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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Faith is the substance of things hoped for - Εστι δε πιστις ελπιζομενων ὑποστασις· Faith is the Subsistence of things hoped for; πραγματων ελεγχος ου βλεπομενων· The Demonstration of things not seen. The word ὑποστασις, which we translate substance, signifies subsistence, that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on. And ελεγχος signifies such a conviction as is produced in the mind by the demonstration of a problem, after which demonstration no doubt can remain, because we see from it that the thing is; that it cannot but be; and that it cannot be otherwise than as it is, and is proved to be. Such is the faith by which the soul is justified; or rather, such are the effects of justifying faith: on it subsists the peace of God which passeth all understanding; and the love of God is shed abroad in the heart where it lives, by the Holy Ghost. At the same time the Spirit of God witnesses with their spirits who have this faith that their sins are blotted out; and this is as fully manifest to their judgment and conscience as the axioms, "A whole is greater than any of its parts;" "Equal lines and angles, being placed on one another, do not exceed each other;" or as the deduction from prop. 47, book i., Euclid: "The square of the base of a right-angled triangle is equal to the difference of the squares of the other two sides." Ελεγχος is defined by logicians, Demonstratio quae fit argumentis certis et rationibus indubitatis, qua rei certitudo efficitur. "A demonstration of the certainly of a thing by sure arguments and indubitable reasons." Aristotle uses it for a mathematical demonstration, and properly defines it thus: Ελεγχος δε εστις ὁ μη δυνατος αλλως εχειν, αλλ 'οὑτως ὡς ἡμεις λεγομεν, "Elenchos, or Demonstration, is that which cannot be otherwise, but is so as we assert." Rhetor. ad Alexand., cap. 14, περι ελεγχου . On this account I have adduced the above theorem from Euclid.

Things hoped for - Are the peace and approbation of God, and those blessings by which the soul is prepared for the kingdom of heaven. A penitent hopes for the pardon of his sins and the favor of his God; faith in Christ puts him in possession of this pardon, and thus the thing that was hoped for is enjoyed by faith. When this is received, a man has the fullest conviction of the truth and reality of all these blessings though unseen by the eye, they are felt by the heart; and the man has no more doubt of God's approbation and his own free pardon, than he has of his being.

In an extended sense the things hoped for are the resurrection of the body, the new heavens and the new earth, the introduction of believers into the heavenly country, and the possession of eternal glory.

The things unseen, as distinguished from the things hoped for, are, in an extended sense, the creation of the world from nothing, the destruction of the world by the deluge, the miraculous conception of Christ, his resurrection from the dead, his ascension to glory, his mediation at the right hand of God, his government of the universe, etc., etc., all which we as firmly believe on the testimony of God's word as if we had seen them. See Macknight. But this faith has particular respect to the being, goodness, providence, grace, and mercy of God, as the subsequent verses sufficiently show.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/hebrews-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for - On the general nature of faith, see the notes on Mark 16:16. The margin here is, “ground or confidence.” There is scarcely any verse of the New Testament more important than this, for it states what is the nature of all true faith, and is the only definition of it which is attempted in the Scriptures. Eternal life depends on the existence and exercise of faith Mark 16:16, and hence, the importance of an accurate understanding of its nature. The word rendered “substance” - ὑπόστασις hupostasis- occurs in the New Testament only in the following places. In 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 11:17; Hebrews 3:14, where it is rendered “confident” and “confidence;” and in Hebrews 1:3, where it is rendered “person,” and in the passage before us; compare the notes on Hebrews 1:3. Prof. Stuart renders it here “confidence;” Chrysostom, “Faith gives reality or substance to things hoped for.”

The word properly means “that which is placed under” (Germ. Unterstellen); then “ground, basis, foundation, support.” Then it means also “reality, substance, existence,” in contradistinction from what is unreal, imaginary, or deceptive (täuschung ). “Passow.” It seems to me, therefore, that the word here has reference to something which imparts reality in the view of the mind to those things which are not seen, and which serves to distinguish them from those things which are unreal and illusive. It is what enables us to feel and act as if they were real, or which causes them to exert an influence over us as if we saw them. Faith does this on all other subjects as well as religion. A belief that there is such a place as London or Calcutta, leads us to act as if this were so, if we have occasion to go to either; a belief that money may be made in a certain undertaking, leads people to act as if this were so; a belief in the veracity of another leads us to act as if this were so. As long as the faith continues, whether it be well-founded or not, it gives all the force of reality to what is believed. We feel and act just as if it were so, or as if we saw the object before our eyes. This, I think, is the clear meaning here. We do not see the things of eternity. We do not see God, or heaven, or the angels, or the redeemed in glory, or the crowns of victory, or the harps of praise; but we have faith in them, and this leads us to act as if we saw them. And this is, undoubtedly, the fact in regard to all who live by faith and who are fairly under its influence.

Of things hoped for - In heaven. Faith gives them reality in the view of the mind. The Christian hopes to be admitted into heaven; to be raised up in the last day from the slumbers of the tomb, to be made perfectly free from sin; to be everlastingly happy. Under the influence of faith he allows these things to control his mind as if they were a most affecting reality.

The evidence of things not seen - Of the existence of God; of heaven; of angels; of the glories of the world suited for the redeemed. The word rendered “evidence” - ἔλεγχος elengchos- occurs in the New Testament only in this place and in 2 Timothy 3:16, where it is rendered “reproof.” It means properly proof, or means of proving, to wit, evidence; then proof which convinces another of error or guilt; then vindication, or defense; then summary or contents; see “Passow.” The idea of “evidence” which goes to demonstrate the thing under consideration, or which is adapted to produce “conviction” in the mind, seems to be the elementary idea in the word. So when a proposition is demonstrated; when a man is arraigned and evidence is furnished of his guilt, or when he establishes his innocence; or when one by argument refutes his adversaries, the idea of “convincing argument” enters into the use of the word in each case.

This, I think, is clearly the meaning of the word here. “Faith in the divine declarations answers all the purposes of a convincing argument, or is itself a convincing argument to the mind, of the real existence of those things which are not seen.” But is it a good argument? Is it rational to rely on such a means of being convinced? Is mere “faith” a consideration which should ever convince a rational mind? The infidel says “no;” and we know there may be a faith which is no argument of the truth of what is believed. But when a man who has never seen it believes that there is such a place as London, his belief in the numerous testimonies respecting it which he has heard and read is to his mind a good and rational proof of its existence, and he would act on that belief without hesitation. When a son credits the declaration or the promise of a father who has never deceived him, and acts as though that declaration and promise were true, his faith is to him a ground of conviction and of action, and he will act as if these things were so.

In like manner the Christian believes what God says. He has never seen heaven; he has never seen an angel; he has never seen the Redeemer; he has never seen a body raised from the grave. “But he has evidence which is satisfactory to his mind that God has spoken on these subjects,” and his very nature prompts him to confide in the declarations of his Creator. Those declarations are to his mind more convincing proof than anything else would be. They are more conclusive evidence than would be the deductions of his own reason; far better and more rational than all the reasonings and declarations of the infidel to the contrary. He feels and acts, therefore, as if these things were so - for his faith in the declarations of God has convinced him that they are so - The object of the apostle, in this chapter, is not to illustrate the nature of what is called “saving faith,” but to show the power of “unwavering confidence in God” in sustaining the soul, especially in times of trial; and particularly in leading us to act in view of promises and of things not seen as if they were so. “Saving faith” is the same kind of confidence directed to the Messiah - the Lord Jesus - as the Saviour of the soul.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/hebrews-11.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

DIVISION VI

(Hebrews 11:1-40)

A DISCUSSION OF FAITH;

SOME CITATIONS OF OLD TESTAMENT EXEMPLARS OF FAITH;

THEY WERE NOT MADE PERFECT APART FROM US

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

The preoccupation of scholars with their view of making this verse a logical definition of faith has resulted in the rendition before us, which is certainly no improvement on the KJV, and would even seem to be capricious, since the word translated "assurance" is the same word translated "substance" in Hebrews 1:3, and "confidence" in Hebrews 3:14. Milligan is undoubtedly correct in the observation that this is not a formal definition of faith at all, but "rather a plain statement with regard to its nature and province."[1]

Macknight said, "The word for `evidence' (or `assurance') denotes a strict proof or demonstration; a proof which thoroughly convinces the understanding and determines the will."[2] Adam Clarke followed the same line of thought, saying:

It is such a conviction as is produced in the mind by the demonstration (as to a proposition in geometry) of a problem, after which demonstration no doubt can remain, because we see from it that the thing is; that it cannot but be; and that it cannot be otherwise than as it is, as it is proved to be.[3]

Substance has several shades of meaning, including the thought of the GROUND that stands under a proposition; also, it means the ACTUAL SUBSTANCE as contrasted with the mere vision of a thing, this latter connotation making the passage mean that faith in the believer's soul actually brings reality into his existence, conveying the thought of an earnest, or pledge, of ultimate fulfillment.

Things hoped for are all of those blessings, temporal and eternal, that make up the inheritance of the faithful. Resurrection from the dead and the triumphal entry into the everlasting habitations are surely included.

Things not seen include everything in the whole area of faith, the creation of the universe, the incarnation of Christ, the judgment of the world by the deluge, the second advent of Christ, the final judgment, the ultimate reception by every man of the destiny, good or bad, that shall be assigned to him by God's enforcement of universal judgment, founded on justice and mercy. Unseen things are very strongly emphasized in this chapter, and repeated reference to them is made.

[1] R. Milligan, New Testament Commentary (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), Vol. 9, p. 298.

[2] James Macknight, Apostolic Epistles (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1960), p. 560.

[3] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1829), Vol. 6, p. 762.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/hebrews-11.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,.... The "faith" here spoken of is not a mere moral virtue, which is a branch of the law; nor a bare assent to anything revealed, declared, and affirmed in the Gospel; nor a faith of doing miracles; nor an implicit one; nor a mere profession of faith, which sometimes is but temporary; nor the word or doctrine of faith; but that which is made mention of in the preceding chapter, by which the just man lives, and which has the salvation of the soul annexed to it: and it does not so much design any particular branch, or act of faith, but as that in general respects the various promises, and blessings of grace; and it chiefly regards the faith of Old Testament saints, though that, as to its nature, object, and acts, is the same with the faith of New Testament ones; and is a firm persuasion of the power, faithfulness, and love of God in Christ, and of interest therein, and in all special blessings: it is described as "the substance of things hoped for"; and which, in general, are things unseen, and as yet not enjoyed; future, and yet to come; difficult to be obtained, though possible, otherwise there would be no hope of them; and which are promised and laid up; and in particular, the things hoped for by Old Testament saints were Christ, and eternal glory and happiness; and by New Testament ones, more grace, perseverance in it, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life. Now faith is the "substance" of these things; it is the ground and foundation of them, in which there is some standing hope; in which sense the word υποστασις is used by Septuagint in Psalm 69:2. The word of promise is principal ground and foundation of hope; and faith, as leaning on the word, is a less principal ground; it is a confident persuasion, expectation, and assurance of them. The Syriac version renders it, the "certainty" of them; it is the subsistence of them, and what gives them an existence, at least a mental one; so with respect to the faith and hope of the Old Testament saints, the incarnation, sufferings, and death of Christ, his resurrection, ascension, and session at God's right hand, are spoken of, as if they then were; and so are heaven, and glory, and everlasting salvation, with regard to the faith and hope of New Testament saints: yea, faith gives a kind of possession of those things before hand, John 6:47. Philo the JewF5De Abrahamo, p. 387. says much the same thing of faith;

"the only infallible and certain good thing (says he) is, that faith which is faith towards God; it is the solace of life, πληρωμα χρηστων ελπιδων, "the fulness of good hopes", &c.'

It follows here,

the evidence of things not seen; of things past, of what was done in eternity, in the council and covenant of grace and peace; of what has been in time, in creation, and providence; of the birth, miracles, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ; of things present, the being, perfections, love, &c. of God; of the session of Christ at God's right hand, and his continual intercession; and of the various blessings of grace revealed in the Gospel; and of future ones, as the invisible realities of another world: faith has both certainty and evidence in it.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/hebrews-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(1) An excellent description of faith by the effects, because it represents things which are but yet in hope, and sets as it were before our eyes things that are invisible.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/hebrews-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Hebrews 11:1-40. Definition of the faith just spoken of (Hebrews 10:39): Examples from the Old Covenant for our perseverance in faith.

Description of the great things which faith (in its widest sense: not here restricted to faith in the Gospel sense) does for us. Not a full definition of faith in its whole nature, but a description of its great characteristics in relation to the subject of Paul‘s exhortation here, namely, to perseverance.

substance, etc. — It substantiates promises of God which we hope for, as future in fulfillment, making them present realities to us. However, the Greek is translated in Hebrews 3:14, “confidence”; and it also here may mean “sure confidence.” So Alford translates. Thomas Magister supports English Version, “The whole thing that follows is virtually contained in the first principle; now the first commencement of the things hoped for is in us through the assent of faith, which virtually contains all the things hoped for.” Compare Note, see on Hebrews 6:5, “tasted … powers of the world to come.” Through faith, the future object of Christian hope, in its beginning, is already present. True faith infers the reality of the objects believed in and honed for (Hebrews 11:6). Hugo De St. Victor distinguished faith from hope. By faith alone we are sure of eternal things that they ARE: but by hope we are confident that WE SHALL HAVE them. All hope presupposes faith (Romans 8:25).

evidence — “demonstration”: convincing proof to the believer: the soul thereby seeing what the eye cannot see.

things not seen — the whole invisible and spiritual world: not things future and things pleasant, as the “things hoped for,” but also the past and present, and those the reverse of pleasant. “Eternal life is promised to us, but it is when we are dead: we are told of a blessed resurrection, but meanwhile we molder in the dust; we are declared to be justified, and sin dwells in us; we hear that we are blessed, meantime we are overwhelmed in endless miseries: we are promised abundance of all goods, but we still endure hunger and thirst; God declares He will immediately come to our help, but He seems deaf to our cries. What should we do if we had not faith and hope to lean on, and if our mind did not emerge amidst the darkness above the world by the shining of the Word and Spirit of God?” [Calvin]. Faith is an assent unto truths credible upon the testimony of God (not on the reasonableness of the thing revealed, though by this we may judge as to whether it be what it professes, a genuine revelation), delivered unto us in the writings of the apostles and prophets. Thus Christ‘s ascension is the cause, and His absence the crown, of our faith: because He ascended, we the more believe, and because we believe in Him who hath ascended, our faith is the more accepted [Bishop Pearson]. Faith believes what it sees not; for if thou seest there is no faith; the Lord has gone away so as not to be seen: He is hidden that He may be believed; the yearning desire by faith after Him who is unseen is the preparation of a heavenly mansion for us; when He shall be seen it shall be given to us as the reward of faith [Augustine]. As Revelation deals with spiritual and invisible things exclusively, faith is the faculty needed by us, since it is the evidence of things not seen. By faith we venture our eternal interests on the bare word of God, and this is altogether reasonable.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/hebrews-11.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Now faith is (εστιν δε πιστιςestin de pistis). He has just said that “we are of faith” (Hebrews 10:39), not of apostasy. Now he proceeds in a chapter of great eloquence and passion to illustrate his point by a recital of the heroes of faith whose example should spur them to like loyalty now.

