Hebrews 11 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Hebrews 11)
11:1 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.

11:2 2 For by it the a elders obtained a good report.

(2) He shows that the fathers ought to be accounted of by this virtue.
(a) That is, those fathers from whom we came: and whose authority and example ought to move us very much.

11:3 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are b seen were not made of things which do appear.

(3) He shows the property of faith, by setting before us most cautious examples of those who from the beginning of the world excelled in the Church.
(b) So that the world which we see, was not made from any matter that appeared or was before, but from nothing.

11:4 4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

(4) Abel.

11:5 5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not c see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

(5) Enoch.
(c) That he should not die.

11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a d rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

(d) This reward is not referred to our merits, but to the free promise, as Paul teaches in Abraham the father of all the faithful, (Romans 4:4).

11:7 6 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

(6) Noah.

11:8 7 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

(7) Abraham and Sarah.

11:10 For he looked for a city which hath e foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.

(e) This foundation is contrasted with their tabernacle.

11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as f dead, [so many] as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

(f) As unlikely to bear children, as if he had been dead.

11:13 These all died in g faith, not having received the h promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and i embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

(g) In faith, which they had while they lived, and followed, them even to their grave.
(h) This is the figure metonymy, for the things promised.
(i) For the patriarchs were given to profess their religion by building an altar and calling on the name of the Lord when they received the promises.

11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was k tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the l promises offered up his only begotten [son],

(k) Tried by the Lord.
(l) Although the promises of life were made in that only begotten son Isaac, yet he appointed him to die; and so against hope he believed in hope.

11:19 Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from m whence also he received him in n a figure.

(m) From which death.
(n) For there was not the true and very death of Isaac, but as it were the death, by means of which he seemed also to have risen again.

11:20 8 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

(8) Isaac.

11:21 9 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, [leaning] upon the top of his staff.

(9) Jacob.

11:22 10 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

(10) Joseph.

11:23 11 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw [he was] a proper child; and they were not o afraid of the king's commandment.

(11) Moses.

11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the p pleasures of sin for a season;

(p) Such pleasures as he could not enjoy, unless he provoked God's wrath against him.

11:29 12 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry [land]: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

(12) The Red Sea.

11:30 13 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

(13) Jericho.

11:31 14 By faith the q harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the r spies with peace.

(14) Rahab.
(q) A notable example of God's goodness.
(r) Courteously and friendly, so that not only did she not hurt them, but also kept them safe.

11:32 15 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets:

(15) Gideon, Barak and other judges and prophets.

11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained s promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

(s) The fruit of the promises.

11:35 t Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were u tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

(t) He seems to mean the story of that woman of Sarepta, whose son Elijah raised again from the dead, and the Shunammite, whose son Elisha restored to his mother.
(u) He means that perfection which Antiochus wrought.

11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in x sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

(x) In vile and rough clothing, so were the saints brought to extreme poverty, and constrained to live like beasts in the wilderness.

11:39 16 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received y not the promise:

(16) An amplification taken from the circumstance of the time: their faith is so much the more to be marvelled at, by how much the promises of things to come were more dark, yet at length were indeed exhibited to us, so that their faith and ours is as one, as is also their consecration and ours.
(y) But saw Christ afar off.

11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they z without us should not be made perfect.

(z) For their salvation depended on Christ, who was exhibited in our days.