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Book of Hebrews

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Hebrews 11

King James Version
Faith in Action
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.1

Bible Commentary

Gr. pistis, "trust", "confidence", "faith", also "faithfulness", "reliability". The word pistis may denote either an attitude of mind or a pattern of conduct, faithful conduct being the product of an attitude of faith.  The two shades of meaning are closely interwoven throughout the chapter, for in each instance of faith cited an attitude of faith led to faithful deeds.

Gr. hupostasis, "substantial nature," "essence," "actual being," "reality," and in an extended sense, as here, "confident assurance." There is no such thing as blind faith. Genuine faith always rests upon the firm, underlying "substance" of sufficient evidence to warrant confidence in what is not yet seen. Hupostasis is used in the ancient papyri of the legal documents by which a person proved his ownership of property. The documents were not the property, but they provided evidence of its existence and of his right to it. Accordingly,
hupostasis might here be rendered "title-deed ..."

By faith the Christian considers himself already in possession of what has been promised him. His utter confidence in the One who has made the promises leaves no uncertainty as to their fulfillment in due time. Faith thus enables a Christian not only to lay claim to promised blessings but to receive and to enjoy them now. Thus, the promised inheritance becomes a present possession. The good things to come are no longer only dreams to be fulfilled in the future, but living realities in the present. To the eye of faith what is otherwise invisible becomes visible.

Things hoped for.
That is, the promised inheritance into which the saints are to enter at the coming of Christ.

Gr. elegchos, here meaning "proof," "conviction." Faith is not abstract belief that evidence exists, but a settled assurance, based on confidence that God will fulfill His promises. We may never have seen the generator that produces the electricity we use in our homes, but we rightly consider the presence of the electricity sufficient evidence of the existence of the generator. Similarly, we believe that our physical, mental, and spiritual energy testify to the existence of a supernatural Source of life and power. On the other hand, faith is not to be confused with credulity, for faith is reinforced, to a degree, by evidence.

Things not seen.
These are the "things hoped for," the promised inheritance.

2. Elders.
Gr. presbuteroi, here meaning "the ancients," "men of old" (RSV), not necessarily old men.

Obtained a good report.
Literally, "were witnessed to," "were, approved," "were attested." The faith of "the elders" led to faithful conduct, which in turn testified to the reality of their faith. It was their faith that won for them divine approval. We may wonder how some of those named in this chapter could ever have obtained "a good report." But if only flawless heroes of faith were listed here, the account would provide little encouragement for the common man. If men who were subject to "like passions as we are" (James 5:17) could obtain "a good report," there is every reason to believe that even the weakest of God's children today may do likewise.

3. Through faith.
Or, "by faith," as elsewhere in the chapter.

Gr. aiones, literally, "ages," but here meaning this "world" considered from the viewpoint of time. Reference is not necessarily to other worlds than ours.

By the word of God.
See on Gen. 1:3; cf. Ps. 33:6, 9.

Things which are seen.
That is, the natural world of earth, sea, and sky, together with their varied forms of life.

Not made.
God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. By His mighty power God called matter into being, and then by that same power imparted life to creatures formed from it. Prior to the dawn of the so-called Atomic Age it was one of the prime tenets of science that matter is eternal, that it can be neither created nor destroyed. But now scientists declare that matter and energy are interchangeable. Why, then, should it be thought strange that an almighty God can create matter that did not previously exist?

Things which do appear.
The world and everything in it were made out of nothing, by the exercise of infinite power.

4. By faith.
See on vs. 1, 3.

For the record of the incident here referred to see Gen. 4:3-10.

Obtained witness.
Literally, "was witnessed to." The clause may be rendered, "by which he was approved as righteous" (see on v. 2). By faith Abel grasped the promise of a Redeemer. His offering had no atoning value in itself, but faith in the promise led him to bring the sacrifice God had prescribed. God accepted his "gifts" as evidence of his faith.

God testifying.
God accepted Abel's "gifts" and refused those of Cain. The difference was not simply in the character of the gifts themselves, but also in the character and attitude of the givers as reflected in the gifts they brought.

