[ See “Joseph The Overcomer,” by D. M. Panton: and also, - “Joseph,” by F. B. Mayer. ]



“By faith, Joseph, at the close of his life, made [prophetic] mention of the Exodus

of the Children of Israel [from Egypt], and gave commandment

concerning his own bones” (Hebrews 11: 22).



That is all, after his long and eventful life.  After all his sorrows and “afflictions” (Amos 6: 6), and self-denials and sufferings; after all his triumphs and glory in Egypt, this is the greatest and most wonderful thing that emerges “when he was dying



What is the one thing that is thus singled out?



Not God’s foreknowledge in sending the dreams in his youth; not His grace, manifested, foreshowing his destiny; not His wondrous power in overruling all the enmity of his brethren; not the marvellous “acts” of God in ruling and overruling the events of his life; not mysterious ways, by which the “evil” designs of his brethren were made to accomplish and carry out the “good” things God had purposed; not all his exaltation and glory in Egypt which God had bestowed upon him; but one simple act, his dying act, in remembering and making mention of one thing which GOD HAD SAID.



This was the greatest thing in Joseph’s eventful life.  God had spoken; Joseph had heard the words he had uttered; Joseph believed what he had heard; faith came by hearing, and it was “by faith” that he remembered that word, and made mention of it.



The Holy Spirit, here, does not direct our attention to all those things which we delight to dwell upon; all the types foreshadowing the humiliation, rejection, sufferings, death, exaltation, and glory of the true Joseph; but to one simple act of faith; greater, more blessed, and more precious than all the acts of his eventful life.



It is the course and close of this life which is here indicated by the word used for his dying.  It is not the word used of Jacob, in the preceding verse.  There, it looks forward to a death which is about to take place, for the word is (apothneskon), about to die and become a corpse.  Here, it is (teleuton), a word that looks backward to a life about to end and close up all the past dealings of God with him.



The word used of Jacob looks forward to, and has respect to the corruption which was to come in, through, and after his death.



The word used of Joseph looks backward, and has respect to the ending of his long life which had been full of mercies and crowned with blessings.



At such a moment his thoughts are filled, not with the many wonders which God had wrought, but with one thing God had said.



Joseph had been highly exalted in Egypt.  It would have been truly according to nature if he had arranged for some grand memorial.  It would have been according to the custom of the Egyptians if he had ordered a colossal pyramid to be prepared as his tomb, and a grand monument to be erected to his memory.  But what he had heard from God, by “the hearing of faith had upset all these things which were so “highly esteemed among men and made them of no account in the reckoning of faith.



“The archers had sorely grieved him, and shot at him and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob” (Gen. 49: 23, 24).   God had highly exalted him.  He had delivered him from the pit, and brought him forth from prison, and made him ruler over all the land.  But none of these things moved him from what he had beard and believed.  All the wonderful works which God had done were not to be compared to the one thing which He had said.



So Joseph rests on his memories; and his thoughts dwell on what God had spoken concerning things yet to come.



And what was it that Joseph had heard?



The answer takes us back to some words which God had spoken to Abraham some 200 years before.



In Gen. 15: 13, 14, Jehovah said unto Abram “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs (and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them) 400 years.  And also that nation whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance



These words were handed down, and were surely believed by Isaac and Jacob.  They were passed on to Joseph; and, when he heard them, he believed what God had said.



So far as human sight was concerned, only some of those words had proved to be true; for his people were indeed “strangers in a strange land  But, up to the present, there had been no servitude and no affliction.  As far as sight could go, there was no sign of it.



And, had Joseph walked by sight, he must surely have become an unbeliever.  For, judging by “the things which are seen” (Heb. 11: 3, A.V.), the fulfilment of what he had “heard” seemed not only most unlikely, but impossible.



He himself was next to the throne; and his brethren dwelt in the land of peace and plenty.



True, he had been sold for a servant; and his feet they hurt with fetters.  The great Archer himself had shot at him and wounded him.  His brethren had been used to put him in the pit; the Ishmaelites had sold him into bondage; Potiphar’s wife had been used to cast him into prison; the chief butler had been used to keep him there:

“Until the time that His word came,

The word of Jehovah tried him



In spite of all the designs of the enemy,


“The king sent and loosed him;

The ruler of the people let him go free;

He made him lord of his house,

And ruler of all his substance,

To bind his princes at his pleasure,

And teach his servants wisdom



                                                                                           (Psalm 105: 19-22).



