Amplified: Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: It was by faith that Sarah, too, received power to conceive and to bear a son, although she was beyond the age for it, for she believed that he who gave the promise could be absolutely relied upon. (Westminster Press)
NLT: It was by faith that Sarah together with Abraham was able to have a child, even though they were too old and Sarah was barren. Abraham believed that God would keep his promise. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It was by faith that even Sarah gained the physical vitality to become a mother despite her great age, and she gave birth to a child when far beyond the normal years of child-bearing. She could do this because she believed that the one who had given the promise was utterly trustworthy. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: By faith Sarah herself also received power as regards the deposition of seed, and that when she was past age, because she considered Him faithful who promised. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: By faith also Sarah herself did receive power to conceive seed, and she bare after the time of life, seeing she did judge Him faithful who did promise;
BY FAITH EVEN SARAH HERSELF RECEIVED ABILITY TO CONCEIVE: Pistei kai aute Sarra steira dunamin eis katabolen spermatos elaben (3SAAI): (Ge 17:17, 18, 19; 18:11, 12, 13, 14; 21:1,2; Lk 1:36; 1Pe 3:5,6)
Faith (4102)(pistis) is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth of anything, but in Scripture speaks of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. As pistis relates to God, it is the conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things well as the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. As faith relates to Christ it represents a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Stated another way, eternal salvation comes only through belief in Jesus Christ and no other way.
For more discussion on the meaning of faith see commentary on Hebrews 11:1-2.
Faith is believing that God will keep His promises, despite circumstances that seem to be to the contrary! True faith that saves one's soul includes at least three main elements - (1) firm persuasion or firm conviction, (2) a surrender to that truth and (3) a conduct emanating from that surrender. In sum, faith shows itself genuine by a changed life. (Click for W E Vine's definition of faith)
Spurgeon on Sarah's faith - this holy woman is enrolled among these saintly ones. Her faith was not all it ought to have been, but God saw that it was true faith, and He loved it, and He wrote the record of it.
Conceive (2602) (katabole from kataballo = to throw down from kata = down + ballo = throw, cast) is literally a casting down or laying down. The original idea was the laying down of the foundation of a house.
Katabole is translated “to conceive,” which in reality means Abraham’s discharge or seed. It is used in the pass. because the seed was received by Sarah. Her conception was not only due to the natural process, but also to faith that the placement of Abraham’s seed in her would, in spite of her advanced age, result in the birth of a child according to the promise given to Abraham.
Katabole was a technical term for putting seed into the ground, it is also used of the role of the male in impregnating the female and there is one such use in Hebrews 11:11-note, referring to the casting in or sowing of seed, conveying the idea of begetting.
Wuest - The word katabole means originally “a throwing down,” hence, here the depositing of the male seed in the womb. The sentence may be explained either, “received strength as regards the deposition of seed,” to fructify it, or, “received strength for the foundation of a posterity.”
TDNT adds that katabole meant “laying down” is used for, e.g., the casting of seed, human begetting, the sowing of war, and the establishment of government.
Ten of the 11 NT uses of katabole (there are no uses in the LXX) are in the phrase "foundation of the world". Here are the uses in Hebrews...
EVEN BEYOND THE PROPER TIME OF LIFE: kai para kairon elikias:
Proper time (2540)(kairos [word study]) means a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology. It means a moment or period as especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time (at the right time).
Kairos can refer to a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for or a strategic point in time. Kairos speaks of a limited period of time, with the added notion of suitableness ("the suitable time", "the right moment", "the convenient time"). Kairos refers to a distinct, fixed time period, rather than occasional moments.
Kairos is not so much a succession of minutes (Greek chronos 5550), but a period of opportunity. In other words, kairos defines the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable, the psychologically "ripe" moment.
At 90 (Genesis 17:17), Sarah was long past the proper time or season for child-bearing and in fact had never been able to conceive. God enabled her, however, because of her faith in His promise
SINCE SHE CONSIDERED HIM FAITHFUL WHO HAD PROMISED: epei piston egesato (3SAMI) ton epaggeilamenon (AMPMSA): (He 10:23; Ro 4:20,21)
Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
Spurgeon on considered Him faithful - And that was good judgment, was it not? There is no mistake about that. Whatever difficulties may lie in the way, we may always know that he is faithful who has promised. You are not past age, my brother. God will bless you in seeking to do good. You are not past age, my sister. Have faith in God, and then in your old age you may bring many to the Savior’s feet. He is faithful who has promised.