Yet speaketh.
Abel's faith has borne a living witness down through the centuries. There was power in Abel's faith that led him to conform to the course of action God had prescribed, and the powerful influence of his faith lives on today - it "yet speaketh."

5. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

See on Gen. 5:22.

The writer does not mean that Enoch had faith that God would translate him, but that he was translated as a result of his faith and his faithfulness - "he pleased God." Inspiration speaks only of Enoch and Elijah being translated to heaven without seeing death.

According to sacred chronology Enoch was a little more than 300 years old when Adam died. For those who were faithful to God the death of Adam must have cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future, for despite his repentant, godly life he died as verily as every sinner dies. To dispel the cloud of uncertainty that hung over the future and to give His faithful people assurance that a life of faith will be rewarded, God translated Enoch, the seventh from Adam. As with Adam, God demonstrated that "the wages of sin is death," so with Enoch He demonstrated that "the gift of God is eternal life" (Rom. 6:23). The translation of Enoch proved that although sin separates man from God, a way has been provided by which that separation may be terminated and man may return to God. That way is the way of faith.

Enoch is a type of those who are to be translated from the last generation, from among the living. Enoch became a friend of God, walked with Him, and at last went home with Him. All may therefore take courage. Whoever serves God with a heart full of faith and walks with Him day by day in the changing experiences of life will have an abundant entrance into the paradise of God.

Not see death.
That is, not experience death.

Not found.
These words imply an attempt to find Enoch after his disappearance. Such an attempt was later made following the translation of Elijah (see 2 Kings 2:16-18).

Before his translation.
Enoch's godly way of life was well known to his contemporaries.

He had this testimony.
Literally, "he was testified to." Through Enoch, God had provided the world with a demonstration of the kind of character that will meet with His approval. There was no possibility that men would ask, after the translation of so pious a saint, "How can God accept a man like that?"

Pleased God.
Enoch's faith in God and his faithfulness to God met with divine approval. His life and character were a demonstration of what God would have all men be.

6. Without faith.
Or, "apart from faith," or, "apart from faithfulness". Whereas the Creator is infinite, His creatures are irrevocably finite, and there are, accordingly, things which they must take by faith. Indeed, to take God at His word is the most exalted exercise of which the human mind is capable. Indeed, he must take God at His word if he is to fill perfectly the place designed for him in a perfect universe, for a realization of the love of God culminates in faith. In the divine-human person of the Saviour, Godlike love and human faith met together for the first time.

Impossible to please him.
That is, impossible to measure up to His requirements. There is no room in a perfect universe for a created being who lacks faith in the Ruler of the universe. The only alternative to faith in God is fear and resentment, and ultimately, despair.

Cometh to God.
That is, professes allegiance to Him.

Believe that he is.
Belief that God really exists is the ultimate foundation of the Christian faith. Through nature, through His Word, and through His providential leading God has provided men with all the evidence of His existence that intelligent beings need and can make use of (cf. Rom. 1:20). The writer here rules out such distorted concepts of God as those held by pantheists.

A rewarder.
Here, the writer rules out concepts of God such as those of Deism and universalism. It makes a difference whether men respond to God's love and comply with His revealed will. "He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world" (Acts 17:31), a day when He "will render to every man according to his deeds" (Rom. 2:6). The awful prospect of someday standing before the great Judge of the universe is undeniably a powerful incentive to right living. To be sure, great fear of the fires of hell will never save any man, but it may be a factor - a potent factor - in shaking him out of his lethargy. The infinite love of God as revealed in Christ Jesus provides man with the ultimate and only effective incentive to salvation.

Diligently seek him.
Or, "seek him out," "search for him." To "seek" God is to endeavour to understand more fully His infinite character and His will for men. The writer does not imply that God has deliberately made it difficult for men to find Him, but stresses the need of an earnest desire to understand God and to become like Him both in mind and in character.

7. By faith.
See on vs. 1, 3.

For the experience here referred to see Gen. 6:13-22.

Things not seen.
There was no evidence that such a catastrophe as the Flood ever would, or ever could, happen. To prepare for the event was an act of faith on Noah's part.

