Hebrews Chapter Eleven
It is not a definition of this principle, that the epistle gives us at the commencement of chapter 11, but a declaration of its powers and action. Faith realises (gives substance to) that which we hope for, and is a demonstration to the soul of that which we do not see.
There is much more order than is generally thought in the series given here of examples of the action of faith, although this order is not the principal object. I will point out its leading features.
1st. With regard to creation. Lost in reasonings, and not knowing God, the human mind sought out endless solutions of existence. Those who have read the cosmogonies of the ancients know how many different systems, each more absurd than the other, have been invented for that which the introduction of God, by faith, renders perfectly simple. Modern science, with a less active and more practical mind, stops at second causes; and it is but little occupied with God. Geology has taken the place of the cosmogony of the Hindoos, Egyptians, Orientals, and philosophers. To the believer the thought is clear and simple; his mind is assured and intelligent by faith. God, by His word, called all things into existence. The universe is not a producing cause; it is itself a creature acting by a law imposed upon it. It is One having authority who has spoken; His word has divine efficacy. He speaks, and the thing is. We feel that this is worthy of God; for, when once God is brought in, all is simple. Shut Him out, and man is lost in the efforts of his own imagination, which can neither create nor arrive at the knowledge of a Creator, because it only works with the power of a creature. Before, therefore, the details of the present form of creation are entered upon, the word simply says, " In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Whatever may have taken place between that and chaos forms no part of revelation. It is distinct from the special action of the deluge, which is made known to us. The beginning of Genesis does not give a history of the details of creation itself, nor the history of the universe. It gives the fact that in the beginning God created; and afterwards, the things that regard man on the earth. The angels even are not there. Of the stars it is only said, " He made the stars also;" when, we are not told.
By faith then we believe that the worlds were created by the word of God.
But sin has come in, and righteousness has to be found for fallen man, in order that he may stand before God. God has given a Lamb for the sacrifice. But here we have set before us, not the gift on God's part, but the soul drawing near to Him by faith.
By faith then Abel offers to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain-a sacrifice which (founded on the revelation already made by God) was offered in the intelligence which a conscience taught of God possessed, with regard to the position in which he who offered was standing. Death and judgment had come in by sin, to man insupportable, although he must undergo them. He must go therefore to God, confessing this; but he must go with a substitute which grace has given. He must go with blood, the witness at the same time both of the judgment and of the perfect grace of God. Doing this, he was in the truth, and this truth was righteousness and grace. He approaches God and puts the sacrifice between himself and God. He receives the testimony that he is righteous--righteous according to the righteous judgment of God. For the sacrifice was in connection with the righteousness that had condemned man, and owned too the perfect value of that which was done in it. The testimony is to his offering; but Abel is righteous before God. Nothing can be more clear, more precious on this point. It is not only the sacrifice which is accepted, but Abel who comes with the sacrifice. He receives from God this testimony, that he is righteous. Sweet and blessed consolation! But the testimony is made to his gifts, so that he possessed all the certainty of acceptance according to the value of the sacrifice offered. In going to God by the sacrifice of Jesus, not only am I righteous (I receive the testimony that I am righteous), but this testimony is made to my offering, and therefore my righteousness has the value and the perfection of the offering, that is, of Christ offering Himself to God. The fact that we receive testimony on God's part that we are righteous, and at the same time that the testimony is made to the gift which we offer, (not to the condition in which we are), is of infinite value to us. We are now before God according to the perfection of Christ's work. We walk with God thus.
By faith, death having been the means of my acceptance before God, all that belongs to the old man is abolished for faith; the power and the rights of death are entirely destroyed---Christ has undergone them. Thus, if it please God, we go to heaven with out even passing through death. (Compare 2 Cor. 5:1-4.) God did this for Enoch, for Elijah, as a testimony. Not only are sins put away, and righteousness established by the work of Christ, but the rights and power of him who has the power of death are entirely destroyed. Death may happen to us-we are by nature liable to it; but we possess a life which is outside its jurisdiction. Death, if it come, is but gain to us; and although nothing but the power of God Himself can raise or transform the body, this power has been manifested in Jesus, and has already wrought in us by quickening us (compare Eph.1:19); and it works in us now in the power of deliverance from sin, from the law, and from the flesh. Death, as a power of the enemy, is conquered; it is become a "gain" to faith, instead of being a judgment on nature. Life, the power of God in life, works in holiness and in obedience here below, and declares itself in the resurrection or in the transformation of the body. It is a witness of power with regard to Christ in Romans 1:4.
But there is another very sweet consideration to be noticed here. Enoch received testimony that he pleased God, before he was translated. This is very important and very precious. If we walk with God, we have the testimony that we please Him; we have the sweetness of communion with God, the testimony of His Spirit, His intercourse with us in the sense of His presence, the consciousness of walking according to His word, which we know to be approved by Him--in a word, a life which, spent with Him and before Him by faith, is spent in the light of His countenance and in the enjoyment of the communications of His grace and of a sure testimony, coming from Himself that we are pleasing to Him. A child who walks with a kind father and converses with him, his conscience reproaching him with nothing-does he not enjoy the sense of his parent's favour?
In figure Enoch here represents the position of the saints who compose the assembly. He is taken up to heaven by virtue of a complete victory over death. By the exercise of sovereign grace he is outside the government and the ordinary deliverance of God. He bears testimony by the Spirit to the judgment of the world, but he does not go through it. (Jude 14, 15) A walk like that of Enoch has God for its object, His existence is realised-the great business of life, which in the world is spent as if man did everything-and the fact that He is interested in the walk of men, that He takes account of it, in order to reward those who diligently seek Him.
Noah is found in the scene of the government of this world. He does not warn others of the coming judgments as one who is outside them, although he is a preacher of righteousness. He is warned himself and for himself; he is in the circumstances to which the warning relates. It is the spirit of prophecy. He is moved by fear, and he builds an ark to the saving of his house. He thus condemned the world. Enoch had not to build an ark in order to pass safely through the flood. He was not in it: God translated him-exceptionally. Noah is preserved (heir of the righteousness which is by faith) for a future world. There is a general principle which accepts the testimony of God respecting the judgment that will fall upon men, and the means provided by God for escaping it: this belongs to every believer.
But there is something more precise. Abel has the testimony that he is righteous; Enoch walks with God, pleases God, and is exempted from the common lot of humanity, proclaiming as from above the fate that awaits men, and the coming of Him who will execute the judgment. He goes forward to the accomplishment of the counsels of God. But neither Abel nor Enoch, thus viewed, condemned the world as that in the midst of which they were journeying, receiving themselves the warning, addressed to those who were dwellers therein. This was Noah's case: the prophet, although delivered, is in the midst of the judged people. The assembly is outside them. Noah's ark condemned the world; the testimony of God was enough for faith, and he inherits a world that had been destroyed, and (what belongs to all believers) righteousness by faith, on which the new world too is founded. This is the case of the Jewish remnant in the last days. They pass through the judgments, out of which we, as not belonging to the world, have been taken. Warned themselves of God's way of government in the earth, they will be witnesses to the world of the coming judgments, and will be heirs of the righteousness which is by faith, and witnesses to it in a new world, wherein righteousness will be accomplished in judgment by Him who is come, and whose throne will uphold the world in which Noah himself failed. The words, " heir of the righteousness which is by faith," point out, I think, that this faith which had governed a few was summed up in his person, and that the whole unbelieving world was condemned. The witness of this faith before judgment, Noah passes through it: and when the world is renewed, he is a public witness to the blessing of God that rests on faith, although outwardly all is changed. Thus Enoch represents the saints of the present time; Noah, the Jewish remnant.  The Spirit, after establishing the great fundamental principles of faith in action, goes on (ver. 8)to produce examples of the divine life in detail, always in connection with Jewish knowledge, with that which the heart of a Hebrew could not fail to own; and, at the same time, in connection with the object of the epistle and with the wants of Christians among the Hebrews.
