Hebrews 11:3-5 Commentary

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek:Pistei nooumen (1PPAI) katertisthai (RPN) tous aionas remati theou, eis to me ek phainomenon (PMPNPG) to blepomenon (PPPNSA) gegonenai. (RAN)
Amplified: By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
NLT: By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: And it is after all only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was created by God's command - that the world which we can see has come into being through principles which are invisible. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: By means of faith we perceive that the material universe and the God-appointed ages of time were equipped and fitted by God's word for the purpose for which they were intended, and it follows therefore that that which we see did not come into being out of that which is visible. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: by faith we understand the ages to have been prepared by a saying of God, in regard to the things seen not having come out of things appearing;

BY FAITH WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE WORLDS WERE PREPARED BY THE WORD OF GOD: Pistei nooumen (1PPAI) kathertisthai (RPN) tous aionas rhemati theou,: (He 1:2; Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1; Ps 33:6; Isaiah 40:26; Jer 10:11,16; Jn 1:3; Acts 14:15; 17:24; Ro 1:19, 20, 21; 4:17; 2Pe 3:5; Rev 4:11)

Wuest - This verse does not begin the list of instances where faith was exercised in Old Testament times. It is still part of the exposition of faith found in verses 1–3. It shows that in its earliest and most general expression, belief that the visible universe was created by God, is a conviction of something not apprehensible by the senses. (Hebrews Commentary)

By Faith - All uses in NAS in Heb 11 - Heb 4:2; 10:38; 11:3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33.

Each example of faith in Heb 11:3-31 is formally introduced with this specific phrase "by faith" (pistei)

Spurgeon - The facts about creation must be the subject of faith. It is true that they can be substantiated by the argument from design and in other ways; still, for a wise purpose, as I believe, God has not made even that matter of the creation of the universe perfectly clear to human reason, so there is room for the exercise of faith. Men like to have everything laid down according to the rules of mathematical precision, but God desires them to exercise faith. Therefore, He has not acted according to their wishes. Reason is all very well, but faith mounts upon the shoulders of reason and sees much farther than reason with her best telescope will ever be able to see. It is enough for us who have faith that God has told us how He made the world, and we believe it.

Faith (4102)(pistis) is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth of anything, but in Scripture speaks of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. As pistis relates to God, it is the conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things well as the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. As faith relates to Christ it represents a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Stated another way, eternal salvation comes only through belief in Jesus Christ and no other way.

For more discussion 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)

Throughout this great "Hall of Faith" we see example after example of the vital maxim that true or genuine saving faith equates with obedience to God (Jas 2:14-26 - see verse by verse commentary beginning at James 2:14). Note that obedience does not save. Only faith in Jesus saves, but a subsequent new heart (Ezek 36:26, 27) in the new creation (2Co 5:17) in Christ produces a new "direction" in one's life, albeit not a direction of perfection (at least not in this mortal life - but yes, hallelujah, in the glorified life to come, the eternal, everlasting life in the presence of His glory! Maranatha. Amen)

There are two explanations for the origin of the universe and one is total speculation, and the other is full revelation. By faith we accept the latter, the revelation that God created everything out of nothing! We weren't there when He accomplished this great feat, but He states it clearly and that is sufficient for the man or woman of faith, for God is trustworthy and His Word is true.

Understand (3539) (noeo [word study] from nous = mind, the seat of moral reflection) has the basic meaning of direct one's mind to something and thus means more than just taking a glance. It means to perceive with the mind, to apprehend, to ponder (= weigh in one's mind, think especially quietly, soberly and deeply). It means to consider well, to reflect on with insight, or to think over a matter carefully. The idea is to grasp or comprehend something on the basis of careful thought.

Wuest - The word understand is the translation of noeo which means “to perceive with the reflective intelligence.” It is distinguished from the mere physical act of seeing. It is the perception of the mind consequent upon seeing. In the New Testament it is never used of mere physical sight. (Hebrews Commentary)

Vincent says noeo in this verse means "the inward perception and apprehension of the visible creation as the work of God, which follows the sight of the phenomena of nature."

In short, the writer is saying we as believers perceive the truth about creation by virtue of thoughts coming into our consciousness which is distinct from simply perceiving with one's senses. Yes we see, but even more we understand, Paul alluding to the irrefutable witness of God's Infinitely Creative Genius "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood (noieo also from nous = denotes clear perception, full understanding, and careful consideration) through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Ro 1:20-note)

Worlds (165)(aion) as implied by the numerous ways it is translated into English (see next paragraph) is somewhat difficult to define. The specific meaning of aion is best determined by the context in which it is used. As a generalization aion usually refers to some aspect of time past, present or future.

Wuest writes that "While the context speaks of created things, yet it does not seem that the meaning of aion should be limited to the material universe alone. It includes that here, but embraces more. It refers to the created universe and the periods of time as administered by God. (Hebrews Commentary)

Henry Alford writes that the expression worlds "includes in it all that exists under the conditions of time and space, together with those conditions of time and space themselves, conditions which do not bind God, and did not exist independently of Him, but are themselves the work of His word."

Prepared (KJV = "framed" like framers of a house) (2675)(katartizo [word study] from katá = with + artízō = to adjust, fit, finish, in turn from ártios = fit, complete) means to fit or join together and so to mend or repair. Katartízō conveys the fundamental idea of putting something into its appropriate condition so it will function well. It conveys the idea of making whole by fitting together, to order and arrange properly.

The concept involved in this verb (Heb 13:21) is that of equipping so that something might be made ready to fulfill its purpose.

Wuest adds katartizo means “to fit out or equip, so that person or thing thus equipped or fitted out might subserve the purpose for which it was made.” It speaks of a wise adaptation of part to part and of the whole to its purpose, in this case, of the created universe and the periods of time, by the Word of God. Expositor’s says: “The Word of God is an invisible force which cannot be perceived by sense. The great power which lies at the source of all that is does not itself come into observation; we perceive it only by faith which is (Heb 11:1) ‘the evidence of things not seen.’ ” (Hebrews Commentary)

The word of God - God’s divine utterance, as in Genesis 1 = Ge 1:3,Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. Ge 1:6,9,11,14).

Word (4487) (rhema [word study] from verb rheo = to speak - to say, speak or utter definite words) refers to the spoken word, especially a word as uttered by a living voice. Rhema refers to any sound produced by the voice which has a definite meaning. It focuses upon the content of the communication. For example in Luke we read "And they understood none of these things, and this saying (rhema) was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said." (Luke 18:34) Rhema speaks of articulate utterance and is never used as a designation of God the Son as is logos (eg Jn 1:1). In short, the writer of Hebrews is referring to the uttered Word of God not the Son of God. God spoke the "utterance", the word, and the universe came into existence.

Wuest - The word “word” is not the translation of logos as in John 1:1, logos being a designation of the Son of God as the Word of God in the sense that He is in Himself all that deity is, deity expressing itself not in words as parts of speech, but in the revelation of a Person. It is the translation of rhema which speaks of articulate utterance. This word is never used as a designation of God the Son. It is the Word of God to which reference is made here, not the Son of God. God spoke the word, and a universe sprang into existence. Since the universe was framed by the word of God, it follows, the writer argues, that that which is seen was not made out of that which is visible. Expositor’s says: “Had the visible world been formed out of materials which were subject to human observation, there would have been no room for faith. Science could have traced it back to its origin. Evolution only pushes the statement a stage back. There is still an unseen force that does not submit itself to experimental science, and this is the object of faith.” (Hebrews Commentary)

To be sure, ultimately the Word is Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col 1:16,17-note).

John writes "And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word (Logos) of God. (Rev 19:13-note)

The phrase “God said” occurs 10 times in Genesis 1 (Ge 1:3 1:6 1:9 1:11 1:14 1:20 1:24

1:26 1:28 1:29)

The Psalmist echoes the truth found in Hebrews 11:3 declaring…

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. (Ps 33:9)

Spurgeon comments: Creation was the fruit of a word. Jehovah said, "Light be," and light was. The Lord's acts are sublime in their ease and instantaneousness. "What a word is this?" This was the wondering enquiry of old, and it may be ours to this day. He commanded, and it stood fast. Out of nothing creation stood forth, and was confirmed in existence. The same power which first uplifted, now makes the universe to abide; although we may not observe it, there is as great a display of sublime power in confirming as in creating. Happy is the man who has learned to lean his all upon the sure word of him who built the skies!

As we say in Latin, Dictum factum, SAID DONE, no delay having interposed. Hugo Grotius.

He spake, and it was done; so that the creatures were not emanations from the divine nature, but effects of the divine will, the fruits of intelligence, and design, and counsel. William Binnie, D.D.

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS - The irresistible word of Jehovah in creation, in calling his people, in their comfort and deliverance, in their entrance to glory.

SO THAT WHAT IS SEEN WAS NOT MADE OUT OF THINGS WHICH ARE VISIBLE: eis to me ek phainomenon (PMPNPG) to blepomenon (PPPNSA) gegonenai (RAN):

So that (in order that) (term of purpose or result) - Since the universe was framed by the word of God, it follows, the writer argues, that which is seen was not made out of that which is visible. A spoken word can only be heard not seen!

Spurgeon - Things that we see were not made out of things that we see. They were brought out of the unseen by the word of God. The word of God is the foundation of everything that has been formed by Him; and, after all, things material—created and seen—are not truly substantial. They are but shadows; the real substance is that which never can be seen, even the ever-blessed God, whose voice—whose word—created the heavens and the earth.

Expositor’s - Had the visible world been formed out of materials which were subject to human observation, there would have been no room for faith. Science could have traced it back to its origin. Evolution only pushes the statement a stage back. There is still an unseen force that does not submit itself to experimental science, and this is the object of faith.

Steven Cole in his sermon on Heb 11:1-3 entitled "By Faith" writes…

Faith is the means of understanding the origin of all that is (He 11:3).

