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11 Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. It was by faith that our forebears were approved. Through faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God; everything we now see was fashioned from that which is invisible.

Faith begins as hope and indeed is unseen; so many doubt that it is real. What follows is the proof that faith is a reality that can be trusted.

By faith Abel presented to God a sacrifice more acceptable than his brother Cain’s. By faith Abel learned he was righteous, as God Himself testified by approving his offering. And by faith he still speaks, although his voice was silenced by death.

By faith Enoch was carried up into heaven so that he did not see death; no one could find him because God had taken him. Before he was taken up, it was said of him that he had pleased God. Without faith no one can please God because the one coming to God must believe He exists, and He rewards those who come seeking.

By faith Noah respected God’s warning regarding the flood—the likes of which no one had ever seen—and built an ark that saved his family. In this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham heard God’s call to travel to a place he would one day receive as an inheritance; and he obeyed, not knowing where God’s call would take him. By faith he journeyed to the land of the promise as a foreigner; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, his fellow heirs to the promise 10 because Abraham looked ahead to a city with foundations, a city laid out and built by God.

11 By faith Abraham’s wife Sarah became fertile long after menopause because she believed God would be faithful to His promise. 12 So from this man, who was almost at death’s door, God brought forth descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as impossible to count as the sands of the shore.

13 All these I have mentioned died in faith without receiving the full promises, although they saw the fulfillment as though from a distance. These people accepted and confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on this earth 14 because people who speak like this make it plain that they are still seeking a homeland. 15 If this was only a bit of nostalgia for a time and place they left behind, then certainly they might have turned around and returned. 16 But such saints as these look forward to a far better place, a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God because He has prepared a heavenly city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when he endured God’s testing, offered his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice. The one who had received God’s promise was willing to offer his only son; 18 God had told him, “It is through Isaac that your descendants will bear your name,”[a] 19 and he concluded that God was capable of raising him from the dead, which, figuratively, is indeed what happened.

20 By faith Isaac spoke blessings upon his sons, Jacob and Esau, concerning things yet to come.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed the sons of his son Joseph, bowing in worship as he leaned upon his staff.[b]

22 By faith Joseph, at his life’s end, predicted that the children of Israel would make an exodus from Egypt; and he gave instructions that his bones be buried in the land they would someday reach.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born because they saw that he was handsome; and they did not fear Pharaoh’s directive that all male Hebrew children were to be slain.

24 By faith Moses, when he was grown, refused to be identified solely as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter 25 and chose instead to share the sufferings of the people of God, not just living in sin and ease for a time. 26 He considered the abuse that he and the people of God had suffered in anticipation of the Anointed One more valuable than all the riches of Egypt because he looked ahead to the coming reward.

27 By faith Moses left Egypt, unafraid of Pharaoh’s wrath and moving forward as though he could see the invisible God. 28 Through faith, he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of blood on the doorposts among the Hebrews so that the destroyer of the firstborn would pass over their homes without harming them. 29 By faith the people crossed through the Red Sea as if they were walking on dry land, although the pursuing Egyptian soldiers were drowned when they tried to follow.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho toppled after the people had circled them for seven days. 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab welcomed the Hebrew spies into her home so that she did not perish with the unbelievers.

32 I could speak more of faith; I could talk until time itself ran out. If I continued, I could speak of the examples of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and all the prophets. 33 I could give accounts of people alive with faith who conquered kingdoms, brought justice, obtained promises, and closed the mouths of hungry lions. 34 I could tell you how people of faith doused raging fires, escaped the edge of the sword, made the weak strong, and—stoking great valor among the champions of God—sent opposing armies into panicked flight.

35 I could speak of faith bringing women their loved ones back from death and how the faithful accepted torture instead of earthly deliverance because they believed they would obtain a better life in the resurrection. 36 Others suffered mockery and whippings; they were placed in chains and in prisons. 37 The faithful were stoned, sawn in two,[c] killed by the sword, clothed only in sheepskins and goatskins; they were penniless, afflicted, and tormented. 38 The world was not worthy of these saints. They wandered across deserts, crossed mountains, and lived in the caves, cracks, and crevasses of the earth.

Stories of faith and faithfulness are central to the First Testament. The writer of Hebrews recalls some of the most memorable examples of how people of faith lived their lives. But what is faith? Faith is more than belief; it is trust, assurance, and firm conviction. Ironically most of those who lived by faith never fully realized the promises God had made. Like us they journeyed as strangers and exiles, longing for another country. We should remember their patient faith when we face prolonged hardships and allow the trials we face to strengthen our faith rather than destroy it. If we are comfortable here and don’t face suffering for our faith, perhaps we aren’t fully living by faith and looking forward to a future hope.

39 These, though commended by God for their great faith, did not receive what was promised. 40 That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed.

Footnotes

  1. 11:18 Genesis 21:12
  2. 11:21 Genesis 47:31
  3. 11:37 Some early manuscripts read “sawn in two.” Other early manuscripts read “tempted.” Later manuscripts have both.

Faith in Action

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for(A) and assurance about what we do not see.(B) This is what the ancients were commended for.(C)

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command,(D) so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended(E) as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings.(F) And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.(G)

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a](H) For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him(I) must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen,(J) in holy fear built an ark(K) to save his family.(L) By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.(M)

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,(N) obeyed and went,(O) even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land(P) like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents,(Q) as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.(R) 10 For he was looking forward to the city(S) with foundations,(T) whose architect and builder is God.(U) 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age,(V) was enabled to bear children(W) because she[b] considered him faithful(X) who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead,(Y) came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.(Z)

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised;(AA) they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance,(AB) admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.(AC) 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.(AD) 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.(AE) Therefore God is not ashamed(AF) to be called their God,(AG) for he has prepared a city(AH) for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.(AI) He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c](AJ) 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead,(AK) and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.(AL)

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons,(AM) and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.(AN)

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born,(AO) because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.(AP)

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.(AQ) 25 He chose to be mistreated(AR) along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace(AS) for the sake of Christ(AT) as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.(AU) 27 By faith he left Egypt,(AV) not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer(AW) of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.(AX)

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.(AY)

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.(AZ)

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d](BA)

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon,(BB) Barak,(BC) Samson(BD) and Jephthah,(BE) about David(BF) and Samuel(BG) and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms,(BH) administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,(BI) 34 quenched the fury of the flames,(BJ) and escaped the edge of the sword;(BK) whose weakness was turned to strength;(BL) and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.(BM) 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.(BN) There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging,(BO) and even chains and imprisonment.(BP) 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e](BQ) they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword.(BR) They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,(BS) destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves(BT) and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended(BU) for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,(BV) 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us(BW) would they be made perfect.(BX)

Footnotes

  1. Hebrews 11:5 Gen. 5:24
  2. Hebrews 11:11 Or By faith Abraham, even though he was too old to have children—and Sarah herself was not able to conceive—was enabled to become a father because he
  3. Hebrews 11:18 Gen. 21:12
  4. Hebrews 11:31 Or unbelieving
  5. Hebrews 11:37 Some early manuscripts stoning; they were put to the test;

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