorded in the Bible. While sometimes it is difficult to know how the Bible applies to our specific problem, it is obvious that we cannot obey His Word unless we know what it says and how it applies. Yet I’ve often seen Christians who are disobeying the clear commands of God’s Word, but they wonder why God isn’t blessing their lives!

(2) Knowledge of God’s Word must be followed by obedience, no matter how much it goes against conventional wisdom.

God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways His ways (Isa. 55:8). Moses’ leading two million refugee slaves down to the Red Sea, with no way of escape from Pharaoh’s army, was not in line with conventional wisdom. But he did it in direct obedience to God. Taking the same group out into the barren wilderness seemed like a sure formula for major disaster, but God had commanded him, and Moses obeyed.

Conventional wisdom says, “You can’t get ahead in your business unless you cheat your customers and lie to the IRS.” Faith obeys God, even if it leads to financial loss. Conventional wisdom says, “Everyone sleeps together before marriage. How else will you know if you’re compatible? Besides, God will forgive.” Faith says, “I’m going to obey God. I won’t compromise, even if other Christians are doing it.” Faith obeys God.

D. Faith must wait upon God.

Why didn’t God say, “March around Jericho once, blow the trumpet and shout! The walls will fall down”? Every night they marched back to camp thinking, “We didn’t accomplish anything today!” Each day tested their faith, and each day that victory was delayed, the test increased in intensity. Perhaps they heard jeers from those on the wall who were watching this futile daily parade. The jeers tempted them to take action to silence these scoffers. But they had to wait for God’s timing. Finally,

E. Faith must wait on God expectantly.

They believed that God was going to act when they obeyed. There is no record that Joshua told them in advance what was going to happen. They just knew that he knew what God had commanded, and they obeyed. But when he told them to shout, they shouted expectantly, and God caused these impenetrable walls to crumble. Even though faith waits, faith waits expectantly, knowing that God will act in His power in His time.

But while Israel was marching around Jericho that week, an-other drama was taking place inside one house in the city. A prostitute named Rahab was crowded into her house with her extended family, waiting anxiously to see what would happen. Her story, condensed into one verse, shows us that. (Lesson 42: Faith to Conquer and Convert (Hebrews 11:30-31)

Hebrews 11:31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Pistei Raab e porne ou sunapoleto (3SAMI) tois apeithesasin, (AAPMPD) dexamene (AMPFSN) tous kataskopous met' eirenes.

Amplified: [Prompted] by faith Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed along with those who refused to believe and obey, because she had received the spies in peace [without enmity]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV:By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

NLT: It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute did not die with all the others in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: It was because of her faith that Rahab the prostitute did not share the fate of the disobedient, for she showed her faith in the true God when she welcomed the Israelites sent out to reconnoitre. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, having received the spies with peace. 

Young's Literal: by faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who disbelieved, having received the spies with peace.

BY FAITH RAHAB THE HARLOT DID NOT PERISH ALONG WITH THOSE WHO WERE DISOBEDIENT, AFTER SHE HAD WELCOMED THE SPIES IN PEACE: Pistei Raab e porne ou sunapoleto (3SAMI) tois apeithesasin, (AAPMPD) dexamene (AMPFSN) tous kataskopous met' eirenes:

  • Joshua 2:1-22; 6:22, 23, 24, 25; Mt 1:1,5; Jas 2:25
  • Heb 3:18; 1 Peter 2:8; 3:20
  • Joshua 1:1; 2:4-24
  • Hebrews 11 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


By faith - God is here shown to be the God of both Jews and Gentiles and that both approach Him in the same way -- by faith (cp Heb 11:6).

Faith (4102)(pistis) - For more discussion on the meaning of faith see commentary on Hebrews 11:1-2. Click for Dr Grudem's 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.

Vine writes that "hers was a simple faith and very elementary, but it was real. She knew what God had determined, and acted accordingly. She grasped the unseen, and put her belief into action. Hence her life was lifted out from the influences of her Canaanitish condition, and her faith brought her from her alienated state into the fellowship of God’s people. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Rahab the harlot - Scripture is brutally honest. Yes, she became Rahab the believer, but the Scripture reminds us of how God is able to take us from the "guttermost" and lift us to the "uttermost", from eternal death to eternal life, independent of how evil we were before we entered into His great salvation by faith. In summary, Rahab was saved by God's grace and by her personal faith which was shown to be genuine by her good works of preserving the life of the spies.