“By faith we understand that the ages [lit.] were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” This is the first of 19 uses of “by faith” in this chapter (Heb 4:2; 10:38; 11:3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33). All of the others relate to a parade of characters from the Old Testament who trusted in God. But this first one goes back to Genesis 1, to the biblical account of creation. “The word of God” here does not refer to His written word, but to His spoken word. It refers to the repeated phrase, “then God said” (Ge 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). As Ps 33:6, 9 affirms, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host…. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”

Ages” (“worlds”) is a Hebrew way of referring to the creation from the standpoint of its successive duration. While the term is roughly equivalent to “world,” it allows for what modern science has established, that time is related to matter. The author says that faith gives us understanding of how the material universe (and time) came into being, namely, by God’s spoken word. Matter is not eternal. God, who is Spirit, is eternal. The eternal God brought physical matter and time into being by His powerful word alone!

You can only understand that by faith, because no one was there to observe it. The prevailing current worldview, that matter always existed and that the current universe, including man, happened by sheer chance over billions of years, is based on blind faith, because there is no evidence to support it. The biblical view, that the eternal God spoke it into existence, is based on faith, but not on blind faith. There is abundant evidence that an incredibly intelligent Designer created everything, especially human life. You would think that a discovery such as human DNA, which shows amazing design, would cause all scientists to fall down in worship before God. But as Paul explains (Ro 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22), sinful men sup-press the truth in unrighteousness. They become futile in their speculations, their foolish hearts are darkened, and professing to be wise, they become fools.

The fact that the author puts verse 3 at the start of his list of “by faith” examples, shows that faith in God as Creator is foundational to knowing God. The first verse of the Bible hits us squarely with a vital fact: “In the beginning God created the heavens and

the earth.” You cannot begin to understand yourself, other people, world history, or God if you reject the early chapters of Genesis. The first verse of Genesis presents you with a crucial choice: If God created everything that is, then He is the sovereign of the universe. If you do not come to Him in faith as your Savior, you will stand before Him in terror as your Judge! But when you believe in His Word about salvation, you gain understanding about the origins of the ages that makes everything in history fall into place.


The author does not want us to have a temporary, flimsy faith that shrinks back to destruction. He wants us to have a faith that endures trials to the preserving of the soul (He 10:39). Such faith takes the future promises of God and makes them real in the present. It proves the reality of the unseen world. It gains God’s approval. It understands the origins of all that is.

Such faith, as we will see in the numerous examples of He-brews 11, is down to earth and practical. It has sustained the people of God through thousands of years in every sort of difficulty. It will sustain you in the trials that you face right now! As Jonathan Edwards said as his final words, “Trust in God and you need not fear” (Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, Iain Murray [Banner of Truth], p. 441).

Discussion Questions

How does a person who struggles with doubts get faith and grow strong in faith?

Since God’s promises are given in specific contexts, how can we know which of them apply to us now?

Why is it important to affirm that faith is not a work that gains God’s merit? How do rewards fit in with faith?

Why is the doctrine of creation by God’s word crucial for knowing Him and for the Christian life? (Index to Pastor Steven Cole's sermons by Bible book - Highly Recommended - They read much like a verse by verse commentary)

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Pistei pleiona thusian Abel para Kain prosenegken (3SAAI) to theo, di' es emarturethe (3SAPI) einai (PAN) dikaios, marturountos (PAPMSG) epi tois dorois autou tou theou, kai di' autes apothanon (5631) eti lalei. (3SPAI)

Amplified: [Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

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

NLT: It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. God accepted Abel's offering to show that he was a righteous man. And although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us because of his faith. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: It was because of his faith that Abel made a better sacrifice to God than Cain, and he had evidence that God looked upon him as a righteous man, whose gifts he could accept. And though Cain killed him, yet by his faith he still speaks to us today. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which it was testified that he was righteous, God bearing witness to his gifts, and through it, though he is dead, yet he speaks. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: by faith a better sacrifice did Abel offer to God than Cain, through which he was testified to be righteous, God testifying of his gifts, and through it, he being dead, doth yet speak.

BY FAITH ABEL OFFERED TO GOD A BETTER SACRIFICE THAN CAIN: Pistei pleiona thusian Abel para Kain prosenegken (3SAAI) to theo: (Genesis 4:3, 4, 5,15,25; 1John 3:11,12) (He 9:22; Proverbs 15:8; 21:27; Titus 1:16; Jude 1:11)


Ge 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Note that Adam and Eve are passed over in this portion regarding creation because they had seen God, fellowshipped with Him, and talked with Him. Their children were the first to exercise faith in the unseen God but also the first to commit murder.

I like the way the Amplified Version phrases Abel's "motivation"…

[Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice

Beloved, don't let the story of the sacrifices of two brothers confuse you -- the issue is not the type of offering, but the type of offerer! Man looks at the outside, but God examines the heart (cp 1Sa 16:7, Acts 13:22). One was righteous (cp Ro 4:2, 3-note) and the other unrighteous (cp Ro 4:4, 5-note). The difference? Faith - It makes all the difference in this world (2Co 5:7) and in the world to come!

Wuest - It is significant that the writer chooses Abel as the first example of what faith can do for the one who exercises it. In the case of Abel, it was the matter of his personal salvation which was in view, as was also the case with the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews. If Abel’s appropriation of salvation was by means of faith, that would mean that if the first-century Jew wanted to be saved, he would have to exercise faith. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. That which made Abel’s sacrifice more excellent than Cain’s, was not its quantity but its quality. Its quality inhered in the fact that it was the offering which God had prescribed, a blood offering. Abel had learned this from his father Adam. The word “which” could refer grammatically either to the sacrifice or the faith. The context decides. God testified of his gifts, namely, the sacrifice. All of which means that it was by means of the blood sacrifice that he obtained witness that he was righteous. Though Abel is dead, yet “by it” (the sacrifice) he yet speaks, telling to all that live after, that salvation is through sacrificial blood. In Heb 12:24, the statement is made that Jesus’ blood speaks better things than the blood of Abel. It is not Abel’s own blood which is in view here, but the blood of the offering Abel presented to God. This is shown by the historical background and analysis of the epistle, the argument of which is that “The New Testament in Jesus’ blood is superior to and takes the place of the First Testament in animal blood.” The blood of Abel’s offering spoke symbolically of a Sacrifice for sin that God would one day offer. But Jesus’ blood is the actual sacrifice, and speaks of the salvation which He procured for us on the Cross. It was the blood offering which Abel presented to God through which he was declared righteous. This is in accord with Pauline doctrine where the great apostle speaks of “being now justified by his blood” (Ro 5:9). Cain followed his reason and ignored revelation. He argued that his own good works as manifested by the produce which he had grown, would please God rather than a blood sacrifice. Abel accepted revelation instead, and had faith in the divine acceptability of the offering prescribed by God. His own reason may have argued otherwise, but his faith in what God had said, won the day. Here was the example which this first-century Jew should follow in his appropriation of the salvation which Messiah procured for him on the Cross, not the way of Cain, which he had been taught by the first-century religious leaders in Israel. (Hebrews Commentary)

Faith (4102)(pistis) is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth of anything, but in Scripture speaks of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. As pistis relates to God, it is the conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things well as the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. As faith relates to Christ it represents a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Stated another way, eternal salvation comes only through belief in Jesus Christ and no other way.

For more discussion 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)

Abel (Dictionary Article on Abel - includes pictures) - (Ge 4:2, 4, 8, 9, 25, Mt 23:35, Lk 11:51, He 11:4, He 12:24) His name in Hebrew is said to mean "breath, vapor, meadow", the first two meanings suggesting the shortening of his life (cp Jas 4:14, Ps 37:2, 90:5 92:7, Isa 40:6, 7, 8, 1Pe 1:24)

Jesus Himself designates Abel as "righteous Abel" (Mt 23:35) leaving no doubt that Abel was a man of faith in the Coming Messiah. What Abel understood of the Messiah and the Cross at this time in Genesis is not clear, but it is clear that he believed what God had revealed to him about the Messiah, for there is salvation ("righteous Abel") in no other Name under heaven except Yeshua, Jesus (cp Acts 4:12)

Spurgeon - (Abel) The first of the long line of martyrs triumphed by faith. If you are to be strong to bear witness for God, you must be made strong by the same power that wrought so effectually in Abel. If, like his, your life is to be a speaking life—a life that will speak even out of the grave—its voice must be the voice of faith. Faith works differently in each one of these mighty men. It is the same living principle in all of them; but they are different men, and their faith is seen in very different circumstances. Faith is able to work in all manner of ways; it is good at everything. There is nothing that God calls us to do but faith can enable us to accomplish it. In Abel’s case, we see that faith is grand at worshiping. Faith brings a right sacrifice, brings it in the right way, and speaks even after she is dead, for the blood of Abel cried out of the ground. Oh, that all of us might so live that, even out of our graves, there might come a voice speaking for God! Abel taught the need of approaching the Lord with sacrifice, the need of atonement by blood. He laid the lamb upon the altar and sealed his testimony with his own blood. Atonement is so precious a truth that to die for its defense is a worthy deed, and from the very first it is a doctrine that has secured its martyrs, who being dead yet speak.

Offered - To bear or bring to a place or person. gifts (Mt 2:11). Used in the Septuagint to describe Cain's offering in Ge 4:7.

A better sacrifice - Literally, "more sacrifice".

Key Word in Hebrews = Better = Better - 13x in 12v - Heb 1:4; 6:9; 7:19, 22; 8:6 (2x); He 9:23; 10:34; 11:4, 16, 35, 40; 12:24

Sacrifice (2378) (thusia from thuo = to sacrifice or kill a sacrificial victim) means that which is offered as a sacrifice. Webster's defines it as act of offering to a deity something precious! Here thusia is used metaphorically to describe their volitional offering of their words.

