Amplified: NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Jerusalem Bible: Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.
KJV: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
NLT: What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Now faith is the title deed of things hoped for, the proof of things which are not being seen. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: And faith is of things hoped for a confidence, of matters not seen a conviction,
NOW FAITH IS THE ASSURANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR: Estin (3SPAI) de pistis elpizomenon (PPPNSG) hupostasis: (He 11:13; 10:22,39; Acts 20:21; 1Co 13:13; Gal 5:6; Titus 1:1; 1Pe 1:7; 2Pe 1:1) (Ps 27:13; 42:11) (He 2:3; 3:14; 2Co 9:4; 11:17) (He 6:12,18,19)
INTRODUCTION TO HEBREWS "HALL OF FAITH"
Faith is a Key Word in Hebrews - Dear child of God, let me encourage you to take a moment and observe each of the following Hebrews passages that mention faith or faithful, taking care to observe the associations, actions, etc (you might also consider recording your observations and using them to offer a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the Most High God) (your faith will be thereby be increased just as God promises in Romans 10:17-note. Do you believe that Paul's inspired declaration?)…
Wuest - The mention of a faith that is answered by salvation (Heb 10:39), leads the writer to speak about it now in detail. The word “faith” occurs without the article here, indicating that it is treated in its abstract conception, not particularly as New Testament faith.
The Bible Background Commentary - In form, the chapter is a literary masterpiece. It follows the frequent literary practice called historical retrospective, a summary of Jewish history to make a particular point, as in texts like Acts 7, 1 Macc. 2:49-69 and Sirach 44-50. The retrospective consists of encomiastic biographies (favorable accounts of virtuous lives). (Ancient moralists normally used examples of people who embodied the virtue they advocated, and sometimes wrote biographies for this purpose.) The writer builds the chapter around a literary device called anaphora, beginning each new account with the same Greek word, “by faith."
The Baker NT Commentary has an interesting comment that
Pfeiffer rightly notes that "The guiding principle of the Christian life is faith. This is not simply a psychological factor, however. To some people faith means believing that you can do a job better than you have done it in the past, or believing that a loved one will rise from his bed of sickness. There may be real value in such “positive thinking,” but this is not the meaning of faith. True Biblical faith has God as its object. We believe God and trust His Word. That Word does not tell us that we have any reason to expect to be the richest merchant on Main Street. It tells us, on the contrary, that we will have tribulations and that as Jesus’ disciples we will have crosses to bear. It assures us, however, of grace to bear them. Faith has a backward look. It declares that God has done mighty acts in days gone by. Faith also has a forward look. It declares that He can be trusted for the future… Faith is the firm assurance, the conviction, that God will do what He has promised to do. It would, of course, be presumption to insist that He must do what we want done. Many Christians grow disillusioned in their Christian lives because God does not conform to their wills. Faith takes God at His word; faith does not insist that He conform to our ideas. (Pfeiffer, C. F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Chicago, IL: Moody Press)
Warren Wiersbe adds that Hebrews 11:1 is "not a definition of faith but a description of what faith does and how it works. True Bible faith is not blind optimism or a manufactured "hope-so" feeling. Neither is it an intellectual assent to a doctrine. It is certainly not believing in spite of evidence! That would be superstition.
Read that last sentence again and let it soak into your mind and heart. This faith operates quite simply. God speaks and we hear His Word. We trust His Word and act on it no matter what the circumstances are or what the consequences may be. The circumstances may be impossible, and the consequences frightening and unknown; but we obey God's Word just the same and believe Him to do what is right and what is best. The unsaved world does not understand true Bible faith, probably because it sees so little faith in action in the church today. The cynical editor H.L. Mencken defined faith as "illogical belief in the occurrence of the impossible." The world fails to realize that faith is only as good as its object, and the object of our faith is God. Faith is not some "feeling" that we manufacture. It is our total response to what God has revealed in His Word. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament. 1989. Victor)
Marvin Vincent on faith - Without the article, indicating that it is treated in its abstract conception, and not merely as Christian faith. It is important that the preliminary definition should be clearly understood, since the following examples illustrate it. The key is furnished by Heb 11:27, as seeing him who is invisible. Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing.
R W Dale gives us an interesting cultural/historical comment - Hitherto the Jewish Christians had continued to celebrate the ancient ritual, and their presence in the temple and the synagogue had been tolerated by their unbelieving countrymen; but now they were in danger of excommunication, and it is hardly possible for us to conceive their distress and dismay. Their veneration for the institutions of Moses had not been diminished by their acknowledgment of the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus; for them, as well as for the rest of their race, an awful sanctity rested on the ceremonies from which they were threatened with exclusion. Therefore, the writer of this Epistle calls up the most glorious names of Jewish history to confirm his vacillating brethren in their fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not by offering sacrifices, nor by attending festivals, nor by the pomp and exactness with which they had celebrated any external rites and ceremonies, that the noblest of their forefathers had won their greatness, but by their firm and steadfast trust in God.
The ESV Study Bible has an excellent comment on Biblical faith - By defining faith (Gk. pistis) as “assurance” and “conviction,” the author indicates that biblical faith is not a vague hope grounded in imaginary, wishful thinking. Instead, faith is a settled confidence that something in the future—something that is not yet seen but has been promised by God—will actually come to pass because God will bring it about. Thus biblical faith is not blind trust in the face of contrary evidence, not an unknowable “leap in the dark”; rather, biblical faith is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy—the God who has revealed himself in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ, whose promises have proven true from generation to generation, and who will “never leave nor forsake” his own (Heb 13:5). (Crossway)
Brian Bell introduces his sermon on the Hebrews "hall of faith" chapter with two illustrations…
Henry Alford opens this great chapter with the following comments - ‘We are of FAITH,’ concluded the last chapter (Heb 10:39). And now this great word comes before the mind of the Writer for its definition, its exemplification, its triumphs. By this, all the servants of God from the first have been upheld, and stimulated, and carried through their glorious course (Ed: This begs the question - Is this true in your life? Are you learning more and more to walk by faith, not sight, fixated on the things unseen, not the things seen? You can dear child of God for that is our Father's will for your life. May He by His spirit make it an ever increasing reality in your life through Christ Jesus. Amen). By this exemplification the Writer evermore warmed and carried forward breaks out at last into a strain of sublime eloquence, in which he gathers together in one (chapter) the many noble deeds of faith which time and space would not allow of his specifying severally. That this word (pistis) ‘describes’ is perhaps more strictly correct than ‘defines:’ for the words which follow are not a definition of that in which faith consists, but of that which faith serves as and secures to us. A definition would approach rather from the side of the subjective phenomena of faith. Yet when speaking broadly and not strictly, we may well call this the definition of faith.
Vincent observes that the writer…
Our senses may lie; God cannot (Titus 1:2). People fail; God does not (Nu 23:19). Circumstances change; God never does (Mal 3:6). So the faith described in Hebrews 11 is focused on an infinitely more dependable object than any of the day-to-day varieties of faith. Real faith, however, is a divinely implanted assurance that rises above the natural functioning of the human mind. After all, the natural man cannot see Him who is unseen (v. 27).
If we commit ourselves to Christ
J Ligon Duncan explains Hebrews 11 in light of what the writer has just stated in chapter 10…
Charles Simeon observes that "CONSIDERING how much the Scriptures speak of faith, one is surprised that the subject of faith so little occupies the attention of the world at large, or even of the religious world. But the truth is, that the nature of faith is but little known. The world at large consider it as no more than assent upon evidence; whilst the religious world confine their views of it almost exclusively to the office of justifying the soul before God. But faith is of a far more comprehensive nature than even good men generally suppose. It extends to every thing that has been revealed; and is the one principle that actuates the Christian in every part of the divine life. (The Nature of Faith - Hebrews 11:1)
John Phillips explains that "Faith gives substance to the unseen realities. The believer hopes in these things and proves their reality in his personal experience by faith. Faith is a kind of spiritual "sixth sense" that enables the believer to take a firm hold upon the unseen world and bring it into the realm of experience. All our senses do this. The eye takes hold upon the light waves that pulsate through space and make real to a person the things he sees. The ear picks up the sound waves and translates them into hearing. But there is a whole spectrum of waves beyond the range of the senses. We cannot see them or hear them or taste them or smell them or feel them. But they are real, nevertheless, and, with the aid of modern instruments, we can pick them up and translate them into phenomena that our senses can handle. Faith reaches out into the spiritual dimension and gives form and substance to heavenly and spiritual realities in such a way that the soul can appreciate them and grasp them and live in the enjoyment of them. (The John Phillips Commentary Series)
James Smith writes that faith "is the substance or ground of things hoped for; it is neither a shadow nor a feeling; it is the evidence of things not seen. Jacob exercised it when he prized the birthright and sold the pottage. He laid hold on the promise, and made no provision for the flesh, so by faith he obtained a good report. Faith gives a good report of God, and gains a good report for the believer (Heb 11:2). (Handfuls on Purpose)
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. Faith is founded on divine truth (God’s promise) and is witnessed to by the Spirit in the heart. It has both objective and subjective aspects, and both are essential!