The assurance of things hoped for (ελπιζομενων υποστασιςelpizomenōn hupostasis). υπιστημιHupostasis is a very common word from Aristotle on and comes from υποhuphistēmi (ιστημιhupo under, πραγματων ελεγχος ου βλεπομενωνhistēmi intransitive), what stands under anything (a building, a contract, a promise). See the philosophical use of it in Hebrews 1:3, the sense of assurance (une assurance certaine, Menegoz) in Hebrews 3:14, that steadiness of mind which holds one firm (2 Corinthians 9:4). It is common in the papyri in business documents as the basis or guarantee of transactions. “And as this is the essential meaning in Hebrews 11:1 we venture to suggest the translation ‹Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for‘” (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, etc.).

The proving of things not seen
(ελεγχοςpragmatōn elegchos ou blepomenōn). The only N.T. example of ελεγμονelegchos (except Textus Receptus in 2 Timothy 3:16 for ελεγχωelegmon). Old and common word from elegchō (Matthew 18:15) for “proof” and then for “conviction.” Both uses occur in the papyri and either makes sense here, perhaps “conviction” suiting better though not in the older Greek.


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/hebrews-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Faith ( πίστις )

Without the article, indicating that it is treated in its abstract conception, and not merely as Christian faith. It is important that the preliminary definition should be clearly understood, since the following examples illustrate it. The key is furnished by Hebrews 11:27, as seeing him who is invisible. Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing. See Introduction, p. 363.

Substance ( ὑπόστασις )

See on Hebrews 1:3and see on Hebrews 3:14. On the whole, the Rev. assurance gives the true meaning. The definition has a scholastic and philosophic quality, as might be expected from a pupil of the Alexandrian schools. The meaning substance, real being, given by A.V., Vulg., and many earlier interpreters, suggests the true sense, but is philosophically inaccurate. Substance, as used by these translators, is substantial nature; the real nature of a thing which underlies and supports its outward form or properties. In this sense it is very appropriate in Hebrews 1:3, in describing the nature of the Son as the image or impress of God's essential being: but in this sense it is improperly applied to faith, which is an act of the moral intelligence directed at an object; or a condition which sustains a certain relation to the object. It cannot be said that faith is substantial being. It apprehends reality: it is that to which the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial. Assurance gives the true idea. It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact.

Evidence ( ἔλεγχος )

N.T.oQuite often in lxx for יָכַֽח, to reprove, rebuke, punish, blame. See Proverbs 1:23; Wisd. 2:14; John href="/desk/?q=joh+3:20&sr=1">John 3:20. Rend. conviction. Observe that ὑπόστασις and ἔλεγχος are not two distinct and independent conceptions, in which case καὶ would have been added; but they stand in apposition. Ἔλεγχος is really included in ὑπόστασις , but adds to the simple idea of assurance a suggestion of influences operating to produce conviction which carry the force of demonstration. The word often signifies a process of proof or demonstration. So von Soden: “a being convinced. Therefore not a rash, feebly-grounded hypothesis, a dream of hope, the child of a wish.”

Of things ( πραγμάτων )

Πρᾶγμα is, strictly, a thing done; an accomplished fact. It introduces a wider conception than ἐλπιζομένων thingshoped for; embracing not only future realities, but all that does not fall under the cognizance of the senses, whether past, present, or future.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/hebrews-11.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The definition of faith given in this verse, and exemplified in the various instances following, undoubtedly includes justifying faith, but not directly as justifying. For faith justifies only as it refers to, and depends on, Christ. But here is no mention of him as the object of faith; and in several of the instances that follow, no notice is taken of him or his salvation, but only of temporal blessings obtained by faith. And yet they may all be considered as evidences of the power of justifying faith in Christ, and of its extensive exercise in a course of steady obedience amidst difficulties and dangers of every kind.

Now faith is the subsistence of things hoped for, the evidence or conviction of things not seen — Things hoped for are not so extensive as things not seen. The former are only things future and joyful to us; the latter are either future, past, or present, and those either good or evil, whether to us or others. The subsistence of things hoped for - Giving a kind of present subsistence to the good things which God has promised: the divine supernatural evidence exhibited to, the conviction hereby produced in, a believer of things not seen, whether past, future, or spiritual; particularly of God and the things of God.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/hebrews-11.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

The substance of, &c.; strong confidence in respect to, &c.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/hebrews-11.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.Now faith, etc. Whoever made this the beginning of the eleventh chapter, has unwisely disjointed the context; for the object of the Apostle was to prove what he had already said ­that there is need of patience. (200) He had quoted the testimony of Habakkuk, who says that the just lives by faith; he now shows what remained to be proved — that faith can be no more separated from patience than from itself. The order then of what he says is this, — “We shall not reach the goal of salvation except we have patience, for the Prophet declares that the just lives by faith; but faith directs us to things afar off which we do not as yet enjoy; it then necessarily includes patience.” Therefore the minor proposition in the argument is this, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, etc. It is hence also evident, that greatly mistaken are they who think that an exact definition of faith is given here; for the Apostle does not speak here of the whole of what faith is, but selects that part of it which was suitable to his purpose, even that it has patience ever connected with it. (201) Let us now consider the words.

He calls faith the hypostasis, the substance of things hoped for. We indeed know that what we hope for is not what we have as it were in hand, but what is as yet hid from us, or at least the enjoyment of which is delayed to another time. The Apostle now teaches us the same thing with what we find in Romans 8:24; where it is said that what is hoped for is not seen, and hence the inference is drawn, that it is to be waited for in patience. So the Apostle here reminds us, that faith regards not present things, but such as are waited for. Nor is this kind of contradiction without its force and beauty: Faith, he says, is the hypostasis, the prop, or the foundation on which we plant our foot, — the prop of what? Of things absent, which are so far from being really possessed by us, that they are far beyond the reach of our understanding.

The same view is to be taken of the second clause, when he calls faith the evidence or demonstration of things not seen; for demonstration makes things to appear or to be seen; and it is commonly applied to what is subject to our senses. (202)

Then these two things, though apparently inconsistent, do yet perfectly harmonize when we speak of faith; for the Spirit of God shows to us hidden things, the knowledge of which cannot reach our senses: Promised to us is eternal life, but it is promised to the dead; we are assured of a happy resurrection, but we are as yet involved in corruption; we are pronounced just, as yet sin dwells in us; we hear that we are happy, but we are as yet in the midst of many miseries; an abundance of all good things is promised to us, but still we often hunger and thirst; God proclaims that he will come quickly, but he seems deaf when we cry to him. What would become of us were we not supported by hope, and did not our minds emerge out of the midst of darkness above the world through the light of God’s word and of his Spirit? Faith, then, is rightly said to be the subsistence or substance of things which are as yet the objects of hope and the evidence of things not seen. Augustine sometimes renders evidence “conviction,” which I do not disapprove, for it faithfully expresses the Apostle’s meaning: but I prefer “demonstration,” as it is more literal.

The word “substance” is derived from the Vulgate: though its etymological meaning corresponds with the original, yet its received meaning is quite different. The original word occurs five times in the New Testament, and is rendered “confidence” in 2 Corinthians 9:4; Hebrews 3:14, — “person” in Hebrews 1:3, — and here “substance;” but why not its more literal meaning, “foundation?”

The things “hoped for” include the promises; but the things “not seen,” all that is revealed as to what is past and is to come, — the creation, the future destiny of man, etc. — Ed.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/hebrews-11.html. 1840-57.

William Newell's Commentary on Romans and Revelation

A DEFINITION AND A DESCRIPTION of faith, with an illustration of its action, is contained in these first two verses of Chapter Eleven. To repeat, Faith is a giving-substance-to, (making real) hoped-for things, a test (R.V., margin) of things when they are not yet seen. ("By _faith we are sure of eternal things that they are; by _hope we are confident that we shall have them." J.F.B. Commentary, in loc.)

Hoping for something is not yet faith! Faith says, "I have it!" Things not seen shows there is no consulting of human faculties or "feelings." The ark is the test of faith. When Noah entered the ark, there was the same conviction of the fact of the coming flood that he had during the years of building the ark. God had spoken! That was all that was before his mind. He never looked at the sky. Faith is a conviction of things when they are not seen! a giving-substance-to (Greek, _hupostasis) things hoped for.

This Greek word for confidence, _hupostasis, is used only five times in the New Testament, three of them in Hebrews: Chapters 1:3; 3:14; 11:1. That in Chapter 3:14 we remember, reads, "If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end," and indicates the same exercise of the soul as set forth in our text in Chapter 11:1; and the third is in Chapter 1:3: "the very image of His substance (_hupostasis)." This is the correct reading (R.V.)

* Thayer remarks concerning _hupostasis, "It is very common in Greek authors in widely different senses:

  1. "A setting or placing under, that is, a foundation.
  2. "That which has foundation, is firm. Hence, (a) that which has actual existence (b) The substantial quality or nature of any person or thing, as of God (Heb. 1:3). (c) Steadiness of mind, firmness, resolution, confidence, firm trust, assurance." (Here we may class 3:14, and 11:1.)

We speak thus in particular because of the ever-present temptation to confuse faith with feeling--trusting God's Word, with looking for signs. But Paul says, "We walk by faith, not by sight." And our Lord's words in Mark 11:23, following His command, "Have faith in God," vividly illustrate this giving substance to things hoped for:

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he saith cometh to pass; he shall have it. Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye received them, and ye shall have them."

"Believe that ye received" (aorist tense), that is, received them when asking! Faith therefore becomes a power; as Jehovah said through Isaiah, "Concerning the works of My hands, command ye Me" (Isa. 45:11). Westcott well says, "Faith essentially deals with the future and with the unseen; the regions not entered by direct physical experience." Rotherham's happy translation is, "But faith is of things hoped for, a confidence, of facts a conviction, when they are not seen."

Let us remark that it is the subjective state and attitude of the human heart that is in view in these first verses, and indeed right through this chapter. That is, it is not here faith as a "gift from God" that is in view. That true faith is a gift from God, a blessed gift, we fully recognize. But we find on the other hand that doubt, distrust, unbelief, are sins. No man has a right to doubt God for one moment! Our Lord's great command which we have quoted, "Have faith in God," and His questions, such as "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" show that there is a positive sense in which faith may be, should be, exercised by us!

And this human side (if I may call it that) is before us in Hebrews 11. Here in verse 1 there are certain blessings hoped for, but Faith is the substantiating, or giving-substance-to these hoped-for things. (The King James rendering, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for," is devoid of meaning, and disregards the other occurrences of the Greek word _hupostasis, which we have listed. We love the King James Version, but we must speak plainly here. For instance, how absurd it would be to render Heb. 3:14, "If we hold fast the beginning of our substance"! Therefore, Chapter 11:1 should be rendered, Faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the sure expectation of these things--arising from a spiritual realization of the things: a giving substance to things hoped for!)

Again, in the second statement of verse 1, Faith is a conviction of things not seen, "conviction" (Gr., elegchos) means not merely a "conviction," but a putting that conviction to the test, as we have noted in Noah's building the ark.

We must reflect deeply upon God's order in this matter of faith, for no plague of our hearts is more pernicious than the placing "feeling" before faith.


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Bibliography
Newell, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". William Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wnc/hebrews-11.html. 1938.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

PROGRESS IN RELIGIOUS CONVICTION

‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’

Hebrews 11:1

All religious conviction proceeds from God and cannot proceed from man, because whatever there is in man that is good is put into him by God.

I. The first stagerepentance.—The first stage in the progress of spiritual conviction is repentance; a man has to find out that he is in the wrong before he can be set right. The foundation of all spiritual conviction rests in a knowledge of one’s sins, because we shall never desire new things until we have found out our inability to do good or to act rightly without the grace of God. We must know our true selves to bring about this change; to reach this stage in spiritual conviction.

II. The second stagefaith.—We will pass on to examine the most glorious passage in spiritual conviction, which I trust every member of this congregation will be able to lay to heart. ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ Why is faith absolutely necessary? The reason is given to us in this very chapter: we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. No words can be stronger. Is it not true that faith is the one thing? I know that we must do the work, and we must wrestle and fight and pray, but there is one thing needful when we have been convicted of our sin, and that is faith in the blessed work of our Saviour.

III. The third stageassurance.—Let us take the words just as they stand! ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for.’ What is substance? There is a great deal of difference between a mere speculation and reality. Substance is reality. We say that, as we are met together in the name of the Lord Jesus, He is present with us. Perhaps some of you say that you hope he is present. I can go farther than that; I can say that He is here. He is here in the spirit and we are in the body, and so cannot see Him; there is the necessity for faith. Jesus said, ‘Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’ Yes, He is with you, He is with you always. We get at the reality by means of faith.

Rev. H. Lionel James.

Illustration

‘I think some of you have heard the story of the little maid that the parson came across in his house-to-house visitation. She had heard nothing about the progress of spiritual conviction, and she scarcely understood what it was to pray. This good minister taught her a little prayer, and it was just this: “Lord, show me myself, for Jesus Christ’s sake, Amen.” She promised to repeat this prayer, and the minister told her that the Lord would answer it. When he visited that part of his parish again, and called at the farm-house, he found that the little girl had learnt that she was a sinner, and that she had changed her mind as to herself. That is the true meaning of repentance.’


