The Meaning of Faith
1 Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of realities that are unseen.2 It is for their faith that our ancestors are acknowledged. 3 It is by faith that we understand that the ages were created by a word from God, so that from the invisible the visible world came to be.
The Examples of Abel, Enoch, and Noah
4 It was because of his faith that Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, and for that he was acknowledged as upright when God himself made acknowledgement of his offerings. Though he is dead, he still speaks by faith. 5 It was because of his faith that Enoch was taken up and did not experience death: he was no more, because God took him; because before his assumption he was acknowledged to have pleased God. 6 Now it is impossible to please God without faith, since anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and rewards those who seek him. 7 It was through his faith that Noah, when he had been warned by God of something that had never been seen before, took care to build an ark to save his family. His faith was a judgement on the world, and he was able to claim the uprightness which comes from faith.
The Faith of Abraham
8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants, and that he set out without knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he sojourned in the Promised Land as though it were not his, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 He looked forward to the well-founded city, designed and built by God. 11 It was equally by faith that Sarah, in spite of being past the age, was made able to conceive, because she believed that he who had made the promise was faithful to it. 12 Because of this, there came from one man, and one who already had the mark of death on him, descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore which cannot be counted.
13 All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them, recognising that they were only strangers and nomads on earth. 14 People who use such terms about themselves make it quite plain that they are in search of a homeland. 15 If they had meant the country they came from, they would have had the opportunity to return to it; 16 but in fact they were longing for a better homeland, their heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, since he has founded the city for them.
17 It was by faith that Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He offered to sacrifice his only son even though he had yet to receive what had been promised, 18 and he had been told: Isaac is the one through whom your name will be carried on. 19 He was confident that God had the power even to raise the dead; and so, figuratively speaking, he was given back Isaac from the dead. 20 It was by faith that this same Isaac gave his blessing to Jacob and Esau for the still distant future. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, bowed in reverence, as he leant on his staff. 22 It was by faith that, when he was about to die, Joseph mentioned the Exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his own remains.
The Faith of Moses
23 It was by faith that Moses, when he was born, was kept hidden by his parents for three months; because they saw that he was a fine child; they were not afraid of the royal edict. 24 It was by faith that, when he was grown up, Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter 25 and chose to be ill-treated in company with God’s people rather than to enjoy the transitory pleasures of sin. 26 He considered that the humiliations offered to the Anointed were something more precious than all the treasures of Egypt, because he had his eyes fixed on the reward. 27 It was by faith that he left Egypt without fear of the king’s anger; he held to his purpose like someone who could see the Invisible. 28 It was by faith that he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood to prevent the Destroyer from touching any of their first-born sons.
The Faith of Other Israelite Heroes
29 It was by faith they crossed the Red Sea as easily as dry land, while the Egyptians, trying to do the same, were drowned. 30 It was through faith that the walls of Jericho fell down when the people had marched round them for seven days. 31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies and so was not killed with the unbelievers.
32 What more shall I say? There is not time for me to give an account of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, or of David, Samuel and the prophets. 33 These were men who through faith conquered kingdoms, did what was upright and earned the promises. They could keep a lion’s mouth shut, 34 put out blazing fires and emerge unscathed from battle. They were weak people who were given strength to be brave in war and drive back foreign invaders. 35 Some returned to their wives from the dead by resurrection; and others submitted to torture, refusing release so that they would rise again to a better life. 36 Some had to bear being pilloried and flogged, or even chained up in prison. 37 They were stoned, or sawn in half, or killed by the sword; they were homeless, and wore only the skins of sheep and goats; they were in want and hardship, and maltreated. 38 They were too good for the world and they wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and ravines.
39 These all won acknowledgement through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had made provision for us to have something better, and they were not to reach perfection except with us.