Hebrews 11:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 11:31, NIV: By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Hebrews 11:31, ESV: By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

Hebrews 11:31, KJV: By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

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

Hebrews 11:31, NLT: It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

Hebrews 11:31, CSB: By faith Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn't perish with those who disobeyed.

What does Hebrews 11:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

True faith in God is not merely agreement, or belief. Nor is it simple obedience, without the right attitude. According to the book of Hebrews, godly faith means trust—relying on God, based on what we know, and depending on Him to fulfill His promises in the future (Hebrews 11:1–3). This kind of reliance leads to obedience, even when we're not clear on all of the details. Abraham (Hebrews 11:17–19) and Moses (Hebrews 11:24–28) demonstrated this kind of faith. The nation of Israel did, as well, at both the Red Sea (Hebrews 11:29) and at Jericho (Hebrews 11:30), resulting in victory.

The example given here is fascinating for several reasons. Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho—the site of an Israeli victory just mentioned in the book of Hebrews (Joshua 2:1–2). Rahab's obedience to God exemplifies godly faith: she relied on what she knew of God (Joshua 2:9–10), and trusted God's control of the future (Joshua 2:11–13), causing her to obey God (Joshua 2:15–16), instead of living in fear of other men (Joshua 2:3–6). It's important to remember that God's actions in Jericho were a judgment on that people for their outrageous wickedness (Deuteronomy 9:4–5)—and Rahab was spared from this very judgment (Joshua 2:14–15). This presents a unique contrast, showing that God can legitimately judge sin, and rescue the righteous, even when we can't see how He could do both at once.

Further, it should be noted that Rahab was not Jewish—she was a Gentile. At the time this letter of Hebrews was written, not all of the Christians experiencing persecution were Jews. And, there was a lingering sense in which some Gentile believers would have felt a certain distance from their Hebrew brothers (Acts 15:1–21). The reference to Rahab helps reinforce the idea that God's promises, in the new covenant, are for all people, Jew and Gentile alike (Galatians 3:7–8). Rahab is also interesting, as she is eventually listed in the genealogy of the Messiah. Rahab's great-great-grandson was Israel's king David (Matthew 1:5).