The Literal Version of the Bible
“But the just shall live by faith;” “and if he draws back,” “My soul is not pleased in him.” But we are not of those withdrawing to destruction, but of faith, to the preservation of the soul.
Now faith is the essence of things being hoped, the evidence of things not having been seen. For by this the elders obtained witness. By faith we understand the ages to have been framed by the Word of God, so that the things seen should not come into being out of things that appear.Hebrews 10:38-11-3
The New Living Translation
“My righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.Hebrews 10:38-11-3
The Message Version
But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.Hebrews 10:38-11-3
You know already from what I have written in previous Gems that the flow of thought is connected from Chapter 10 to Chapter 11. The author of Hebrews was reminding us all that we need to continue to demonstrate our faithfulness to God by continuing to trust Him, to take Him at His Word and continuing to trust all that we have been taught and all the writer has explained to this point. The author has given us an introductory statement about faith but is it meant to be a definition of what Faith is? I don’t think so. The commentators go into great discussion at this point as to whether this is a formal definition of faith or not. They debate whether the “assurance of faith” is subjectively ‘confidence‘ or ‘assurance‘. They debate whether it is objectively ‘assured confidence‘ – “a state of mind which results in objects of hope as substantial as if they are actually possessed.” This kind of thinking gets so fuzzy it is hard to understand what is actually being said. So I have given you the three kinds of Bible versions above to help you get your head around what the writer of the letter actually wrote.
- A Literal Version
- A Dynamic Equivalence Version
- A Free Translation
I am not going to bother trying to unravel the ideas of the commentators. Rather I suggest the writer of the letter is merely giving us an introductory statement to make clear what he is going to do. He has told us what is in store if we aren’t faithful to the things we have been taught about Christ and what He has done for us. He (the author) encouraged those in his day to hang on to their trust in Christ and His teaching and be faithful to the end. That same teaching applies to us these days. He now takes the noun [pistis] ‘faith’ and explains what it means to be faithful. Being faithful or full of faith is put into action by doing faith – by trusting or believing in all you have heard and putting it into action – the verb [pisteuō] to believe or trust what the Bible has told you. The writer of Hebrews uses the noun [pistis] “faith” while John uses the verb [pisteuō] “believe” or “trust” what you have heard is true.
These [things] are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.John 20:31
John used the whole of his Gospel (these things) to show you what believing means while the writer of Hebrews shows you what faith is by giving you examples of faith from the lives of the ones written about in the Bible who demonstrated faith. I still remember what my first mentor told me about faith.
I could give you a definition of faith or I can give you examples of faith to show you what it means. The best way to help you understand what faith is, is to demonstrate the faith principle from my own life and mentor you as you begin to take faith steps in your own life.Reg Ackland
There, that’s it. That’s what the writer of Hebrews was doing in this part of his letter. He has warned the Jewish Christians of the First Century not to shrink back from continuing to trust God as they have been doing. The best way he found to do that was to list the examples of faith demonstrated by the faithful ones of old.
He began with the fact that the first stepping off point is to trust that God’s Word is true and that the world was indeed spoken into being by Him. We can’t prove scientifically the early statements of Creation found in Genesis, neither can the theory of evolution; both have to accept their belief by faith. We can’t go back in time to test it. Both the believer in evolution and the believer in Christ must begin from the position of faith. But God’s Word tells us to test Him in this belief and see for yourself whether it is true or not.
That is what the writer now does by gathering examples of faith together from the lives of those who demonstrated faith or faithfulness to the Word of God. I now intend to work my way through the examples the writer gave us of those who were faithful or demonstrated faith one by one. Much like I did for the people Paul listed in the final chapter of Romans in the Gem series The Names in Romans 16 which begin with Gem 274. Let’s investigate together what it means to:
- be faithful to the teachings of Christ
- have faith
- take Jesus at His Word and to trust Him.
You don’t need faith for what you can see or have already attained; you need it when life makes no sense.Bob Gass
When we walk by faith He gets the glory, because we know we couldn’t have done it ourselves.Ian
Every time your faith is put on trial, your character is placed on the witness stand.A R Bernard
Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.Rabindranath Tagore