39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (NIV)

If the "something better" is to be understood as the new (and better) covenant inaugurated by Christ's blood, how are we to understand the connection between God's planning of this new covenant for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect? Since Hebrews has previously established that we have been made perfect (10:14), are we to understand that OT saints have been made perfect in this same way, or are we to understand this 'being made perfect' in a legal sense that will only be revealed at Christ's return?

  • 1
    Could you just explain what you mean by 'legal' sense in your last sentence ? Do you mean 'official' ? Up-voted +1. Good question.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 28, 2020 at 7:38
  • I was trying to capture the 'now but not yet' tension of new covenant believers who have been made perfect (10:14) in their being declared holy (which I take to describe positional sanctification/justification) but await the advent of Christ before we are brought to glory in Heaven Nov 1, 2020 at 6:45
  • Does this answer your question? “Something Better” in Hebrews 11:40
    – Michael16
    May 26, 2023 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


The "something better" of Heb 11:40 is explained earlier in the same chapter. Note V13-16 -

All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Now those who say such things show that they are seeking a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one.

Again, in V24-26 we have:

Moses ... valued disgrace for Christ above the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his reward. (Compare Rev 22:12, "Behold, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me ...)"

We see more of this in V35:

Others were tortured and refused their release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Compare John 5:28, 29, "Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice 29and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation."

It should be clear from the above repetition that the New covenant is never mentioned in Heb 11. What IS regularly mentioned is the resurrection of the dead at Jesus' return and the heavenly reward. That is certainly "something better."

  • Thank you for your answer. Although the new covenant is never mentioned by name in Hebrews 11, reference to it here would certainly not be out of keeping with the book thus far. If the 'something better' is to be understood as the heavenly reward we ourselves await, that seems problematic to me in that it would suggest that these OT saints were excluded from that. To me, the 'something better' would seem to be the new covenant blessings we enjoy (primarily the patience of God in delaying Christ's return that we might be saved). Nov 1, 2020 at 6:46
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    @BenRobinson - part of the promises in the new covenant was the reward of heaven and being with Jesus - see John 14:1-3, etc. That does not negate the persistent references to heavenly rewards in Heb 11.
    – Dottard
    Nov 1, 2020 at 7:52

The Old Testament saints did not defeat the sinfulness of human nature in themselves, but only checked it through keeping of the precepts of the Law. Yet, that was not enough, in Paul’s words, to overcome sin, but still the Law-abiding was the greatest virtue available by then.

Thus, the keeping of the Law was a major feat for them and God accounted this to them as the best virtue they were able to perform in His eyes. However, the Incarnation of the Son of the God made possible, through the adoption of the entirety of human nature by Him, to heal the fallenness of mankind - the ulcers of human nature - from the sinfulness.

Thus, this healing has a historical dimension. Now, Christ after the Incarnation can and does heal not only the living, but also the souls of the deceased saints, so that ontological condition of both is changed to the "new creation".

Therefore, the OT saints achieved their fulfillment only after the Incarnation, i.e. together with those who lived and became Christians after that.

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