Moved with fear.
Noah was profoundly impressed by the revelation that God purposed to destroy the earth by a flood, and heeded the instructions given him. However, it was not so much fear of the coming flood that led Noah to build the ark as it was faith in what God had revealed to him concerning the catastrophe.

Condemned the world.
The construction of the ark testified to Noah's decision against "the world," here meaning wicked men and their way of life. His renunciation of the world that then was, testified to his faith in God.

Heir of the righteousness.
Noah's faith, as reflected by his faithfulness in action commensurate with that faith, entitled him, by God's grace, to be accounted righteous. For comments on righteousness by faith see on Rom. 1:17.

8. By faith.
See on vs. 1, 3.

For the experience here referred to see on Gen. 12:1-5.

He believed what God told him and acted accordingly. His faith found expression in faithful obedience.

Not knowing whither.
According to Gen. 12:5 Abraham and his family "went forth to go into the land of Canaan." This does not necessarily mean that he knew at the time of his departure what his destination was to be. He simply "went forth to go into [what turned out to be] the land of Canaan." Obviously God instructed him as to the direction in which he was to set out and the route he was to follow.

9. Sojourned.
For a period of some 215 years (see Vol. 1, p. 184). Events that occurred during Abraham's sojourn "in the land of promise" are recorded in Gen. 12 to 25.

Land of promise.
That is, the land that God promised to Abraham.

Strange country.
Or, "foreign country." Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all lived as foreigners in the land God had promised them. God gave Abraham no inheritance in Canaan, "no, not so much as to set his foot on" (Acts 7:5).

Heirs with him.
The original promise included Abraham's descendants, but God repeated the covenant promises to Isaac and later to Jacob.

10. A city.
Here, apparently, not any city of the literal land of Canaan. Abraham's ultimate objective was the eternal inheritance God has provided for those who love and serve Him. Compare chs. 12:22; 13:14.

Foundations imply permanence. Tents (v. 9) have no foundations.

11. Through faith.
See on vs. 1,3.

For the experience here referred to see Gen. 17:15-21; 18:9-15; 21:1-5.

Received strength.
Sarah was 90 years of age at the birth of Isaac. Her childless state up to that time made conception a most impressive miracle.

Judged him faithful.
From the human point of view there was no basis for believing God's promise that she would give birth to a child. The only way to accept the promise was by faith. Sarah accepted it only because she believed in God, and her acceptance of the promise testified to her faith.

12. Therefore sprang.
On the birth of Isaac see Gen. 21:1-5.

Him as good as dead.
Abraham was 100 years of age at the birth of Isaac. No one can read the record of events leading up to his birth without being impressed by the lack of faith displayed by both Abraham (Gen. 15:2-4; 16:1-3; 17:16, 17) and Sarah (ch. 18:9-15). But both finally overcame their natural doubts, and Isaac was, on both sides of the family, a child of faith.

As the stars.
See Gen. 15:5; 22:17.

13. These all.
That is, the faithful from Abel (v. 4) to Abraham (vs. 8-12). Doubtless many others during this long span of time met with God's approval, but the worthies here named are singled out as shining examples of the principle that faith is the decisive factor in godly living.

Died in faith.
They saw the promises afar off - by faith. They were persuaded of the reality of the promised inheritance. On the basis of these promises they renounced the present and lived exclusively for the future. They never entered into possession of the inheritance, either of the promised earthly Canaan or of the eternal kingdom.

Were persuaded.
Textual evidence attests (cf. p. 10) the omission of these words. Obviously, however, they "were persuaded" of the substantial reality of the promised inheritance or they would not have "embraced" the promises.

Or, "greeted," "saluted," "welcomed." Compare John 8:56.

Or, "acknowledged."

Pilgrims on the earth.
Though in the world, they realized that they were not of it. They had another, grander objective in view. They realized the transient quality of things in this present life, and the permanence of things which, as yet, they saw only "afar off" by faith. They lived for the future, not for the present.

14. Say such things.
That is, declare themselves to be "strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

Or, "homeland" (RSV), literally, "fatherland." By declaring themselves to be "strangers and pilgrims on the earth," the worthies of old made it clear that they did not consider this present world to be their home. They realized that there is more to live for than this present world has to offer.

