Hebrews first calls faith "the assurance of things hoped for." This means that faith has been awakened by the promises of an eternal inheritance, yet it also recognizes that people have not fully received the salvation that God promises. The faithful have not yet arrived in the kingdom of God. They live in hope that God will bring God's purposes to completion in the future. Second, Hebrews says that faith is the conviction or, more literally, the "proof" or "evidence" of things not seen. Normally we assume that faith requires proof, not that faith is proof. People ordinarily believe because there is evidence that something is true. Here Hebrews makes a startling reversal by saying that faith itself is proof of an unseen power. People do not generate faith; it must be created by God. Just as the world was called into existence by God's unseen word (11:3), faith itself is called into being by God's invisible word. Therefore, when people believe, there is evidence that they are moved by something beyond themselves. By awakening faith, the invisible God gives evidence of God's own power.
11Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith* our ancestors received approval.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011