Hebrews 11:38 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 11:38, NIV: the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

Hebrews 11:38, ESV: of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Hebrews 11:38, KJV: (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Hebrews 11:38, NASB: (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, on mountains, and sheltering in caves and holes in the ground.

Hebrews 11:38, NLT: They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

Hebrews 11:38, CSB: The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

What does Hebrews 11:38 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The opening phrase of this verse is especially poignant, given the list of atrocities which led up to it. The writer of Hebrews has cataloged some of the horrible evils inflicted on those who "held fast" (Hebrews 10:23) to their faith in God (Hebrews 11:35–37). The purpose of listing these evils is to point out that those with a godly faith—a forward-looking trust in God—can endure these kinds of persecutions. And, that God will honor those who maintain their faith even when the world makes it hard to be faithful.

Further, as the last two verses of this chapter will explain, knowing how much earlier believers have suffered ought to convict those who hear the gospel today. Those prior heroes were looking forward to God's ultimate, final fulfillment of His promises (Hebrews 11:10–16). Not only did these believers die before God had brought about that end, they are still waiting for God to complete His plan (Hebrews 11:39). This means that we, those who are alive and hearing the gospel today, are especially blessed by God. He is waiting to judge the world—even waiting to give His promised rewards to heroes of old—for our sake!

This verse also references the earthly poverty often experienced by those who are faithful to God. Moses, in an earlier example, was said to have turned away from the riches of his adoptive Egyptian home, in order to faithfully identify with his Hebrew family (Hebrews 11:24–26).