Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων.
Now faith is the substance of hoping; the proof of things not being seen.
Paraphrase: Now let’s take a closer look at what faith is. We have been saying that we only can enter into God’s rest when we have faith in the good news preached to us (Hebrews 4:2), that we are not to be lazy but are to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12), that we are to draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:22), that the righteous live by faith (Hebrews 10:38), and that we are not of those who shrink back to destruction but of those who have faith to the preserving of our souls. (Hebrews 10:39) Well then, what is this faith which is so critical in our life and walk with God? The first thing we can say is that faith takes the things that we hope for and makes them real in our minds. By faith, things that are future to us and the things we are longing for and expecting, become present. We can begin to enjoy them almost as if we had them in possession. In the same way, our faith is a solid conviction that the invisible realities of our religion really do exist, and we experience the power of these realities even though they are invisible to us.
Note the peculiar position of εστιν.
Westcott says that πίστις is anarthrous because it is referring to faith in its abstract conception and not specially the Christian faith. source
Owen says that faith gives those things hoped for, a real existence in our minds. He writes:
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. source
ἐν ταύτῃ γὰρ ἐμαρτυρήθησαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι.
For by this,
Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι Θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων, τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι.
Πίστει πλείονα θυσίαν Ἅβελ παρὰ Κάϊν προσήνεγκεν τῷ Θεῷ, δι’ ἧς ἐμαρτυρήθη εἶναι δίκαιος, μαρτυροῦντος ἐπὶ τοῖς δώροις αὐτοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ· καὶ δι’ αὐτῆς, ἀποθανὼν, ἔτι λαλεῖ.
Πίστει Ἑνὼχ μετετέθη, τοῦ μὴ ἰδεῖν θάνατον· καὶ οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο, διότι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ Θεός. πρὸ γὰρ τῆς μεταθέσεως, μεμαρτύρηται εὐαρεστηκέναι τῷ Θεῷ.
χωρὶς δὲ πίστεως, ἀδύνατον εὐαρεστῆσαι. πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ τὸν προσερχόμενον τῷ Θεῷ, ὅτι ἔστιν, καὶ τοῖς ἐκζητοῦσιν αὐτὸν, μισθαποδότης γίνεται.
Πίστει χρηματισθεὶς Νῶε περὶ τῶν μηδέπω βλεπομένων, εὐλαβηθεὶς, κατεσκεύασεν κιβωτὸν εἰς σωτηρίαν τοῦ οἴκου αὐτοῦ, δι’ ἧς κατέκρινεν τὸν κόσμον, καὶ τῆς κατὰ πίστιν δικαιοσύνης, ἐγένετο κληρονόμος.
Πίστει καλούμενος, Ἀβραὰμ ὑπήκουσεν ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τόπον ὃν ἤμελλεν λαμβάνειν εἰς κληρονομίαν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν, μὴ ἐπιστάμενος ποῦ ἔρχεται.
By faith, being called, Abram obeyed to depart into a place which he was about to receive for an inheritance, and he departed, not knowing where he was going.
Paraphrase: Now let’s see the triumph of faith in the life of Abram. Abram received a call which must have sounded so unreasonable. (Genesis 12:1) God told him to pack up his family and to start traveling to a new home; and where was this new home? God didn’t tell him. That’s right; he had no idea where he was going. Now how did Abram respond to this call? We read very simply that Abram gathered up his things and set out just as YHWH had instructed him to do. (Genesis 12:4) How could he do this? To us it seems so irrational and even reckless. Well here is where faith comes in. What we reckon to be reckless and poorly planned, Abram reckons as the very best and wisest course of action. The reason is simple; where God calls, faith obeys. Faith has an implicit trust that God’s call is always the best course of action for anyone to take. (Romans 8:28) God promised to give Abram a plot of land as his inheritance; and when Abram hears this call and promise, he gets up and obeys even though he had no idea what the destination was.
Πίστει παρῴκησεν εἰς γῆν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ὡς ἀλλοτρίαν, ἐν σκηναῖς κατοικήσας μετὰ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακὼβ, τῶν συνκληρονόμων τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῆς αὐτῆς.
By faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow-heirs of the same promise.
Paraphrase: When he actually did arrive in the land which God had promised him, he was still just a resident alien. It was as though he were living in a foreign country even though God had given him the full title to this property. This is clear because he and his sons lived in tents, even though the promise applied to each of them. The only property they really owned was a cemetery plot. (Genesis 23:4)
For αὐτῆς, see BBG 12.11.
Owen surmises that Jacob would have been 16-18 yrs old when Abraham died. “Yet,” writes Owen,
there is no need to confine it unto the same time; the sameness of condition only seems to be intended. For as Abraham was a sojourner in the land of Canaan, without any inheritance or possession, living in tents, so was it also with Isaac and Jacob, and with them alone. Jacob was the last of his posterity who lived as a sojourner in Canaan; all those after him lived in Egypt, and came not into Canaan until they took possession of it for themselves. source
ἐξεδέχετο γὰρ τὴν τοὺς θεμελίους ἔχουσαν πόλιν, ἧς τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς ὁ Θεός.
