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Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

What reward is Hebrews 11:6 talking about?

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    I am thy shield : and thy exceeding great reward. Genesis 15:1 Good question. Up-voted +1. – Nigel J Dec 13 '20 at 18:43
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The "reward" of Heb 11:6 is a mistranslation - the phrase in Greek is αὐτὸν μισθαποδότης γίνεται. = "he becomes a rewarder".

The operative word here is μισθαποδότης (misthapodotes) = "rewarder". It is the only place where this word occurs in the GNT. However, its cognate relatives are:

  • μισθαποδοσία = (lit: repayment of price or payment of price due), reward, due punishment occurring only in Heb 2:2, 10:35, 11:26
  • μίσθιος = a paid worker, hired servant, hireling (contrasted with a slave) occurring only in Luke 15:17, 19, 21
  • μισθός = (a) pay, wages, salary, (b) reward, recompense, punishment occurring in 29 places such as Matt 5:12, 46, 6:1, 2, 5, 16, 10:41, 42, 20:8, Mark 9:41, Luke 6:23, 35, 10:7, John 4:36, Acts 1:18, Rom 4:4, 1 Cor 3:8, 14, 9:17, 18, 1 Tim 5:18, James 5:4, 2 Peter 2:13, 15, Rev 11:18, 22:12, etc.
  • μισθόω = I hire out, mid: I hire, engage occurring only in Matt 20:1, 7.
  • μίσθωμα = a rented house, hired dwelling occurring only in Acts 28:30.
  • μισθωτός = a hired servant, hireling occurring only in Mark 1:20, John 10:12, 13.

Back to the OP's question. The word in Heb 11:6 identifies God as the rewarder of those who seek Him. Heb 11 does not explicitly say what the reward of the rewarder is. We derive this from other data in the NT.

Therefore, to find the "reward", we must seek those references that discuss it as listed above under μισθός (misthos). BDAG shows that this word is used in two closely related senses:

  1. remuneration for work done, pay, wages, eg, Luke 10:7, 1 Tim 5:18, Matt 20:8, John 4:36, Acts 1:18, 2 Peter 2:13, 15, Jude 11.
  2. recognition (mostly by God) for the moral quality of action, recompense, eg, (a) an affirmation of laudable conduct, eg, 1 Cor 9:17, Matt 5:12, 46, 6:1, 2, 5, 16, 1 Cor 3;8, 14, Matt 10:41, 2 John 8, Luke 6:23, 35, Rev 11:18, Matt 10:42, Mark 9:41, Rom 4:4; (c) reward or punishment as the case may be, eg, Rev 22:12.

Therefore, let us focus on what 2a above has to tell us. From these texts we can deduce the following:

  • Matt 5:12, Luke 6:23 - the reward is in heaven
  • Matt 5:46 - the reward obtains for those who deal kindly and justly with all people not just those who are love us. See also Matt 6:1, 2, 5, 16, 10:41, Mark 9:41, Luk 6:23, 35,
  • Matt 10:41, 42 - reward differ in some (unspecified) way.
  • 1 Cor 3:8, 14, Rev 22;12 - rewards are based upon what we have done. See also 1 Cor 9:17, 18, Matt 6:27, Eph 6:8, etc.

Thus, again, the NT never really defines exactly what the "reward" is but is far more concerned about how to receive the reward! HOWEVER, that reward, is also called a "Gift of God" from which we learn the following:

  • Rom 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
  • 1 Cor 9:14, 15 - because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
  • Rom 5:17 - how much more will those who receive an abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
  • 2 Cor 5:18 - All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ
  • Eph 2:8 - For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God

Thus, the reward of the righteous is the gift of God, namely eternal life through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 5:11, 12 - And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Rev 22:3, 4 - No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be within the city, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

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  • Thank you for the detailed answer. So, based on your through analysis, it appears that Scripture supports afterlife rewards. So, if someone is in their mid twenties or thirties, and assuming they will live an average 80 year life, if they start "earnestly seeking God", they will have to wait for about 50-60 years before they get positive divine feedback, correct? No rewards before death? – Spirit Realm Investigator Dec 13 '20 at 21:38
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - that is true for the eternal reward but not for temporal rewards. HOWEVER, Jesus told His followers, that in this life you will have troubles. See 2 Cor 7:4, 1:8, 6:4, Luke 22:28, Job, etc. – Dottard Dec 13 '20 at 21:51
  • Those are examples of temporal sufferings. Any examples of temporal rewards? – Spirit Realm Investigator Dec 13 '20 at 21:54
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - only the promise (Matt 28:19) that Jesus would always be with us and (Ps 119:165), "Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble." – Dottard Dec 13 '20 at 21:56
  • Peace - that reminds of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, etc.. Perhaps those are examples of rewards before death? – Spirit Realm Investigator Dec 13 '20 at 21:58
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What reward is Hebrews 11:6 talking about?

It is talking about the rewarder. God Himself is the reward. With that, you will receive everything else.

Berean Literal Bible

And without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For it behooves the one drawing near to God to believe that He exists and that He becomes a rewarder to those earnestly seeking Him out.

He rewards
μισθαποδότης (misthapodotēs)
Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 3406: A rewarder. From misthoo and apodidomi; a renumerator.

As pointed out by Nigel in his comment in Genesis 15:1

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward."

MacLaren's Expositions express a similar sentiment:

Ah, brethren! there is no reward comparable to the felt presence in our own quiet hearts of the God who has found us, and whom we have found. And if we have that, then He becomes, here and now, the reward of the diligent search, and the reward of it to, day carries in itself the assurance of the perfect reward of the coming time. ‘He walked with God, and... God took him.’ That will be true of all of us. There is only one seeking in life that is sure to result in the finding of what we seek. All other search - the quest after the chief good - if it runs in any other direction, is resultless and barren. But there is one course, and one only, in which the result is solid and certain. ‘I have never said to any of the seed of Jacob, seek ye My face in vain.’ If we seek He will be found of us, and so be our Rewarder and our reward.

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