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Hebrews Chapter 11 and Faith, Part 2

by Karl Kemp  
3/24/2015 / Bible Studies

We will finish this verse-by-verse study of Hebrews chapter 11 here in Part 2.

(7) By FAITH Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen [[All the evidence that Noah needed to be sure the flood was coming was God's Word on the subject, because he had faith in God. By faith he could see the coming flood, and (by faith) he acted accordingly.]], in reverence [Having a reverent attitude before God is part of what faith in God means.] prepared an ark for the salvation of his household [This chapter of Hebrews makes it clear that true faith in God's Word includes obedience to that Word (see the next verse too).], by which he condemned the world [[He "condemned the world" by contrast in the sense that he, unlike them, by faith took God and His Word seriously and acted accordingly (cf. Gen. 6:5-7:1; Matt. 12:41; Rom. 2:27; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5).]], and became an heir of [better, "became an heir by" or "by means of"] the righteousness which is according to FAITH. [[I don't believe the idea here is that Noah was to inherit the righteousness of God in Christ, which born-again Christians have (which includes the imputed and imparted righteousness of God in Christ); compare, for example, what the apostle Paul said in Rom. 1:17; 3:22; 10:4), but it is true that Noah eventually did inherit the righteousness of God in Christ and a place in heaven. The idea here, as with Abel in Heb. 11:4 ((also see 11:33 and Heb. 12:23 [which speaks of the "righteous" believers from the Old Testament days who have now been perfected through the Lord Jesus and taken to heaven, heaven in an early stage, before the resurrection (Heb. 12:23 is discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin," on pages 166, 167, for one place)])), is that Noah was (relatively) righteous when he lived because he was a believer (a man of faith), and he was accepted by God. In the Old Testament the believers (people of faith) typically did things God's way, and for the right reasons. Genesis 6:9 and 7:1 both speak of Noah as "righteous," and Ezek. 14:14, 20 speak of his "righteousness." See above under Heb. 11:4 on the righteousness of Abel and on the important need to qualify this (relative) righteousness. Noah and Abel (along with all believers) will be quick to admit that their ultimate righteousness and their place in God's eternal kingdom come through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, by grace through faith.

Noah's (relative) righteousness when he lived on the earth, as a result of his faith in God, would not suffice to open the door of heaven for him. He, like all of us who will have a place in new Jerusalem, will have that place through the ultimate (sufficient) righteousness of God that is imputed and imparted to us through the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God (cf., e.g., Rev. 21:27), by grace through faith. That ultimate righteousness did not become available to believers until new-covenant salvation became available (see Heb. 11:39, 40. We will discuss these verses as we continue with this paper).

It is important for us to discuss the word "heir" (Greek "kleronomos"). Some believe it is used in the sense of "possessor" here in 11:7. It is true, as I showed above, that Noah possessed the (relative) righteousness of God, but I believe the word "heir" is used here in 11:7 of his inheriting ultimate salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, which culminates in the fullness of eternal life in God's eternal kingdom (heaven). This Greek noun is used two other places in Hebrews. It is used of the Son of God being appointed "heir of all things" (which things He shares with all believers) in Heb. 1:2 and in Heb. 6:17: "Because God wanted to make the unchangeable nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath" (NIV). The verses that follow in Hebrews chapter 6 show that "what was promised" includes our ultimately following Jesus into the presence of God in heaven. As Heb. 11:10 shows, Abraham was looking for the heavenly city, which is in heaven. I believe the word "heir" here in Heb. 11:7 has the same meaning. Also see under Heb. 11:9 on "fellow heirs of the same promise."

It is important for us to also discuss the Greek noun "kleronomia," which was derived from the noun "kleronomos ["heir"]," and which is used twice in Hebrews. I'll quote the first half of Heb. 9:15 from the NIV, "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance ["kleronomia" is translated "inheritance" here]. (Hebrews 9:15 is discussed in my paper "Hebrews Chapters 8-10: 'We Have Been Sanctified Through the Better Sacrifice" that is on my internet site.) This is the same "promised eternal inheritance" that the heir(s) spoken of in Heb. 6:17 and 11:7 are to receive. And even more relevant is the other use of "kleronomia" in Hebrews, since it is the verse that follows Heb. 11:7. I'll quote the first part of Heb. 11:8 from the NASB, which I always quote from unless I note otherwise: "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance ["kleronomia"]." In other words, he was a "heir" ("kleronomos")" (cf. Heb. 11:7) of that glorious "inheritance" ("kleronomia") that includes the heavenly city (new Jerusalem) that is mentioned in Heb. 11:10.

