The Power of Bold Faith
1Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. 2This testimony of faith is what previous generations # 11:2 Or “elders.” were commended for. 3Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated # 11:3 Or “the ages were completely equipped.” by the power of God’s words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen.
4Faith moved Abel # 11:4 Although Abel is the subject of the Greek sentence, faith is the emphasis and focus of this chapter. Nothing would have been accomplished by the figures mentioned in vv. 4–29 without faith. It is assumed that it is the faith of the person mentioned, not merely an abstraction of faith. to choose a more acceptable sacrifice to offer God than his brother Cain, and God declared him righteous because of his offering of faith. By his faith, Abel still speaks instruction to us today, even though he is long dead.
5Faith translated Enoch from this life and he was taken up into heaven! He never had to experience death; he just disappeared from this world because God promoted him. For before he was translated to the heavenly realm his life had become a pleasure to God. # 11:5 Or “he had the reputation of pleasing God.” See Gen. 5:24.
6And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. # 11:6 Or “we are powerless to please God.” The Greek word adynatos means impotent or powerless. For we come to God in faith # 11:6 Or “Anyone who approaches God must believe.” knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who passionately seek him.
7Faith opened Noah’s heart to receive revelation and warnings from God about what was coming, even things that had never been seen. But he stepped out in reverent obedience to God and built an ark that would save him and his family. By his faith the world was condemned, but Noah received God’s gift of righteousness that comes by believing.
Faith of the Patriarchs
8Faith motivated Abraham to obey God’s call and leave the familiar to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith. 9He lived by faith as an immigrant in his promised land as though it belonged to someone else. # 11:9 Or “a foreign country.” He journeyed through the land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob who were persuaded that they were also co-heirs of the same promise.
10His eyes of faith were set on the city # 11:10 Or “He was continually receiving the city.” with unshakable foundations, whose architect and builder is God himself. 11Sarah’s faith embraced God’s miracle power to conceive even though she was barren and was past the age of childbearing, for the authority of her faith # 11:11 As translated from the Aramaic and some Greek manuscripts. Arguably, a difficult passage to translate from the Greek; variations of the text are focused on Abraham’s faith, not Sarah’s. Other manuscripts seem to have the focus on “their faith” (both Sarah’s and Abraham’s). rested in the One who made the promise, and she tapped into his faithfulness.
12In fact, so many children were subsequently fathered by this aged man of faith—one who was as good as dead, that he now has offspring as innumerable as the sand on the seashore and as the stars in the sky!
13These heroes all died still clinging to their faith, not even receiving all that had been promised them. But they saw beyond the horizon the fulfillment of their promises and gladly embraced it from afar. They all lived their lives on earth as those who belonged to another realm. # 11:13 Or “as strangers and nomads on earth.”
14For clearly, those who live this way # 11:14 Or “speak this way.” are longing for the appearing of a heavenly city. # 11:14 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “homeland” (country). 15And if their hearts were still remembering what they left behind, they would have found an opportunity to go back. 16But they couldn’t turn back for their hearts were fixed on what was far greater, that is, the heavenly realm! # 11:16 It should be noted that there is no mention of “land” or “country” in the Greek text of vv. 15–16.
So because of this God is not ashamed in any way to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
17Faith operated powerfully in Abraham for when he was put to the test he offered up Isaac. Even though he received God’s promises # 11:17 The Aramaic can be translated “he received the royal-proclamation,” the Aramaic word for “promise.” of descendants, he was willing # 11:17 Or “he attempted to offer up.” to offer up his only son! 18For God had promised,
“Through your son Isaac your lineage will carry on your name.” # 11:18 Or “in Isaac seed will be named for you.” See Gen. 21:12.
19Abraham’s faith made it logical to him that God could raise Isaac from the dead, and symbolically, # 11:19 Or “Isaac was given to him as a parable.” that’s exactly what happened.
20The power of faith prompted Isaac to impart a blessing to his sons, Jacob and Esau, concerning their prophetic destinies.
21Jacob worshiped in faith’s reality at the end of his life, and leaning upon his staff he imparted a prophetic blessing upon each of Joseph’s sons. # 11:21 See Gen. 49.
