11:1 Living by Faith
SUMMARY OF HEBREWS 11:
Faith Explained. The Faith of the Elders. Remarkable Examples of Ancient Faith. All Seeking for a Better Country. The Victories of Faith. The Sufferings Ended by Faith. Christians Exhorted to Follow These Glorious Examples.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for. The old meaning of substance, as well as of hupostasis, the Greek word here used, is stand under, that is, to be a foundation. Faith is the foundation on which all our hopes for the future are built.
The evidence of things not seen. Rather, the conviction or persuasion of things not seen. Without faith we would be limited to the very narrow world comprehended by the senses.
11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. The ancient men of God, through faith, so lived, that they have obtained a good name.
11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. The creation of the world is among the things not seen, and all our knowledge of it rests upon our faith in the word of God. Indeed, our knowledge of all past history depends upon faith.
11:4 Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. See the account of Ge 4:1-5. Abel's faith was probably shown in offering just such a sacrifice as the Lord demanded, while Cain made an offering according to his own ideas.
By which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. In some way the Lord testified his approval of Abel's sacrifice, and showed his disapproval of Cain's, perhaps by sending fire to consume Abel's.
And by it he being dead yet speaketh. By his faith. His faith speaks to all ages.
11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death. See Ge 5:24 Jude 1:14. His faithfulness was rewarded by a translation to heaven without first becoming a victim of death.
For before his translation he had this testimony. The testimony is that he walked with God, and God took him, because he was pleased with him.
11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]. Man cannot please God without because in unbelief he cannot do what is pleasing to God.
For he that cometh to God must believe that he is. To please God we must come to him in the appointed ways, but this cannot be done without belief in his existence and
11:7 By faith Noah... moved with fear, prepared an ark. See Ge 6:13-22. When he was divinely warned of a coming deluge he believed it, simply upon the word of God. Now observe how his faith acted. (1) He was moved by fear; (2) he prepared the ark as God had directed. His faith moved him to obedience.
By which he condemned the world. The example of his faith was a rebuke to all who were not moved by it. The man who gives heed to God by his conduct condemns those who refuse to heed him.
And became heir of righteousness. It was by the obedience of faith that he became an heir of the blessings vouchsafed to those who are counted righteous through faith. See Ro 1:5,17.
11:8 By faith Abraham... went out, not knowing whither he went. See Ge 11:31 12:1-4 Ac 7:2-4. While in Ur of the Chaldees he was commanded to go where he should be led. In obedience to this call he obeyed through faith, a striking example of the action of faith.
11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise. He was a stranger in the land promised to him and his seed, dwelling as did Isaac and Jacob, in tents, yet trusting the promise of God.
With Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. See Ge 26:3,4 27:4,13-14.
11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations. Not only for a permanent home for his seed in Canaan, but for a home above in the eternal city, the New Jerusalem.
Whose builder and maker [is] God. Architect and maker. God not only projected the plans of the eternal city but has executed them.
11:11 Through faith also Sara received strength to conceive seed. See Ge 17:15-21 18:11-14 21:1-2. Far beyond the years of child bearing, yet by faith she was give natural strength to bear the child of promise. She was about ninety years old (Ge 17:17).
11:12 Therefore there sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead. From an old man, a hundred years old, whose reproductive powers were dead, a people.
As the stars of the sky in multitude. See De 1:10. These figures are used to express a vast multitude.
11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises. All the patriarchs named. They died without the fulfillment of the promises, either those of a temporal possession or of an innumerable seed.
Having seen them afar off. They beheld them in the future by faith.
Confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. By their whole lives that they were pilgrims. They had no fixed home and were waiting for a country.
11:14 They that say such things. Who confess that they are pilgrims.
Declare plainly that they seek a country. This confession shows that they are seeking a country somewhere and have not yet found it.
11:15 And, truly, if they had been mindful of that [country]. They could have returned to their old home in Ur of the Chaldees, if they had chosen, but though homeless in a strange land they had faith in a future home.
11:16 But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly. They desired a country better than Chaldea, better even than Canaan. They had a faith which looked for a heavenly country.
11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried. See Ge 22:1-14.
Offered up Isaac... his only begotten [son]. Abraham stands as the great Old Testament example of faith, the Father of the faithful, the man whose faith was counted for righteousness (Ro 4:5). Hence his faith was tried by the sternest test of any Man of God on record, not that God might be certain of his faith, but that all his spiritual children should profit by his example. Note: (1) Isaac was the only child of his marriage; (2) he was the child of promise and by grace; (3) he was the heir, not only of Abraham but of all God's promises to Abraham. Yet Abraham was told to offer him. It was God's command. What a trial of faith! Yet, he believed, though he would not see how, that God would keep his promises.