Thusia - 28x in the NT - Matt. 9:13; 12:7; Mk. 12:33; Lk. 2:24; 13:1; Acts 7:41f; Rom. 12:1; 1 Co. 10:18; Eph. 5:2; Phil. 2:17; 4:18; He 5:1; 7:27; 8:3; 9:9, 23, 26; 10:1, 5, 8, 11, 12, 26; 11:4; 13:15, 16; 1Pe 2:5

Sacrifice - 19x in 18v - Heb 5:1, 3; 7:27; 8:3; 9:9, 23, 26; 10:1, 3, 5, 6, 8 (2x), He 10:11, 12, 26; 11:4; 13:15, 16

Thusia was used for both pagan animal sacrifices. Here are some of the uses of thusia in the Septuagint = Ge 4:3, 5; 31:54; 46:1; Ex 10:25; 12:27; 18:12; 24:5; 29:34, 41f; 30:9; 32:6; Lev 1:9, 13, 17; 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15; 3:1, 3, 6, 9; 4:10, 26, 31, 35; 5:13; 6:14, 15, 20, 21, 23; 7:9-17, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 29, 32, 34, 37; 9:4, 17, 18; 10:12, 14; 14:10, 20f, 31; 17:5, 7, 8; 19:5; 21:6, 21; 22:21, 29; 23:13, 16, 18f, 37; 26:31)

In the Old Testament there were two types of sacrifices, the first offered to deal with sin and the broken fellowship that resulted from the sin. The sacrificial blood was a picture of the bridging of the gap between the giver and God (although OT sacrifices for sin only covered over for a time, whereas Christ's sacrifice effectively and permanently removed all guilt of sin for those who believe in Him).

The second type of OT sacrifice was presented to God as an act of worship, the presenter having had his sins covered over by the blood of the sin offering, which resulted in his hearts being full of thanksgiving and praise to God which was reflected in the offering. It is this second type of "sacrifice" for which Paul is commending the Philippians. The writer of Hebrews has a parallel passage writing that…

Through Him (Christ, our Great High Priest) then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His Name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing (which is exactly what the saints at Philippi had done!); for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15, 16)

Note also that in the Old Testament sacrificial system, every sacrifice was to provide a fragrant aroma and be acceptable to God. Only if the individual offered it up with the correct heart attitude would it be pleasing to God. And so we read that after the flood and their arrival on dry land…

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar and the LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done." (Genesis 8:20-21) (cf Lev 1:9,13,17).

In Exodus a parallel passage states "And you shall offer up in smoke the whole ram on the altar; it is a burnt offering to the LORD: it is a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD. (cf Ex 29:18).

Defender's Study Bible - We no longer sacrifice the blood of animals to cover our sins, for Christ has "offered one sacrifice for sins forever" (He 10:12 -note). Instead, we offer praises, the "calves of our lips" (Ps 50:23; Ho 14:2). These are not to be offered only once each week, in a so-called worship service, or praise service, but continually. "In every thing give thanks" (1Th 5:18-note). (Henry Morris)

Many try to read into the Genesis account a hidden reason for God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering and rejection of Cain’s. Various explanations have been offered, but the writer is silent about everything except that God “spoke well” of Abel’s offering because it was “better” (pleiona - the comparative adjective of polus = many, much), “greater” “more important”.

If Abel’s sacrifice was more important than Cain’s, what made it so? The reason suggested is that it was offered up from a heart made righteous by faith. If Abraham’s faith was “credited to him as righteousness” (Ro 4:9), so too was Abel’s. So Abel performed a "righteous" work, an acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God in the manner that pleases God (Heb 11:6) - by faith.

Ge 4:7 indicates that when Cain learned that his offering was not pleasing to God (Heb 11:6) he became angry and rebellious, thus confirming the attitude of His heart toward the sovereign will of God. But even in Ge 4:7 God provided a "way of escape" so to speak. This reflects God's heart that no man perish but that all might come to repentance (cp 2Pe 3:9). Cain’s subsequent murder of his brother showed his hard hearted rejection of the opportunity God gave him to repent.

In short, Cain’s offering was rejected because his heart of pride and attitude of self-sufficiency. This explanation also fits well with the context of Hebrews where the writer repeatedly warns against possessing “an evil heart of unbelief.”

It is interesting to read ancient writer's like Josephus and Philo who suggest that Abel was "religious" while Cain was not, so that the former brought an offering of greater value. From what we have said Abel was not so much "religious" as he was "righteous". As we so commonly hear, religion saves no one for it makes no one acceptable to a God Whose eternal standard is perfection. Only a relationship by faith in the Son makes one acceptable and one's works acceptable to the Father!

K G Kuhn has this note in the TDNT…

Matt. 23:35 and Jude 1:11 reflect the Jewish view when they contrast righteous Abel and wicked Cain. Heb. 11:4 finds faith in Abel (as distinct from Cain). Also in Heb. 11:4, on the basis of Ge 4:10, the blood of righteous Abel appeals to God for full redress in the consummated kingdom (cf. Rev 6:9, 10, 11). In Heb 12:24 Abel’s blood serves as a type for that of Jesus — the one demanding expiation, the other making it.

Ge 4:4, 5, 6, 7, 8

James Burns writes about Gustave Dore's woodcut of Abel's murder by Cain…

The artist Dore has a striking picture dealing with that first revelation in Scripture of the fruits of anger—the story of Cain and Abel.

Abel, who was a keeper of sheep, brought as a sacrifice the firstlings of his flock, while Cain offered the fruit of the ground.

The artist introduces us to a gloomy valley, bounded by a bare stony wall of mountains, sprinkled with rough boulders, and darkened with shaggy wood. In this place the brothers offer their sacrifice. The oblation of the one was accepted, we are told, and that of the other rejected. The picture helps us vividly to imagine the scene. (Click to see this woodcut)

The brothers have both set fire to the wood on the rough stone altar, but while the smoke from Abel's rises up in a straight column to the sky, the wind, whirling round a boulder, dashes the smoke of Cain's sacrifice downward, and scatters it in all directions. Cain turns toward his brother, who is kneeling devoutly, and lifting up his eyes to God in prayer.

Already murder is entering into his heart. "Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell" (Genesis 4:5). In another moment wrath will have conquered him, swept him away in a paroxysm of ungovernable fury and wrought ruin and death upon his soul.

In another picture, entitled, "The Death of Abel," we see the offended brother lying dead upon the ground, while his brother gazes upon him with horror stricken and startled eyes. He has awakened from his passion to realize his sin, and as he does so a serpent is seen to wriggle away and to disappear (Ed note: Click the picture above and see if you can identify the "serpent". Interesting! cp the "serpent's character" in Jn 8:44). (From Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

Than Cain (19x in 16v - Gen 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 13, 1516, 17, 24, 25; Heb 11:4; 1Jn 3:12; Jude 1:11). See Dictionary Articles on Cain

John writes

For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. (1Jn 3:11, 12)

Proverbs warns of walking the way of Cain noting that…

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. (Pr 15:8, cp Pr 21:27)

Titus gives an apt description of all who walk in the precarious (eternally speaking) path of Cain

They profess (present tense = continually = Note carefully "Profession is not synonymous with Possession!"… of the Son… of life = 1Jn 5:12, 13) to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable (bdekluktos = literally they emit a foul odor! Woe!) and disobedient (apeithes) = a - without + peitho - persuade = literally one who refuses to be persuaded or is unpersuadable = one who willfully disregards authority) and worthless (adokimos = a - without + dokimos - tested and found acceptable = they are rejected after examination because they fail to meet God's standard of perfect righteousness) for any good deed (study) -. (Titus 1:16-note)

THROUGH WHICH HE OBTAINED THE TESTIMONY THAT HE WAS RIGHTEOUS GOD TESTIFYING ABOUT HIS GIFTS AND THROUGH [IT], THOUGH HE IS DEAD, HE STILL SPEAKS: einai (PAN) dikaios marturountos (PAPMSG) epi tois dorois autou tou theou marturountos (PAPMSG) epi tois dorois autou tou theou kai di autes apothanon eti lalei (3SPAI): (Leviticus 9:24; 1Kings 18:38; Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51) (He 12:1,24; Genesis 4:10; Matthew 23:35 )

Obtained the testimony - "martureo" is used 4x in Hebrew 11 (He 11:2, 4, 5, 39)

Martureo - 76x in 72v - Matt 23:31; Luke 4:22; John 1:7f, 15, 32, 34; 2:25; 3:11, 26, 28, 32; 4:39, 44; 5:31ff, 36f, 39; 7:7; 8:13f, 18; 10:25; 12:17; 13:21; 15:26f; 18:23, 37; 19:35; 21:24; Acts 6:3; 10:22, 43; 13:22; 14:3; 15:8; 16:2; 22:5, 12; 23:11; 26:5; Rom 3:21; 10:2; 1 Cor 15:15; 2 Cor 8:3; Gal 4:15; Col 4:13; 1 Tim 5:10; 6:13; Heb 7:8, 17; 10:15; 11:2, 4f, 39; 1 John 1:2; 4:14; 5:6f, 9f; 3 John 1:3, 6, 12; Rev 1:2; 22:16, 18, 20. NAS renders martureo as - 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 - 8x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 31:46, 48; Nu 35:30; Dt 19:15, 18; 31:21; 2Chr 28:10; Lam 2:13;

Abel was JUSTIFIED BY FAITH for in this verse God's Word declares him righteous and that righteousness was imputed or credited to his account just as in the NT… on the basis of his FAITH, not on the basis of his offering. His "better offering" was the work of faith, his bringing forth of "fruit" in keeping with repentance. Faith alone saved Abel but his saving faith was not alone but was an obedient faith that resulted in a "better sacrifice".

Because of Abel's faith, evidenced in obedience to God’s requirement for sacrifice, he was accounted righteous by God in the same way as was Abraham (Ro 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). Christ Himself referred to the righteousness of Abel (Mt 23:35). Cain’s sacrifice on the other hand was evidence that he was just going through the motions of ritual in a disobedient manner, not evidencing an authentic saving faith. Without faith no one can receive imputed righteousness (Ge 15:6).

Paul's explanation in Romans 4 is apropos to Cain and Abel…

Now to the one who works (Cain), his (Cain's) wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due.5 But to the one (Abel) who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his (Abel's) faith is reckoned as righteousness. (Ro 4:4)

So Cain was saying in essence to God… in my own strength & effort, I can produce a righteousness which will obtain Your approval… WRONG! In our flesh their DWELLETH NO GOOD THING! We all need to be mindful of this effect of the fall… we must continue to live this Christ life just as we were born into it… BY FAITH!!! (Col 2:6) Also see [He 12:24], in which still another reference is made to the nature of Abel's sacrifice.

