Hebrews 11:10
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
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(10) A city which hath foundations.—Rather, the city which hath the foundations. The general thought is that which we find expressed in Hebrews 11:14-16. There, the strangers and pilgrims are seeking for a country of their own; here, the dweller in tents is waiting for the city that hath the foundations. All these verses clearly teach that the promise as apprehended by the patriarchs was not bounded by the gift of Canaan. Of what nature their expectations of the future life may have been we cannot tell; but this they knew, that their fellowship with God and their interest in His promises would not cease with this transient life. What they saw of earthly blessing was but the earnest of some greater gift still future, and yet present through the power of their faith. The shifting tent might be Abraham’s home now, but he waited for that city which should never know change—of which alone it could be said that it hath “the foundations,” and whose Architect and Maker is God. (Comp. Psalm 87:1; Revelation 21)

11:8-19 We are often called to leave worldly connexions, interests, and comforts. If heirs of Abraham's faith, we shall obey and go forth, though not knowing what may befall us; and we shall be found in the way of duty, looking for the performance of God's promises. The trial of Abraham's faith was, that he simply and fully obeyed the call of God. Sarah received the promise as the promise of God; being convinced of that, she truly judged that he both could and would perform it. Many, who have a part in the promises, do not soon receive the things promised. Faith can lay hold of blessings at a great distance; can make them present; can love them and rejoice in them, though strangers; as saints, whose home is heaven; as pilgrims, travelling toward their home. By faith, they overcome the terrors of death, and bid a cheerful farewell to this world, and to all the comforts and crosses of it. And those once truly and savingly called out of a sinful state, have no mind to return into it. All true believers desire the heavenly inheritance; and the stronger faith is, the more fervent those desires will be. Notwithstanding their meanness by nature, their vileness by sin, and the poverty of their outward condition, God is not ashamed to be called the God of all true believers; such is his mercy, such is his love to them. Let them never be ashamed of being called his people, nor of any of those who are truly so, how much soever despised in the world. Above all, let them take care that they are not a shame and reproach to their God. The greatest trial and act of faith upon record is, Abraham's offering up Isaac, Ge 22:2. There, every word shows a trial. It is our duty to reason down our doubts and fears, by looking, as Abraham did, to the Almighty power of God. The best way to enjoy our comforts is, to give them up to God; he will then again give them as shall be the best for us. Let us look how far our faith has caused the like obedience, when we have been called to lesser acts of self-denial, or to make smaller sacrifices to our duty. Have we given up what was called for, fully believing that the Lord would make up all our losses, and even bless us by the most afflicting dispensations?For he looked for a city which hath foundations - It has been doubted to what the apostle here refers. Grotius and some others suppose, that he refers to Jerusalem, as a permanent dwelling for his posterity, in contradistinction from the unsettled mode of life which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob led. But there is no evidence that Abraham looked forward to the building of such a city, for no promise was made to him of this kind; and this interpretation falls evidently below the whole drift of the passage; compare Hebrews 11:14-16; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14. Phrases like that of "the city of God," "a city with foundations," "the new Jerusalem," and "the heavenly Jerusalem" in the time of the apostle, appear to have acquired a kind of technical signification. They referred to "heaven" - of which Jerusalem, the seat of the worship of God, seems to have been regarded as the emblem. Thus, in Hebrews 12:22, the apostle speaks of the "heavenly Jerusalem," and in Hebrews 13:14, he says, "here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come."

In Revelation 21:2, John says that he "saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of heaven," and proceeds in that chapter and the following to give a most beautiful description of it. Even so early as the time of Abraham, it would seem that the future blessedness of the righteous was foretold under the image of a splendid city reared on permanent foundations. It is remarkable that Moses does not mention this as an object of the faith of Abraham, and it is impossible to ascertain the degree of distinctness which this had in his view. It is probable that the apostle in speaking of his faith in this particular did not rely on any distinct record, or even any tradition, but spoke of his piety in the language which he would use to characterize religion of any age, or in any individual. He was accustomed, in common with others of his time, to contemplate the future blessedness of the righteous under the image of a beautiful city; a place where the worship of God would be celebrated for ever - a city of which Jerusalem was the most striking representation to the mind of a Jew. It was natural for him to speak of strong piety in this manner wherever it existed, and especially in such a case as that of Abraham, who left his own habitation to wander in a distant land,