Faithful (4103) (pistos from peitho = to persuade - induce one by words to believe, have confidence) is something or someone who is worthy of faith or keeps promises and is applied to God, humans, His Word, etc
Vincent gives a nice summary (expanded in the discussion that follows) of the meaning of pistos, faithful, writing that it is used - (1), of one who shows Himself faithful in the discharge of a duty or the administration of a trust (Mt 24:45). Hence, trustworthy (2Ti 2:2). Of things that can be relied upon (2Ti 2:11). (2), Confiding; trusting; a believer (Gal 3:9; Acts 16:1; 2Cor 6:15; 1Ti 5:16) (Word Studies in the New Testament)
Webster says that Faithful means firm in adherence to whatever one owes allegiance and implies unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted.
Pistos is used in two senses in the NT active and passive - 1) ACTIVE = trusting or believing - This is the less frequent usage. This sense speaks of a sinner exercising faith in the Lord Jesus. In the first NT use in this sense, Jesus "said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." (Jn 20:27) Paul instructs Timothy to "let those who have believers (pistos) as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers (pistos) and beloved. Teach and preach these principles." (1Ti 6:2) When pistos is used in this active sense to refer to the faith which a lost sinner must place in the Lord Jesus in order to be saved, it includes the following ideas -- the act of considering the Lord Jesus worthy of trust as to His character and motives, the act of placing confidence in His ability to do just what He says He will do, the act of entrusting the salvation of his soul into the hands of the Lord Jesus, the act of committing the work of saving his soul to the care of the Lord. This means a definite taking of one’s self out of one’s own keeping and entrusting one’s self into the keeping of the Lord Jesus. Thus Paul says "So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer (pistos)." (Gal 3:9) Using a striking contrast, Paul asks "what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?" (2Cor 6:15) Luke records that Paul "came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek." (Acts 16:1) Note also that with regard to believers, they are spoken of sometimes in the Active sense (as "believers") and sometimes in the Passive (as "faithful"). The New Testament concept of faith includes three main elements, mutually connected and requisite, though according to circumstances sometimes one and sometimes another may be more prominent (1) a fully convinced acknowledgement of the revelation of grace; (2) a self-surrendering fellowship (adhesion); and (3) a fully assured and unswerving trust (and with this at the same time hope) in the God of salvation or in Christ. (Modified from Cremer)
2) PASSIVE = trustworthy or faithful - which is the use here in Hebrews 11 - Here the basic idea is that of trustworthiness. In this sense pistos describes God, Christ, servants, His Word as faithful, reliable, worthy of belief or trust, , , dependable. Marvin Vincent adds that pistos used of God describes Him as "True to his own nature and promises; keeping faith with Himself and with man." Paul writes that even "if we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself. (2Ti 2:13-note) Pistos in this passive sense is used of one who shows Himself faithful in the discharge of a duty or the administration of a trust "Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?" Mt 24:45. Hence, pistos describes the one who is trustworthy "And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." (2Ti 2:2-note). Of the Word of God (which is the sense pistos is used in Titus 1:9) that can be relied upon "It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. (1Ti 3:1)"It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. (2 Timothy 2:11-note)In this passive sense of trustworthy or faithful, pistos is applied to God as fulfilling His own promises (He 10:23-note; He 11:1-note), as fulfilling the purpose for which He called men (1Th 5:24-note; 1Cor 1:9), as responding with guardianship to the trust reposed in Him by men (1Co 10:13; 1Pe 4:19-note). Christ is faithful (2Th 3:3; He 3:2-note; He 2:17-note; Rev 19:11-note) Christ as the faithful witness (Re 1:5-note; Re 3:14-note). God’s and Christ's faithfulness in these verses speak not only of His essential being (faithful is Who He is), but also of His faithfulness toward us, as shown for example in the famous verse "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:9) In the papyri, we find the following illustrations of the use of pistos -- "Whom no one would trust even if they were willing to work" = confidence in the person’s character and motives. "I have trusted no one to take it to her" = confidence in the ability of another to perform a certain task. Moses in turn records the following of God writing "Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful (Lxx = pistos) God, Who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments." (Dt 7:9) Notice the seal of assurance stamped upon God's covenant. It is backed up by His faithful character.
