Greek: choris de pisteos adunaton euarestesai, (AAN) pisteusai (AAN) gar dei (3SPAI) ton proserchomenon (PMPMSA) to theo oti estin (3SPAI) kai tois ekzetousin (PAPMPD) auton misthapodotes ginetai. (3SPMI)
Amplified: But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
NLT: So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: And without faith it is impossible to please him. The man who approaches God must have faith in two things, first that God exists and secondly that it is worth a man's while to try to find God. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Now, without faith it is impossible to please Him at all. For he who comes to God must of the necessity in the nature of the case believe that He exists, that He also becomes a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him out. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and apart from faith it is impossible to please well, for it behoveth him who is coming to God to believe that He is, and to those seeking Him He becometh a rewarder.
AND WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM: choris de pisteos adunaton euaresthesai (AAN):
- He 3:12,18,19; 4:2,6; Nu 14:11; 20:12; Ps 106:21,22,24; Isaiah 7:9; Mark 16:17; John 3:18,19; 8:24; Galatians 5:6; Revelation 21:8)
Wuest - Now the writer lays down an axiomatic truth. He uses the aorist tense in the infinitive “to please.” The statement is universal in its application and timeless. The idea is, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him at all.” (Hebrews Commentary)
The writer had earlier warned his readers regarding the danger of no faith instructing them to…
Take care (present imperative = command to continually maintain this attitude - implying a continual need!), brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God (cp "believe that He is" in He 11:6). (He 3:12-note)
Thomas Watson comments that: Unbelief is the root of apostasy. 'an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God' (Hebrews 3:12). What is the reason those who seemed once zealous—now despise God, and leave off prayer in their families? Is it not their unbelief? They believed not that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Infidelity is the cause of apostasy. In the Greek, 'apistia' (unbelief) leads to 'apostasia' (apostasy). And if unbelief is the breeder and fomenter of so much sin, then the unbelieving heart must needs be an impure heart.
And in Hebrews 3, the writer again tackles the subject of faith/belief, explaining the relationship between faith and obedience writing
And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient (apeitheo = refuse to be persuaded and deliberately disobey, cp Jn 3:36 where apeitheo = "does not obey")? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief (apistia = literally not believing, cp Nu 14:11). (He 3:18, 19-note)
Israel's unbelief was reflected in her disobedience, and so one can see that faith is clearly related to obedience, a relationship which is discussed at greater length below.
The psalms repeatedly address Israel's disobedient, unbelieving heart writing that …
Because (see Ps 78:21 for what he is explaining) they (Israel) did not believe in God and did not trust in His salvation. (Ps 78:22)
Spurgeon comments: Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation. This is the master sin, the crying sin (Ed: One can see why without faith one cannot please God!). Like Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, it sins and makes Israel to sin (cp 1Ki 14:16); it is in itself evil and the parent of evils. It was this sin which shut Israel out of Canaan, and it shuts myriads out of heaven. God is ready to save, combining power with willingness, but rebellious man will not trust his Saviour, and therefore is condemned already (Jn 3:18KJV). In the text it appears as if all Israel's other sins were as nothing compared with this; this is the peculiar spot which the Lord points at, the special provocation which angered Him. From this let every unbeliever learn to tremble more at his unbelief than at anything else. If he be no fornicator, or thief, or liar, let him reflect that it is quite enough to condemn him that he trusts not in God's salvation. (Ed: And because of this "master sin" it led them to inward sin Ps 78:18-note and outward sin Ps 78:19-note)
In spite of all this (All what? judgement! Ps 78:31) they (Israel) still sinned and did not believe in His wonderful works. (Ps 78:32)
Spurgeon comments: For all this they sinned still. Judgments moved them no more than mercies. They defied the wrath of God. Though death was in the cup of their iniquity, yet they would not put it away, but continued to quaff it as if it were a healthful potion. How truly might these words be applied to ungodly men who have been often afflicted, laid upon a sick bed, broken in spirit, and impoverished in estate, and yet have persevered in their evil ways, unmoved by terrors, unswayed by threatenings.
Their unbelief was chronic and incurable. Miracles both of mercy and judgment were unavailing. They might be made to wonder, but they could not be taught to believe. Continuance in sin and in unbelief go together. Had they believed they would not have sinned, had they not have been blinded by sin they would have believed. There is a reflex action between faith and character. How can the lover of sin believe? How, on the other hand, can the unbeliever cease from sin? God's ways with us in providence are in themselves both convincing and converting, but unrenewed nature refuses to be either convicted or converted by them.
They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt, wonders in the land of Ham, and awesome things by the Red Sea. Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him, to turn away His wrath from destroying them. Then they despised the pleasant land. They did not believe in His word but grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the LORD. (Ps 106:21, 22, 23, 24, 25)
Spurgeon comments: (On Ps 106:21) They forgot God their Saviour. Remembering the calf (Ex 32:4) involved forgetting God. He had commanded them to make no image (Ex 20:4)), and in daring to disobey they forgot His commands. Moreover, it is clear that they must altogether have forgotten the nature and character of Jehovah, or they could never have likened Him to a grass eating animal. Some men hope to keep their sins and their God too -- the fact being that he who sins is already so far departed from the Lord that he has actually forgotten him.
Which had done great things in Egypt. God in Egypt had overcome all the idols, and yet they so far forgot Him as to liken Him to them. Could an ox work miracles? Could a golden calf cast plagues upon Israel's enemies? They were brutish to set up such a wretched mockery of deity, after having seen what the true God could really achieve. "Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea". (Ps 106:22KJV) They saw several ranges of miracles, the Lord did not stint them as to the evidences of His eternal power and godhead, and yet they could not rest content with worshipping Him in His own appointed way, but must needs have a Directory of their own invention, an elaborate ritual after the old Egyptian fashion, and a manifest object of worship to assist them in adoring Jehovah. This was enough to provoke the Lord, and it did so; how much He is angered every day in our own land no tongue can tell.
(On Ps 106:24) Yea, they despised the pleasant land. They spoke lightly of it, though it was the joy of all lands: they did not think it worth the trouble of seeking and conquering; they even spoke of Egypt, the land of their iron bondage, as though they preferred it to Canaan, the land which floweth with milk and honey. It is an ill sign with a Christian when he begins to think lightly of heaven and heavenly things; it indicates a perverted mind, and it is, moreover, a high offence to the Lord to despise that which he esteems so highly that he in infinite love reserves it for his own chosen. To prefer earthly things to heavenly blessings is to prefer Egypt to Canaan, the house of bondage to the land of promise.
They believed not His word. This is the root sin. If we do not believe the Lord's word, we shall think lightly of his promised gifts. "They could not enter in because of unbelief" (He 3:19) -- this was the key which turned the lock against them. When pilgrims to the Celestial City begin to doubt the Lord of the way, they soon come to think little of the rest at the journey's end, and this is the surest way to make them bad travelers. Israel's unbelief demanded spies to see the land; the report of those spies was of a mingled character, and so a fresh crop of unbelief sprang up, with consequences most deplorable.
And (de) - Can also be rendered "but" (as in He 11:6KJV) which suggests a contrast with the heart attitude of faith (like that of Enoch) which pleases God (He 11:5-note, Ge 5:24) -- without such a faith one cannot walk with God or please Him. In fact not only can we not walk with God, we can do absolutely nothing that pleases God when we do it apart from faith. Many people get caught in the trap of doing rather than being, mistaking religious activity for right relationship. But without faith their "doing" is not pleasing to God. Others think that they can please God because they are born into a Christian family or go to a Bible believing church or have been baptized in water, but none of these things please God if they are apart from faith.
Without (5565) (choris) is used both as a preposition and an adverb, this latter use signifying separately or by itself (John 20:7). More often choris is used (as in the current verse) as a preposition meaning apart from (John 1:3), without (without sin He 4:15-note) or separate from (separate from Christ Ep 2:12-note). Webster says that without (as a preposition) is used as a function word to indicate the absence or lack of something or someone.
Choris - 41x in 38v in the NAS (note concentration in Hebrews) - Matt. 13:34; 14:21; 15:38; Mk. 4:34; Lk. 6:49; Jn. 1:3; 15:5; 20:7; Ro. 3:21, 28; 4:6; 7:8f; 10:14; 1 Co. 4:8; 11:11; 2 Co. 11:28; 12:3; Eph. 2:12; Phil. 2:14; 1 Tim. 2:8; 5:21; Philemon 1:14; Heb. 4:15; 7:7, 20; 9:7, 18, 22, 28; 10:28; 11:6, 40; 12:8, 14; Jas. 2:18, 20, 26.
The NAS renders choris as apart from(10), aside from(1), besides(1), by itself(1), independent(2), separate from(1), without(25).
Without faith - Barnes comments that this signifies "Without confidence in God--in His fidelity, His truth, His wisdom, His promises. And this is as true in other things as in religion. It is impossible for a child to please his father unless he has confidence in him. It is impossible for a wife to please her husband, or a husband a wife, unless they have confidence in each other. If there is distrust and jealousy on either part, there is discord and misery. We cannot be pleased with a professed friend unless he has such confidence in us as to believe our declarations and promises. The same thing is true of God. He cannot be pleased with the man who has no confidence in Him; who doubts the truth of His declarations and promises; who does not believe that His ways are right, or that He is qualified for universal empire. The requirement of faith or confidence in God is not arbitrary; it is just what we require of our children, and partners in life, and friends, as the indispensable condition of our being pleased with them. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
Another point regarding without faith is that we cannot perform enough good works to please God. Stated another way, our works no matter how abundant, can never "compensate" for a lack of faith.
Thomas Vincent - As faith is a hand to lay hold of Christ's righteousness, so it is a hand to receive supplies of grace from Christ to quicken us unto newness of life. Yes, I may say, there can be no real, inherent righteousness without a saving interest by faith in Christ's imputed righteousness. There may be a righteousness of some kind like it—but not of the right kind, not a righteousness which springs from the true principle of faith, and therefore it cannot be a righteousness that is pleasing to God; for "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).