This fact showed that he regarded himself as a stranger and sojourner, and yet he had a strong expectation of a fixed habitation, and a permanent inheritance. He must, therefore, have looked on to the permanent abodes of the righteous; the heavenly city; and though he had an undoubted confidence that the promised land would be given to his posterity, yet as he did not possess it himself, he must have looked for his own permanent abode to the fixed residence of the just in heaven. This passage seems to me to prove that Abraham had an expectation of future happiness after death. There is not the slightest evidence that he supposed there would be a magnificent and glorious capital where the Messiah would personally reign, and where the righteous dead, raised from their graves, would dwell in the second advent of the Redeemer. All that the passage fairly implies is, that while Abraham. expected the possession of the promised land for his posterity, yet his faith looked beyond this for a permanent home in a future world.

Whose builder and maker is God - Which would not be reared by the agency of man, but of which God was the immediate and direct architect. This shows conclusively, I think, that the reference in this allusion to the "city" is not to Jerusalem, as Grotius supposes; but the language is just such as will appropriately describe heaven, represented as a city reared without human hands or art, and founded and fashioned by the skill and power of the Deity; compare the notes on 2 Corinthians 5:1. The language here applied to God as the "architect" or framer of the universe, is often used in the classic writers. See Kuinoel and Wetstein. The apostle here commends the faith of Abraham as eminently strong. The following "hints" will furnish topics of reflection to those who are disposed to inquire more fully into its strength:

(1) The journey which he undertook was then a long and dangerous one. The distance from Haran to Palestine by a direct route was not less than four hundred miles, and this journey lay across a vast desert - a part of Arabia Deserta. That journey has always been tedious and perilous; but to see its real difficulty, we must put ourselves into the position in which the world was four thousand years ago. There was no knowledge of the way; no frequented path; no facility for traveling; no turnpike or rail-way; and such a journey then must have appeared incomparably more perilous than almost any which could now be undertaken.

(2) he was going among strangers. Who they were he knew not; but the impression could not but have been made on his mind that they were strangers to religion, and that a residence among them would be anything but desirable.

(3) he was leaving country, and home, and friends; the place of his birth and the graves of his fathers, with the moral certainty that he would see them no more.

(4) he had no right to the country which he went to receive. He could urge no claim on the ground of discovery, or inheritance, or conquest at any former period; but though he went in a peaceful manner, and with no power to take it, and could urge no claim to it whatever, yet he went with the utmost confidence that it would be his. He did not even expect to buy it - for he had no means to do this, and it seems never to have entered his mind to bargain for it in any way, except for the small portion that be needed for a burying-ground.

(5) He had no means of obtaining possession. He had no wealth to purchase it; no armies to conquer it; no title to it which could be enforced before the tribunals of the land. The prospect of obtaining it must have been distant, and probably he saw no means by which it was to be done. In such a case, his only hope could be in God.

(6) it is not impossible that the enterprise in that age might have been treated by the friends of the patriarch as perfectly wild and visionary. The prevailing religion evidently was idolatry, and the claim which Abraham set up to a special call from the Most High, might have been deemed entirely fanatical. To start off on a journey through a pathless desert; to leave his country and home, and all that he held dear, when he himself knew not whither he went; to go with no means of conquest, but with the expectation that the distant and unknown land would be given him, could not but have been regarded as a singular instance of visionary hope. The whole transaction, therefore, was in the highest degree an act of simple confidence in God, where there was no human basis of calculation, and where all the principles on which people commonly act would have led him to pursue just the contrary course. It is, therefore, not without reason that the faith of Abraham is so commended.