For he was looking for a city which had foundations, whose architect and builder was God.
Paraphrase: Now why was Abram willing to live in such a way when God had promised him this land? Why didn’t he demand to take immediate possession of this land which God had promised him? The reason is this; he was looking for a different kind of city. The inheritance which God had promised him was not just an earthly, physical city. Abram was looking for a city that was permanent, a city where the homes and buildings were built on solid, permanent foundations. He was tired of living in tents as he had lived most of his life. He was earnestly seeking a city which had been designed and built by God Himself.
θεμελίους is plural here; see Stuart.
Πίστει καὶ, αὐτῇ Σάρρᾳ [στεῖρα], δύναμιν εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβεν, καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας, ἐπεὶ πιστὸν ἡγήσατο τὸν ἐπαγγειλάμενον.
διὸ καὶ ἀφ’ ἑνὸς ἐγεννήθησαν, καὶ ταῦτα νενεκρωμένου, καθὼς τὰ ἄστρα τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τῷ πλήθει, καὶ ὡς ἡ ἄμμος ἡ παρὰ τὸ χεῖλος τῆς θαλάσσης ἡ ἀναρίθμητος.
Κατὰ πίστιν ἀπέθανον οὗτοι πάντες, μὴ λαβόντες τὰς ἐπαγγελίας, ἀλλὰ πόρρωθεν αὐτὰς ἰδόντες, καὶ ἀσπασάμενοι, καὶ ὁμολογήσαντες ὅτι ξένοι καὶ παρεπίδημοί εἰσιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.
According to faith, these all died, not receiving the promises but seeing them from a distance and welcoming and confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Paraphrase: Now consider all the lives of these saints. They lived and died under the promise of God. I mean by this that this promise was the driving factor of their life. They were people of faith, and their faith was holding on to God’s promise. So strong was this faith, that they rejoiced in God’s promise even when they did not receive the promise immediately. Some even came to the end of their life and died without having received the very thing which God had promised them. Nevertheless, their eye was so fixed on God’s word of promise that they appeared to other people to be just pilgrims passing through or as if they were people living in a foreign land.
οἱ γὰρ τοιαῦτα λέγοντες ἐμφανίζουσιν ὅτι πατρίδα ἐπιζητοῦσιν.
καὶ εἰ μὲν ἐκείνης ἐμνημόνευον ἀφ’ ἧς ἐξέβησαν, εἶχον ἂν καιρὸν ἀνακάμψαι.
νῦν δὲ κρείττονος ὀρέγονται, τοῦτ’ ἔστιν, ἐπουρανίου. διὸ οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται αὐτοὺς ὁ Θεὸς, Θεὸς ἐπικαλεῖσθαι αὐτῶν· ἡτοίμασεν γὰρ αὐτοῖς πόλιν.
Πίστει προσενήνοχεν Ἀβραὰμ τὸν Ἰσαὰκ. πειραζόμενος, καὶ τὸν μονογενῆ προσέφερεν ὁ τὰς ἐπαγγελίας ἀναδεξάμενος,
πρὸς ὃν ἐλαλήθη ὅτι, Ἐν Ἰσαὰκ κληθήσεταί σοι σπέρμα,
λογισάμενος ὅτι καὶ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγείρειν, δυνατὸς ὁ Θεός, ὅθεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐν παραβολῇ, ἐκομίσατο.
Πίστει καὶ περὶ μελλόντων, εὐλόγησεν Ἰσαὰκ τὸν Ἰακὼβ καὶ τὸν Ἠσαῦ.
Πίστει Ἰακὼβ, ἀποθνῄσκων, ἕκαστον τῶν υἱῶν Ἰωσὴφ εὐλόγησεν, καὶ προσεκύνησεν ἐπὶ τὸ ἄκρον τῆς ῥάβδου αὐτοῦ.
Πίστει Ἰωσὴφ, τελευτῶν, περὶ τῆς ἐξόδου τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραὴλ ἐμνημόνευσεν, καὶ περὶ τῶν ὀστέων αὐτοῦ ἐνετείλατο.
Πίστει Μωϋσῆς, γεννηθεὶς, ἐκρύβη τρίμηνον ὑπὸ τῶν πατέρων αὐτοῦ, διότι εἶδον ἀστεῖον τὸ παιδίον, καὶ οὐκ ἐφοβήθησαν τὸ διάταγμα τοῦ βασιλέως.
By faith, Moses, being born, was hidden three months by his father because they saw a beautiful child and they were not afraid of the law of the king.
Paraphrase: It was also by faith that Moses ever even reached his adult years. Recall that the king had commanded every male, Hebrew infant to be cast into the Nile river. As soon as Moses was born, however, his parents saw that he was a special child. Because they feared God mora than man (Matt 10:28), they heaped contempt on the king’s law and saved Moses’ life by hiding him from the Egyptian abortionists.