Like MOST early Christian exegetes, Augustine treats Cain as symbolic of the envious "Jews by whom Christ was slain,” while Christ himself, “the shepherd of the flock of men, [is] prefigured in Abel, the shepherd of the flock of sheep” (De civ. Dei 15.7; cf. 15.18)"

This is taking considerable liberty with what the text actually says. It is wrong division (cp 2Ti 2:15) like this which probably underlies much of the justification for so-called "replacement" theology wherein the church is tragically and wrongly interpreted as having replaced the literal nation of Israel (and the literal Jewish race) and now stands as the heir of God's OT promises to Israel. (If you hold that view, read God's evaluation of "replacement" theology in Jer 31:35, 36, 37)

Bishop Hall wrote that "Death did not first strike Adam, the first sinful man; nor Cain, the first murderer: but Abel, the innocent and righteous."

Spurgeon - He spoke by faith when he lived. Faith makes him speak now that he is dead. What wonders faith can work. The first saint who entered heaven entered there, it is certain, by faith. It was faith that enabled him to present an acceptable sacrifice, and it was faith that presented him to heaven. If the first who entered heaven entered there by faith, rest assured that will be true to the last, and none will enter there but those who believe.

A Dead Man Speaks

by Steven Cole

Hebrews 11:4

Since the first couple in human history fell into sin, the most important question for every person to answer is, “How can I, as a sinner, be right before the holy God?” God appointed physical and spiritual death as the penalty for our sin. Hebrews 9:27-note plainly states, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” Since none will miss that appointment, it is vitally important to answer the question, “How can I be right before God, who is absolutely holy?”

Pr 14:12 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Those words apply to this matter of spiritual life and death. Since the earliest times, there has been a way that has seemed spiritually right. In various forms, it is the way of all of the world’s major religions. It is even the way of two of the major branches of Christendom. It is the way of self-righteousness and good works. In one form or another, it believes that if a person is sincere and does his best, God will overlook his faults, accept his good works, and let him into heaven. The Bible calls this “the way of Cain” (Jude 1:11). The Bible is clear: “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16). Salvation by human goodness or works is impossible (Eph 2:8, 9-note).

In contrast to the way of Cain is the way that his brother, Abel, approached God. Hebrews 11:4 explains, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts.” Although Abel was the first man in human history to die, “though he is dead, he still speaks” to us today. We do not have any of his recorded words, but his story plainly tells us…

By faith in God’s revelation, we obtain His witness that we are righteous, so that our lives count for eternity.

Why did the author of Hebrews begin his list of heroes of the faith with Abel? His concern was that some of his readers might not have a faith that would endure the looming persecution. He was hoping the best, that

“we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (He 10:39-note).

But he knew that there could be some in the Hebrew church that would turn away from faith in Jesus Christ and go back to the Jewish faith.

Rightly understood, that Jewish faith pointed to and was fulfilled completely in Christ, as the author argues in the first ten chapters. But to abandon Christ now that He has come and go back to the religion that pointed to Him would be to abandon God’s only way of salvation. The story of Cain and Abel clearly contrasts man’s way of salvation with God’s way, which is by faith alone in Christ alone. Abel’s faith teaches us five vital lessons related to the question of how we can be right with the holy God.

1. Faith is always an obedient response to God’s revelation.

“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain….”

Scholars have suggested a number of reasons why Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s:

“it was living, whereas Cain’s was lifeless; it was stronger, Cain’s weaker; it grew spontaneously, Cain’s by human ingenuity; it involved blood, Cain’s did not” (Leon Morris, Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. by Frank Gaebelein [Zondervan], 12:115, summarizing F. F. Bruce).

The Genesis account simply says,

“the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (Ge 4:4, 5).

The only hint of a reason is when the Lord tells Cain,

“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?” (Ge 4:7).

That question indicates that God had previously made clear to these brothers the type of sacrifice that would please Him. Faith is always an obedient response to God’s revelation.

“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Ro 10:17-note).

Biblical faith never rests on manmade ideas, or on vague speculations. It rests on the revealed word of God. Abel, by faith, had obeyed God’s command. Cain refused to submit to it. Abel’s faith pleased God; Cain’s disobedience displeased God. When the Lord told Cain to “do well,” He meant, “Bring the kind of sacrifice that you know that I commanded.”

We are not reading too much into the story to infer that God had made this plain to Adam and Eve after they sinned. Their sin caused them to be ashamed of their nakedness, and so they sewed together fig leaves to try to cover that shame. But God did not accept their fig leaves. Instead, He clothed them with garments made of animal skin (Ge 3:7, 21). Undoubtedly, at that time He explained to them four things. First, to stand before the holy God, they needed a proper covering. Second, humanly manufactured coverings were not adequate. Third, God would provide the necessary covering apart from their efforts. Fourth, the only acceptable covering for their sin required the death, or shedding of blood, of an acceptable sacrifice (adapted from A. W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews p. 658).

Surely, Adam had communicated these facts to his sons. They did not think up on their own the idea of bringing sacrifices to God! No, God had clearly revealed to Adam and Eve the necessary and proper way to approach Him through a blood sacrifice. They had made this way plain to their sons. But Cain disobeyed, while Abel, by faith, obeyed. John MacArthur explains,

In Abel’s sacrifice, the way of the cross was first prefigured. The first sacrifice was Abel’s lamb-one lamb for one person. Later came the Passover-with one lamb for one family. Then came the Day of Atonement-with one lamb for one nation. Finally came Good Friday-one Lamb for the whole world (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Hebrews [Moody Press], p. 301).

So Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s because he offered it in obedient faith to what God had clearly revealed. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice because he did not offer it by faith, and “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6-note).

2. Faith in God’s ordained sacrifice is the only way for sinners to approach Him.

We would be greatly mistaken to assume that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because he was inherently a better man than his brother. Abel brought an animal from the firstlings of his flock because he knew that he was a sinner deserving God’s judgment, but he also knew that God had revealed that He would graciously accept the death of a substitute. Cain proudly ignored God’s revealed requirement and brought an offering of his own devising. At the heart of Abel’s sacrifice was the acknowledgement that he deserved to die for his sin, and that God’s requirement for the shedding of blood was just. At the heart of Cain’s sacrifice was the pride of saying, “I don’t need shed blood to approach God. My way is just as good. In fact, my way is better! This lovely basket of fruit looks nicer than that bloody, dead animal!” Cain’s theme song was, “I did it my way.”

Paul said,

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” A few verses later, he said, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1Co 1:18, 22, 23, 24).

People who think that they’re basically good do not need a Savior to die in their place. They may appreciate a good example to follow, but the idea of Jesus shedding His blood for their sin of-fends them. But those whom God has convicted of their sin and whose eyes He has opened to see His absolute holiness and justice, recognize their need for a sacrifice to pay for their sins. They gladly bow at the foot of the cross, acknowledging Jesus to be the Lamb of God who bore their sins.

Thus, faith is always an obedient response to God’s revelation. God has revealed that Jesus is His ordained sacrifice, the only way for sinners to approach Him.

3. Faith in God’s ordained sacrifice obtains His testimony that the sinner is righteous.

The text says, “through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts.” Some say that the antecedent of through which is Abel’s faith, whereas others say that it was his sacrifice. But since he offered his sacrifice by faith, it doesn’t matter. We do not know how God testified that Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable, whereas Cain’s was not. Many reputable scholars down through the ages have believed that God sent fire from heaven to consume Abel’s sacrifice, as He did on subsequent occasions (Lv 9:23, 24; Jdg 6:21; 13:19, 20; 1Ki 18:30-39; 2Chr 7:1; the list is in Philip Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [Eerdmans], pp. 455-456). But all that Genesis states is that God had regard for Abel’s offering, but not for Cain’s. Also, Jesus referred to Abel as, “righteous Abel” (Mt 23:35).

We know (from 1Jn 3:12) that Abel lived righteously, whereas Cain’s life was marked by evil deeds. But it would be a huge mistake to conclude that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice on the basis of his righteous life, or that He rejected Cain’s sacrifice be-cause of his evil life. For one thing, our text indicates that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith, not on the basis of his righteous life.

Also, Scripture teaches that God justifies (= “declares righteous”) sinners by their faith, not by their works. As early as Ge 15:6, Scripture states of Abraham, “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Paul cites that text to prove that Abraham was not justified by works, and then explains, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Ro 4:4, 5-note).

This is a judicial action, whereby God acquits the guilty sinner on the basis of Christ’s death, which satisfied the penalty that the sinner deserves. He imputes the penalty of our sin to Christ and the righteousness of Christ to us at the instant we believe in Christ. As Paul declares (2Cor 5:21),

He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

(See my sermon, Justification by Faith Alone on Ge 15:6 for a much more detailed explanation of this crucial doctrine.)

Once the sinner has trusted in Jesus Christ as God’s ordained sacrifice for his sins, his life will become progressively righteous in behavior as a result. But such a godly life begins at the point when the sinner trusts in Christ. To reverse this order and say that God declares us righteous on the basis of our good works is to deny the gospel (Gal 1:6, 7, 8, 9).

Many Christians naïvely think that if they ever incur persecution, it will come from wicked atheists who despise religion. While that sometimes happens, it is much more common for persecution and opposition to come from the religious crowd.

4. Faith in God’s ordained sacrifice incurs the opposition of the self-righteous.

To understand the story of Cain and Abel, we have to remember that Cain was not an atheist. He was a religious man who believed in God. He brought a sacrifice in order to worship God, although in his own way. An irreligious atheist never would have brought a sacrifice at all. Such a person probably would have shrugged off his brother’s sacrifice as a silly, meaningless superstition. But it wouldn’t have offended him. What offended Cain was that he self-righteously thought that his sacrifice was good enough, even though it was not what God had commanded. When God rejected his sacrifice, Cain became angry and depressed. He refused to listen to God’s corrective rebuke, and his anger spilled out on his brother, who had obeyed God by faith.