Spurgeon - All the other persons mentioned here were doubtless saved by faith. But I do not find it especially remarked concerning any of them that they did not perish through their faith, while it is particularly said of this woman that she was delivered amidst the general destruction of Jericho purely and only through her faith. And, without doubt, her salvation was not merely of a temporal nature, not merely a deliverance of her body from the sword, but redemption of her soul from hell. That she was really saved in a gospel sense, as well as temporally, seems to me to be proved from her reception of the spies. This was an emblem of the entrance of the word into the heart, and her hanging out of the scarlet thread was an evidence of faith, not inaptly picturing faith in the blood of Jesus the Redeemer.

Stedman - Along with the story of Jericho’s overthrow, we read the remarkable account of Rahab the harlot (v. 31). She had heard of Israel’s conquests at the Red Sea and in the wilderness and expected them to assault Jericho many years before. She knew that their victories came from their faith in God, and she “received the spies with peace” (literally) when Joshua sent them to spy out the city. Her motive was not merely to save her life and that of her family; she was convinced, as she said, that “the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” That faith was honored when the walls of the city collapsed and all within were killed except Rahab and her family. That her faith was genuine is confirmed by Matthew when he lists her as one of the ancestors of Jesus. She went on to marry Salmon and became the mother of Boaz, and thus the great-grandmother of David. Faith overcame a sinful life, delivered her from a pagan religion. She was granted a place of honor among the heroes and heroines of faith. The incident also illustrates the fact that “in Christ there is neither male nor female.” Rahab was a woman in a man’s world, but faith accepts no such distinctions.

Steven Cole summarizes the truths gleaned from the story of Rahab (see below for full exposition)...

(1) Rahab was an unlikely candidate for salvation.

(2) Rahab’s faith saved her from perishing.

(3) Rahab’s faith separated her from her disobedient contemporaries.

(4) Rahab’s faith was an obedient faith.

(5) Rahab’s faith resulted in the salvation of her pagan family.

(6) Rahab’s faith brought her into covenant with God and His people.

Here is Rahab's first encounter with the Israeli spies and her exercise of faith...

Joshua 2:1 Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there.

2 It was told the king of Jericho, saying, "Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land." 3 And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land." 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 "It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them." 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued them on the road to the Jordan to the fords; and as soon as those who were pursuing them had gone out, they shut the gate.

8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. 10 "For we have heard (Implying that the other inhabitants had heard the truth about Jehovah!) how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt (Note that this was 40 year old news about Jehovah!), and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 "When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath (A great confession and good theology for a Canaanite harlot!). 12 "Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father's household, and give me a pledge of truth, 13 and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death."

14 So the men said to her, "Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the LORD gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you."

Joshua 2:16, 17, 18

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16 She said to them, "Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way."

17 The men said to her, "We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father's household. 19 "It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 "But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear."

21 She said, "According to your words, so be it." So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window. 22 They departed and came to the hill country, and remained there for three days until the pursuers returned. Now the pursuers had sought them all along the road, but had not found them.

23 Then the two men returned and came down from the hill country and crossed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they related to him all that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, "Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us."

Then in Joshua 6 we read the conclusion of the account of Rahab...

22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, "Go into the harlot's house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her." 23 So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. 24 They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father's household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Sir Robert Anderson comments on the phrase Rahab the harlot - Rahab the harlot! Those who seek for proofs of the divine authorship of Scripture may find one here. Was there ever an Israelite who would have thought of preferring that woman's name to the names of David and Samuel and the prophets, and of coupling it with the name of the great apostle and prophet of the Jewish faith, "whom the Lord knew face to face," and to whom He spoke "as a man speaketh unto his friend"! And what Jew would have dared to give expression to such a thought? But God's thoughts are not our thoughts. And He who immortalized the devotion of the widow who threw her last two mites into the Temple treasury has decreed that the faith of Rahab who, like Moses, took sides with the people of God, shall never be forgotten.