Forsaking All I Trust Him
For more discussion 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)
Faith in simple terms is believing that God will keep His promises, despite circumstances that seem to be to the contrary! In short, "looks can be deceiving!" We have not seen the end of the story. More specifically and more personally, we have not see the end of God's story in our life (cp Php 1:6-note). Faith takes God at His Word, even when the odds seemed to be stacked against His Word. However, keep in mind that faith is NOT faith in faith, but is faith in God and in His Word. Faith is resting one's heart and mind on God's immutable, faithful (trustworthy) character. Faith is seeing the eternal in the now and choosing to live accordingly, doing so in dependence on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit (cp Our Responsibility in Php 2:12-note and God's Provision in Php 2:13-note).
Subjectively faith is firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness (though rare). Objectively faith is that which is believed (usually designated as "the faith"), doctrine, the received articles of faith. Click separate study of "the faith (pistis)"
Biblical faith is not based on empirical evidence but on divine assurance.
Faith, like grace, is not static. Saving faith is more than just understanding the facts and mentally acquiescing. It is inseparable from repentance, surrender, and a supernatural longing to obey. None of those responses can be classified exclusively as a human work, any more than believing itself is solely a human effort.
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)
Respected theologian Louis Berkhof defines genuine faith in essentially the same way noting that it includes an intellectual element (notitia), which is "a positive recognition of the truth”; an emotional element (assensus), which includes “a deep conviction of the truth”; and a volitional element (fiducia), which involves “a personal trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, including a surrender … to Christ.” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939)
Faith is relying on what God has done rather than on one’s own efforts. In the Old Testament, faith is rarely mentioned. The word trust is used frequently, and verbs like believe and rely are used to express the right attitude to God. The classic example is Abraham, whose faith was reckoned as righteousness (Ge 15:6). At the heart of the Christian message is the story of the cross: Christ’s dying to bring salvation. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God’s good gift of salvation (Acts 16:30,31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20; cf. Heb 11:1).
Spurgeon - Faith is the foot of the soul by which it can march along the road of the commandments. Faith is reason at rest in God.
A H Strong - Faith is the grip which connects us with the moving energy of God.
Faith is to the soul what a mainspring is to a watch.
John Calvin defined faith as “a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence towards us, which, being founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ, is both revealed to our minds, and confirmed to our hearts, by the Holy Spirit.”
I like Jerry Bridges practical definition of faith as that which "involves both a renunciation and a reliance. First, we must renounce any trust in our own performance as the basis of our acceptance before God. We trust in our own performance when we believe we’ve earned God’s acceptance by our good works. But we also trust in our own performance when we believe we’ve lost God’s acceptance by our bad works—by our sin. So we must renounce any consideration of either our bad works or our good works as the means of relating to God. Second, we must place our reliance entirely on the perfect obedience and sin-bearing death of Christ as the sole basis of our standing before God—on our best days as well as our worst. (The Bookends of the Christian Life).
Bridges goes on to emphasize that faith is dynamic, and just as we needed faith to be saved the first time (justification), we need faith to be saved every day (sanctification) - (In regard to justification) The gospel of justification by faith in Christ is the mainspring of the Christian life. And like the mainspring in old watches, it must be wound every day. Because we have a natural tendency to look within ourselves for the basis of God’s approval or disapproval, we must make a conscious daily effort to look outside ourselves to the righteousness of Christ, then to stand in the present reality of our justification… (In regard to sanctification) Faith involves both renunciation and reliance. We have to first renounce all confidence in our own power and then rely entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit. We must be enabled, not merely helped. What’s the difference? The word help implies we have some ability but not enough; we need someone else to supplement our partially adequate ability. By contrast, enablement implies that we have no ability whatsoever. We’re entirely powerless. We can do nothing. But when by faith we renounce self-sufficiency and embrace reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, we receive divine empowerment, enablement, and strength for personal transformation and ministry. (I highly recommend his book The Bookends of the Christian Life).
Maclaren (in a sermon on "work of faith" in 1Thes 1:3) writes that "Faith is the hand that grasps. It is the means of communication, it is the channel through which the grace which is the life, or, rather, I should say, the life which is the grace, comes to us. It is the open door by which the angel of God comes in with his gifts. It is like the petals of the flowers, opening when the sunshine kisses them, and, by opening, laying bare the depths of their calyxes to be illuminated and coloured, and made to grow by the sunshine which itself has opened them, and without the presence of which, within the cup, there would have been neither life nor beauty. So faith is the basis of everything; the first shoot from which all the others ascend… Faith works. It is the foundation of all true work; even in the lowest sense of the word we might almost say that. But in the Christian scheme it is eminently the underlying requisite for all work which God does not consider as busy idleness… Your work of faith. There is the whole of the thorny subject of the relation of faith and works packed into a nutshell. It is exactly what James said and it is exactly what a better than James said. When the Jews came to Him with their externalism, and thought that God was to be pleased by a whole rabble of separate good actions, and so said, ‘What shall we do that we might work the works of God?' Jesus said, ‘Never mind about Works. This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent,' and out of that will come all the rest. That is the mother tincture; everything will flow from that. So Paul says, ‘Your work of faith.' Does your faith work? Perhaps I should ask other people rather than you. Do men see that your faith works; that its output is different from the output of men who are not possessors of a ‘like precious faith'? Ask yourselves the question, and God help you to answer it. (Read full sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:3)
It is notable that only the book of Romans surpasses the book of Hebrews (He 4:2; 6:1, 12; 10:22, 38, 39; 11:1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 13, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 39; 12:2; 13:7) in the number of uses of pistis (Romans = 35, Hebrews = 31, out of 243 NT uses)
Faith is relying on what God has done rather than on our own efforts. It may surprise you that the word faith is rarely mentioned in the Old Testament (only 4x in NAS = Dt 32:51 Job 39:12 Ps 146:6 Hab 2:4). The word trust is used frequently (79x in 78v in NAS). In addition, and verbs like believe (39x in 38v in NAS) and rely (14x in 11v in NAS) are used to express the right attitude to God. The classic example is Abraham, whose faith was reckoned as righteousness (Ge 15:6 - See word study on Hebrew word for "believe" = 'aman [word study]). At the heart of the Christian message is the story of the cross: Christ's dying to bring salvation. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God's good gift of salvation (Acts 16:30,31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20-note; cp He 11:1-note).
Bob Utley comments that Hebrews 11:1 "is not a theological definition of faith, but a picture of the practical outworking of it. The term (pistis) is used twenty four times in this chapter. From the OT the primary idea is “faithfulness” or “trustworthy.” This is the opposite of apostasy (Ed: Literally a "standing away from" - An abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one’s faith). The Greek term for “faith” (pistis) is translated by three English terms: “faith,” “belief,” and “trust.” Faith is a human response to God’s faithfulness and His promise. We trust His trustworthiness, not our own. His character is the key. (Hebrews 11 Commentary)
Simon J. Kistemaker - Faith… radiates from man's inner being where hope resides to riches that are beyond his purview. Faith demonstrates itself in confident assurance and convincing certainty. (Baker New Testament Commentary)
F B Meyer - Faith is the power of putting self aside that God may work unhindered. (In Meyer's Commentary he goes on to add) SOCIETY rests on the faith which man has in man. The workman, toiling through the week for the wage which he believes he will receive; the passenger, procuring a ticket for a distant town, because he believes the statements of the time-tables; the sailor, steering his bark with unerring accuracy in murky weather, because he believes in the mercantile charts and tables; the entire system of monetary credit, by which vast sums circulate from hand to hand without the use of a single coin-all these are illustrations of the immense importance of faith in the affairs of men. Nothing, therefore, is more disastrous for an individual or a community than for its credit to be impaired, or its confidence shaken. There seem to be three necessary preliminaries in order to faith. First, some one must make an engagement or promise. Second, there must be good reason for believing in the integrity and sufficiency of the person by whom the engagement has been made. Third, there follows a comfortable assurance that it will be even so; in fact, the believer is able to count on the object promised as being not less sure than if it had already come into actual possession. And this latter frame of mind is precisely the one indicated by the writer of this Epistle, when, guided by the Holy Spirit, he affirms that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the persuasion or conviction of things not seen. In other words, faith is the faculty of realizing the unseen. These three conditions are fulfilled in Christian faith. (Way Into the Holiest)
William Newell - "Hoping for something is not yet faith! Faith says, "I have it!" Things not seen shows there is no consulting of human faculties or "feelings." The ark is the test of faith. When Noah entered the ark, there was the same conviction of the fact of the coming flood that he had during the years of building the ark. God had spoken! That was all that was before his mind. He never looked at the sky. Faith is a conviction of things when they are not seen! a giving-substance-to (Greek, = hupostasis) things hoped for. (Hebrews 11 Commentary goto page 376)
Andrew Murray emphasizes that… The previous chapter closed with the solemn lesson: There is no alternative, believing or drawing back; there is no safety or strength for the Christian, but to be strong in faith; there is no way of pleasing God, of abiding in His presence and favour, but by faith. If any man draw back, My soul hath no pleasure in him. And so, after the teaching of the Epistle as to what God hath done, we are now to see that for our enjoyment of its power and blessing but one thing is needed--the fulness of faith. The writer begins by a general statement of what faith really is in its nature and action. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen. Faith is the spiritual faculty of the soul which deals with the spiritual realities of the future and the unseen. Just as we have our senses, through which we hold communication with the physical universe, so faith is the spiritual sense or organ through which the soul comes into contact with and is affected by the spiritual world. Just as the sense of seeing or hearing is a dormant power till the objective reality, the light or the sound, strikes it, so faith in itself is a sense with no power beyond the possibility or capacity of receiving the impressions of the eternal. It is as an empty vessel which wants to be filled with its unseen contents. (The Holiest of All - Hebrews 11 "Faith - The Sense for the Unseen")
It is notable that only the book of Romans surpasses the book of Hebrews (click to study the uses of pistis in Hebrews) in the number of uses of pistis (Romans = 35, Hebrews = 31, out of 243 NT uses) Click for links to all 243 uses of pistis (NAS) which is translated: faith, 238; faithfulness, 3; pledge, 1; proof, 1.