By bringing his own sacrifice as the way to approach God, Cain became the father of all false religion. False religions reject the cross. It offends them because it confronts their self-righteousness. Those in false religions take pride in their own goodness and their own works. They reject the idea that they are sinners in need of a Savior who shed His blood. Or, if they accept the cross (as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches do), they still want to add their good works to it as a partial means of salvation. But to add human works detracts from the total sufficiency of Christ’s death on the cross and gives sinners grounds for boasting in their works.

It was the religious Pharisees who crucified Jesus. It was the self-righteous Judaizers who went after Paul because he proclaimed that the pagan Gentiles could be justified by faith alone. The cross wipes out any room for boasting in your good works. Those who take pride in the flesh persecute those who boast only in the cross (Gal 4:29; 6:12, 13, 14).

But, the story of Cain and Abel shows that it is far better to gain God’s approval through faith in His ordained sacrifice and lose your life, than to have God reject you and lose your soul. By faith in God’s revelation about Christ, we not only gain His testimony that we are righteous. Also,

5. Faith in God’s ordained sacrifice results in a life that counts for eternity.

When you contrast the first three examples of those who lived by faith, you see that a life of faith results in very different circumstances, depending on God’s sovereign purpose. The first man on the list became the first murder victim! If you are following Jesus for all the benefits that He will give you in this life, you may be in for a rude awakening! Abel isn’t exactly an example of a long, happy life. And yet the second man on the list was one of only two men in all history who never died! Enoch was taken directly into heaven. The third man, Noah, lived for 950 years, and was delivered from the flood. Most of us would sign up for the Enoch or Noah track, but we’re not interested in the Abel track!

But the author of Hebrews wants us to realize that the re-wards of faith are not necessarily in this life. He will shortly mention those who “died in faith, without receiving the promises” (Heb 11:13-note). He gives a long list of those who won impressive victories by faith (Heb 11:33, 34, 35a-note). But right in the middle of verse 35, without skipping a beat, he lists those who were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, put to death by the sword, who went about destitute, ill-treated, and homeless because of their faith! If we’re banking on a good life here and now, faith in God may not be the way to go. But, if we have God’s eternal perspective, it’s the only way to live.

The author says that though Abel “is dead, he still speaks.” How does he still speak? In several ways:

First, Abel still speaks to us about the ultimate vindication of God's elect and the judgment of the wicked. In Ge 4:10, God says to Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.” God did not let that cry go unheeded! We see a similar thing in Lk 18:7, 8, where Jesus says, “Now will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.”

In Rev 6:9, 10, 11-note, John sees a vision of the saints in heaven who have been slain because of their testimony. They are crying out to the Lord,

How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?

The Lord gives them each a white robe and tells them to rest a while longer, until the number of martyrs yet to be killed is

completed. Then He will bring judgment. Abel’s blood speaks to us about the fact that although we may be mistreated in this world, God is the righteous judge who will right all wrongs and bring justice on behalf of His elect.

Second, Abel still speaks to us by his life, apart from any words. We have no recorded words that Abel spoke, and yet thousands of years after his death, he still speaks. This shows us the power of a godly life, not only in his lifetime, but also on successive generations. While we should not discount the importance of godly speech, neither should we disregard the power of a godly example, especially in the home. If the fruits of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control-are evident in your life, then your words will connect with power. But if your life does not demonstrate these qualities, your words will be in vain.

Finally, Abel still speaks to us about the fact that the measure of a life is not necessarily its impact during the person's lifetime, but over history. Viewed from his lifetime, Abel’s life was wasted. He died young, without accomplishing anything. But countless generations have looked at his faith and learned that even if we suffer and die for the cause of righteousness, it is not in vain. Cain apparently lived a long and relatively prosperous life on earth. He built cities and fathered many children who were successful in worldly terms. But Cain’s life was the wasted one. Abel was the true success.

Luther observed that when Abel was alive, he “could not teach even his only brother by his faith and example,” but “now that he is dead [he] teaches the whole world.” He concluded, “He is more alive than ever! So great a thing is faith! It is life in God” (in Hughes, p. 457).


I can still remember the morning in January, 1956, when I went into the kitchen and my mother was intently listening to the shocking news on the radio. My parents’ friend, Nate Saint, and four other young missionaries, including Jim Elliot, had been brutally murdered by the Auca Indians in the jungle in Ecuador. Nate had taken my parents for a ride in his plane. I had passed up that opportunity so that I could spend the night at my grandmother’s house. (I knew she would buy me a present!)

Although they all died in their twenties and thirties, those five men still speak powerfully. In her account of the martyrdom of her husband and those other men, Elisabeth Elliot wrote (Through Gates of Splendor [Spire Books], pp. 201-202),

Off the coast of Italy, an American naval officer was involved in an accident at sea. As he floated alone on a raft, he recalled Jim Elliot’s words (which he had read in a news report): “When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.” He prayed that he might be saved, knowing that he had more to do than die. He was not ready. God answered his prayer, and he was rescued. In Des Moines, Iowa, an eighteen year-old boy prayed for a week in his room, then announced to his parents: “I’m turning my life over completely to the Lord. I want to try to take the place of one of those five.”

She wrote that the prayers of the widows themselves were for the Aucas.

“We look forward to the day when these savages will join us in Christian praise” (ibid.).

In March, 2003, I had the privilege of hearing one of the men who murdered Nate Saint speak through the translation of Nate’s son, Steve, whom this murderer turned-worshiper by God’s grace had baptized. I heard him sing a praise song in his native tongue. By faith, those five missionaries obtained God’s testimony that they are righteous, and by faith, their lives still speak, counting for eternity. By faith in God’s sacrifice, you may join their company.

Discussion Questions

It has been said that justification by faith alone is the doctrine by which the church and the individual stands or falls. Why is this so? Why must we defend it at all costs?

Some say that we are saved by faith plus good works. How is this different than saying that saving faith results in good works? Why is it important to affirm that justification is God’s declaring the sinner righteous, not His making the sinner righteous?

Why is it essential to bring in eternity when we present the gospel? (See He 11:35, 36, 37, 38, 39-note; 1Co 15:19.) (Index to Pastor Steven Cole's sermons by Bible book - Highly Recommended - They read much like a verse by verse commentary)

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Pistei Enoch metetethe (3SAPI) tou me idein (AAN) thanaton, kai ouch eurisketo (3SIPI) dioti metetheken (3SAAI) auton o theos; pro gar tes metatheseos memarturetai (3SRPI) euarestekenai (RAN) to theo,

Amplified: Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

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

NLT: It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—"suddenly he disappeared because God took him." But before he was taken up, he was approved as pleasing to God. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: It was because of his faith that Enoch was promoted to the eternal world without experiencing death. He disappeared from this world because God promoted him, and before that happened his reputation was that "he pleased God". (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: By faith Enoch was conveyed to another place, with the result that he did not see death, and he was not found because God had conveyed him to another place. For before his removal he had witness borne, that testimony still being on record, to the effect that he pleased God. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: By faith Enoch was translated--not to see death, and was not found, because God did translate him; for before his translation he had been testified to--that he had pleased God well,

BY FAITH ENOCH WAS TAKEN UP SO THAT HE SHOULD NOT SEE DEATH: Pistei Enoch metetethe (3SAPI) tou me idein (AAN) thanaton: (Genesis 5:22, 23, 24; Luke 3:37; Jude 1:14)

Ge 5:22, 23, 24

By faith (4102) (pistis [word study) consists in receiving and believing what God has revealed. Faith according to Scofield "may be defined as that trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ whom He has sent, which receives Him as Lord and Savior and impels to loving obedience and good works (John 1:12; James 2:14-26-see notes)."

Spurgeon - Then came Enoch, whose life went beyond the reception and confession of the atonement, for he set before men the great truth of communion with God. He displayed in his life the relation of the believer to the Most High, and showed how near the living God condescends to be to His own children.

Enoch (Dictionary Article) is an example to the readers of Hebrews of what the writer longed to see happen to them: a steady, daily growth in grace achieved by the inner resources which God supplies to those who take him at his word and act in faith on what he has said. Enoch enjoyed the continuous presence of an unseen Person, and related his life daily to that Person. The result was a fellowship which death could not interrupt.

Enoch - 13x in 12v- Ge 4:17, 18; 5:18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24; 1Chr 1:3; Lk 3:37; He 11:5; Jude 1:14

Genesis 4:17 Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. 18 Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech.

Genesis 5:18 Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch.

19 Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters.

21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah.

22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.

23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.

24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

1 Chronicles 1:3 Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech,

Luke 3:37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan,

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

Jude 1:14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,

A W Tozer - Enoch recognized the failure of men and women trying to live their lives apart from God and His will. By faith he walked with God on this earth at a time when sin and corruption were wildly rampant all around him. Enoch's daily walk was a walk of faith, a walk of fellowship with God. What the Scriptures are trying to say to us is this: If Enoch could live and walk with God by faith in the midst of his sinful generation, we likewise should be able to follow his example because the human race is the same and God is the same!… There is only one conclusion to be drawn here. Enoch was translated into the presence of God because of his faith, and thus he escaped death. It is very evident that there was no funeral for Enoch. Those who knew him best surely had to answer many questions. "Where is Enoch?" "What happened to Enoch?" "Why don't we see Enoch around anymore?" Perhaps members of his own family did not fully understand his walk with God, but they could answer with the facts: "He is gone! God has called him home. God has taken him." (The Tozer Topical Reader)

