BROTHERS and SISTERS, by faith Abraham lived for a time as a foreigner in the land of the promise, as in a land that was not his own, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For Abraham looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac in sacrifice. He who had joyfully received the promises was ready to offer up his uniquely loved (only-begotten) son, of whom he had been told, “In Isaac your seed will be called” (Genesis 21:12). Abraham concluded that God is even able to raise someone from the dead and, figuratively speaking, Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead. By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial. By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets. By faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, became strong in weakness, grew mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn apart, they were tempted, they were killed by the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in caves and holes in the ground. All of them received a testimony through their faith, but they did not receive the promise, since God had made provision for us to have something better, so that they would not be made perfect apart from us.
Saint John Chrysostom, commenting on the last sentence,
God has provided some better thing for us. In order that they might not seem to have the advantage of us from being crowned before us, He appointed one time of crowning for all; and he that gained the victory so many years before, receives his crown with you. Do you see God's tender carefulness? And Paul did not say, that they without us might not be crowned, but that they without us might not be made perfect; so that at that time they appear perfect also. They were before us as regards the conflicts, but are not before us as regards the crowns. God did not wrong them, but He honored us. For they also wait for the brethren. For if we are all one body, the pleasure becomes greater to this body, when it is crowned altogether, and not part by part. For the righteous are also worthy of admiration in this, that they rejoice in the welfare of their brethren, as in their own. So that for themselves also, this is according to their wish, to be crowned along with their own members. To be glorified all together, is a great delight.
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