In the previous case we have seen a faith which, after owning a Creator-God, recognises the great principles of the relations of man with God, and that onwards to the end upon earth. In that which follows, we have first the patience of faith when it does not possess, but trusts God and waits, assured of fulfillment. This is from verse 8 to 22. We may subdivide it thus:-first, the faith which takes the place of strangership on earth, and maintains it because something better is desired; and which, in spite of weakness, finds the strength that is requisite in order to the fulfillment of the promises. This is from verse 8 to 16. Its effect is entrance into the joy of a heavenly hope. Strangers in the land of promise, and not enjoying the fulfillment of promises here below, they wait for more excellent things-things which God prepares on high for those who love Him. For such He has prepared a city. In unison with God in His own thoughts, their desires (through grace) answering to the things in which He takes delight, they are the objects of His peculiar regard. He is not ashamed to be called their God. Abraham not only followed God into a land that He shewed him, but, a stranger there, and not possessing the land of promise, he is, by the mighty grace of God, exalted to the sphere of His thoughts; and, enjoying communion with God and the communications of His grace, he rests upon God for the time present, accepts his position of strangership on earth, and, as the portion of his faith, waits for the heavenly city of which God is the builder and the founder. There was not, so to speak, an open revelation of what was the subject of this hope, as was the case with that by which Abraham was called of God; but walking closely enough with God to know that which was enjoyed in His presence, and being conscious that he had not received the fulfillment of the promise, he lays hold of the better things, and waits for them, although only seeing them afar off, and remains a stranger upon earth, unmindful of the country whence he came out.
The special application of these first principles of faith to the case of the christian Hebrews is evident. They are the normal life of faith for all.
The second character of faith presented in this part is entire confidence in the fulfillment of the promises--a confidence maintained in spite of all that might tend to destroy it. This is from verse 17 to 22.
We next find, the second great division, that faith makes its way through all the difficulties that oppose its progress. (Ver. 23-27.) And from verse 28 to 31 faith displays itself in a trust that reposes on God with regard to the use of the means which He sets before us, and of which nature cannot avail itself. Finally, there is the energy in general, of which faith is the source, and the sufferings that characterise the walk of faith.  This general character belongs to all the examples mentioned, namely, that they who have exercised faith have not received the fulfillment of the promise; the application of which to the state of the Hebrew Christians is evident. Further, these illustrious heroes of faith, however honoured they might be among the Jews, did not enjoy the privileges that Christians possessed. God in His counsels had reserved something better for us.
Let us notice some details. Abraham's faith shews itself by a thorough trust in God. Called to leave his own people, breaking the ties of nature, he obeys. He knows not whither he is going: enough for him that God would shew him the place. God, having brought him thither, gives him nothing. He dwells there content, in perfect reliance on God. He was a gainer by it. He waited for a city that had foundations. He openly confesses that he is a stranger and a pilgrim on earth. (Gen. 23:4) Thus, in spirit, he draws nearer to God. Although he possesses nothing, his affections are engaged. He desires a better country, and attaches himself to God more immediately and entirely. He has no desire to return into his own country; he seeks a country. Such is the Christian. In offering up Isaac there was that absolute confidence in God which, at His command, can renounce even God's own promises as possessed after the flesh, sure that God would restore them through the exercise of His power, overcoming death and every obstacle.
It is thus that Christ renounced His rights as Messiah, and went even into death, committing Him self to the will of God and trusting in Him; and received everything in resurrection. And this the Hebrew Christians had to do, with respect to the Messiah and the promises made to Israel. But, if there is simplicity of faith, for us the Jordan is dry, nor could we indeed have passed it if the Lord had not passed on before.
Observe here that, when trusting in God and giving up all for Him, we always gain, and we learn something, more of the ways of His power: for in renouncing according to His will anything already received, we ought to expect from the power of God that He will bestow something else. Abraham renounces the promise after the flesh. He sees the city which has foundations; he can desire a heavenly country. He gives up Isaac, in whom were the promises: he learns resurrection, for God is infallibly faithful. The promises were in Isaac: therefore God must restore him to Abraham, and by resurrection, if he offered him in sacrifice.
In Isaac faith distinguishes between the portion of God's people according to his election, and that of man having birthrights according to nature. This is the knowledge of the ways of God in blessing, and in judgment.
By faith Jacob, a stranger and feeble, having nothing but the staff with which he had crossed the Jordan, worships God, and announces the double portion of the heir of Israel, of the one whom his brethren rejected-a type of the Lord, the heir of all things. This lays the ground of worship.
By faith Joseph, a stranger, the representative here of Israel far from his own country, reckons on the fulfillment of the earthly promises.  These are the expressions of faith in the faithfulness of God, in the future fulfillment of His promise. In that which follows we have the faith which surmounts every difficulty that arises in the path of the man of God, in the way that God marks out for him as he journeys on towards the enjoyment of the promises.
The faith of the parents of Moses makes them disregard the king's cruel command, and they conceal their infant; whom God, in answer to their faith preserved by extraordinary means when there was no other way to save it. Faith does not reason; it acts from its own point of view, and leaves the result to God.
But the means which God used for the preservation of Moses placed him within a little of the highest position in the kingdom. He there came to be possessed of all the acquirements which that period could bestow on a man distinguished alike by his energy and his character. But faith does its work, and inspires divine affections which do not look to surrounding circumstances for a guide of action, even when those circumstances may have owned their origin to the most remarkable providences.
Faith has its own objects, supplied by God Himself, and governs the heart with a view to those objects. It gives us a place and relationships which rule the whole life, and leave no room for other motives and other spheres of affection which would divide the heart; for the motives and affections which govern faith are given by God, and given by Him in order to form and govern the heart.
Verse 24-26 develop this point. It is a very important principle; for we often hear Providence alleged as a reason for not walking by faith. Never was there a more remarkable Providence than that which placed Moses in the court of Pharaoh; and it gained its object. It would not have done so if Moses had not abandoned the position into which that Providence had brought him. But it was faith (that is to say, the divine affections which God had created in his heart), and not Providence as a rule and motive, which produced the effect for which Providence had preserved and prepared him. Providence (thanks be to God !) governs circumstances; faith governs the heart and the conduct.
The reward which God has promised comes in here as an avowed object in the sphere of faith. It is not the motive power; but it sustains and encourages the heart that is acting by faith, in view of the object which God presents to our affections. It thus takes the heart away from the present, from the influence of the things that surround us (whether they are things that attract or that tend to intimidate us), and elevates the heart and character of him who walks by faith and confirms him in a path of devotedness which will lead him to the end at which he aims.
A motive outside that which is present to us is the secret of stability and of true greatness. We may have an object with regard to which we act: but we need a motive outside that object-a divine motive--to enable us to act in a godly way respecting it.
Faith realises also (ver. 27) the intervention of God without seeing Him; and thus delivers from all fear of the power of man-the enemy of His people. But the thought of God's intervention brings the heart into a greater difficulty than even the fear of man. If His people are to be delivered, God must intervene, and that in judgment. But they, as well as their enemies, are sinners; and the consciousness of sin and of deserving judgment necessarily destroys confidence in Him who is the Judge. Dare they see Him come to manifest His power in judgment (for this it is, in fact, which must take place for the deliverance of His people)? Is God for us the heart asks-this God who is coming in judgment? But God has provided the means of securing safety in the presence of judgment (ver. 28); a means apparently contemptible and useless, yet which in reality is the only one that, by glorifying Him with regard to the evil of which we are guilty, has power to afford shelter from the judgment which He executes.
Faith recognised the testimony of God by trusting to the efficacy of the blood sprinkled on the door, and could, in all security, let God come in judgment-God who, seeing the blood, would pass over His believing people. By faith Moses kept the passover. Observe here that, by the act of putting the blood on the door, the people acknowledged that they were as much the objects of the just judgment of God as the Egyptians. God had given them that which preserved them from it; but it was because they were guilty and deserved it. No one can stand before God.
Verse 29. But the power of God is manifested, and manifested in judgment. Nature, the enemies of God's people, think to pass through this judgment dry-shod, like those who are sheltered by redeeming power from the righteous vengeance of God. But the judgment swallows them up in the very same place in which the people find deliverance-a principle of marvelous import. There, where the judgment of God is, even there is the deliverance. Believers have truly experienced this in Christ. The cross is death and judgment, the two terrible consequences of sin, the lot of sinful man. To us they are the deliverance provided of God. By and in them we are delivered and (in Christ) we pass through and are out of their reach. Christ died and is risen; and faith brings us, by means of that which should have been our eternal ruin, into a place where death and judgment are left behind, andwhere our enemies can no longer reach us. We go through without their touching us. Death and judgment shield us from the enemy. They are our security. But we enter into a new sphere, we live by the effect not only of Christ's death, but of His resurrection.