Two of the four uses of the Greek verb ("kleronomeo," which was derived from "kleronomia") in Hebrews use this verb of the believers "inheriting" the same promised salvation and eternal inheritance (Heb. 1:14; 6:12). In Heb. 1:4 it is used of Christ "inheriting" a more excellent name than the angels.

Noah became an heir of God's new-covenant salvation, which culminates with the glory of God's new Jerusalem "by" or "by means of" (see the next paragraph) his (relative) righteousness, which means that he became an heir by his faith in God and His Word/promises, since he was (relatively) righteous by faith. It is to be understood that although Noah didn't fully understand God's new-covenant plan of salvation, he would inherit that salvation when it became available because of His faith in God and His Word/promises - he was a believer.

I'll show the order of the words in the Greek in 11:7, "and of [better, "and by" or "and by means of," or the equivalent; the Greek probably should be understood as an ablative of source, or of means; on the ablative case see Dana and Mantey's "A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament" (pages 81-83.)] the according to faith righteousness he became an heir." As I mentioned, the Bible could call him "righteous" when he lived on the earth because he had faith in God and His Word. His life (including what he what he said and did) demonstrated his faith and the (relative) righteousness that resulted from his faith.]] (8) By FAITH Abraham, when He was called, obeyed [[It is important to see that faith includes obedience. However, and especially when it comes to new-covenant salvation, it is necessary to understand that God in Christ gives us the grace that enables us to obey Him in our daily lives. The believers who lived before new-covenant salvation was available, which includes the new birth and the gift of the Holy Spirit, knew something of the enabling grace of God, but nothing like what is available under the new covenant.]] by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance [[See Gen. 12:1-4, 7; 15:18-21. The last reference shows that God promised the land "from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates" to the descendants of Abraham; however, the writer of Hebrews deals mostly with Abraham's looking beyond this land to his ultimate, eternal home, God's new Jerusalem. See Heb. 11:9-16]], and he went out, not knowing where he was going. [[He had to go out, and walk, by faith in God and His Word. God's people have no choice but to walk by faith, trusting and obeying Him and His Word. To be where God wants us to be is the only right and secure place to be.]] (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 ["fellow heirs" is plural of "sugkleronomos" in the Greek, which is the noun "kleronomos," which was discussed under Heb. 11:7, and the preposition "sun" that means "with"] of the same promise [the promise of God for salvation in union with the Lord Jesus Christ that ultimately takes us to heaven]; (10) for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. [As I mentioned, he was ultimately looking for God's new Jerusalem.] (11) By FAITH even Sarah [Abraham's wife] herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised [Our faith is based on something super-solid, namely our faithful God and His faithful Word, including His Words of promise to us.]; (12) therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that [cf. Gen. 25:1-5], as many descendants as THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE [cf. Gen. 15:5; 22:17; 32:12]. (13) All these died in faith [They stayed in faith to the end of their lives (and beyond), as we must.], without receiving the promises [[He means that they died without receiving the things promised for the future ["the things promised" NIV], referring to the full salvation provided in the new covenant, which ultimately includes having a place in God's new Jerusalem, even reigning with God and His Son (cf. Rev. 22:5). During their lifetimes they did, of course, receive some preliminary things that God had promised (cf., e.g., 11:7, 11 [birth of Isaac], 28-35).]], but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance [They saw, with the eyes of faith, the things associated with God's eternal salvation (cf. 11:1, 8-10, 14-16, 26, 39, 40).], and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [In other words, they confessed that their true home was not in this world.] (14) For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. [As 11:16 shows, they were seeking for a heavenly country.] (15) And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out [that is, the country Abraham left when called out by God (11:8)], they would have had opportunity to return. (16) But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore [since they, by faith, have fixed their hearts on God and the things of God] God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them [new Jerusalem, cf. 11:10]. (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 [[The NIV has, "his one and only son." Gen. 22:2, "He [God] said, 'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.' " As Heb. 11:19 will confirm, the wording here is intended to cause us to think of a much greater manifestation of a Father offering His unique/one and only Son. Isaac was the promised son (e.g., 11:9, 11, 12, 18). It was understood that Abraham had earlier fathered Ishmael (Gen. 16:1-16), but he was not the promised son. This testing of Abraham is described in Gen. 22:1-19. Here we have another example of Abraham, by faith, obeying God (cf. 11:8).]]; (18) it was he to whom it was said, 'IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.' [[Gen. 21:12. The fact that Abraham knew that Isaac was the promised son and that the lineage must continue with Isaac (who, at that time, was young and did not have any offspring) made it all the more difficult for him to offer up Isaac. However, by faith, he obeyed.]] (19) He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead [[Abraham proved his faith by trusting and obeying God when he was tested. (All believers are tested by God in various ways.) The same God who gave Isaac to Abraham could also raise Isaac from the dead, if need be.]]; from which he also received him back as a type. [[Abraham didn't literally receive Isaac back from the dead because, at the last second, God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and provided a substitute. In this sense Abraham received him back from death, which was a type of (foreshadowed) another Father receiving His sacrificed Son back from death (by resurrection).]] (20) By FAITH Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau [twin brothers], even regarding things to come. [See Gen. 27:27-29, 39, 40. Isaac (and then Jacob, and then Joseph, etc.) had the assurance of things hoped for ("regarding things to