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.
Illustration - A mother once asked her six-year old son what he had learned in Sunday School. He said the teacher had talked about 'faith.' "And what is faith?" the mother asked. And her son responded, "I think it's believing in what you know ain't so." Of course that is not what Hebrews 11:1 is saying but it is largely what the skeptical world says about our Christian beliefs -- "Are you kidding! A dead man coming back to life? Ridiculous!" (cp 1Cor 15:19, 20, 21, 22 is the truth!)
J. B. Lightfoot discusses the concept of faith in his commentary on Galatians. He notes that in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the definition of the word for faith "hovers between two meanings: trustfulness, the frame of mind which relies on another; and trustworthiness, the frame of mind which can be relied upon… the senses will at times be so blended together that they can only be separated by some arbitrary distinction. The loss in grammatical precision is often more than compensated by the gain in theological depth… They who have faith in God are steadfast and immovable in the path of duty."
Faith is manifest by not believing in spite of evidence but obeying in spite of consequence. John uses the related verb pisteuo to demonstrate the relationship between genuine faith and obedience writing ""He who believes (present tense = continuous) in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36)
Charles Swindoll commenting on faith and obedience in John 3:36 concludes that "In Jn 3:36 the one who “believes in the Son has eternal life” as a present possession. But the one who “does not obey the Son shall not see life.” To disbelieve Christ is to disobey Him. And logically, to believe in Christ is to obey Him. As I have noted elsewhere, “This verse clearly indicates that belief is not a matter of passive opinion, but decisive and obedient action.” (quoting J. Carl Laney)… Tragically many people are convinced that it doesn’t really matter what you believe, so long as you are sincere. This reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is returning from a disastrous baseball game. The caption read, “174 to nothing! How could we lose when we were so sincere?” The reality is, Charlie Brown, that it takes more than sincerity to win the game of life. Many people are sincere about their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong!" (Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B. Understanding Christian Theology.: Thomas Nelson Publishers) (This book is recommended if you are looking for a very readable, non-compromising work on "systematic theology". Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology is comparable. Click for Grudem's online outline of Conversion and/or Listen to the Mp3 of Conversion)
Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary - Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true (Phil 1:27; 2Th 2:13). Its primary idea is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in accordance with the evidence on which it rests. (Ed: Trust is defined as "a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person" in this case the Person is God, Who cannot lie - from Webster's 1828 Dictionary).
ILLUSTRATION OF FAITH - When missionary John Paton was translating the Scripture for the South Sea islanders, he was unable to find a word in their vocabulary for the concept of believing, trusting, or having faith. He had no idea how he would convey that to them. One day while he was in his hut translating, a native came running up the stairs into Paton's study and flopped in a chair, exhausted. He said to Paton, “It’s so good to rest my whole weight in this chair.” John Paton had his word: Faith is resting your whole weight on God. That word went into the translation of their New Testament and helped bring that civilization of natives to Christ. Believing is putting your whole weight on God. If God said it, then it’s true, and we’re to believe it.
Nothing before, nothing behind,
Clearly faith is a key word in Hebrews. Study the 31 uses of pistis in Hebrews in context …
James McConkey - “Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. And self-dependence only comes to its end, with some of us, when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to that place of self-helplessness and defeat. And only then do we find that we have learned the lesson of faith; to find our tiny craft of life rushing onward to a blessed victory of life and power and service undreamt of in the days of fleshly strength and self-reliance.”
J. B. Stoney - “It is a great thing to learn faith: that is, simple dependence upon God. It will comfort you much to be assured that the Lord is teaching you dependence upon Himself, and it is very remarkable that faith is necessary in everything. ‘The just shall live by faith,’ not only in your circumstances, but in everything. I believe the Lord allows many things to happen on purpose to make us feel our need of Him. The more you find Him in your sorrows or wants, the more you will be attached to Him and drawn away from this place where the sorrows are, to Him in the place where He is.” “Set your affection on things above” (see note Colossians 3:2).
John MacArthur explains that the phrase "Conviction of things not seen carries the same truth (assurance of things hoped for) a bit further, because it implies a response, an outward manifestation of the inward assurance. The person of faith lives his belief. His life is committed to what his mind and his spirit are convinced is true. Noah, for example, truly believed God. He could not possibly have embarked on the stupendous, demanding, and humanly ridiculous task God gave him without having had absolute faith. When God predicted rain, Noah had no concept of what rain was, because rain did not exist before the Flood. It is possible that Noah did not even know how to construct a boat, much less a gigantic ark. But Noah believed God and acted on His instructions. He had both assurance and conviction—true faith. His outward building of the ark bore out his inward belief that the rain was coming and that God's plan was correct for constructing a boat that would float. His faith was based on God's word, not on what he could see or on what he had experienced. For 120 years he preached in faith, hoped in faith, and built in faith. The natural man cannot comprehend that kind of spiritual faith. We see Him who is invisible (Heb 11:27-note), but the unsaved man does not, because he has no means of perception. Because he has no spiritual senses, he does not believe in God or the realities of God's realm. He is like a blind man who refuses to believe there is such a thing as light because he has never seen light. (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press)
John Henry Jowett says…
John Stevenson notes that…
The Heidelberg Catechism (as quoted by Kistemaker) has this answer to the question of what is true faith…
is not only a knowledge and conviction
but also a deep-rooted assurance
Dr. Harry A Ironside wrote these notes on faith in the margin of his Bible…
Assurance (5287) (hupostasis/hypostasis from hupo/hypo = under + histemi = stand) is a literally a standing or setting under and thus describes a support, a confidence, a steadiness, a foundation (refers to ground on which something is built = the foundation of things for which we hope) and as used in Scripture represents a solid, unshakable confidence in God (that He Who has promised is faithful).
Stated another way hupostasis is that which underlies the apparent and which therefore is the reality, the essence or the substance. It came to denote essence, substance or the inner nature and as discussed below is used with that meaning in Hebrews 1:3 (verse notes).
P E Hughes writes that - The term hypostasis… is susceptible of a variety of connotations, but, despite the different interpretations proposed, there is in all cases, as Moulton and Milligan point out, "the same central idea of something that underlies visible conditions and guarantees a future possession." (A Commentary On The Epistle To The Hebrews)
Hupostasis is a very common word from Aristotle on and was used in Greek to describe that which stands under anything such as a building, a contract, a promise. It is common in the papyri in business documents as the basis or guarantee of transactions or with the meaning of a title deed. Thus one translation renders it "Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for."
George Brooks adds that… Faith does not put all its confidence in the present and the visible. Faith is to our hopes what a deed is to a piece of property. The deed guarantees ownership for the owner.
Wiersbe… The word translated "substance" (assurance) means literally "to stand under, to support." Faith is to a Christian what a foundation is to a house: it gives confidence and assurance that he will stand. (Ibid)
IVP Background Commentary… This hope is, however, an unshakable conviction in the present: “assurance” (NASB, NRSV; “being sure”—NIV) appears in Greek business documents with the meaning “title deed.”
Hupostasis is used 19 times in the Septuagint (LXX) and 5 times in the NT…
Considering these meanings of hupostasis in Hebrews 11:1 one could paraphrase this verse as follows…
Thus hupostasis has as it's etymological equivalent in English the word "substance" which describes that which stands under a thing or that which makes it what it is.
In Hebrews 1:3 the Son is such a revelation of the Father that when we see Jesus, we see what God's real being is.
Robertson commenting on the use of hupostasis in Hebrews 1:3 says that "hupostasis for the being or essence of God “is a philosophical rather than a religious term” (Moffatt). Etymologically it is the sediment or foundation under a building (for instance). In Hebrews 11:1 hupostasis is like the “title-deed” idea found in the papyri. Athanasius rightly used Heb. 1:1-4 in his controversy with Arius. (Robertson, A. Word Pictures in the New Testament)
Wuest writes that "The word “substance” deserves careful treatment. It is hupostasis, made up of stasis “to stand,” and hupo “under,” thus “that which stands under, a foundation.” Thus it speaks of the ground on which one builds a hope. Moulton and Milligan report its use as a legal term. They say that it stands for “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited in archives, and forming the evidence of ownership.” They suggest the translation, “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.” The Holy Spirit energized act of faith which a believer exercises in the Lord Jesus is the title-deed which God puts in his hand, guaranteeing to him the possession of the thing for which he trusted Him. In the case of this first-century Jew, his act of faith in Messiah as High Priest would be the title-deed which God would give him, guaranteeing to him the possession of the salvation for which he trusted God. Thus, he would have assurance. Vincent translates, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” He says that “It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact.” (Hebrews Commentary)
Vincent commenting on hupostasis in Hebrews 1:3 notes that… The primary sense of hupostasis or substance is something which stands underneath; foundation, ground of hope or confidence, and so, assurance itself. In a philosophical sense, substantial nature; the real nature of anything which underlies and supports its outward form and properties. In N. T., 2 Cor. 9:4; 11:17; Heb. 3:14; 11:1, signifying in every instance ground of confidence or confidence. In LXX, it represents fifteen different words, and, in some cases, it is hard to understand its meaning, notably 1Sa 13:21. In Ruth 1:12 ("Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons"); Ps. 39:7 ("And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope [my ground, my foundation… for hope] is in Thee."); Ezek. 19:5, it means ground of hope: in Jdg. 6:4 ("So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance [Lxx - hupostasis + zoe ~ no support or foundation of life] in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey."); Wisd. 16:21, sustenance: in Ps. 39:5 ("Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime [Lxx = hupostasis ~ my existence] as nothing in Thy sight, Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah."); Ps 139:15, the substance or material of the human frame: in 1Sa 13:23 ("and the garrison of the Philistines"); Ezek. 26:11, an outpost or garrison: in Deut. 11:6; Job 22:20 ("and their abundance the fire has consumed"), possessions. The theological sense, person, is later than the apostolic age. In Hebrews 1:3, substantial nature, essence. (Adapted and amplified from Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament)
Things (4229) (pragma from prásso = to do, perform where suffix –ma = the result of; English = pragmatic [dealing with things in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations: practical as opposed to idealistic]; derivative words = pragmateia = affairs in 2Ti 2:4, pragmateuomai = trade, do business, put capital to work, Lu 19:13) describes that which has been done or that which happens (a happening), and thus a deed, a thing, an event, an occurrence or an accomplished fact. In this meaning pragma speaks of something in the past. When speaking of something in the present or future, pragma means that which occurs as a result of activity -- the thing being done or to be done (in secular Greek in the phrase "great undertakings", "the tasks of everyday life"), matter, business, affair.
Vincent adds that pragma "is, strictly, a thing done; an accomplished fact. It introduces a wider conception than things hoped for; embracing not only future realities, but all that does not fall under the cognizance of the senses, whether past, present, or future.
Spurgeon - Though the “things” are only “hoped for” and “not seen” at present, the eye of faith can see them, and the hand of faith can grasp them. Faith is more mighty than any of our senses, or than all our senses combined. We do see by faith. We see by faith what cannot be seen by our eyes; we grasp by faith what cannot be grasped with our hands. A strange mystery is the simple act of faith.
Hoped (1679) (elpizo [word study] from elpis = hope) means to look forward w confidence to that which is good and beneficial. It means to to expect, with implication of some benefit. Note hope is in the present tense which speaks of a continuous action, or better a continual attitude of hoping (realizing that attitudes always precede actions).
Hope in Scripture is not the world's definition of "I hope so", with a few rare exceptions (e.g., Acts 27:20.) Hope is defined as a desire for some future good with the expectation of obtaining it. Hope is confident expectancy. Hope is the looking forward to something with some reason for confidence respecting fulfillment. Peter encouraged suffering saints writing
Hope as the world typically defines it is a desire for some future occurrence of which one is not assured of attaining. The ancient world did not generally regard hope as a virtue, but merely as a temporary illusion. Historians tell us that a great cloud of hopelessness covered the ancient world. Philosophies were empty; traditions were disappearing; religions were powerless to help men face either life or death. People longed to pierce the veil and get some message of hope from the other side, but there is none outside of Christ.
The hope we have in Jesus Christ
Gabriel Marcel - Hope is for the soul what breathing is for the living organism.
A study of concentration camp survivors found that those prisoners who were able to hold onto their sense of hope (‘things are going to get better’ or ‘we’re going to get out of here one day’ ) were much more likely to survive. Hope then is not optional but for these prisoners proved to be a matter of life and death.
Vincent writes that hope "in classical Greek, has the general signification of expectancy, relating to evil as well as to good. Thus Plato speaks of living in evil hope (“Republic,” i., 330); i.e., in the apprehension of evil; and Thucydides, of the hope of evils to come; i.e., the expectation or apprehension. In the New Testament the word always relates to a future good." (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament Vol. 1)
Seneca, Rome's leading intellectual figure, tutor of the depraved emperor Nero (who forced Seneca to commit suicide!) and contemporary of Paul tragically defined hope as “an uncertain good”, the antithesis of Biblical hope! What a difference the new birth in Christ makes in one's perspective.
The cynical editor H. L. Mencken also inaccurately defined hope as “a pathological belief in the occurrence of the impossible.” His cynical definition does not even agree with the secular Webster's Collegiate dictionary which defines "Hope" much like the NT declaring that hope means "to cherish a desire with anticipation, desire with expectation of obtainment, expect with confidence."
Biblical hope is not "finger crossing", but is alive and certain because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Life without Christ is a hopeless end whereas life in Christ is an endless hope.
A living hope should motivate a "looking" hope, so that we are waiting anxiously for Christ's return at any time, this event providing great incentive to "discipline (one's self) for the purpose of godliness" (1Ti 4:7-note) knowing that godliness "is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1Ti 4:8-note)
G K Chesterton said that
Lord, give us grace to trust You when
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Illustration - Years ago the captain of a large vessel set sail with his family from Liverpool. His destination was New York. One night when everyone was asleep, a sudden squall arose. The wind came sweeping over the water, struck the vessel and almost capsized it. Everything movable was sent tumbling and crashing, and the passengers became aware that they were in imminent peril. Everyone was alarmed, and many sprang from their berths and began to dress. The captain's little daughter, just 8 years old, was awakened and cried with fright, "What's the matter?" When they told her about the storm she asked, "Is Father on deck?" Assured that he was, the little one dropped back onto her pillow without a fear. In spite of the howling winds and crashing waves, she was soon fast asleep. This ought to be the attitude of every Christian as we face the rough seas and stormy days of life. The Bible tells us that we are to "live by faith." (An Anatomy of Faith-Alan Carr)
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MAILBOX FAITH - Whenever I mail a letter, it's an exercise of trust. Let me explain what I mean. When I write to a distant friend, it’s impossible to deliver the letter myself. I need the help of the postal service. But for them to do their part, I have to drop my letter in the mailbox first. I can’t hang on to it. I have to place it in the mail slot and let go. Then I must trust the postal service to take over until my letter is delivered to my friend’s home. Although I can’t see what happens to it, my faith in the postal service assures me that my letter is as good as there!
Help us, Lord, to give our burdens
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WHAT FAITH IS AND DOES - When I was in my mid-teens, I sometimes wondered if my faith was real. I had sincerely placed my trust in Jesus Christ, yet the injustices in society and writings of unbelievers raised doubts in my mind. I didn't dare mention this to anybody. However, I repeatedly committed myself anew to Christ and to His teachings for my life.
There can be those times when our minds are in doubt,
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SEEING THE UNSEEN - In a materialistic world like ours, we are tempted to conclude that the only real things are those we experience with our five senses. Yet “there are things we cannot see: things behind our backs or far away and all things in the dark,” said C. S. Lewis.
At times our fears may loom so large,
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THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT-FAITH (F B Meyer - Our Daily Walk) - FAITH IS an attribute of the heart, rather than of the head. It is largely intuitive in its first promptings. It is impossible to argue men into faith. Do not think, discuss, or reason too much about Faith, or you will miss it. It is like Love in this, that when you turn the dissecting knife on it for the purpose of analysis, its spirit and life vanish, leaving only the faded relics of what was once a thing of beauty and a joy for ever. If, however, turning from Faith to any object which is worthy of it, you concentrate heart and mind there, almost unconsciously Faith will have arisen and thriven to Maturity.
We must indicate a difference between this faith and "the faith once delivered to the saints." The former is the heart that accepts, and the hand that reaches out to obtain; the latter is the body of Truth to be accepted.
Out of faith comes faithfulness. Faith is your trust in another; faithfulness is your worthiness to be trusted. A faithful soul, one that can be absolutely relied upon, is of great price. Nothing so quickens our faith as to meditate on God's absolute trustworthiness.
"Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."
