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The Triumphs of Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the [a]men of old gained [divine] approval.

By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which it was testified of him that he was righteous (upright, in right standing with God), and God testified by accepting his gifts. And though he died, yet through [this act of] faith he still speaks.(A) By faith [that pleased God] Enoch was caught up and taken to heaven so that he would not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found because God had taken him; for even before he was taken [to heaven], he received the testimony [still on record] that he had walked with God and pleased Him.(B) But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him. By faith [with confidence in God and His word] Noah, being warned by God about events not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his family. By this [act of obedience] he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith.(C)

By faith Abraham, when he was called [by God], obeyed by going to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land, as in a strange land, living in tents [as nomads] with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise.(D) 10 For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, [an eternal, heavenly city] whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive [a child], even [when she was long] past the normal age for it, because she considered Him who had given her the promise to be reliable and true [to His word].(E) 12 So from one man, though he was [physically] as good as dead, were born as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand on the seashore.(F)

13 All these died in faith [guided and sustained by it], without receiving the [tangible fulfillment of God’s] promises, only having seen (anticipated) them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.(G) 14 Now those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 And if they had been thinking of that country from which they departed [as their true home], they would have had [a continuing] opportunity to return. 16 But the truth is that they were longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. For that reason God is not ashamed [of them or] to be called their God [even to be surnamed their God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]; for He has prepared a city for them.(H)

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested [that is, as the testing of his faith was still in progress], [b]offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises [of God] was ready to sacrifice his only son [of promise];(I) 18 to whom it was said, “Through Isaac your descendants shall be called.”(J) 19 For he considered [it reasonable to believe] that God was able to raise Isaac even from among the dead. [Indeed, in the sense that he was prepared to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God] Abraham did receive him back [from the dead] figuratively speaking. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau [believing what God revealed to him], even regarding things to come.(K) 21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and bowed in worship, leaning on the top of his staff.(L) 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, referred to [the promise of God for] the exodus of the sons of Israel [from Egypt], and gave instructions concerning [the burial of] his bones [in the land of the promise].(M)

23 By faith Moses, after his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful and divinely favored child; and they were not afraid of the king’s (Pharaoh’s) decree.(N) 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,(O) 25 because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of the [c]Christ [that is, the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God] to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt; for he looked ahead to the reward [promised by God]. 27 By faith he left Egypt, being unafraid of the wrath of the king; for he endured [steadfastly], as seeing Him who is unseen.(P) 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them (the firstborn of Israel).(Q) 29 By faith the people [of Israel] crossed the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.(R)

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days [by Joshua and the sons of Israel].(S) 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed along with those who were disobedient, because she had welcomed the spies [sent by the sons of Israel] in peace.(T)

32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,(U) 33 who by faith [that is, with an enduring trust in God and His promises] subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions,(V) 34 extinguished the power of [raging] fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became mighty and unbeatable in battle, putting enemy forces to flight.(W) 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured [to death], refusing to accept release [offered on the condition of denying their faith], so that they would be resurrected to a better life;(X) 36 and others experienced the trial of mocking and scourging [amid torture], and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned [to death], they were sawn in two, they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith], they were put to death by the sword; they went about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated 38 (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and [living in] caves and holes in the ground.

39 And all of these, though they gained [divine] approval through their faith, did not receive [the fulfillment of] what was promised, 40 because God had us in mind and had something better for us, so that they [these men and women of authentic faith] would not be made perfect [that is, completed in Him] apart from us.

Jesus, the Example

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of [d]witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, [e]disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].(Y)

Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

A Father’s Discipline

You have not yet struggled to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have [f]forgotten the divine word of encouragement which is addressed to you as sons,

My son, do not make light of the discipline of the Lord,
And do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by Him;

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves,
And He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].”(Z)

You must submit to [correction for the purpose of] discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons; for [g]what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Now if you are exempt from correction and without discipline, in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate children and not sons [at all]. Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we submitted and respected them [for training us]; shall we not much more willingly submit to the Father of [h]spirits, and live [by learning from His discipline]? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for only a short time as seemed best to them; but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose].

12 So then, strengthen hands that are weak and knees that tremble.(AA) 13 Cut through and make smooth, straight paths for your feet [that are safe and go in the right direction], so that the leg which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather may be healed.

