Add parallel Print Page Options

V. Examples, Discipline, Disobedience

Chapter 11[a]

Faith of the Ancients. Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence[b] of things not seen.(A)

Read full chapter


  1. 11:1–40 This chapter draws upon the people and events of the Old Testament to paint an inspiring portrait of religious faith, firm and unyielding in the face of any obstacles that confront it. These pages rank among the most eloquent and lofty to be found in the Bible. They expand the theme announced in Hb 6:12, to which the author now returns (Hb 10:39). The material of this chapter is developed chronologically. Hb 11:3–7 draw upon the first nine chapters of Genesis (Gn 1–9); Hb 11:8–22, upon the period of the patriarchs; Hb 11:23–31, upon the time of Moses; Hb 11:32–38, upon the history of the judges, the prophets, and the Maccabean martyrs. The author gives the most extensive description of faith provided in the New Testament, though his interest does not lie in a technical, theological definition. In view of the needs of his audience he describes what authentic faith does, not what it is in itself. Through faith God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what he promises will eventually come to pass (Hb 11:1). Because they accepted in faith God’s guarantee of the future, the biblical personages discussed in Hb 11:3–38 were themselves commended by God (Hb 11:2). Christians have even greater reason to remain firm in faith since they, unlike the Old Testament men and women of faith, have perceived the beginning of God’s fulfillment of his messianic promises (Hb 11:39–40).
  2. 11:1 Faith is the realization…evidence: the author is not attempting a precise definition. There is dispute about the meaning of the Greek words hypostasis and elenchos, here translated realization and evidence, respectively. Hypostasis usually means “substance,” “being” (as translated in Hb 1:3), or “reality” (as translated in Hb 3:14); here it connotes something more subjective, and so realization has been chosen rather than “assurance” (RSV). Elenchos, usually “proof,” is used here in an objective sense and so translated evidence rather than the transferred sense of “(inner) conviction” (RSV).