PRAYER - Give us faith in Thy love that never wearies or faints. Whatever else we doubt, may we never question the perfectness of Thy lovingkindness. Fulfil in US the good pleasure of Thy will, and the work of faith with power. AMEN.
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A new poll has discovered that while eight in ten Americans claim to believe in God, only three out of five can say they are “absolutely certain” that God exists. Specifically, the Harris Interactive Poll found 59 percent of Americans are “absolutely certain” there is a God, and 15 percent claim to be “somewhat certain” God exists. The strongest “absolutely certain” belief in God and other areas came from respondents who claimed to be born again Christians. Overall, the survey also found 13 percent of Americans believe there is no God, and 7 percent said they were “absolutely certain” about those beliefs. Most Americans say God exists; fewer are ‘ absolutely certain’, (Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell)
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In his book, What Bothers Me Most about Christianity Honest Reflections from an Open-Minded Christ Follower pastor Ed Gungor asks the question, “why would God hide?” As he reflects on the question, Gungor explores the possibility that this is part of God’s plan regarding faith. Gungor writes, “Perhaps God hides because he has chosen to establish a relationship with humanity through the pathway of faith. In order for faith to be faith, God must remain invisible and unprovable to the senses. If God could be seen as plainly as the sun or experienced as unquestionably as gravity, faith would not be required. God’s existence would be an undisputed fact. The pathway of faith insists that relationship with God is a matter of human free will and not forced or involuntary. Faith can only exist in freedom, where we can choose to believe or not to believe. Because God uses faith as the only modality for connection with him, any relational connection between us has to be the result of choice or free will. He wants authentic relationship with us, so he honors our right to ignore him. Authentic relationships require choice.” (Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell)
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C H. Spurgeon – Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle; he that obeys God trusts God; and he that trusts God obeys God.
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PLEASING GOD, NOT MEN - Andy Warhol, the pop-art painter of such American images as the Campbell’s soup can, once said, “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” But he was wrong. There are millions of people who will never grab their moment in the spotlight. Some of them are the men and women who spend their lives doing things like working hard, raising godly children, faithfully praying for others, sharing their faith with those who don’t yet know Jesus. They teach Sunday school, bring meals to the sick, drive senior citizens to doctors’ appointments, and do countless other kindnesses.
These people may never be recognized outside their circle of family and friends. Certainly, their names aren’t well known. And although they willingly, and often sacrificially, give of themselves, they may not receive a whole lot of thanks or praise for their service. Yet God knows of their faithfulness and is pleased by their obedience.
2Corinthians 5:9 (note) teaches us to “make it our aim… to be well pleasing” to God. As we, by faith, believe in Him and give our lives in service to Him, He is pleased (Heb 11:6-note). That’s our reward, because God’s approval is always sweeter than the applause of the crowd. - by Cindy Hess Kasper (Our Daily Bread)
Look not to the people around you,
The deeds God finds pleasing
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YOU'RE NOT HOME YET - The idea that we are not home yet is one we all would do well to keep foremost in our mind as illustrated by the true story of Henry C. Morrison a little known "hardworking farmer" (2Ti 2:6-note) in God's missionary fields, toiling some forty years in the difficult fields of Africa. As the story is told, he became sick and had to return home to America, and as providence would have it, the boat he returned on was also carrying a well known guest. As the great ocean liner docked in New York Harbor there was a great crowd gathered to greet President Teddy Roosevelt who received a grand welcome-home-party after his widely publicized African Safari. Two men in Africa, one hunting to kill wild animals, the other seeking to save wicked men! Resentment seized the "hardworking farmer", Henry Morrison, and he turned to God saying "I have come back home after all this time and service to the church and there is no one, not even one person here to welcome me home." Then a still small voice (cp Elijah's experience = 1Ki 19:12, 13, 14, 15ff) came to Morrison reminding him "You're not home yet." Our ultimate harvest is yet future and our future reward is "out of this world!" Ready to be revealed in the last time(1Pe 1:5-note)! Praise the Lord.
Live today for that great tomorrow!
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WAITING EAGERLY - Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. --Php 3:20-note (Dearly beloved, member of the Bride of Christ, are you "eagerly waiting" for your Bridegroom, keeping your garments spotless and blameless [2Pe 3:14-note, cp Rev 19:7-note, Rev 19:8-note]? )
In the 1940s, Samuel Beckett wrote a play called Waiting for Godot which is now regarded as a classic. Two men stand on an empty stage, hands in their pockets, staring at each other. All they do is stand and stare. There is no action, no plot, they just stand there waiting for Godot to come.
How totally different, though, is Christian hope! We're waiting and "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13-note). That hope sustains us--a hope that beyond this world lies a life of indescribable blessing. —Vernon C Grounds
We're waiting for You, Lord, to come
The greatest joy on earth is to have
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NEVER HOPELESS - William Wordsworth wrote, "The world is too much with us." He meant that too often we get caught up in the world's mad rush and fail to appreciate God's creation. But it's also easy to feel that the world is too much with us when we see people suffer for their faith in God.
There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come,
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THE CURE FOR FUTILITY - A terminally ill man in the hospital told me that life had given him a raw deal. He felt cheated because he had worked hard but would not be able to enjoy retirement. Besides, he was lonely. He and his wife didn't have a good relationship, and his children and grandchildren seldom visited him. His former business associates ignored him. He was bitter and didn't want to hear about God.
Jesus is all the world to me,
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CLOSED GATES - Songwriter Oscar Eliason wrote,
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
He responded to these questions by saying,
God specializes in things thought impossible.
Every Christian faces obstacles along life's pathway, and walking in God's will doesn't guarantee that our way will be easy. But no matter how difficult, we can trust God and go forward in faith.
At the entrance to a local hospital is an automatic gate designed to rise when a car activates a hidden sensor near the entrance. When I drive up the ramp toward the gate, it remains down, blocking the entrance. But as I get closer, the arm swings up, allowing me to proceed. If I were to park my car a few yards from the entrance, the gate would stay closed. Only when I move forward does it open.
Someone said, "If God built a bridge a yard ahead, it could not be a bridge of faith." It's the first step into the unseen that proves we have faith. Abraham, for example, "went out, not knowing where he was going" (Heb. 11:8). He obeyed God and relied on Him to clear the path.
When we walk in obedience to the Lord and come upon a closed gate, we can confidently take the next step of faith. As we move forward we will see God open the way. —P. R. Van Gorder
Faith is the gate between
Henry Alford notes that…
True faith is NOT based on empirical evidence but on divine assurance, and is a gift of God (Eph 2:8-note ''faith… is the gift of God'')
Our goal as George MacDonald once said, is to "grow eyes" to see the unseen (cp 2Cor 4:18-note).
This verse is written in a style of Hebrew poetry (cf. Psalms), in which two parallel and nearly identical phrases are used to state the same thing ("Parallelism"). Cf. 1Peter 1:7-note—God tests our faith in the crucible of life with a mixture of trials and afflictions, divinely calculated to remove the "dross" from our character and make us more like His Son.
Conviction (1650) (elegchos from elegcho = bringing to the light, to expose, to convict [Jn 3:20, Ep 5:11, 13], to convict) strictly speaking is a "bringing to the light." Elegchos indicates an inner conviction that is not based on visible matters. In this passage the believer is convinced that the things he or she is unable to see are real.
Elegchos is translated variously: "proof" (HCSB, Wuest), "evidence" (Geneva, Wesley), "to be certain" (TEV), "being certain" (Phillips), "prove the existence" (NJB), "certain" (NIV), "being convinced of" (NET), "persuasion" (Mace NT), "convinces us" (GWT), "the putting to the proof" (Centenary Translation of the NT), "the proof of the reality of the things" ( Williams)
Aristotle wrote that
A T Robertson on elegchos…
Vincent on elegchos…
Leon Morris writes that the exact meaning of elegchos in the present context is somewhat ambiguous for it…
Gromacki writes that elegchos describes…
P E Hughes comments that elegchos conveys the idea…
BDAG gives three basic meanings of elegchos…
Elegchos is used only here in the NT if one examines the Nestle-Aland Greek Text. However the Textus Receptus (used for the KJV) and a variant reading of the Nestle-Aland uses elegchos in 2Ti 3:16 describing Scripture as profitable for "reproof."
Conviction is a firmly held belief which implies a deeper manifestation of the inward assurance. People of faith are prepared to live out their belief. If you believe truth, your behavior should manifest your belief. In other words, our lives should reflect a commitment to what our minds and hearts are assured is true. We should be so sure of God's promises and blessings which are future that we behave as if those promises were already realized (see Heb 11:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; cf. Ro 4:17, 18, 19, 20, 21).
Wiersbe adds that elegchos…
As Butler emphasizes that…
F F Bruce adds that…
Vincent has a lengthy discussion of the meaning of the root verb elegcho explaining that it
Elegchos - 11x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Lev 19:17; Nu 5:18, 19, 23, 24, 27; 2 Kgs 19:3; Ps 38:14; 39:11; 149:7; Isa 37:3. Most of these uses are to convey the idea of reproof (BDAG meaning #3 above).