14 Continually pursue peace with everyone, and the sanctification without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of God’s grace; that no root of resentment springs up and causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 and [see to it] that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.(AB) 17 For you know that later on, when he wanted [to regain title to] his inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance [there was no way to repair what he had done, no chance to recall the choice he had made], even though he sought for it with [bitter] tears.(AC)

Contrast of Sinai and Zion

18 For you have not come [as did the Israelites in the wilderness] to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to gloom and darkness and a raging windstorm, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and a sound of words [such that] those who heard it begged that nothing more be said to them.(AD) 20 For they could not bear the command, “If even a wild animal touches the mountain, it will be stoned [to death].”(AE) 21 In fact, so terrifying was the sight, that Moses said, “I am filled with fear and trembling.”(AF) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels [in festive gathering], 23 and to the general assembly and assembly of the firstborn who are registered [as citizens] in heaven, and to God, who is Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous (the redeemed in heaven) who have been made perfect [bringing them to their final glory], 24 and to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant [uniting God and man], and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks [of mercy], a better and nobler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance].(AG)

The Unshaken Kingdom

25 See to it that you do not refuse [to listen to] Him who is speaking [to you now]. For if those [sons of Israel] did not escape when they refused [to listen to] him who warned them on earth [revealing God’s will], how much less will we escape if we turn our backs on Him who warns from heaven?(AH) 26 His voice shook the earth [at Mount Sinai] then, but now He has given a promise, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the [starry] heaven.”(AI) 27 Now this [expression], “Yet once more,” indicates the removal and final transformation of all those things which can be shaken—that is, of that which has been created—so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.(AJ) 28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, and offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is [indeed] a consuming fire.(AK)

The Changeless Christ

13 Let love of your fellow believers continue. Do not neglect to extend hospitality to strangers [especially among the family of believers—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.(AL) Remember those who are in prison, as if you were their fellow prisoner, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body [and subject to physical suffering]. Marriage is to be held in honor among all [that is, regarded as something of great value], and the marriage bed undefiled [by immorality or by any sexual sin]; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”(AM) So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say,

The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?”(AN)

Remember your leaders [for it was they] who brought you the word of God; and consider the result of their conduct [the outcome of their godly lives], and imitate their faith [their conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Provider of eternal salvation through Christ, and imitate their reliance on God with absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness]. Jesus Christ is [eternally changeless, always] the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established and strengthened by grace and not by foods [rules of diet and ritualistic meals], which bring no benefit or spiritual growth to those who observe them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle (sacred tent) have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.(AO) 12 Therefore Jesus also suffered and died outside the [city] gate so that He might sanctify and set apart for God as holy the people [who believe] through [the shedding of] His own blood. 13 So, let us go out to Him outside the [i]camp, bearing His contempt [the disgrace and shame that He had to suffer].(AP) 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

God-pleasing Sacrifices

15 Through Him, therefore, let us at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.(AQ) 16 Do not neglect to do good, to contribute [to the needy of the church as an expression of fellowship], for such sacrifices are always pleasing to God.

17 Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you], for they are keeping watch over your souls and continually guarding your spiritual welfare as those who will give an account [of their stewardship of you]. Let them do this with joy and not with grief and groans, for this would be of no benefit to you.

18 Keep praying for us, for we are convinced that we have a good conscience, seeking to conduct ourselves honorably [that is, with moral courage and personal integrity] in all things. 19 And I urge all of you to pray earnestly, so that I may be restored to you soon.

Benediction

20 Now may the God of peace [the source of serenity and spiritual well-being] who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood that sealed and ratified the eternal covenant,(AR) 21 equip you with every good thing to carry out His will and strengthen you [making you complete and perfect as you ought to be], accomplishing in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

22 I call on you, brothers and sisters, listen [patiently] to this message of exhortation and encouragement, for I have written to you briefly. 23 Notice that our brother Timothy has been released [from prison]. If he comes soon, I will see you [along with him]. 24 Give our greetings to all of your [spiritual] leaders and to all of the saints (God’s people). Those [Christians] from Italy send you their greetings.

25 Grace be with you all.

Footnotes

  1. Hebrews 11:2 I.e. those men and women who were faithful to God before the old covenant and those faithful to God after its establishment, those mentioned in this chapter.
  2. Hebrews 11:17 Lit has offered. Even though Abraham did not follow through with the sacrifice per the fact that it was a test from God, from Abraham’s perspective the offering was completed although he did not physically offer Isaac.
  3. Hebrews 11:26 The author is probably suggesting two things here: 1) Moses’ reproach was like what was endured by Jesus in His suffering and death, and 2) Moses’ reproach was for the sake of Christ. Whether typology is involved here is debated.
  4. Hebrews 12:1 I.e. the people commended for their faith in ch 11. See 11:2, 39.
  5. Hebrews 12:2 Sometimes the public shame of the cross is overlooked when one thinks of the pain and agony inflicted by it, but in the Roman Empire crucifixion was a shameful and disgraceful way to die, a form of capital punishment from which Roman citizens were exempt; and in Roman comedy it was used in a curse: “Go to a bad cross!”
  6. Hebrews 12:5 Or have you forgotten.
  7. Hebrews 12:7 Or who is a son whom.
  8. Hebrews 12:9 The meaning seems to be that God is the Father of that which is spiritual as well as that which is physical.
  9. Hebrews 13:13 I.e. leaving the ways and traditions of Judaism (the Levitical system, the old covenant) and adhering to the teaching (new covenant) of the Christ.