Those who, in the mere power of nature, think to pass through (they who speak of death and judgment and Christ, taking the christian position, and thinking to pass through, although the power of God in redemption is not with them) are swallowed up.
With respect to the Jews, this event will have an earthly antitype; for in fact the day of God's judgment on earth will be the deliverance of Israel, who will have been brought to repentance.
This deliverance at the Red Sea goes beyond the protection of the blood in Egypt. There God coming in the expression of His holiness, executing judgment upon evil, what they needed was to be sheltered from that judgment-to be protected from the righteous judgment of God Himself. And, by the blood, God, thus coming to execute judgment, was shut out, and the people were placed in safety before the Judge. This judgment had the character of the eternal judgment. And God had the character of a Judge.
At the Red Sea it was not merely deliverance from judgment hanging over them; God was for the people, active in love and in power for them.  The deliverance was an actual deliverance: they came out of that condition in which they had been enslaved, God's own power bringing them unhurt through that which otherwise must have been their destruction. Thus, in our case, it is Christ's death and resurrection, in which we participate, the redemption which He therein accomplished,  which introduces us into an entirely new condition altogether outside that of nature. We are no longer in the flesh.
In principle the earthly deliverance of the Jewish nation (the Jewish remnant) will be the same. Founded on the power of the risen Christ, and on the propitiation wrought out by His death, that deliverance will be accomplished by God, who will intervene on behalf of those that turn to Him by faith: at the same time that His adversaries (who are those also of His people) shall be destroyed by the very judgment which is the safeguard of the people whom they have oppressed.
Verse 30. Yet all difficulties were not overcome because redemption was accomplished, deliverance effected. But the God of deliverance was with them; difficulties disappear before Him. That which is a difficulty to man is none to Him. Faith trusts in Him, and uses means which only serve to express that trust. The walls of Jericho fall down at the sound of trumpets made of rams' horns, after Israel had compassed the city seven days, sounding these trumpets seven times.
Rahab, in presence of all the as yet unimpaired strength of the enemies of God and His people, identifies herself with the latter before they had gained one victory, because she felt that God was with them. A stranger to them (as to the flesh), she by faith escaped the judgment which God executed upon her people.
Verse 32. Details are now no longer entered into. Israel (although individuals had still to act by faith), being established in the land of promise,furnished less occasion to develop examples of the principles on which faith acted. The Spirit speaks in a general way of these examples in which faith re-appeared under various characters and energy of patience, and sustained souls under all kinds of suffering. Their glory was with God, the world was not worthy of them. Nevertheless they had received nothing of the fulfillment of the promises; they had to live by faith, as well as the Hebrews, to whom the epistle was addressed. The latter, however, had privileges which were in no wise possessed by believers of former days. Neither the one nor the other was brought to perfection, that is, to the heavenly glory, unto which God has called us, and in which they are to participate. Abraham and others waited for this glory; they never possessed it: God would not give it them without us. But He has not called us by the same revelations only as those which He made to them. For the days of the rejected Messiah He had reserved some better thing. Heavenly things have become things of the present time, things fully revealed and actually possessed in spirit, by the union of the saints with Christ, and present access into the holiest through the blood of Christ.
We have not to do with a promise and a distinct view of a place approached from without, entrance to which was not yet granted, so that relationship with God would not be founded on entrance within the veil-entrance into His own presence. We now go in with boldness. We belong to heaven; our citizenship is there; we are at home there. Heavenly glory is our present portion, Christ having gone in as our forerunner. We have in heaven a Christ who is man glorified. This Abraham had not. He walked on earth with a heavenly mind, waiting for a city, feeling that nothing else would satisfy the desires which God had awakened in his heart; but he could not be connected with heaven by means of a Christ actually sitting there in glory. This is our present portion. We can even say that we are united to Him there. The Christian's position is quite different from that of Abraham. God had reserved some better thing for us.
The Spirit does not here develop the whole extent of this " better thing," because the assembly is not His subject. He presents the general thought to the Hebrews to encourage them, that believers of the present day have special privileges, which they enjoy by faith, but which did not belong even to the faith of believers in former days.
We shall be perfected, that is to say, glorified together in resurrection; but there is a special portion which belongs to the saints now, and which did not belong to the patriarchs. The fact that Christ, as man, is in heaven after having accomplished redemption, and that the Holy Ghost, by whom we are united to Christ, is on earth, made this superiority granted to Christians easily understood. Accordingly even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than the greatest of those who preceded it.
 Indeed all that are spared for the world to come. Their state is expressed in the end of Revelation 7, as that of the Jews in the first verses of chapter 14.
 In general we may say that verses 8-22 are faith resting assured on the promise, the patience of faith: verse 23 to the end, faith resting on God for the activities and difficulties faith leads to, the energy of faith.
 Observe that in these, cases we find the rights of Christ in resurrection; the judgment of nature, and the blessing of faith, through grace; the inheritance of all things heavenly and earthly by Christ; and Israels future return to their own land.
 Stand still, says Moses, and see the salvation of Jehovah.
 Crossing the Jordan represents the believer being set at liberty, and intelligently entering by faith into the heavenlies; it is conscious death and resurrection with Christ. The Red Sea is the power of redemption by Christ.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Hebrews》
The nature and power of faith described. (1-3) It is set forth by instances from Abel to Noah. (4-7) By Abraham and his descendants. (8-19) By Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites, and Rahab. (20-31) By other Old Testament believers. (32-38) The better state of believers under the gospel. (39,40)
Commentary on Hebrews 11:1-3
(Read Hebrews 11:1-3)
Faith always has been the mark of God's servants, from the beginning of the world. Where the principle is planted by the regenerating Spirit of God, it will cause the truth to be received, concerning justification by the sufferings and merits of Christ. And the same things that are the object of our hope, are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation, that God will perform all he has promised to us in Christ. This persuasion gives the soul to enjoy those things now; it gives them a subsistence or reality in the soul, by the first-fruits and foretastes of them. Faith proves to the mind, the reality of things that cannot be seen by the bodily eye. It is a full approval of all God has revealed, as holy, just, and good. This view of faith is explained by many examples of persons in former times, who obtained a good report, or an honourable character in the word of God. Faith was the principle of their holy obedience, remarkable services, and patient sufferings. The Bible gives the most true and exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest the Scripture account of the creation, because it does not suit with the differing fancies of men. All that we see of the works of creation, were brought into being by the command of God.
Commentary on Hebrews 11:4-7
(Read Hebrews 11:4-7)
Here follow some illustrious examples of faith from the Old Testament. Abel brought a sacrifice of atonement from the firstlings of the flock, acknowledging himself a sinner who deserved to die, and only hoping for mercy through the great Sacrifice. Cain's proud rage and enmity against the accepted worshipper of God, led to the awful effects the same principles have produced in every age; the cruel persecution, and even murder of believers. By faith Abel, being dead, yet speaketh; he left an instructive and speaking example. Enoch was translated, or removed, that he should not see death; God took him into heaven, as Christ will do the saints who shall be alive at his second coming. We cannot come to God, unless we believe that he is what he has revealed himself to be in the Scripture. Those who would find God, must seek him with all their heart. Noah's faith influenced his practice; it moved him to prepare an ark. His faith condemned the unbelief of others; and his obedience condemned their contempt and rebellion. Good examples either convert sinners or condemn them. This shows how believers, being warned of God to flee from the wrath to come, are moved with fear, take refuge in Christ, and become heirs of the righteousness of faith.
