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Hebrews 10:38 & meaning...


righteous will live by faith. If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.

Hebrews 10:38


Hebrews 10 [30.] For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me,” says the Lord, “I will repay.”[a] Again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[b] It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But remember the former days, in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle with sufferings; partly, being exposed to both reproaches and oppressions; and partly, becoming partakers with those who were treated so. For you both had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an enduring one in the heavens. 

Hebrews 10 [35.] Therefore don’t throw away your boldness, which has a great reward. For you need endurance so that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise.

“In a very little while,

    he who comes will come, and will not wait.

But the righteous will live by faith.

    If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”[c]

Hebrews 10 [39.] But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul. 


a. Hebrews 10:30 Deuteronomy 32:35.
b. Hebrews 10:30 Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 135:14.
c. Hebrews 10:38 Habakkuk 2:3-4.


This verse is a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4 and forms part of a larger discourse in the Epistle to the Hebrews about enduring faith and perseverance. 

Encouragement to Persevere: The primary purpose of Hebrews is to encourage Jewish Christians to persevere in their faith amidst persecution and temptation to revert to Judaism. The author emphasizes the superiority of Christ and the new covenant over the old.

Faith and Endurance: Hebrews 10:38 is part of a passage (Hebrews 10:19-39) that exhorts believers to hold fast to their faith and not shrink back in fear or doubt.

Original context: Habakkuk 2:4 speaks to a time when the prophet was questioning God’s justice in the face of rampant evil and suffering. God’s response was that the righteous would live by faith, trusting in His ultimate justice and timing.

Application in Hebrews: By quoting Habakkuk, the author of Hebrews reinforces that enduring faith in God’s promises is essential, especially during trials.

Theological Significance

  • Living by Faith:

Righteousness through Faith: This verse underscores a key biblical principle that righteousness is attained through faith. The righteous live by trusting in God’s promises, not by their own efforts or adherence to the law.

Pleasing God through Faith: The latter part of the verse, “if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him,” highlights that faith is not just a one-time act but an ongoing commitment. Shrinking back or abandoning faith displeases God.

  • Endurance and Perseverance:

Holding Firm: The surrounding context (Hebrews 10:32-36) recounts past trials the believers had endured and encourages them to continue in their confidence and faith. It acknowledges that perseverance is challenging but necessary.

Promise of Reward: Verses 35-36 speak of a great reward for those who endure, reminding believers that their faith and endurance have eternal significance.

Applications for Our Lives

  • Strengthening Our Faith:

Daily Trust: Living by faith means trusting God daily, even when circumstances are difficult or we do not see immediate results. It’s about believing in God’s faithfulness and promises despite external pressures.

Avoiding Spiritual Regression: We are encouraged not to shrink back in our faith. This means actively resisting the temptation to give up or revert to old ways when faced with challenges.

  • Encouraging Perseverance:

Supportive Community: Encouraging one another to persevere in faith is vital. Being part of a faith community where we can support and uplift each other helps us remain steadfast.

Remembering Past Faithfulness: Reflecting on how God has been faithful in the past can bolster our confidence and encourage us to trust Him for the future.

  • Living to Please God:

Faith-Pleasing Life: Our goal should be to live a life that pleases God, characterized by enduring faith. This involves obedience, trust, and a commitment to living according to His will.

Focus on the Eternal: Keeping an eternal perspective helps us endure present trials, knowing that our ultimate reward is with God.


Romans 1:17: "For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, 'But the righteous shall live by faith.'" Paul uses Habakkuk 2:4 to emphasize that the gospel reveals the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish.

Galatians 3:11:  "Now that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, 'The righteous will live by faith.'" Paul’s argument in Galatians supports the idea that justification and life come through faith, not by the works of the law.

Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen." The famous definition of faith in Hebrews 11 follows shortly after 10:38, illustrating what it means to live by faith with examples from the lives of Old Testament saints.

Conclusion: Hebrews 10:38 calls us to a life of enduring faith, reminding us that the righteous live by trusting in God’s promises. This faith is not static but dynamic, requiring perseverance and resilience, especially in the face of trials. By living a life of faith, we please God and align ourselves with His will, ensuring that our hope and confidence rest in His unchanging nature and eternal promises.

This verse encourages us to strengthen our faith, support each other in our spiritual journeys, and maintain an eternal perspective that fuels our perseverance. As we navigate life’s challenges, may we hold firmly to our faith, knowing that God is faithful and that His promises are true.

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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