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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/hebrews-11.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 1. Now faith is the substance] Having mentioned the life of faith, Hebrews 10:38, and the end of faith (or the reward of it, 1 Peter 1:9), the salvation of the soul, Hebrews 10:39, he now descends to the description of this glorious grace, James 2:1, and saith that it is the substance or subsistence or basis and foundation of things hoped for. It is the same that our author had called confidence, Hebrews 10:35. Polybius, speaking of Horatius’ keeping the field against the enemy’s forces, saith, that the enemies more feared his υποστασις (the word here used), his confidence binding upon the victory, than his strength. Faith is the vital artery of the soul (saith one), Habakkuk 2:4, and by the eye of it, through the perspective glass of the promises, a Christian may see into heaven. Faith doth antedate glory; it doth substantiate things not seen. Faith altereth the tenses, and putteth the future into the present tense, Psalms 60:6. It is reported of the crystal that the very touching of it quickeneth other stones and puts a lustre and beauty upon them. (Gul. Parisiens.) This is true of faith; it makes evil things present, far off; and good things far off, present.

The evidence of things, &c.] The index, ελεγχος, or the clear conviction by disputation, or by making syllogisms from the word. Indeed it is the word (to speak properly) that is the convincing evidence of things not seen; but because the word profiteth not further than it is mingled with faith in the heart, therefore that which is due to the word is here ascribed to faith.


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hebrews-11.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Hebrews 11:1

The Work of the Few and the Many.

The history of mankind, whether secular or religious, resolves itself into the history of a few individuals. It is not that all the rest do not live their own lives, or can shirk their own eternal responsibilities; but it is that the march and movement of the many is as surely influenced by the genius of the few as is the swing of the tide by the law of gravitation. It is a law of our being that we should belong—the vast majority of us—to the unknown, to the unrecorded masses, who, long before the very things we own have perished, shall have passed away out of all remembrance as utterly as though we had never been.

I. There, then, is one great fact of life; another, and a far sadder one, is that, by a sort of fatal gravitation, the human race seems of itself to tend downwards. It is impulse, passion, temptation, more than reason, that often sways the heart of each man, and therefore of all men. It is the few only who are saints; the few only who are heroes.

II. How does God carry out His work of continuous redemption? It is by the energy of His chosen few. Into their hearts He pours the power of His Spirit; upon their heads He lays the hands of His consecration. The history of mankind is like the history of Israel in the days of the Judges. The deliverance of mankind has never been wrought by the multitude; always by the individual.

III. We learn from this subject: (1) the secret, the sole secret, of moral power. Who that reads the signs of the times can fail to perceive how much this age needs to learn the secret. By faith, each in his age and order, these saints of God delivered his generation, inspired his successors, wrought righteousness in a faithless world. (2) We may notice also that the work of these saints of God, being always and necessarily human, is never permanent in its special results. There is an infinite pathos in the predestined failure of men and institutions which leave no adequate heirs to propagate their impulse, to carry on their purposes. Abraham dies, and in a century his descendants are slaves. When the influence of God's saints has spent its force, if the work pauses for a moment, everything falls into ruin and corruption. Only as an inspiring, passionate, continuous energy can Christianity regenerate the world. (3) These apparent failures were never absolute. No good man, no saint of God, has ever lived or died in vain. The very best of us leaves his tale half untold, his message imperfect; but if we have but been faithful, then, because of us, some one who follows us with a happier heart and in happier times, shall utter our message better and tell our tale more perfectly. Some one shall run and not be faint; some one shall fly with wings where we have walked with weary feet.

F. W. Farrar, Sermons and Addresses in America, p. 202.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/hebrews-11.html.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. The thing described, or the subject spoken of, and that is faith; that faith whereby the just man lives, the apostle here speaks of, though not as justifying, but as it is effectually useful in our whole life, especially unto constancy and perseverance in the Christian profession, which was the great duty urged and enforced in the foregoing chapter.

Observe, 2. The description itself, it is the substance of things hoped for.

1. That is, it is a confident and firm expectation of the good things which God has promised, giving the good things hoped for, a real subsistance in our minds and souls.

2. It is the evidence of things not seen; that is, it evidences the reality and certainty of future things, it realizes the invisible realities of another world unto our minds, and causes us to believe them as strongly as what we see with our bodily eyes.

Learn hence, That a lively faith gives such a reality, certainty, and present being to things hoped for, and yet to come, as if they were visibly seen and actually enjoyed.


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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/hebrews-11.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1.] Now Faith is (the rec. text has a comma after πίστις, thus throwing the stress upon ἔστιν, and making it mean either, “Now there is a faith, which is” &c., or “Now faith really exists, being” &c. And the alleged ground for this arrangement is, that the ordinary rendering, “Now faith is,” would require πίστις δέ ἐστιν, or ἡ δὲ πίστις ἐστίν. But this argument is nugatory. ἔστιν at the opening of the sentence does, it is true, often indicate emphatically absolute existence, e. g. ch. Hebrews 4:13; Acts 13:15; 1 Corinthians 8:5; 1 Corinthians 15:44 al. fr. (in Del.); but frequently it is the mere logical copula, with a certain emphasis on it, carrying a strong affirmation or negation of the truth of the subsequent predication. See Delitzsch here, and Winer, § 7. 3. So that our Writer does not say, ‘There is a faith, which is.…,’ nor ‘Faith has a real existence, being.…,’ but he describes that πίστις to which in ch. Hebrews 10:39 he had stated us to belong. And this word ‘describes’ is perhaps more strictly correct than ‘defines:’ for the words which follow are not a definition of that in which faith consists, but of that which faith serves as and secures to us. A definition would approach rather from the side of the subjective phænomena of faith. Yet when speaking broadly and not strictly, we may well call this the definition of faith: and nearly so Thomas Aquinas (in Del.), “Respondeo dicendum, quod licet quidam dicant prædicta Apostoli verba non esse fidei definitionem, quia definitio indicat rei quidditatem et essentiam, tamen, si quis recte consideret, omnia, ex quibus potest fides definiri, in prædicta descriptione tanguntur, licet verba non ordinentur sub forma definitionis.” Delitzsch compares several forms of similar definitions in Philo, e. g. ἔστι δὲ στεναγμὸς σφόδρα καὶ ἐντεταμένη λύπη (Leg. Alleg. iii. 75, vol. i. p. 129): ἔστι δὲ εὐχὴ αἴτησις ἀγαθῶν παρὰ θεοῦ (Quod Deus Immut. 19, p. 285): ἔστι γὰρ φιλοσοφία ἐπιτήδευσις σοφίας, σοφία δὲ ἐπιστήμη θείων κ. ἀνθρωπίνων καὶ τῶν τούτων αἰτιῶν (De Congr. Quær. Erud. Gr. 14, p. 530): and an appositional one of faith itself, De Conf. Ling. 9, p. 409, where it is said to be ἡ ὀχυρωτάτη καὶ βεβαιοτάτη διάθεσις, and, De Migr. Abr. 9, p. 442, he says of faith, ἀρτηθεῖσα γὰρ καὶ ἐκκρεμασθεῖσα ἐλπίδος χρηστῆς, καὶ ἀνενδοίαστα νομίσασα ἤδη παρεῖναι τὰ μὴ παρόντα, διὰ τὴν τοῦ ὑποσχομένου βεβαιοτάτην πίστιν, ἀγαθὸν τέλειον, ἆθλον εὕρηται. It was this passage apparently which led Jerome to make the remark which Grotius quotes in his note on James 2:23, “Quæ si quis recte consideret, inveniet optime concurrere cum eo quod Scriptor ad Hebræos, Philoneum aliquid spirans ut Hieronymo videtur, scripsit, ἔστι δὲ πίστις κ. τ. λ.” Notice that it is of faith in general, all faith, not here of faith in God in particular, that the Writer is speaking: and πίστις is anarthrous, as throughout the chapter) confidence (there has been much difference concerning the meaning of ὑπόστασις. The ancients for the most part understand it here as “substantia” (so vulg.), substance, the real and true essence: faith gives reality to things not yet seen, so that they are treated as veritably present. So e. g. Chrys., ἐπειδὴ γὰρ τὰ ἐν ἐλπίδι ἀνυπόστατα εἶναι δοκεῖ, ἡ πίστις ὑπόστασιν αὐτοῖς χαρίζεται· μᾶλλον δὲ οὐ χαρίζεται ἀλλʼ αὐτό ἐστιν οὐσία αὐτῶν· οἷον ἡ ἀνάστασις οὐ παραγέγονεν οὐδέ ἐστιν ἐν ὑποστάσει, ἀλλʼ ἡ ἐλπὶς ὑφίστησιν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ ἡμετέρᾳ ψυχῇ: Thdrt., δείκνυσιν ὡς ὑφεστῶτα τὰ μηδέπω γεγενημένα: Œc., πίστις ἐστὶν αὐτὴ ἡ ὑπόστασις καὶ οὐσία τῶν ἐλπιζομένων πραγυάτων· ἐπειδὴ γὰρ τὰ ἐν ἐλπίσιν ἀνυπόστατά ἐστιν ὡς τέως μὴ παρόντα, ἡ πίστις οὐσία τις αὐτῶν καὶ ὑπόστασις γίνεται, εἶναι αὐτὰ καὶ παρεῖναι τρόπον τινὰ παρασκευάζουσα διὰ τοῦ πιστεύειν εἶναι: Thl., οὐσίωσις τῶν μήπω ὄντων καὶ ὑπόστασις τῶν μὴ ὑφεστώτων: Ambr(58) (De Pœnit. ii. 3 (15), vol. ii. p. 419), Aug(59) (In Joann. Tract. lxxix. 1, vol. iii. pt. ii.), Vatablus (“rerum quæ sperantur essentia”), H. Steph. (“illud quod facit ut jam exstent, quæ sperantur”), Schlichting, Bengel, Heinrichs, Bisping, al. Others have rendered it “fundamentum:” so Faber Stap., Erasm. (paraphr.), Calvin, Beza (“illud quo subsistunt”), Clarius, Stein, Sykes, Carpzov, al. On the other hand the majority of modern Commentators have preferred the meaning which ὑπόστασις bears in ch. Hebrews 3:14, where see note: viz. “confidence.” So Luther, Camero, Grotius, Hammond, Wolf, Böhme, Bleek, De Wette, Tholuck, Stuart, Ebrard, Lünemann, Delitzsch, al. And there can be no reasonable doubt, that this is the true rendering here. Thus only do the two descriptions given correspond in nature and quality: and thus only does ὑπόστασις itself answer to what we might expect by ἐλπιζομένων being used and not some word like ἀνυποστάτων. The one being subjective in both these cases of parallel, it is but reasonable that the other should be also. Delitzsch, as usual when any psychological question arises, has gone into this matter at great length, and his note should by all means be read. He compares a very remarkable passage of Dante, Paradiso, xxiv. 52–81) of things hoped for (the old Latin versions were certainly wrong in rendering ἐλπιζομένωνsperantium.” But, granting that it is neuter, a question arises as to the arrangement of the word πραγμάτων, whether it belongs to ἐλπιζομένων or to οὐ βλεπομένων. Chrys., Œc., the vulg., Calvin in his version, Estius, Böhme, al. join it with the former: Thl., Ambrose, Aug(60), Faber Stap., most of the Commentators, and, as Bleek believes, all the editions, with the latter. And for two reasons, this seems to be the right connexion. It preserves the rhythm better, which otherwise would halt, by the second clause being so much shorter than the first,—and it is more likely that πραγμάτων, indicating as it does rather material objective facts than objects of hope, should be joined with the objective οὐ βλεπομένων, than with the subjective ἐλπιζομένων), demonstration (another dispute has arisen, about the meaning of ἔλεγχος. From ἐλέγχειν, to convict, or convince, of persons,—to prove or demonstrate, of things, comes ἔλεγχος, conviction, or proof: Aristot. Rhet. ad Alex. c. 14, ἔλεγχος δέ ἐστιν ὁ μὲν μὴ δυνατὸς ἄλλως ἔχειν ἀλλʼ οὕτως ὡς ἡμεῖς λέγομεν. So the vulg. has rendered “argumentum,”—Aug(61), Prosper., Mutianus, “convictio,”—Calvin, “demonstratio” or “evidentia” (“evidence,” E. V.), Hammond (and similarly Luther), “firma persuasio.” Chrys. says, βαβαί οἵᾳ ἐχρήσατο λέξει εἰπὼν ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων· ἔλεγχος γὰρ λέγεται ἐπὶ τῶν λίαν ἀδήλων (but the reading of the best mss. and of the Benedictine edn. is δήλωνἡ πίστις τοίνυν ἐστὶν ὄψις τῶν ἀδήλων, φησί, καὶ εἰς τὴν αὐτὴν τοῖς ὁρωμένοις φέρει πληροφορίαν τὰ μὴ ὁρώμενα: Œc., ἀπόδειξις τῶν οὐ βλεπομένων· ἀποδείκνυσι δὲ ὁρατὰ τὰ ἀόρατα ἡ πίστις· πῶς; τῷ νῷ καὶ ταῖς ἐλπίσιν ὁρῶσα τὰ μὴ φαινόμενα: Thl., ἔλεγχος, τουτέστι δεῖξις καὶ φανέρωσις ἀδήλων πραγμάτων· ποιεῖ γὰρ ταῦτα βλέπεσθαι τῷ νῷ ἡμῶν ὡς πορόντα. The old Latin version in D renders most strangely, “accusator non videntium.” The modern Commentators are divided: some have taken the subjective sense of conviction,—inward persuasion of the truth of: so Menken, Bleek, De W., Lünem. But, as Tholuck remarks, this sense of the word is hardly borne out by usage. And therefore we seem driven back on the objective meaning as referred to things, viz. proof, or demonstration. This is adopted by Bengel, Böhme, Stier, Ebrard, Hofmann, al. As far as the sense is concerned, both come to the same in the end. It is faith, an act of the mind, which is this demonstration: it is therefore necessarily subjective in its effect,—is the demonstration to him who believes) of matters (see above) not seen (this πράγματα οὐ βλεπόμενα is a much wider designation than ἐλπιζόμενα, embracing the whole realm of the spiritual and invisible, even to the being and essence of God Himself: see below, Hebrews 11:6; and cf. Romans 8:24, where St. Paul’s expressions differ slightly in form from these. There is no ground whatever for saying that our Writer makes faith identical with hope. Faith is the ὑπόστασις of ἐλπιζόμενα: Hope exists independently of it, but derives its reality, and is ripened into confidence, by its means. And faith is the demonstration to us of that which we do not see: cf. the beautiful words of Calvin: “Nobis vita æterna promittitur, sed mortuis: nobis sermo fit de beata resurrectione, interea putredine sumus obvoluti: justi pronuntiamur, et habitat in nobis peccatum: audimus nos esse beatos, interea obruimur infinitis miseriis: promittitur bonorum omnium affluentia, prolixe vero esurimus et sitimus: clamat Deus statim se nobis adfuturum, sed videtur surdus esse ad clamores nostros. Quid fierit, nisi spei inniteremur, ac mens nostra prælucente Dei verbo ac spiritu per medias tenebras supra mundum emergeret?”).