Commentary on Hebrews 11:8-19
(Read Hebrews 11:8-19)
We are often called to leave worldly connexions, interests, and comforts. If heirs of Abraham's faith, we shall obey and go forth, though not knowing what may befall us; and we shall be found in the way of duty, looking for the performance of God's promises. The trial of Abraham's faith was, that he simply and fully obeyed the call of God. Sarah received the promise as the promise of God; being convinced of that, she truly judged that he both could and would perform it. Many, who have a part in the promises, do not soon receive the things promised. Faith can lay hold of blessings at a great distance; can make them present; can love them and rejoice in them, though strangers; as saints, whose home is heaven; as pilgrims, travelling toward their home. By faith, they overcome the terrors of death, and bid a cheerful farewell to this world, and to all the comforts and crosses of it. And those once truly and savingly called out of a sinful state, have no mind to return into it. All true believers desire the heavenly inheritance; and the stronger faith is, the more fervent those desires will be. Notwithstanding their meanness by nature, their vileness by sin, and the poverty of their outward condition, God is not ashamed to be called the God of all true believers; such is his mercy, such is his love to them. Let them never be ashamed of being called his people, nor of any of those who are truly so, how much soever despised in the world. Above all, let them take care that they are not a shame and reproach to their God. The greatest trial and act of faith upon record is, Abraham's offering up Isaac, Genesis 22:2. There, every word shows a trial. It is our duty to reason down our doubts and fears, by looking, as Abraham did, to the Almighty power of God. The best way to enjoy our comforts is, to give them up to God; he will then again give them as shall be the best for us. Let us look how far our faith has caused the like obedience, when we have been called to lesser acts of self-denial, or to make smaller sacrifices to our duty. Have we given up what was called for, fully believing that the Lord would make up all our losses, and even bless us by the most afflicting dispensations?
Commentary on Hebrews 11:20-31
(Read Hebrews 11:20-31)
Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, concerning things to come. Things present are not the best things; no man knoweth love or hatred by having them or wanting them. Jacob lived by faith, and he died by faith, and in faith. Though the grace of faith is of use always through our whole lives, it is especially so when we come to die. Faith has a great work to do at last, to help the believer to die to the Lord, so as to honour him, by patience, hope, and joy. Joseph was tried by temptations to sin, by persecution for keeping his integrity; and he was tried by honours and power in the court of Pharaoh, yet his faith carried him through. It is a great mercy to be free from wicked laws and edicts; but when we are not so, we must use all lawful means for our security. In this faith of Moses' parents there was a mixture of unbelief, but God was pleased to overlook it. Faith gives strength against the sinful, slavish fear of men; it sets God before the soul, shows the vanity of the creature, and that all must give way to the will and power of God. The pleasures of sin are, and will be, but short; they must end either in speedy repentance or in speedy ruin. The pleasures of this world are for the most part the pleasures of sin; they are always so when we cannot enjoy them without deserting God and his people. Suffering is to be chosen rather than sin; there being more evil in the least sin, than there can be in the greatest suffering. God's people are, and always have been, a reproached people. Christ accounts himself reproached in their reproaches; and thus they become greater riches than the treasures of the richest empire in the world. Moses made his choice when ripe for judgment and enjoyment, able to know what he did, and why he did it. It is needful for persons to be seriously religious; to despise the world, when most capable of relishing and enjoying it. Believers may and ought to have respect to the recompence of reward. By faith we may be fully sure of God's providence, and of his gracious and powerful presence with us. Such a sight of God will enable believers to keep on to the end, whatever they may meet in the way. It is not owing to our own righteousness, or best performances, that we are saved from the wrath of God; but to the blood of Christ, and his imputed righteousness. True faith makes sin bitter to the soul, even while it receives the pardon and atonement. All our spiritual privileges on earth, should quicken us in our way to heaven. The Lord will make even Babylon fall before the faith of his people, and when he has some great thing to do for them, he raises up great and strong faith in them. A true believer is desirous, not only to be in covenant with God, but in communion with the people of God; and is willing to fare as they fare. By her works Rahab declared herself to be just. That she was not justified by her works appears plainly; because the work she did was faulty in the manner, and not perfectly good, therefore it could not be answerable to the perfect justice or righteousness of God.
Commentary on Hebrews 11:32-38
(Read Hebrews 11:32-38)
After all our searches into the Scriptures, there is more to be learned from them. We should be pleased to think, how great the number of believers was under the Old Testament, and how strong their faith, though the objects of it were not then so fully made known as now. And we should lament that now, in gospel times, when the rule of faith is more clear and perfect, the number of believers should be so small, and their faith so weak. It is the excellence of the grace of faith, that, while it helps men to do great things, like Gideon, it keeps from high and great thoughts of themselves. Faith, like Barak's, has recourse unto God in all dangers and difficulties, and then makes grateful returns to God for all mercies and deliverances. By faith, the servants of God shall overcome even the roaring lion that goeth about seeking whom he may devour. The believer's faith endures to the end, and, in dying, gives him victory over death and all his deadly enemies, like Samson. The grace of God often fixes upon very undeserving and ill-deserving persons, to do great things for them and by them. But the grace of faith, wherever it is, will put men upon acknowledging God in all their ways, as Jephthah. It will make men bold and courageous in a good cause. Few ever met with greater trials, few ever showed more lively faith, than David, and he has left a testimony as to the trials and acts of faith, in the book of Psalms, which has been, and ever will be, of great value to the people of God. Those are likely to grow up to be distinguished for faith, who begin betimes, like Samuel, to exercise it. And faith will enable a man to serve God and his generation, in whatever way he may be employed. The interests and powers of kings and kingdoms, are often opposed to God and his people; but God can easily subdue all that set themselves against him. It is a greater honour and happiness to work righteousness than to work miracles. By faith we have comfort of the promises; and by faith we are prepared to wait for the promises, and in due time to receive them. And though we do not hope to have our dead relatives or friends restored to life in this world, yet faith will support under the loss of them, and direct to the hope of a better resurrection. Shall we be most amazed at the wickedness of human nature, that it is capable of such awful cruelties to fellow-creatures, or at the excellence of Divine grace, that is able to bear up the faithful under such cruelties, and to carry them safely through all? What a difference between God's judgement of a saint, and man's judgment! The world is not worthy of those scorned, persecuted saints, whom their persecutors reckon unworthy to live. They are not worthy of their company, example, counsel, or other benefits. For they know not what a saint is, nor the worth of a saint, nor how to use him; they hate, and drive such away, as they do the offer of Christ and his grace.
Commentary on Hebrews 11:39,40
(Read Hebrews 11:39,40)
The world considers that the righteous are not worthy to live in the world, and God declares the world is not worthy of them. Though the righteous and the worldlings widely differ in their judgment, they agree in this, it is not fit that good men should have their rest in this world. Therefore God receives them out of it. The apostle tells the Hebrews, that God had provided some better things for them, therefore they might be sure that he expected as good things from them. As our advantages, with the better things God has provided for us, are so much beyond theirs, so should our obedience of faith, patience of hope, and labour of love, be greater. And unless we get true faith as these believers had, they will rise up to condemn us at the last day. Let us then pray continually for the increase of our faith, that we may follow these bright examples, and be, with them, at length made perfect in holiness and happiness, and shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father for evermore.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Hebrews》
 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The definition of faith given in this verse, and exemplified in the various instances following, undoubtedly includes justifying faith, but not directly as justifying. For faith justifies only as it refers to, and depends on, Christ. But here is no mention of him as the object of faith; and in several of the instances that follow, no notice is taken of him or his salvation, but only of temporal blessings obtained by faith. And yet they may all be considered as evidences of the power of justifying faith in Christ, and of its extensive exercise in a course of steady obedience amidst difficulties and dangers of every kind.
Now faith is the subsistence of things hoped for, the evidence or conviction of things not seen — Things hoped for are not so extensive as things not seen. The former are only things future and joyful to us ; the latter are either future, past, or present, and those either good or evil, whether to us or others. The subsistence of things hoped for - Giving a kind of present subsistence to the good things which God has promised: the divine supernatural evidence exhibited to, the conviction hereby produced in, a believer of things not seen, whether past, future, or spiritual; particularly of God and the things of God.
 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
By it the elders — Our forefathers. This chapter is a kind of summary of the Old Testament, in which the apostle comprises the designs, labours, sojournings, expectations, temptations, martyrdoms of the ancients. The former of them had a long exercise of their patience; the latter suffered shorter but sharper trials.
Obtained a good testimony — A most comprehensive word. God gave a testimony, not only of them but to them: and they received his testimony as if it had been the things themselves of which he testified, Hebrews 11:4,5,39. Hence they also gave testimony to others, and others testified of them.
 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.
By faith we understand that the worlds — Heaven and earth and all things in them, visible and invisible.
Where made — Formed, fashioned, and finished.
By the word — The sole command of God, without any instrument or preceding matter. And as creation is the foundation and specimen of the whole divine economy, so faith in the creation is the foundation and specimen of all faith.
So that things which are seen — As the sun, earth, stars.
Were made of things which do not appear — Out of the dark, unapparent chaos, Genesis 1:2. And this very chaos was created by the divine power; for before it was thus created it had no existence in nature.
