Hebrews 11:1-7

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

CHRIST HAS PROVIDED A BETTER WAY

OF LIFE, THE LIFE OF FAITH

INTRODUCTION:

 

In chapter 11 the fifth major section of Hebrews, which began in 10:19, is continued.

 

In this section Christ is shown to have provided a better way of life, the life of faith.

 

In 10:19-25 believers have been called upon to hold fast their confession.

 

Furthermore, in 10:26-39 an alternative has been given to those who are wavering: it is either Christ, or it is judgment.

 

In chapter 11 some Old Testament examples of faith are cited.

 

In Hebrews 12:1-4 believers will be instructed to follow the examples set by the Old Testament saints and run with patience the race that is set before them.

 

In Hebrews 12:5-17 the purpose of chastisement will be revealed; whereas, in 12:18-24 it will be shown that God can be approached through Jesus.

 

Therefore, according to Hebrews 12:25-29 , these Hebrews professing faith in Christ but contemplating abandoning Christ and Christianity should not refuse God; or they will not escape.

 

In 13:1-21 some miscellaneous practical exhortations will be shown.

 

In 10:36 the readers were told that they have need of patience or endurance in order that after they had done the will of God, they might receive the promise.

 

What these believers were enduring was normal for the Christian life.

 

The promise will come, but it will not come until after trials and afflictions are endured in the Christian life in accordance with the will of God.

 

In chapter 11, numerous examples of Old Testament saints are cited as examples in confirmation of this.

We see –

    I.     A DEFINITION OF FAITH – 11:1

 

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

In Hebrews 10:39 it was stated that the writer believes his readers are of them that believe unto the saving of the soul. This was reflected in their lives.

 

In verse 1 a description of faith is given followed by a description of action based on faith.

 

Now indicates a progression of the thought.

 

Faith, i.e. belief or trust, is described as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

Is indicates that this is always the case.

 

Substance means confidence, assurance, steadfastness, or conviction.

 

In the New Testament believers have hope, and they are able to have confidence in this hope because they know that the things characterized by their hope are going to come to pass.

 

Hope is not merely things for which people wish.

 

Hoped for means expected or foreseen.

 

Similarly, the woman who has not yet conceived may be hoping for a baby, but the woman who has conceived has confidence that she will eventually give birth to her baby and is said to be expecting a baby. It is only a matter of time before her expectation will be realized.

 

There is a difference between the idea of hope as wishful thinking and hope as confident expectation.

 

This faith is not only a substance of things hoped for, but it is also the evidence of things not seen.

 

Evidence is proof, a proving of, or a conviction about.

 

Believers have a hope or a confidence, but it has not yet been proven by seeing it realized.

 

Of things not seen is of matters (or of affairs) not seen.

 

The believers’ confidence is something which is yet future and has not yet occurred. As a consequence, they hope for it; but they do not yet see it. They expect it and know it’s coming, but it has not yet come to pass.

We also see that –

  II.     BY THEIR ACTIONS THE ELDERS DEMONSTRATED THE EXISTENCE OF THEIR FAITH – 11:2

 

Hebrews 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

 

For introduces an explanation and is understood in the sense of because.

 

By it is by this or because of this where this refers to faith.

 

The elders refers to Old Testament saints who are going to be mentioned in the rest of chapter 11.

 

Obtained a good report is were well-spoken of, were approved, were attested, or were praised for something.

 

Many good things are going to be testified regarding some Old Testament saints in chapter 11, and the reason this is all being done is because of their faith. Their actions demonstrated that their faith existed.

Next, we see that –

 III.     BY FAITH WE UNDERSTAND THAT GOD CREATED THE WORLDS OUT OF NOTHING – 11:3

 

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

 

Through faith is the same word translated by faith consistently throughout the rest of this chapter and should be understood in this sense in this verse as well.

 

We understand is used of rational reflection or of inner contemplation and means we perceive, we apprehend, or we gain an insight into.

 

What is understood is that the worlds were framed by the word of God.

 

The worlds refers to the creation.

 

Were framed is were prepared, were made, or were created.

 

By the word of God is by God’s (spoken) word, by what is said by God, by a saying of God, or by an expression of God. In other words, God spoke and brought the creation into existence by what He said.

 

So that suggests with the result that.

 

Things which are seen refers to things which are able to be seen. These are things that are a part of this creation.

 

Were not made is have not come to be, have not come into existence, or have not come to pass. The tense of were . . . made indicates action completed in the past whose result has continued on.