15. Had been mindful.
Literally, "had kept in mind," "had been thinking [intently] of."

Opportunity to have returned.
Abraham doubtless had had a good home in Haran, as before that in Ur of Chaldea. When famine came to the land of Canaan (see Gen. 12:10), he might reasonably have considered returning to Haran, where he had friends and close relatives. But Abraham was not one to retreat to a land which the Lord had instructed him to leave.

16. Desire.
Gr. oregomai, "to aspire to," "to strive for," "to desire." Men of faith live with their eyes fixed on something better than this world has to offer. To them, eternal things alone are worth striving for. They see the things of time and eternity in their true perspective (see on Matt. 6:24-34).

God is not ashamed.
He is not "ashamed" to be known as their God, because they reflect His character. Christ warned that in the last great day He will be "ashamed" of every man who has made the attempt to "save his life" by gaining what the world has to offer (see Mark 8:34-38). On the other hand, the man who is willing to "lose" -forfeit - his life for Christ will actually be saving it.

He hath prepared.
Compare John 14:1-3; Rev. 21:2.

A city.
The heavenly Jerusalem (see chs. 12:22; 13:14).

17. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

For the record of the experience here referred to see Gen. 22:1-9.

Or, "tested." The account of this experience in Genesis begins with the statement that "God did tempt [test] Abraham" (Gen. 22:1). To be sure, God knew in advance what Abraham would do, and the test was not necessary so far as God's information about Abraham was concerned. But Abraham needed to go through this trying experience in order that his faith might reach maturity, it was the crowning experience of his life.

Offered up Isaac.
See Gen. 22:1-19.

Only begotten.
Gr. monogenes, literally, "unique," "only" (see on John 1:14). Numerically speaking, Isaac was not Abraham's "only begotten," or even his first begotten, Isaac was Abraham's "only" son in the unique sense that he was the only one of Abraham's children eligible to be the covenant heir (see on v. 18).

18. In Isaac.
In view of God's repeated and emphatic declarations that Isaac was to be the one through whom the covenant promises were to be fulfilled, it was a most extraordinary demonstration of faith on the part of Abraham to be willing to comply with God's instructions to offer up Isaac as a sacrificial victim. It must have appeared to Abraham that God was on the point of rendering the fulfillment of His promises utterly impossible.

The insertion of this quotation from Gen. 21:12 at this point in the author's comment on Abraham's faith explains the sense in which he refers to Isaac as Abraham's "only begotten" in Heb. 11:17. Isaac was the only son of Abraham who could qualify as successor to the covenant promises made to Abraham.

19. Accounting.
Or, "considering." It was faith in the power of God to resurrect Isaac that gave Abraham the courage to set out to offer up his son. Only thus could the aged patriarch reconcile God's promise that Isaac was to be his heir, with God's mandate to take Isaac's life. To have faith in the integrity of a person who makes a promise and a demand that seem to be so mutually exclusive is the ultimate in the perfection of faith. Abraham must have realized that God was testing him, and concluded that God would, if need be, raise Isaac from the dead. In view of the fact that, as yet, no human being had been raised from the dead, this was faith of the highest order.

Whence also he received him.
So far as Abraham was concerned, his son Isaac
was dead. And when God halted the test and restored Isaac to his father, it was as if Isaac had indeed returned from death.

In a figure.
Or, "figuratively speaking."

20. By faith.
See on vs. 1, 3.

Isaac blessed Jacob.
For the record of this incident see Gen. 27:1-40.

Things to come.
To Isaac, when he realized the deception that had been practiced upon him, the future of his family must have loomed dark indeed. His plans for Esau had been shattered. He was blind physically, but he lifted his eyes of faith and discerned the shape of "things to come," the way by which the infinite purpose of God was to be accomplished.

21. By faith.
See on vs. 1, 3.

For the record of the incident here referred to see Gen. 48:1-22. Jacob sojourned, and eventually died, in a land of exile. Thus he revealed faith in the divine promises when he pronounced blessings on his sons.

22. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

For the incident related see Gen. 50:24, 25; cf. Ex. 13:19. Joseph had no concrete evidence on which to base his expectation that the family would return to Canaan and occupy the land. His request for interment in the Promised Land,
when the family should return to dwell there, was based on faith in God's promises.

23. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

For the record of the incident referred to see Ex. 2:1-10. During Moses' infancy it was the faith of his parents that triumphed over "the king's commandment." It was faith in a higher destiny than servitude in Egypt that led Amram and Jochebed to act in contravention of the royal decree. As Moses reached maturity he exhibited the same kind of faith on his own behalf, as the writer of Hebrews goes on to relate (see Heb. 11:24-29).

24. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

For the record of the incidents referred to in vs. 24-29 see Ex. 2:11-25; 12:18-36; 14:10-31.

Moses refused present honour, rank, and power because of his confidence in the high destiny God had marked out for him and his people. To all appearances nothing could be more futile than to hope for such a thing, since the Hebrew people were in abject servitude to the strongest nation on earth. Only faith in the promises of God could have led him to refuse the throne of Egypt.

Son of Pharaoh's daughter.
See on Ex. 2:5, 10, 15; cf. Vol. 1, p. 192.

25. Choosing rather.
His choice lay between the throne of the world's greatest empire and association with a race of slaves.

Suffer affliction.
Even as leader of the Hebrew people he was subject to "affliction." They were irremediably stiff-necked and rebellious, and forever murmuring. From any point of view the lot he chose had little to offer by way of worldly power and renown.

The pleasures of sin.
Moses might have reasoned that as king of Egypt he would be in an ideal position to liberate his people. But the ruler of Egypt was also a priest in its idolatrous system of religion. Furthermore, he always would have been subject to the corrupting influences of court life. See on Ex. 2:11.

26. Reproach of Christ.
That is, "reproach" suffered for Christ or because of Christ. Moses understood the promise of the Messiah, and realized that more was involved in the liberation of the Hebrew people from Egypt than either they or the Egyptians realized at the time. Afar off his eye of faith saw the coming of the seed promised to Abraham through whom all nations would be blessed (see Gen. 22:18; cf. Gal. 3:8, 16).

Treasures in Egypt.
These included the land with all its wealth, the service of all its people, the splendour of its court, the power of its throne and its armies.

Had respect unto.
Literally, "looked to." His eye was fixed upon the promises and privileges of the covenant relationship. Like Paul 15 centuries later (see Phil. 3:7,8), Moses voluntarily exchanged the impressive but gaudy glory and power of the present for the less obvious, even invisible, promises and privileges of the covenant.

Recompense of the reward.
misthapodosia, simply, "reward." The more remote reward, one that could be seen only with the eye of faith, appealed more strongly to Moses than the more immediate, material rewards that accompanied the throne of Egypt.

27. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

Forsook Egypt.
See Ex. 2:15.

Not fearing.
Noting the circumstances of Moses' flight from Egypt to Midian at the age of 40, some have assigned his departure of v. 27 to the Exodus, at the age of 80 years. It is true that the word translated "forsook" (kataleipo may mean simply "to leave," without implying more than the simple fact of departure. It is also true that Moses boldly confronted a wrathful ruler throughout the time of the plagues, and that, by itself, v. 27 might be taken as applying to the Exodus. However, in this brief synopsis of incidents in Moses' life that reflect his faith, it seems that vs. 28, 29 were intended tc cover the Exodus. Repetition of the expression "by faith" in v. 27 seems to imply that the writer was considering the occasion there referred to as distinct from the other incidents in the sequence on the faith of Moses (cf. vs. 23,24,28,29).

From the narrative of Ex. 2:11-15 (cf. ch. 4:19) it appears that fear for his personal safety played no small part in Moses' decision to flee the land of Egypt. Nevertheless, uppermost in his mind was the fate of his people and the role envisioned for them by the promise made to Abraham. In fact, it was his abortive attempt to initiate a series of events he hoped would lead to their liberation that made his flight necessary (see Acts 7:25). In spite of his mistake he apparently had faith that, somehow, God would still use him to accomplish their deliverance. Accordingly, he sought a temporary refuge where he might await further developments.