Richard Phillips has some interesting comments on Enoch - Hebrews 11 presents its heroes of the faith in chronological order as they are found in the Bible, yet several commentators point out that there is probably more at work than a historical progression. Specifically, it appears that there is also a topical progression to the points their stories make about the life of faith. That is especially true of the three men who lived before the great flood—Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Andrew Murray, for example, describes them as Abel, the sacrifice of faith; Enoch, the walk of faith; and Noah, the work of faith. Certainly that is a progression supported by the Bible: first we are brought into a right relationship with God by trusting the sacrifice he has provided in the blood of Christ; second, having been brought into relationship with God, we then walk with him by faith; and third, only then do we perform the works of faith, the practical good deeds that follow as a result of God's grace. Arthur Pink sees these three figures combining to provide "an outline of the life of faith": "Abel is mentioned first not because he was born before Enoch and Noah, but because what is recorded of him in Genesis 4 illustrated and demonstrated where the life of faith begins. In like manner, Enoch is referred to next… because what was found in him… must precede that which was typified by the builder of the ark." Pink's outline traces faith's worship in Abel, faith's walk in Enoch, and faith's witness in Noah. It is hard to say whether the writer of Hebrews had this kind of explicit outline in mind, since he does not put it that way himself. It seems that he is mainly following the biblical order, with each portrait making a particular point about faith. However, it does seem that the Divine Author has placed them together in such a way as to build the progression of which Murray and Pink speak. Pink reminds us of the importance of a biblical ordering of the Christian life: "Witnessing and working ('service') is what are so much emphasized today. Yet dear reader, Heb. 11 does not begin with the example of Noah. No indeed. Noah was preceded by Enoch, and for this reason: There can be no Divinely-acceptable witness or work unless and until there is a walking with God!… And this, in turn, must be preceded by Abel's worship of faith." (Hebrews Commentary)

Wuest - Enoch was translated. The word is metatithemi. The verb tithemi means “to place,” the prefixed preposition meta signifying a change, the compound word meaning “to transpose” (two things, one of which is put in place of the other). This word is used in Acts 7:16 of the transporting of the remains of Jacob and his sons to Shechem, in Gal. 1:6 of the sudden change of the doctrinal position of the Galatian Christians, and in Heb. 7:12, of the change of the law of the priesthood, a new regulation being instituted in place of the old. In the case of Enoch, the word speaks of his sudden transference from earth to heaven. It refers to a change of position. It was one thing put in the place of another, heaven for Enoch rather than earth. Now, in the transference of believers from earth to heaven, that operation is effected usually by death. But in the case of Enoch, it was apart from death. He departed this earthly scene without dying. This verse does not teach that Enoch had faith to be translated. God translated him because he lived a life in which He was pleased. It was by faith that he lived that life. The Mosaic commentary on his life is in the words “Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5:22). Vincent says when commenting on this: “Faith creates a close personal relation.”

Was taken up (3346) (Metatithemi from meta = change of place or condition + tithemi = to put or place) literally means to put in another place, as used here in Heb 11:5, the passive since meaning to be taken or transferred. We find another literal use in Acts 7:16 where bodies are transferred to a burial place in Shechem.

In the figurative sense metatithemi means to effect a change in state or condition and so to alter something as when the priesthood is changed (Heb 7:12).

Another figurative use is found in Jude 1:4 who were continually "turning" the grace of God into licentiousness, saying in essence that God's marvelous grace provided a "license" for immoral behavior! In another figurative use Paul accuses Peter of "deserting" (turning away from) the gospel to follow a different gospel (Gal 1:6).

BDAG (summarized) - 1. To convey from one place to another = put in another place, transfer (Acts 7:16, Heb 11:5a) 2. To effect a change in state or condition = change, alter (Jude 1:4, Heb 7:12 - when the priesthood is changed passed on to another) 3. To have a change of mind in allegiance = change one’s mind, turn away, desert (middle voice) Gal 1:6. 2Macc 7:24..

Josephus (Ant. 12, 387) uses metatithemi to describe the transfer of the office of high priest to another person).

In secular Greek metatithemi was used to describe a severe alteration in condition (collapse).

Friberg - (1) literally, as causing a change from one place to another transfer, bring to, transplant (Heb 11.5b); passive = be taken, be transferred (Heb 11.5a); of a body transferred to another burial place be brought back (Acts 7.16); (2) figuratively; (a) change, alter (Heb 7.12); in a bad sense pervert (Jude 1:4); (b) middle, as changing one's loyalty as a follower turn from, desert, become apostate (Gal 1.6) (Analytical Lexicon)

Liddell- Scott - to place among, then he would not have caused so much noise among us, Od. II. to place differently, 1. in local sense, to transpose, Plat. 2. to change, alter, of a treaty, Thuc., Xen.; to change their names and call them after swine, Hdt; to put one thing in place of another, substitute, Dem. 3. Med. to change what is one's own or for oneself, Xen.; to adopt a new opinion, Hdt.; so, absol., Plat. b. to get rid of, transfer one's fear, Dem. c. c. dupl. acc., to alter their evil designs into gain for him, Soph. 4. Pass. to be changed, to alter, Eur.

Metatithemi - 6x in 5v - Acts 7:16; Gal 1:6; Heb 7:12; 11:5; Jude 1:4. NAS = hanged(1), deserting*(1), removed(1), taken(1), took(1), turn(1).

Acts 7:16 "From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;

Hebrews 7:12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change (metathesis) of law also.

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Metatithemi - 9x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 5:24; Dt 27:17; 1Ki 21:25; Est 4:17; Ps 46:2; Pr 23:10; Isa 29:14, 17; Hos 5:10. Here are some uses…

Deuteronomy 27:17 'Cursed is he who moves his neighbor's boundary mark.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'

Psalm 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip (removed) into the heart of the sea;

Proverbs 23:10 Do not move the ancient boundary Or go into the fields of the fatherless,

Isaiah 29:17 Is it not yet just a little while Before Lebanon will be turned into a fertile field, And the fertile field will be considered as a forest?

Hosea 5:10 The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary; On them I will pour out My wrath like water.

And thus we see the same verb is used by the Septuagint translators to describe Enoch’s translation in Ge 5:24.

Enoch was the 7th from Adam in the line of Seth. Just as lawlessness had climaxed in Lamech, the 7th from Adam in the line of Cain, so godliness climaxed in Enoch. It is interesting to note that Enoch was a contemporary of Adam for a little over 300 years and that he lived alongside the other patriarchs listed in Genesis 5 all his life. He was "raptured" (Not the same word as NT "rapture" = harpazo) about seventy years before Noah was born.

Spurgeon - It is faith that muzzles the mouth of death and takes away the power of the sepulcher. If any man, who had not been a believer, had been translated as Enoch was, we should have been able to point to a great feat accomplished apart from faith. It has never been so; for this, which was one of the greatest things that was ever done—to leap from this life into another, and to overleap the grave altogether—was only achieved “by faith.”Now, if there is any man in the world that shall never die, it is he who walks with God. If there is any man to whom death will be as nothing, it is the man who has looked to the second advent of Christ and gloried in it. If there is any man who, though he pass through the iron gates of death, shall never feel the terror of the grim foe, it is the man whose life below has been perpetual communion with God. Do not go about by any other way to escape the pangs of death, but walk with God, and you will be able to say, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1Cor 15:55)

AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP FOR HE OBTAINED THE WITNESS THAT BEFORE HIS BEING TAKEN UP HE WAS PLEASING TO GOD: kai ouch heurisketo (3SIPI) dioti metetheken (3SAAI) auton o theos kai ouch heurisketo (3SIPI) dioti metetheken (3SAAI) auton o theos. pro gar tes metatheseos memarturetai (3SRPI) euarestekenai (RAN) to theo: (2Kings 2:16,17; Jeremiah 36:26; Revelation 11:9, 10, 11, 12) (Heb 11:6; Genesis 5:22; Romans 8:8,9; 1Thessalonians 2:4; 1John 3:22)

Two important things mark the character of Enoch’s faith: (1) he pleased God by turning away from the godlessness of the world in which he lived and (2) he maintained a daily walk with God which grew so intimate that he was taken to heaven without experiencing death.

The Genesis account (Ge 5:21, 22, 23, 24) suggests that for the first 65 years of his life, Enoch did not walk with God. Presumably he went along with the deteriorating morality of his times, which Genesis 6:5 describes. As Ge 5:25 suggests, the event which changed Enoch’s outlook was the birth of a son, whom he named Methuselah. Some scholars derive the meaning of Methuselah from the Hebrew root muth, which means “death,” and translate the name “His death shall bring (it).”

The Genesis account states that from the birth of Methuselah throughout the following 300 years, Enoch “walked with God.” This turn in his life was a result of faith, and since faith always requires a word from God to rest upon (cp Ro 10:17-note), it emphasizes the truth that Enoch was given a revelation of Christ (we cannot speculate further), and possibly a revelation of coming judgment which changed his life (cp the name of his son Methuselah).

Spurgeon - Mark that this holiest of men, whose walk with God was so close and unbroken that he was permitted to escape the pangs of death, nevertheless did not attain to this high position by his own works, but by faith. (He was not found is) A very remarkable expression. Perhaps He did it in some visible manner. I should not wonder. Perhaps the whole of the patriarchs saw him depart, even as the apostles were present when our Lord was taken up. However that may be, there was some special rapture, some distinct taking up of this choice one to the throne of the Most High.

His being taken up (3331) (metathesis from metatíthemi = transfer from meta = implying change + tithemi = put) is literally, the act of transferring from one place to another and so the removal or taking up or away. And so it can describe a transfer from one place to another, as for example the translation of a person to heaven as in this verse.

Hebrews 12:27 uses metathesis with the idea of removal.

And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Figuratively, metathesis means to transpose or put one thing in the place of another. It can mean a change of things instituted or established, such as a changeover from the Levitical priesthood

For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. (Hebrews 7:12)

Transliterated it gives us the English word metathesis which is defined as the transposition of a letter of a word.

Vincent comments on the meaning of metathesis in He 7:12-note writing that it refers to "A change. A transfer to a new basis. Only in Hebrews. See He 11:5-note; He 12:27-note. The inferiority of the Levitical priesthood is inferred from the fact that another priesthood was promised. If perfection was possible at all under the Mosaic economy, it must come through the Levitical priesthood, since that priesthood was, in a sense, the basis of the law. The whole legal system centered in it. The fundamental idea of the law was that of a people united with God. Sin, the obstacle to this ideal union, was dealt with through the priesthood. If the law failed to effect complete fellowship with God, the priesthood was shown to be a failure, and must be abolished; and the change of the priesthood involved the abolition of the entire legal system."

Pleasing (2100) (euaresteo from eu = good, well + arestos = pleasing, desirable, proper, fit, agreeable from aresko = to please or be pleasing/acceptable to) means to please, to behave in a manner that is pleasing to another. To take pleasure in. To cause someone to be well-disposed toward another.

See study of related word euarestos.

