The Faith of the Elders.
Remarkable Examples of Ancient Faith.
All Seeking for a Better Country.
The Victories of Faith.
The Sufferings Endured by Faith.
Christians Exhorted to Follow These Glorious Examples.
1-3. Faith is the substance. The old meaning of substance, as
well as of Hupostasis, the Greek word here used, is
"stand under," that is to be a foundation. Faith is the foundation on
which all our hopes for the future are built.
The evidence. Rather, the conviction or persuasion of things not
seen. Without faith we would be limited to the very narrow world
comprehended by the senses.
2. For by it the elders, etc. The ancient men of God, through
faith, so lived, that they have obtained a good name.
3. Through faith we understand, etc. The creation of the world
is among "the things not seen," and all our knowledge of it rests upon
our faith in the word of God. Indeed, our knowledge of all past
history depends upon faith.
4-7. Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.
See the account of
Abel's faith was probably shown in offering just such a sacrifice as
the Lord demanded, while Cain made an offering according to his own
Obtained witness. In some way the Lord testified his approval of
Abel's sacrifice, and showed his disapproval of Cain's, perhaps by
sending fire to consume Abel's.
By it. By his faith. His faith speaks to all ages.
5. By faith Enoch was translated. See
Gen. 5:24; also Jude 14.
His faithfulness was rewarded by a translation to heaven without first
becoming a victim of death.
Had this testimony. The testimony is that he "walked with God,"
and God took him, because he was pleased with him.
6. But without faith it is impossible, etc. Man cannot please
God without because in unbelief he cannot do what is pleasing to God.
To please God we must come to him in the appointed ways, but this
cannot be done without belief in his existence and trust in his
7. By faith Noah. See
When he was divinely warned of a coming deluge he believed it, simply
upon the word of God. Now observe how his faith acted. (1) He was moved
by fear; (2) he prepared the ark as God had directed. His faith moved
him to obedience.
Condemned the world. The example of his faith was a rebuke to
all who were not moved by it. The man who gives heed to God by his
conduct condemns those who refuse to heed him.
Became heir. It was by the obedience of faith
that he became an heir of the blessings vouchsafed to those who are
counted righteous through faith. See
8-12. By faith Abraham. See
Gen. 11:31; 12:1-4.
While in Ur of the Chaldees he was commanded to go where he should be
led. In obedience to this call he obeyed through faith, a striking
example of the action of faith.
9. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise. He was a
stranger in the land promised to him and his seed, dwelling as did
Isaac and Jacob, in tents, yet trusting the promise of God.
Heirs . . . of the same promise. See
Gen. 26:3, 4; 27:4, 13, 14.
10. For he looked for a city which hath foundations. Not only
for a permanent home for his seed in Canaan, but for a home above in
the eternal city, the New Jerusalem.
Builder and maker. Architect and maker. God not only projected
the plans of the eternal city but has executed them.
11. Faith also Sarah. See
18:11-14; 21:1, 2.
Far beyond the years of child bearing, yet by faith she was give
natural strength to bear the child of promise. She was about ninety
12. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead.
From an old man, a hundred years old, whose reproductive powers were
dead, a people.
As the stars of the sky in multitude. See
These figures are used to express a vast multitude.
13-16. These all died in faith. All the patriarchs named. They
died without the fulfillment of the promises, either those of a
temporal possession or of an innumerable seed.
Having seen them afar off. They beheld them in the future by
Confessed. By their whole lives that they were pilgrims. They
had no fixed home and were waiting for a country.
14. They that say such things. Who confess that they are
Seek a country. This confession shows that they are seeking a
somewhere and have not yet found it.
15. If they had been mindful, etc. They could have returned to
their old home in Ur of the Chaldees, if they had chosen, but though
homeless in a strange land they had faith in a future home.
16. Desire a better country. They desired a country better than
Chaldea, better even than Canaan. They had a faith which looked for a
17-19. Abraham, when he was tried. See
Offered up his only begotten son. Abraham stands as the great
Old Testament example of faith, "the Father of the faithful," the man
"whose faith was counted for righteousness."
Hence his faith was tried by the sternest test of any Man of God on
record, not that God might be certain of his faith, but that all his
spiritual children should profit by his example. Note: (1) Isaac was
the only child of his marriage; (2) he was the child of promise and by
grace; (3) he was the heir, not only of Abraham but of all God's
promises to Abraham. Yet Abraham was told to offer him. It was God's
command. What a trial of faith! Yet, he believed, though he would not
see how, that God would keep his promises, and that in "Isaac his seed
should be called,"
even though God raised him from the dead. Hence in faith he obeyed, and
his faith was gloriously rewarded. The lesson for us is implicit
obedience to God's command and trust in his promises. Nothing less is a
demonstration of faith.
