Hebrews 11:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 11:16, NIV: Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:16, ESV: But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:16, KJV: But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:16, NASB: But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:16, NLT: But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:16, CSB: But they now desire a better place--a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

What does Hebrews 11:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Old Testament figures such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob remained faithful to God, even though His promises did not come true in their earthly lifetimes. According to the writer of Hebrews, this is evidence of their understanding that God's plans for us are ultimately eternal, not material (Hebrews 11:10). If these men had merely been looking for some earthly benefit, they could have gone back where they came from. The fact that they did not proves that they saw themselves as citizens of heaven—"strangers and exiles on this earth" (Hebrews 11:13)—and were willing to trust God's ability to bring about His promises out of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1–3).

Earlier verses referred to Abraham looking forward to "a city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10). Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah and Ezekiel recorded visions of a heavenly city. The book of Revelation also mentions the city of New Jerusalem, in particular its amazing foundations (Revelation 21:9–14). This is the real goal, and the real purpose, of the faith held by men like Abraham. They realize that God's promises are not necessarily tied to some physical, earthly benefit. Instead, God is working all things for good from a heavenly, eternal plan (Romans 8:28).

The writer sums up his point using the word "therefore." Mere obedience is not enough; a person must have faith in God in order to please Him. Since these listed figures held that kind of trust in God, God was not ashamed of them. It was their faith, leading to obedience, not the actions themselves, which made them acceptable to God.