The godly writer C. H. Mackintosh commenting on the supremacy of faith wrote that..
It glorifies God exceedingly, because it proves that we have more confidence in His eyesight that in our own.
Here is Mackintosh's full quote from his devotional comments on Exodus in which he writes that…
The Egyptians could not move in such a path as this. They moved on because they saw the way open before them: with them it was sight, and not faith—"Which the Egyptians assaying (Gk = peira = test, trial, experiment, an effort to accomplish something) to do were drowned." (He 11:29KJV) When people assay (try) to do what faith alone can accomplish, they only encounter defeat and confusion. The path along which God calls His people to walk is one which nature can never tread—"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." (1Co 15:50) Neither can it walk in the ways of God. Faith is the great characteristic principle of God's kingdom, and faith alone can enable us to walk in God's ways. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (He 11:6) It glorifies God exceedingly when we move on with Him, as it were, blindfolded (cp 2Co 5:7). It proves that we have more confidence in His eyesight than in our own. If I know that God is looking out for me, I may well close my eyes, and move on in holy calmness and stability. In human affairs we know that when there is a sentinel or watchman at his post, others can sleep quietly (cp Php 4:7-). How much more may we rest in perfect security, when we know that He who neither slumbers nor sleeps has His eye upon us (Ps 121:3, 4-notes), and His everlasting arms around us (cp Dt 33:27, Pr 10:25)!
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)
As MacDonald says "There is nothing about God that makes it impossible for men to believe. The difficulty is with the human will.
Thomas Watson - A sinner's best works are 'opera mortua'—dead works! And those works which are dead, cannot please God. A dead flower has no sweetness. Hebrews 11:6.
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 here for W E Vine's similar definition of faith)
Respected theologian Louis Berkhof defines genuine faith in essentially the same way noting that it includes an intellectual element (notitia), which is
a positive recognition of the truth”; an emotional element (assensus), which includes “a deep conviction of the truth”; and a volitional element (fiducia), which involves “a personal trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, including a surrender … to Christ.” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939)
Faith is relying on what God has done rather than on one’s own efforts. In the Old Testament, faith is rarely mentioned. The word trust is used frequently, and verbs like believe and rely are used to express the right attitude to God. The classic example is Abraham, whose faith was reckoned as righteousness (Ge 15:6). At the heart of the Christian message is the story of the cross: Christ’s dying to bring salvation. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God’s good gift of salvation (Acts 16:30,31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20; cf. Heb 11:1).
J. B. Lightfoot discusses the concept of faith in his commentary on Galatians. He notes that in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the definition of the word for faith "hovers between two meanings: trustfulness, the frame of mind which relies on another; and trustworthiness, the frame of mind which can be relied upon… the senses will at times be so blended together that they can only be separated by some arbitrary distinction. The loss in grammatical precision is often more than compensated by the gain in theological depth… They who have faith in God are steadfast and immovable in the path of duty.
Faith, like grace, is not static. Saving faith is more than just understanding the facts and mentally acquiescing. It is inseparable from repentance, surrender, and a supernatural longing to obey. None of those responses can be classified exclusively as a human work, any more than believing itself is solely a human effort.
Faith is manifest by not believing in spite of evidence but obeying in spite of consequence. John uses the related verb pisteuo to demonstrate the relationship between genuine faith and obedience writing "He who believes (present tense = continuous) in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)
Charles Swindoll commenting on faith and obedience in John 3:36 concludes that…
In 3:36 the one who “believes in the Son has eternal life” as a present possession. But the one who “does not obey the Son shall not see life.” To disbelieve Christ is to disobey Him. And logically, to believe in Christ is to obey Him. As I have noted elsewhere, “This verse clearly indicates that belief is not a matter of passive opinion, but decisive and obedient action.” (quoting J. Carl Laney)… Tragically many people are convinced that it doesn’t really matter what you believe, so long as you are sincere. This reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is returning from a disastrous baseball game. The caption read, “174 to nothing! How could we lose when we were so sincere?” The reality is, Charlie Brown, that it takes more than sincerity to win the game of life. Many people are sincere about their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong!" (Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B. Understanding Christian Theology.: Thomas Nelson Publishers) (This book is recommended if you are looking for a very readable, non-compromising work on "systematic theology".)
Subjectively faith is firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness (though rare). Objectively faith is that which is believed (usually designated as "the faith"), doctrine, the received articles of faith. Click separate study of "the faith (pistis)".
When missionary John Paton was translating the Scripture for the South Sea islanders, he was unable to find a word in their vocabulary for the concept of believing, trusting, or having faith. He had no idea how he would convey that to them. One day while he was in his hut translating, a native came running up the stairs into Paton's study and flopped in a chair, exhausted. He said to Paton, “It’s so good to rest my whole weight in this chair.” John Paton had his word: Faith is resting your whole weight on God. That word went into the translation of their New Testament and helped bring that civilization of natives to Christ. Believing is putting your whole weight on God. If God said it, then it’s true, and we’re to believe it.
Nothing before, nothing behind,
The steps of faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The rock beneath
Without “confidence” in God - in his fidelity, his truth, his wisdom, his promises. The essence of faith consists in believing and receiving what God has revealed, and 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 (Jn 1:12; Ja 2:14 - 26).
Clearly faith is a key word in Hebrews. Study the 31 uses of pistis in Hebrews in context …
Hebrews 4:2 - For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
Hebrews 6:1 - Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Hebrews 6:12 -so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Hebrews 10:22 - let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:38 - BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN
Hebrews 10:39 - But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
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.
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.
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.
Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is 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 11:7 - By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Hebrews 11:8 - By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Hebrews 11:9 - By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;
Hebrews 11:11 - By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.
Hebrews 11:13 - All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Hebrews 11:17 - By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
Hebrews 11:20 - By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.
Hebrews 11:21 - By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
Hebrews 11:22 - By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
Hebrews 11:23 - By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.
Hebrews 11:24 - By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,
Hebrews 11:27 - By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.
Hebrews 11:28 - By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.
Hebrews 11:29 -By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
Hebrews 11:30 - By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
Hebrews 11:31 - By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
Hebrews 11:33 -who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,
Hebrews 11:39 - And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
Hebrews 12:2 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 13:7 - Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
Impossible (102) (adunatos from a = without + dunatós = possible, able, or powerful from dunamai = to be able or have power by virtue of inherent ability and resources. The stem duna- or dyna- = ability or capability) means not possible, without the possibility of happening, incapable of being or of occurring, incapable of being done.
Adunatos is used twice to convey the idea of impotence of one who has no strength or who lacks capability in functioning adequately, once in a literal sense of lacking physical strength (Acts 14:8) and once in a spiritual sense (Ro 15:1-note = of whose faith is weak).
Adunatos - 10x in 10v in the NAS - Mt 19:26; Mk 10:27; Lk 18:27; Acts 14:8; Ro 8:3; 15:1; He 6:4, 18; 10:4; 11:6 and is rendered in the NAS as impossible(6), things impossible(1), what it could not without strength(2).
One will note the obvious concentration of "impossibilities" in the book of Hebrews in these 5 uses of adunatos…
He 6:4ESV-note For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, (Note: the NASB places "impossible" in He 6:6-note. Note also that commentators and some translators take adunatos to mean difficult but clearly from the other NT uses and specifically the uses in Hebrews this is inappropriate and could lead to an incorrect interpretation of this stern warning passage.)
He 6:18-note in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.
He 10:4-note For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
He 11:6 And without faith it is 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.
Please (2100) (euaresteo [word study] related adjective euarestos [word study] from eu = well + aresko = to please) means to behave in a manner that causes another to be pleased. It means to to give pleasure or satisfaction. The idea is to excite agreeable emotions in another. For example in Hebrew 13:16, praise that pleases God is the fruit of our lips, not just our thoughts, and is spoken out unto the Lord, either in prose or in song.
Euaresteo - 3x in the NT - Heb. 11:5, 6; 13:16
Adrian Rogers - You see, by faith, man gives God pleasure. Our faith pleases God and through faith God gives man treasure. According to your faith, be it unto you. Faith is the medium of exchange in the kingdom of heaven, just like money is the medium of exchange. If you want to go to the grocery store, you buy something, it takes money. You come to heaven to receive from God, "Without faith it's impossible to please him, for he that comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. According to your faith be it unto you."
Thomas Watson - Duties of religion are not accepted without the new creature, because there is that lacking, which makes them a sweet savor to God. The holy oil for the tabernacle was to be made of several spices and ingredients, Exodus 30:23. Now, if any of these spices had been left out, it would not have been pleasing to God. The unregenerate man leaves out the chief spice in his duties, and that is faith. Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Faith lays hold on Christ—and so is accepted.
Barnes - And this is as true in other things as in religion. It is impossible for a child to please his father unless he has confidence in him. It is impossible for a wife to please her husband, or a husband a wife, unless they have confidence in each other. If there is distrust and jealousy on either part, there is discord and misery. We cannot be pleased with a professed friend unless he has such confidence in us as to believe our declarations and promises. The same thing is true of God. He cannot be pleased with the man who has no confidence in him; who doubts the truth of his declarations and promises; who does not believe that his ways are right, or that he is qualified for universal empire. The requirement of faith or confidence in God is not arbitrary; it is just what we require of our children, and partners in life, and friends, as the indispensable condition of our being pleased with them.
Spurgeon writes that…
Some of the Indian tribes use little strips of cloth instead of money. I would not find fault with them if I lived there, but when I come to England, strips of cloth will not suffice. So honesty, sobriety, and such things may be very good among men, and the more you have of them the better. But all these things put together, without faith, do not please God. Virtues without faith are white-washed sins.
The way to please God, then, is to believe in him, and if there be 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.
He cannot come to a God who to his own mind is non-existent; he must believe that he is.
See this reward then; it pleases God, and that is reward enough far anyone of us. Next see faith’s safety.