Albert Barnes on elegchos…
Brian Bell on the phrase "faith is the… conviction of things not seen"…
Augustine asked "What is faith, unless it is to believe what you do not see?"
Not seen - "Not" is Greek word "ou" signifying absolute negation. Faith has absolutely not yet seen what it will one day possess (Jesus, His Kingdom, etc).
Holman New Testament Commentary
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary…
It is essential for every believer to understand the nature of enduring faith. As we saw last week, there is a type of faith that does not endure trials and temptations. The seed sown on the rocky ground sprang up quickly, but it also quickly withered and died when trials hit. The seed on the thorny ground may have lasted a bit longer, but eventually it was strangled by the temptations of worries, riches, and the pleasures of this life. Neither type of faith brought forth fruit to maturity. Only the seed on the good ground bore fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:11, 12, 13, 14, 15).
That parable serves as a useful backdrop to our text last week (Heb 10:32-39), where the author urges his readers on to enduring faith. He cites Habakkuk 2:4, “But My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” Then he expresses his confidence in his readers (Heb 10:39), “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” His subject is “enduring faith.” Some of his readers were in danger of shrinking back to destruction. With the threat of persecution looming over them, the He-brew believers needed to be steeled to endure the coming trials by faith. He wants them to become “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb 6:12).
To that end, he devotes chapter 11 to an explanation and illustration of genuine faith that endures. He is not focusing on the aspect of justification by faith, as Paul does in Romans 3. Rather, his emphasis is more on the operation and outworking of justifying faith in the face of trials (John Owen, An Exposition of Hebrews [The National Foundation for Christian Education], VII:5, 7). This faith lays hold of God’s promises and the reality of the unseen world, obediently applying those realities to present trials. In He 11:1-3, the author shows three things about such faith:
Before we look at these three aspects of faith, it may be helpful to explain something about the nature of faith with reference to relationships. What I am about to say will probably sound obvious (“Duh!”). But I often see people violate this principle in their personal relationships, causing much damage.
The principle is this: Trust is essential for close personal relationships.
If you do not trust someone, you will not allow yourself to get close to that person. You will not share personal information because you are afraid that the per-son will use it in a way that damages you. You will not believe the personal information that the person shares with you, because you think, “I don’t trust this guy!”
Here is a second principle for close relationships: Truth is the basis for trust.
If someone lies to you or deceives you, you will not trust what he says or does. You will always be on guard. If you sense that the person is a hypocrite, conveying that he is something that he really is not, you will keep your distance. A lack of truth erodes trust and causes distance in relationships.
There is a third principle for close relationships: Truth must be expressed in love.
By love, I mean, “seeking the highest good of the other person.” The highest good for every person is to be con-formed to the image of Jesus Christ. This motive of love must undergird all verbal expressions of truth (Eph. 4:15). To blast a per-son may be truthful, but it is not loving. You may say, “That’s just the way I feel,” and that’s true. But you have not said it to build the other person in Christ, and so it is not loving. On the other hand, to deceive someone under the guise of love is to deny truth. Ultimately, this will undermine the relationship, because it erodes trust.
How does all of this relate to Hebrews 11? These elements of relationships also apply to our relationship with God. Faith or trust in God is at the foundation of a relationship with Him. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (He 11:6). You are calling God a liar if you do not trust Him, and you cannot be close to a liar. Truth is the basis for trust. If you doubt the truth of God’s Word, including His promises for the future, you cannot trust Him and thus will be distant from Him.
Some of the things that God says are not easy to accept. For example, God confronts our unbelief and sin. But He always relates to us in love. When He sends difficult trials into our lives, whether persecution, the loss of our health, or the loss of a loved one, we have to trust Him, believing that He is acting in love to form Christ in us. If the enemy can get us to doubt God’s love in a time of trials, we will draw away from God and disobey His Word of truth. To draw near to God, we “must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (He 11:6).
Understanding these principles-trust is essential for close personal relationships; truth is the basis for trust; and, truth must be expressed in love, which means, “seeking the highest good of the other person”- shows why faith (trust) is at the heart of a relationship with God.
1. Faith is the means of realizing spiritual reality (Heb 11:1).
Hebrews 11:1 has always been a difficult verse for me to get a handle on. I will seek to clarify the meaning of the verse as I understand it, but I admit that my understanding may be limited. The difficulty of the verse lies in the meaning of the words translated (NASB) as “assurance” (“being certain of,” NIV) and (NASB) “conviction” (“certain,” NIV). The KJV and NKJV translate these words as “substance” and “evidence.” The NASB and NIV under-stand the words as subjective, whereas the KJV and NKJV take them as objective.
The subjective understanding is,
An objective understanding is, faith means
The Bauer, Arndt, & Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament [University of Chicago Press, 2nd ed.] takes both words in an objective sense. It renders the first phrase (p. 847), “in faith things hoped for become realized” (or, “reality”). The second is (p. 249), “a proving of (or conviction about) unseen things.”
All of the patristic and medieval scholars understood the words in the objective sense, but Melanchthon advised Luther to render it, “sure confidence.” Luther’s interpretation has influenced most scholarship since the Reformation (Koster, ibid.). The Greek word, hypostasis, occurs twice in Paul in the sense of “confidence” (2Cor. 9:4; 11:17), and three times in Hebrews (He 1:3; He 3:14; and here). All scholars agree that the word is used objectively in He 1:3, which states that Christ is the exact representation of God’s nature (essence, or reality).
Most scholars take the second instance (Heb. 3:14) as subjective, “hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” But the respected Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ibid., VII:587) argues that it does not refer there to subjective assurance, which rests within us, but to the objective reality of the faith. In this sense, the phrase is parallel to “our confession” (He 3:1) and “the confession of our hope” (He 10:23). It also argues that it has an objective sense in He 11:1: “faith is the reality of the goods hoped for.” “Faith is the reality of what is hoped for in exactly the sense in which Jesus is called the [exact representation] of the reality of the transcendent God in He 1:3” (ibid.).
Since the two halves of He 11:1 seem to be parallel, “conviction” (Greek, elenchos) would need to be taken in an objective sense, also, as “proof of things one cannot see” (ibid., VII:586). Donald Hagner puts it this way (Encountering the Book of Hebrews [Baker], p. 142):
From the examples of faith lifted up in this chapter it seems clear that what is not primarily in view is what we feel or possess-assurance, confidence-but rather, how faith substantiates, or gives substance to, what is promised, how it provides evidence of what is believed about unseen and hoped-for realities. Faith, indeed, has a way of making the future pre-sent and the unseen visible.
There is, of course, overlap between the objective and subjective senses of these words. Our faith substantiates what we hope for, thus giving us assurance that they are true. Faith proves or gives evidence for the things that we cannot see, thus giving us a conviction that these unseen things are true. I suggest this expanded paraphrase of He 11:1,
In other words, faith applies the reality of God’s promises and the unseen world to life in the present, visible world.
A. W. Pink (An Exposition of Hebrews [Ephesians 4 Group], p. 652) uses the analogy of two men standing on the deck of a ship, looking in the same direction. One sees nothing, but the other man sees a distant steamer. The difference is, the first man is looking with his unaided eye, whereas the second man is looking through a telescope. Faith is the telescope that brings the future promises of God into present focus. Faith enables us to see the unseen world that the natural man cannot see.
Before we leave verse 1, let’s apply it by illustrating how faith worked in the lives of three Hebrew young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Daniel 3). The author refers to them, al-though not by name, in He 11:34 (“quenched the power of fire”). They refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol, which caused the offended king to threaten to throw them into the blazing furnace. Their response shows that by faith, they were making real in their present crisis the future promises of God regarding eternal life. By faith they saw the unseen God as more real than the enraged king standing in front of them, threatening to roast them alive. Their answer (Da 3:16, 17, 18) oozes with faith in the unseen God:
You may think, “That’s a great story, but what if God hadn’t delivered them? What if they had been burned to death?” The answer is, they would have died in faith and God would reward them abundantly throughout eternity in heaven. Many martyrs have died at the stake because of their faith. The Roman Catholic Church promised Jan Hus (Bio), the brave Czech martyr, safe passage to a hearing. After he arrived, they said, “We promised you safe passage here, but not a safe return.” They threw him in prison and condemned him to death because he condemned many of their corrupt practices, which were contrary to Scripture. As they burned him at the stake, he died singing! How could he do that? His faith made real in the present the future promises of God. His faith proved the reality of the unseen God as greater than the reality of the flames that burned him to death.
George Muller was another man who made God’s promises real by faith, and proved in a visible way the reality of the invisible God. He literally gave away all of his money and possessions and, by faith, founded an orphanage in Bristol, England. Eventually that orphanage grew to 2,000 children who needed food, clothing, and shelter every day. Muller had no savings accounts and he refused to make the needs of the ministry known, even to potential donors. He wanted to prove to the world that there is reality in dealing with the living God. He saw thousands of specific answers to prayer, which he carefully recorded and later published. Concerning faith, he wrote (George Mueller of Bristol by A. T. Pierson, p. 437):
So in developing the theme of enduring faith, our author’s first point is that faith is the means of realizing spiritual reality. (Hebrews 11:1-3 By Faith - Used by Persmission)
Amplified: For by [faith—trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: For by it the elders obtained a good report.
