Minor Characters

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Glasses with Bible

“By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies” (Hebrews 11:31)

The 11th chapter of Hebrews contains a list of some of the greatest people of faith in scripture. Listed are the greatest characters from the Old Testament story: Noah; Abraham; Moses; Samuel; and David. However do not think that one must have a movie made of their lives in order for God to commend your faith.

Rahab is the focus of one single chapter of scripture: Joshua 2. Even then, she did not fell a giant, work a miracle, or give a speech to thousands. She simply believed in the God of the Jews and helped the spies. For that simple act, Rahab the Gentile prostitute is mentioned alongside men like Abraham and Moses in the hall of faith. The murmuring generation of Israelites and the New Testament Pharisees would have been well served to have even half of the faith of Rahab.

Paul recognized the value of minor characters. Paul ends his letter to the church at Rome with greetings to many of the Roman saints. He greets Prisca and Aquila, “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life” (Rom 16:3). He greets Epaenetus, “who was the first convert to Christ in Asia” (v5). He greets Rufus, “chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well” (v13). These Bible characters have a single verse dedicated to them. Yet it is obvious that Paul greatly values their contributions to the Gospel.

Some Christians may have the idea in their head that they are of less value to the kingdom than others. Because they are not in the pulpit, doing missionary work, converting hundreds, or having works published, they conclude that they are insignificant. That kind of thinking is nonsense. Without Rahab, what would have become of the spies? How could Paul have accomplished his work without those who supported him, assisted him, and acted as mothers to him? The Holy Spirit saw fit to point out the indispensable contributions of these “minor” characters.

The final members of Hebrews 11’s hall of faith are the unnamed faithful who, “suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in the skins of the sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated.” These men and women may be considered less than minor Bible characters…they are not even named. Yet the unnamed are not unrecognized. God says that “the world is not worthy” of these unnamed heroes.