 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.
By faith — In the future Redeemer.
Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice — The firstlings of his flock, implying both a confession of what his own sins deserved, and a desire of sharing in the great atonement.
Than Cain — Whose offering testified no such faith, but a bare acknowledgment of God the Creator. By which faith he obtained both righteousness and a testimony of it: God testifying - Visibly that his gifts were accepted; probably by sending fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice, a token that justice seized on the sacrifice instead of the sinner who offered it.
And by it — By this faith.
Being dead, he yet speaketh — That a sinner is accepted only through faith in the great sacrifice.
 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.
Enoch was not any longer found among men, though perhaps they sought for him as they did for Elijah, 2 Kings 2:17.
He had this testimony — From God in his own conscience.
 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.
But without faith — Even some divine faith in God, it is impossible to please him.
For he that cometh to God — in prayer, or another act of worship, must believe that he is.
 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.
Noah being warned of things not seen as yet — Of the future deluge. Moved with fear, prepared an ark, by which open testimony he condemned the world - Who neither believed nor feared.
 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.
 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:
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise — The promise was made before, Genesis 12:7.
Dwelling in tents — As a sojourner With Isaac and Jacob - Who by the same manner of living showed the same faith Jacob was born fifteen years before the death of Abraham.
The joint heirs of the same promise — Having all the same interest therein. Isaac did not receive this inheritance from Abraham, nor Jacob from Isaac, but all of them from God. Genesis 17:8
 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
He looked for a city which hath foundations — Whereas a tent has none.
Whose builder and former is God — Of which God is the sole contriver, former, and finisher.
 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.
 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.
As it were dead — Till his strength was supernaturally restored, which continued for many years after.
 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.
All these — - Mentioned Hebrews 11:7-11.
Died in faith — In death faith acts most vigorously.
Not having received the promises — The promised blessings.
Embraced — As one does a dear friend when he meets him.
 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
They who speak thus show plainly that they seek their own country — That they keep in view, and long for, their native home.
 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
If they had been mindful of - Their earthly country, Ur of the Chaldeans, they might have easily returned.
 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.
But they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly — This is a full convincing proof that the patriarchs had a revelation and a promise of eternal glory in heaven. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: seeing he hath prepared for them a city - Worthy of God to give.
 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
By faith Abraham — When God made that glorious trial of him.
Offered up Isaac — The will being accepted as if he had actually done it.
Yea, he that had received the promises — Particularly that grand promise, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." Offered up - This very son; the only one he had by Sarah. Genesis 22:1,etc.
 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
In Isaac shall thy seed be called — From him shall the blessed seed spring. Genesis 21:12.
 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
Accounting that God was able even to raise him from the dead — Though there had not been any instance of this in the world.
From whence also — To speak in a figurative way.
He did receive him — Afterwards, snatched from the jaws of death.
 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
Blessed — Genesis 27:27,39; prophetically foretold the particular blessings they should partake of.
Jacob and Esau — Preferring the elder before the younger.
 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
Concerning his bones — To be carried into the land of promise.
 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.
They saw — Doubtless with a divine presage of things to come.
 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
Refused to be called — Any longer.
 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
The reproach of Christ — That which he bore for believing in the Messiah to come, and acting accordingly.
For he looked off — From all those perishing treasures, and beyond all those temporal hardships Unto the recompence of reward - Not to an inheritance in Canaan; he had no warrant from God to look for this, nor did he ever attain it; but what his believing ancestors looked for,-a future state of happiness in heaven.
 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
The pouring out of the blood — Of the paschal lamb, which was sprinkled on the door-posts, lest the destroying angel should touch the Israelites. Exodus 12:12-18.
 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
They — Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites.
Passed the Red Sea — It washed the borders of Edom, which signifies red. Thus far the examples are cited from Genesis and Exodus; those that follow are from the former and the latter Prophets.
 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
By the faith of Joshua.
 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
Rahab — Though formerly one not of the fairest character.
 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:
After Samuel, the prophets are properly mentioned. David also was a prophet; but he was a king too.
The prophets — Elijah, Elisha, etc., including likewise the believers who lived with them.
 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  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.
David, in particular, subdued kingdoms. Samuel (not excluding the rest) wrought righteousness. The prophets, in general, obtained promises, both for themselves, and to deliver to others. Prophets also stopped the mouths of lions, as Daniel; and quenched the violence of fire, as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. To these examples, whence the nature of faith clearly appears, those more ancient ones are subjoined, (by a transposition, and in an inverted order,) which receive light from these. Jephthah escaped the edge of the sword; Samson out of weakness was made strong; Barak became valiant in fight; Gideon put to flight armies of the aliens. Faith animates to the most heroic enterprises, both civil and military. Faith overcomes all impediments effects the greatest things; attains to the very best; and inverts, by its miraculous power the very course of nature. 2 Samuel 8:1,etc.; 1 Samuel 8:9,etc.; 1 Samuel 13:3,etc.; Daniel 6:22; Daniel 3:27; Judges 12:3; Judges 15:19,etc.; Judges 16:28,etc.; Judges 4:14,etc.; Judges 7:21.
 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
Women — Naturally weak.
Received their dead — Children.
Others were tortured — From those who acted great things the apostle rises higher, to those who showed the power of faith by suffering.
Not accepting deliverance — On sinful terms.
 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
And others — The apostle seems here to pass on to recent examples.
 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;
They were sawn asunder — As, according to the tradition of the Jews, Isaiah was by Manasseh.
Were tempted — Torments and death are mentioned alternately. Every way; by threatenings, reproaches, tortures, the variety of which cannot be expressed; and again by promises and allurements.
 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Of whom the world was not worthy — It did not deserve so great a blessing.
They wandered — Being driven out from men.
 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
And all these — Though they obtained a good testimony, Hebrews 11:2, yet did not receive the great promise, the heavenly inheritance.
 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
God having provided some better thing for us — Namely, everlasting glory.
That they might not be perfected without us — That is, that we might all be perfected together in heaven.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Hebrews》
The eleventh of Hebrews might be called the Westminster Abbey of the Bible, for it is a series of memorials to the trials and triumphs of faith.
There is no mention of the failures of the Old Testament saints in Hebrews 11., for the simple reason that God had said, “ Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb.10:17).
Ⅰ. Wisdom of faith (verses 1,2). Faith makes unseen things real, and future things present. Faith rests on facts, hence its wisdom. Presumption acts on its own authority, hence its folly. Newberry renders the words, “Evidence of things not seen,” as follows: “ conviction of facts not seen.”
Ⅱ. Warrant of faith (verse 3). The ground of faith’s attitude and action is, “ Thus saith the Lord.” “ Where the word of a king is, there is power” (authority).
Ⅲ. Worship of faith (verse 4). The ground of worship is sacrifice (Heb.10:19-22); the object of worship is God (Rev.22:9); and the power of worship is the Holy Spirit (Eph.2:18).
Ⅳ. Walk of faith (verse 5,6). The walk of faith is illustrated by the three men who are said to have walked with God.
Fellowship with God—Enoch ( Gen.5:24).
Fidelity to God—Phinehas (Mal.2:6; Num.25:12,13).
Faith in God—Noah (Gen.6:9).
Ⅴ. Witness of faith (verse 7). As unbelief and disobedience are synonymous terms, so are faith and obedience. It was because Noah was a man of faith that he obeyed God’s direction, hence his witness.
Ⅵ. Wandering of faith (verse 8-10). As stranger and pilgrim, Abraham went forth at God’s bidding. It was because he looked for a city that he dwelt in a tent.
Ⅶ. Waiting of faith (verse 11,12). Those who have the promise of God can afford to be patient before God. Waiting time is not wasted time. We must learn to “ tarry” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), if we would triumph.
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
Ⅰ. Trust of faith (verse 13). The promises are received as bank notes, which are as good as cash. Mark the words, “ received,” “ persuaded,” “ embraced,” “confessed.”
Ⅱ. Telescope of faith (verse 13). Unbelief says, “ Seeing is believing,” but faith says, “ Believing is seeing.” The promises are “ seen afar off,” but they are seen.
Ⅲ. Testimony of faith (verses 14-16). Faith declares by its actions what its aim is. “ Came out” declares the separation of the man of faith; and the “ wherefore” the consequent blessing.