22Faith inspired Joseph and opened his eyes to see into the future, for as he was dying he prophesied about the exodus # 11:22 Or “remembering the exodus.” This is amazing, since the exodus had not yet happened, so how could Joseph “remember” it? This is the eye of faith that imparts prophetic vision of the future. of Israel out of Egypt, # 11:22 See Gen. 50:24–25. and gave instructions that his bones were to be taken from Egypt with them. # 11:22 See Gen. 47:29–30.
23Faith prompted the parents of Moses at his birth to hide him for three months, # 11:23 See Ex. 2:2. because they realized their child was exceptional # 11:23 Or “elegant.” This can mean pleasing in appearance and/or good character. and they refused to be afraid of the king’s edict.
24Faith enabled Moses to choose God’s will, for although he was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he refused to make that his identity, 25choosing instead to suffer mistreatment with the people of God. Moses preferred faith’s certainty above the momentary enjoyment of sin’s pleasures. 26He found his true wealth in suffering abuse for being anointed, # 11:26 Or “the reproach of Christ.” The Greek text can be translated with either Moses as the one anointed, or Christ, the Anointed One. Moses saw the messianic hope and esteemed it greater than momentary affliction. He believed in the coming Anointed One and held the promise dear. more than in anything the world could offer him, # 11:26 Or “the storehouses of Egypt.” for his eyes looked with wonder not on the immediate, but on the ultimate—faith’s great reward! # 11:26 The Aramaic can be translated “he was paid back in the reward of a Messiah!” 27Holding faith’s promise Moses abandoned Egypt and had no fear of Pharaoh’s rage because he persisted in faith as if he had seen God who is unseen. # 11:27 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek does not have “God” but can be translated “Moses was patient for the invisible as though he were able to see it come to be.”
28Faith stirred Moses to perform the rite of Passover and sprinkle lamb’s blood, # 11:28 Or “pouring out of [lamb’s] blood.” to prevent the destroyer from harming their firstborn. # 11:28 That is, “firstborn people and animals.”
29Faith opened the way for the Hebrews to cross the Red Sea as if on dry land, but when the Egyptians tried to cross they were swallowed up and drowned!
Jericho and Rahab
30Faith pulled down Jericho’s walls after the people marched around them for seven days!
31Faith provided a way of escape for Rahab the prostitute, avoiding the destruction of the unbelievers, because she received the Hebrew spies in peace.
More Faith Champions
32And what more could I say to convince you? For there is not enough time to tell you of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 33Through faith’s power they conquered kingdoms and established true justice. Their faith fastened onto their promises and pulled them into reality! It was faith that shut the mouth of lions, 34put out the power of raging fire, and caused many to escape certain death by the sword. Although weak, their faith imparted power to make them strong! # 11:34 The Aramaic can be translated “They were restored (healed) from sickness.” Faith sparked courage within them and they became mighty warriors in battle, pulling armies from another realm into battle array. # 11:34 See Judg. 7; 16:19–30. Although most translate this “causing enemy armies to flee” the Greek is literally “wheeling ranks drawn up in battle order, ranks which belonged to another.” The implication is that through their faith, angelic warriors wheeled into battle formation ready to fight with them in battle. 35Faith-filled women saw their dead children raised in resurrection power.
Yet it was faith that enabled others to endure great atrocities. They were stretched out on the wheel and tortured, # 11:35 Or “tortured with clubs” (beaten to death). and didn’t deny their faith in order to be freed, because they longed for a more honorable and glorious resurrection!
36Others were mocked and experienced the most severe beating with whips; they were in chains and imprisoned. 37Some of these faith champions were brutally killed by stoning, being sawn in two or slaughtered by the sword. These lived in faith as they went about wearing goatskins and sheepskins for clothing. They lost everything they possessed, they endured great afflictions, and they were cruelly mistreated. 38They wandered the earth living in the desert wilderness, in caves, on barren mountains and in holes in the earth. Truly, the world was not even worthy of them, not realizing who they were.
39These were the true heroes, commended for their faith, yet they lived in hope without receiving the fullness of what was promised them. 40But now God has invited us to live in something better than what they had—faith’s fullness! This is so that they could be brought to finished perfection alongside of us.