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Bible verses about Faith as the Evidence of things Unseen
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Luke 17:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The apostles wanted more faith so they could meet the challenges of God's demands, but Jesus knew that it was not quantity they needed but quality. They did not need an increase of faith that would bring some reward following its use, but a faith that, although small like a mustard seed, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). The disciple with this type of living faith is convinced of the fact that God exists (Romans 4:16-22; Hebrews 11:1-3), conscious of his intimate relationship with God (Romans 5:1-2), and concerned about absolute submission to His will (Romans 12:2).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Unprofitable Servants


 

Hebrews 11:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Faith is the confidence we have in possessing the things we hope for because of the promises of God. Faithfulness is adhering unswervingly to God and His covenant. To be faithful we need to be loyal (steadfastly affectionate and allegiant to God), conscientious (scrupulous in doing God's will), dedicated (zealously devoted to God), and truthful (true to God's Word and standard of righteousness).

Martin G. Collins
Faithfulness


 

Hebrews 11:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In the second phrase, faith is what others see in the conduct of a faithful person's life. Evidence of the unseen things gives a person conviction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Two): Vision


 

Hebrews 11:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What is the "evidence of things not seen?" God's words. The rest of the chapter with its examples of faith illustrates that the faithful had only His words as evidence.

Pat Higgins
Faith—What Is It?


 

Hebrews 11:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In the phrase "faith is the substance of things hoped for," Paul is not really defining what faith is, but rather he is showing what faith does in an operative sense: Faith undergirds what we hope for. Substance means "that which stands under." Faith is the foundation for what we hope, the foundation for our relationship with God and everything that it implies within His purpose. Faith is the very beginning of everything that really matters spiritually.

By saying that it is the "evidence" or "assurance" (the word can literally be translated "title deed," but "assurance" seems to be the best all-around word) of things hoped for, the author comes much closer to defining what faith is. In its simplest form, faith is merely belief. As our understanding becomes more complex and operative, when we begin to put faith to work, it becomes "confidence," and finally, in its best form, when it becomes fully operational, it is "trust." This trust, this full measure of faith, is alive and works within our relationship with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Pre-Passover Look


 

Hebrews 11:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Understanding this verse is essential to deriving the most from this chapter. It establishes a good, practical definition of faith, but it is not the only one, since the Bible uses the term "faith" in several other ways. We have to be thinking as we read, or we may get an idea about faith other than the one God intends within a given context.

Galatians 1:23 uses "faith" in a somewhat different manner. "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy." In context with "preaching," faith, as used in religious parlance, means "a confession," thus "a creed," "a body of religious beliefs," or "a statement of the principles of one's way of life." The New Testament often uses "faith" in this manner. Its usage in Jude 3 is similar but a bit clearer, as a body of beliefs to which we must cling steadfastly and apply to life's challenges.

In John 20:29, the apostle relates, "Jesus said to him, 'Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" Here, with Jesus Christ as faith's object, believing indicates a personal trust or confidence in Him. Paul, in Romans 3:22, puts it in different light: ". . . even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe." Here, in a legal context, it indicates a level of personal confidence or trust in what Christ did as a means of justification and therefore access to God.

Romans 10:17 imparts vital understanding on how faith in God becomes part of our thinking and conduct: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Faith becomes an element of our thinking by our hearing words that concern the objects of faith: our Father in heaven; His Son, Jesus Christ; and their message, the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Interestingly, Paul emphasizes hearing rather then merely reading, though reading is included in the sense of hearing. Jesus declares in John 6:63, "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." Hearing—or more correctly, listening—is probably Jesus' most frequent and consistent exhortation during His ministry.