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/hebrews-11.html. 1863-1878.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 2317

THE NATURE OF FAITH

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

CONSIDERING how much the Scriptures speak of faith, one is surprised that the subject of faith so little occupies the attention of the world at large, or even of the religious world. But the truth is, that the nature of faith is but little known. The world at large consider it as no more than assent upon evidence; whilst the religious world confine their views of it almost exclusively to the office of justifying the soul before God. But faith is of a far more comprehensive nature than even good men generally suppose. It extends to every thing that has been revealed; and is the one principle that actuates the Christian in every part of the divine life. From not adverting to this, the description given of faith in our text has been frequently misunderstood. The precise import of the passage will best appear by considering the context. The Apostle is encouraging the believing Hebrews to hold fast their profession. He tells them that faith is the only principle that will enable them to do this: he then proceeds to shew them in a great variety of instances, how faith will act, and how certainly, if duly exercised, it will prevail for the carrying of them forward even to the end.

It is in this general view, and not in the light of justifying the soul, that the Apostle calls it, “the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”

Let us then in this enlarged sense consider,

I. The nature of faith—

Within its proper and legitimate scope is all that God has revealed in his blessed word—

[Faith comprehends within its grasp the past, the present, and the future. By it, the Christian knows that the universe, but a few thousand years ago, had no existence, and that it was created out of nothing by the word of God. By it, he sees every thing upheld and ordered by the hand that formed it, and not so much as a hair of our head falling to the ground without his special permission. By it, he foresees that all the human race which have in successive ages passed away shall be recalled into existence at the last day, and be judged according to their works.

But more particularly faith views that great mysterious work, the work of redemption. It beholds the plan formed in the eternal councils of the Father and of the Son; and in due season with gradually increasing light revealed to man. It sees the incarnation, the death, the resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the sending forth of the Holy Spirit in all his miraculous and new-creating powers, to attest that the work was finished, and to render it effectual for the salvation of a ruined world. This work it still beholds carrying on in heaven by the Lord Jesus as our great High-priest within the vail, and as the living and life-giving Head of his Church and people. And, carrying its eye forward to future ages, it sees the Redeemer’s kingdom universally established, and every subject of his empire seated with him upon his throne of glory.

All intermediate matters it beholds fulfilled in their season, and is assured, that, of every thing that God has spoken, not one jot or tittle shall ever fall to the ground.]

Of all this it brings a full conviction to the mind, and, as far as it can be desired, a full experience to the soul

[Faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” By “evidence” is meant such a proof as silences all objections. Of the past, the present, or the future, what could reason declare? Nothing with any certainty. Of the mystery of redemption more especially, it could determine nothing. With our bodily senses we could ascertain nothing. Every thing is apprehended by faith only. Yet is it therefore uncertain? No: it is as clear to the mind of a believer, as if it had been demonstrated to his reason, or subjected to his sight. Having assured himself from reason, that the Scriptures are the word of God, and that the great mystery of redemption, as apprehended by him, is revealed in them, he has no doubt concerning it: his fall in Adam; his recovery by Christ; his restoration to the Divine image through the influences of the Holy Spirit; these things appear so worthy of God, and so suitable to man, that no doubt respecting them exists in the mind: and all the objections which pride and ignorance have raised against them are scattered like mists before the rising sun.

But it is not only as true that faith presents these things to the mind, but as good, as desirable, and as promised: and it so apprehends them, as to give them an actual subsistence in the soul: it is “the substance of things hoped for.” These things, as far as they are good, and future, are the objects of hope; and therefore, as we might suppose, unpossessed. But, though future, they are made present by the exercise of faith; and, though only hoped for, are actually enjoyed. This is a wonderful property of faith. Consolations, victories, triumphs, glory, though remote in ultimate experience, are by anticipation rendered present, so that the first-fruits, the pledge, the earnest, the foretaste are in actual possession; and whilst the grapes of Eschol assure the soul of the final possession of Us inheritance, the views of Pisgah transport it thither, and enable it to realize its most enlarged hopes and expectations.]

From this description of faith we may see,

II. Its aspect on the welfare and stability of the soul—

As entering into every part of the divine life, its influence might be pointed out in an almost infinite variety of particulars. But we will content ourselves with specifying two, which will, to a certain degree, give an insight into all:

1. It renders us indifferent to all the concerns of time and sense—

[Whilst we are in the body we cannot be absolutely indifferent to earthly things; but comparatively we may. The unbeliever has respect to nothing else: he sees nothing, knows nothing, cares for nothing, but what is visible and temporal. He is “of the flesh,” and “savours only the things of the flesh.” His hopes, his fears, his joys, his sorrows, are altogether carnal. So it once was with the believer: but it is now so no longer. By faith he now views other things, which fully occupy his mind, and engage all the powers of his soul. Earthly vanities once appeared as grand and glorious as the starry heavens. But they are fled from his sight: they are all eclipsed by the splendour of the Sun of Righteousness which has arisen upon his soul. There indeed they are; and were the light of God’s truth withdrawn from his soul, they would again resume a measure of their former importance. But they are now reduced to insignificance: and the things which “once appeared glorious in his eyes, have now no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth.” Ignorant persons are ready to impute the believer’s withdrawment from the world to superstition, to moroseness, to pride, to enthusiasm, to gloom and melancholy. But he renounces the world as an empty vanity, and an ensnaring “lie,” that deceives all who follow it, and ruins all who trust in it. Once “a deceived heart had turned him aside, so that he could not deliver his soul, or say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” but now he knows, that what he formerly grasped, was a mere shadow; and that there is nothing substantial but what is apprehended by faith. Hence “What was once gain to him, is now accounted loss; yea all things are now but as dung, that he may win Christ, and be found in him.” Such are now his views of the cross of Christ, and of the glory that shall be revealed, that “the world is crucified to him, and he is crucified unto the world [Note: Galatians 6:14.].”]

2. It strengthens us both for action and for suffering in the service of our God—

[Before that faith has brought a man to a view of the things which are invisible and eternal, he has no zeal for God, no fortitude to suffer shame for the sake of Christ. But when once the realities of the eternal world are open to his view; when once heaven with all its glory, and hell with all its terrors, are apprehended by him; who shall stop him? who shall intimidate him? who shall persuade him? Bid him relax his diligence, and give way to carnal ease and pleasure; he will say, ‘Go, offer your advice to one that is running in a race, or fighting for his life: will he listen to you? expect not me then to listen, who am running for eternity, and fighting for my soul.’ Is he called to suffer? He knows for whose sake it is that he is called to take up his cross; and he takes it up with cheerfulness, and “rejoices that he is counted worthy to bear it.” Has he made considerable advance in the ways of God? He does not on that account relax; but “forgetting what is behind, and reaching forward to that which is before, he presses on towards the mark for the prize of his high calling of God in Christ Jesus [Note: Philippians 3:13-14.].” These are the things which are chiefly insisted on throughout the whole of this chapter: and, as such were the operations of faith in the days of old, such also they are at this hour; and such will they be to the very end of time.]

See you not then, beloved,

1. How little there is of true faith in the world?

[If you will believe the report which men give of themselves, there is no want of faith at all. Every one who calls himself a Christian, considers it as a matter of course that he possesses faith. But how would faith operate under other circumstances? Let a man believe that a house in which he is sitting is on fire; or that a vessel in which he is embarked is ready to sink; will he not evince the truth of his faith by some efforts to escape? But here men profess to believe all that God has spoken about the danger of their souls, and the way opened for their deliverance, and yet are as unconcerned about either the one or the other as the beasts that perish. Alas! how fearfully do they deceive their own souls!

But even in the religious world there is an awful want of faith. For how little are men actuated by the truths which they profess to believe! How strong is the hold which earthly things yet retain of the believer’s soul, and how faint are his impressions of eternity! — — — Well might our Lord say, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth [Note: Luke 18:8.]?” Know ye, brethren, that “if you had faith but as a grain of mustard-seed, it should remove mountains:” and, consequently, you may judge of the smallness of your faith by the slender effects which it has produced upon your souls. Pray ye then to Him who alone can give you faith; “Lord, help my unbelief;” “Lord, increase my faith.”]

2. In what way alone you can hope to vanquish all your spiritual enemies?

[It is “by faith that you are to walk, and not by sight.” In order to form a correct judgment of things, listen not to the report of sense, but consult the testimony of faith. Send faith as a spy to search out the heavenly land that is before you. If you attend to the voice of unbelief, it will tell you of nothing but Anakims that are invincible, and “of cities that are walled up to heaven.” But if you ask for the account which faith will give, it will tell you, “They are bread for us [Note: Numbers 14:9.],” and shall be as easily devoured, and as profitably to our souls, as the food that is put into our mouths. What the effect of this principle shall be upon your souls, you may see in the case of the Apostle Paul. Greater trials than his you cannot expect to encounter: and greater supports you cannot need. But whence arose his supports? He was animated by “a spirit of faith:” by that, he foresaw the issue of his conflicts: and by that he was upheld: and, through the influence of that, all his afflictions appeared but light and momentary, yea, and the very means of augmenting his happiness and glory [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18.] — — — Thus shall faith operate in you: it shall “work by love:” it shall “purify the heart;” it shall “overcome the world [Note: 1 John 5:4.].” Only “live by faith:” and if at any time you be ready to stagger through unbelief, remember that “he is faithful who hath promised;” and “be strong in faith, giving glory to God.” For of this you may be perfectly assured, that the more lively your faith is, the more abundant will be its fruits; and that in every hour of trial “according to your faith it will be done unto you.”]


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Bibliography
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/hebrews-11.html. 1832.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Hebrews 11:1. The definition. This is no scholastic, exhaustive one, but brings out only that element as the essence of the πίστις, with which the author was here alone concerned; inasmuch as, according to Hebrews 10:35 ff., just the inner certainty of conviction with regard to the Christian hope, and the stedfast continuance in the same dependent thereon, was that which was lacking to the readers. The words: ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, are to be taken together as a single statement, and πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων forms an apposition to ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις: “faith, however, is a firm confidence in regard to that which is hoped for, a being convinced of things which are invisible.” πίστις is accordingly subject; ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, as well as πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων, predicate; and ἔστιν (which, standing at the beginning, is to be accentuated as the verbum substantivum, see Kühner, I. p. 72) emphatically preposed copula, with the design of attaching to the presupposition, expressed Hebrews 10:39, of πίστις as a quality present in the readers, the statement as to the nature and essence of this πίστις. Quite similar is the use of ἔστιν in the beginning of the proposition, 1 Timothy 6:6 : ἔστιν δὲ πορισμὸς μέγας εὐσέβεια μετὰ αὐταρκείας, and Luke 8:11 : ἔστιν δὲ αὕτη παραβολή. Grammatically admissible indeed, but to be rejected—because in that case a thought would be expressed which is not suggested by the connection, and, moreover, a truth in regard to which no contradiction whatever was to be expected on the part of the readers—is it when Böhme (as formerly also Winer, Gramm., 3 and 4 Aufl.; otherwise 5 Aufl. p. 70, 6 Aufl. p. 56, 7 Aufl. p. 58 f.) will have ἔστιν taken as a verb substantive, and ὑπόστασις, as likewise ἔλεγχος, taken as apposition to πίστις: “there is, however, a faith, a confidence,” etc.

πίστις] without an article, since the author will define the notion of πίστις in general, not exclusively the notion of specifically Christian faith.

ὑπόστασις] is by many explained as “reality” (entity, Wesenheit), and placed on a par with οὐσία, substantia, essentia, and the like, which, however, is already proved to be inadmissible from the fact that the notion of “reality” cannot be immediately applied, but, in order to become fitting, must first be changed into that of an “endowing with reality,” in such wise that one can then make out the sense: faith clothes things which are not yet at all present with a substance or real existence, as though they were already present. This mode of interpretation was followed by Chrysostom ( ἐπειδὴ γὰρ τὰ ἐν ἐλπίδι ἀνυπόστατα εἶναι δοκεῖ, πίστις ὑπόστασιν αὐτοῖς χαρίζεται· μᾶλλον δέ, οὐ χαρίζεται ἀλλʼ αὐτό ἐστιν οὐσία αὐτῶν· οἷον ἀνάστασις οὐ παραγέγονεν οὐδέ ἐστιν ἐν ὑποστάσει, ἀλλʼ ἐλπὶς ὑφίστησιν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ ἡμετέρᾳ ψυχῇ), Theodoret ( δείκνυσιν ὡς ὑφεστῶτα τὰ μηδὲπω γεγενημένα), Oecumenius ( πίστις ἐστὶν αὐτὴ ὑπόστασις καὶ οὐσία τῶν ἐλπιζομένων πραγμάτων· ἐπειδὴ γὰρ τὰ ἐν ἐλπίσιν ἀνυπόστατά ἐστιν ὡς τέως μὴ παρόντα, πίστις οὐσία τις αὐτῶν καὶ ὑπόστασις γίνεται, εἶναι αὐτὰ καὶ παρεῖναι τρόπον τινὰ παρασκευάζουσα διὰ τοῦ πιστεύειν εἶναι), Theophylact ( οὐσίωσις τῶν μήπω ὄντων καὶ ὑπόστασις τὠν μὴ ὑφεστώτων), by the Vulgate (substantia), by Ambrose, Augustine, Vatablus (rerum, quae sperantur, essentia), H. Stephanus (illud, quod facit, ut jam exstent, quae sperantur), Schlichting, Bengel, Heinrichs, Bisping, and others.

But likewise ὑπόστασις is not to be interpreted either by “fundamentum,” with Faber Stapulensis, Clarius, Schulz, Stein, Stengel, Woerner, and others, nor by “placing before one,” with Castellio (dicitur eorum, quae sperantur, subjectio, quod absentia nobis subjiciat ac proponat, efficiatque ut praesentia esse videantur, nec secus eis assentiamur, quam si cerneremus) and Paulus. for neither of the two affords in itself, without further amplification, a satisfactory, precise notion, quite apart from the fact that the last-mentioned signification can hardly be supported by the testimony of linguistic usage.