Euaresteo is used only 3 times in the NT - all in Hebrews 11:5, 6, 13:16

Hebrews 11:6-note And without faith it is impossible (Note: He does not say it will be "difficult" but impossible!) to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 13:16-note And do not neglect (present imperative with a negative = a command to stop neglecting implying some were already neglecting it) doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Euaresteo - 12x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx) - Gen 5:22, 24; 6:9; 17:1; 24:40; 39:4; 48:15; Ex 21:8; Ps 26:3; 35:14; 56:13; 116:9. All the uses except Ge 39:4 and Ex 21:8 refer to Old Testament saints who were pleasing to God. See the discussion below for more detail.

For comparison, the related adjective euarestos is used 9 times in the NT (Ro 12:1, 2; 14:18; 2Co 5:9; Eph 5:10; Php 4:18; Col 3:20; Titus 2:9; Heb 13:21. NAS = acceptable = 3x, pleasing =3x, well-pleasing =3x).

Spurgeon - The way to please God, then, is to believe in Him—and if there is any possibility of entering heaven without seeing death, faith alone can point the way. You cannot be Enochs unless you please God, and you cannot please God unless you have faith in Him. If we cannot get a translation as Enoch did, let us not be content without getting God’s good pleasure as he did. Oh, that it may be said of us that we pleased God! Then we shall, one way or another, conquer death; for if we do, we shall triumph over the grave. And if Christ shall come before we die, we shall triumph in the coming of Christ. Anyhow, faith shall be more than a match for the last enemy.


Pleasing to God - In the OT we read that that Enoch walked with God (Ge 5:22, 24) and as discussed below the Septuagint (Lxx) translates walked using the Greek verb euaresteo, to be pleasing! Thus Enoch's walk was a walk that was well pleasing to God! Interesting! In each of the Scriptures listed above the Hebrew verb for "walk" (halak) is rendered by the Greek verb euaresteo, "be pleasing"! Compare the walks of these OT saints with the ambition of Paul to be pleasing to the Lord (2Cor 5:9-commentary note).

Genesis 5:22 Then Enoch walked with (Hebrew = halak; Lxx = "well-pleasing to") God 300 years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.

The closer you walk with God,
the less room for anything to come between.

Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked with (Hebrew = halak; Lxx = "Enoch was well-pleasing to") God and he was not for God took him.

Comment: The Septuagint (Lxx) translates both uses of the Hebrew verb halak "walked" with the Greek verb euaresteo = well pleasing. Brenton's English translation of the Lxx is "And Enoch was well-pleasing to God… ". Halak conveys the basic sense of movement, and can describe one's literal, physical walk but in each of the uses discussed in this section is used metaphorically to describe one's general conduct or behavior. NET Bible has an additional interesting insight on this Hebrew verb halak noting that…

The rare expression “walked with” (the Hitpael form of the verb הָלָךְ, halakh, “to walk” collocated with the preposition אֶת, ’et, “with”) is used in 1Sa 25:15 to describe how David’s men maintained a cordial and cooperative relationship with Nabal’s men as they worked and lived side by side in the fields. In Gen 5:22 the phrase suggests that Enoch and God “got along.” This may imply that Enoch lived in close fellowship with God, leading a life of devotion and piety. An early Jewish tradition, preserved in 1Enoch 1:9 and alluded to in Jude 1:14, says that Enoch preached about the coming judgment.

You are headed in the right direction
when you walk with God!

Below are the other OT (Lxx) passages where euaresteo is used to translate the Hebrew verb halak. It is notable that in all these OT uses of euaresteo we find depictions of men like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and David, whose lives were characterized not by perfection but by direction. That is to say that their lives manifested a general tendency toward godliness and toward their future promised home in heaven. As a corollary, if you believe you are headed for heaven in the future, your life should reflect it on earth in the present! If it does not, you might be deceiving yourself (study 2Cor 13:5-note) and your life might not be pleasing to God now or then (cp Mt 7:21-note, Mt 7:22, 23-note).

Genesis 6:9 These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God (Hebrew = halak; Lxx = "Noah was well-pleasing to God").

NET Bible note on Ge 6:9: The construction translated "walked with" is used in Ge 5:22, 24 and in 1Sa 25:15, where it refers to David's and Nabal's men "rubbing shoulders" in the fields. Based on the use in 1Sa 25:15, the expression ("walked with") seems to mean "live in close proximity to," which may, by metonymy, mean "maintain cordial relations with."

Genesis 17:1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty (EL Shaddai - God Almighty); Walk (Hebrew = halak ; Lxx = be "well-pleasing to") before Me, and be blameless.

Genesis 24:40 "And he said to me (Isaac speaking), 'The LORD, before whom I have walked (Hebrew = halak ; Lxx = "well-pleasing to"), will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives, and from my father's house;

Genesis 48:15 And he (Israel or Jacob is speaking - Ge 48:14) blessed Joseph, and said, "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked (Hebrew = halak; Lxx = "well-pleasing to"), the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,

Psalm 26:3 (David writes) For Thy lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked (Hebrew = halak; Lxx = "well-pleasing to") in Thy truth.

Psalm 56:13 (David writes) For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk (Hebrew = halak; Lxx = "well-pleasing to") before God In the light of the living.

Psalm 116:9 (Author not stated) I shall walk (Hebrew = halak; Lxx = "well-pleasing") before the LORD In the land of the living.

Spurgeon comments: This is the Psalmist's second resolution, to live as in the sight of God in the midst of the sons of men. By a man's walk is understood his way of life: some men live only as in the sight of their fellow men, having regard to human judgment and opinion; but the truly gracious man considers the presence of God, and acts under the influence of His all observing eye. "Thou God sees me" is a far better influence than "My master sees me." The life of faith, hope, holy fear, and true holiness is produced by a sense of living and walking before the Lord, and he who has been favored with divine deliverances in answer to prayer finds his own experience the best reason for a holy life, and the best assistance to his endeavors. We know that God in a special manner is nigh unto His people: what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? (2Pe 3:11-note)

Dr. Campbell Morgan gave the following illustration of walking with God - A little child gave a most exquisite explanation of walking with God. She went home from Sunday School, and the mother said, "Tell me what you learned at school." And she said: "Don't you know, Mother, one day they went for an extra long walk, and they walked on and on, until God said to Enoch, 'You are a long way from home; you had better just come in and stay.' And he went." (Ge 5:24) (Current Anecdotes— Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

Spurgeon - “Enoch walked with God.” - He walked with God 400 years. This implies perseverance. You have received Christ; persevere in receiving him. You have come to trust him; keep on trusting him. You hang about his neck as a poor, helpless sinner; remain hanging there. Abide in him.

Spurgeon - GENESIS 5:21–24 OUR reading leads us to think upon that eminent saint of the antediluvian church, Enoch, the seventh from Adam. "21, 22, 23, 24 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Here it is worthy of notice that the sacred writer says once that Enoch “lived;” but he changes the word and writes Enoch “walked with God;” thus teaching us that communion with God was Enoch’s life, and truly so it ought to be ours. He was not a mere talker about God, but a walker with God. This holy patriarch lived in unbroken intercourse with the Lord for three hundred years, not now and then visiting with God, but habitually walking with him. This is a point of great difficulty. To draw near to God is comparatively easy; but to remain in undivided fellowship, “this is the work, this is the labour.” Yet the Holy Spirit can enable us to accomplish even this. Continued communion is what we should aim at, and we should not be content with anything short of it. Some excuse themselves from seeking after unbroken fellowship with God because of their calling, their circumstances, and their numerous engagements. Enoch had the cares of a family upon him, and he was also a public preacher, and yet he kept up his walk with God: no business or household cares should make us forget our God. Society with God is the safety of saints, it is their solace and delight, it is their honour and crown. More to be desired is it than gold, yea, than much fine gold. Happy was Enoch to enjoy it so sweetly, and so continuously. The long intercourse of this good man with his God ended in his being borne away from earth without death to that place where faith is lost in sight. He did not live like others, and therefore he did not die like others. Paul tells us a little more concerning this holy man, and we will gather up the fragments of his history which remain on record, that nothing may be lost. HEBREWS 11:5, 6 - Faith was the spring from which his communion was derived. Works do not make us walk with God; but faith brings us into his presence, and keeps us there. It is very likely that Enoch’s pious conversation did not please men, but that little mattered since it pleased God.

Spurgeon - MEDITATION—to be Practised - THOSE who would be in health do not sit still in their houses to breathe such air as may come to them, but they walk abroad and seek out rural and elevated spots that they may inhale the invigorating breezes; and thus those godly souls who would be in a vigorous spiritual state, do not merely think upon such holy doctrines as may come into their minds in the ordinary course of thought, but they give time to meditation, they walk abroad in the fields of truth, and endeavour to climb the heights of gospel promises. It is said that Enoch walked with God: here is not an idle but an active communion. The road to bodily health is said to be a footpath, and the way to spiritual health is to exercise one’s self in holy contemplation. (Feathers for arrows)

David Olford has an interesting introduction to his famous father Stephen Olford's devotional notes According to Your Word - Just after the Second World War, sensing a deep spiritual hunger, my father was refreshed and revived during a time of personal retreat with the Lord. Shortly thereafter, he met Billy Graham (1946). Due to young Billy Graham's similar spiritual hunger, the two arranged to meet in Wales for a time of retreat together. It is my understanding that one of the subjects discussed during this time together was the devotional life or the “quiet time.” According to Your Word reveals that the “quiet time” was already a discipline in my father's life before this important meeting in 1946. These devotionals are evidence of a thoughtful and prayerful reading of the Word of God that was (and would be) a regular feature of my father's life. My father practiced the quiet time until his death at age eighty-six. His sudden departure reminds me of the Scriptural account of Enoch who “walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Ge 5:24). We miss Dad greatly, but we know that his walk with God continues above. (According to Your Word)

Robert Neighbour-Sermons and Bible Studies - By faith Enoch walked with God. He walked with God in the midst of an age that was fast corrupting itself and turning away from Jehovah; he walked with God in the midst of his own home, where he begat sons and daughters. Surely we then may walk by faith in this our day. To be sure sin is much the same as it was in Enoch's day; but we have added light and increased blessings — should we not have a greater faith?