If we do not listen thoughtfully, we will not have faith in the right object. Regardless of the context, faith always contains a mixture of believing, knowing, understanding, trusting, and sometimes even bold conviction—all locked together and pointed toward a specific object. Within the Bible, that object is almost always either God, Jesus Christ, the Word of God, or a messenger sent by God, whether angel, prophet, or minister.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Three)


 

Hebrews 11:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A clear understanding of faith in Hebrews 11 largely depends on how we perceive the word "substance" in verse 1. In Greek, it is hypostasis, literally "a standing under." A more complex definition is "that which underlies what is apparent." Amplified a bit further, it is that which, though unseen, exists beneath what is visible. It, then, has the sense of a foundation. Even as the foundation of a building is unseen, but the building above ground is apparent, the foundation, the hypostasis, is nonetheless real, supporting the building. Hypostasis is the unseen support of what is standing in clear view.

Spiritually, then, invisible faith underlies, supports, and thus motivates the visible action. However, that does not end the discussion of how hypostasis is to be understood. Should it be understood subjectively or objectively? In other words, should we consider faith to be a quality, a virtue within us (that is, subjectively), or should we understand it as something not a part of us but on which we can rely (that is, objectively)? Neither of these usages is wrong, but one seems better than the other within the context of the entire book.

If the translators believed it should be understood subjectively, then the first phrase in Hebrews 11:1 will be translated similar to, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see." Another subjective variation might be, "In faith, things hoped for become a reality." This emphasizes conviction, an internal certainty about what we believe.

If the translators believed it should be understood objectively, then the same phrase will be translated, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for" or "Faith is the title deed of things hoped for." This emphasizes something outside the person that he can rely upon.

This issue is not an easy matter. However, the subjective perspective, conviction within us, is better, given the tenor of the entire epistle.

Certainly, Paul spends a great deal of time reminding the Hebrews of how great what they believe in is—that things pertaining to Christ are far better than anything ever before offered to mankind. This by itself would require an objective point of view. However, the real problem was within these Hebrews' hearts. Paul was exhorting people who were letting the things of God slip away from them through personal neglect. It was not that they did not have something to believe in, for the epistle clearly states they had formerly done much better. Rather, through their lack of conviction, and thus their neglectful personal application, they were slip-sliding away. The real issue is subjective.

Several times, Paul urges them to recall former days and recapture the bold confidence they once had. Thus, though neither of these approaches is wrong, the subjective perspective is better, meaning Hebrews 11:1 is better translated, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see." The believer is convinced that the things he cannot see regarding God are real, and so, from that perspective, he will act in fullness of hope.

Many claim to believe God, but what influence does this belief have on their behavior? If it wields little or no influence, they are unconvinced people, people without conviction who are seeking only an intellectual righteousness. Such belief is without certainty, and so it lackadaisically, gradually retreats instead of going forward in growth. These Hebrews had become this way under the pressure of time and trial.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Three)


 

Hebrews 11:1-7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Hebrews 11, popularly called "the Faith Chapter," contains the recitation of the names and deeds of several men and women of faith from creation to the time of Israel's entering of the Promised Land. In it, the author—most likely the apostle Paul—presents illustrations from the Old Testament to bear out his opening statement: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony" (Hebrews 11:1-2).

In the lives of individual after individual, he shows that their expressions of faith in God, despite the lack of material evidence, proved they were righteous (verse 4), pleased God (verse 5), and were heirs of righteousness (verse 7). The remarkable acts that they accomplished—from Abel's offering of an excellent sacrifice to Rahab's hiding of the Israelite spies—were done because, believing the Word of God, they envisioned a heavenly future that others could not see.

We see, then, that the heroes of faith not only lived righteous lives in the present, but also moved and acted with a steady eye on the future. Their faith had its foundation in the invisible God whose Word they obeyed, yet their foreknowledge of God's plan for mankind contained in the promises that God gave to them and to Israel also played a major role, one not nearly recognized enough among professing Christians. It was not just the promise of salvation or even of eternal life dangled before them that made them so unflinchingly faithful. It was also their steadfast hope of a better tomorrow in God's Kingdom.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
David the Prophet


 

Hebrews 11:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This concept reveals the solid base of faith toward God: that He is Creator and Ruler. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" God Himself demanded of Job. The answer to this question is why we can understand the existence of things by faith.

