DEFINITION OF THE
EXAMPLES FROM THE
1. 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, &c.--It substantiates promises of God which we hope
for, as future in fulfilment, making them present realities to us.
However, the Greek is translated in
"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
"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
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
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 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 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.
2. For--So high a description of faith is not undeserved; for
. . . [ALFORD].
by it--Greek, "in it": in respect to . . . in
the matter of," it, "or, as Greek more emphatically, "this."
the elders--as though still living and giving their powerful
testimony to the reasonableness and excellence of faith
Not merely the ancients, as though they were people solely of
the past; nay, they belong to the one and the same blessed family as
(Heb 11:39, 40).
"The elders," whom we all revere so highly. "Paul shows how we
ought to seek in all its fulness, under the veil of history, the
essential substance of the doctrine sometimes briefly indicated"
[BENGEL]. "The elders," as "the fathers," is a
title of honor given on the ground of their bright faith and practice.
obtained a good report--Greek, "were testified of,"
namely, favorably (compare
It is a phrase of Luke, Paul's companion. Not only men, but God, gave
testimony to their faith
(Heb 11:4, 5, 39).
Thus they being testified of themselves have become "witnesses" to all
The earlier elders had their patience exercised for a long period of
life: those later, in sharper afflictions. Many things which they hoped
for and did not see, subsequently came to pass and were conspicuously
seen, the event confirming faith [BENGEL].
3. we understand--We perceive with our spiritual intelligence
the fact of the world's creation by God, though we see neither Him nor
the act of creation as described in
The natural world could not, without revelation, teach us this truth,
though it confirms the truth when apprehended by faith
Adam is passed over in silence here as to his faith, perhaps as being
the first who fell and brought sin on us all; though it does not follow
that he did not repent and believe the promise.
worlds--literally, "ages"; all that exists in time and space,
visible and invisible, present and eternal.
framed--"fitly formed and consolidated"; including the creation
of the single parts and the harmonious organization of the whole, and
the continual providence which maintains the whole throughout all ages.
As creation is the foundation and a specimen of the whole divine
economy, so faith in creation is the foundation and a specimen of all
by the word of God--not here, the personal word
but the spoken word (Greek, "rhema"); though by
the instrumentality of the personal word
not made, &c.--Translate as Greek, "so that not out of
things which appear hath that which is seen been made"; not as in the
case of all things which we see reproduced from previously existing and
visible materials, as, for instance, the plant from the seed, the
animal from the parent, &c., has the visible world sprung into being
from apparent materials. So also it is implied in the first clause of
the verse that the invisible spiritual worlds were framed not from
previously existing materials. BENGEL explains it
by distinguishing "appear," that is, begin to be seen (namely,
at creation), from that which is seen as already in existence,
not merely beginning to be seen; so that the things seen were
not made of the things which appear," that is, which begin to be
seen by us in the act of creation. We were not spectators of
creation; it is by faith we perceive it.
4. more excellent sacrifice--because offered in faith.
Now faith must have some revelation of God on which it
fastens. The revelation in this case was doubtless God's command to
sacrifice animals ("the firstlings of the flock") in token of
the forfeiture of men's life by sin, and as a type of the promised
bruiser of the serpent's head
the one coming sacrifice: this command is implied in God's having made
coats of skin for Adam and Eve
for these skins must have been taken from animals slain in
sacrifice: inasmuch as it was not for food they were slain,
animal food not being permitted till after the flood; nor for mere
clothing, as, were it so, clothes might have been made of the
fleeces without the needless cruelty of killing the animal; but a coat
of skin put on Adam from a sacrificed animal typified the covering or
atonement (the Hebrew for atone means to cover)
resulting from Christ's sacrifice. The Greek is more literally
rendered [KENNICOTT] by WYCLIFFE, "a much more sacrifice"; and by Queen
Elizabeth's version "a greater sacrifice." A fuller, more ample
sacrifice, that which partook more largely and essentially of the true
nature and virtue of sacrifice [ARCHBISHOP MAGEE]. It was not any intrinsic merit in "the firstling
of the flock" above "the fruit of the ground." It was God's appointment
that gave it all its excellency as a sacrifice; if it had not been so,
it would have been a presumptuous act of will-worship
and taking of a life which man had no right over before the flood
The sacrifice seems to have been a holocaust, and the sign of the
divine acceptance of it was probably the consumption of it by fire from
Hence, "to accept" a burnt sacrifice is in Hebrew "to turn it to
Margin). A flame seems to have issued from the Shekinah, or
flaming cherubim, east of Eden ("the presence of the Lord,"
where the first sacrifices were offered. Cain, in unbelieving
self-righteousness, presented merely a thank offering, not like
Abel feeling his need of the propitiatory sacrifice appointed on
account of sin. God "had respect (first) unto Abel, and (then) to his
Faith causes the believer's person to be accepted, and then his
offering. Even an animal sacrifice, though of God's appointment, would
not have been accepted, had it not been offered in faith.
he obtained witness--God by fire attesting His acceptance
of him as "righteous by faith."
his gifts--the common term for sacrifices, implying that
they must be freely given.
by it--by faith exhibited in his animal sacrifice.
dead, yet speaketh--His blood crying front the ground to
God, shows how precious, because of his "faith," he was still in
God's sight, even when dead. So he becomes a witness to us of the
blessed effects of faith.
5. Faith was the ground of his pleasing God; and
his pleasing God was the ground of his translation.
(Ge 5:22, 24).
Implying a sudden removal
(the same Greek as in
from mortality without death to immortality: such a
CHANGE as shall pass over the living at Christ's
(1Co 15:51, 52).
had this testimony--namely of Scripture; the Greek
perfect implies that this testimony continues still: "he has
been testified of."
pleased God--The Scripture testimony virtually expresses that he
pleased God, namely, "Enoch walked with God." The
Septuagint translates the Hebrew for "walked with God,"
6. without--Greek, "apart from faith": if one be
destitute of faith (compare
to please--Translate, as ALFORD does, the
Greek aorist, "It is impossible to please God at all"
Natural amiabilities and "works done before the grace of Christ are not
pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ;
yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed them to be
done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin" [Article XIII,
Book of Common Prayer]. Works not rooted in God are splendid
he that cometh to God--as a worshipper
must believe--once for all: Greek aorist tense.
that God is--is the true self-existing Jehovah (as contrasted
with all so-called gods, not gods,
the source of all being, though he sees Him not
as being "invisible"
So Enoch; this passage implies that he had not been favored with
visible appearances of God, yet he believed in GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH