The Meaning of Hebrews 11:31 Explained

Hebrews 11:31

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

YLT: by faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who disbelieved, having received the spies with peace.

Darby: By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with the unbelieving, having received the spies in peace.

ASV: By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient, having received the spies with peace.

What does Hebrews 11:31 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Even though Rahab was a Gentile sinner (i.e, a secular prostitute), God spared her when he destroyed all those around her. Likewise God will preserve the faithful, not because they are personally worthy, but because of their faith in Him.
"Although a foreigner to the covenant people, she manifested a faith that was oriented toward the future and that found specific content in the acts of the God of Israel ( Joshua 2:11). She was prepared to assume present peril for the sake of future preservation ( Joshua 2:12-16)." [1]

Context Summary

Hebrews 11:23-31 - Making The Far-Seeing Choice
Faith-we cannot say it too often-is the direct vision of the soul. It doesn't reason, it doesn't ask for evidences, it doesn't seek the corroboration of spies sent forward to explore the land. It is to the spiritual world what the five senses are to things around us. It is even more than this; it is our power of deriving the help of the Unseen to carry out and complete the work of our life.
Moses saw Him who is invisible, and drew on God with a mighty faith that reckoned on Him as being more real than Pharaoh, and secured His divine cooperation. First, he ascertained God's will at the place where the bush burned with fire; and then set about doing his part, depending upon God to do His. Of course, it brought him into collision with the whole might of Pharaoh and Egypt, but he didn't even fear it. The destroying Angel had no terrors for the blood-sheltered people. The waters lined up on each side to let them pass. Strongly built walls fell to the ground. Let us be sure that we are on the line of God's purposes, then trust Him and fear naught. [source]

Chapter Summary: Hebrews 11

1  What faith is
6  Without faith we cannot please God
7  The examples of faithfulness in the fathers of old time

Greek Commentary for Hebrews 11:31

Having received the spies with peace [δεχαμενη τους κατασκοπους μετ ειρηνης]
First aorist middle participle of δεχομαι — dechomai to welcome (Luke 10:8, Luke 10:10). Κατασκοπος — Kataskopos is an old compound (κατασκοπεω — kataskopeō Galatians 2:4), used of scout or spy, in lxx, here only in N.T. [source]
The harlot Rahab [Ῥαὰβ ἡ πόρνη]
See Joshua href="/desk/?q=jos+6:17&sr=1">Joshua 6:17, and comp. James 2:25. Rahab's occupation is stated without mincing, and the lodging of the spies at her house was probably not a matter of accident. Very amusing are the efforts of some earlier expositors to evade the fact of a harlot's faith, by rendering πόρνη landladyPerished not with ( οὐ συναπώλετο )N.T.oIn lxx see Numbers 16:26; Psalm 25:9; Psalm 27:3. [source]
Them that believed not [τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν]
Rend. “them that were disobedient.” Simple disbelief is expressed by ἀπιστεῖν, ἀπιστία :disbelief as it manifests itself in disobedience, by ἀπειθεῖν. Ἁπειθεῖν is ἀπιστεῖν on its active side. See on John 3:36, and comp. Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:6, Hebrews 4:11; Romans 11:30, Romans 11:32, contrasting with Romans 11:20, Romans 11:23. Ἁπειθεῖν here describes the failure to be persuaded that God had given the land to the Israelites, and the consequent refusal to surrender Jericho. Rahab's faith is shown Joshua 2:9-11. [source]
When she had received the spies [δεξαμένη τοὺς κατασκόπους]
Rend. “having received.” For this sense of friendly reception as a guest see Luke 10:8, Luke 10:10. Κατάσκοπος aspy, N.T.olxx, Genesis 42:9, Genesis 42:11, Genesis 42:14; 1 Samuel 26:4. [source]
With peace [μετ ' εἰρήνηνς]
The phrase only here and Acts 15:33. Quite often in lxx, as Genesis 15:15; Genesis 26:29; Exodus 18:23; Deuteronomy 20:20; Judges 8:9. In N.T. ἐν εἰρήνῃ inpeace (Acts 16:36; James 2:16): εἰς εἰρήνην intopeace (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48); both these very often in lxx. Rahab received the spies without enmity, and did not allow them to suffer harm from others. An interesting parallel is furnished by Dante, Purg. ii. 99, in the case of the pilot-angel who conveys souls to the shore of Purgatory.“He, sooth to say, for three months past has takenWhoever wished to enter, with all peace ” (without interposing any obstacle.) [source]
See Joshua href="/desk/?q=jos+6:17&sr=1"> Joshua 6:17 , and comp. James 2:25 . Rahab's occupation is stated without mincing, and the lodging of the spies at her house was probably not a matter of accident. Very amusing are the efforts of some earlier expositors to evade the fact of a harlot's faith , by rendering πόρνη landlady Perished not with [οὐ συναπώλετο]
N.T.oIn lxx see Numbers 16:26; Psalm 25:9; Psalm 27:3. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Hebrews 11:31