NLT: God gave his approval to people in days of old because of their faith. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It was this kind of faith that won their reputation for the saints of old. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For by means of this the elders had witness borne to them. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for in this were the elders testified of;
FOR BY IT THE MEN OF OLD GAINED APPROVAL: en taute gar en taute gar emarturethesan (3PAPI) oi presbuteroi:
For (1063) (gar) introduces proof of the preceding statement regarding the nature of faith. For is a term of explanation and should always prompt one to interrogate the text asking questions like "What is the author explaining?", etc.
Vincent - For introduces a proof of the preceding statement concerning the nature of faith. Faith has power to see and realise the unseen, for the experience of the fathers proves it.
Wuest - The word “for” introduces proof of the preceding statement regarding the nature of faith. The words “by it” are in the Greek text en tautei, literally, “in this,” that is, “in the sphere and exercise of faith.” The locative of sphere, “in this,” approaches in meaning the instrumental of means, “by means of.” “Faith has power to see and realize the unseen, for the experience of the fathers proves it.”
Henry Alford explains for this way ‘and so high a description of faith is not undeserved, seeing that…’ The gar ("for") does not bring in any proof of the foregoing description, only shows that faith is noble enough to be dignified with the offices just named (i.e., "the assurance of things hoped for...")
By it (en tautei) is more literally “in this” that is, in the sphere and exercise of faith. The preposition in introduces a construction referred to as the locative of sphere. However, in this context, “in this,” also approaches in meaning the instrumental of means, “by means of.” Alford - "Not, by, merely: but elemental; in the domain, or region, or matter of)".
Someone has written that “Faith has power to see and realize the unseen, for the experience of the fathers proves it.”
Johann Bengel - Paul shows the nature of faith from the examples of men in the times of old. Many things, which they hoped for and did not see, subsequently came to pass and were conspicuously seen, the event confirming faith.
Wuest - "Men of old” used here instead of the more common expression, “the fathers,” refers to the saints of the Old Testament dispensation, many of whose names are recorded in this chapter. (Hebrews Commentary)
Men of old (4245) (presbuteros is a comparative of présbus = an old man) refers first to older men, those with seniority but in this context is in the plural which refers to the ancients, the fathers, ancestors.
In context "men of old" refers to all saints, genuine believers, who lived in the old covenant times, a select few of whom are described to encourage us to run the race with endurance and not to shrink back to destruction but maintain a faith that preserves our soul. It was difficult to be a true believer for the first century Jew, and it is becoming more and more difficult to be a true follower of Christ for the 21st century Gentile, especially in post-Christian America! Read through these "snippets of OT saints" and expand them by going back to read their full stories. Remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Ro 10:17) in the Old and New Testaments. As you read and study the saints of the OT, your faith will grow and be encouraged.
Gained approval - Literally reads “were testified to” or “had witness given about them”. The NET Note says they "were attested" or "received commendation". Hebrews 11:4-6 goes on to explain that this approval was not from men but from God Almighty. Beloved, is this not the desire of your heart to gain the approval of the King of kings and hear "Well done my good and faithful servant?" If not then you might ask God to make that the desire of your heart and then by His Spirit to cause you to delight in Him and in His approval not in the approval of men. (cp Gal 1:10, 1Th 2:4-note, 2Ti 2:4, 2Cor 5:9-note , 2Cor 5:10-note)The psalmist explains that if we "delight ourselves in the LORD He will give us the desires of our heart." (Ps 37:4-read Spurgeon's excellent note). (See related devotional)
FAITH PLEASES THE FATHER
As Butler observes "Faith brings praise from God. If you want praise from God, believe His Word. You may be praised to the skies by men in your unbelief, but God will not praise you unless you believe His Word, for "without faith it is impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6). (Ibid)
The writer uses martureo 4 times in Hebrews 11 to make his point that faith pleases God and gains His approval…
Gained approval (3140) (martureo from mártus = witness = one who has information or knowledge of something and can bring to light or confirm something. English = martyr) in its most basic sense refers to a legal witness. Thus the verb martureo means to be a witness, to testify, to give evidence, to give testimony, to bear record, to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something. The words testified related to fact, not opinion, as in a courtroom setting. As discussed below in the passive voice martureo takes on the sense of to be well testified of or to have a good report.
Spurgeon - So it was written, in the olden time, that believers “were approved.” This second verse shows that they were approved by their faith. The best part of the report about them is that they believed their God, and believed all that was revealed to them by His Word and His Spirit.
Wuest notes that martureo "is in the passive voice. Literally “for by it the elders were borne witness to.” God bore witness to them that their faith gained victory for them over all obstacles. It is well to notice that the statement in this verse does not begin the list of examples which starts in verse four, but is still attached to the definition of faith in verse one, and is a justification of it (cp "For by it (faith)… "). (Hebrews Commentary)
F F Bruce… It was for faith of this kind (Heb 11:1) that men and women of old received the divine commendation, and this has been placed on permanent record as an example to their descendants. (Ibid)
Marvin Vincent notes that literally martureo in this passage means were borne witness to… God bore witness to them in the victory of their faith over all obstacles, and their characters and deeds as men of faith were recorded in Scripture. For this use of marturein in the passive, see Acts 6:3; 10:22; 16:12; Ro 3:21; Heb. 7:8, 17. Notice that the statement in this verse does not begin the list of examples, which commences with Heb 11:4, but is closely attached to the definition in Heb 11:1 as a comprehensive justification of it.
TDNT discusses the etymology of this word group (martus, martureo, marturia) and notes that… The root would seem to be smer, “to bear in mind,” “to be concerned.” The mártus would thus be one who remembers and can tell about something, i.e., a witness.
Wayne Detzler notes that… In ancient Greek literature the bearing of witness was related to the confirmation of an event. One bore witness to support the truth of an event. The term was connected to the verb merimnao (that which requires the agreement of many minds). As many minds were brought to bear on a subject, the truth was established. Later on a witness was seen as presenting valid legal evidence. Plato insisted that such evidence must be given freely, without coercion. In the writings of the Stoics, this word came to mean evidence for certain beliefs and convictions. Thus the root of religious testimony was planted. (New Testament Words in Today's Language)
Lawrence Richards makes the point that… The emphasis in Greek culture and in the Bible on one’s personal experience of objective reality as a basis for one’s witness or testimony, makes an important statement about Christian faith. Our faith is based on historic events. The resurrection of Jesus was not some subjective experience but an objective event that took place in the real world. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency or Computer Version - New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words)
This word group (martus, martureo, marturia, derivative verb = diamarturomai = to solemnly testify - 15x = Acts 2:40 8:25 10:42 18:5 20:21 20:23 20:24 23:11 28:23 1Th 4:6 1Ti 5:21 2Ti 2:14 4:1 Heb 2:6) gives us our English word martyr which in the Christian context is defined as one who witnesses or bears testimony especially by his or her death because of their faith in Christ. In other words, when commanded to recant (withdraw or repudiate a belief formally and publicly) Christ or die, they choose to die, giving the ultimate testimony that Jesus is Who He said He was (is)! A man named Saul was a firsthand witness to the ultimate testimony of Stephen, a martyrdom (see Acts 7:57, 58, 59, 60 and compare Acts 8:1) which undoubtedly impacted Saul, who in turn became the greatest witness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ ultimately laying down His life as a martyr (2Ti 4:6-note). Beloved follower of Christ, you may not literally become a martyr, but you can rest assured that when you stand for Christ, the world will stand against your testimony and will vilify you. However you can also be assured that your witness for Jesus will have the effect God intended (cp 2Cor 2:14, 15, 16). Let your life be nothing but a visible representation (and fragrance) of Christ! In light of that truth don't compromise your witness but remain continually "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." (1Cor 15:58-note).
Martureo is used with two basic meanings depending on the context…
In summary, as used in Hebrews 11:2, martureo means to be well–testified about, to have good witness, to be spoken well of or in a manner of speaking to be "applauded". God Himself bears witness on the behalf of these saints that they lived by faith and divine approval is granted to them. God bore witness to them that their faith gained victory for them over all obstacles (cp the definition of an "Overcomer" in 1Jn 5:4,5).
It is notable in Hebrews 12:1 the writer calls our attention to a "great cloud of witnesses" (witnesses = root noun = martus). Where do we see the teaching about those witnesses? Is he (as it is often interpreted) referring to the saints in the heavenlies looking down as we run the our spiritual race? Remember that in inductive Bible study one of the key "tools" to facilitate accurate Interpretation is to observe the word or phrase in question (in this case "cloud of witnesses") in it's proper context. The context for Hebrews 12:1 is clearly Hebrews 11 (remember that the original Greek texts had no chapter breaks-these uninspired divisions were added by men) where we find that the verb martureo is used 4 times in chapter 11, the so called Hebrew's "hall of faith". Clearly in context the witnesses in Hebrews 12:1 refer to the saints who have run the race successfully, leaving us a clear and vibrant witness by their obedient lives that their faith was genuine. Some of the witnesses in Hebrews 11 in fact were literally martyred for their faith.
