39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Verses 39 and 40 summarize chapter 11 to transition to the thought of endurance in chapter 12. The faith of those in chapter 11 led to better things from God (vv. 39–40).
And all these,
All prophets without reservation acted with courage by faith.
having obtained a good testimony through faith,
God commended the heroes of chapter 11 for their faith.
did not receive the promise [singular],
This is the first place in the book of Hebrews whereby “promise” is used in the singular. None of those who functioned by faith in chapter 11 experienced the fulfillment of the singular New Covenant fulfilled by Christ. Instead, they anticipated the fulfillment of that promise by faith.
God having provided something better for us,
The New Testament believer has a “better” promise than Old Testament believers. The church has the New Covenant fulfilled in Christ.
that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Converted Jews of the New Testament were tempted to revert to Judaism. They needed to come to grips with the New Covenant for them. If so, they would mature into full-fledged New Testament believers (He 12:2, 23). Jews needed the completion of New Testament truth. The challenge was for the Jewish readers of Hebrews to understand that persecution for taking a stand for truth was not unique.
Believers mature through their faith.
Faithful believers know what is ahead for them (Ro 8:18; 1 Pe 1:4). They believe not only what they can see but what they cannot see, the future. Believers count on God’s promises for the future (Jn 20:29).
True faith rests on God’s future blessing. It also reaps God’s honor. Believers of the Old Testament exercised their faith under the Old Covenant; however, Christians in the New Testament have much more upon which we can trust God. Greater provision from God ought to launch our faith to greater exploits for Him. This will produce a mature believer.