The gospel paradigm on the lips of a prostitute

In a men’s Bible study we just finished Joshua 2 which records the encounter between Rahab (a prostitute) and two Israelite spies. One feature in particular really grabbed me.

Rahab’s confession to the spies in 2:9-11 forms a chiasm.[1] The structural center–and the focal point of the confession–becomes what “we have heard.”

A. the Lord has given this land to you

B. a great fear of you has fallen on us

B. all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you

C.  We have heard…

C’. …and so we have heard

B’. our hearts melted

B’. everyone’s courage failed because of you

A’. the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below

Rahab’s confession of faith is centered on the report of what God had done to save His people. Rahab had not seen the Red Sea crossing or the destruction of the Amorite kings. She had merely heard a word about God’s actions and that word generated a faith that led to a confession that would save her from a coming destruction.

Rahab’s faith paradigm (i.e. faith generated by hearing a report) is exactly what Paul articulates:

Romans 10:14-17 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” 16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

The “mere” word of God’s saving act was potent enough to make a believer out of a pagan prostitute. No additional signs were necessary. The potency of that word has increased in Christ. Speak it.


[1] Richard Hess, Joshua (TOTC), 99.

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Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Associate pastor for education at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian and theological Luddite. A student of one book.

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