The Letter to the Hebrews

Chapter 11

What faith is, 1-5. Without faith we cannot please God, 6. The worthy fruits thereof in the fathers of old time, 7-40.

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

3 Through faith we understand that the universe was framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which appeared. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained testimony that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. And by faith he, being dead, yet speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was translated so that he should not see death, "and was not found, because God had translated him." For before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him. For he who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God of things not seen as yet and moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to remove into a place which he should afterward receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 Through faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed and had delivered a child when she was past age because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore, there sprang even from one—and him as good as dead—so many as the stars of the sky in multitude and as the sand which is by the sea-shore innumerable.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came, they might have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." 19 He accounted that God was able to raise him even from the dead, from where also he received him in a figure. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph and worshiped while leaning upon the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel and gave commandment concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by his parents because they saw he was a proper child, and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect to the recompense of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, and he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 Through faith he kept the passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the first-born should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as if by dry land, which the Egyptians essaying to do were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encompassed seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, as she had received the spies with peace.

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, of Barak, of Samson, of Jephthah, of David, Samuel, and of the prophets, 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the foreigners. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, so that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings and also of bonds and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned. They were sawn apart. They were tempted. They were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all of these, having obtained a good report through faith, did not receive the promise— 40 God having provided something better for us—so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary - Hebrews, Chapter 11

Notes

[v.3] - "universe" - From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "Literally, 'ages'; all that exists in time and space, visible and invisible, present and eternal." The Pulpit Commentary notes that this verse tells of "the existence and operation of God, as the unseen Author of the visible universe." The Thayer's Greek Lexicon shows the Greek word used here (and also in Hebrews 1:2) refers to "the worlds, the universe, i.e., the aggregate of things contained in time."

[v.4] - Reference, Genesis 4:1-16.

[v.5] - Quoting Genesis 5:24 (LXX).

[v.6] - "For he... must believe that he exists" - From Matthew Poole's Commentary: "He must really, fully, and supernaturally receive all that which God reveals in his word is pleasing to him, especially concerning himself; as, that he is the primitive, perfect Being, and the Cause of all; that he is three in relations and one in essence, most excellent in all his attributes, infinitely wise, powerful, just, good, and eternal, etc., the supreme Creator and Governor of, and Lawgiver to, all."

[v.7] - Reference, Genesis, ch. 6-8.

[v.8] - Reference, Genesis 12:1-7.

[v.9] - Reference, Genesis, ch. 13.

[v.11] - Reference, Genesis 17:19, 21:2.

[v.12] - Reference, Genesis 22:17.

[v.17] - Reference, Genesis, ch. 22.

[v.18] - Quoting Genesis 21:12 (LXX).

[v.20] - Reference, Genesis, ch. 27.

[v.21] - Reference, Genesis 47:31, and ch. 48.

[v.22] - Reference, Genesis 50:24-25.

[v.23] - Reference, Exodus 2:2.

[v.24-26] - Reference, Exodus, ch. 3-4. In Exodus, ch. 3, God had appeared to Moses and told him of the deliverance of the Hebrews from the bondage of Egypt. This was to be done by the hand of Moses. After a discourse with God in Exodus, ch. 4, Moses finally agrees to follow the word of God and deliver the Hebrews from Pharaoh. Moses first confronts Pharaoh in Exodus, ch. 5. In doing this, Moses had rejected the pleasures of being in Pharaoh's house, being a son to Pharaoh, and joined with the Hebrews in affliction for the hope of the promise given by God of deliverance from Egypt to the promise land.

[v.27] - Reference, Exodus 12:50-51, 13:17-22.

[v.28] - Reference, Exodus, ch. 12.

[v.29] - Reference, Exodus, ch. 14.

[v.30] - Reference, Joshua, ch. 6.

[v.31] - Reference, Joshua 2:1-21, 6:17, 22-23, 25.

[v.32a] - "Gideon" - Reference, Judges, ch. 6-8.

[v.32b] - "Barak" - Reference, Judges, ch. 4-5.

[v.32c] - "Samson" - Reference, Judges, ch. 13-16.

[v.32d] - "Jephthah" - Reference, Judges, ch. 11, 12:1-7.

[v.32e] - "David" - Reference, 1st Samuel, ch. 16-31, 2nd Samuel, 1st Kings, ch. 1-11.

[v.32f] - "Samuel" - Reference, 1st Samuel, ch. 1-28.

[v.32g] - "the prophets" - Prophets are found throughout the entire text of the Old Testament. The books of Isaiah through Malachi are known as the books of the prophets. Moses was also known as a very notable prophet. Verses 33-38 in this chapter will highlight some of the actions and/or notable life moments of certain prophets.

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