See, here, how faith has learnt the secret art of pleasing God. God is the thrice-holy One; he is a jealous God, and a very little sin greatly provokes him; but faith knows how to please him. I do not wonder that Enoch did not die; it was s less thing to be translated to heaven than it was to please God. To live for three hundred years, in constant communion with God, as he did, to be ever pleasing God, was a mighty triumph for faith. Nay God grant that, during all the years that we live, whether they are few or many, we may so live as always to please him! “But without faith it is impossible to please him.”
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.
These are the things with which faith always deals; — not with the things that are seen or are apprehensible by the senses or the feelings. (Spurgeon on Hebrews)
A W Pink writes…
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him." Most solemnly do these words attest the total depravity of man. So corrupt is the fallen creature, both in soul and body, in every power and part thereof, and so polluted is everything that issues from him, that he cannot of and by himself do anything that is acceptable to the Holy One. "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Ro 8:8-note): "they that are in the flesh" means, they that are still in their natural or unregenerate state. A bitter fountain cannot send forth sweet waters. But faith looks out of self to Christ, applies unto His righteousness, pleads His worth and worthiness, and does all things God-ward in the name and through the mediation of the Lord Jesus. Thus, by faith we may please God.
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him." Yet in all ages there have been many who attempted to please God without faith. Cain began it, but failed woefully. All in their Divine worship profess a desire to please God, and hope that they do so; why otherwise should they make the attempt? But, as the apostle declares in another place, many seek unto God "but not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law" (Ro 9:32-note).
But where faith be lacking, let men desire, design, and do what they will, they can never attain unto Divine acceptance. "But to Him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for ("unto") righteousness" (Ro 4:5-note). Whatever be the necessity of other graces, faith is that which alone obtains acceptance with God.
In order to please God four things must concur, all of which are accomplished by faith.
First, the person of him that pleaseth God must be accepted of Him (Ge. 4:4).
Second, the thing done that pleaseth God must be in accord with His will (He 13:21-note).
Third, the manner of doing it must be pleasing to God: it must be performed in humility (1Co 15:10), in sincerity (Is 38:3), in cheerfulness (2Co 8:12; 9:7).
Fourth, the end in view must be God’s glory (1Co 10:31). Now faith is the only means whereby these four requirements are met.
By faith in Christ the person is accepted of God. Faith makes us submit ourselves to God’s will. Faith causes us to examine the manner of what we do Godward. Faith aims at God’s glory: of Abraham it is recorded that he "was strong in faith, giving glory to God" (Ro 4:20-note).
How essential it is then that each of us examine himself diligently and make sure that he has faith. It is by faith the convicted and repentant sinner is saved (Acts 16:31). It is by faith that Christ dwells in the heart (Ep 3:17-note). It is by faith that we live (Ga 2:20-note). It is by faith that we stand (Ro 11:20-note; 2Co 1:24). It is by faith we walk (2Cor. 5:7). It is by faith the Devil is successfully resisted (1Pe 5:8, 9-note). It is by faith we are experimentally sanctified (Acts 26:18). It is by faith we have access to God (Ep 3:12-note, He 10:22-note). It is by faith that we fight the good fight (1Ti 6:12). It is by faith that the world is overcome (1Jn 5:4). Reader, are you certain that you have the "faith of God’s elect" (Titus 1:1-note)? If not, it is high time you make sure, for "without faith it is impossible to please God."(The Faith of Enoch. Hebrews 11:5, 6)
FOR HE WHO COMES TO GOD MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS: pisteusai (AAN) gar dei (3SPAI) ton proserchomenon (PMPMSA) to theo hoti estin (3SPAI):
- He 7:25; Job 21:14; Psalms 73:28; Isaiah 55:3; Jeremiah 2:31; John 14:6
- Romans 10:14)
For (gar) explains why it is impossible to please God. (See term of explanation)
Wuest - The one who comes to God, must believe two things, first that He exists, and second, that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. The first verb “is” is the translation of estin which speaks of existence. The second verb “is” is the translation of ginomai. The idea is not merely that God exists as a rewarder, but that He will prove Himself to be a rewarder of that person who diligently seeks Him. As Vincent puts it: “He who approaches God has, through faith, the assurance that his seeking God will result in good to himself.” (Hebrews Commentary)
Comes (4334) (proserchomai from prós = facing + érchomai = come) means literally to come facing toward and so to approach or come near. To come to visit or associate with. It describes the approach to or entry into a deity’s presence. In the Septuagint (LXX) proserchomai was the verb used to describe the approach of the priests to Jehovah for worship and to perform of their priestly (Levitical) functions. But here in Hebrews, under the New covenant, all seven uses of proserchomai refer to believers possessing the privilege of access to God the Father through Christ the Great High Priest.
Pink writes that…
There is a threefold "coming to God": an initial, a continuous, and a final. The first takes place at conversion, the second is repeated throughout the Christian’s life, the third occurs at death or the second coming of Christ. To come to God signifies to seek and have fellowship with Him. It denotes a desire to enter into His favor and become a partaker of His blessings in this life and of His salvation in the life to come. It is the heart’s approach unto Him in and through Christ: John 14:6, He 7:25. But before there is a conscious access to Him, God has to be diligently sought.
None come to God, none truly seek Him, until they are made conscious of their lost condition. The Spirit must first work in the soul a realization that sin has alienated us "from the life of God" (Ep 4:18). We have to be made to feel that we are away from God, out of His favor, under His righteous condemnation, before we shall really do as the prodigal did, and say "I will arise and go to My Father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee" (Lk 15:18). The same principle holds good in connection with the repeated "coming" of the Christian (1Pe 2:4); it is a sense of need which causes us to seek Him who is the Giver of every good and every perfect gift. There is also a maintained communion with God in the performance of holy duties: in all the exercises of godliness we renew our access to God in Christ: in reading of or hearing His Word, we come to Him as Teacher, in prayer we come to Him as Benefactor. (The Faith of Noah. Hebrews 11:6, 7)
Here are the seven uses of this proserchomai in Hebrews…
Hebrews 4:16 (note) Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (Comment: "Let us… " emphasizes that this privilege is always available to those under the New Covenant. Do we really comprehend and avail ourselves of the profundity of this privilege?)
Hebrews 7:25 (note) Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near (present tense = emphasizes continual activity) to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Hebrews 10:1 (note) For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.
Hebrews 10:22 (note) let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 11:6 (note) And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes (drawn near) to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Hebrews 12:18 (note) For you have not come (drawn near) to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,
Hebrews 12:22 (note) But you have come (drawn near) to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels
Proserchomai describes disciples approaching Jesus after He spoke parable of soils to multitude (Mt 13:10). Heb 12:18,22 4:16 7:25 10:1,22 11:6 12:18,22
In OT the ones chosen to draw near to the Holiness of God were the PRIESTS. (Dt 21:5 "Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near") Believers today are PRIESTS (Rev 1:6;5:10, 1Pe 2:10, etc)
Jamieson draws attention to the aorist tense of the verb which signifies "once for all". The belief called for is a "moral necessity".
BELIEVE THAT HE IS
He is - What does this mean? In simple terms one must first believe that God exists. He is the great I Am, the self existent God, Yahweh, Jehovah (see study). Obviously we cannot (and will not) come to Him unless first we believe that He exists, that He is the living and true God. We cannot see Him except through eyes of faith (2Co 5:7, He 11:1-note, 1Pe 1:8-note).
One must believe that He is the God of the Bible is the only true (Jn 17:3, 1Th 1:9, 1Jn 5:20, 21), that He is the living God (Dt 5:26 Jos 3:10 1Sa 17:26, 17:36 2Ki 19:4, 19:16 Ps 42:2, 84:2, Isa 37:4,17 Je 10:10, 23:36 Da 6:20, 26, Ho1:10, Mt 16:16, 26:63, Ac 14:15 Ro 9:26 2Co 3:3, 6:16, 1Ti 3:15, 4:10, Heb 3:12, 9:14, 10:31, 12:22, Rev7:2), that there is "no other God", (Isa 45:14, 5, 6, 18, 21, 22, 44:6, 7, 8, 43:11) and that "there is no one like" Him (Isa 46:9).
MacArthur writes that "In his book, Your God is Too Small, J. B. Phillips describes some of the common gods that people manufacture. One is the grand old man god, the grandfatherly, white-haired, indulgent god who smiles down on men and winks at their adultery, stealing, cheating, and lying. Then there are the resident policeman god, whose primary job is to make life difficult and unenjoyable, and the god in a box, the private and exclusive sectarian god. The managing director god is the god of the deists, the god who designed and created the universe, started it spinning, and now stands by far away watching it run down. God is not pleased with belief in any of these idolatrous substitutes."
As Robertson says this is even true "in business also (banks, for instance)". Witness the "run" on banks when one's "faith" in their integrity becomes shaken. He goes on to add that "The very existence of God is a matter of intelligent faith."
Vincent says of this faith that He is is "An essential obligation. In the nature of the case… Faith in God involves belief in His existence although he is unseen.
MacArthur comments that "Genuine faith does not simply believe that a divine being exists (Jas 2:19-note), but that the God of Scripture is the only real and true God Who exists. Not believing that God exists is equivalent to calling Him a liar (1Jn 5:10)
Spurgeon writes that "You must believe that God hears prayer. You must believe that he will punish the guilty, and that he will reward the righteous. Without this sure faith, you cannot come to him. No one can come to God if he does not believe that there is a God, and that he justly dispenses rewards and punishments."
A W Pink writes that…
to seek God aright, He has to be sought in faith, for "without faith it is impossible to please Him," therefore, "he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." There has to be first a firm persuasion of His being, and second of His bounty. To believe that "He is" means much more than assenting to the fact of a "First Cause" or to allow that there is a "Supreme Being"; it means to believe in the character of God as He has revealed Himself in His works, in His Word, and in Christ. He must be conceived of aright, or otherwise we are only pursuing a phantom of our own imagination. Thus, to believe that "God is" is to exercise faith upon Him as such a Being as His Word declares Him to be: supreme sovereign, ineffably holy, almighty, inflexibly just, yet abounding in mercy and grace toward poor sinners through Christ.