Murray comments on by faith - By faith. Let this be the motto of our life. In every need and perplexity, with every desire and prayer, with every work and trial, with every thought of ourselves and of God, let this be the one thing we seek—ever to breathe a living faith in a living God. Once again I say: As absolute and universal and undisputed as is the supremacy of God, is to be the supremacy of faith in our heart and life. We can only have as much of God in our heart as we have of faith. And because God is All, and must be All to us, faith in us must be all too. (Ibid)

The exercise of faith by Rahab the harlot brought her not only salvation but into the line of the Messiah for she was the mother of godly Boaz, a man who in many ways pictured the "Greater Boaz" Christ Jesus...

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham...Salmon (Jewish husband) was the father of Boaz by Rahab (Gentile saved proselyte), Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. (Mt 1:1, 1:5)

James includes her in the "same breath" as the venerable patriarch Abraham as a prime example of genuine, saving faith writing...

In the same way (cp Jas 2:21, 22, 23-note), was not Rahab the harlot also justified (in this context, the verb means "shown to be righteous") by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (Jas 2:25-note)

Warren Wiersbe quips - Imagine a pagan harlot becoming a part of the ancestry of Jesus Christ! That is what faith can do! Rahab is certainly a rebuke to unsaved people who give excuses for not trusting Christ. “I don’t know very much about the Bible” is an excuse I often hear. Rahab knew very little spiritual truth, but she acted on what she did know. “I am too bad to be saved!” is another excuse. But Rahab was a condemned heathen harlot! Another excuse is, “What will my family think?” Rahab’s first concern was saving her family, not opposing them. She stands as one of the great women of faith in the Bible.

Spurgeon - It is right to conclude that if there had been other believers there, either the city would have been spared for the sake of ten righteous, or else there would have been means found for their preservation; but she was the only one there. If we could have taken a bird’s eye view of the city of Jericho, and had been informed that there was one believer there, I warrant you we should not have looked to Rahab’s house. She would have been about the last person that we should have supposed had been a possessor of faith in the true God. God has a people where we little dream of it, and He has chosen ones among a sort of people whom we dare not hope for. Who would think that grace could grow in the heart of one who was a harlot by name, as though her sin was openly known to all? Yet it did grow there.

Did not perish along with (544) (sunapollumi from sun/syn = with, speaks of an intimate association + apollumi = from apo = away from or wholly + olethros = state of utter ruin <> ollumi = to destroy <> root of apollyon [Re 9:11] = destroyer) means to destroy together. The destruction in this context is one of losing their lives but not to causing them to cease to exist. Apollumi as it relates to men, speaks not of the loss of being per se, but is more descriptive of the loss of well-being. Apollumi then has the basic meaning of describing that which is ruined and is no longer usable for its intended purpose. The failure of the rest of the inhabitants of Jericho to possess eternal life by faith resulted in utter ruin in this life and the life to come, a life of eternal uselessness. Apollumi in no way speaks of cessation of existence (cp, annihilation) as some "scholars" falsely teach!

Lake Of Fire

Sunapollumi is used 11x in 11v most in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 18:23; 19:15; Nu 16:26; Dt 29:19; Ps 26:9; 28:3; Da 2:13; Heb 11:31.

Lest one is tempted to accuse God of being too harsh in destroying the entire population of Jericho, John MacArthur makes the point that "The destruction of the Canaanites was as great a social as it was a spiritual gain to the welfare of humanity. They were a debauched, idolatrous, and wicked people. They were noted for their grossly immoral and perverted sexual practices as well as for their general cruelty. Among other things, they frequently put live babies in jars and built them into their city walls as foundation sacrifices. They were begging for judgment. (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press)

Disobedient (544)(apeitheo from a = without + peítho = persuade) literally describes one who refuses to be persuaded and who disbelieves willfully and perversely. Apeitheo means not to allow oneself to be persuaded, not to comply with and thus to refuse to believe (eg, in the truth, in Christ, in the Gospel). Apeitheo describes the inhabitants of Jericho who in spite of reports of the greatness of Jehovah (reports which Rahab appears to have believed), continued to manifest a stubborn, stiff-necked attitude of disbelief and disobedience, in this case manifest by a refusal to be persuaded by the truth about Jehovah (see Jn 3:36, cp the phrase "obey the gospel" in 2Th 1:8, 1Pe 4:17). Disobedience is opposite of pisteuo, which is the verb translated "believe" or "trust", precisely what Rahab did.