come") and the conviction of things not seen (see Heb. 11:1).] (21) By FAITH Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph [See Gen. 48:1-22.], and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff [taken from the Septuagint, not the Hebrew, of Gen. 47:31]. (22) By FAITH Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel [cf. Gen. 15:13-16], and gave orders concerning his bones [[See Gen. 50:24-26; Ex. 13:19. Joseph's heart was with God and the people of God; he looked to the future fulfillment of all God's covenant promises, which include eternal life beyond the grave in God's eternal city.]] (23) By FAITH Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child [The NIV has, "they saw he was no ordinary child."]; and they were not afraid of the king's edict. [See Ex. 2:1-10. They put God first, fearing Him instead of/more than the king.] (24) By FAITH Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; (25) choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin [Any pleasure gained through sin (and much suffering and pain comes with sin) is very brief indeed, and especially when viewed in the light of the eternal judgment to follow this life and the eternal glory that will come to those who live for God by faith.]; (26) considering the reproach of Christ [The reproach of Christ refers to the trials and persecutions that come to the people of God because they are faithful to Him. Cf. Heb. 13:12-14.] greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward [cf. Heb. 10:35]. [Pay Day/Judgment Day is coming. For those who live for God by faith, "the reward," according to the promise of God, will include eternal glory. Note "rewarder" in 11:6.] (27) By FAITH he left Egypt [The point is that Moses chose God and His people, thereby forsaking the temporary glory he had in Egypt as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.], not fearing the wrath of the king [With his eyes fixed on God through faith, Moses feared God (The King of the Universe) rather than the king of Egypt.]; for he endured [persevered], as seeing [with the eyes of faith] Him who is unseen. (28) By FAITH he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. [See Ex. 11:1-12:36. By faith Moses obeyed these instructions of the Lord.] (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. [See Ex. 14:1-15:21.] (30) By FAITH the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. [[See Josh. 6:1-21. By faith Israel obeyed God's instructions, and the walls fell down. God's instructions, as it often happens, were not obviously logical. But once we're sure He has given us instructions, we must obey them, trusting Him.]] By FAITH Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient [at Jericho], after she welcomed the spies in peace. [[See Josh. 2:1-24; 6:17, 22-25; James 2:25. Rahab's words and actions demonstrated her faith in God. In Josh. 2:9-11 she said, "I know that the LORD [Yahweh] has given you the land.... ...for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath." This same Rahab ended up in the earthly lineage of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).]] (32) And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, (33) who by FAITH conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness [The NASB has "acts of" in italics. The KJV has "wrought righteousness"; the NKJV has "worked righteousness." Like this verse says, they worked righteousness by faith. See under 11:4, 7 on righteousness.], obtained promises [There are many examples in the Old Testament of believers receiving things promised by God.], shut the mouths of lions [cf. Dan. 6:1-28, esp. 6:22; Jud. 14:5, 6; 1 Sam. 17:34-36], (34) quenched the power of fire [cf. Dan. 3:1-30], escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. [There are many examples in the Old Testament that fit the last four listings.] (35) Women received back their dead by resurrection [[Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:18-37) both raised women's sons from the dead. As with Lazarus and others, this was not the final resurrection with a glorified body, but a resurrection back to temporary life in this world.]]; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection [[That is, they made it top priority to stay faithful to God, so that, at the end of this age, they might receive the resurrection to eternal glory. This resurrection is clearly much "better" than the resurrection mentioned earlier in the verse. Many commentators point out that the days of the Maccabees provided graphic illustrations of the things spoken of here, as recorded in 1 and 2 Maccabees.]; (36) and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. (37) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (38) (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. (39) And all these, having gained approval through their faith [See under 11:2.], did not receive what was promised [[See 11:13. They did not receive the promised full salvation during their lifetime on earth because these things were not available yet. We'll deal with this promised salvation under the next verse.]] (40) because God had provided something better for us [The "something better" refers to new-covenant salvation, and "us" refers to Christians.], so that apart from us they should not be made perfect. [[Now that salvation has become available in the blood of Christ, the believers from earlier days have been "made perfect." In Heb. 12:23 they are spoken of as "the spirits of righteous men made perfect." They are spoken of as "spirits" since they have died and have not yet been resurrected. They are spoken of as "righteous" in that they lived relatively righteous lives by faith. (See Heb. 11:4, 7, 33.) They have been "made perfect" in that the fruit of Christ's atoning death and resurrection have now become fully available to them. For one thing, now that spiritual death had been overthrown, they were transferred from Sheol/Hades ((the abode of departed spirits (cf., e.g., Gen. 37:35; Isa. 38:10; Luke 16:22-31; 23:43; Eph. 4:9), but not a place of torment for God's people; they were in a place called "Abraham's bosom" that was also sometimes called "Paradise"; see the subsection titled "A Discussion on the Meaning of the Word 'Hades' in Acts 2:27, 31; the Meaning of 'Paradise' in Luke 23:43; and the Meaning of 'Abraham's Bosom' in Luke 16:22" on pages 41-44 of my paper on Ephesians chapters 1 and 4 and Rom. 8:16-39 on my internet site [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching].)) to heaven. Now, like us, they are waiting for God's time to resurrect His people to eternal glory. (Matthew 27:51-53 show that a select number of those believers were resurrected bodily right after Jesus was resurrected and that they appeared to many.) Those of us who are still living on the earth when Christ returns will not need to be resurrected, but we will be glorified.