The alone correct course is consequently, with Luther, Cameron, Grotius, Wolf, Huët, Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Ebrard, Bloomfield, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 702, Alford, Maier, Moll, and others, to take ὑπόστασις, as at Hebrews 3:14 (vid. ad loc.), as inner confidence,

ἐλπιζομένων] gen. objecti: of that (or: with regard to that) which is still hoped for, has not yet appeared in an actual form. The main emphasis in the predicate rests upon ἐλπιζομένων, as also upon the concluding words, corresponding in apposition thereto, οὐ βλεπομένων.

πραγμάτων] belongs to οὐ βλεπομένων. The conjoining with ἐλπιζομένων (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Estius, Böhme, Woerner, and others) deprives the two halves of the proposition of their rhythmical symmetry.

πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων] a being convinced (in mind or heart) of things which are invisible, i.e. a firm inner persuasion of the existence of unseen things, even as though they were manifest to one’s eyes. ἔλεγχος here expresses not the active notion of the convincing or assuring (Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 703; Moll, Hofmann), but, corresponding to the notion of the forementioned ὑπόστασις, indicates the result of the ἐλίγχειν (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:24), as λόγος that produced by the λέγειν, τύπος that effected by the τύπτειν, etc. To be rejected as unsuitable are the explanations: Proof, argumentum (Vulgate, Ambrose, Schlichting, Wolf, Heinrichs, and others); indicium (Erasmus); demonstratio (Calvin, H. Stephanus, Jac. Cappellus, Bengel, Alford, al.); apprehensio (Clarius); “a certain assurance, guarantee” (Stein), and many others. οὐ βλεπόμενα, however, on account of the objective negation, combines together into the unity of notion “invisible,” and is a more general characterization than ἐλπιζόμενα. While the latter is restricted to that which is purely future, the former comprehends at the same time that which is already present, and denotes in general the supra-sensuous and heavenly.

Calvin: Nobis vita aeterna promittitur, sed mortuis; nobis sermo fit de beata resurrectione, interea putredine sumus obvoluti; justi pronuntiamur, et habitat in nobis peccatum; audimus nos esse beatos, interea obruimur infinitis miseriis; promittitur bonorum omnium affluentia, prolixe vero esurimus et sitimus; clamat Deus statim se nobis adfuturum, sed videtur surdus esse ad clamores nostros. Quid fieret, nisi spei inniteremur, ac mens nostra praelucente Dei verbo ac Spiritu per medias tenebras supra mundum emergeret?


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/hebrews-11.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Hebrews 11:1. ἔστι δὲ πίστις, now faith is) This is resumed from ch. Hebrews 10:39. And the apostle gives in this passage that definition of faith, which is most suitable to his purpose of confirming the minds of the brethren.— ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων, the substance of those things which are hoped for, the proof of things which are not seen) Things which are hoped for, are the species; things which are not seen, are the genus: for the former are merely future and pleasant to us; the latter also are past or present, and either pleasant or painful to ourselves or others, Hebrews 11:3; Hebrews 11:7-8; Hebrews 11:27; Hebrews 11:29. Whence the two clauses of this verse, in which there is an Asyndeton (absence of the copulative conjunction), have a gradation. Moreover, as the things which are not seen are to the things which are hoped for, so is the proof of the things to the substance; and therefore faith is the substance by which the future things, that are hoped for, are represented (vividly realized), or are set before us as present: and the same (faith) is the proof of the things, by which those things which are not seen are set before us as solid realities ( πράγματα). That which is absent is opposed to substance; a non-entity, a dream, is opposed to the proof or evidence of things. Whence it is clear how closely the two words πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος cohere, so that they form, as it were, a compound word, πραγμάτων- ἔλεγχος; and why the word, things, is put in the last, and not also in the first clause. ὑπόστασις, substance, is opposed to τῇ ὑποστολῇ, drawing back, which was lately repudiated, ch. 10, at the end; for the metaphor is taken from a pillar standing under a heavy weight, and denotes patience and constancy, καρτερίαν; comp. Hebrews 11:27. ὑπόστασις in the Vulgate is translated substantia, which is correct; for substance is opposed to opinion, l. 10, § 1, Digest. de diversis temporalibus præscriptionibus, et de accessionibus possessionum, and elsewhere. Substance then has reference to a thing which is certain, and therefore also to a thing which is present. Things future are represented (vividly realized) by faith: ἔλεγχος is evidence or proof also in the peculiar language of philosophers. ὑπόστασις, substance, is put first; and then πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος, the proof, or evidence of things; but the examples, which follow, relate in the first instance to the proof of the things, Hebrews 11:3, etc., and in the second place, to the substance of those things which are hoped for, Hebrews 11:6, etc. Chiasmus.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/hebrews-11.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

HERBREWS CHAPTER 11

Hebrews 11:1-40 The nature of faith, and its acceptableness with God, set

forth in the examples of many excellent persons of old

time.

Now faith: the Holy Spirit proceeds in this chapter to strengthen the counsel he had given these Hebrews to continue stedfast in the faith of Christ, to the end that they may receive their reward, the salvation of their souls, Hebrews 10:39 1 Peter 1:9; and so beginneth with a description of that faith, and proves it to be effectual to this end, by instances out of all ages of the world before them, wherein the Old Testament believers had found it to be so. The description of it is laid down, Hebrews 11:1; the proof of it in both parts, Hebrews 1:2,3; and the illustration of its power by examples, Hebrews 11:4-40. The particle de shows this is inferred as a discovery of that faith, which is saving or purchasing the soul; which that none of these Hebrews may be mistaken in, he describeth from its effect, and not from its form and essence. Faith is here a Divine fruit of the Spirit, given and wrought by it in his elect, and is justifying and purchasing the soul to glory, John 12:38 Romans 5:1 2 Corinthians 12:9 Ephesians 1:19,20 2:8.

Is the substance of things hoped for: upostasiv, in 2 Corinthians 9:4, notes confidence of boasting; Hebrews 1:3, personal subsistence; and Hebrews 3:14, confidence of faith. Here it is a real, present, confident assent of the soul of a believer to the promise of God, (which is the basis or foundation of it), by which the spiritual good things to come, and which fall not under sense, yet with a most vehement and intense desire urged for, are made to have a mental, intellectual existence and subsistence in the soul which exerciseth it, Romans 8:18,26 Joh 3:36.

The evidence of things not seen: elegkoi is a demonstrative discovery of that which falleth not under sense, such as is scientifical, and puts matters out of question to a man; and therefore is styled by logicians a demonstration: here it notes faith to be that spiritual space which by God’s revelation demonstrates or makes evident all things not seen by sense, or natural reason, without it, as matters of spiritual truth, good and evil in their several kinds, both past, present, and to come, John 17:6,8 Eph 1:17,18.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/hebrews-11.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

At the close of the preceding chapter, mention was made of "them that believe to the saving of the soul." Now follows a description of faith and an illustration of its power from the example of the ancient worthies.

Substance; the Greek word has two distinct meanings: first, as rendered by our version, substance; the meaning will then be, that faith is that which gives to things hoped for subsistence in the views and feelings of the soul, and leads it to regard and treat them as real; secondly, confidence, as in 2 Corinthians 11:17. According to this, faith is the firm persuasion of things hoped for.

The evidence of things not seen; their demonstration, that which sets before the mind unseen realities as if they were seen. Faith is a glorious reality and mightily efficacious. It works powerfully, and produces effects which nothing else can. It is in the highest and best sense rational, and is as essential with regard to things unseen, as the eye is to things seen.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/hebrews-11.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

1. Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις. “But faith is &c.” Since he has said “we are of faith to gaining of the soul,” the question might naturally arise, What then is faith? It is nowhere defined in Scripture, nor is it defined here, for the writer rather describes it in its effects than in its essence; but it is described by what it does. The chapter which illustrates “faith” is full of works; and this alone should shew how idle is any contrast or antithesis between the two. Here however the word “faith” means only “the belief which leads to faithfulness”—the hope which, apart from sight, holds the ideal to be the most real, and acts accordingly. It is not used in the deeper mystical sense of St Paul as equivalent to absolute union with Christ.

ὑπόστασις. “The assurance” or “the giving substance to.” Ὑπόστασις, as in Hebrews 1:3, may mean [1] that underlying essence which gives reality to a thing. Faith gives a subjective reality to the aspirations of hope. But it may be used [2] in an ordinary and not a metaphysical sense for “basis,” foundation; or [3] for “confidence,” as in Hebrews 3:14 (comp. 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 11:17): and this seems to be the most probable meaning of the word here. St Jerome speaks of the passage as breathing somewhat of Philo (“Philoneum aliquid spirans”), who speaks of faith in a very similar way.

ἔλεγχος. “Demonstration,” or “test.”

οὐ βλεπομένων, i.e. τῶν ἀοράτων, which are as yet invisible, because they are eternal and not temporal (2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 5:7). God Himself belongs to the things as yet unseen; but Faith—in this sense of the word, which is not the distinctively Pauline sense (Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:26; Romans 3:25)—demonstrates the existence of the immaterial as though it were actual. The object of faith from the dawn of man’s life had been Christ, who, even at the Fall, had been foretold as “the seed of the woman who should break the serpent’s head.” The difference between the Two Covenants was that in the New He was fully set forth as the effulgence of the Father’s glory, whereas in the Old He had been but dimly indicated by shadows and symbols. Bishop Wordsworth quotes the sonnet of the poet Wordsworth on these lines:

“For what contend the wise? for nothing less

Than that the Soul, freed from the bonds of sense,

And to her God restored by evidence

Of things not seen, drawn forth from their recess,

Root there—and not in forms—her holiness.”


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"Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/hebrews-11.html. 1896.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

Here is the Record of Old Testament Saints, who lived and died, triumphant in Faith. The sweet Assurance to New Testament Believers that they, and all the Faithful, will together be made perfect in Jesus.


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/hebrews-11.html. 1828.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2. INSPIRATIONAL.—The glories of Faith in its illustrious examples of old, Hebrews 11:1 to Hebrews 12:2.

1. Now—As if beginning to anticipate that too continued a strain of warning and rebuke might wear upon his hearers, our apostle now suddenly changes his tone to thrilling jubilation. From threatening penalty for unbelief he rises into a lofty peal of exultation over the glories of faith. This faith is not solely ground of safety; it is an inspiration to all sublime moral heroism. It is the basis within the soul of all divine hopes and of all heroic communion with higher things above the things of merely animal sense. This he illustrates by a long line of glorious examples in the sacred record from the creation to the Christian era. All this assumes and affirms that the true Christian faith is the heir and real continuance of that old faith, and that the now faithful Hebrews will be heirs of the faithful of all ages, and will form a real modern extension of the ancient line of faithful heroes. It is one of the many illustrations in Hebrews of what has been called Paul’s habit of “going off at a word,” (and a proof of his authorship of this book,) that this sublime paean is hung upon the word faith, in Hebrews 10:38, where it occurs in Paul’s favourite formula of justification by faith.

He now proceeds to show that faith is not only justifying but inspiring, ennobling, and exalting to the soul. We may further add, that the deduction of this heroic evolution of faith from the saving faith of Hebrews 10:38, amply refutes the preposterous pretence of some German expositors, (as Lunemann,) that the idea of faith in this epistle is different from Paul’s idea. Nothing is clearer than that, with Paul, faith is not only the mainspring of our salvation, but of our sanctification, and of all our Christian graces, virtues, and heroisms. Nowhere else, indeed, has he so fully expanded that view as here; and so we readily believe that it is by him that it is here expanded. Is—The present proposition is not intended as a complete definition of faith; but is such a statement or modified definition as suits our author’s design of showing how faith is the quickening inspiration of lofty enterprise.

Substance—The Greek word (compounded of υπο, under, and στασις, standing) signifies something that stands under an overlying object. Originally and literally, it signifies a basis, foundation, substratum. Our word substance, (derived from the Latin sub, under, and stans, standing,) has the same etymology, and etymologically the same meaning, for substance is a substratum, or base, underlying its properties. Hence our translators, as many scholars, here put the word substance. So Chrysostom says, “For since things are to hope unsubstantiated, faith grants to them a substance; or rather, does not so much grant, as be itself their substance, or existence.” But the true force of the writer’s proposition is, we think, best expressed by the stricter meaning of the word basis, or foundation. The whole current of the chapter shows that what he means is, that faith is within the soul the true subjective foundation of all subjective divine hopes and all supermundane heroisms. Hope, and the things held within the mental conception as things hoped for, have for their subjective basis faith; that power by which all that is transcendent and heroic is embraced in the mind. To translate the word confidence, as Lunemann, Delitzsch, and Alford do, is very flat. By that translation we have the truism that faith is confidence, just as confidence is faith; which are mere identical propositions. Indeed, faith and confidence are the same word in different languages; so that we have faith is faith. Things hoped for are viewed subjectively, as things within the hoping mind; and within the same mind their subjective basis is faith. The soul is a mirror in which are the images of faith as basis, and things hoped for as superstructure. Things hoped for is emphatic, suggesting the inspiring power of immortal and unlimited prospectives within our conception.

Evidence—Rather, demonstration, as Alford and others. Things not seen are like a geometrical diagram, planting a demonstration of themselves in the perceiving mind. That demonstration is received and realized by the elevated faith faculty, or predisposition, and is itself a faith forever. And the more vivid the demonstration the more realizing the faith, and the more heroic the soul in the ascending direction. Things not seen, are the realities of God and his universe outside the visible world, which are revealed to our higher intuitions by nature, by divine manifestation, or by the written record. The animal man, the sensualist, never thinks of or truly embraces these truths. The worldly forget them. The atheist denies them.

And these are all incapable of that spiritual heroism recorded of the ancient worthies.

