The salvation and deliverance of Rahab foreshadows the universal call of God to faith in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. We saw earlier in the book of Hebrews, God incorporating the two sons of Joseph, half Egyptians, into the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, making them full heirs to the promises of God. In Hebrews 11:31 we see God including a full-blooded alien into His family. It says, “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Westcott says, “The list of the champions of Faith whose victories are specially noticed is closed by a woman and a gentile and an outcast. In this there is a significant foreshadowing of its essential universality.”[1] God’s promise to Abraham was that all the nations of the world would receive a blessing through his line. The ultimate fulfillment of that was recorded for us all in John 3:16, “for God so loved the world.”

Now Rahab was saved “by faith” not by works. This is the same for everyone mentioned in Chapter 11 and it is the same for us. One of my former professors, Tom Constable, says it like this, “Even though Rahab was a Gentile sinner (i.e., a secular prostitute), God spared her when he destroyed all those around her. Likewise God will preserve the faithful not because they are personally worthy but because of their faith in Him.”[2] Paul makes that perfectly clear in Ephesians 2:8-9 when he states, “it’s by grace you have been saved, through faith, it’s not of works lest anyone should be able to boast.”

John Owen, the old commentator, says, “This Rahab was by birth a Gentile, an alien from the stock and covenant of Abraham. So, as her conversion to God was an act of free grace and mercy in a special manner, so it was a type and pledge of calling a church from among the Gentiles. She was not just a Gentile—Rahab was an Amorite, that race that was given over in general to being utterly destroyed. Rahab was, therefore, an example of God’s sovereignty in dispensing with his laws as it seems good to him, for out of his own mere pleasure he exempted her from the denounced doom of her race.”[3] This describes our lot! Being out of the line of the promises of God given to Abraham and his descendants, our only hope is for God to act sovereignly on our behalf. Like Rahab, we are all sinners. But Paul teaches us that “God demonstrated his own love for us, while we were still sinners by Christ dying on the cross for us.” Furthermore, Paul attaches Jesus’ mission to sinners only. He writes in Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

[1] Brooke Foss Westcott, ed., The Epistle to the Hebrews the Greek Text with Notes and Essays, 3d ed., Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1903), 377.

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Heb 11:31.

[3] John Owen, Hebrews, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 234.