Ⅳ. Trial of faith (verses 17-19). Faith looks at God’s presence and power, when tried. If the Lord does not deliver us out of the trial, He will be with us in it.
Ⅴ. Thoughtfulness of faith ( verse 20). Faith looks not on its own things, but looks our for others.
Ⅵ. Tact of faith (verse 22). The thought of the future fills the man of unbelief with fear; but the man of faith can speak of the future with perfect calm.
Ⅶ. Tranquility of faith (verse 22). The thought of the future fills the man of unbelief with fear; but the man of faith can speak of the future with perfect calm.
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
Ⅰ. Success of faith, as illustrated in Gideon (Judges 6.)
Ⅱ. Song of faith, as depicted in Barak (Judges 6:6,＆c.).
Ⅲ. Strength of faith, as seen in Samson (Judges 13:2,＆c.).
Ⅳ. Sacrifice of faith, as unfolded in Jephthah (Judges 11:1,＆c.).
Ⅴ. Supplication of faith, as manifest in David (Psalms).
Ⅵ. Singleness of faith, as made known in Samuel.
Ⅶ. Subject of faith, as demonstrated in the prophets.
Ponder the “ wherefore” of Heb.12:1, and observe how the Holy Spirit directs our gaze to the Man of Faith, for He is the Prince and Pattern of faith (not “ our” faith, but of faith. The word “our” is in italics). Christ was the One who began, continued, and ended His life in simple confidence; hence we are bidden to look to Him as the Perfect Example of what faith in God accomplishes.
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
Ⅰ. Courage of faith ( verse 23). The declarations of God are always to be regarded before the decrees of man.
Ⅱ. Choice of faith (verse 24-26). Pleasures of sin are always renounced for the pleasures of God’s right hand; and the treasures of earth are abandoned for the treasures of heaven.
Ⅲ. CALMNESS OF FAITH (verse 27). When we know what it is to look into the face of God, we shall never fear the frown of man.
Ⅳ. Covering of faith (verse 29). The blood of atonement is faith’s protection, and the presence of God is its confidence (Exodus 12:13,23).
Ⅴ. Confidence of faith (verse 29). The Word of God was Israel’s authority for crossing the Red Sea; hence the confidence they had.
Ⅵ. Conflict of faith (verse 30). “ The battle is the Lord’s,” is the war-cry of faith.
Ⅶ. Confession of faith (verse 31). Rahab’s action proclaims her faith.
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
Chapter 11. The Way of Faith
Sure of What
Was Hoped For
Certain of What Was Not Seen
I. Faith Pleases God
II. Faith Tested
III. Testimony of Prevailing Faith
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Faith That Pleases God (11:1-7)
1. A key concern in this epistle is that Christians remain strong in
a. There is the danger of developing "a heart of unbelief" - He 3:12
b. It was the lack of faith that destroyed
in the wilderness Israel
- He 3:16-19
2. In chapter ten, we saw...
a. An exhortation to "draw near with a true heart in full assurance
of faith" - He 10:22
b. An admonition to have that faith which endures to the end - He
10:35-39; cf. 6:11-12
3. But one might ask...
a. What is this "faith" which leads "to the saving of the soul"?
b. How does this faith manifest itself in the lives of those who
4. In chapter eleven, we find the answer to such questions...
a. With a definition of faith - He 11:1
b. With a mention of how necessary faith is to please God - He 11:6
c. With examples of Old Testament saints who demonstrated saving
faith - He 11:3-40
[In this lesson, we shall focus our attention on the first seven verses
as we examine the "Faith That Pleases God". In verses 1-3, we see...]
I. FAITH EXPLAINED (1-3)
A. FAITH IS "CONFIDENCE" AND "CONVICTION"...
1. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for..." (NKJV)
a. The Greek word translated "substance" is hupostasis
b. Literally, it means "to stand under", i.e., to be a
c. As translated in He 3:14, it means "confidence"; i.e., firm
d. Other translations illustrate that the main idea is
1) "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for..." (NIV)
2) "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for..."
2. "...the evidence of things not seen." (NKJV)
a. The Greek word translated "evidence" is elegchos
b. It means "conviction"
c. How other versions translate this phrase...
1) "certain of what we do not see." (NIV)
2) "the conviction of things not seen." (NRSV, NASB)
B. PERTAINING TO THINGS "HOPED FOR" AND "NOT SEEN"...
1. Faith is confidence about things hoped for, such as...
a. The coming of our Lord - Ti 2:13
b. The resurrection of the dead - Ac 24:15
-- It was this kind of confidence possessed by the OT saints
that pleased God - He 11:2
2. Faith is conviction about things we have not seen, such as...
a. The existence of God: "whom no man has seen or can see,"
- 1 Ti 6:16
b. How the world began: "the worlds were framed by the word of
God" - He 11:3
-- Yet faith is that strong conviction that such matters are
[As expressed in verse 2, the "elders obtained a good testimony"
because of their faith. The rest of the chapter is filled with
illustrations of the faith possessed by these "elders". The first three
mentioned were "antediluvians" (living before the flood), and in them
II. FAITH EXEMPLIFIED (4-5,7)
A. THE TESTIMONY OF ABEL ("FAITH WORSHIPPING")...
1. By faith he "offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than
Cain" - He 11:4
a. The reference is to Gen 4:3-5
1) Cain's offering was "of the fruit of the ground"
2) Abel's offering was "of the firstborn of his flock and
of their fat."
3) It is said the Lord "respected" Abel's offering, but not
b. Why did God respect Abel's offering, but not Cain's?
1) It may have been that God had specified an animal
2) It may be Cain offered "left-overs", while Abel offered
his best (the firstborn)
3) Cain's attitude may have been wrong; he certainly showed
himself prone to display envy and hatred, capable of
4) Perhaps most likely, Abel offered his with "faith" while
Cain did not
2. Through faith Abel "obtained witness that he was righteous"
- He 11:4
a. God certainly testified of his righteousness in showing
respect to his offering
b. Jesus also bore witness to the righteousness of Abel - Mt
c. The apostle John also - 1 Jn 3:12
3. Through his faith, "he being dead still speaks" - He 11:4
a. His example of faith was written for our learning - Ro 15:4
b. His example of faith continues to warn us in regards to
B. THE TESTIMONY OF ENOCH ("FAITH WALKING")...
1. By his faith, Enoch "was translated so that he did not see
death" - He 11:5
a. The historical reference alluded to is Gen 5:21-24
b. Like Elijah, he did not experience death - cf. 2 Ki 2:1-11
2. His faith was such that "he pleased God" - He 11:5
a. What God found pleasing is that he "walked with God" - Gen
b. His example of faith illustrates the value of walking with
God throughout life
C. THE TESTIMONY OF NOAH ("FAITH WORKING")...
1. By faith Noah. "moved with godly fear" - He 11:7
a. The scriptural background is Gen 6:1-22
b. God warned him about "things not seen" (cf. He 11:1);
i.e., the coming flood
c. His confidence (faith) in what God said would happen
prompted him to act with reverence toward God
2. By faith Noah "prepared an ark for the saving of his
household" - He 11:7
a. His faith moved him to do "according to all that God
commanded him" - Gen 6:22; 7:5
b. Through such faith working, Noah...
1) "condemned the world"
a) His own example of faithfulness stood in stark
contrast to others
b) His obedience magnified the lack of obedience in
-- Just as
will condemn those who did not listen Nineveh
to Jesus - Mt 12:41
2) "became heir of the righteousness which is according to
a) He received the standing of being right in God's eyes
b) It was his faith that so pleased God!
3) Demonstrated that faith and works are not necessarily
contrary to one another - cf. Ga 5:6; Ja 2:14-26
[From the examples of these "antediluvian" saints we learn that the
faith is a strong conviction that "worships" God properly, "walks" with
Him in life, and "works" as He directs.
That such faith is necessary to please God is evident as we go back to
verse six and notice...]
III. FAITH EMPHASIZED (6)
A. WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD...
1. We have seen how Abel, Enoch, and Noah "obtained a good
testimony" by their faith
2. Of Enoch in particular it is said "he pleased God" - He 11:5
3. Whether we are "worshipping", "walking", or "working", faith
must be the motivating factor behind it all
-- Without faith, then, there is nothing we can do that will
B. THE FAITH WHICH PLEASES GOD...
1. Includes conviction "that believes that God is"
a. We must believe there is a God, and He is the God of the
b. Though we do not see Him, we have conviction in "things not
seen" - He 11:1b
2. Includes confidence "that He is a rewarder of those who
diligently seek Him"
a. We must believe that God acts on the part of those seek
after Him - cf. 1 Chr 28:9; 2 Chr 16:9
b. It is regarding such "things hoped for", that we must have
confidence - He 11:
-- Such was the faith seen in the lives of Abel, Enoch, and Noah;
one might ask, how do we develop such faith today...?