Not only is the heart to go out unto God as His being and character is revealed in Scripture, but particularly, faith is to lay hold of His graciousness: that He is "a Rewarder" etc. The acting of faith toward God as a "Rewarder" is the heart’s apprehension and anticipation of the fact that He is ready and willing to conduct Himself to needy sinners in a way of bounty, that He will act in all things toward them in a manner suitable unto the proposal of which He makes of Himself through the Gospel. It was the realization of this (in addition to his felt need) which stirred the prodigal to act (cp Lk 15:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20). Just as it would be useless to pray unless there were an hope that God hears and that He will answer prayer, so no sinner will really seek unto God until there is born in his heart an expectation of mercy from Him, that He will receive him graciously. This is a laying hold of His promise.
In Scripture, privileges are propounded with their necessary limitations, and we disjoint the whole system of Truth if we separate the recompense from the duty. There is something to be done on our part: God is a "Rewarder," but of whom? Of those who "diligently seek Him." "The wicked shall be turned into Hell, all the nations that forget God" (Ps 9:17): not only "deny," but "forget" Him; as they cast God out of their thoughts and affections, so He will cast them out of His presence. (The Faith of Noah. Hebrews 11:6, 7)
AND THAT HE IS (literally "becomes") A REWARDER (renderer of reward) : kai tois ekzetousin (PAPMPD) auton misthapodotes ginetai (3SPMI):
- He 11:26; Ge 15:1; Ruth 2:12-note; Psalms 58:11; Proverbs 11:18; Matthew 5:12; 6:1,2,5,16; Matthew 10:41,42; Luke 6:35 )
Literally God "becomes a rewarder."
Faith not only believes God exists but trusts Him to be a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Jamieson comments that on "reward" that this is what
"God proved to be to Enoch. The reward is God Himself diligently "sought" and "walked with" in partial communion here, and to be fully enjoyed hereafter. Compare Ge15:1, "I am thy exceeding great reward."
Vincent comments on the difference in the simple verb "Is", noting that it does not mean
"simply exists, but comes to pass as; proves to be, habitually, so that he who approaches God has, through faith, the assurance that his seeking God will result in good to himself."
Wuest adds that
"The one who comes to God, must believe two things, first that He exists, and second, that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. The first verb “is” is the translation of estin which speaks of existence. The second verb “is” is the translation of ginomai. The idea is not merely that God exists as a rewarder, but that He will prove Himself to be a rewarder of that person who diligently seeks Him."
OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM: kai tois ekzetousin (PAPMPD):
- 1Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 105:3,4; 119:10; Proverbs 8:17; Song 3:1, 2, 3, 4; Jeremiah 29:13,14; Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31; 2Peter 1:5,10; 3:14)
Lit. "unto them that seek him out". Those who seek Him out are continuously (present tense) diligently seeking Him.
Spurgeon - he Greek word means not only seek Him, but “seek Him out”—that is, seek Him until they find Him, and seek Him above all others. It is a very strong word; we hardly know how to transfer its meaning into English, for though it does not say “diligently,” it implies it. We must seek, and seek out, that is, seek until we really find. Those who with their hearts follow after God shall not be losers if they believe that He will reward them. You have to believe God so as to seek His glory. We seek Him, first, when we begin by prayer, by trusting to Jesus, and by calling upon the sacred name, to seek salvation. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Joel 2:32). That is a grand promise, and it teaches how we come to God: by calling upon His name. Afterward, we seek God by aiming at His glory—by making Him the great object for which we live. Although we deserve nothing at His hands but wrath, yet we perceive from the gospel that if we seek Him through His Son, we shall be so well-pleasing to Him as to get a reward from His hands. This must be of grace—free, sovereign grace! And what a reward it is! Free pardon, graciously bestowed; a change of heart, graciously wrought; perseverance graciously maintained, comfort graciously poured in, and privilege graciously awarded.
Seek (1567) (ekzeteo from ek = out or to intensify the meaning + zeteo = to seek) means to seek out, to look for, to search diligently for anything lost. This verb implies that the seeker exerts considerable effort and care in learning something.
Ekzeteo - 7x in 7v in the NAS - Lk. 11:50, 51; Acts 15:17; Ro 3:11; Heb. 11:6; 12:17; 1Pe 1:10
The NAS renders ekzeteo as charged (2), made careful search*(1), seek(2), seeks for(1), sought for(1).
The "Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament" (Rienecker) notes that the preposition "ek" in this compound "always seems to denote that the seeker finds, or at least exhausts his powers of seeking."
The writer could have used the root verb zeteo but instead he chose ekzeteo which speaks of making diligent investigation or determined search for something. The idea is to exert effort to find out something.
For example, Peter uses ekzeteo to describe the efforts of the OT prophets writing that "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search (ekzeteo) and inquiry seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow." (1Pe 1:10, 11-notes)
In other words, the OT prophets studied their own writings in order to know more about the promised salvation. Though they believed and were personally saved from their sin by that faith (through the sacrifice God would provide in Christ), they could not fully understand what was involved in the life and death of Jesus Christ.
So as taught in Hebrews 11:6, God here gives mankind a very clear, logical motive to seek diligently for Him (reward), men still do not seek Him! Esau in some ways typifies men's seeking for God, Hebrews recording that "that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought (ekzeteo) for it with tears." (He 12:17-note)
In other words Esau desired God’s blessings, but he did not want God! He regretted what he had done, but he did not repent.
Ekzeteo, in contrast to the rare use in the NT, is used 105 times in the Septuagint. For example, the psalmist writes "With all my heart I have sought (ekzeteo) Thee. Do not let me wander from Thy commandments… And I will walk at liberty, for I seek (ekzeteo) Thy precepts… I am Thine, save me; for I have sought (ekzeteo) Thy precepts." (Ps 119:10, 45, 94-)
In a use that parallels Paul's use in Romans, the psalmist writes that "Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek (ekzeteo) Thy statutes." (Ps 119:155)
And yet even in the OT God was pleading with faithless Israel to "Learn to do good; Seek (ekzeteo) justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow." (Isa 1:17)
In Jeremiah God spoke to Israel saying "and you will seek (Lxx = ekzeteo) Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jer 29:13)
And in Amos God says "to the house of Israel, "Seek (Lxx = ekzeteo) Me that you may live." (Amos 5:4)
Zechariah prophesies that the day will come (in context a reference to the Millennium) when Gentiles from one of the world's cities "will go to another saying, "Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD, and to seek (ekzeteo) the LORD of hosts; I will also go. So many peoples and mighty nations (the Gentiles) will come to seek (ekzeteo) the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD." (Zech 8:21, 22)
Zechariah's use of ekzeteo parallels James' quotation of Amos 9:11, 12 in arguing his case for the fact that Gentiles could be saved without becoming Jewish converts, declaring "In order that the rest of mankind may seek (ekzeteo) the Lord and all the Gentiles who are called by My name." (Acts 15:17).
Vincent comments that "God's beneficent will and attitude toward the seeker are not always apparent at the first approach. In such cases there is occasion for faith, in the face of delay, that diligent seeking will find its reward."
The amazing thing is now in the New Covenant with the promised Holy Spirit we are inwardly impelled by the Spirit to seek God (cp Eze 36:27, Heb 13:21) because under the Law there were none who continually seek for God Whose fellowship we lost in the Garden of Eden. None seek diligently or earnestly after God, (even when He gives a clear & logical motive of why to seek Him: Rewarder of those who seek Him Heb 11:6) with a sincere and earnest desire to obtain His favor .To seek out, search diligently for anything lost (Eze 34:10, 11, 12). This verse from Ezek in fact says God Himself "will search for My sheep and seek them out." First, the Jews, then to the Greeks. What an awesome God, Who has not left us to our own vain imaginations of how to come into His Holy presence.
A W Pink asks…
What is meant by "diligently seek Him"? To "seek" God is to forsake, deny, go out of self, and take Him alone for our Ruler and satisfying Portion. To seek Him "diligently" is to seek Him early (Pr 8:17), whole-heartedly (Ps 119:10), earnestly (Ps. 27:4), unweariedly (Luke 11:8). How does a thirsty man seek water? The promise is, "And ye shall seek Me and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Je 29:13 and cf. 2Chr 15:15).
And how does God "reward" the diligent seeker?
By offering Himself graciously to be found of them who penitently, earnestly, trustfully approach Him through the appointed Mediator. By granting them access into His favor: this He did not unto Cain, who sought Him in a wrong manner.
By actually bestowing His favor upon them, as He did upon the prodigal. By forgiving their sins and blotting out their iniquities (Is 55:7).
By writing His laws in their hearts, so that they now desire and determine to forsake all idols and serve Him only.
By giving them assurance of their acceptance in the Beloved, and granting them sweet foretastes of the rest and bliss which awaits them on High.
By ministering to their every need, both spiritual and temporal. Finally, by taking them to heaven, where they shall spend eternity in the unclouded enjoyment of the wondrous riches of His grace.
But does this word "Rewarder" have a legalistic ring to it? Not if it be understood rightly. Does it signify that our "diligent seeking" is a meritorious performance which is entitled to recognition? Of course it does not. What, then, is meant?
