The meaning of Hebrews 11:1 KJV & NIV
Hebrews Chapter 11 is a well-known chapter in the bible known as the “Faith Chapter” and one of the most loved verses by many.
Verse 1 gives us a clearer definition and explanation of what faith is about. It is the act or display of reality, by expressing our total confidence in God until our desires are fully met. Believe in the unbelievable and make the impossible possible.
Romans 10:10 tells us that “ For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” You can see that it is with our heart that we believe. Hence, Faith is of the heart.
Mark 11:23 also informs us that “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” Faith is all it takes to become living proof. Do not waver or doubt in your heart, otherwise, you will not receive anything from God nor can please Him (James 1:6. Hebrews 11:6).
Let’s deep dive to see how potent the force of faith is.
Who wrote Hebrews 11:1 and when was it written?
Hebrews 11:1 is believed to be written by Paul the Apostle. It was written during the latter half of the first century between 70 and 100 AD.
What is the context of Hebrews 11?
The context of Hebrew 11 is to warn and encourage the people (Hebrews) facing trials to maintain their faith in God and not to return to their old ways. The essence of the passage is to strengthen the faith of the believers.
The preceding chapter, Hebrew 10 talks about God’s faithfulness and how important the subject of faith is even as Christ’s return draws nearer.
Hebrews 10 verse 23 mentioned, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised.” I believe this is what led to the in-depth discussion of faith in this chapter.
The chapter was written simply to inspire us to grow in our faithfulness to God.
Apostle Paul opened the chapter by defining faith. He continued further to give a rundown of the summary of the subject of faith in the bible. He mentioned the testimonies of those great men and women who demonstrated their faith in God.
The chapter ends with the account of men and women of war who through faith became overcomers.
We are not meant to limit our focus to all these faith heroes but use their stories and testimonies to build our faith in God through His Son Jesus.
Hebrews Chapter 12 verses 2 to 3 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. ”
It finally admonishes us that even if we do not receive the promises, God has provided something better for us in heaven which is our eternal home.
What is the meaning of Hebrews 11:1?
The meaning of Hebrews 11:1 is about having confidence and hope in the promised word of God as revealed to you. It is taking God at His words knowing that He is too faithful to fail, and will never go back on His promises because He is not a man that He should lie. The scripture says that by two immutable things, God can't lie (Hebrews 6:18).
Faith is a basic requirement of life that keeps your hope alive and from being shaken when faced with trials. The stronger your hope, the stronger your faith in God.
Faith is the most potent force in the whole universe that opens impossible doors and the master key to a world of good reports. (Hebrews 11:2)
Without faith, you will live a life of struggles and your hope and confidence will be cast off because faith is what gives value to our destiny. Stand firm on the words of God that you have received and trust every word that proceeds out from the mouth of God. Romans 1:17 tells us “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
The just and the righteous must feed on the word of God. Faith is not what you wish or pray for, it comes by hearing and understanding the word of God (Romans 10:17).
As humans, we have faith in ordinary things of life, trust in our skills, capabilities, and talents, but as believers, we must have faith in an extraordinary God who loves and, does great things for us.
God desires to have an intimate relationship with us, for genuine faith anchors on our relationship with Him. He requires us to believe and trust in Him who is more able and competent than us.
God is the God of all creation. Have faith in Him in all situations, circumstances, and every aspect of your life because He is true, faithful, and our anchor amid the storm. Faith makes the ordinary extraordinary. It makes certain of realities you do not see, if you can see it, then it is not faith.
Are you struggling with your faith in God? Do you want to be justified before God? Have faith in God, with Him you will move mountains.
What does ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for’ mean?
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for” means faith is the reality of what we expect. Faith is a gift, a gift from God, No one has faith from the beginning until they begin to move closer to Him. The word ‘substance’ is the delivery of your expectations which gives believers the grace to withstand trials and temptations when the need arises.
The issue of faith is based on expectation. That is things of the future.
What then is Hope? What are you hoping for? Hope simply means an expectation of what is to come. Our hope is in Jesus, for without Him, we have no hope.
Albert Barnes once said, “Hope achieves for the soul the same thing which an anchor does for a ship. An anchor preserves a ship when the waves beat and the wind blows, and as long as the anchor holds, so long the ship is safe, and the Mariner apprehends no danger. So is with the soul of Christians. In the tempests and trials of life, his mind is calm as long as his hope of heaven is firm.”
The challenge with most of us is that we try to figure out things in our minds, we want to know the details of everything and this leads to constant fear and anxiety because everything depends on us which in most cases, does not end well.
Therefore, our minds need to be renewed by the word of God, we can hope in Him because He is a covenant-keeping God, He cannot break His words (Psalms 89:34).
What does ‘the evidence of things not seen’ mean?