10. looked for—Greek, "he was expecting"; waiting for with eager expectation (Ro 8:19).

a city—Greek, "the city," already alluded to. Worldly Enoch, son of the murderer Cain, was the first to build his city here: the godly patriarchs waited for their city hereafter (Heb 11:16; 12:22; 13:14).

foundations—Greek, "the foundations" which the tents had not, nor even men's present cities have.

whose builder and maker—Greek, "designer [Eph 1:4, 11] and master-builder," or executor of the design. The city is worthy of its Framer and Builder (compare Heb 11:16; Heb 8:2). Compare Note, see on [2587]Heb 9:12, on "found."

The reason of this contented pilgrimage was the excellent end of it, the place and state to which it brought him; he did really discern by the Spirit’s work in him, and promise to him, his title to it, and vehemently did desire and long for, and yet patiently waited for, a better place and state than this earthly; and was daily making his approaches to it, Romans 8:19 2 Corinthians 5:1,2,8,9.

For he looked for a city which hath foundations: poliv notes both a place made up and constituted of buildings and houses, such was the earthly Jerusalem; and a state, polity, or community. Here it must be understood spiritually, for such a place and state as is not to be shadowed out by any in this world; it being for nature, mansions, society, condition, such as no earthly can decipher, or set out. This city is heaven itself, often so styled in this Epistle, as Hebrews 11:16 12:22 13:14 Revelation 3:12. It is not movable, as a tent fastened by stakes and cords; nor as creature buildings, perishable. Histories tell us of the rise and fall of the best earthly cities; this city is built on the Rock of ages, as well as by him, whose immutability, almightiness, and eternity hath laid and settled its foundations, the basis and ground work, firm and incorruptible, 1 Peter 1:4.

Whose builder and maker is God; the happy fabric, with persons and state, endures for ever, because of its Raiser and Founder. The great Architect, that cast the plot and model of it in his own mind, and the publicly declared Operator and Raiser of it, who laid the foundations, reared the mansions, and finished the whole, is no less person than the infinitely wise, almighty, and eternal God. It all became him alone, and doth as far exceed other cities as God doth men. No human art or power was fit or capable for such a work, but only God.

For he looked for a city which hath foundations,.... Not the city of Jerusalem, nor the Gospel church state; but either the city of the new Jerusalem, said to have twelve foundations, Revelation 21:14 and in which glorious state, Abraham, with the rest of the saints, being raised from the dead, will in person possess the promised land; or else the ultimate glory of the saints in heaven, where God dwells, and keeps his palace; and which will be the dwelling place of the saints, and will have in it many habitations; and which will be both peaceable and safe, and full of glory, riches, joy, and pleasure; and into which none but holy and righteous persons will enter; the "foundations" of which are the everlasting love of God, eternal election, the covenant of grace, the promise and preparation of it by God, from the foundation of the world, and the Lord Jesus Christ, his blood and righteousness; which show the immovableness of it, it being opposed to the tabernacles Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dwelt in, and to the transitory enjoyments of this world: and for this sure, immovable, and comfortable state of things, Abraham was "looking" by faith; he looked through, and above temporal things, to spiritual things; he went through difficulties with cheerfulness, did not greedily covet earthly things, but looked with disdain upon them, and to heaven with faith, affection, and earnest desire; and this proves his faith to be, as that is defined, Hebrews 11:1

whose builder and maker is God: God the Father has prepared this glory from the foundation of the world, and has promised before the world began, and has chosen his people to it; the Spirit of God makes it known, and prepares them for it; and the Lord Jesus Christ is the forerunner entered, who is gone to get it ready for them, and will put them into the possession of it: this shows the superior excellency of this city, or glorious state; and that God has the sole right to dispose of it.

For he looked for a city which hath {e} foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

(e) This foundation is contrasted with their tabernacle.

Hebrews 11:10. Inner motive for the πίστει παρῴκησεν, Hebrews 11:9. His believing expectation was directed not so much to earthly possession, as to the possession of that which was higher and heavenly. His true home he thought not to find upon earth, but only in heaven.