In studying apeitheo it is important to understand that "the stem peith- (pith-, poith-) has the basic meaning of trust (cf. Latin fido, fides). Trust can refer to a statement, so that it has the meaning to put faith in, to let oneself be convinced, or to a demand, so that it gets the meaning of obey, be persuaded. The active meaning of the verb stem peith- then is to convince and persuade and is especially characteristic of Greek thought. In secular Greek it interesting to note that "Peitho" (art of persuading) was even regarded as a goddess! (see Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)

Welcomed (1209) (dechomai = middle voice of a primary verb) means to to receive something offered or transmitted by another (Luke 2:28) and so to be receptive toward someone (as in Heb 11:31, cp "receive" in Lk 10:8, 10). Dechomai means to accept with a deliberate and ready reception of what is offered, to receive kindly and so to take to oneself what is presented or brought by another (e.g., reception of the Word of truth, Jas 1:21-note). In the present context dechomai means that Rahab welcomed the spies into her house even as one would welcome a friend or a guest! Rahab in a word accepted the Israeli spies with an open arm, mind, and heart, going beyond normally expected gracious hospitality (especially hiding them so they would not be discovered).

Spurgeon - This woman said, “If I must die for these men, I will; I am prepared, bad name as I have, to have a worse name still. I am prepared to be handed down to infamy as a traitor to my country, if it is necessary, for taking in these spies. For I know it is God’s will it should be done, and I will do it at all costs.” Do not trust your faith unless it has self-denial with it. Faith and self-denial, like Siamese twins, are born together, and must live together, and the food that nourishes one must nourish both. But this woman, poor sinner as she was, would deny herself. She brought her life, even as that other woman who was a sinner brought the alabaster box of precious ointment, and broke it on the head of Christ.

Spies (2685) (kataskopos from kata = down + skopeo = to take aim at or look toward an object and so to spy out) means to spy or scout, the verb form kataskopeo being used to describe the false brethren who snuck in among the believers in order to bring them from a state of freedom in Christ to a state of bondage under the law (legalism) (Gal 2:4).

Peace (1515)(eirene from verb eiro = to join or bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided and thus setting at one again, a meaning convey by the common expression of one “having it all together”. It follows that peace is the opposite of division or dissension. Peace is a state of concord and harmony and is the opposite of war which is how all the rest of the inhabitants of Jericho felt toward Israel. This lack of enmity further describes Rahab's welcoming attitude toward the spies.

William Newell - Note the following seven points about Rahab:

1. Rahab was a common sinner, even a harlot. God says as to all of us. “There is no difference; for all have sinned.”

2. Rehab's faith (Josh. 2:8–11) was confessed by her in the words, “I know that Jehovah hath given you the land, and that the fear of you is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.”

3. This belief meant complete turning against her own people, just as a believer now comes out from, and is no longer of, the world.

4. It included belief that Jericho would be destroyed (Josh 2:13); and it brought concern for her own kin.

5. It brought about the beautiful typical picture of the scarlet cord, tied up in her window, by which the spies also escaped (Josh 2:15–21). How that cord reminds us of the shed blood of Christ!

6. By her faith she, her father, her mother, her brethren, and all her kindred—“Whosoever shall be with thee in the house”—(Josh 2:19), were preserved (Josh 6:22–23, 25).

7. She became the mother of Boaz (Matt. 1:5), great-grandfather of David the king! (Ruth 4:21–2).

Now let us go back and run over the names—familiar, blessed, sweet names they—of the “witnesses” of Heb 11:4-31, who “had witness borne to them.” BY FAITH— ABEL learned—and offered a blood sacrifice; ENOCH was told—and believed; NOAH was warned—and took warning; ABRAHAM was called—and obeyed; was tried, and offered up Isaac. ISAAC saw things to come; JACOB blessed each of the sons of JOSEPH and worshiped; JOSEPH (though exalted) clung at his end to Israel and their departure from Egypt; MOSES was hid … by his parents,* refused royalty, chose ill-treatment, rejected sin’s pleasures and Egypt’s treasures, looking unto the recompense of the reward: forsook Egypt, endured, kept the Passover. (Hebrews 11 Commentary)

Here are the concluding expository remarks from Steven Cole on Rahab the Harlot...