We new-covenant believers have already been "made perfect" in that we have been born again, sanctified ((at least this is the ideal state we are called and enabled to be living in as Christians, with a relative perfection; we will not have absolute perfection until we have been glorified)), and we have access to God beyond the veil. The book of Hebrews has quite a bit to say about this perfection/holiness. Hebrews 10:10, 14, for example, say, "By this will [God's will] WE HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED [my capitalization for emphasis here and in verse 14] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (14) For by one offering HE HAS PERFECTED for all time THOSE WHO ARE SANCTIFIED." Hebrews chapters 8-10 are discussed verse-by-verse in my recently published paper titled "Hebrews Chapters 8-10: 'We Have Been Sanctified' Through the Better Sacrifice" that is on my internet site. For a discussion of Hebrews 10:10, 14 and 11:39, 40; 12:23, see my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin," pages 156-167. At Note 10 on page 166 of the book, I recommended two commentaries on Heb. 11:39, 40; 12:23. Add W. L. Lane ("Word Biblical Commentary," Vol. 47b, pages 392-394) and G. L. Cockerill ("The Epistle to the Hebrews," pages 597-600). These verses, including Heb. 10:10 and 14, are also discussed in my recently published e-book, "Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin." The e-book serves as an introduction to the paperback book ("Holiness and Victory Over Sin") and should typically be read first. (Both books are available at]]

May the will of God be fully accomplished through this paper and His people be edified!

Copyright by Karl Kemp Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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