Closer, Lord, to Thee I come,

Light of life Divine;

Through the ever Blessed Son,

Joy and peace are mine;

Let me in Thy love abide,

Keep me ever near Thy side,

In the "Rock of Ages" hide, —

Closer, Lord, to Thee.


Would it be that God Almighty would be able to write on our epitaphs the words He wrote on Enoch's epitaph -- He walked with God.

The NT frequently uses the metaphor of one's walk to describe faithful behavior…

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Ro 6:4-note) (See the following verse to help understand how to walk in newness of life, cp Ro 8:2-note)

But I say, walk (present imperative = command to make this your lifestyle) by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Gal 5:16-note)

Walk (present imperative = command to make this your lifestyle - Gal 5:16 tells us how such a supernatural walk is even possible - it is naturally impossible, but enabled by the Spirit of Christ is Him-possible!) in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Eph 5:2-note)

But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy. (Rev 3:4-note)


How interesting that Moses records God's walk in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8) suggesting that God Himself walked with Adam and Eve in perfect fellowship and unbroken communion! And how wonderful and complete is Christ's work of redemption, which restores us to fellowship and communion so that when we get to heaven, we will walk with Him forever and ever. What the first Adam lost, the second Adam restores. Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus! Maranatha. Amen.

Here is the memorial written for the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson

In Memoriam
Rev. Adoniram Judson
Born August 9, 1788
Died April 12, 1850
Malden, His Birthplace
The Ocean His Sepulchre;
Converted Burmans and the Burman Bible
His Monument
His Record Is On High
— Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations

Enoch "Walked With God"

He "walked with God!" Could grander words be written?
Not much of what he thought or said is told;
Not where or what he wrought is even mentioned;
He "walked with God"—brief words of fadeless gold!

How many souls were succored on his journey—
Helped by his words, or prayers, we may not know;
Still, this we read—words of excelling grandeur—
He "walked with God," while yet he walked below.

And, after years, long years, of such blest walking,
One day he walked, then was not, God said "Come!
Come from the scene of weary sin-stained sadness!
Come to the fuller fellowship of home!"

Such be the tribute of thy pilgrim journey
When life's last mile thy feet hath bravely trod—
When thou hast gone to all that there awaits thee,
This simple epitaph—"He walked with God!" (Ge 5:24)
—Poems for Sunshine and Shadow
(Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)


Pure As Snow - A writer who visited a coal mine noticed a perfectly white plant growing by the side of the entrance. He was astonished that there, where coal dust continually blew and settled, this little plant would be so pure and white. As the author watched, a miner took some black coal dust and threw it on the plant, but not a particle stuck. Nothing could stain the plant's snowy whiteness.

Enoch lived in the days before the flood, a time when "the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). Yet the Bible tells us that "Enoch walked with God three hundred years" (Genesis 5:22).

It is our mission to be pure and unspotted from the ungodly influences in the world. How is this possible? If the Lord can keep a plant white as snow amid clouds of black dust, can He not by His grace keep your heart pure in this world of sin? (See related devotional below) —M. R. De Haan


DON'T BE A "SPIRITUAL VAGRANT" - And Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him. Genesis 5:24 - Efficient leaders of organizations and responsible individuals set specific goals for which they constantly strive. A vagrant, on the other hand, is an extreme example of one who has no such purposes in view. He does not hold a steady job, does not obligate himself for the purchase and maintenance of a home, and often has no loved ones for whose future he is concerned. The utter aimlessness of such a life was strikingly demonstrated by the tramp who declined a ride someone offered him, saying, "No, thank you! I am not going any place, so I am just as well off here as I would be 10 miles farther on." All who do not believe in God are in a sense "spiritual vagrants" — living without an ultimate aim or goal. The Christian, however, knows where he is going. He also perceives his purpose — "To glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever." Moreover, Hebrews 11:1 says that a believer's faith gives him absolute assurance that he will certainly enjoy the "things hoped for," and that "the things not seen" are definite realities. For this reason he seeks to please the Lord by worshiping in an acceptable manner like Abel, by walking in fellowship like Enoch, and by working faithfully like Noah. These men believed in God and directed their efforts in doing His will. They did not wander aimlessly through life without purpose or goal. Neither should you.

Dear reader, what is your highest ambition? Are you truly seeking to glorify God and do His will, or are you a "spiritual vagrant"? When you pass from this earthly scene may it be said of you as it was of Enoch, he "walked with God."

Such be the tribute of thy pilgrim journey
When life's last mile thy feet have bravely trod—
When thou hast gone to all that there awaits thee,
This simple epitaph—"He walked with God!"

Our lives constantly manifest
what we truly think about God!


A Commitment To Walk - One thing that impresses me about my wife is her commitment to walk two to four times a week for at least an hour. Come rain, snow, sleet, or shine, my wife layers up or down (depending on the weather), puts on her headphones, and off she goes walking through our community.

My wife’s commitment to walking reminds me of a man named Enoch. Genesis 5:18-24 is a short paragraph about his life, and it shines like a diamond amid the earthly record of deaths. In a storyline where the funeral bells tolled out their mournful drone (“and he died” is repeated eight times in the chapter), there is a ray of hope—Enoch walked with God.

What did it mean for Enoch to walk with God? It describes Enoch’s close communion with God—as if literally walking by His side. Also, it refers to Enoch’s unswerving obedience to God in a corrupt culture. God rewarded Enoch’s faithfulness by taking him to heaven while he was still alive. Death would not have the final word in God’s creation.

Enoch’s walk with God reminds us that it is possible for all of us to enjoy intimate communion with the Lord. Let’s commit ourselves to walking faithfully with Him every day. — Marvin Williams (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known. —Miles
© Renewal 1940 The Rodeheaver Co.


As we read through the Bible, Genesis 5 sounds like the records kept down at the county courthouse. Name, age at death, survivors. But in this terse list, we are suddenly confronted with a man who stands out from everyone else. "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (v.24).

We don't know much else about Enoch. He probably took care of the herds, worked the land, cared for his family. Whatever his duties were, we know that he had an ongoing conversation with God. Enoch expressed his joys, his hurts, his confusions, and the responsibility he felt for his children. He walked with God.

Enoch came to love what God loves and hate what God hates. More interesting, though, the Lord was pleased with Enoch (Heb. 11:5). One day He must have said something like: "Enoch, we've come a long way together. Why don't you just come on home and stay with Me." The ancient writer simply reports, "And he was not, for God took him" (v.24).

The Lord still looks for those who will walk with Him. What a privilege for us! The One who is the Creator of the cosmos, the Ruler of heaven, and the Redeemer of mankind seeks our friendship. Are we seeking His? — Haddon W. Robinson (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Savior, let me walk beside Thee,
Let me feel my hand in Thine;
Let me know the joy of walking
In Thy strength and not in mine. --Sidebotham


Keeping Clean - A writer who visited a coal mine noticed a perfectly white plant growing by the side of the entrance. The author and the other visitors with him were astonished that there, where coal dust continually blew and settled, this little plant would be so pure and white.

As the people watched, a miner took some black coal dust and threw it on the plant, but not a particle stuck. The visitors repeated the experiment, but the dust would not cling. Nothing could stain the plant's snowy whiteness.

This illustrates what every Christian life should be like. We live in an evil world, surrounded by ungodly influences. It is our mission to be pure amid all this dirt and remain unspotted from the world. How is this possible?

Enoch lived in the days before the flood, a time when "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). Yet the Bible tells us that "Enoch walked with God three hundred years" (5:22).

If the Lord can keep a plant white as snow amid clouds of black dust, can He not by His grace keep your heart pure in this world of sin? — M. R. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Let me walk with You, dear Savior,
Side by side and hand in hand;
Keep me clean and pure and faithful
Till I reach the heavenly land. --Hess

We live in the world, but the world must not live in us.


Every Step Counts - People who want to feel better, reduce stress, and shed unwanted pounds are discovering that walking may be the best exercise of all. A fitness philosophy of 10,000 steps a day, which first took hold in Japan, is gaining popularity in other countries. Experts advise starting slowly and working toward a higher goal, realizing each day that every step counts.

It's even more important to stay spiritually fit by "walking with God," which the Bible describes as an intimate, growing relationship with the Lord. "Enoch walked with God three hundred years" (Genesis 5:22). "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God" (Ge 6:9). Both men are mentioned in Hebrews 11, where they are commended for their faith. "Enoch … had this testimony, that he pleased God" (v.5). "Noah … became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (v.7).

To walk with God, we need to keep in step without running ahead or lagging behind. Along the way, we talk with the Lord, listen to Him, and enjoy His presence. We trust His guidance when we cannot see what lies ahead. It is not just the destination that's important, but the journey we take together.

There's no better time than now to begin walking with God, because each day every step counts. — David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Knowing God will take a lifetime,
Walking with Him day by day,
Learning all we can about Him,
Loving Him in every way. —Sper

You are headed in the right direction when you walk with God.


Steady or Erratic - How would you describe your spiritual life? Is it marked by steady growth as you walk in fellowship with Jesus and learn from Him each day? Or is it an up-and-down kind of roller-coaster ride with times of intensity followed by seasons of indifference?

Too many people are "religious only by fits and starts," remarked the noted American pastor Jonathan Edwards. Used by God to spearhead a powerful revival in colonial New England, Edwards said churchgoers are "like the waters in the time of a shower of rain, which during the shower, and a little after, run like a brook and flow abundantly, but they are presently quite dry, and when another shower comes, then they will flow again. Whereas a true saint is like a stream from a living spring which, though it may be greatly increased by a shower of rain and diminished in time of drought, yet constantly runs."

If someone were to monitor our lives, would our discipleship be characterized as "fits and starts" or like "a stream from a living spring"? Could we say that we, like Enoch, "walked with God"? (Gen. 5:22).

If our discipleship has been like a roller coaster, let's prayerfully begin a steady walk with our Lord. — Vernon C. Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Dear Jesus, take my heart and hand,
And grant me this, I pray,
That I through Your sweet love may grow
More like You day by day. --Garrison

Discipleship demands discipline