39. having obtained a good report--Greek, "being borne witness of." Though they were so, yet "they received not the promise," that is, the final completion of "salvation" promised at Christ's coming again ( Hebrews 9:28 ); "the eternal inheritance" ( Hebrews 9:15 ). Abraham did obtain the very thing promised ( Hebrews 6:15 ) in part, namely, blessedness in soul after death, by virtue of faith in Christ about to come. The full blessedness of body and soul shall not be till the full number of the elect shall be accomplished, and all together, no one preceding the other, shall enter on the full glory and bliss. Moreover, in another point of view, "It is probable that some accumulation of blessedness was added to holy souls, when Christ came and fulfilled all things even as at His burial many rose from the dead, who doubtless ascended to heaven with Him" [FLACIUS in BENGEL]. (Compare Note, perfecting of believers in title, and in respect to conscience, took place once for all, at the death of Christ, by virtue of His being made by death perfect as Saviour. Their perfecting in soul at, and ever after Christ's death, took place, and takes place at their death. But the universal and final perfecting will not take place till Christ's coming.
40. provided--with divine forethought from eternity (compare Genesis 22:8 Genesis 22:14 ).
some better thing for us--( Hebrews 7:19 ); than they had here. They had not in this world, "apart from us" (so the Greek is for "without us," that is, they had to wait for us for), the clear revelation of the promised salvation actually accomplished, as we now have it in Christ; in their state, beyond the grave their souls also seem to have attained an increase of heavenly bliss on the death and ascension of Christ; and they shall not attain the full and final glory in body and soul (the regeneration of the creature), until the full number of the elect (including us with them) is completed. The Fathers, CHRYSOSTOM, &c., restricted the meaning of Hebrews 11:39 Hebrews 11:40 to this last truth, and I incline to this view. "The connection is, You, Hebrews, may far more easily exercise patience than Old Testament believers; for they had much longer to wait, and are still waiting until the elect are all gathered in; you, on the contrary, have not to wait for them" [ESTIUS]. I think his object in these verses ( Hebrews 11:39 Hebrews 11:40 ) is to warn Hebrew Christians against their tendency to relapse into Judaism. "Though the Old Testament worthies attained such eminence by faith, they are not above us in privileges, but the reverse." It is not we who are perfected with them, but rather they with us. They waited for His coming; we enjoy Him as having come ( Hebrews 1:1 , 2:3 ). Christ's death, the means of perfecting what the Jewish law could not perfect, was reserved for our time. Compare Hebrews 12:2 , "perfecter (Greek) of our faith." Now that Christ is come, they in soul share our blessedness, being "the spirits of the just made perfect" ( Hebrews 12:23 ); so ALFORD; however, Hebrews 9:12 shows that the blood of Christ, brought into the heavenly holy place by Him, first opened an entrance into heaven (compare John 3:13 ). Still, the fathers were in blessedness by faith in the Saviour to come, at death ( Hebrews 6:15 , Luke 16:22 ).