 

Of things which do appear is out of things appearing or out of things which are visible. In other words, God made the worlds out of nothing. This is clear because nothing existed prior to God’s speaking it into existence.

 

It is interesting that some people do not accept by faith the idea that there is a God Who created the heavens and earth out of nothing. Instead, they accept by faith the idea that the heavens and earth and everything in them just happened to come into existence, which takes a whole lot more faith than believing that God created them.

In addition, we see that –

 IV.     ABEL DEMONSTRATED HIS FAITH – 11:4

 

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

 

Beginning in verse 4 some instances of faith or heroes of faith from the Old Testament are seen.

 

By faith is by means of faith or because of faith.

 

Abel is a son of Adam and Eve.

 

Offered means brought an offering or presented an offering.

 

Unto God is to God and indicates that God is the One to Whom this offering was presented or offered.

 

What Abel offered was a more excellent sacrifice than Cain and suggests a more excellent sacrifice (or offering) than the sacrifice (or offering) Cain offered.

 

Cain is another son of Adam and Eve and a brother of Abel.

 

By which refers to the offering Abel made.

 

He obtained witness that he was righteous is literally that he is righteous was attested.

 

In other words, the sacrifice Abel offered resulted in testimony being given on his behalf that he was a righteous individual.

 

God testifying is God bearing witness.

 

Of his gifts is over his gifts. God is thus testifying regarding the sacrificial gifts Abel made.

 

By it is through it.

 

It means that it is through the sacrifice (or offering) or by means of the sacrifice (or offering) Abel made.

 

He being dead is although he (i.e. Abel) died. Abel was murdered by his brother Cain.

 

Yet speaketh is still he is speaking. Although Abel is dead, the example of his faith still speaks to believers today.

We furthermore see that –

      V.  ENOCH DEMONSTRATED HIS FAITH – 11:5

 

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

 

In verse 5 another hero of faith is introduced. This time it is Enoch.

 

By faith is because of faith. It provides the reason Enoch was translated. It was because of (his) faith, belief, or trust.

 

Enoch is the Old Testament character whom God translated to heaven.

 

The episode regarding Enoch is found in Genesis 5:22-24 where it is stated that after Enoch begot Methuselah, he walked with God 300 hundred years.

 

Then it is stated that he walked with God, and he was not for God took him.

 

Translated means literally changed the position of; and it is used in the sense of conveyed to another place, put in another place, transferred, or took up.

 

In other words, Enoch was taken up to heaven from the earth where he had been living; and his being taken up is a picture of the rapture of believers.

 

That introduces a purpose clause and is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that.

 

He should not see death indicates the reason Enoch was translated.

 

Death is physical death.

 

And was not found indicates that no one could find Enoch’s body; and, of course, the reason no one could find his body is that he did not die and did not experience a separation of the soul from the body. His body was not left behind.

 

Because God had translated him is the reason Enoch was not found.

 

Translated is the same word used in the previous phrase which means changed the position of, conveyed to another place, put in another place, transferred, or took up.

 

God is the One Who translated Enoch. This was a miracle. God removed him from the physical realm of the earth and took him.

 

Although it does not say where He took him, it is naturally assumed that He took him to the place where He Himself dwells, i.e. to heaven.

 

For indicates that a reason is about to be given to explain why Enoch was translated and why Enoch should not see death.

 

Before his translation indicates that during his lifetime, prior to his removal or to his being taken up, he had this testimony, i.e. he was well-spoken of or he was approved. Testimony was made regarding him. It is literally, he had been testified of.

 

The tense of he had this testimony indicates that this testimony was made regarding Enoch at some time in the past and that the result of it continued until the time of his translation. Apparently God is the One Who testified of him.

 

The testimony was that he pleased God.

 

The only way one can obtain a good testimony is to live the way he ought to live, and God approved of the way Enoch lived.

Moreover, we see that –

 VI.     PLEASING GOD REQUIRES FAITH – 11:6

 

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

Verse 6 indicates a general truth regarding pleasing God and the necessity of faith in pleasing God; yet, it is given in the specific context of anyone trying to please God as Enoch did.

 

But without faith indicates an effort to please God apart from faith.

 

But introduces a contrast with Enoch; and without faith is without (or apart from) faith (i.e. belief or trust).

 

Faith believes God, faith trusts God, and faith believes God’s testimony regarding Jesus Christ Who died on the cross, paid for sin, and rose again from the dead.

 

Faith is part of the salvation process.

