When you think of Biblical heroes, you likely think of people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David in the Old Testament. When you get to the New Testament, obviously Christ is the central hero.
However, there are people like Peter, John, and Paul who also serve as powerful examples of God’s ability to use humans to further His purposes for humanity. Those heroes all come with recognizable names.
Have you ever taken the time to consider the unsung heroes of the Bible? Contained within the 66 books of your Bible, there are stories of men and women who committed their lives to God and performed heroic acts.
Learn more about some unsung heroes of the Bible and find out how their stories can encourage you to put your faith into action, even if you’re not standing in the spotlight.
Exodus 18:17-19 (NIV)
Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.”
When you read the story of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt and their subsequent journey through the wilderness, Moses is the central character. While we read a lot about Aaron, his brother, there is no denying that Moses earned his spot as a Biblical hero. However, there was someone else in Moses’ life who served as a sort of hero.
Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law, but he also served as a powerful voice of wisdom in Moses’ life. Shortly into the wilderness journey, Moses was trying to be everything for everyone.
This led to him trying to settle every dispute that arose among 600,000-plus people. It was too much for him.
Jethro was a hero because he offered sound, Godly advice to a man who needed it. When Moses shifted his focus toward more spiritual matters, he was able to carry out God’s plan for his life.
Joshua 2:15-16 (NIV)
So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
Many people would assume that Rahab’s resume would preclude her from being a hero. In Hebrews 11, she is referred to as “Rahab the harlot.” We don’t expect prostitutes to make the list of Biblical heroes, but that’s what Rahab became when she recognized the power of God at work in the lives of the Israelites.
When the spies went into Jericho to spy out the land, it was Rahab who helped them complete their mission. She acknowledged that the city knew that God had sent the Israelites, and they had no way to stop their invasion.
She snuck them out of the city and sent the troops from Jericho in the wrong direction when they looked for them. Her faith in a God she did not know about prompted her to act heroically.
Judges 3:20-21 (NIV)
Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly.
The Book of Judges explains a sad pattern in Israel’s history. They would rebel against God, end up back in captivity, and God would deliver them. Then the cycle restarted. At one point, the Moabites, a particularly wicked nation, had taken Israeli captive. Eglon, who was the king, was an evil man. Ehud, a man who was tired of captivity, sprang into action.
He somehow landed a meeting with the king, and he carried a one-inch dagger on his right leg. When he got into the meeting, he plunged the knife into Eglon, which resulted in the freedom of the Israelites. His courage led to the deliverance of an entire nation.
Acts 4:36-37 (NIV)
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
When you look at this passage, you may assume that Barnabas’ willingness to give financially to the local church is what made him a hero. While giving is certainly an important part of discipleship, that’s not what made Barnabas a hero.
His role as a “son of encouragement” is what makes him a hero. Barnabas traveled with Paul during his missionary journeys. Paul endured a lot of persecution during his travels, and having someone who had the gift of encouragement must have made things easier.
Being an encourager to others is a form of being a hero.
Romans 16:1-2 (NIV)
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchrae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
The Bible tells a lot of stories about men. While we’ve already visited one female hero in the Bible, it’s important to note that there are dozens of them. Women were vital components of the miracles recorded in the Old Testament, and they played a vital role in the expansion of the Church in the New Testament.
Phoebe’s faithful service as a deacon in the church in Cenchrae led to Paul’s decision to send her to Rome to minister to those believers. She was sent to help them understand the letters that Paul was sending, and to resolve issues that had come up in the church. Being faithful to God’s calling on your life is one of the most heroic steps you can ever take.
Philippians 2:29-30 (NIV)
So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
Paul discussed Epaphroditus at length in Philippians 2:25-30. In those verses, we read that he was a man that Paul, a hero of the New Testament, truly admired. This was likely because of his willingness to endure great hardships in the name of spreading the Gospel.
Epaphroditus risked his life to help Paul carry out His mission of spreading the Gospel. While the Church at Philippi was praying for Paul, it was Epaphroditus who risked everything to help. Inconveniencing yourself to help others perform Kingdom work is a great form of heroism.
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Finally, Epaphras was a hero because he was committed to intercession. To intercede for someone means that you pray for them, even when they can’t pray for themselves.
We don’t know a lot about Epaphras, but we do know that he loved praying for people. When he didn’t see results, he continued to “wrestle in prayer” for those people. If you truly want to be a hero to someone, pray for them constantly.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for the heroic examples that You provided in Scripture. Help me to put those principles to work in my own life. In Christ’s name, Amen.