What does Hebrews 11:1-11 really mean?

Hebrews 11:1-11 is about the importance of faith in the unseen, serving as the foundation of our relationship with God and the assurance of His promises throughout history.

1 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.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.


Setting the Scene for Hebrews 11:1-11

The scene in Hebrews chapter 11 is set in the ancient land of Canaan, where the patriarch Abraham dwells with his wife Sarah. The couple had been promised by God that they would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, despite their old age and Sarah’s barrenness. As they sit outside their tent under the vast night sky, Abraham shares with Sarah the vision he received from God about their future offspring.

Surrounded by the rugged beauty of the desert landscape, Abraham and Sarah reflect on the faithfulness of God and His promises to them. They recount the journey they have been on, leaving their homeland to follow God’s call to a land they did not know. Despite the challenges and uncertainties they have faced, their faith in God’s plan for their lives remains steadfast.

As they gaze at the twinkling stars above, Abraham and Sarah are reminded of the faithfulness of God throughout their lives. They draw strength from the stories of their ancestors who also walked by faith, trusting in the unseen promises of God. In this moment of quiet reflection and gratitude, Abraham and Sarah are filled with hope and assurance that God will indeed fulfill His promises to them.

What is Hebrews 11:1-11 about?

Hebrews 11:1-11 emphasizes the importance of faith as a foundational aspect of our relationship with God. The verse speaks to the idea that faith is not just a mere belief in something, but it is a confident assurance of things that we hope for but have not yet come to pass. It challenges us to believe in the unseen and trust in God’s promises, even when circumstances may seem uncertain or difficult. This verse reminds us that our faith can be a source of strength and hope as we navigate through life’s many challenges and uncertainties. It prompts us to reflect on how much we truly trust in God and His plans for us. Are we able to hold onto our faith and believe in His promises, even when things seem bleak or unclear? Our faith can serve as a solid foundation in times of doubt or confusion, reminding us to persevere and continue to hope for the good things that God has in store for us.

Understanding what Hebrews 11:1-11 really means

Hebrews 11:1-11, often known as the “Faith Chapter” or the “Hall of Faith,” delves into the essence of faith and showcases the unwavering trust exhibited by various figures in the Old Testament. In Hebrews 11:1, faith is eloquently defined as the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This description paints faith as something tangible, providing a solid foundation for our hopes and a convincing proof of realities that lie beyond our physical sight.

The passage proceeds to highlight exemplary individuals who embodied faith in their lives. Abel’s offering, Enoch’s pleasing walk with God, Noah’s obedient construction of the ark, Abraham’s journey into the unknown, and Sarah’s miraculous conception all stand as testaments to the power and impact of faith. Each narrative underscores how faith is not merely a passive belief but a dynamic force that propels individuals to action and obedience in response to God’s leading.

Drawing connections to other biblical passages, Hebrews 11 resonates with James 2:17, emphasizing that genuine faith is evidenced by corresponding actions. Romans 4:3 further illustrates how faith leads to righteousness, while 2 Corinthians 5:7 reinforces the concept of walking by faith rather than sight, trusting in the unseen promises of God. These cross-references deepen our understanding of faith’s transformative nature and its integral role in the believer’s journey.

In a contemporary context marked by uncertainty and adversity, the message of Hebrews 11 remains profoundly relevant. Faith serves as a steadfast anchor amid life’s storms, prompting individuals to rely on God’s faithfulness even when circumstances appear bleak. Consider a person grappling with a grave illness; their decision to trust in God’s healing power despite medical prognoses exemplifies the peace and hope that faith can instill, transcending earthly limitations.

The vivid phrases within Hebrews 11:1-11 offer nuanced insights into the multifaceted nature of faith. From the “substance of things hoped for” infusing our aspirations with substance to the “evidence of things not seen” validating unseen spiritual truths, each expression underscores faith’s transformative influence. The narratives of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah further illuminate how faith intertwines with action, obedience, and the miraculous, shaping the believer’s journey in profound ways.

In conclusion, Hebrews 11:1-11 stands as a poignant reminder of faith’s pivotal role in the believer’s life. It beckons us to trust in God’s promises, step out in faith even when the path is obscured, and draw strength from the enduring examples of faith showcased in Scripture. By internalizing the lessons embedded in this passage, we are empowered to navigate the complexities of our modern world with unwavering faith, mirroring the resolute trust exhibited by our spiritual forebears.

How can we trust in the unseen with faith?

We can trust in the unseen with faith by understanding that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. This means having the confidence and belief in the promises of God and His unseen work, even though we may not physically see or experience it at the moment. It requires a conviction that goes beyond our human capacity to fully comprehend, relying on the trustworthiness of God’s character and His faithfulness to fulfill His promises. We demonstrate our trust in God’s sovereignty and power by having faith in the unseen. This kind of faith is not based on tangible evidence but on the spiritual convictions that God is in control, working behind the scenes for our good and His glory. It involves surrendering our doubts and fears, and choosing to believe in the unseen realm with a firm conviction that God is faithful and His word is true, even when circumstances may seem contrary.

Trusting in the unseen with faith requires us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and to walk by faith, not by sight. It is a journey of believing in God’s promises, resting in His love, and persevering in hope despite the challenges and uncertainties we may face. We can develop a deep, unwavering faith in the unseen that will sustain us through all circumstances by continuously putting our trust in God and leaning not on our own understanding.


Embrace the unshakable faith of Abraham and Sarah, paving the path for your own journey. Let their dedication fuel your trust in God’s promises. Take a leap of faith in the face of uncertainty, knowing that divine guidance will never falter. Are you ready to step into the realm of promise and possibility, echoing the faith of those before you?