 

John wrote . . . that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16 ).

 

It is impossible to please him means that an unsaved person is not able to please God.

 

In the Old Testament era people looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and to God’s provision of salvation; whereas, in the New Testament era, they look backward to it.

 

For introduces an explanation of why it is impossible to please Him or why it is possible to be pleasing to Him.

 

He that cometh to God is the one coming to God or the one approaching God, and he must come to God on God’s terms.

 

This is in contrast to Cain who attempted to come to God on his own terms.

 

Similarly, people today cannot come to God on their own terms.

 

By contrast Abel came to God in faith, by bringing a blood sacrifice.

 

Enoch likewise believed God, and God testified that he pleased Him, thus demonstrating that he approached God on God’s terms.

 

God’s terms include believing; yet, one cannot be saved by believing just anything. This belief must be very specific: he must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

Must suggests it is necessary that he or he has to. There is no choice in the matter if he is going to come to God.

 

What the one who comes to God must believe is that he is, i.e. that God is, meaning that God exists.

 

That he is speaks of His deity and of His eternality. There has never been a time when God did not exist.

 

The one who comes to God must also believe that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

A rewarder is literally one who pays wages that are due.

 

Those whom God rewards are those who diligently seek Him.

 

Diligently seek suggests earnestly (or seriously) seek out (or search for).

 

Diligently seek is an emphatic form of the word meaning seek.

 

Him is God.

 

They are seeking God with an intensity.

Finally, we see that –

VII.     NOAH DEMONSTRATED HIS FAITH – 11:7

 

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

 

In verse 7 a third hero of faith is introduced. This time it is Noah.

 

By faith is again used to indicate the reason Noah acted and is understood in the sense of because of faith, because of belief, or because of trust.

 

Noah acted on the basis of faith and prepared an ark to the saving of his house.

 

Being warned of God of things not seen as yet indicates something which occurred before Noah prepared an ark.

 

In addition, moved with fear also indicates something which occurred before Noah prepared an ark.

 

Being warned is having been given a warning or having been given a revelation.

 

It may be understood in the sense of after he had been warned, after he had been given a warning, or after he had been given a revelation. It may instead be understood in the sense of because he had been warned, because he had been given a warning, or because he had been given a revelation.

 

Of things not seen as yet is concerning the not-yet-seen things.

 

At the time he was given a warning and at the time he began to prepare the ark, Noah could not yet see the things about which he was being warned; yet, he believed God and acted in faith.

 

In spite of the fact that he could not see these things, he did what God told him to do.

 

Moved with fear is understood in the sense of having been afraid or having been concerned.

 

It may be understood in the sense of after he was afraid (or after he was concerned). It may instead be understood in the sense of because he was afraid (or because he was concerned).

 

His concern or his fear resulted in his doing what God had told him to do.

 

Prepared is built, constructed, or erected; and what he built is an ark.

 

To the saving of his house indicates the purpose for which Noah built the ark.

 

It is for the purpose of the salvation of his house or for the purpose of the deliverance of his household. It is the physical salvation or deliverance of his family from the impending flood.

 

Of his house is of his household or of his family.

 

It is not that he was concerned with some physical structure; but he was concerned with his wife, his three sons, and his three daughters-in-law.

 

By the which is by means of which or through which and indicates through faith rather than through the ark.

 

He condemned is he judged.

 

What he judged is the world.

 

According to II Peter 2:5 , Noah was a preacher of righteousness. One hundred twenty years before the flood, he had been instructed to build an ark.

 

While the ark was under construction as he proclaimed righteousness, he also demonstrated his faith in God.

 

His message as well as his action in building the ark, which was based on his faith, witnessed against the world of unsaved humanity in his own day.

 

When the flood came, this episode in Noah’s life became a witness against all future generations who would not live righteous lives based on their faith in God and His word.

 

Thus, he condemned or judged the world.

 

Not only did Noah judge the world, but also he became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

 

Became indicates that something new had come to pass which had not been true previously.

 

It is literally came to be.

 

What he became is an heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

 

Became heir implies that he obtained something by inheritance.

 

What he obtained was the righteousness which is by faith.

 

Thus, the righteousness which Noah had was not his own.

 

It is righteousness which is obtained by believing God.

 

This righteousness is the imputed righteousness which is mentioned in the New Testament.

 

He believed God; and he demonstrated this belief in God by his action in building the ark.

 

As a consequence of his faith, God gave His own righteousness to Noah.