First, let us quote from the helpful comments of John Owen: "That which these words of the apostle hath respect to, and which is the ground of the faith here required, is contained in the revelation that God made of Himself unto Abraham, ‘Fear not: Abram: I am thy shield, and they exceeding great reward’ (Gen. 15:1). God is so a rewarder unto them that seek Him, as that He is Himself their reward, which eternally excludes all thoughts of merit in them that are so rewarded. Who can merit God to be his reward? Rewarding in God, especially where He Himself is the reward, is an act of infinite grace and bounty. And this gives us full direction unto the object of faith here intended, namely, God in Christ, as revealed in the promise of Him, giving Himself unto believers as a reward, (to be their God) in a way of infinite goodness and bounty. The proposal hereof, is that alone which gives encouragement to come unto Him, which the apostle designs to declare." (The Faith of Noah. Hebrews 11:6, 7)
Unrelated to the upcoming election, I was searching my files for an illustration of trying to please everyone. I came across this story about Senator John Kerry, from 1991, during the first Gulf War. A man named Walter Carter wrote to Mr. Kerry urging him to support the ejection of Iraq from Kuwait. He received two separate replies. The first letter agreed, stating the Senator’s strong support for [then] President Bush’s response to the crisis. The second letter, mailed by mistake, thanked Mr. Carter for opposing the war and pointed out that Senator Kerry had voted against the war resolution! (“Traditional Values Report,” June/July, 1991.)
Newsweek (5/19/94) opened with an article recounting President Bill Clinton’s legendary ability to lead people “to believe that he agrees with them entirely… without ever quite committing himself to their position… a gift given only to the best politicians.” To be fair, many examples could be found of Republican politicians being people-pleasers!
But unfortunately, many pastors try to ride the fence in an attempt to please everyone. There is a proper sense, of course, in which we should seek to please people, not being needlessly offensive (1Cor 10:32, 33). We should be gracious, kind, and not quarrelsome, even when we must correct those in error (2Ti 2:24, 25, 26-note). We should seek to please others in order to build them up in Christ (Ro 15:2-note). But having said all of that, there is a much more important aim than pleasing people, namely, to please God, who examines our hearts (1Th 2:4-note). Sometimes pleasing God inevitably means displeasing people that are opposed to God.
If we please everyone else, but God is ultimately displeased with our lives, woe to us! On the other hand, if we offend others, but God is finally pleased, we will enter into His eternal joy. The author of Hebrews directs us to the life of Enoch, a man who pleased God. He lived in the seventh generation from Adam. It was an evil time on earth, just before the judgment of the flood. Jude 1:14, 15 reports that Enoch prophesied to his evil generation,
“Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” That could not have been a popular message! And yet Enoch pleased God so much that God took him straight to heaven so that he did not see death. His story teaches a vital lesson, that…
A life of faith pleases God.
We should learn three things from these verses:
1. Our number one aim in life should be to please God.
If you love someone, you aim to please him or her. The foremost commandment is that we should love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). It is impossible to obey that commandment without seeking to please God. Note two things in this regard:
A. Pleasing God begins on the heart (or thought) level.
We can fake out people by being nice on the surface, while in our hearts we don’t care about them. But God knows our every thought, and so we can’t fake Him out! Even if we fulfill a list of religious duties or live outwardly moral lives, God judges the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Heb 4:12, 13-note). So if you want to please God, you must judge all sin on the thought level and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (Mark 7:20, 21, 22, 23; 2Co 10:5). God condemns those who honor Him with their lips, while their hearts are far from Him (Mark 7:6). This is essential: Aim to please God with your thought life and your emotional life!
B. Pleasing God requires consistently drawing near to Him and seeking Him.
Verse 6 mentions the one “who comes to God.” Comes to translates the same word that is translated draw near in He 4:16-note, where we are exhorted to “draw near to the throne of grace.” In He 7:25-note, the author says that Jesus “is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him.” In He 10:1, he states that the Old Testament sacrifices could never “make perfect those who draw near.” In He 10:22-note, he exhorts us to “draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” So in He 11:6, it should be translated, “he who draws near to God.” It means drawing near to God in worship and prayer.
Hebrews 11:6 also mentions “those who seek Him.” The KJV translates it, “diligently seek,” (He 11:6KJV) but scholars are divided about whether it has this intensive sense. It is parallel here to drawing near to God. The Hebrew word that is often translated seek originally meant to beat a path under foot. The idea was that if you sought your neighbor often, you would beat a path through the grass to his door.
We should seek God so often that we beat a path to Him!
Drawing near to God and seeking Him are deliberate, intentional activities. You do not accidentally draw near to the Holy One. No one ever seeks God apart from God’s first choosing and calling that person (Ro 3:11-note; 1Cor. 1:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31). But once God has called you to salvation and you have responded in faith to His call, you must exert deliberate effort and intention to seek the Lord. Make it your priority and aim in life!
Note also that we are to seek God Himself, not just the rewards that He can give us. Knowing the living God is our reward. The Lord promised Abraham,
Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your very great reward (Ge 15:1, NASB, margin).
In the context of explaining that the priests would not have any inheritance in the land, God promised Aaron,
I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel (Nu 18:20).
The psalmist proclaimed (Ps 73:25, 26),
Whom have I in heaven, but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
F. B. Meyer wrote,
To have God is to have all, though bereft of everything. To be destitute of God is to be bereft of everything, though having all (Abraham [Christian Literature Crusade], p. 63).
Donald Barnhouse observed,
God’s method of supplying our need is to give us fresh knowledge of Himself, for every need can be met by seeing Him (Genesis [Zondervan], 1:105).
So our number one aim in life should be to please God from the heart. To do so, we must consistently draw near to Him and seek Him. But our text mentions an essential for pleasing God:
2. Faith is essential to please God.
Two words underscore this in He 11:6: impossible and must. Faith is not just something nice, if you care to practice it. It is impossible to please God without faith. You must believe that God is and the He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
We know this on a human level. If someone does not believe you or questions your integrity, you are not pleased with that person. In effect, they’re calling you a liar. If you have spoken the truth, to have someone call you a liar is not pleasing.
How much more does it displease the God of truth, Who cannot lie (Titus 1:2-note), when we call Him a liar by doubting His word! What could be more insulting? What could be more arrogant than to imply that we know more than God does? When we do not trust Him, we are in effect saying, “God, You’re wrong and I’m right!” How impudent! So, if we want to please God, we must learn what faith means, and live by faith on a daily basis. The author mentions two aspects of God-pleasing faith:
A. Faith must believe that God is.
Why does the author start with believing in God’s existence with Jews, who obviously believed that? In fact, even the pagan poet, Cicero, observed,
There is… no nation so barbarous, no people so savage, that they have not a deep-seated conviction that there is a God” (cited by John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion [Westminster Press], 1:44).
So why does the author start with this basic matter?
For one thing, his readers were under the imminent threat of persecution. When you have done what is right and get persecuted for it, the devil comes to you with doubts about God. He whispers in your ear, “You repented of your sins and trusted in God, but look what has happened to you now! If there were a God in heaven, would He let you be treated in this way?”
Although Jesus did not yield to the temptation, Satan threw this at Him while He hung upon the cross. The chief priests, scribes, and elders mocked Him, saying,
“He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him” (Matt. 27:43).
The enemy was trying to get Jesus to doubt God’s love, His power, or even His very existence, because a God who is unloving and weak is not really God at all!
When the author says that we must believe that “God is,” he means, “We must believe that God is exactly who His Word reveals Him to be.” Sinful people cannot know the living and true God apart from His revealing Himself to them. To believe in God “as you conceive Him to be” is to believe in an idol, a god of your own making and imagination. We must believe in the God who is not only the God of love, but also of judgment, because that is how He has revealed Himself. He is not only a God of mercy and kindness, but also of holiness and wrath. So when the author says that we must believe that God is, he is saying, “Believe in the God who reveals Himself in His Word.”
Why would he say that? Because when we are under persecution or severe trials, it is easy to invent a friendlier “god” who treats us more nicely! It is not so easy to bow before the God of the Bible, who is sovereign over every trial. When God permits your ten children to be killed in a common accident and strips you of your wealth and health, it is not easy to join Job in proclaiming,
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Yet at just such times, we must believe, God is!
Perhaps you’re wondering, “How do you hang on to faith in God at such difficult times?” I always ask, “What’s the alternative?” In John 6, Jesus taught some difficult doctrines that caused many of His disciples to turn away from following Him. Rather than softening the teaching, He turned to the twelve and asked, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Peter gave a classic answer,
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God (John 6:67, 68).
You may not like the trials or the teaching, but where else are you going to go? The world certainly offers no satisfying answers! If you turn your back on God in times of trials, you have just robbed yourself of the only source of hope and comfort! Faith holds on, believing that God is!
B. Faith must believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
This has to do with God’s goodness or justice, as well as His power. In times of trial, if Satan can’t get you to doubt God’s existence, he will try to get you to doubt God’s goodness, His fairness, or His power. “If God loves you and cares about you, why is this terrible trial happening to you? Maybe God cares, but He can’t do anything about it.” Faith takes a stand against this temptation, believing, “God will reward me because I have sought Him. God does love me and care for me, even though I’m suffering. God is able to deliver me, if that is His purpose.”
How do we do this? Do we just say it over and over until we convince ourselves, against all of our circumstances, that it is true? Rehearsing it in your mind may help. But, there is more to be said:
(1) Make sure that you’re trusting in Christ for salvation.
Saving faith is not just mentally assenting to the promise that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you have eternal life. You must agree with God’s promise, but faith is more than agreeing. It is also relying personally on Christ as your only hope of heaven. You turn from relying on your own good works as the basis of your standing with God. You do not trust in any religious rituals, ceremonies, vows, or disciplines to gain acceptance with God. You do not believe that God will grade on the curve, and since you’re better than average, you will pass the course. You trust solely on the shed blood of Christ as the only satisfaction for your sins. You believe God’s promise that the one who trusts in Jesus will have eternal life. If you do not have this foundation, you will not be able to believe God in times of severe trials.
(2) Understand that faith is not in any way meritorious; rather, it is God’s ordained means of obtaining His blessings.
In other words, your faith does not earn or merit eternal life or any other blessing. That would be to turn faith into a work that makes God your debtor! Rather, Christ Himself merits our salvation and all spiritual blessings. We deserve nothing from God but judgment, but in His grace, He offers mercy and full pardon to the one who trusts in the merits of Christ.
John Owen explains,
Faith alone is the gracious power which takes us off from all confidence in ourselves, and directs us to look for all in another; that is, in God himself (An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews [The National Foundation for Christian Education], 7:41).