So let our lips and lives express
The Christian’s life is the world’s Bible.
Martureo - 76x in 74v. NAS translates it as follows: add… testimony(1), attested(1), bear… witness(1), bear witness(1), continued to testify(1), gained approval(2), given(1), gives(1), good reputation(1), having a reputation(1), obtained the testimony(1), obtained the witness(1), received a good testimony(1), speaking well(1), testified(17), testifies(7), testify(25), testifying(5), testimony(5), well spoken(3), witness(1), witnessed(2), witnesses(1).
Martureo is used in 8 verses in the Non-apocryphal Septuagint - Gen 31:46, 48; Num 35:30; Deut 19:15, 18; 31:21; 2Chr 28:10; Lam 2:13.
Genesis 31:48 Laban said, "This heap is a witness between you and me this day." Therefore it was named Galeed,
Comment: In cutting a covenant with Jacob, Laban followed the custom in the ancient world of using an object to testify that the binding agreement had been consummated. In this case it was a pile of rocks that indicated the ratification of the covenant (See Ge 31:46, 48, 51, 52). (Related Resource: Covenant in the Bible - see especially the column labeled "Is There a Sign or Witness?")
Here are all the NT uses of martureo…
Matthew 23:31 "So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
Comment: Here martureo has a legal significance: "The scribes witness against themselves that they are the sons of those who murdered the prophets" (Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament). Jesus implication of course is that these unbelieving religious leaders were guilty by virtue of their own testimony!
Luke 4:22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, "Is this not Joseph's son?"
A T Robertson: (Martureo is in the) Imperfect active, perhaps inchoative. They all began to bear witness that the rumors were not exaggerations (Lk 4:14) as they had supposed, but had foundation in fact if this discourse or its start was a fair sample of his teaching.
John 1:7 He (John the Baptist) came as a witness (marturia), to testify about the Light, so that (What is the purpose?) all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
Comment: It is worth noting that not only does the apostle John uses the verb martureo more than any other NT writer, he also uses the related (cognate) noun marturia (testimony) 26 out of 33 uses in the NT (14x in John's Gospel, 4x in his epistles and 8x in his final work, the Revelation - Jn 1:7,19 3:11,32,33 5:31,32, 34, 36 8:13, 14, 17 19:35 21:24 1Jn 5:9,10,11 3Jn 1:12 Rev 1:2-note, Re 1:9-note, Re 6:9-note Re 11:7-note Re 12:11-note, Re 12:17-note Re 19:10-note Re 20:4-note - observe the five fold repetition of the phrase "testimony of Jesus" in the Revelation.). Clearly, the concept of bearing witness or giving an accurate testimony is of paramount importance to John and rightly so, for the eternal destiny of every man and woman hangs in the balance, depending on how they respond to the testimony of the truth about Jesus Christ. And as alluded to earlier don't miss the fact that John, like a good lawyer who desires to leave no doubt as to the truth regarding his client, calls a number of "witnesses to the stand" (Who or what were they? Read the uses of Martureo in John's Gospel and make a list of those who "testified." At the end of this note on "martureo" you will find Vine's definition which gives us a list of "witnesses" - but make your observations before looking at his!).
A T Robertson notes that the phrase "Through him" (through John the Baptist) means "As the intermediate agent in winning men to believe in Christ (the Logos) as the Light and the Life of men. This is likewise the purpose of the author (John the Apostle) of this book (Jn 20:31). The preacher is merely the herald to point men to Christ."
Dear Christ follower, to whom has your life pointed this past week? When others know Whose we are (1Cor 6:19, 20), we are continually witnesses of Christ's life within us - may the witness of our lives open doors to witness with our lips! Remember that every Christian occupies some kind of pulpit and preaches some kind of Gospel. We are not Christ's lawyers. We are his witnesses, so if we want the lost around us to know what Christ can do for them, we need to let them see what Christ has done for us.
John 1:15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'"
John 1:32 John testified saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.
John 1:34 "I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God."
John 2:25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
John 3:11 "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony (marturia).
John 3:26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him."
John 3:28 "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.'
John 3:32 "What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony (marturia).
John 4:39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all the things that I have done."
John 4:44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
John 5:31 "If I alone testify (martureo) about Myself, My testimony (marturia) is not true. 32 "There is another who testifies (martureo) of Me, and I know that the testimony (marturia) which He gives about Me is true. 33 "You have sent to John, and he has testified (martureo) to the truth.
John 5:36 "But the testimony (marturia) which I have is greater than the testimony (marturia) of John (referring to John the Baptist); for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish-- the very works that I do (e.g., His miracles)-- testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 "And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form… 39 "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
Observe that the Scripture is personified as one who witnesses of Christ. It follows that when we have an opportunity to witness with our lips, we stay close to the Word. Donald S. Whitney wrote that "The most powerful ongoing Christian witness has always been the speaking of God's Word by one who is living in God's Word."
John 7:7 "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.
John 8:13 So the Pharisees said to Him, "You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony (marturia) is not true." 14 Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony (marturia) is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going… 18 "I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me."
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me.
John 12:17 So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him.
John 13:21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me."
John 15:26 "When the Helper (the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
Comment: Beloved, praise God for the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit Who not only testifies that Jesus is the Christ but also opens the eyes of our heart to see and that life saving Truth! Jesus' statement that "you will testify also" parallels His final instructions to the disciples in Acts 1:8 that they would "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (them); and (they were to) be My witnesses (martus) both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Notice that Jesus teaches that witnessing is not something we do; it is something we are. Augustine alluded to this when he said "What I live by, I impart."
The famous preacher Donald Grey Barnhouse once said that "Men may not read the gospel in seal-skin, or the gospel in morocco, or the gospel in cloth covers; but they can't get away from the Gospel in shoe leather!"
John 18:23 Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?"
John 18:37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth (He was the personification of Truth - Jn 14:6!). Everyone who is of the truth hears (Not just physically hears but hears with understanding, belief and obedience) My voice."
John 19:35 And he who has seen (John the writer of this Gospel) has testified, and his testimony (marturia) is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that (purpose statement - compare the purpose statement in John 20:31 below) you also may believe.
John 21:24 This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
Comment: John is the disciple who is referred to in this passage. And like a witness on the stand where a life or death verdict was in the balance, John used martureo more than any other Gospel writer clearly giving an accurate testimony about Jesus stating that "these (the things that bear witness) have been written (and remain written) that (Here is the reason, so that) you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." (Jn 20:31)
Acts 6:3 "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation (present tense = describes their reputation as their lifestyle!), full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
Comment: Reputation is what other men think about you. Character is what God knows to be true about you. H W Beecher said that "Reputation is sometimes as wide as the horizon when character is the point of a needle."
1828 Webster's says Reputation is a valuable species of property or right, which should never be violated. With the loss of reputation, a man and especially a woman, loses most of the enjoyments of life."
Nelson New Illustrated Bible Dictionary says reputation is - the general estimation in which a person is held by others. A person’s reputation may be ruined by careless deeds or words (Pr 25:8-10).
Acts 10:22 They said, "Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you."
NET Note: The long introduction of Cornelius by his messengers is an attempt to commend this Gentile to his Jewish counterpart, which would normally be important to do in the culture of the time.
Acts 10:43 "Of Him (Jesus) all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."
Comment: All the Old Testament prophets testified through Messianic prophecies that Messiah would come and pay the redemption price (His precious blood) that men might be set free from the guilt and condemnation of power of sin. In fact the entire OT was like a giant "finger" pointing to the "Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world." (Jn 1:29). Dear reader, make sure you do not miss the clear Old Testament testimony of Jesus, lest you miss heaven!
Acts 13:22 "After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, 'I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.'
Acts 14:3 Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.
Acts 15:8 "And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
Acts 16:2 and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.
Acts 22:5 as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.
Acts 22:12 "A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
Acts 23:11 But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, "Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also."
Acts 26:5 since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.
Romans 3:21-note But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
Romans 10:2-note For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
1 Corinthians 15:15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.
2 Corinthians 8:3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord
Comment: Paul’s use of martureo indicates that he had firsthand experience of the generous giving of the Macedonians (cp Php 4:15–18). They gave not a portion of but in proportion to what they had, according to their ability (dunamis = power - see similar use in Mt 25:14).
Galatians 4:15 Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.
Colossians 4:13-note For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
1 Timothy 5:10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.
1 Timothy 6:13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
Below is Vine's (modified) summary of martureo (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words online)…
Utley summarizes the various witnesses to Jesus in the Gospel of John (this list includes both the noun and verb)…
Steven Cole in his sermon on Heb 11:1-3 comments on the phrase "by faith men of old gained approval" explaining that…