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11 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith.

By faith—by believing God—we know that the world and the stars—in fact, all things—were made at God’s command; and that they were all made from things that can’t be seen.[a]

It was by faith that Abel obeyed God and brought an offering that pleased God more than Cain’s offering did. God accepted Abel and proved it by accepting his gift; and though Abel is long dead, we can still learn lessons from him about trusting God.

Enoch trusted God too, and that is why God took him away to heaven without dying; suddenly he was gone because God took him. Before this happened God had said[b] how pleased he was with Enoch. You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him.

Noah was another who trusted God. When he heard God’s warning about the future, Noah believed him even though there was then no sign of a flood, and wasting no time, he built the ark and saved his family. Noah’s belief in God was in direct contrast to the sin and disbelief of the rest of the world—which refused to obey—and because of his faith he became one of those whom God has accepted.

Abraham trusted God, and when God told him to leave home and go far away to another land that he promised to give him, Abraham obeyed. Away he went, not even knowing where he was going. And even when he reached God’s promised land, he lived in tents like a mere visitor as did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise. 10 Abraham did this because he was confidently waiting for God to bring him to that strong heavenly city whose designer and builder is God.

11 Sarah, too, had faith, and because of this she was able to become a mother in spite of her old age, for she realized that God, who gave her his promise, would certainly do what he said. 12 And so a whole nation came from Abraham, who was too old to have even one child—a nation with so many millions of people that, like the stars of the sky and the sand on the ocean shores, there is no way to count them.

13 These men of faith I have mentioned died without ever receiving all that God had promised them; but they saw it all awaiting them on ahead and were glad, for they agreed that this earth was not their real home but that they were just strangers visiting down here. 14 And quite obviously when they talked like that, they were looking forward to their real home in heaven.

15 If they had wanted to, they could have gone back to the good things of this world. 16 But they didn’t want to. They were living for heaven. And now God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has made a heavenly city for them.

17 While God was testing him, Abraham still trusted in God and his promises, and so he offered up his son Isaac and was ready to slay him on the altar of sacrifice; 18 yes, to slay even Isaac, through whom God had promised to give Abraham a whole nation of descendants!

19 He believed that if Isaac died God would bring him back to life again; and that is just about what happened, for as far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was doomed to death, but he came back again alive! 20 It was by faith that Isaac knew God would give future blessings to his two sons, Jacob and Esau.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s two sons as he stood and prayed, leaning on the top of his cane.

22 And it was by faith that Joseph, as he neared the end of his life, confidently spoke of God bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt; and he was so sure of it that he made them promise to carry his bones with them when they left!

23 Moses’ parents had faith too. When they saw that God had given them an unusual child, they trusted that God would save him from the death the king commanded, and they hid him for three months and were not afraid.

24-25 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the grandson of the king, but chose to share ill-treatment with God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought that it was better to suffer for the promised Christ than to own all the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking forward to the great reward that God would give him. 27 And it was because he trusted God that he left the land of Egypt and wasn’t afraid of the king’s anger. Moses kept right on going; it seemed as though he could see God right there with him. 28 And it was because he believed God would save his people that he commanded them to kill a lamb as God had told them to and sprinkle the blood on the doorposts of their homes so that God’s terrible Angel of Death could not touch the oldest child in those homes as he did among the Egyptians.

29 The people of Israel trusted God and went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians chasing them tried it, they all were drowned.

30 It was faith that brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down after the people of Israel had walked around them seven days as God had commanded them. 31 By faith—because she believed in God and his power—Rahab the harlot did not die with all the others in her city when they refused to obey God, for she gave a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 Well, how much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and all the other prophets. 33 These people all trusted God and as a result won battles, overthrew kingdoms, ruled their people well, and received what God had promised them; they were kept from harm in a den of lions 34 and in a fiery furnace. Some, through their faith, escaped death by the sword. Some were made strong again after they had been weak or sick. Others were given great power in battle; they made whole armies turn and run away. 35 And some women, through faith, received their loved ones back again from death. But others trusted God and were beaten to death, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free—trusting that they would rise to a better life afterwards.

36 Some were laughed at and their backs cut open with whips, and others were chained in dungeons. 37-38 Some died by stoning and some by being sawed in two; others were promised freedom if they would renounce their faith, then were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in dens and caves. They were hungry and sick and ill-treated—too good for this world. 39 And these men of faith, though they trusted God and won his approval, none of them received all that God had promised them; 40 for God wanted them to wait and share the even better rewards that were prepared for us.

Footnotes

  1. Hebrews 11:3 things that can’t be seen. Perhaps the reference is to atoms, electrons, etc.
  2. Hebrews 11:5 God had said, implied.

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;