Acts 11:26 Were called Christians [χρηματίσαι Χριστιανούς]
The former of these two words, rendered were called, meant, originally, to transact business, to have dealings with; thence, in the course of business, to give audience to, to answer, from which comes its use to denote the responses of an oracle; a divine advice or warning. See Acts 10:22; and compare Matthew 2:12; Hebrews 11:7. Later, it acquires the meaning to bear a name; tobe called, with the implication of a name used in the ordinary transactions and intercourse of men; the name under which one passes. This process of transition appears in the practice of naming men according to their occupations, as, in English, “John the Smith,” “Philip the Armorer;” a practice which is the origin of many familiar family names, such as Butler, Carpenter, Smith, Cooper. Compare in New Testament Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14); Matthew the publican (Matthew 10:3); Luke the physician (Colossians 4:14); Erastus the chamberlain (Romans 16:23); Rahab the harlot (Hebrews 11:31). In the same line is the use of the word calling, to denote one's business. The meaning of the word in this passage is illustrated by Romans 7:3. The disciples were called. They did not assume the name themselves. It occurs in only three passages in the New Testament: here; Acts 26:28; and 1 Peter 4:16; and only in the last-named passage is used by a Christian of a Christian. The name was evidently not given by the Jews of Antioch, to whom Christ was the interpretation of Messiah, and who wouldn't have bestowed that name on those whom they despised as apostates. The Jews designated the Christians as Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), a term of contempt, because it was a proverb that nothing good could come out of Nazareth (John 1:47), The name was probably not assumed by the disciples themselves; for they were in the habit of styling each other believers, disciples, saints, brethren, those of the way. It, doubtless, was bestowed by the Gentiles. Some suppose that it was applied as a term of ridicule, and cite the witty and sarcastic character of the people of Antioch, and their notoriety for inventing names of derision; but this is doubtful. The name may have been given simply as a distinctive title, naturally chosen from the recognized and avowed devotion of the disciples to Christ as their leader. The Antiochenes mistook the nature of the name, not understanding its use among the disciples as an official title- the Anointed - but-DIVIDER-
using it as apersonal name, which they converted into a party name. -DIVIDER-