Salvation and everything that we have is from God as a gift by His grace. The Reformer, Martin Bucer, explains, “when God rewards our good works he is rewarding his works and gifts in us, rather than our own works.” Since God works in us, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13-note), Bucer says,
“all the good that God does to us and the eternal life that he gives us still remain the results of his grace alone, so that no one should boast of himself, but only of the Lord” (cited by Philip Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [Eerdmans], p. 461).
So, make sure that you’re trusting in Christ alone for salvation. Understand that you do not in any way merit salvation by your faith, but that faith is simply the channel through which God’s blessings flow.
(3) Remember that the rewards of faith are in eternity, not necessarily in this life.
We saw this last week with Abel, who didn’t live a long and happy life on earth. But his life was blessed and Cain’s life was cursed, even though Cain lived many years and had many earthly successes. The same thing is true of Moses. He chose to give up his comfortable situation as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and to endure ill-treatment with God’s people, “for he was looking to the reward” (He 11:24, 25, 26-note).
This is also illustrated in the case of Enoch (He 11:5-note). Even though he lived 365 years, which is very long by today’s standards, in the context of Genesis 5, he has by far the shortest life of all of the pre-flood patriarchs. His father, Jared, lived 962 years. His son, Methuselah, set the record at 969 years. Yet Enoch, who is noted for his godliness, only lived about a third as long as they did! This shows us that faith’s reward is not necessarily a long life on earth, but eternal life with God in heaven.
Enoch’s translation into heaven is also an illustration of what God will do for those who are alive when Jesus returns. We will be caught up in the clouds “to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1Th 4:17-note). Even for believers who die physically, there is a sense in which they will not see death. As Jesus told Martha at Lazarus’ tomb, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” Then He pointedly asked her, “Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26). Faith looks to God for the reward of eternal life in heaven, not for the good life here and now.
We’ve seen that our number one aim in life should be to please God, and that faith is essential to please Him. Finally,
3. Faith is a daily walk that extends over a lifetime.
Enoch’s life also illustrates this point. Genesis 5 does not mention faith in connection with Enoch, but it does say twice that he walked with God. The LXX translators, seeking to make the language less anthropomorphic (F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [Eerdmans], p. 287), render that phrase,
“Enoch was well-pleasing to God.”
Since it is impossible to please God without faith, it follows that Enoch walked by faith. His 300-year walk of faith obtained God’s testimony that he was pleasing to Him. We must walk by faith with God on earth if we expect to dwell with Him forever in heaven.
Let’s briefly explore the word picture of a walk with God. First, consider that a walk is not spectacular or impressive. If we were writing the biography of a man who was taken up into heaven bodily without dying, I’m sure that we would not title it, “The Man Who Walked With God.” We’d call it, “The Man Who Flew With God.” We’re attracted to the sensational, but God calls our attention to a man who walked with Him. To fly with God sounds impossible, but to walk with God is doable. Walking is not the flashiest or quickest way to get someplace, but it’s a frequent description of the Christian life. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim's Progress is a wonderful expanded description of the Christian walk.
To walk with God means that our lives are in step with God, yielded in obedience to Him, headed in the direction He chooses. Walking also implies intimacy and fellowship. Walking with a friend is a time to talk, to get to know one another, and to share the things that are happening in your lives. Walking with God is a daily process of growing more intimate with Him as you share everything in your life with Him and learn more of His ways.
Of course, you have to do your own walking. Someone else can’t do it for you. Just as a physical exercise program requires discipline, so spiritual walking requires discipline (1Ti 4:7-note). You have to take the initiative, the time, and the effort that is required to walk with God. If you don’t make frequent appointments to get alone with Him, it won’t happen. If you don’t make an effort to read His Word and apply it to your life, you’re not walking with Him. If you are not memorizing His promises and applying them to the various situations you face, you’re not walking by faith. If you have trusted in Christ as Savior, but you have grown lazy and aren’t walking with Him, then get up and get back on the path. Faith is a daily dependence on God, step by step, that continues over a lifetime.
There is a familiar story about a little girl who went to Sunday School and heard the story of Enoch. She went home and told her mother, “You know, Mother, he used to go for walks with God.” The mother replied, “That’s wonderful, dear. How did it end?” “Well, Mother, one day they walked on and on, and got so far that God said to Enoch, ‘You’re a long ways from home. You had better come in and stay with Me!’”
If you walk with God by faith, your life is pleasing to Him. Even if you go through horrible trials, you can trust that He is with you. One day, He will say to you, “You’re a long ways from home. You had better come in and stay with Me!”
Why is it essential to recognize that pleasing God begins on the heart (or, thought) level? What errors does this avoid?
How would you deal with a person who is struggling to believe in the existence of God? Are “proofs” of His existence useful or should we take a different approach?
Why is it crucial to affirm that faith is not meritorious? What are some errors that the meritorious view of faith leads to?
Should the believer be motivated by rewards in heaven? Why/ why not? Is God Himself the totality of our reward? (Index to Pastor Steven Cole's sermons by Bible book - Highly Recommended - They read much like a verse by verse commentary)
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: Pistei chrematistheis (AAPMSN) Noe peri ton medepo blepomenon (PPPNPG) eulabetheis (AAPMSN) kateskeuasen (3SAAI) kiboton eis soterian tou oikou autou, di' es katekrinen (3SAAI) ton kosmon, kai tes kata pistin dikaiosunes egeneto (3SAMI) kleronomos.
Amplified: [Prompted] by faith Noah, being forewarned by God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed and diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family. By this [his faith which relied on God] he passed judgment and sentence on the world’s unbelief and became an heir and possessor of righteousness (that relation of being right into which God puts the person who has faith). (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
NLT: It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about something that had never happened before. By his faith he condemned the rest of the world and was made right in God's sight. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It was through faith that Noah, on receiving God's warning of impending disaster, reverently constructed an ark to save his household. This action of faith condemned the unbelief of the rest of the world, and won for Noah the righteousness before God which follows such a faith. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: By faith Noah, having been divinely warned concerning the things not seen, with reverential care prepared an ark for the preservation of his household; by means of which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: By faith Noah, having been divinely warned concerning the things not yet seen, having feared, did prepare an ark to the salvation of his house, through which he did condemn the world, and of the righteousness according to faith he became heir.
BY FAITH NOAH BEING WARNED BY GOD ABOUT THINGS NOT YET SEEN: Pistei chrematistheis (AAPMSN) Noe peri ton medepo blepomenon (PPPNPG):
- Genesis 6:13,22; 7:1,5; Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:26
- 2Peter 2:5
- Genesis 6:13; 19:14; Exodus 9:18, 19, 20, 21; Proverbs 22:3; 27:12; Ezekiel 3:17, 18, 19; Matthew 3:7; Matthew 24:15,25; 2Peter 3:6)
Related studies on faith and obedience:
- Relationship of faith and obedience - Covenant
- Obedience of faith - Ro 1:5, 16:25
- James 2:14-26 Comments on Faith and Works
- See Commentary on Genesis 12:4
By faith - Noah dramatically illustrates that faith that saves is faith that acts (). Faith alone saves! But the faith that saves is not "alone"! A man is justified by faith alone, not by works, but a faith that "works" is not alone!
Spurgeon - “Enoch walked with God, and he was no more for God took him” (Gen 5:24), and we read that Noah also “walked with God” (Gen 6:9). These two spent their lives in such constant communion with the Most High that they could be fully described as walking with God. Noah is the picture of one who is the Lord’s witness during evil days and lives through them faithfully, enduring unto the end. It was his to be delivered from death by death. The ark was, so to speak, a coffin to him: he entered it and became a dead man to the old world; within its enclosure, he was floated into a new world to become the founder and father of a new race. As in the figure of baptism we see life by burial, so it was with this chosen patriarch; he passed by burial in the ark into a new life. In Enoch we see a type of God’s people who will go home peacefully before the last closing struggle. Before the first clash of swords at Armageddon, such Enochs will be taken from the evil to come. But in Noah we see those who will engage in the conflict and bear themselves bravely amid backsliding and apostasy until they shall see the powers of evil trodden under their feet as straw is trodden for the dunghill. Noah believed in God in his ordinary life. Before the great test came, before he heard the oracle from the secret place, Noah believed in God. We know that he did, for we read that he walked with God, and in his common conduct he is described as being “a righteous man, without defect in his generations” (Gen 6:9). To be righteous in the sight of God is never possible apart from faith, for “the righteous shall live by his faithfulness” (Hab 2:4). It is a great thing to have faith in the presence of a terrible trial, but the first essential is to have faith for ordinary everyday consumption.
Noah illustrates that faith hears and receives God's Word - Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make (a command) for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover (Heb verb = kaphar = literally as in this passage means to cover and in other contexts means to make an atonement [And thus = "Yom Kippur" = Day of Atonement]! E.g., Da 9:24-note speaking of the Messiah) it inside and out with pitch (Hebrew = kopher = means pitch. Most OT uses it means a ransom, price demanded to redeem a person). (Ge 6:13, 14)
And then Noah demonstrates that true saving faith "works" = Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. (Ge 6:22)
Comment: For a more in depth discussion of this vitally (eternally) important relationship between saving faith and works, see notes on James 2:14, 15, 16, 17ff (Notes)
Spurgeon - (Noah) had listened to the terrible threat that God would destroy all living things with a flood; his faith believed both the warning and the promise. If he had not believed the threat, he would not have prepared an ark, and so would not have received the promise. Men do not prepare an ark to escape from a flood unless they believe that there will be a flood.
Warned (5537) (chrematizo [word study] from chrema = an affair, business, sum of money, Ac 4:37, 8:18, 24:26, property Mt 19:22) in the NT means to impart a divine message (an injunction or warning) which is the primary meaning in the present passage. Chrematizo in this sense speaks of a divine oracle or declaration (Lk 2:26), as well as a divine warning (He 12:25, 8:5, Mt 2:12, 22). In the Greek papyri chrematizo was also used of official pronouncements by magistrates and of a royal reply to a petition as well as an answer of an oracle or as describing a revelation from a deity. Josephus uses chrematizo in the sense of to receive a response from God.