God converts hopeless sinners by faith (He 11:31). Rahab’s story is a wonderful exhibit of God’s grace! It contains seven lessons that I can only touch on briefly:

A. Rahab was an unlikely candidate for salvation.

From a Jewish perspective, Rahab had three strikes against her: she was a woman; she was a Canaanite; and, she was a prostitute. Except for Abraham’s wife, Sarah, Rahab is the only woman mentioned by name in Hebrews 11. Jewish men would sanctimoniously pray, “Lord, I thank You that You didn’t make me a Gentile or a woman!” But God saw fit to save this Gentile woman.

But not only was Rahab a Gentile woman, she was also a prostitute. From early times, many commentators have tried to dodge this, saying that she was only an innkeeper. But the Hebrew and Greek words are clear: she was a prostitute. (There is a different Hebrew word for temple prostitutes.) I’ve wondered why these spies would go to a prostitute’s house. Thomas Aquinas (cited by Philip Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [Eerdmans], p. 503) explained that they did not go there to sin, but be-cause it was a good hiding place. Such houses are open, especially at night, when the men arrived (Josh. 2:2). Harlots receive their guests without discrimination or asking many questions. The king of Jericho seemed to accept as normal that these men would visit her in the night and leave almost as quickly as they had come.

But behind all of the spies’ reasons for going to Rahab’s house was God’s providence. Even though Rahab was an unlikely candidate for salvation, God’s grace had reached down to her. The fact that she is called “Rahab, the harlot,” even after her conversion, underscores God’s abundant grace toward sinners. The spies did not know when they went there that God had a mission for them besides spying, but He did. Sometimes we go somewhere on some errand, but God has another purpose, to use us to lead to salvation someone whom we would call an unlikely candidate.

I once met a man who had been a full-blown hippie, living with his girl friend and doing drugs. One morning he was driving in a remote canyon in Southern California when his muffler fell off his car. It happened in front of the house of a pastor, who had prayed with his wife that morning, “Lord, give us an opportunity to share the gospel with some lost soul today.” That unlikely candidate for salvation met Christ that day because God caused his muffler to fall off right at that place in the road!'

B. Rahab’s faith saved her from perishing.

God commanded Israel to kill everyone in Jericho. Modern critics, who must be wiser than God, think that God was cruel (or Joshua was mistaken) to order the extermination of everyone in Canaan. But God had given the Canaanites 400 years to fill up the measure of their sin (Ge 15:13, 14, 15, 16). For 40 years, they had heard how God delivered Israel from Egypt through the Red Sea (Ed: Which was in fact instrumental in Rahab's conversion - see Josh 2:8, 9, 10, 11). For several years, they had heard how God had defeated the Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, on the other side of the Jordan. For seven days, they had watched Israel march around their city. But did they repent of their sins? Only Rahab did, and perhaps her family.

Rahab could have complained that God was unfair to judge her city. She no doubt lost many friends in the conquest. But instead, she knew that she deserved death for her evil lifestyle. She knew that the LORD, God of Israel, is “God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Josh. 2:11). Although the entire city trembled with fear of the impending attack (Josh 2:11), their fear did not lead to repentance and faith (Ed: cp Jesus' acknowledgment of the role of repentance in salvation = Mk 1:15, cp Acts 26:20). Rahab’s fear led her to turn from her sin and to believe in God (Ed: Cp the pagan response to the gospel in Thessalonica 1Th 1:9-note). By faith, she “did not perish along with those who were disobedient” (He 11:31).

Many think, probably correctly, that Rahab had come to faith in God before the spies arrived at her house. When God providentially brought the spies to her house, she saw it as the means of deliverance for herself and for her family. Although she did not understand much theology, she had enough faith in the one true God to save her. Her past life of sin did not disqualify her from salvation. God delights to save notorious sinners for His glory!

C. Rahab’s faith separated her from her disobedient contemporaries.

Those who perished are called disobedient (Heb 11:31). They were not “basically good people.” They had heard of God’s power, but they refused to submit to Him (cp Ro 1:18, 19-note, Ro 1:20-note). They erroneously thought that their walled city would protect them. To be saved, Rahab had to break away from her people, her culture, and her source of income. Although that is never easy and she must have wrestled with her decision, by faith she made the break.