Hebrews 11:3 By faith [πιστει]
Instrumental case of πιστις — pistis which he now illustrates in a marvellous way. Each example as far as Hebrews 11:31 is formally and with rhetorical skill introduced by πιστει — pistei After that only a summary is given. We understand Present active indicative of νοεω — noeō old verb (from νους — nous intellect) as in Matthew 15:17; Romans 1:20. The author appeals to our knowledge of the world in which these heroes lived as an illustration of faith. Recent books by great scientists like Eddington and Jeans confirm the position here taken that a Supreme Mind is behind and before the universe. Science can only stand still in God‘s presence and believe like a little child. The worlds “The ages” as in Hebrews 1:2 (cf. Einstein‘s fourth dimension, time). Accusative case of general reference. Have been framed Perfect passive infinitive of καταρτιζω — katartizō to mend, to equip, to perfect (Luke 6:40), in indirect discourse after νοουμεν — nooumen So that As a rule εις το — eis to with the infinitive is final, but sometimes as here it expresses result as in Romans 12:3 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1003). Hath been made Perfect active infinitive of γινομαι — ginomai What is seen Present passive articular participle (accusative case of general reference) of βλεπω — blepō Of things which do appear Ablative case with εκ — ek (out of) of the present passive participle. The author denies the eternity of matter, a common theory then and now, and places God before the visible universe as many modern scientists now gladly do. [source]
James 2:25 Rahab []
Also referred to in Hebrews 11:31, among the examples of faith. Dante places her in the third heaven:“Thou fain wouldst know who is within this lightThat here beside me thus is scintillating, Even as a sunbeam in the limpid water. -DIVIDER-
Then know thou, that within there is at rest Rahab, and being to our order joined,-DIVIDER-
With her in its supremest grade 'tis sealed. -DIVIDER-
of Christ's Triumph was she taken up. -DIVIDER-
Full meet it was to leave her in some heaven,-DIVIDER-
Even as a palm of the high victory-DIVIDER-
Which he acquired with one palm and the other,-DIVIDER-
Because she favored the first glorious deed-DIVIDER-
Of Joshua upon the Holy Land.”Paradise, ix., 112-125.Rahab became the wife of Salmon, and the ancestress of Boaz, Jesse's grandfather. Some have supposed that Salmon was one of the spies whose life she saved. At any rate, she became the mother of the line of David and of Christ, and is so recorded in Matthew's genealogy of our Lord, in which only four women are named. There is a peculiar significance in this selection of Rahab with Abraham as an example of faith, by James the Lord's brother. [source]

James 2:25 Rahab the harlot [ααβ η πορνη]
Her vicious life she left behind, but the name clung to her always. For our purposes the argument of James may seem stronger without the example of Rahab (Josh 2:1-21; Joshua 6:17; Joshua 6:22-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31). It is even said in Jewish Midrash that Rahab married Joshua and became an ancestor of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. [source]
James 2:25 In that she received [υποδεχαμενη]
First aorist middle participle of υποδεχομαι — hupodechomai to welcome.The messengers (τους αγγελους — tous aggelous). Original meaning of αγγελος — aggelos (Matthew 11:10). In Hebrews 11:31 we have κατασκοπους — kataskopous (spies, scouts).Sent out Second aorist active participle of εκβαλλω — ekballō to hurl out.Another way (ετεραι οδωι — heterāi hodōi). “By another way” (instrumental case), by a window instead of a door (Joshua 2:15.). [source]
James 2:25 The messengers [τους αγγελους]
Original meaning of αγγελος — aggelos (Matthew 11:10). In Hebrews 11:31 we have κατασκοπους — kataskopous (spies, scouts). [source]

What do the individual words in Hebrews 11:31 mean?

By faith Rahab the prostitute not did perish with those having disobeyed having received the spies with peace
Πίστει Ῥαὰβ πόρνη οὐ συναπώλετο τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν δεξαμένη τοὺς κατασκόπους μετ’ εἰρήνης

Πίστει  By  faith 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: πίστις  
Sense: conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it.
Ῥαὰβ  Rahab 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: Ῥαάβ  
Sense: a harlot of Jericho.
πόρνη  prostitute 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: πόρνη  
Sense: a woman who sells her body for sexual uses.
συναπώλετο  did  perish  with 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Middle, 3rd Person Singular
Root: συναπόλλυμι  
Sense: to destroy together.
τοῖς  those 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀπειθήσασιν  having  disobeyed 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀπειθέω  
Sense: not to allow one’s self to be persuaded.
δεξαμένη  having  received 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Middle, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: δέχομαι  
Sense: to take with the hand.
κατασκόπους  spies 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: κατάσκοπος  
Sense: an inspector, a spy.
εἰρήνης  peace 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: εἰρήνη  
Sense: a state of national tranquillity.