E.W. Bullinger has an additional thought on this verse that is worth considering. He takes this beyond creation, as the word translated "worlds" is literally aiones or "ages." Thus, the verse is literally stating that God framed or put into order the ages. Zodhiates agrees that aiones indicates ages or times, in contrast with kosmos, often translated as "world," which indicates people as a society. Bullinger shows that God, unseen and sovereign, is not only Creator, but also actively shapes events within the expanses of time. As Jesus says in John 5:17, God is always working, directing the movement of history to bring about His desired ends. Bullinger's approach is to be preferred as more appropriate to the entire epistle.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Three)


 

Hebrews 11:4  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

As the Bible records history, Abel is the first human to offer a sacrifice to God. The Bible gives no indication that he was following what was then popular among the children of Adam and Eve, nor that he was following "common sense," human reason, or his feelings. Undoubtedly, God had instructed Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and maybe others in His truth. Abel stands out because he offered by faith. He believed the specific instruction given to him, while neither Cain nor anybody else did. His motivation is what set Abel apart; he believed without twisting what God taught.

Recall that Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Faith in God must have a foundation, and listening is the means by which that foundation is formed. At this point, it is important to understand what Paul—and of course, God—mean by "faith." There are two general kinds of faith: "dead" and "living," as James terms them.

When James calls the one "dead," he is in no way saying that whoever has that faith is stupid. In fact, they may be quite intellectual—"smart," as we might say. He means that, in relation to God, they do not have living or active faith. We can illustrate the difference this way: Suppose two people receive exactly the same instruction from the Word of God; both have been informed as to what He requires. The difference between the person with dead faith and the one with living faith is that the latter is influenced to submit to what he has learned. The one with dead faith remains only informed.

Thus, the person with dead faith may enjoy using his biblical knowledge to discuss and even to argue for or against a given concept. However, it remains only information because the influences to submit and do something in relation to God are lacking. He cannot honestly be said to believe, even though the information he has may be quite extensive and true. By contrast, the person with living faith believes and submits, making active use of the godly information to change his life.

The person with dead faith hears outwardly; the person with living faith hears outwardly and inwardly and yields to it, believing it. This latter person also has what the Bible calls "the faith." Paul writes in Galatians 5:6 that this faith works by or through love. What is love? I John 5:3 declares, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." Love is obedience to God.

Thus, living faith is belief in God that keeps the commandments. Living faith produces growth. It is this faith that is in view throughout Hebrews 11. In the case of Abel, the Word of God that he heard is most likely what God spoke to Adam and Eve. Abel, in turn, heard it from them and believed it. Cain heard the same words and was merely informed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Three)


 

Hebrews 11:19  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What did Abraham do? The word "accounting" (KJV) or "concluding" (NKJV) tells us a great deal. In Greek, it is an accounting term. An accountant adds up figures. He puts them all in a ledger. He writes down all of the receipts in one column and all the expenditures in another. He adds each column to get their totals. Then, he has an accounting of his or his company's financial health. The numbers are evidence of his own or the company's state.

Abraham did this too, only instead of adding numbers, he added up evidence. His evidence came from the words that God told him: "You shall have a son." It took 25 years, but he did indeed have a son.

A number of years later, God said to him, "Abraham, I want you to go out and sacrifice your son." Abraham could have said, "Uh oh, there's evidence that I didn't count on." But, instead, Abraham left for Mount Moriah early the next morning. What evidence did he have to motivate him to do in faith what God commanded him to do? The Word of God. God had earlier told Abraham that the promise would come through his son, Isaac—not through Ishmael, not through any future son that he might have, but through Isaac, the promised son.

What did Abraham do with this evidence? He knew that there could be only two possible outcomes. If God required Abraham to put Isaac to death, then He would resurrect him, or if God was not going to require Abraham to kill Isaac, then God would give him a substitute sacrifice. Either way, Isaac would live. Abraham added up the evidence, and it produced the motivation to do what he had to do in faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 3)


 

 




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