11:18 In Isaac shall thy seed be called. See also Ge 21:12 Ro 9:7. Even though God raised him from the dead. Hence in faith he obeyed, and his faith was gloriously rewarded. The lesson for us is implicit obedience to God's command and trust in his promises. Nothing less is a demonstration of faith.
11:19 From whence also he received him in a figure. As one who in his mind had been sacrificed. It was from the altar of sacrifice that he received him back.
11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. See Ge 27:26-40 28:2-3. In the blessing there are prophecies of their future history.
11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph. See Ge 48:8-22. In his blessing he foresaw that both Ephraim and Manasseh would be tribes of Israel, and that the younger would be the ancestor of the greater tribe.
[Leaning] upon the top of his staff. See Ge 47:31. The Hebrew word mittah as originally written may mean either staff or bed, that on which one rests. In our English version of Genesis bed has been preferred. The Septuagint, followed here, says staff. It means that the sick old man raised from his couch and leaned his weight on his staff while conferring the blessing.
11:22 By faith Joseph... gave commandment concerning his bones. See Ge 50:24,25. By faith he looked forward to the children of Israel going up to Canaan for a home, and charged that his body should be carried up. This charge was faithfully fulfilled. See Jos 24:32.
11:23 By faith Moses... was hid three months of his parents. See Ex 2:2 Ac 7:20. Through faith in God the parents were led to disobey the king's cruel edict, and to hide the child.
Because they saw [he was] a proper child. A promising child.
11:24 By faith Moses... refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter. He had faith in God's promises, and hence forsook his honored position, for the sake of his people.
11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. There were honor, wealth and pleasure in the palace, but affliction with the enslaved nation. He chose the latter by faith.
Than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. The pleasures of sin are transient.
11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches. Any reproach endured through faith in the promises of which Christ was the center and sum, was called the reproach of Christ. This reproach, though men might shrink from it, was really of more value permanently
than the treasures of Egypt, because he looked forward to
the recompence of the reward, the heavenly blessings.
11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt. The Exodus was all an achievement of faith.
Not fearing the wrath of the king. It was faith that made Moses disdain the king's wrath.
He endured, as seeing him who is invisible. The unseen God was present with him by faith and his support gave strength to endure all.
11:28 Through faith he kept the passover. See Ex 12:3-30. He kept it because God commanded, and he believed all God promised.
And the sprinkling of blood. The blood of the lamb sprinkled on the door posts. He not only believed that this would protect Israel's first born, but his faith went beyond the type to the Lamb of God.
11:29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry [land]. See Ex 14:13-22. In obedience to God's command they marched into the sea and were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1Co 10:1,2).
11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell. See Jos 6:8-21.
11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not. See Jos 2:1-22.
11:32 What shall I say more? All these cases are examples of heroic deeds and holy lives of faith. And the Scriptures are full of them; of such examples as
Gedeon. See Jud 6:1-8:35.
Barak. See Jud 4:1-5:31.
Samson. See Jud 13:1-16:31.
Jephthae. See Jud 10:6-12:7 David. See 1Sa 16:1.
Samuel. See 1Sa 1:20.
The prophets. Many of these were illustrious examples of the power of faith.
11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms. Some of those named subdued kingdoms, as Barak, Gideon, David.
Obtained promises. Promises were made to many of the worthies named.
Stopped the mouth of lions. The case of Daniel is the most remarkable. See Da 6:20.
11:34 Quenched the violence of fire. See the case of the Hebrew children in Da 3:19-28.
Escaped the edge of the sword. See 1Sa 18:10,11.
11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Examples are the widow of Zarephath (1Ki 17:17-24) and the Shunammite (2Ki 4:18-37).
And others were tortured. This was especially true in the terrible persecutions recorded in the Book of Maccabees.
That they might obtain a better resurrection. They preferred to suffer in hope of the resurrection to eternal life.
11:36 Others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings. This was true of many persecutions recorded in Jewish history.
11:37 They were stoned. See, for example, the deaths of Naboth (1Ki 21:10-15) and Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest (2Ch 24:21).
They were sawn asunder. The Talmud says that this was Isaiah's fate.
11:38 Of whom the world was not worthy. When it rejects the good it shows its unworthiness.
They wandered in deserts, etc. To hide from persecutors.
11:39 And these all... received not the promise. By the power of faith they lived holy and heroic lives, but all died without having seen the fulfillment of the promise of a Deliverer.
11:40 God having provided some better thing for us. The new and better covenant, the gospel, the realization of the promises made to Abraham.
That they without us should not be made perfect. That they and we together might be made complete in the city whose builder and maker is God. The full fruition, the being made complete (perfect) belongs to the heavenly state. All these ancient heroes, who died not having received the promise, need the realization of the promise in Christ to make them perfect; by that promise we also are saved.