Our Lord Jesus Christ also warned His disciples (Lk 17:22) (and by way of application all mankind regarding these last days [cp 2Ti 3:1-note])…
And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man (in the days preceding the return of Christ - see Second Coming): 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Lk 17:26, 27)
Seen (991) (blepo) can denote simple voluntary observation and so mean to look at, behold. Many NT uses convey the sense of becoming aware of or taking notice of something, of perceiving or discerning or understanding. Blepo means to discern mentally, observe, consider, contemplate, look to in the sense of taking care, take heed. It means perceive with your eyes. Have your eye on so as to beware of.
IN REVERENCE PREPARED AN ARK FOR THE SALVATION OF HIS HOUSEHOLD BY WHICH HE CONDEMNED THE WORLD: eulabetheis (AAPMSN) kateskeuasen (3SAAI) kiboton eis soterian tou oikou autou di es katekrinen (3SAAI) ton kosmo:
- Ge 6:18; 7:1,23; 8:16; Ezek 14:14,20; 1Pe 3:20
- Matthew 12:41,42; Lk 11:31,3)
KJV says "in fear" but as Wuest says "the word “fear,” gives one the erroneous impression that Noah acted under the influence of fright. The Greek word is eulabeomai, which means “to act cautiously, circumspectly, to reverence, stand in awe of” in this context. Noah acted with “pious care, a reverent circumspection with regard to things enjoined by God, and as yet unseen, yet confidently expected on the strength of God’s word” (Vincent). The things not seen were the contents of God’s revelation to Noah regarding the flood (Gen. 6:13–22).
Reverence (2125) (eulabeomai from eu = well + lambano = take hold - literally "taking hold well" and thus reverently - see related word eulabeia) means to be concerned, to give careful heed or to be moved with reverent regard/respect for something or someone, in this case Noah's sense of reverence regarding God and His warning. In Noah's case we observe that a reverential attitude led to a reasonable action (built an ark!)
This is the only NT use of eulabeomai but there are 21 uses in the Septuagint (LXX) - Ex 3:6; Deut. 2:4; 1Sa 18:15, 29; Job 13:25; 19:29; Pr. 2:8; 30:5; Isa. 51:12; 57:11; Je 4:1; 5:22; 15:17; 22:25; Dan. 4:5; Nah. 1:7; Hab. 2:20; Zeph. 1:7; 3:12; Zec 2:13; Mal. 3:16
Habakkuk 2:20 "But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent (Heb = has = hush! Keep silence!; LXX = eulabeomai) before Him."
Thomas Watson (1681) wrote that "When the soul looks either to God's holiness, or its own sinfulness—it fears. But it is a fear mixed with faith in Christ's merits; the soul trembles—yet trusts. Like a ship which lies at anchor, though it shakes with the wind, yet it is fixed at anchor. God in great wisdom couples these two graces of faith and fear. Fear preserves seriousness, faith preserves cheerfulness. Fear is as lead to the net—to keep a Christian from floating in presumption; and faith is as cork to the net—to keep him from sinking in despair.
Prepared (2680) (kataskeuazo from katá = intensifies the meaning of + skeuazo = prepare <> from skeuos = implement, vessel) is a verb which means to to equip, make ready, construct, or to cause to be thoroughly prepared. It includes the supply of all necessary furniture and equipment. It's the idea of adorning and equipping with all things necessary. Kataskeuazo was the word used to describe the preparing of a way before oriental monarch (Mt 11:10; Mk 1:2; Lk 7:27 from Malachi 3:1).
Spurgeon - Noah obeyed at all costs. To build the huge vessel must have cost Noah a great deal of money and labor. He could not get everybody to work at the absurd task of building a vessel on dry land. As they would be laughed at, his workmen would be sure to demand extra pay. Possibly he had to pay double wages to everyone employed on the ark. The patriarch was content to sink all his capital and all his income in this singular venture. It was a poor speculation—so everybody told him—and yet he was quite willing to put all his eggs into that one basket. God had bidden him build, and build he would, feeling that the divine command insured him against risk. Can we do the same? Noah went on obeying under daily scorn. The men of that generation mocked him. He went out and preached to them, but many would not hear him, for they thought him mad. Those who did listen to him said to each other, “He is building a vessel upon dry land—is he sane? We are scientific, and therefore we know how absurd his preaching is; no one ever heard of the world being drowned by a flood.” I cannot reproduce the letters that were written about the sturdy patriarch, nor can I recount the spiteful things that were said by the gossips, but I have no doubt they were very clever, and very sarcastic. Those productions of genius are all forgotten now, but Noah is remembered still. For all the scorning of many he went on obeying his God: he stuck to the lines on which God had placed him, and he could not be turned to the right hand or to the left, because he had a real faith in God.
Ark (2787) (kibotos) describes a wooden box or chest and here refers to the sea faring vessel God had Noah build to save himself and his family from the world-wide flood. In other contexts kibotos refers to the Ark of the Covenant (He 9:4, Heb 11:19).
Spurgeon comments (some duplication as these are compiled from a number of separate expository comments by Spurgeon)…
There is an unholy fear which is cast out by perfect love (1Jn 4:18), but there is a holy fear, a filial fear (filial = of, relating to, or befitting a son or daughter), which dwells most happily with faith, so was it with Noah, who, “by faith,… moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.”
You see, faith and fear can live in the same heart; and they can work together to build the same ark. Faith and fear are very sweet companions, when the fear is filial fear, a holy dread of disobeying, God. When we are moved with that fear, our faith becomes practical.
Fear and faith may sometimes dwell together. There is a holy, humble fear that perfect love never casts out (Ed: In other words, this is a "fear" God's children should possess and should seek to cultivate, cp 1Pe 1:17-note, 2Co 7:1-note for this filial fear motivates obedient, holy conduct), but entertains and cherishes; and this is the kind of fear that Noah possessed: “Being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, he prepared an ark.” Noah was a practical life-saver,— an ark-builder; and so he became the second father of the human race,— a sort of new Adam,— and that simply by his faith. Oh! what is there that is impossible to the man who believes in God? “All things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mk 9:23)
See how faith within a man masters all his emotions. Noah, in preparing the ark, was “moved with fear;” but that fear, instead of hampering him, was yoked with his faith, and so was turned to practical account. Oh, for an overcoming faith, (cp 1Jn 5:4, 5) which shall hold our entire nature in check, or which shall employ every part of our being for its own high and noble purposes! (Ed: Amen!)
Noah was the second great father of men as Adam was the first. In the flood, all died except Noah and his family. Faith made him build the great ship on dry land, into which he went, with his wife and family and all manner of living creatures; and when the rest of mankind were destroyed, they outlived the flood.
Faith can outlive a deluge which drowns the whole world. She (faith) hath an Ark even when God’s wrath sweeps all the rest away. Next we learn the obedience of faith (referring to He 11:8-note). (Exposition of Hebrews)
As an aside godly reverential fear goes hand in hand with love -- love is the positive side, fear the negative; (filial, like love of a child for their parents) love prompts (motivates) one to do what pleases God, while fear prompts one to refrain from what displeases God.
Peter (in the background of an otherwise interpretatively difficult section of his letter) alludes to this salvation event because of the intractable evil of mankind (Ge 6:5, 13)…
when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1Pe 3:20-note)
Mankind has continually looked for salvation of one kind or another (Eccl 3:11 is true but so is Ro 3:11-note). Greek philosophers (who did not understand spiritual truth, cp 1Co 2:14) had turned inward and begun to focus on changing man’s inner life through moral reform and self-discipline. The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus called his lecture room “the hospital for sick souls.” Epicurus (in a state of self deception/delusion) called his teaching “the medicine of salvation.” Seneca taught that all men were looking ad salutem (“toward salvation”) and that men are overwhelmingly conscious of their weakness and insufficiency in necessary things and that we therefore need “a hand let down to lift us up”. Seneca was not far from the truth as Scripture testifies…
(Jehovah speaking) Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?… Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save… (Jeremiah speaking) 'Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee" (Isa 50:2… Is 59:1… Je 32:17)
Household (3624) (oikos) refers to a dwelling and by implication a family (more or less related), a home, a household.
Condemned (2632) (katakrino [word study] from kata = down, against + krino = to assess, then to separate or distinguish, then to give an opinion upon, judge, then to decide or determine and finally to judge (to judge one down [kata = down]), pronounce judgment or to condemn) means to give judgment against, pass sentence upon, pass judgment against and hence to condemn, this latter action implying there has been a crime. It means to pronounce sentence against or to adjudge guilty and always denotes an adverse sentence (to sentence to punishment).
Condemn = Old French condemner, from Latin condemnāre from con- (expressing intensive force) + damnare = to condemn, to inflict loss upon from damnum = loss, damage.
Katakrino in secular Greek was a legal technical term for pronouncing a sentence after reaching a verdict or decision against someone. To declare an evildoer guilty.
In our modern parlance, the word condemn is often used with a "lighter" meaning such as to censure, to express strong disapproval, to denounce, etc. Most Biblical uses of katakrino are not "light" as evidenced by repeated use of this verb to describe Jesus being condemned to death. Similarly all who disbelieve will be condemned, which is not simply censured, etc, but sentenced to eternal separation from God (but see Ro 14:23-note which describes condemnation by one's own conscience, not eternal condemnation or condemnation to death).