19. Received him in a figure. As one who in his mind had been
sacrificed. It was from the altar of sacrifice that he received him
20-22. By faith Isaac blessed, etc. See
Gen. 27:26-40; 28:2, 3.
In the blessing there are prophecies of their future history.
21. By faith Jacob, when he was dying. See
In his blessing he foresaw that both Ephraim and Manasseh would be
tribes of Israel, and that the younger would be the ancestor of the
Leaning upon the top of his staff
The Hebrew word
as originally written may mean either staff or bed, that on which
one rests. In our English version of Genesis "bed" has been preferred.
The Septuagint, followed here, says "staff." It means that the
sick old man raised from his couch and leaned his weight on his staff
while conferring the blessing.
22. By faith Joseph. See
Gen. 50:24, 25.
By faith he looked forward to the children of Israel going up to Canaan
for a home, and charged that his body should be carried up. This charge
was faithfully fulfilled. See
23-27. By faith Moses. See
Exod. 2:2; Acts 7:20.
Through faith in God the parents were led to disobey the king's cruel
edict, and to hide the child.
A proper child. A promising 
24. Moses . . . refused to be called, etc. He had
faith in God's promises, and hence forsook his honored position, for
the sake of his people.
25. Choosing rather. There were honor, wealth and pleasure in
the palace, but affliction with the enslaved nation. He chose the
latter by faith.
For a season. The pleasures of sin are transient.
26. Esteeming the reproach of Christ. Any reproach endured
through faith in the promises of which Christ was the center and sum,
was called the reproach of Christ. This reproach, though men might
shrink from it, was really of more value permanently than
the treasures of Egypt, because he looked forward to the
recompense, the heavenly blessings.
27. By faith he forsook Egypt. The Exodus was all an achievement
of faith. It was faith that made Moses disdain the king's wrath.
He endured, as seeing him who is invisible. The unseen God was
present with him by faith and his support gave strength to endure
28-31. Through faith he kept the passover
He kept it because God commanded and he believed all God promised.
The sprinkling of blood. The blood of the lamb sprinkled on the
door posts. He not only believed that this would protect Israel's first
born, but his faith went beyond the type to the Lamb of God.
29. By faith they passed through the Red Sea. See
In obedience to God's command they marched into the sea and "were
baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea"
(1 Cor. 10:1, 2).
30. By faith the walls of Jericho fell. See
31. By faith the harlot Rahab. See
32-38. What shall we more say? All these cases are examples of
heroic deeds and holy lives of faith. And the Scriptures are full of
them; of such examples as
of David also
(1 Sam. 16:1);
(1 Sam. 1:20);
The prophets. Many of these were illustrious examples of the power
of faith. 
33. Who through faith subdued kingdoms. Some of those named
subdued kingdoms, as Barak, Gideon, David.
Obtained promises. Promises were made to many of the worthies
Stopped the mouths of lions. The case of Daniel is the most
34. Quenched the violence of fire. See the case of "the Hebrew
Escaped the edge of the sword. See
1 Sam. 18:10, 11.
35. Women received their dead raised to life again. The widow of
(1 Kings 17:17-24)
and the Shunammite
(2 Kings 4:18-37)
Others were tortured. This was especially true in the terrible
persecutions recorded in the Book of Maccabees.
A better resurrection. They preferred to suffer in hope of the
resurrection to eternal life.
36. Others had trial of, etc. This was true of many persecutions
recorded in Jewish history.
37. They were stoned. See
1 Kings 21:10-15; 2 Chron. 24:21.
Sawn asunder. The Talmud says that this was Isaiah's fate.
38. Of whom the world was not worthy. When it rejects the good
it shows its unworthiness.
They wandered in deserts. To hide from persecutors.
39, 40. And these all, having obtained a good report through
faith. By the power of faith they lived holy and heroic lives, but
all died without having seen the fulfillment of the promise of a
40. God having provided some better thing for us. The new and
better covenant, the gospel, the realization of the promise made to
That they without us should not be made perfect. That they and
we together might be made complete in the city whose builder and maker
is God. The full fruition, the being made complete (perfect) belongs to
the heavenly state. All these ancient heroes, who died not having
received the promise, need the realization of the promise in Christ to
make them perfect; by that promise we also are saved.