We are not told whether she warned her fellow citizens of the coming judgment, or whether they mocked her for holing up in her house while Israel’s armies strangely marched around the town. But it is still true today: saving faith means making a distinct break from this evil world, so that we often stand out as weird in their eyes. (Ed: cp 1Pe 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5-note)

D. Rahab’s faith was an obedient faith.

James 2:25 (note) lists Rahab next to Abraham as one who was justified by works. James is not denying justification by faith alone, but rather is making the point that genuine faith always results in good works (cp Jas 2:17-note). Her faith led her to hide the spies and send them away secretly, even though it put her life at great risk (cp Mk 8:35, 36, 37). She had to obey the explicit instructions that the spies gave her, to put the scarlet rope in her window and to have all of her family inside the house with her, in order for them to be saved. It may have seemed silly to them to watch Israel marching silently around the city for 13 times. They may have been tempted to join others on the wall shouting insults to the troops below. But they obeyed and they were saved.

Granted, Rahab’s faith was not perfect in obedience. She was a pagan woman from a pagan culture, and it was a difficult situation when the king’s messengers came to her house looking for the two spies, so she lied. Lying is sin, even when it is for a good cause. But God was gracious to take Rahab’s obedient faith as seen in her welcoming the spies, and overlook her lie. If you will come to Christ in faith, just as you are, He saves you and then begins to work His holiness into your life.

E. Rahab’s faith resulted in the salvation of her pagan family.

We do not know for certain that her family was saved spiritually, although I think it is probable. But we do know that they were saved physically from destruction at Jericho, and they became a part of the people of God. Presumably they not only learned about the true God of Israel, but also came to believe in Him personally. God can use the salvation of an unlikely person, like Rahab, to reach an entire family through her faith.

F. Rahab’s faith brought her into covenant with God and His people.

James Boice (Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord [Revell], p. 45) points out that Rahab actually became more Jewish than many of the Jews by birth, in that she believed God, whereas they did not.

Matthew Henry (Matthew Henry's Commentary [Revell] VI:950) comments,

A true believer is desirous, not only to be in covenant with God, but in communion with the people of God, and is willing to cast in his lot with them, and to fare as they fare.

Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ (Mt 1:5,6) includes the surprising fact that Rahab married a Jewish man, Salmon, and they had a son, Boaz, who married Ruth. Their son, Obed, was the father of Jesse, the father of David. So Rahab, the harlot, became an ancestor of Jesus Christ! What a great testimony of God’s abundant grace!

G. Rahab’s faith changed her life from futility to fruitfulness.

Prostitution is never glamorous. It is ugly. Men pay to use a woman’s body, with no regard for her as a person. Prostitutes are never respected for what they do. When their bodies become too old to be attractive, they are out of work, lonely, and unloved.

But God reclaims the lives of the worst of sinners who turn to Him in repentance and faith. Rahab married and became a mother and grandmother (Ed: Mother to Boaz, grandmother to Obed see Ru 2:1-note, Ru 4:17-note). She became a partaker of all of Israel’s spiritual privileges, and even became linked to Christ Himself! Any life outside of Christ is futile (cp 1Pe 1:18-note) and headed for eternal destruction. Any life that God saves by His grace through faith becomes fruitful and headed for eternal glory.


Jericho is a picture of this evil world, opposed to God. Either you are by faith on God’s side, with some “Jericho’s” in your life that you need to conquer. Or, you are comfortably living in Jericho, thinking that you are safe. But you’re headed for destruction, whether you know it or not.

Whichever describes your situation, the key to victory is faith. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the cross in your place will deliver you from the coming destruction. If you’re in God’s camp, faith in His mighty power will give you victory over the intimidating enemies that threaten to destroy you. What great opportunities, disguised as insoluble problems, do you face? God has whatever resources you need to overcome them. Trust Him!

Discussion Questions

1. Why doesn’t God grant instant deliverance from our problems? Why do some problems linger on for years?

2. How can we know God’s will in specific problem situations?

3. How can we get faith when we lack faith? Where is the heart of the problem of unbelief?

4. Must sinners clean up their lives before they can be saved? Where does repentance fit into the process? (Bolding and color added for emphasis. Some cross-references added)