The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia writes that katakrino "is to be distinguished from… (krino) in that it refers either to the sentence or to the punishment following the sentence rather than to the simple act of deciding in judgment. Only the context can determine the precise nature of the sentence. (Pfeiffer, C, H. F. Vos & J. Rea, Ed The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia. 1975. Moody Press)
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary writes that "Condemn and condemnation are judicial terms, the opposite of Justify and Justification (Mt 12:37; Ro 5:16, 18). God alone is the Judge of people; in His demand for righteousness, sin leads invariably to condemnation and death. (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology adds that "From the standpoint of semantics, condemnation is part of legal terminology. When it is discovered that a crime has been committed, that the law has been broken, the process of investigation may lead to formal charges being levied against a defendant. The process of litigation leads to the outcome, a verdict of acquittal or guilt. The verdict indicates that the defendant is either free from or accountable to the law’s penalty for that crime. Thus the result is either vindication or condemnation. Condemnation can refer either to the legal status of liability to punishment or to the actual infliction of that punishment. At times the word is also used in a broader context to refer to negative evaluations of a person by peers or by one’s own conscience. This legal process is to some extent the background for biblical language about judgment and condemnation. (Click for full article that goes into much greater detail) (Elwell, W. A., & Elwell, W. A. The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology . Baker Book House)
Spurgeon - I do not read that Noah ever entered into any dispute with the men of his times. He never argued, much less did he wish them ill; he simply believed and told them the truth. He kept his own faith intact and went on building his ark, thus practicing what he believed. In this way he condemned those who criticized him. So you see that faith has a condemning power towards an ungodly world. You do not need to be constantly telling worldlings that they are doing wrong; let them see clearly the evidence of your faith (cp Mt 5:16-note, Php 2:14, 15-note, 1Pe 2:12-note, 1Pe 3:16-note), for that will bear the strongest conceivable witness against their unbelief and sin, even as Noah, by his faith, “condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
World (2889) (kosmos) can mean the world with its primary meaning being order, regular disposition and arrangement (God's creation of the heavens and earth) but in this case is used figuratively (and morally/ethically) to refer to the whole of mankind who is alienated from God, unredeemed and hostile to Him. For example, John speaking of the incarnation of Jesus said that "He was in the world (kosmos - here refers to the earth with all its inhabitants) and the world (kosmos - primarily refers to the creation) was made through Him and the world (kosmos - primarily has a moral/ethical meaning describing those hostile to Him) did not know Him." (Jn 1:10).
In the context of the flood "the world" included all of mankind other than those safe in the Ark!
Wuest - The word “which” goes back to “faith” for its antecedent. Noah condemned the world by his faith. There are two interpretations of this statement, depending upon which meaning one takes for the word “world” (kosmos). If kosmos refers to the physical earth, then the sentence is to be interpreted as follows: Noah by acting in faith when building the ark, announced the condemnation of the earth to destruction. If we take kosmos as referring to the fallen, human race, the meaning is that Noah condemned the conduct of his contemporaries by the contrast which his own faith presented. We have examples of the same thing in Matt. 12:41, Ro 2:27. However, Weiss objects to this interpretation and says that in this epistle kosmos is not used to denote the world of men. But the question arises as to what God judged in the flood, the physical earth or the sinful race? It seems, therefore, that the first interpretation is the correct one. Noah threw into bold relief by his faith, the unbelief of the human race.
Not only did he condemn the human race by his faith, but he became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. The words “became heir” in the Greek text here mean merely “became owner” or “became partaker,” although there is underneath the word the idea familiar to the Jewish mind, that spiritual blessings are a heritage bestowed by God. We must be careful to note here that this righteousness is not justifying righteousness, but experimental righteousness, righteousness in conduct. In Genesis the warning of God was given Noah because he was righteous. In Hebrews we are told that Noah wrought righteousness in his life by faith. He is one of those who as in 11:33 wrought righteousness. (Hebrews Commentary)
AND BECAME AN HEIR OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS ACCORDING TO FAITH: kai tes kata pistin dikaiosunes egeneto (3SAMI) kleronomos:
- Romans 1:17; 3:22; 4:11,13; 9:30; 10:6; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:9; 2Peter 1:1)
Became (1096) (ginomai) means to come into existence. Ginomai in some contexts means to be born and in a sense Noah and his family who were born dead in their trespasses and sins (Ep 2:1-note, Ro 5:12-note), came into existence into a new life characterized by God's imputation (crediting to Noah's account) of perfect righteousness (cp Abram, Ge 15:6 who heard "the gospel" = Gal 3:8 and believed, the Hebrew verb aman). In other words they were saved by grace (Ge 6:8KJV) through faith (Ep 2:8, 9-note)
Became an heir of righteousness -- Noah came into being as an heir. In a sense this is the OT equivalent of the NT doctrine of being born again.
Spurgeon God declared him righteous—not righteous by his works, although his works, following upon his faith, proved him to be righteous. He was righteous by his faith. He believed God, and found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He received the righteousness that God gives through Jesus Christ to all who believe. Wrapped in this, he stood before the Lord, justified and approved. By faith he was adopted and became a son, an heir. For him the promise of the woman’s seed, though it was all the Bible that he had, was quite enough. The woman’s seed, and the Lamb’s sacrifice, which Abel had seen, these were almost all the revelation he had known. He had no Pentateuch, no Psalms, no Gospels, no Epistles, but he so believed that little Bible of his that he expected that Christ in him would bruise the serpent in the world. God honored his faith, and he condemned the world. He lived when the rest perished; he was secure in his ark when the myriads were sinking in the deluge. He became “heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” when others were condemned.
Moses records Jehovah's testimony to Noah's righteousness - Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter (a command) the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time… Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him. (Ge 7:1, 5)
Comment: Again observe the association between faith and obedience (Command = enter; Obedience = Noah did). However, be careful not to distort this truth. Noah's obedience did not save him, but it did demonstrate that his faith was genuine. Don't tell me you believe in Jesus, because I cannot see your heart (only God can). Show me you believe in Jesus by your obedience, then I have a "window" as it were into your heart.
Heir of righteousness - Noah was both an heir and a proclaimer of God's righteousness, Peter recording that God "did not spare the ancient world, but preserved (Greek = phulasso [word study] - guard a person that he might remain safe) Noah, a preacher (Greek = kerux = a herald or messenger vested with public authority, who conveyed the official messages of kings, magistrates, princes, military commanders) of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly (2Pe 2:5-note)
Comment: Ponder the picture in this passage! Imagine the roaring seas, spreading out over the land as the rains came falling down. Picture men and women and children crying out for help as the waters rose. And then ponder the essence of the meaning of this verb phulasso. O, how great is this salvation to which we have been called and by which Jesus rescues us from the horrible (albeit righteous and just) wrath to come (1Th 1:10-note)
Ezekiel mentions Noah's righteousness "Even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 14:14, 20)
Comment: God is speaking to faithless Judah who is soon to be taken in the third and final stage of Jerusalem's sacking by Babylon. These righteous men, including one who must have been living at the time [this would really be pouring the proverbial "salt in the wound"!], could convey no righteous credit to the sinful, unrepentant, faithless nation [except for a small remnant]. By way of application, righteous parents, membership in a righteous, godly church, performance of acts such as water baptism, etc, cannot confer righteousness which is only by grace through faith ( Ro 3:24-note, Ro 3:28-note).
Heir (2818)(kleronomos [word study] from kleros = a lot - lots were cast or drawn to divide property or select a winner or an heir + nemomai = to possess, to distribute among themselves) literally refers to one who obtains a lot or portion. It is one who receives something as a possession or a beneficiary (the person named as in an insurance policy to receive proceeds or benefits). It signifies more than one who inherits and it includes the idea of taking into possession. The New Testament usage of kleronomos applies primarily to the realm of spiritual inheritance.
Detzler records a different origin stating that kleronomos "is a combination of two words: kleros (a lot or inheritance) and nomos (law). Thus the word kleronomos indicates the legal distribution of possessions or lots to heirs… In the original Greek culture, possessions were passed on to any person named in one's will. In fact, Greeks often built their fortunes for the purpose of passing them on to favored relatives. The Romans widened the concept to enable the distribution of possessions or wealth among close friends or loyal servants. To the Jews, however, an inheritance was usually reserved for one's children. In fact this was preserved in the Law as the principle to be followed. The Greek Old Testament also used kleros to refer to casting of the lot, as was seen in the use of the Urim and Thummim (Ex. 28:30; Lev 8:8). (Detzler, Wayne E: New Testament Words in Today's Language. Victor. 1986)
In the Greco-Roman world the word kleronomos was a legal term and was found on ancient inscriptions of Asia Minor to refer to a son after he was succeeded to the inheritance as representative of his father, undertaking all the duties and obligations of his father.
A heir is one who receives or is entitled to receive some endowment or quality from a parent or predecessor.
Richards writes that kleronomos is "one who takes possession of or inherits. The emphasis is on the heir's right to possess. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Vine commenting on the use of kleronomos in He 1:2 (note) writes that "kleronomos, “heir,” signifies more than one who inherits, or obtains a portion, it means (like the corresponding Hebrew word, yaresh = 03423 = take something from someone else and possess it for yourself) to take into possession. The word, while being virtually a title, also conveys the significance of dominion and authority… that property in real estate which in ordinary course passes from father to son on the death of the former
Righteousness (1343) (dikaiosune [word study] from dikaios = theologically describes what is right in the sense of being in accordance with what God requires) comes from a root word that means “straightness” and conveys the idea of conforming to a standard or norm. In Biblical terms righteousness is that which is acceptable to God and in keeping with what God is in His holy character. God is totally righteous because He is totally as He should be. The righteousness of God is that which is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, all that He provides (through Christ). In practical terms God's righteousness conferred (imputed) to Noah works its way out in right behavior before God and right behavior before men.
Where is God's righteousness by faith revealed? (see Ro 1:16,17-note, Ro 3:22-note, Ro 4:11-note, Ro 4:13-note, Ro 9:30-note, Ro 10:6-note, Ga 5:5 Php 3:9-note) So what was "preached" to Noah? It had to be a form of the "gospel". Noah's actions --"in reverence prepared" -- demonstrated that he had taken God at His word (i.e., Noah had believed -- so "by faith" Noah obtained salvation.) And how was Noah described by Peter? (2Pe 2:5-note)
Faith (4102)(pistis - see preceding notes) is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth of anything, and in Scripture usually speaks of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things.