To sight, and judging by the outward appearance, what sign was there of the possibility of any servitude and affliction?



There was none.



There was nothing but Jehovah’s word,




Joseph knew of a surety because he “walked by faith and believed God.



How else could he have known anything about “the departure of the children of Israel



More than two hundred years had passed away since God had spoken of it to Abraham, and more than one hundred years had yet to run.



Joseph knew “of a surety” that the Exodus would take place 400 years after the birth of Isaac (“thy seedGen. 15: 13; Acts 7: 6), and 430 years after “the promise” (Gal. 3: 17; Ex. 12: 40).



See how he emphasises the certainty of his faith, twice over, when his life was drawing to a close.  He used the beautiful Figure of Speech called Polyitoton by which the same verb is repeated in a different inflection, “in visiting He will visit you  This is beautifully rendered “God will SURELY visit you  Joseph was in no doubt about it.



His words are:-



“I die: and God will SURELY visit you, and bring you out of this land unto a land which He sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.



“And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, ‘God will SURELY visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence’” (Gen. 1: 24, 25).



Note how the words “ye shall” entirely depend on “God’s will Apart from the fact that God had promised, Joseph’s assurance would have been merely the expression of a pious opinion.  He could only have said, “I think  But he said “I know



In Joseph’s heart were “things hoped for  The ground on which his hope* was based was on what he had “heard If he had heard from man that his people would have a mighty deliverance from Egypt, he could not have much ground for his hope.  But what he had heard was what God had sworn to his fathers.  He believed what he had thus “heard  He had, therefore, good “ground” for his hope: and thus faith was to him “the ground of things hoped for” for, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10: 17).


[* NOTE.  Keep in mind: We do not “hope” for “eternal life” - “the free gift of God” (Rom. 6: 23, R.V.)!  That “life” is a present possession to all who have been, and are, justified by faith in Christ Jesus.  It will be enjoyed after “the thousand years should be finished” (Rev. 20: 4, R.V.).  Our “hope,” as regenerate believers, is that we will be judged, on the undisclosed standard of our personal righteousness (Matt. 5: 20), if “accounted worthy to attain (i.e., ‘gain by effort’ – a Dictionary definition.) to that age” (Luke 20: 35), to be with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom, - before “a new heaven and a new earth” will be created.  “For the first heaven and first earth passed away” (Rev. 21: 1)!  “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches.  To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God (Rev. 2: 7, R.V.).]  



It was not a vague, general promise which he had heard from God, but a definite assurance based on Jehovah’s oath.



On such safe ground as this he could surely take an oath of his brethren.



Note the repetition of the word “TO”; individualising the patriarchs, and specialising the promises made to each.

“To Abraham”: “to THEE



“To Isaac”: “to THEE



“To Jacob”: “to THEE



Thus giving each one the blessed certainty of an individual oath that he, in his own person, should POSSESS the LAND which God had sworn to give him.



As not one of these three ever did possess it, or receive the promise in his own person, it is certain that they must be raised from the dead, in order to do so; otherwise, Jehovah’s oath would be broken,* and His promise would fall to the ground.


[* See Acts 7: 5. cf. Acts 5: 30-32, R.V.]



This is why the Lord Jesus quoted the words of Jehovah to Moses at the bush for the express purpose of proving the doctrine of resurrection.



When the Sadducees, “which say that there is no resurrection asked Him, concerning the woman who had married seven husbands, “In the resurrection whose wife shall she he of the seven  He replied “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage.”



Having answered their question as to the particular point raised, the Lord goes on to establish the general fact, and He adds “But, as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken UNTO YOU by God, saying,

I am the God of Abraham,

And the God of Isaac,

And the God of Jacob?


God is not the God of dead people, but of the living” (Matt. 22: 23-32).



The obvious conclusion of the argument being that, in order to possess the LAND and realise the promise and oath of God, they must of necessity live again “to Him” in [and after their] resurrection; inasmuch as God is not the God of the dead.



If they were alive at the time when the Lord spoke, how would that prove the doctrine of the resurrection?



If God’s not the God of dead people, but of living persons; and, if this was said “as touching the dead that they rise” (Mark 12: 26).  Is it not clear that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must rise, in order that God may be their God?



When it is said that the Old Testament saints knew nothing or little about a future life in resurrection, it is because the word “life” and “live” are not properly understood.



When it was declared in Lev. 18: 5, concerning the commandments, “which if a man do, he shall live in (or rather, by) them it means live again in resurrection or eternal life.