Even before the incident with the Egyptian taskmaster it took great faith to believe that the covenant promises would be fulfilled - circumstances being what they were. Now that an error of judgment had banished him from Egypt altogether, Moses must have needed even greater faith to believe in their fulfilment. How could a forlorn exile in Midian whose death had been decreed by an imperial edict ever expect to liberate the slaves of the monarch who sought this life? Nothing could have seemed more impossible! Here, if ever, was opportunity for the exercise of faith!

28. Through faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

Kept the passover.
For the record of events mentioned in this verse see Ex. 12:1-36. After the ninth plague Pharaoh had placed Moses under the threat of death should he again appear in the royal presence (see Ex. 10:28). It must have taken great faith on Moses' part to issue the instructions he did with regard to the tenth plague, the Passover, and the Exodus. For the duration of the first nine plagues Pharaoh had stubbornly refused to let Israel go. There was no human reason to believe he would do so under the tenth plague.

29. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

Through the Red sea.
For the record of the incident here mentioned see Ex. 14:10-31. The deliverance of God's chosen people at the Red Sea is referred to more often throughout the OT than any other manifestation of divine provision for them in all their history. The greatness of the deliverance reflects the magnitude of the crisis, and the magnitude of the crisis is a measure of the degree of faith needed by God's appointed representative, Moses.

30. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

Walls of Jericho.
For the record of the incident here referred to see Joshua 6:1-24. From a military point of view the procedure Joshua took to subdue Jericho was sheer folly, but the orders he issued were in accord with the instructions God had given him. As an experienced general, he might well have substituted what would have appeared to be a better plan. But Joshua was a man of great faith as well as of great military experience, and he was ready to place more confidence in God's revealed will than in his own knowledge of war. His faithfulness in carrying out the plan of battle God had revealed to him testified eloquently to his prowess as a man of faith.

31. By faith.
See on vs. I, 3.

For the record of the incident here referred to see Joshua 2:1-24; 6:23-25. At first glance the name of Rahab may seem out of place in this roster of heroes' of faith, for she was a heathen as well as a harlot. But this very fact makes her deed of faith all the more remarkable. For an insight into her thinking see Joshua 2:8-13. Her name appears also in Matthew's genealogy (see on Matt. 1:5) as one of the honoured progenitors of Christ.

32. What shall I more say?
The list might be extended indefinitely, but enough illustrations have been provided to prove the principle that faith and faithfulness are the essence of godly living.

Time would fail.
The writer's purpose was not to prepare a catalogue of all of God's faithful ones down through the centuries, but only to illustrate his point that faith and faithfulness are essential to patient waiting for the coming of the Lord and the fulfilment of His promises. The thrilling recital may have already taken more space than he at first intended, and he realizes that space does not permit an ex-tension of what has provided a worthy climax to the theme of the book. He set out to prove that we have a great High Priest ministering on our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary, and to appeal to all Christians to enter into His presence by faith (see ch. 4:14, 16). In the 11th chapter he implies that, by faith, the worthies of old lived, as it were, in the very presence of God. Inasmuch as they enjoyed that privilege and were able to remain faithful, so may we.

Or, Gideon (see Judges 6 and 7).

See Judges 4 and 5.

See Judges 13 to 16.

Or, Jephthah (see Judges 11).

The exploits of David form a large part of the historical books of 1 and 2 Samuel and portions of other books.

The ministry of Samuel as priest, prophet, and judge is recorded in 1 Samuel 2 to 25.

The prophets.
Almost to a man the prophets suffered because of their faithful witness for God (see Acts 7:52).

33. Through faith.
See on vs. 1, 3. The writer never tires of mentioning faith as the essence of triumph over every obstacle. Long lists of heroes might be compiled for nearly every category of achievement listed in vs. 33-37, but suffice it to say that each instance was a shining example of victory through faith.

Subdued kingdoms.
Like Joshua and David.

Wrought righteousness.
Like Samuel and Elijah. The expression may also be translated, "wrought justice," or "enforced justice" (RSV). Numerous judges and kings might be included in the latter category.

Obtained promises.
Like Abraham, Joshua, and Daniel.