There is an obvious parallelism in the clauses substance of things hoped forevidence of things not seen. There appears, also, to be an anti-climax. The former clause is more impressive, and especially more impressive for the author’s inspiring purpose, than the latter. We would explain this by saying that the last is epexegetical, or explanatory; being, as it were, its confirmatory echo. Faith is the subjective prop of our hopes by being the realization of the great Unseen. How feeble a rendering confidence is of the word for substance, υποστασις, (hypostasis,) and how uniformly it means the underlay, or basis of confidence, or other thing, is a point worthy further illustration. Thus (taking several examples in Robinson’s Greek Testament Lexicon) a classical author speaks of the hypostasis (basis-energy) of the soul under endurance of torments; just as a horseman speaks of the “bottom,” or basal strength, of his steed. Another says, “all the hypostasis (underlying vigour) of the bowels.” Another, of “the appearance of wealth, but not the hypostasis,” (underlying reality.) So Paul (2 Corinthians 11:17) speaks of “this hypostasis, or basis of our boasting.” So (Hebrews 10:35) the beginning of our self-basing in Christ. So, also, several passages adduced from the Septuagint by Whitby, and feebly rendered by him confidence, or expectation. In Ruth 1:12 it is asked, Is there to me any basis of a husband? Ezekiel 19:5 : All her basis was lost. Psalms 89:47 : All my basis is from thee. In all these cases is meant rather the subjective underlay of a subjective confidence than the confidence itself.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/hebrews-11.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Essentially faith is confidence that things yet future and unseen will happen as God has revealed they will. This is the basic nature of faith. Hebrews 11:1 describes faith rather than defining it.

"This word hypostasis ["assurance," NASB] has appeared twice already in the epistle. In Ch. Hebrews 1:3 the Son was stated to be the very image of God"s hypostasis; in Ch. Hebrews 3:14 believers are said to be Christ"s associates if they hold fast the beginning of their hypostasis firm to the end. In the former place it has the objective sense of "substance" or "real essence" (as opposed to what merely seems to be so). In the latter place it has the subjective sense of "confidence" or "assurance." Here it is natural to take it in the same subjective sense as it bears in Ch. Hebrews 3:14, and so ARV and RSV render it "assurance."" [Note: Bruce, The Epistle ..., p278.]

"Faith is the basis, the substructure (hypostasis means lit. "that which stands under") of all that the Christian life means, all that the Christian hopes for." [Note: Morris, p113.]

". . . faith celebrates now the reality of the future blessings that constitute the objective content of hope." [Note: Lane, Hebrews 9-13 , p328.]

Someone else described faith as the spiritual organ that enables a person to perceive the invisible realities of life.


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/hebrews-11.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

CHAP. Hebrews 11:1. Having affirmed that our distinguishing quality as Christians is not apostasy, but faith, and that the issue in our case is not perdition, but the gaining of that life of the soul which apostasy threatens, he now proceeds to show that faith is the quality of the spiritual life. This faith means the belief of things still future; such belief as makes them realities to us: and the evidence of things unseen, such evidence as answers objections and produces conviction (compare Aristotle’s definition of ἴλεγϰος). It means, among other things, patient waiting, heroic suffering, and is illustrated by reference to the lives and history of men of all ages and of every economy. The words of this verse have sometimes been regarded as a definition of faith, or as a description of it; but properly they are no definition, for the terms of each proposition are not interchangeable; nor are they a description; they rather seize upon one quality of faith which is most appropriate for the writer’s purpose, and help us to understand what faith is by calling attention to properties not peculiar to it, but still deeply significant. Faith, then, has to do with what is future and is an object of hope, viz. blessing and reward. More widely, it has to do with what is unseen, whether in the future, the present, or the past. Similarly the things which it believes are either historical facts, as ‘things’ means in chap. Hebrews 6:18, or spiritual realities, as ‘things’ means in chap. Hebrews 10:1. If they are future and are objects of desire, they are hoped for; and if they are not objects of hope, but still believed, they are things unseen. All are unseen, whether hoped for or not. So the last clause of the verse describes the wider class. Faith gives weight and force to what would be otherwise unsubstantial; and faith is itself, in an important sense, a proof of the truth of what it believes. The feeling of the solid body which the hand sustains is itself a proof that the body is solid. The consciousness of the light is decisive evidence that the sun has risen—not to others, but to the man himself.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/hebrews-11.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Hebrews 11:1. ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις … “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof [manifestation] of things not seen”. When ἔστι stands first in a sentence it sometimes means “there exists,” as in John 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:44. But it has not necessarily and always this significance, cf. 1 Timothy 6:6; Luke 8:11; Wisdom of Solomon 7:1. There is therefore no need to place a comma after πίστις as some have done. The words describe what faith is, although not a strict definition. “Longe falluntur, qui justam fidei definitionem hic poni existimant: neque enim hic de tota fidei natura disserit Apostolus, sed partem elegit suo instituto congruentem, nempe quod cum patientia semper conjuncta sit” (Calvin). ὑπόστασις, literally foundation, that which stands under; hence, the ground on which one builds a hope, naturally gliding into the meaning “assurance,” “confidence,” as in Hebrews 3:14; 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 11:17; Ruth 1:12; Psalms 39:7, ὑπόστασίς μου παρὰ σοί ἐστιν. ἔλεγχος regularly means “proof”. See Demosthenes, passim; especially Agt. Androtion, p. 600, ἔλεγχος, ὦν ἂν εἴπῃ τις καὶ τἀληθὲς ὁμοῦ δείξῃ. It seems never to be used in a subjective sense for “conviction,” “persuasion”; although here this meaning would suit the context and has been adopted by many. To say with Weiss that the subjective meaning must be given to the word that it may correspond with ὑπόστασις is to write the Epistle, not to interpret it. Theophylact renders the clause φανέρωσις ἀδήλων πραγμάτων. Faith is that which enables us to treat as real the things that are unseen. Hatch gives a different meaning to both clauses: “Faith is the ground of things hoped for, i.e., trust in God, or the conviction that God is good and that He will perform His promises, is the ground for confident hope that the things hoped for will come to pass.… So trust in God furnishes to the mind which has it a clear proof that things to which God has testified exist, though they are not visible to the senses.” The words thus become a definition of what faith does, not of what it is. Substantially the words mean that faith gives to things future, which as yet are only hoped for, all the reality of actual present existence; and irresistibly convinces us of the reality of things unseen and brings us into their presence. Things future and things unseen must become certainties to the mind if a balanced life is to be lived. Faith mediating between man and the supersensible is the essential link between himself and God, “for in it lay the commendation of the men of old,” ἐν ταύτῃ γὰρ ἐμαρτυρήθησαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι. That is, it was on the ground of their possessing faith that the distinguished men of the O.T. received the commendation of God, being immortalised in Scripture. It might almost be rendered “by faith of this kind,” answering to this description. ἐν ταύτῃ has an exact parallel in 1 Timothy 5:10, the widow who is to be placed on the Church register must be ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς μαρτυρουμένη, well-reported of on the score of good works. οἱ πρεσβύτεροι, those of past generations, men of the O.T. times; as Papias [Euseb., H.E., iii. 39] uses the term to denote the “Fathers of the Church” belonging to the generation preceding his own. The idea that faith is that which God finds pleasure in (Hebrews 10:38) and is that which truly unites to God under the old dispensations as well as under the new is a Pauline thought, Galatians 3:6. This general statement of Hebrews 11:2 is exhibited in detail in the remainder of the chapter; but first the writer shows the excellence of faith in this, that it is by it that we recognise that there is an unseen world and that out of things unseen this visible world has taken rise. This idea is suggested to him because his eye is on Genesis from which he culls the succeeding examples and it is natural that he should begin at the beginning. “Before exhibiting how faith is the principle that rules the life of men in relation to God, down through all history, as it is transacted on the stage of the world, the author shows how this stage itself is brought into connection with God by an act of faith” (Davidson). By faith we perceive, with the mental eye νοοῦμεν, cf. Romans 1:20, that the worlds ( αἰῶνας, cf. Hebrews 1:2; the visible world existing in time, the temporary manifestation of the unseen is meant, see Hebrews 1:10-11) have been framed ( κατηρτίσθαι, as in Hebrews 10:5, σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι. In Hebrews 13:21 καταρτίσαι ὑμᾶς, “perfect you” as in Luke 6:40; 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:10. The word is perhaps used in the present connection to suggest not a bare calling into existence, but a wise adaptation of part to part and of the whole to its purpose) by God’s word, ῥήματι θεοῦ. This is the perception of faith. The word of God is an invisible force which cannot be perceived by sense. The great power which lies at the source of all that is does not itself come into observation; we perceive it only by faith which is (Hebrews 11:1) “the evidence of things not seen”. The result of this creation by an unseen force, the word of God, is that “what is seen has not come into being out of things which appear”. εἰς τὸγεγονέναι. εἰς τὸ with infinitive, commonly used to express purpose, is sometimes as here used to express result, and we may legitimately translate “so that what is seen, etc.” Cf. Luke 5:17; Romans 12:3; 2 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Cf. Burton, M. and T., 411. μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων, the Vulgate renders “ex invisibilibus,” and the Old Latin “ex non apparentibus” having apparently read ἐκ μὴ φαιν. τὸ βλεπόμενον the singular in place of the plural of T.R. and Vulgate, presents all things visible as unity. Had the visible world been formed out of materials which were subject to human observation, there would have been no room for faith. Science could have traced it to its origin. Evolution only pushes the statement a stage back. There is still an unseen force that does not submit itself to experimental science, and that is the object of faith. To find in this verse an allusion to the noumenal and phenomenal worlds would be fanciful.


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/hebrews-11.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Hebrews 11:1. Knowing that the believing Hebrews had been, and still were exposed to persecution on account of the gospel, and fearing lest they should be thereby cast down, and moved from their steadfastness, the apostle had endeavoured to support them in their adherence to Christ and his cause by suggesting the declaration whereby the prophet Habakkuk had directed and encouraged the Jews on the approach of the Chaldean invasion, namely, the just shall live by faith. He now proceeds to illustrate and improve that saying, by bringing into the view of these Hebrews examples from their own Scriptures of persons who, by a strong faith in God and in his promises, resisted the greatest temptations, sustained the heaviest persecutions, were preserved in imminent dangers, performed most difficult acts of obedience, and at length obtained a distinguished reward. This beautiful discourse, therefore, may be considered as an animated display of the triumphs of faith over the allurements and terrors of the world. But first, to prevent all mistakes, and to show that the noble grace which he speaks of is attainable by men in every age and country, he gives a concise but clear description of it in the following words.

Now faith — As if he had said, Now that you may understand what the faith is of which I speak, and may be encouraged to exercise it, and to persevere in so doing, consider its excellence and efficacy. It is the substance of things hoped for — The word υποστασις, here rendered substance, is translated confidence, (Hebrews 3:14,) and may be rendered subsistence, which is its etymological meaning, and also ground, basis, or support. The meaning of the clause seems to be, that faith is a confidence that we shall receive the good things for which we hope, and that by it we enjoy, as it were, a present subsistence or anticipation of them in our souls. It also gives a foundation or ground for our expecting them; because by it we are justified, adopted into God’s family, and born of God’s Spirit, and, therefore, being his children, are heirs of the things for which we hope; namely, of happiness with Jesus immediately after death, of the glorious resurrection of the body at the time of Christ’s second coming, of acquittance and a gracious reception at his judgment-seat, and felicity and glory with him in the new heavens and new earth for ever. The evidence — ελεγχος, the conviction, persuasion, or demonstration, wrought in the mind; of things not seen — Of things invisible and eternal, of God and the things of God; giving us an assurance of them in some respects equal to that which our outward senses give us of the things of this visible and temporal world. “The word ελεγχος,” says Macknight, “denotes a strict proof, or demonstration; a proof which thoroughly convinces the understanding, and determines the will. The apostle’s meaning is, that faith answers all the purposes of a demonstration, because, being founded on the veracity and power of God, these perfections are to the believer complete evidence of the things which God declares have happened, or are to happen, however much they may be out of the ordinary course of things.” The objects of faith, therefore, are much more numerous and extensive than those of hope: the latter are only things future, and apprehended by us to be good; whereas those of faith are either future, past, or present, and those either good or evil, whether to us or others: such as “the creation of the world without any pre-existing matter to form it of, the destruction of the old world by the deluge, the glory which Christ had with his Father before the world began, his miraculous conception in the womb of his mother, his resurrection from the dead, his exaltation in the human nature to the government of the universe, the sin and punishment of the angels, &c. All which we believe on the testimony of God, as firmly as if they were set before us by the evidence of sense.” The reader will easily observe, that though the definition of faith here given, and exemplified in the various instances following, undoubtedly includes or implies justifying faith, yet the apostle does not here speak of it as justifying, or treat of justification at all, but rather shows the efficacy and operation of faith in them who are justified. Faith justifies only as it refers to, and depends on Christ, and on the promises of God through him; in which light it is represented Romans 4., where the apostle professedly describes it. But here is no mention of him as the object of faith: and in several of the instances that follow no notice is taken of him or his salvation, but only of temporal blessings obtained by faith; and yet most of these instances maybe considered as evidences of the power of justifying faith, and of its extensive exercise in a course of steady obedience amidst trials and troubles, difficulties and dangers of every kind. Before we proceed to the particular instances of the power of faith here recorded, it may be proper to remark, that it is faith alone which, from the beginning of the world, under all dispensations of divine grace, and all the alterations which have taken place in the modes of divine worship, hath been in the church the chief principle of living unto God, of obtaining the promises, and of inheriting life eternal.


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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hebrews-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

this chapter is a commendation and recommendation of faith, which is the substance (1) of things hoped for, giving as it were a substance in our minds to such things as we are in hopes and in expectation of hereafter, and making them present to us before they come to pass. --- It is also a sure conviction (2) of things that appear not. For when God has revealed things, and we believe them upon the divine and infallible authority of the revealer, we have a greater certainty of them than any demonstration can afford us. By this virtue of faith, they of old, our forefathers, obtained (3) a testimony from God that their actions were pleasing to him. (Witham) --- Faith is the basis, the foundation supporting hope; for unless there be faith, there cannot possibly be any hope. (Menochius)

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Substantia, Greek: upostasis, subsistentia.

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Argumentum, Greek: elegchos. Convictio, ostensio. It does not seem well translated evidence, as by the Protestants and Mr. N. because faith is an obscure knowledge, though it be the most certain, because of the infallible authority of God, who has revealed those obscure mysteries.

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Greek: Emarturethesan, testimonium consecuti sunt. This expression, which is repeated ver. 4, 5, and 39, signifies an approbation or commendation.


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/hebrews-11.html. 1859.

John Owen Exposition of Hebrews

The first verse gives such a description of the nature of faith, as evidenceth its fitness and meetness unto the effecting of the great work assigned unto it, namely, the preservation of believers in the profession of the gospel with constancy and perseverance.

Hebrews 11:1. ῎εστι δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων.