“The evidence of things not seen” talks about the reality of those things that cannot be discerned with our physical eyes. II Corinthians 5:7 tells us that “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
If we can see God, then we do not need faith to believe in Him. Man says, ‘seeing is believing but in God’s kingdom it is the opposite, it is ‘believing before seeing’. Circumstances sometimes make us doubt God, and if it does not change, we feel that God is not keeping to His promises.
We cannot live by faith if we do not have enough knowledge of God’s word and power. We must repel from doubt, keep our faith alive and be rest assured that God is a covenant keeper. His words will always come to pass.
What is the difference in biblical translations of Hebrew 11:1 (NKJV, NIV & ESV)
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV biblical translation says:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 NIV biblical translation says:
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 ESV biblical translation says:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
NIV mentions “Confidence” while ESV mentions “Assurance” which means the same.
Confidence or Assurance is the product of the substance of faith as mentioned in NKJV.
NIV mentions “Assurance” while ESV mentions “Conviction” which means the same. Assurance or Conviction is also the product of the evidence of faith as mentioned in NKJV.
How does Hebrews 11:1 give encouragement?
This verse has an important role to play in our lives. If you must live a triumphant life on earth, then you must have faith in God to direct you so that your life can have meaning, direction, and purpose.
The most suitable time to express our faith is when we are in our dark moments or when things are not going on smoothly. However, God’s ways are not our ways. He has the best at heart for us. He often allows challenges in our lives just to test our faith, to know how firm and strong we claim to be in Him.
We must recognize that we cannot do it on our own neither by our strength. Hence, the need to put our faith on the line.
If we must stand against whatever issues or circumstances life brings our way, we must pass the faith test. Faith played a major role throughout the scriptures. It provided salvation and forgiveness of sins, healed the sick, brought about restoration, delivered nations, etc.
As tiny as faith is, it can move mountains but you cannot move mountains when you fear. Fear is the opposite of Faith. When you fear, it means you do not have faith. Faith and fear cannot co-exist.
What is that situation starring you in the face? Are you scared of what your future holds? Has the doctor given you a death sentence due to that sickness? Are you faced with a troubled marriage? I have good news for you today, hold on to the word of God as revealed to you through the scriptures. Trust in His words, swallow it all.
He is with you in that challenge and will see you through. Do not doubt God or His words. When you doubt God or when your faith wavers, you will not receive anything from Him.
James 1:7 tells us that “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” God is always willing and ready to take us to our next levels but we need to trust Him.
How can I apply Hebrews 11:1 to my life?
Hebrews 11:1 can be applied to my life by having absolute trust in God. Trust in God is the foundation of our relationship with Him, and if we must be close to Him, we must have faith in Him. Faith as defined is referred to as a substance. A substance is something that can be seen, it is not a feeling nor is it an imagination. It is converting our expectations to reality.
Faith is our most vital weapon as Christians to enjoy a triumphant life in Christ.
Paul said repeatedly in the New Testament, “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3, Hebrews 10:38).
Our faith must be strong and alive to receive anything from God. Hebrews 11:6 says that clearly “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.”
Have you been asking God for something and it seems as if it’s taking too long? Change gear today, mix the prayer with faith. Mark 11:24 admonishes us, whatsoever you desire, when you pray and believe, you shall surely receive them.
We saw Jesus say to the two blind men, According to your faith let it be to you and their eyes were opened. (Mathew 9:27-29)
To the woman with the issue of blood, your faith has made you well and the woman was made well from that hour. (Mathew 9:20-22)
To the centurion, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. (Mathew 8:10-13)
Peter was able to walk on the sea as far as his faith could take him. (Mathew 14:28-31)
It is to you according to your faith. Whatever cannot stop God cannot stop faith.
God cannot lie. Whatever His mouth has said in His words, His hands can perform it. Numbers 23 verse 19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? ”
Stand firm on His words and He shall bring all your desires to pass.
What is a Hebrews 11:1 prayer?
Faithful God, I thank You for the gift of faith and the confidence to trust in Your words. I surrender my thoughts and concerns to You, Lord. Help me to continue to trust in You in my low moments because Your love towards me give me hope and future. May I see You through the eyes of my heart that You are the man behind the scenes of my life. Give me the grace to stand strong in every situation because He who started the good work will bring it to completion. To You be all the praise and adoration. This I pray in Christ's name. AMEN
Now, we understand that it is impossible to please God without faith because faith plays an important role in the life of a believer. Things around you will begin to change if you have faith in God.
Faith works also in the realm of the invisible and of the impossible because there will be no glory for God if it is possible. Faith commences where human possibilities end. Our faith in God is often tested in times of trials and calamities to see if the faith we claim we have is authentic. Have faith in God and trust in His words, He is not a liar.