Stopped the mouths of lions.
Like Samson, David, and Daniel.

34. Quenched. . . fire.
Like the three Hebrew worthies in Babylon.

Escaped. . . the sword.
Like the two spies at Jericho, and like David before Saul.

Out of weakness.
Like kings Hezekiah and Jehoshaphat.

Waxed valiant.
Like Samson.

Turned to flight.
Like Joshua, Deborah and Barak, and Gideon.

35. Received their dead.
Like the Shunammite woman and the widow of Sarepta.

Like the prophet Jeremiah.

Not accepting deliverance.
That is, to escape torture at the price of being disloyal to principle.

That they might obtain.
To a man, these worthies of old proved courageous and faithful in the face of difficulty and danger, because of the faith in their hearts that God would fulfil all of His promises. They believed the future inheritance of the just to be worth every sacrifice and every suffering they might meet or pass through in this present life.

36. Mockings and scourgings.
These, together with "bonds and imprisonment," were the experience of such men as Joseph, Jeremiah, and Paul.

37. Stoned.
Like Naboth of Jezreel, and Stephen.

Sawn asunder.
According to tradition this was the fate of Isaiah.

Or, "tested." A lengthy list of noble men and women might be drawn up who passed the great tests of their lives successfully.

Slain with the sword.
Like Gedaliah, the priests of Nob, and James the brother of John.

Wandered about.
Like Elijah and David.

38. World was not worthy.
The world did not realize how much it owed to these worthy men, who were in reality "the salt of the earth" (see on Matt. 5:13). Today the world does not appreciate the contributions made to the welfare of mankind by men who have sought to apply Christian principles to a solution of its problems.

See on v. 37.

39. Obtained a good report.
Or, "though well attested" (RSV). See on vs. 1, 4.

Through faith.
See on vs. 1, 3.

Received not the promise.
Their faithfulness at moments of crisis often brought signal aid or deliverance, but they did not enter upon the inheritance promised to Abraham and the fathers. For comment see on v. 13.

40. Provided.
Gr. problepo, "to foresee." The English word "provide" also literally means "to foresee," being from the Latin
pro, "before," and videre, "to see." God foresaw the end from the beginning. He knew that in future ages there would be other galaxies of faithful men and women, youth and children. In His infinite wisdom He ordained that the faithful of all ages should enter upon the eternal inheritance together (see on 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 1 Thess. 4:16,17; 2 Tim. 4:7, 8). As to the great gift of eternal life, none would have advantage, or priority, over another.

Some better thing.
Not something better than He proposed to award the faithful of ages past, but rather that, from our point of view, it has been better that God has granted us an opportunity to join their ranks.

Without us.
In the providence of God we have been accorded time in which to develop character and to prepare for admission to the eternal inheritance of the saints. The opportunity is ours as it was theirs. In the opening verses of ch. 12 the writer draws his conclusion: "Let us lay aside every weight, . . . let us run with patience.. . "

Made perfect.
Gr. teleioo, here in the passive, "to be completed," "to be brought to perfection." Here, to be "made perfect" is to enter upon the eternal inheritance promised to Abraham and the fathers (see on Heb. 10:35-38).2

References and notes
1.  King James Authorized Version
2. Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary - Vol. 7, pgs 470-479
John Gill's Exposition of the Bible -


Music for Hebrews 11

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Bible Author

The apostle Paul.


Overview of Hebrews 11

Faith Explained
The apostle having, in the preceding chapter, spoken in commendation of the grace, and life of faith, and of its usefulness to preserve from apostasy, proceeds in this to give some account of the nature and actings of it; and which he illustrates by the examples of many of the Old Testament saints: he begins with a definition of it, which consists of two parts, ver. 1

Faith of the Elders
and with an account of the usefulness of it to the elders in general, who by it obtained a good report, ver. 2
and of the service it is of in understanding the creation of the worlds, the author and original of them, ver. 3