C. HOW SAVING FAITH IS DEVELOPED...
1. It is not the result of "credulity"
a. A common misconception is that faith is "blind"
b. That there is no logic or reason to faith, one simply
2. But faith as described in the Bible is the result of
a. Faith in God is the result of evidence provided via
creation - Ro 1:20; Psa 19:1
b. Faith in Jesus is the result of evidence provided via
revelation - Jn 20:30-31
-- Certainly the "antediluvian" saints had such evidence,
including God speaking to them directly!
3. Today, faith comes "by hearing the word of God" - Ro 10:17
a. The word of God presents evidence to believe in God and
b. Such as fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness testimony, etc.
-- Through God's word, we can develop the kind of faith
(conviction) which pleases God! - cf. Ro 15:4
1. The faith which leads "to the saving of the soul" is one that
a. A strong conviction that God is
b. A strong confidence that He will reward those who diligently seek
2. It is the same kind of faith that we see in...
a. Abel, in how he worshipped God
b. Enoch, in how he walked with God
c. Noah, in how he worked for God
3. Do you have that same kind of faith today?
a. If you don't, let the Word of God create such faith in you...
1) It can produce faith in the existence of God!
2) It can produce faith in Jesus as His Son who died for you!
b. If you do, then let it affect the manner in which you...
1) Worship God
2) Walk with God
3) Work for God
-- As revealed through His Son Jesus Christ
With the right kind of faith, we can have the assurance that...
* God is pleased
* We are heirs "of the righteousness which is according to faith"
* We too will one day "obtain a good testimony"!
Faith That Embraces The Promises (11:8-22)
1. In the first seven verses of the eleventh chapter, we saw...
a. Faith explained...
1) As confidence of things hoped for
2) As conviction of things not seen
b. Faith exemplified...
1) In Abel (faith worshipping)
2) In Enoch (faith walking)
3) In Noah (faith working)
c. Faith emphasized...
1) Without which it is impossible to please God
2) We must believe He exists, and rewards those who diligently
2. Another aspect of our faith pertains to "the promises" in which we
a. We are warned not to fall short of what's been promised - He 4:1
b. Faith (along with patience) is necessary to inherit the promises
- He 6:11-12
3. The faith which pleases God, then, is one that "embraces" God's
a. In verses 8-22, we learn of the faith of those who "embraced the
b. Because of their faith, "God is not ashamed to be called their
[Do we have the sort of faith that makes God unashamed to be called our
God? To answer this question, let's use the text of our study to
I. THE FAITH OF THE PATRIARCHS (8-12,17-22)
A. THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM...
1. By faith he "obeyed" - He 11:8
a. When God called him to leave his country, he obeyed the
voice of the Lord
1) Even though at first he did not know where he was going
2) This is an example of conviction in "things not seen"!
b. Here we see that faith and obedience are not contradictory
1) Indeed, Jesus is the "author of eternal salvation to
all who obey Him" - He 5:9
2) Is our faith an "obedient faith" like Abraham's? - cf.
2. By faith he "sojourned" - He 11:9-10
a. His faith required him to live "as in a foreign country"
1) Even though it was the "land of promise", he and his
descendants could not have it for four hundred years
- cf. Gen 13:14-17; 15:13-21
2) He therefore patiently waited for the city "whose
builder and maker is God"
a) This suggests that the promises he embraced were more
than just those pertaining to the
b) Later, we will see he had a heavenly hope as well!
b. Our faith requires us to live "as in a foreign country"
1) For we too are "sojourners and pilgrims" - 1 Pe 2:11
2) Is our faith a "sojourning faith" like Abraham's? - cf.
3. By faith he "offered up Isaac" - He 11:17-19
a. His faith required him to be willing to offer that which
was closest to him
1) His son, Isaac - Gen 22:1-19
a) Through whom the promises he embraced were to be
b) He assumed that God would raise Isaac from the dead,
if need be, in order to keep His promises
2) Thus he illustrated that confidence "in things hoped
b. Our faith often requires forsaking things closest to us
1) Our loved ones, even our own life! - cf. Lk 14:26-33
2) Is our faith an "offering faith" like Abraham's? - cf.
B. THE FAITH OF SARAH...
1. By faith she received strength to conceive a child - He 11:
a. Though beyond the normal age of child-bearing - Gen 18:1-3;
b. Though she laughed when she first heard of God's promise,
she later "judged Him faithful who had promised"
c. Through her faith, the promises of a great nation were
2. Our faith requires looking to God for strength, and trusting
He will provide
a. We must look to God to "find grace to help in time of need"
- He 4:16
b. Is our faith a "receiving faith" like Sarah's? - Ph 4:13
C. THE FAITH OF ISAAC...
1. He blessed Jacob and Esau regarding things to come - He 11:20;
cf. Gen 27:1-40
2. This illustrates how Isaac by faith "embraced" the promises
D. THE FAITH OF JACOB...
1. Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph when he was dying - He 11:21;
cf. Gen 48:14-20
2. His blessing involved the promises of God, showing how he
embraced them also
E. THE FAITH OF JOSEPH...
1. When he was dying, Joseph:
a. Made mention of the departure of
Israelout of Egypt
b. Gave instructions concerning his bones - He 11:22; cf. Gen
2. In so doing, he demonstrated that he had "embraced the
[Such was the faith of the patriarchs. I purposely skipped verses 13-
16, for what is said there not only applies to Abraham and Sarah, but
to Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
As we now turn to those verses, we learn in particular...]
II. HOW THEIR FAITH PLEASED GOD (13-16)
A. THEY EMBRACED THE PROMISES... - He 11:13
1. They did not receive the promises during their lifetime
a. Yet with faith they could see them afar off
b. They freely confessed to be strangers and pilgrims on the
1) This implies that they sought a homeland
2) But what they desired was a better one, indeed a
2. They died "in faith" (i.e., holding fast to the promises)
B. THEREFORE GOD IS NOT ASHAMED OF THEM... - He 11:16b
1. He is not ashamed to be called their God
a. He is well pleased with them
b. It was their faith embracing the promises that pleased Him
2. He has prepared a city for them
a. What they waited for, He has prepared - cf. He 11:10
b. That which He has prepared is what we look for, too - cf.
1) I.e., the new heavens and new earth - cf. 2 Pe 3:13
2) In which will be the "New Jerusalem," that "great
city...descending out of heaven" - cf. Re 21:1-3,10ff
3) Indeed, even now in a sense we have "come to
and to the city of the living God, the heavenly
..." - He 12:22-24 Jerusalem
1. What kind of faith pleases God? Certainly a...
a. "Worshipping faith" like that of Abel
b. "Walking faith" like that of Enoch
c. "Working faith" like that of Noah
...but also a "waiting faith" seen in the patriarchs (Abraham,
Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph)!
2. The faith that pleases God is one that "embraces the promises" made
a. Patiently waiting for their ultimate fulfillment, even if it
doesn't happen in one's lifetime
b. But with conviction and confidence of "things hoped for" and
"things of unseen"...