τὴν τοὺς θεμελίους ἔχουσαν πόλιν] the city which has the foundations, firm and enduring city. The opposite to the tents, which form only a temporary lodging, and may be easily broken up and carried away. What is meant is not the earthly Jerusalem (Grotius, Clericus, Dindorf), to which the author, considering the excessive attachment of his readers to the earthly city of God and the earthly sanctuary, could only have alluded most unsuitably, but the archetype of the same: the heavenly city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, of which the possession for the Christians also is as yet something future, since they will obtain a dwelling therein only at the epoch of the consummation of the Messianic kingdom. The idea of a heavenly Jerusalem was already current among the Jews; its descent to earth was expected on the arising of the Messiah. See Schöttgen, de Hieros. coelesti, in his Hor. Hebr. p. 1205 ff.; Wetstein, N. T. II. p. 229 ff.; Ewald, Comm. in Apocal. pp. 11, 307. From the Jews this conception passed over to the Christians, in so far as that which the Jews expected at the first arising of the Messiah was placed by the latter in the time of the return of Christ. Comp. further Hebrews 10:13-16, Hebrews 12:22, Hebrews 13:14; Galatians 4:26; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2 ff., Revelation 21:10 ff.

ἧς τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς ὁ θεός] of which the designer and artificer (creator) is God. δημιουργός in the N. T. only here, as in the O. T. only 2Ma 4:1.

10. a city which hath foundations] Rather, “the city which hath the foundations,” namely, “the Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:14). The same thought is frequently found in Philo. The tents of the Patriarchs had no foundations; the foundations of the City of God are of pearl and precious stone (Revelation 21:14; Revelation 21:19.)

builder and maker] Rather, “architect and builder.” This is the only place in the N.T. where the word demiourgos occurs. It is found also in 2Ma 4:1, and plays a large part in the vocabulary of Gnostic heretics. But God is called the “Architect” of the Universe in Philo and in Wis 13:1, “neither by considering the works did they acknowledge the workmaster.”

Hebrews 11:10. Τοὺς θεμελίους, the foundations) which the tents had not. Of these foundations, see Revelation 21:14.—πόλιν, a city) which is not removed (as a tent is): v. 16.—ἧς, whose) which is worthy of GOD, its founder.—τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς, [builder and maker] contriver and founder) The synonymous terms intimate, that the whole city was founded and completed by Him alone: He not only made it, but also found it [ch. Hebrews 9:12, εὑράμενος].

Hebrews 11:10For he looked for a city which hath foundations (ἐξεδέχετο γὰρ τὴν τοὺς θεμελίους ἔξουσαν πόλιν)

The sense is impaired in A.V. by the omission of the articles, the city, the foundations. Passing over the immediate subject of God's promise to Abraham - his inheritance of the land in which he sojourns - the writer fastens the patriarch's faith upon the heavenly fulfillment of the promise - the perfected community of God, which, he assumes, was contained in the original promise. By the city he means the heavenly Jerusalem, and his statement is that Abraham's faith looked forward to that. The idea of the new or heavenly Jerusalem was familiar to the Jews. See Hebrews 12:22, Hebrews 13:14; Galatians 4:26; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2. The Rabbins regarded it as an actual city. For the foundations comp. Revelation 21:14. In ascribing to the patriarchs an assured faith in heaven as the end and reward of their wanderings, the writer oversteps the limits of history; but evidently imports into the patriarchal faith the contents of a later and more developed faith - that of himself and his readers.

Builder and maker (τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς)

Τεχνίτης artificer, architect. Comp. Acts 19:24 (note), Acts 19:28; Revelation 18:22, and lxx, 1 Chronicles 29:5; Sol 7:1; Wisd. 8:6; 14:2; Sir. 9:17 Δημιουργὸς N.T.o, originally a workman for the public (δῆμος); generally, framer, builder. It is used by Xenophon and Plato of the maker of the world (Xen. Mem. i. 4, 9; Plato, Tim. 40 C; Repub. 530 A). It was appropriated by the Neo Platonists as the designation of God. To the Gnostics, the Demiurge was a limited, secondary God, who created the world; since there was no possibility of direct contact between the supreme, incommunicable God and the visible world.

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