Remarkable Examples of Ancient Faith
and then goes on to give particular instances and examples of faith among the elders, or ancient believers, which are reduced into several classes; and the first is of the saints before the flood, Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Abel's faith lay in offering a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, in obtaining a testimony from God that he was righteous, and in yet speaking, though dead, ver. 4.
Enoch's faith is evidenced by his translation of God, that he should not see death, and by the testimony he received from him before it, that he was acceptable to him; by which it is clear he had faith, since, without it, it is impossible to please God; nor can any come aright unto him, without believing that he is, and has a gracious respect to all that diligently seek him, ver. 5.
Noah's faith was seen in preparing an ark, by the order of God, for the saving of his family, and in condemning the world by so doing, and by becoming an heir of righteousness through faith, ver. 7

All Seeking for a Better Country
The next class is that of the saints from the flood, to the times of Moses, in which are Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Abraham's faith is celebrated for his obedience to the divine call, quitting the country where he was, and going he knew not where; and for his sojourning in the promised land, as in a strange one, in which Isaac and Jacob dwelt with him in tents; and for looking by faith for the heavenly city built by the Lord; and for his offering up his son at the command of God, who was the son of promise, believing God was able to raise him from the dead, from whence he received him by faith, ver. 8
Sarah's faith lay in receiving strength through it to conceive, bear, and bring forth a child when past age, which was, founded upon the faithfulness of a promising God; hence from Abraham, by her, sprung a large posterity, like the stars of the sky, and the sand on the sea shore, ver. 11
Now all these patriarchs, both before and after the flood, as they lived by faith, they died in it; who, though they had not received the things promised, yet by faith saw them at a distance, were very well persuaded they would come to pass, and so, in some sense, enjoyed them; hence, while they lived, they lived like pilgrims and strangers, showing that they had no regard to the country they came from, and had no mind to return thither, but sought another, a better, and an heavenly one; so that God is not ashamed to be called their God, he having prepared a city for them, ver. 13
Isaac's faith is commended in blessing his two sons with respect to things future, ver. 20
and Jacob's faith is well spoken of for blessing both the sons of Joseph in his last moments, worshipping on the top of his staff, ver. 21
and Joseph's faith is instanced in two things; in making mention of the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt, as a certain thing; and in giving them strict orders to carry his bones along with them, when they went from thence, ver. 22
the third class of men, famous for faith, is that of such from the times of Moses to the judges, in which are the parents of Moses, Moses himself, the Israelites in general, and the harlot Rahab. The parents of Moses showed their faith in hiding him three months, seeing him to be a lovely child, contrary to the king's edict, ver. 23
Moses's faith lay in refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; in preferring afflictions to the pleasures of sin, and the reproach of Christ to the riches of Egypt; he having, by faith, a respect to the heavenly glory, another instance of it; and by forsaking Egypt, without fear of the king's displeasure, by faith seeing a King who is invisible; and by keeping the passover, with the sprinkling of blood, that so the destroyer of the firstborn of Egypt might not touch the Israelites, ver. 24

Victories of Faith
The instances of the faith of the Israelites are their passage through the Red sea, as on dry land, when the Egyptians, who attempted it, were drowned; and their compassing the walls of Jericho seven days, believing they would fall, as accordingly they did, ver. 29
The faith of Rahab, the harlot, is commended for two things; for peaceably receiving the spies that came to her; and for the salvation she believed she should have, and had, when the unbelieving inhabitants of Jericho perished, ver. 31
And the last class of heroes for faith, includes the times of the judges, kings, prophets, and the Maccabees; the judges, kings, and prophets, are lumped together, and only a few of their names are observed as a specimen of the rest, the apostle not having time to mention particular one, ver. 32
and various instances of without reference to particular persons to whom they belong, are recorded; some which lay in doing things greatly heroic, and even miraculous, ver. 33

Sufferings Endured by Faith
and others in suffering things the most cruel and torturing, and death itself in divers shapes, ver. 35
And thus, by an induction of particulars, the apostle proves both his definition of faith, ver. 1 and the usefulness of it to the elders, ver. 2 they by it obtaining a good report, though they did not receive the thing promised, ver. 39

Christians Exhorted to Follow These Glorious Examples
wherefore New Testament saints have great encouragement, and much more reason, to exercise this grace; since God has provided for them the better thing he promised to others, that the one without the other might not be perfect, ver. 40.

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