Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
The author reaches a high point in the letter by summarizing the key requirement he wants the readers to have: faith. Faith is the key word in Hebrews. People often turn to Hebrews 11:1 for the definition of faith. That is partially a useful idea, but we should quickly turn to 12:1-2 to add further definition. Faith is the result of putting our trust in something or someone. It is following through with God’s promises. The conviction we have should lead to action. Faith is not passive, otherwise it is only intellectual thinking. Faith must be response to God’s promises. Faith also have a specific object: Jesus, who is the author of our faith. The author has urged his readers from the beginning of the epistle to put their full trust in Jesus and not turn their backs on God’s promises that are fulfilled in Jesus. This is the most important thought of this epistle.
The author will a brief journey through biblical history and gives examples of people who put their trust in God’s promises (v. 2). The first example involves the readers and author in the “we.” It is the universal belief that God created the universe. We were not there, obviously, so we have to trust in what we did not see. God simply spoke the universe into existence from nothing, from what was invisible, non-existent, ex nihilo. God’s word is powerful and we can put our trust in it. When God speaks, there is power and assurance. God has spoken in these last days through his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the same power that brought the universe into existence. We now see the results of that word. In the same way, we can put our trust in God’s living Word, the Son. We do not see him but we must put our faith in him because of the one who has spoken through him.
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