When it says “the just shall live by faith,” it cannot mean merely go on living in this life; for the unjust go on doing that, without faith.  It cannot mean live bodily or walk righteously; for many who do this do not necessarily live long lives; but it means “shall live again” in resurrection life.  Hence the Chaldee paraphrase renders it “shall live by them to life eternal Or, according to Solomon Jarchi, “live in the world that is to come



Examine the many other passages where the word “live” is used in this sense (Lev. 18: 5; Ezek. 20: 11, 13, 21; Neh. 9: 29; Hab. 2: 4; Rom. 1: 37; 10: 5; Gal. 3: 12; Heb. 10: 38.)  The Verb “to live” is used in this sense more often than is generally thought.  Compare Isa. 26: 19; 38: 16; 55: 3; Ezek. 18: 19; 33: 19; 37: 3, 5, 6, 14; Hos. 6: 2; Amos. 5: 4, &c.



The spiritual authorities of the Second Temple interpreted this phrase.



Thus, in the Gospel, “eternal life” by faith (i.e., on faith-principle) is set in contrast with eternal [i.e., ‘Age-lasting’ ] life by works.*


[* See Heb. 5: 9, where the Greek word adjective ‘aionian’, describing the ‘salvation’ “to all those who OBEY him,” erroneously translated ‘eternal’ in this context!  If that were true, then Christ died for nothing!  See footnote for the proper use of the word ‘aionian’.]


God is not the God of dead people, but of those of whom He was the God when alive, and He will be their God when they live again in resurrection life.



When Joseph rested his faith on the oath God had made to his fathers, and “gave commandment concerning his bones” that they should be carried up out of Egypt to that land which God had promised, it was in the sure and certain hope of resurrection; and that he would wake up in the LAND which God had promised.



This promise it was which he, “remembered this blessed hope it was of which he “made mention



It is often the case that, when we have an alternative rendering suggested in the margin, both are true and that both, taken together, do not exhaust the fulness of the Divine meaning.



So here, in Heb. 11: 22, Joseph by faith “made mention” of the Exodus, or, as in the margin, “remembered” it.



What he “remembered” was Jehovah’s word to his fathers; and he not only remembered it, but he made “mention” of it.



Both were facts, and both will he manifested in all who possess Joseph’s faith.



We do not read that God had spoken directly to Joseph, as He had to Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham, but what he had “heard” was what had been spoken to others, and handed down and passed on to him.  In Gen. 48: 21, 22, we read:


“And Israel [not Jacob] said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers; moreover, I have given TO THEE one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow



Joseph believed what he heard. Yes!  He believed he would possess that “one portion” which Israel said “I have given to thee He believed he would possess it and enjoy it “above” his brethren.  Hence “ye shall take up my bones with you



What simple faith!  Oh! to possess “like precious faith” as to what we have “heard” and has been handed down to us, not by the teachings of Babylon, or the errors of Rome, or by the traditions of men, but by the inspiration of God in the Scriptures of truth.



We, too, who believe God, have a blessed promise of “a portion above our brethren of a going up to our inheritance over the hill-country of the Amorites: of being “called on high” (Phil. 3: 14): of experiencing that wondrous “change” (Phil. 3: 20-21), and that “fashioning like unto the glorious body of the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour



Do we “remember” this?  Do we “make mention” of it?  Are we reaching forth unto those things which are before?  Are we pressing “toward the goal, toward the prize of our calling on high, by God, in Christ Jesus



Oh! that we, as many as are thus initiated (for this is the meaning of the word “perfect” in Phil. 3: 15; compare 1 Cor. 2: 6), may be of this mind!  “And if ye be differently minded in any matter, God will reveal even this [as well as those other matters] unto you



May He thus reveal more and more to us of this thrice blessed hope, and may we, in our turn, not only “remember” it, but “make mention” of it, for the comfort of our own hearts, and the [millennial] blessing of many others.












“Although he [Christ] was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5: 9. N.I.V.).



“Please write me a description of yesterday’s weather in New Testament Greek” says Stuart Allen, “and after I’ve read it I will listen to your argument



“The Bible is the most abused book in the world.  In the hands of both scholars and laymen it has suffered the indignity of being used to support all manner of dogmas, beliefs and fancies.  Common sense, which has normally been exercised in the interpretation of other books, seems to have been completely abandoned ... and liberties have been taken which in other spheres would have been condemned outright” (B. Sherring).