The Vulgar translation placeth the comma after πραγμάτων; “sperandarum substantia rerum,” excluding “rerum” from the last clause. Both ἐλπιζομένων and βλεπομένων being of the neuter gender, may either of them agree with πραγμάτων, and the other be used absolutely. “Sperandorum;” that is, “quae sperantur.”

῾ψπόστασις. “Substantia,” Vulg. Lat. So we, “the substance;” Beza,” illud quo subsistunt;” others, “id quo extant;” that whereby things hoped for exist or subsist Syr., פְיָסָא עַל אִילֵין בְּסַבְרָא אֵיךְ הָו דַּהֲוַי לְהֵין בְּסוּעֲיָנָא“a persuasion of the things that are in hope, as if they were unto them in effect;” which goes a great way towards the true exposition of the words.

῎ελεγχος. Vulg. Lat., “argumentum illud quod demonstrat;” or “quae demonstrat;” “that which doth evidently prove or declare” Syr, גֶלְיָנָא, “the revelation of things that are not seen.”

῾ψπόστασις is a word not used in the Scripture, but 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 11:17, and in this epistle, wherein it three times occurs. In the first it is applied to express a distinct manner of subsistence in the divine nature, Hebrews 1:3; in the second, a firm persuasion of the truth, supporting our souls in the profession of it, Hebrews 3:14. See the exposition of those places. Here we render it substance. More properly it is a real subsistence: τῶν ἐν ἀέρι φαντασμάτων, τὰ μέν ἐστι κατ᾿ ἔμφασιν, τὰ δὲ καθ᾿ ὑπόστασιν, Aristot. de Mundo; — “Of the things that are seen in the air, some have only an appearance, others have the real subsistence” of nature; are really subsistent, in contradiction unto appearing phantasms. As it is applied to signify a quality in the minds of men, it denotes confidence, or presence of mind without fear, as in the places above, 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 11:17. Polybius of Cocles, οὐχ οὕτω τὴν δύναμιν, ὡς τὴν ὑπόστασιν αὐτοῦ, etc.; — “They wondered not so much at his strength, as his boldness, courage, confidence.” The first sense is proper to this place; whence it is rendered by many, “that whereby they exist.” And the sense of the place is well expressed in the Greek scholiast:

επιδὴ γὰρ τὰ ἐν ἐλπίσον ἀνυπόστατά ἐστιν ὠς τέως μὴ παρόντα ἡ πίστις οὐσία τις αὐτῶν καὶ ὑπόστασις γίνεται ει῏ναι αὐτὰ καὶ παρεῖναι τρόππον τινὰ παρσκενάζουσα — “Whereas things that are in hope only have no subsistence of their own, as being not present; faith becomes the subsistence of them, making them to be present after a certain manner.”

I shall retain in the translation the word “substance,” as it is opposed unto that which hath no real being or subsistence, but is only an appearance of things.

῎ελεγχος is usually a “conviction” accompanied with a reproof; “redargutio:” and so the verb is commonly used in the New Testament; as the noun also: Matthew 18:15; Luke 3:19; John 3:20; John 8:46; John 16:8; 1 Corinthians 14:24; Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:13; 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:9; Titus 1:13; 2 Timothy 3:16. Sometimes it is taken absolutely, as a “demonstration,” a convincing, undeniable proof and evidence: that which makes evident. Syr., “the revelation;” the way or means whereby they are (1) made known.’

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

First, The respect and connection of these words unto the preceding discourse is in the particle δέ, which we render “now:” for it is not adversative or exceptive in this place, as it is usually, but illative, denoting the introduction of a further confirmation of what was before declared:

‘That is, faith will do and effect what is ascribed unto it, in the preservation of your souls in the life of God, and constancy in profession; for “it is the substance,” etc.’The observation of the design of the apostle dischargeth all the disputes of expositors on this place about the nature and definition of faith, seeing he describes only one property of it, with respect unto a peculiar end, as was said before.

Secondly, The subject spoken of is “faith,” that faith whereby the just doth live; that is, faith divine, supernatural, justifying, and saving, — the faith of God’s elect, the faith that is not of ourselves, that is of the operation of God, wherewith all true believers are endowed from above. It is therefore justifying faith that the apostle here speaks concerning; but he speaks not of it as justifying, but as it is effectually useful in our whole life unto God, especially as unto constancy and perseverance in profession.

Thirdly, Unto this faith two things are ascribed:

1. That it is “the substance of things hoped for.”

2. That it is “the evidence of things not seen.” And, —

1. We must first inquire what are these things; and then what are the acts of faith with respect unto them.

These things for the substance of them are the same, the same πράγματα; but they are proposed under various considerations. For, that they may be useful unto us as they are hoped for, they are to have a present subsistence given unto them; as they are unseen, they are to be made evident: both which are done by faith.

(1.) “Things hoped for,” in general, are things good, promised, future, expected on unfailing grounds. The things, therefore, here intended as “hoped for,” are all the things that are divinely promised unto them that believe, — all things of present grace and future glory. For even the things of present grace are the objects of hope:

[1.] With respect unto the degrees and measures of our participation of them. Believers live in the hope of increase of grace, because it is promised.

[2.] Absolutely, as unto the grace of perseverance in grace, which is future until its full accomplishment. As unto the things of future glory, see what hath been discoursed on Hebrews 6:19-20; Hebrews 8:5.

All these things, as they are promised, and so far as they are so, are the objects of our hope. And that the good things of the pro-raises are the things here intended, the apostle declares in his ensuing discourse, where he makes the end and effect of the faith which he doth so commend to be the enjoyment of the promises. Hope in God for these things, to be received in their appointed season, is the great support of believers under all their trials, in the whole course of their profession, temptations, obedience, and sufferings. “We are saved by hope,” Romans 8:24. But yet I will not say that “things hoped for” and “things unseen” are absolutely the same; so as that there should be nothing hoped for but what is unseen, which is true; nor any thing unseen but what is hoped for, which is not so: for there are things which are the objects of faith which are unseen and yet not hoped for, — such is the creation of the world, wherein the apostle gives an instance in the first place. But generally they are things of the same nature that are intended, whereunto faith gives present subsistence as they are real, and evidence as they are true.

But still these things as hoped for are future, not yet in themselves enjoyed; and so, although hope comprises in it trust, confidence, and an assured expectation, giving great supportment unto the soul, yet the influence of things hoped for into our comfort and stability is weakened somewhat by their absence and distance.

This is that which faith supplies; it gives those things hoped for, and as they are hoped for, a real subsistence in the minds and souls of them that do believe: and this is the sense of the words. Some would have ὑπόστασις in this place to be “confidence in expectation;which is hope, and not faith. Some render it the “principle,” or foundation; which neither expresseth the sense of the word nor reacheth the scope of the place. But this sense of it is that which both the best translators and the ancient expositors give countenance unto: “Illud ex quo subsistunt, extant.” Faith is that whereby they do subsist. And where do they so subsist as if they were actually in effect, whilst they are yet hoped for “In them,” saith the Syriac translation; that is, in them that do believe. “Faith is the essence of these things, and their subsistence, causing them to be, and to be present, because it believes them,” saith OEcumenius. And Theophylact to the same purpose, “Faith is the essence of those things which yet are not; the subsistence of those which in themselves do not yet subsist.” And yet more plainly in the scholiast before recited: or, it is the substance or subsistence of those things, that is, metonymically or instrumentally, in that it is the cause and means giving them a subsistence. But how this is done hath not been declared. This, therefore, is that which we must briefly inquire into.

(2.) There are several things whereby faith gives a present subsistence unto things future, and so hoped for: —

[1.] By mixing itself with the promises wherein they are contained. Divine promises do not only declare the good things promised, — namely, that there are such things which God will bestow on believers, — but they contain them by virtue of divine institution. Hence are they called “the breasts of consolations,” Isaiah 66:11, as those which contain the refreshment which they exhibit and convey. They are the treasury wherein God hath laid them up. Hence to “receive a promise,” is to receive the things promised, which are contained in it, and exhibited by it, 2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Peter 1:4. Now faith mixeth and incorporateth itself with the word of promise, Hebrews 4:2. See the exposition of it. Hereby what is in the word it makes its own, and so the things themselves believed are enjoyed; which is their subsistence in us.

[2.] By giving unto the soul a taste of their goodness, yea, making them the food thereof; which they cannot be unless they are really present unto it. We do by it, not only “taste that the Lord is gracious,” 1 Peter 2:3, — that is, have an experience of the grace of God in the sweetness and goodness of the things he hath promised and doth bestow, — but the word itself is the meat, the food, the milk and strong meat of believers; because it doth really exhibit unto their faith the goodness, sweetness, and nourishing virtue of spiritual things. They feed on them, and they incorporate with them; which is their present subsistence.

[3.] It gives an experience of their power, as unto all the ends which they are promised for. Their use and end in general is to change and transform the whole soul into the image of God, by a conformity unto Jesus Christ, the first-born. This we lost by sin, and this the good things of the promise do restore us unto, Ephesians 4:20-24. It is not truth merely as truth, but truth as conveying the things contained in it into the soul, that is powerfully operative unto this end. Truth, faith, and grace, being all united in one living, operative principle in the soul, give the things hoped for a subsistence therein. This is an eminent way of faith’s giving a subsistence unto things hoped for, in the souls of believers. Where this is not, they are unto men as clouds afar off, which yield them no refreshing showers. Expectations of things hoped for, when they are not in this power and efficacy brought by faith into the soul, are ruinous self-deceivings. To have a subsistence in us, is to abide in us in their power and efficacy unto all the ends of our spiritual life. See Ephesians 3:16-19.

[4.] It really communicates unto us, or we do receive by it, the first-fruits of them all. They are present and do subsist, even the greatest, most glorious and heavenly of them, in believers, in their first-fruits. These first- fruits are the Spirit as a Spirit of grace, sanctification, supplication, and consolation, Romans 8:23. For he is the seal, the earnest, and the pledge, of present grace and future glory, of all the good things hoped for, 2 Corinthians 1:22. This Spirit we receive by faith. The world cannot receive him, John 14:17; the law could not give him, Galatians 3:2. And wherever he is, there is an ὑπόστασις, a present subsistence of all things hoped for, namely, in their beginning, assurance, and benefit.

[5.] It doth it by giving a representation of their beauty and glory unto the minds of them that believe, whereby they behold them as if they were present. So Abraham by faith saw the day of Christ, and rejoiced; and the saints under the old testament saw the King in his beauty, 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6.

In these ways, and by these means, “faith is the substance of things hoped for;” and, —

Obs. 1. No faith will carry us through the difficulties of our profession, from oppositions within and without, giving us constancy and perseverance therein unto the end, but that only which gives the good things hoped for a real subsistence in our minds and souls. — But when, by mixing itself with the promise, which is the foundation of hope, (for to hope for any thing but what is promised, is to deceive ourselves,) it gives us a taste of their goodness, an experience of their power, the inhabitation of their first-fruits, and a view of their glory, it will infallibly effect this blessed end.

2. It is said in the description of this faith, that it is “the evidence of things not seen.” And we must inquire,

(1.) What are the things that are not seen;

(2.) How faith is the evidence of them;

(3.)How it conduceth, in its being so, unto patience, constancy, and perseverance in profession.

(1.) By “things not seen,” the apostle intends all those things which are not objected or proposed unto our outward senses, which may and ought to have an influence into our constancy and perseverance in profession. Now, these are God himself, the holy properties of his nature, the person of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, all spiritual, heavenly, and eternal things that are promised, and not yet actually enjoyed. All these things are either absolutely invisible unto sense and reason, or at least so far, and under those considerations whereby they may have an influence into our profession. Every thing is invisible which nothing but faith can make use of and improve unto this end, 1 Corinthians 2:9-12.

These invisible things are of three sorts:

[1.] Such as are absolutely so in their own nature, as God himself, with his eternal power and Godhead, or the properties of his nature, Romans 1:20.

[2.] Such as are so in their causes; such is the fabric of heaven and earth, as the apostle declares, Hebrews 11:3.

[3.] Such as are so on the account of their distance from us in time and place; such are all the future glories of heaven, 2 Corinthians 4:18.

Obs. 2. The peculiar specifical nature of faith, whereby it is differenced from all other powers, acts, and graces in the mind, lies in this, that it makes a life on things invisible. It is not only conversant about them, but mixeth itself with them, making them the spiritual nourishment of the soul, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. And, —

Obs. 3. The glory of our religion is, that it depends on, and is resolved into invisible things. They are far more excellent and glorious than any thing that sense can behold or reason discover, 1 Corinthians 2:9.

(2.) Of these invisible things, as they have an influence into our profession, faith is said to be the ἔλεγχος, the “evidence,” the “demonstration,” that which demonstrates; the “revelation.” Properly, it is such a proof or demonstration of any thing as carries with it an answer unto and a confutation of all objections unto the contrary: a convincing evidence, plainly reproving and refuting all things that pretend against the truth so evidenced. So it is sometimes used for a reproof, sometimes for a conviction, sometimes for an evident demonstration. See the use of the verb to this purpose, Matthew 18:15; Luke 3:19; John 3:20; John 8:9; John 16:8; 1 Corinthians 14:25; Ephesians 5:13; Titus 1:9; James 2:9 : and of the noun, 2 Timothy 3:16.

Obs. 4. There are great objections apt to lie against invisible things, when they are externally revealed. — Man would desirously live the life of sense, or at least believe no more than what he can have a scientifical demonstration of.

But by these means we cannot have an evidence of invisible things; at best not such as may have an influence into our Christian profession. This is done by faith alone. We may have apprehensions of sundry invisible things by reason and the light of nature, as the apostle declares, Romans 1; but we cannot have such an evidence of them as shall have the properties of the ἔλογχος here intended. It will not reprove and silence the objections of unbelief against them; it will not influence our souls into patient continuance in well-doing. Now, faith is not the evidence and demonstration of these things unto all, which the Scripture alone is; but it is an evidence in and unto them that do believe, — they have this evidence of them in themselves. For, —

[1.] Faith is that gracious power of the mind whereby it firmly assents unto divine revelation upon the sole authority of God, the revealer, as the first essential truth, and fountain of all truth. It is unto faith that the revelation of these invisible things is made; which it mixeth and incorporates itself withal, whereby it gives an evidence unto them. Hence the Syriac translation renders the word by “revelation,” ascribing that unto the act which is the property of the object. This assent of faith is accompanied with a satisfactory evidence of the things themselves. See our discourse of(2) the Divine Original and Authority of the Scriptures.