Πίστει Μωϋσῆς, μέγας γενόμενος, ἠρνήσατο λέγεσθαι υἱὸς θυγατρὸς Φαραώ,
By faith Moses, being great, denied to be said a son of the daughter of Pharaoh.
Paraphrase: It was also by faith that Moses, having grown to adulthood, had the strength of his convictions to turn down the offer to become the adopted son of none other than the daughter of Pharaoh herself. By denying this offer, Moses surrendered all rights to become a person of power and influence in Egypt, perhaps even to become Pharaoh himself.
μᾶλλον ἑλόμενος συνκακουχεῖσθαι τῷ λαῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἢ πρόσκαιρον ἔχειν ἁμαρτίας ἀπόλαυσιν,
preferring rather to suffer hardship with the people of God than to have the transient enjoyment of sins.
Paraphrase: What did faith do for Moses when he faced this stunning offer? It gave him a new vision. Faith gave him to see that it was far better to suffer hardship and reproach with God’s people, than to enjoy the pleasure that comes from committing all kinds of sin. Here is why. Suffering with God’s people brings real and lasting pleasure; indulging ones self in a life of sin brings only a temporary and fleeting pleasure. Apart from this vision which faith gives, no one would ever be able to see this. Living in the lap of luxury in Pharaoh’s palace was a miserable existence for someone who knows the higher joy of a life lived in communion with God.
μείζονα πλοῦτον ἡγησάμενος τῶν Αἰγύπτου θησαυρῶν τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ· ἀπέβλεπεν γὰρ εἰς τὴν μισθαποδοσίαν.
Πίστει κατέλιπεν Αἴγυπτον, μὴ φοβηθεὶς τὸν θυμὸν τοῦ βασιλέως· τὸν γὰρ ἀόρατον ὡς ὁρῶν, ἐκαρτέρησεν.
Πίστει πεποίηκεν τὸ πάσχα καὶ τὴν πρόσχυσιν τοῦ αἵματος, ἵνα μὴ ὁ ὀλοθρεύων τὰ πρωτότοκα θίγῃ αὐτῶν.
Heb 11:29 Πίστει διέβησαν τὴν Ἐρυθρὰν Θάλασσαν, ὡς διὰ ξηρᾶς γῆς, ἧς πεῖραν λαβόντες, οἱ Αἰγύπτιοι κατεπόθησαν.
Heb 11:30 Πίστει τὰ τείχη Ἰεριχὼ ἔπεσαν, κυκλωθέντα ἐπὶ ἑπτὰ ἡμέρας.
Heb 11:31 Πίστει Ῥαὰβ ἡ πόρνη οὐ συναπώλετο τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν, δεξαμένη τοὺς κατασκόπους μετ’ εἰρήνης.
Heb 11:32 Καὶ τί ἔτι λέγω; ἐπιλείψει με γὰρ διηγούμενον ὁ χρόνος, περὶ Γεδεών, Βαράκ, Σαμψών, Ἰεφθάε, Δαυίδ τε, καὶ Σαμουὴλ, καὶ τῶν προφητῶν,
Heb 11:33 οἳ διὰ πίστεως κατηγωνίσαντο βασιλείας, εἰργάσαντο* δικαιοσύνην, ἐπέτυχον ἐπαγγελιῶν· ἔφραξαν στόματα λεόντων,
Heb 11:34 ἔσβεσαν δύναμιν πυρός, ἔφυγον στόματα μαχαίρης· ἐδυναμώθησαν ἀπὸ ἀσθενείας, ἐγενήθησαν ἰσχυροὶ ἐν πολέμῳ, παρεμβολὰς ἔκλιναν ἀλλοτρίων.
Heb 11:35 Ἔλαβον γυναῖκες ἐξ ἀναστάσεως τοὺς νεκροὺς αὐτῶν· ἄλλοι δὲ ἐτυμπανίσθησαν, οὐ προσδεξάμενοι τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν, ἵνα κρείττονος ἀναστάσεως τύχωσιν.
Heb 11:36 ἕτεροι δὲ ἐμπαιγμῶν καὶ μαστίγων, πεῖραν ἔλαβον· ἔτι, δὲ δεσμῶν καὶ φυλακῆς.
Heb 11:37 Ἐλιθάσθησαν, ἐπρίσθησαν, ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρης ἀπέθανον· περιῆλθον ἐν μηλωταῖς, ἐν αἰγείοις δέρμασιν, ὑστερούμενοι, θλιβόμενοι, κακουχούμενοι·
Heb 11:38 ὧν οὐκ ἦν ἄξιος ὁ κόσμος· ἐπὶ ἐρημίαις πλανώμενοι, καὶ ὄρεσιν, καὶ σπηλαίοις, καὶ ταῖς ὀπαῖς τῆς γῆς.
Heb 11:39 Καὶ οὗτοι πάντες, μαρτυρηθέντες διὰ τῆς πίστεως, οὐκ ἐκομίσαντο τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν,
Heb 11:40 τοῦ Θεοῦ περὶ ἡμῶν κρεῖττόν τι προβλεψαμένου, ἵνα μὴ χωρὶς ἡμῶν τελειωθῶσιν.