“The Bible is not a collection of verses put together without being related to one another.  Something precedes every verse and something follows it.  If we recognize the flow of thought leading up to a verse and away from it, we can know with some conviction the flow of thought within it.  This should be obvious, but it is surprising how often the obvious is often missed.  “To interpret without regard to the context is to interpret at random; to interpret contrary to the context is to teach falsehood for truth” (Companion to the Bible, Barrows).



The word “eternal” in the English text is misleading.  Those for whom Christ is the source of salvation (Christians)  already possess eternal salvation; and, beyond that, this salvation was not acquired through obedience to Christ, as in the text.  Rather, it was acquired through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3: 16).



Obedience to Christ, resulting from suffering, can come into view only following belief, never before.  Only the saved have “passed from death unto life” and are in a position to suffer and subsequently obey.  The unsaved are still “dead in trespasses and sins” (John 5: 24; Eph. 2: 1).






The Greek language, from which our English versions have been translated, does not contain a word for “eternal  A person using the Greek language thinks in the sense of “ages”; and the way this language is normally used in the New Testament to express “eternal,” apart from textual considerations, is through the use of the Greek words eis tous aionas ton aionon, meaning, “unto [or, ‘with respect to’] the ages of the ages” (ref. Heb. 13: 21; 1 Pet. 4: 11; Rev. 1: 6; 4: 9, 10 for several examples of places where these words are used, translated “forever and ever” in most versions).



Another less frequent used way to express “eternal” in the Greek New Testament, apart from textual considerations, is through the use of the shortened form of the preceding - eis tous aionas, meaning “unto [or, ‘with respect to’] the ages” (ref. Rom. 9: 5; 11: 36; 2 Cor. 11: 31; Heb. 13: 8 for several examples of places where these words are used, translated “forever” in most versions). 



The word from the Greek text translated “eternal” in Heb. 5: 9 is aionios.  This is the adjective equivalent of the noun aion, referred to in the preceding paragraph in its plural form to express “eternal  Aion means “an aeon [ the word ‘aeon’ is derived from aion]” or “an era,” usually understood throughout the Greek New Testament as “an age



Aionios, the adjective equivalent of aion, is used seventy-one times in the Greek New Testament and has been indiscriminately translated “eternal” or “everlasting” in almost every instance in the various English versions.  This word though should be understood about thirty of these seventy-one times in the sense of “age-lasting” rather than “eternal; and the occurrence in Heb. 5: 9 forms a case in point.



Several good examples of other places where aionios should be translated and understood as “age-lasting” are Gal. 6: 8; 1 Tim. 6: 12; Titus 1: 2; 3: 7.  These passages have to do with running the present race of the faith in view of one day realizing an inheritance in the kingdom, which is the hope set before Christians.



On the other hand, aionios can be understood in the sense of “eternal” if the text so indicates.  Several good examples of places where aionios should be translated and understood are John 3: 15, 16, 36.  These passages have to do with the life derived through faith in Christ because of His finished work at Calvary (cf. V. 14), and the only type life which can possibly be in view is “eternal life


Textual considerations must always be taken into account when properly translating and understanding aionios, for this is a word which can be used to imply either “age-lasting” or “eternal”; and it is used both ways numerous times in the New Testament.  Textual considerations in Heb. 5: 9 leave no room to question exactly how aionios should be understood and translated in this verse.  Life during the coming age, occupying a position as co-heir with Christ in that coming day, is what the Book of Hebrews is about.






Suffering with or on behalf of Christ must precede reigning with Christ.  The latter cannot be realized apart from the former.  Such suffering is inseparably linked with obedience; and the text clearly states that Christ is the source of that future salvation “unto all them that [presently] obey him,” in the same respect that Christ is the source of presently possessed eternal salvation for all those who have (in the past) “believed” on Him.

1 Peter 1: 11, relative to the saving of the soul (vv. 9, 10), states, “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it [He] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ [lit., ‘the sufferings with respect to Christ’] , and the glory that should follow



The thought, contextually, is not at all that of Christ suffering.  Rather, the thought has to do with Christians suffering with respect to Christ’s sufferings, subsequently realizing the salvation of their souls through having part in the glory which is to follow the sufferings.



This is the underlying thought behind the whole book of 1 Peter, expressed in so many words by the writer in 4: 12, 13:  “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy



This is the “eternalage-lasting’ ] glory” to which Christians have been called and in which Christians will be established after they “have suffered a while,” with obedience to Christ emanating from the sufferings (1 Peter 5: 10).  - A. L. Chitwood.