Hebrews 11

New Living Translation

Great Examples of Faith

11 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.”[a] For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed[b] that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.

21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.

22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.

24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.

29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.

30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.

31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half,[d] and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.

My thoughts and observations:

Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

The entire universe was formed at God’s command,

 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did.

Enoch was known as a person who pleased God.

By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.

Definition of Faith from

But what is faith and who is it in? Who is the world’s faith in? Hebrews 11:1. How about some definitions? Moses, what does the Greek word mean?

In English-

Faith- Belief or trust in a higher power. The fundamental idea in Scripture is steadfastness and faithfulness. But note that saving faith is not only belief, because even the demons do that. Hebrews 11:1,  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

In Greek-


pistis NT:4102, primarily, “firm persuasion,” a conviction based upon hearing (akin to peitho, “to persuade”), is used in the NT always of “faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual.”

The main elements in “faith” in its relation to the invisible God, as distinct from “faith” in man, are especially brought out in the use of this noun and the corresponding verb, pisteuo; they are (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth, e. g., 2 Thess 2:11-12; (2) a personal surrender to Him, John 1:12; (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender, 2 Cor 5:7. Prominence is given to one or other of these elements according to the context. All this stands in contrast to belief in its purely natural exercise, which consists of an opinion held in good “faith” without necessary reference to its proof. The object of Abraham’s “faith” was not God’s promise (that was the occasion of its exercise); his “faith” rested on God Himself, Rom 4:17,20-21.

So faith is a “firm conviction”, being “completely persuaded” being “assured”, “trust”, etc.

Quote: An eccentric philosopher of New England in the last century, Henry David Thoreau said, “If I seem to walk out of step with others, it is because I am listening to another drum beat.” And that is what faith is like. It is like we are walking to the beat of a different drum.

Teaching Points

1. Remember from the first verses in this chapter that faith is hope and conviction in things unseen. Noah, Abraham, Sarah and other Old Testament characters saw a lot less than we have. They didn’t have the benefit of a complete Bible. They didn’t have the benefit of world history. They didn’t know about Jesus’ coming, His birth, death, or resurrection. Abraham and Sarah never lived to see a great nation spring up from their descendants. Noah never lived to see the world repopulated. He died as one of only a handful of people left on the planet. This could have driven many people mad with depression and loneliness. Certainly all of these characters had some promises fulfilled during their lives. Noah saw great miracles with his whole family and two of every type of animal being saved from the flood. Abraham saw cities destroyed divinely by God, his own small band defeat kings, his wife get pregnant at the age of 90, and an angel appearing to save Isaac. But none of them lived to see God’s plan through them fulfilled completely. They died with many questions left. None of them were perfect. They were sinners like you and me, but they had faith and they showed this faith by action.

A. Application: We also are to live by faith. There are more promises that God has made that haven’t yet been fulfilled. We may never see them fulfilled before our death. But we should welcome them from a distance and through faith sacrifice everything we have for God.

2. They confessed they were strangers on this earth. These saints realized a very important truth, and that is that they were only passing through this world. One day they would face God in judgment and have to give a report for how they lived, for what they did, said, and thought. Knowing that their time on this earth was limited, this motivated them to make the most of their time and serve God faithfully no matter the potential consequences.

3. These saints were seeking something more than this world. They had dissatisfaction with what they saw around them. They weren’t happy to just “eat, drink, and be merry.” They realized that the people around them were living an empty and futile existence with no meaning, direction, or purpose.

Certainly Noah could have joined the people around him in sin (no one would have blamed him as everyone was doing it), but he didn’t. He used 120 years of his life toiling away building a boat. How often must he have been tempted to stop and enjoy himself, but he didn’t.

He wanted something more than the emptiness he saw around him. Abraham and Sarah could have turned back to Ur. They had many chances to go back. When things got tough, they surely remembered some of the comforts and conveniences of where they used to live. There were certainly holidays, and feasts, and festivals, and parties, and friends, and activities that they might have missed. But they realized those were empty celebrations and the laughter and smiles were hollow.

They didn’t want to be like everyone else. They didn’t want to put on a facade of happiness while feeling empty and oppressed in times alone because of the bondage of the idols and gods everyone else followed. They did not love this world. Rather they saw through the deceit and lies and empty promises Satan makes and made a conscious decision that they wanted more no matter how much they had to sacrifice to get it. And that is why their faith has put them in this chapter.

4. What did God do for them? In verse 16 we learn that God happily calls Himself their God. In other words He accepted them. He welcomed them. He in fact has built an everlasting city for them (heaven). In John 8:56 we see that Abraham saw the day of Jesus and was glad. This shows us that Abraham is very much alive in God’s presence. He was excited to see Jesus descend from heaven to this world to save humanity. Abraham had already entered this city God had prepared for Him. God welcomed Abraham, Sarah, Noah and the rest of the saints in this chapter already. How about you? Will you follow their examples of faith? Will you despise the empty promises and of culture around you?  

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