[2.] It is by faith that all objections against them, their being and reality, are answered and refuted; which is required unto an ἔλεγχος. Many such there are, over all which faith is victorious, Ephesians 6:16. All the temptations of Satan, especially such as are called his “fiery darts,” consist in objections against invisible things; either as unto their being, or as unto our interest in them. All the actings of unbelief in us are to the same purpose. To reprove and silence them is the work of faith alone; and such a work it is as without which we can maintain our spiritual life neither in its power within nor its profession without. [3.] Faith brings into the soul an experience of their power and efficacy, whereby it is cast into the mould of them, or made conformable unto them, Romans 6:17; Ephesians 4:21-23. This gives an assurance unto the mind, though not of the same nature, yet more excellent than that of any scientific demonstration.

(3.) Faith, in its being thus “the evidence of things not seen,” is the great means of the preservation of believers in constant, patient profession of the gospel, against all opposition, and under the fiercest persecutions; which is the thing the apostle aims to demonstrate. For, —

[1.] It plainly discovers, that the worst of what we can undergo in this world, for the profession of the gospel, bears no proportion unto the excellency and glory of those invisible things which it gives us an interest in and a participation of. So the apostle argues, Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

[2.] It brings in such a present sense of their goodness, power, and efficacy, that not only relieves and refresheth the soul under all its sufferings, but makes it joyful in them, and victorious over them, Romans 5:3-5; Romans 8:34-37; 1 Peter 1:6-8.

[3.] It gives an assurance hereby of the greatness and glory of the eternal reward; which is the greatest encouragement unto constancy in believing, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

In this description of faith, the apostle hath laid an assured foundation of his main position, concerning the cause and means of constancy in profession under trouble and persecution; with a discovery of the nature and end of the ensuing instances, with their suitableness unto his purpose. And we may observe in general, that, —

Obs. 5. It is faith alone that takes believers out of this world whilst they are in it, that exalts them above it whilst they are under its rage; that enables them to live upon things future and invisible, giving such a real subsistence unto their power in them, and victorious evidence of their reality and truth in themselves, as secures them from fainting under all oppositions, temptations, and persecutions whatever.


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Bibliography
Owen, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "John Owen Exposition of Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/joc/hebrews-11.html. 1862.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

faith. Greek. pistis. App-150.

substance. Greek. hupostasis. See Hebrews 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 9:4. Used of title-deeds in the Papyri.

evidence = proof. Greek. elenchos. Only here and 2 Timothy 3:16. Compare Romans 10:17.

seen. Greek. blepo. App-133.

obtained, &c. = were borne witness to. Greek. martureo. See p. 1511.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/hebrews-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith - in its widest sense: not restricted to faith in the Gospel. Not a definition of faith in its whole nature, but a description of its characteristics in relation to Paul's exhortation to perseverance (Hebrews 10:39).

Substance ... - it substantiates God's promises, the fulfillment of which we hope for, making them present realities to us. [However, hupostasis (Greek #5287) is translated in Hebrews 3:14, 'confidence.'] So Alford. Thomas Magister, like our version, 'The whole thing is virtually contained in the first principle; now the first commencement of the things hoped for is in us through the assent of faith, which virtually contains all the things hoped for' (cf. note, Hebrews 6:5). Through faith, the future object of Christian hope, in in its beginning, is already substantiated (Hebrews 11:6). Hugo de Victor distinguished faith from hope. By faith we are sure of eternal things that they ARE by hope we are confident that WE SHALL HAVE them. Hope presupposes faith (Romans 8:25).

Evidence , [ elengchos (Greek #1650)] - 'demonstration:' convincing proof to the believer; the soul thereby seeing what the eye cannot see.

Things not seen - the whole invisible spiritual world. 'Eternal life is promised to us, but it is when we are dead; we are told of a blessed resurrection, but meanwhile we moulder in the dust; we are declared to be justified, and sin dwells in us; we hear that we are blessed, meantime we are overwhelmed in miseries; we are promised abundance of all goods, but we still endure hunger and thirst; God declares He will immediately come to our help, but He seems deaf to our cries. What should we do if we had not faith and hope to lean on, and if our mind did not emerge amidst the darkness above the world by the shining of the Word and Spirit of God?' (Calvin.) Faith is an assent unto truths credible upon the testimony of God (not on their intrinsic reasonableness), delivered unto us in the writings of the apostles and prophets. Christ's ascension is the cause; His absence the crown of our faith (Dr. Pearson). Faith believes what it sees not; for if thou seest, there is no faith, the Lord has gone away so as not to be seen: He is hidden, that He may be believed; the yearning desire by faith after Him who is unseen is the preparation of a heavenly mansion for us; when He shall be seen, it shall be given to us as the reward of faith (Augustine). As revelation deals with invisible things exclusively, faith is the faculty needed by us. By faith we venture our eternal interests on the bare Word of God: this is altogether reasonable.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/hebrews-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(1) We have seen how the writer approached the subject which is the chief theme of this last division of this Epistle. The coming of the Lord, for judgment upon His adversaries, for salvation to His people, draws nigh. In the midst of dangers and judgments God’s righteous servant shall live, and the ground, of his life is his steadfast faith—if he shrink back, destruction will overtake him. “Our principle of action” (the writer says to his Hebrew readers) “is not shrinking back, but faith. And faith is this. . . .” It has been debated whether that which follows is a definition of what faith is, or in reality a description of what faith does. It is not a complete definition, in the sense of including all the moments of thought which are present in the word as used in the last chapter (Hebrews 11:38) or in this. The “things hoped for” are not mere figments of the imagination; their basis is the word of God. If we keep this in mind, the words, still remaining general in their form, agree with all that has led up to them and with all that follows; and whether they be called definition or description will be of little consequence.

The exact meaning of the special terms here used it is not easy to ascertain. The word rendered “substance” has already occurred twice in the Epistle. In Hebrews 1:3 this was its true meaning—the essence which, so to speak, underlies, “stands under,” the qualities possessed. In Hebrews 3:14 the same metaphor of standing under is applied to steadfastness, confidence (see the Note). The former of these renderings the Authorised version.—in this instance deserting the earlier translations (which for the most part have “sure confidence” or “ground”) to follow the Rhemish in its rendering of the Latin. substantia—has made familiar in the present passage. The sense which it presents, however, is not very clean; and the symmetry of the verse almost compels us here to make choice of some word which denotes an act, or at all events an attitude, of the mind. Most commentators of our own day accept the second meaning explained above, “confidence” or “assurance in regard to things hoped for.” To adopt Dr. Vaughan’s clear explanation, “Faith is that principle, that exercise of mind and soul, which has for its object things not seen but hoped for, and which, instead of sinking under them as too ponderous, whether from their difficulty or from their uncertainty, stands firm under them—supports and sustains their pressure—in other words, is assured of, confides in and relies on them.” This interpretation yields an excellent sense, and has the advantage of assigning to the Greek word a meaning which it certainly bears in an earlier chapter, and in two places of St. Paul’s Epistles. On the other hand, the analogy of the second member of the verse, and a peculiarity in the Greek construction which we cannot here discuss, seem to be in favour of a third rendering of the words: “Faith is the giving substance to things hoped for.” It has indeed been said that by such a translation the things hoped for are represented as being without substance. But this difficulty is only apparent; for in regard to ourselves these objects of our hope do not yet exist, since they still belong to the future (Romans 8:24-25). In the second clause the word “evidence” is likely to mislead; very probably, indeed, it now fails to convey the sense intended by our translators, who hero followed the rendering of the Genevan Bible (suggested by Calvin’s “evidentia”). The Greek word denotes putting to the test, examining for the purpose of proof, bringing to conviction. Under this aspect faith appears as neither blindly rejecting nor blindly accepting whatever may be said about things unseen, but boldly dealing with them as if with things seen, and then unflinchingly accepting that which has stood the proof. One peculiarity of the Greek yet remains to be noticed. In the second clause the word “things” is expressed in the Greek (as in Hebrews 6:18), but not in the first; we are by this means reminded of the reality of that which is thus spoken of as unseen. The whole verse, then, may be rendered “Now faith is the giving substance to what is hoped for, the testing of things not seen.” And now passing away from the general aspect of the words to that in which they are presented by the context, we have as the meaning: Faith, holding to God’s word, gives substance to what that word promises, investing the future blessings with a present existence, treating them as if already objects of sight rather than of hope. Through faith, guided by the same word, the things unseen are brought to the proof; what that word teaches, though future, or though belonging to a world beyond human sight, is received with full conviction. Thus “every genuine act of faith is the act of the whole man, not of his understanding alone, not of his affections alone, not of his will alone, but of all three in their central, aboriginal unity.” And thus faith becomes “the faculty in man through which the spiritual world exercises its sway over him, and thereby enables him to overcome the world of sin and death.” (Hare, Victory of Faith.)


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/hebrews-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
faith
13; 10:22,39; Acts 20:21; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 5:6; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:7; 2 Peter 1:1
is the
Psalms 27:13; 42:11
substance
or, ground, or, confidence.
2:3; 3:14; 2 Corinthians 9:4; 11:17; *Gr:
hoped
6:12,18,19
the evidence
7,27; Romans 8:24,25; 2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:17; 1 Peter 1:8

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/hebrews-11.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

To have faith. See note on James 2:19 about the nature of faith. To be sure. Faith is the foundation on which all our hopes for the future are built. To be certain. Faith makes us able to treat as real those things we cannot see and touch. Hatch says: "So trust in God furnishes to the mind which has it a clear proof that the things to which God has testified exist, though they are not visible to the senses." [We listen to the news every day, and accept by faith the things that are said, even though we could not verify them by personal experience.]


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/hebrews-11.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Substance is from a word that means basis or foundation on which something rests. Faith constitutes such a basis for our hope since it is produced by testimony. Even things not seen but desired may be expected and thus hoped for when we have the evidence of their truthfulness.


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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/hebrews-11.html. 1952.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Hebrews 11:1

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

Wherever there is faith, there is desire; and as faith embraces heavenly realities, desire embraces that of which faith testifies. Now as the soul is wrought upon by a divine power, and faith is drawn forth into blessed exercise upon the promises of which it is persuaded and which it embraces, desire is kindled for their enjoyment.

True religion is not a burdensome, painful, melancholy, wearisome, and toilsome task or employment as many think. It has indeed its trials, temptations, afflictions, cutting griefs, and depressing sorrows; but it has its sweetness, its peace, its delights, and its enjoyments. And it is the sweetness that we feel, the enjoyment that we have, and the delighting ourselves in the things of God, which hold our head up and encourage us still to persevere and travel on through the wilderness.

It is not all bondage, nor distress of mind, nor sorrow of heart, nor perplexity of soul which the heirs of promise feel. There are sips and tastes, drops and crumbs, and momentary enjoyments, if not long nor lasting, yet sweet when they come, sweet while they last, and sweet in the recollection when they are gone. The Lord gives that which encourages, strengthens, comforts, and delights, and enables us to see that there is that beauty, blessedness, and glory in him which we have tasted, felt, and handled, and which we would not part with for a thousand worlds.

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

What an eminent grace is the grace of faith! I call it, sometimes, the Queen of graces; for faith seems to lead the van, though hope and love follow almost side by side. But still, faith, as the Queen, seems to go in the foremost rank, and to claim the most eminent place. Now, what is faith? That is a question of questions, for on it hangs heaven or hell. God himself has given us a clear definition of it, where he says, "faith is the substance of things hoped for." In other words, faith in the soul gives a realization to the things in which we are brought to hope, takes what to most men are airy shadows, mere words and names, and gives them a substantial existence, a firm abiding place in the heart and conscience. The Apostle calls it also "the evidence of things not seen." That Isaiah , faith, by believing the testimony of God, is to us an internal eye, whereby we see those things, which to the natural eye are invisible.

Thus adopting the Apostle"s definition, we may call faith the eye of the soul, as we read, "By faith he endured, seeing him who is invisible." For it is only by faith that we see either God, or the precious things of God. It is only by faith that we feel their power. It is only by faith that we know they have a real subsistence, or that we ourselves have a substantial saving interest in them. But this faith is the special gift of God. It is not the exercise of any intellectual faculty. It is not the result of reasoning or argument. Nor does it spring from any historical proof. It is a special gift of God, a grace of the Spirit raised up by the power of God in the soul, and acting upon the truth of God as the blessed Spirit draws it forth. Jesus is the Author; Jesus is the finisher of it; and we have no more, and I believe no less faith, than he himself, by his almighty power, is pleased to grant and to sustain.

But, looking at faith and some of its properties, we may branch out a little in describing how faith acts. There is an expression of the Apostle"s that casts a sweet light upon the work of faith, where he says, "Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." Here he brings forward a special operation of faith, in that it mixes with the word of truth. And it does it thus. God the Holy Spirit applies God"s word to the conscience. He thus raises up the grace of faith; this grace of faith embraces God"s testimony, and so intermingles itself with this testimony that it enters into it, appropriates it, and gives it a substantial realization and personal indwelling.

See how this was done in the instance of Abram. God comes to him in the night visions, and says to him, "Fear not, I am your shield and exceeding great reward." But Abram, in a fit of unbelief, says, "What will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eleazar of Damascus?" The Lord then takes him abroad and shows him the stars of the sky, and tells him, "So shall your seed be." Now here was the testimony of God in a certain promise to Abram"s conscience; upon this, faith immediately sprang up in his soul; for we read, "Abram believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." When God spoke to his soul, Abram believed it by the operation of God"s Spirit on his heart. So it is with every child of God. He believes what God speaks to him, he inwardly, spiritually credits it, because he feels what God the Spirit, applies to his soul with power; for the same Spirit that applies God"s word to his heart raises up the faith in his soul that mixes with the word applied, and thus gives the word a substantial realization, a firm abiding place in his conscience.


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Bibliography
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/hebrews-11.html.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The substance. It gives things hoped for and not seen a substance, or reality, in the mind. This can hardly be called a definition of faith, for it is a simple idea and can only be defined by synonymous terms. The word here rendered substance is repeatedly rendered confidence, 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 11:17, Hebrews 3:14, and in the margin of this passage, and it would seem preferable to render it confidence; here faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the evidence, or rather conviction of things not seen, a more accurate description of faith cannot be given.


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Bibliography
Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:1". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/hebrews-11.html. 1835.

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