1) We will "obey" His calling
2) We will "sojourn" here on earth
3) We will "offer" up whatever He asks of us
4) We will "receive strength" to do whatever He bids us
5) And we will "make mention" of His promises from generation to
3. This is the kind of faith...
a. In those "who believe to the saving of the soul" - He 10:39
b. In those of whom "God is not ashamed to be called their God"
- He 11:16
May the Lord grant us grace and mercy to develop this kind of saving
Faith That Overcomes The World (11:23-40)
1. What kind of faith leads "to the saving of the soul" (He 10:39)?
a. It is "Faith That Pleases God" - He 11:1-7
1) That has confidence and conviction in things hoped for, in
2) That believes God is, and that He rewards those who seek Him
3) That worships like Abel, walks like Enoch, and works like Noah
b. It is "Faith That Embraces The Promises" - He 11:8-22
1) Obeying God when He calls, even it means sojourning as a
pilgrim, or sacrificing that which is most precious to you
2) Receiving strength from God to do His will (Sarah)
3) Declaring the promises of God from generation to generation
(Isaac, Jacob, Joseph)
2. Saving faith is also "Faith That Overcomes The World", concerning
a. The apostle John wrote in 1 Jn 5:4-5
b. We have many examples in He 11:23-40
[In the last half of chapter eleven, then, we are reminded how in the
Old Testament those with faith were able to "overcome the world". How
such faith overcame the world may vary. To see how, let's begin by
I. FAITH IN THE GENERATION OF THE EXODUS (23-31)
A. THE FAITH OF MOSES' PARENTS... (23)
1. They hid Moses for three months - cf. Exo 2:1-3; Ac 7:20
a. They saw he was a "beautiful" ("good", "proper", "not
b. They were not afraid of Pharaoh's command - cf. Exo 1:22
2. It was their faith that gave them courage to withstand the
-- With such a small beginning, by faith they "overcame the
B. THE FAITH OF MOSES... (24-28)
1. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter - He 11:
a. He chose to suffer affliction with God's people rather than
enjoy sin's temporary pleasures
b. He esteemed the reproaches of Christ more valuable than the
-- Through faith "he looked to the reward" (he had confidence
in "things hoped for", i.e., that heavenly reward)
2. He forsook
- He 11:27 Egypt
a. It was not the wrath of the king that he feared
b. It was the invisible God he feared - cf. Mt 10:28
-- Through faith "he endured" (he had conviction in "things
unseen", i.e., God)
3. He kept the Passover and sprinkling of blood - He 11:28
a. He believed in God's warning regarding the death of the
firstborn- Exo 12:1-30
b. He had
sprinkle the blood of the lamb on the lintels Israel
and door posts
-- By faith, Moses "overcame the world" of Egyptian bondage!
C. THE FAITH OF THE NATION OF
... (29-30) ISRAEL
1. They passed through the
Red Sea- He 11:29
a. They walked through it on dry land - Exo 14:21-22
b. The Egyptians who followed them perished in the sea - Exo
2. They destroyed the city of
- He 11:30 Jericho
a. They walked around the city for seven days - Josh 6:1-20
b. Thirteen times they encircled the city, showing their faith
in God rather than in their own military might
-- By faith,
Israel"overcame the world" of Egyptand ! Palestine
D. THE FAITH OF RAHAB THE HARLOT... (31)
1. She had received the two spies from
with peace - Josh Israel
2. Therefore she did not perish with the unbelievers - cf. Josh
-- By faith, Rahab "overcame the world" of sin and unbelief!
receive the promised land as God had told Israel
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Josh 21:43-45). In the process, by faith
they overcame what obstacles the world placed before them. Even a
Gentile sinner like Rahab became a recipient of the promise by her
But the need for faith did not stop there. As we continue, we see
II. FAITH IN THE LAND OF PROMISE (32-40)
A. A SAMPLE LIST OF HEROES OF FAITH... (32)
1. There is not enough time for the author to describe the faith
of others in detail
2. Such as:
a. Judges like Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah
b. A king like David
c. A prophet like Samuel, and the rest of the prophets
-- But what the author does provide is that which follows...
B. A SUMMARY LIST OF WHAT FAITH ACCOMPLISHED... (33-37)
1. Through faith, people such as these...
a. "Subdued kingdoms"
1) Joshua, in conquering Palestine - Josh 12:7-24
2) David, in conquering neighboring nations - 2 Sam 5:4-25;
b. "Worked righteousness" (administered justice)
1) Samuel, as judge - 1 Sam 12:4
2) David, as king - 2 Sam 8:15
3) Solomon, as king - 1 Kin 3:28
c. "Obtained promises"
-- The nation of Israel, receiving the promised land - Josh
d. "Stopped the mouths of lions"
1) Samson - Judg 14:6
2) David, protecting sheep - 1 Sam 17:34-37
3) Daniel, in the lions' den - Dan 6:21-22
e. "Quenched the violence of fire"
-- Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, in the fiery furnace - Dan
f. "Escaped the edge of the sword"
1) David, fleeing King Saul - 1 Sam 23:19-29
2) Elijah, fleeing Jezebel - 1 Kin 19:8-10
3) Elisha, whom the King of Israel wanted murdered - 2 Kin
h. "Out of weakness were made strong"
1) Samson, after his hair was cut - Judg 16:29-30
2) Hezekiah, who was given fifteen years of life - Isa 38:
i. "Became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of
1) David, in defeating Goliath - 1 Sam 17:50
2) Jehoshaphat, in defeating Edom - 2 Chr 20:1-30
3) Hezekiah, whose faith led to the slaughter of 185,000
Assyrian soldiers - 2 Kin 19:1-36
2. Also through faith...
a. "Women received their dead raised to life again"
1) The widow of Zarephath, via Elijah - 1 Kin 17:17-24
2) The Shunamite woman, via Elisha - 2 Kin 4:8-37
b. "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, to obtain
a better resurrection"
1) Eleazar, in the Maccabean period between the Testaments
- 2 Macc 6:30
2) Also, seven brothers and their mother tortured by
Antiochus Epiphanes - 2 Macc 7:9-36
-- Such events would have been well known by the Hebrew
c. "Others had trials of mockings, scourgings, chains and
1) Micaiah, the prophet - 1 Kin 22:24-28
2) Jeremiah, the prophet - Jer 20:1-3; 37:11-21; 38:1-13
d. Some were:
1) "Stoned" - Zechariah, son of Jehoida the priest - 2 Chr
2) "Sawn in two" - the prophet Isaiah, according to
3) "Tempted" - Daniel, as a youth - Dan 1:8-21
4) "Slain with the sword" - Uriah the prophet - Jer 26:
e. Some wandered about:
1) "In sheepskins and goatskins" - Elijah - 2 Kin 1:8
2) "Being destitute, afflicted, tormented" - Elijah - 2 Kin
C. WHAT THESE PEOPLE RECEIVED BY THEIR FAITH... (38-40)
1. Certainly not the praise of the world! - He 11:38
a. Many had to wander in deserts and mountains, live in dens
and caves (Elijah)
b. But in truth, the world is not worthy of them!
2. They did obtain a good testimony... - He 11:
a. As stated regarding the elders in He 11:2
b. As stated regarding Enoch - He 11:5
3. Yet they did not obtain "the promise" during their lifetime
- He 11:39b-40
a. They did receive some of the promises, such as the promised
land - cf. He 11:33
b. But they did not receive "the" promise
1) They did not live to see the coming of the promised
2) Nor did they experience the "perfection" which Christ
a) The Law could not make them "perfect" - He 9:9-10;
b) But Christ can! - cf. He 9:11-14; 10:11-14
4. What they did not receive during their lifetime, they did with
the coming of Christ!
a. For Christ died to redeem them as well as us! - He 9:15
b. They are now made "perfect" just as we are - He 11:40; cf.
1) Note the phrase "the spirits of just men made perfect"
in He 12:23
2) Those who in the past "should not be made perfect apart
from us" are in Christ "made perfect"!
1. Through faith, they truly overcame the world...
a. Sometimes their victory was miraculous; often it was not
c. Their ultimate victory was that they "died in faith" - He 11:
-- And now, they enjoy the fruit of faith: bliss in the presence of
the Lamb! - cf. Re 7:9-17
2. Through faith, we can also overcome the world...
a. Faith in Jesus as the Son of God will give us the victory! - 1 Jn
1) Victory over the world's temptations
2) Victory over the world's persecutions
b. The victories we win may not be as impressive as those listed in
this chapter, but if we are "faithful until death", the reward
will be the same! - cf. Re 2:10
May this great chapter with its heroes of faith, serve to motivate us
to grow in the faith which...
* Pleases God!
* Embraces The Promises!
* Overcomes The World!
We may not win the praise the world, but we will receive the praise of
God, for such is the faith which leads "to the saving of the soul"!
The way of Faith
Sure of what was hoped for
Certain of what was not seen
I. Faith pleases god
1. Sacrifice by faith
2. (Enoch) Taken and (Noah) build an ark
3. (Abraham) Called and promised descendants
1. Foretell the promise
2. Not to look on circumstances
3. Regard disgrace as glory
III. Testimony of prevailing faith
1. Powerful in battles
2. Wonderful steps
3. A better resurrection
－－ Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》