Sarah looked away from herself and her barrenness and her age and banked on her Faithful God for the fulfillment of his promise that she would have a child and be the mother of many nations. This didn't come easy for Sarah. In fact, when she heard God make the promise to Abraham, she laughed to herself and did NOT believe (Ge 18:12). But then God rebuked her for the laughter of unbelief, and said, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Ge 18:14,15). And the next thing we hear from Sarah is a word of exultation to God when Isaac is born. She says, God has made laughter for me; every one who hears will laugh over me... Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would suckle children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age. She gives God the glory for the child, and so we may assume, with the writer to the Hebrews, that God's rebuke, and the reminder that nothing is too hard for the Lord, restored Sarah's faith and caused her to hope in God.
Steven Cole writes that...
Hebrews 11:12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: So from one man, though he was physically as good as dead, there have sprung descendants whose number is as the stars of heaven and as countless as the innumerable sands on the seashore. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: So from one man, and he a man whose body had lost its vitality, there were born descendants, as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, as countless as the sand upon the seashore. (Westminster Press)
NLT: And so a whole nation came from this one man, Abraham, who was too old to have any children—a nation with so many people that, like the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: So it happened that from one man, who as a potential father was already considered dead, there arose a race "as numerous as the stars", as "countless as the sands of the sea-shore". (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: And therefore there sprang from one, and this one a dead man, even as the stars of the heaven in multitude and as the sand beside the lip of the sea innumerable. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: wherefore, also from one were begotten--and that of one who had become dead--as the stars of the heaven in multitude, and as sand that is by the sea-shore--the innumerable.
THEREFORE ALSO THERE WAS BORN OF ONE MAN AND HIM AS GOOD AS DEAD AT THAT: dio kai aph enos egennethesan (3PAPI) AND HIM AS GOOD AS DEAD AT THAT : (Ro 4:19 )
At 99, Abraham was well beyond the age to father children apart from divine intervention (Ge 17:1,15, 16, 17; 21:1-5).
Spurgeon on who is him as good as dead - Perhaps the reference is to Abraham, who was as good as dead, being so old; or to Isaac, who was as good as dead, for he was laid upon the altar, and was practically “offered up” as a sacrifice unto the Lord. There were many deaths to work against the life of faith, yet life triumphed over death after all.
AS MANY DESCENDANTS AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE: kathos ta astra tou ouranou to plethei kai os e ammos e para to cheilos tes thalasses e anarithmetos: (Ge 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; Ex 32:13; Dt 1:10; 28:62; 1Chr 27:23; Neh 9:23; Ro 4:17) (Ge 22:17; 32:12; Josh 11:4; Jdg 7:12; 1Sa 12:5; 2Sa 17:11; 1Ki 4:20; Is 10:22; 48:19; Jer 33:22; Ho 1:10; Hab 1:9; Ro 4:18; 9:27; Rev 20:8)
As many descendants as the stars - This is clearly hyperbole which stresses the vastness of the population that would come from Abraham’s loins, but even more it emphasizes the greatness of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord to give such a gracious promise.
John MacArthur - Your faith in Christ will influence future generations. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful Christian heritage. In fact, I’m the fifth generation of preachers in our family. The faith of my predecessors has had an enormous impact on my life—either directly or indirectly. I have the same responsibility they did to influence others for good, as do you.
Hebrews 11:11–12 gives a very personal example of how one man’s faith influenced an entire nation. Verse 11 is better rendered: “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise” (NIV).
God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation (Gen. 12:2). But Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had always been barren, and both of them were advanced in years. At one point Sarah became impatient and decided to take things into her own hands. She persuaded Abraham to have a son by her maid, Hagar (16:1–4). That act of disobedience proved to be costly because Ishmael, the child of that union, became the progenitor of the Arab people, who have been constant antagonists of the Jewish nation.
Despite his times of disobedience, Abraham believed that God would keep His promise. God honored Abraham’s faith by giving him not only Isaac, the child of promise, but descendants too numerous to count. One man’s faith literally changed the world!
Similarly, the faith you exercise today will influence others tomorrow. So, be faithful and remember that despite your failures, God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). (Drawing Near)