Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hebrews 11

Listen to the podcast below (or right click this link for the mp3 file) 

Podcast Powered By Podbean

By Faith (v. 1-40)

v1 "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

This is interesting, we start this chapter off with a definition of faith. I will often see Christian argue that when they talk about faith, they are not talking about blind faith, but having faith in things with good reason. This seems to disagree with that assertion, apparently faith is just being confident of things just because you hope for them. It's funny to me that Christian will often decry the idea of blind faith, when their book actually uses the phrase "things not seen". 

Not surprisingly, Guzik has issues with my interpretation. He says "faith is the 'sense' that gives us evidence of the invisible, spiritual world." I don't know what he means when he says the word 'sense', but this sounds like nonsense to me. He also quotes Bruce who says "faith is the organ which enables people to see the invisible order". Again, what the hell is he talking about when he says faith is an organ? He also says "Faith is needed for what we can’t see and can’t touch", I would argue that this is because they are imaginary. He also says "Faith does not contradict reason, though it may go beyond reason." I don't know what this means, he is just spewing a bunch of nonsense, all of these things are meaningless, he is trying to disguise the fact that faith is believing things with no good reason.

This chapter largely contains a bunch of examples of people who have faith, I want to focus on a few details contained within.

v6 "without faith it is impossible to please [God]..."

That is interesting, it is only possible to please God through faith. We can't please God because of properly knowing about him, we must have faith in him, he must be unseen to us. Does this mean that Paul did not please God? He had actual evidence (according to the story) that God existed, does that mean he didn't have faith in the way it is being discussed here?

In v13, speaking of the descendants of Abraham it says "These all died in faith, not having recieved the things promised" it goes on to say about them "they were strangers and exiles on the earth"

I have no idea what this is saying.

According to Guzik, the promise is the coming of the messiah, which they believed in and yet God hadn't fulfilled yet. That seems a reasonable enough interpretation to me.

v35-37 "...Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two,they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated"

but they justify this by saying that they will get what they deserve in heaven

v39-40 "And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect."

So basically it instructs you to have faith because God will take care of you, but even if he doesn't God still wins. Why would God have to hide behind a no lose scenario?

Again, Guzik claims that this promise was the messiah coming. This does seem to make sense, as it explains the "something better for us" bit there.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


11:1 When the bible says faith, it means blind faith

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."


  1. Hausdorff, regarding v13, I think Guzik missed the mark here. I think what it is saying is that God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations and have offspring more numerous than the stars, among other things, but by the time he died he had relatively few offspring and certainly no nations fathered. So Abraham never got to see that promise fulfilled. Rather, he just had to have faith that it would be fulfilled. It would be generations later before it was all fulfilled. I don't think that it was meant to be a Messiah reference at all.

    About v39-40, I'm not sure, but I think he is trying to suggest something like God wants the perfect surprise party; everybody is going to show up and get their gifts at the same time?

    1. Interesting, do you think the "strangers and exiles on the earth" is the reference to the "no nations fathered" idea? That phrase doesn't really seem to fit into guzik's explanation but it does make sense in yours.

    2. With a little searching, it appears that the author took this reference from 1 Chronicles 29:15 with a slight, but significant change. The NIV renders the original:

      "We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope."

      This is from a prayer of thanks from King David. While the author of Hebrews is trying to imply that "stranger and exiles on earth" was a reference to knowing that they had hope in some sort of afterlife not on earth, the original context paints this more as a self-deprecating metaphor of humility. In David's prayer, he is telling God that they (the Jews) owe Him everything, because He is the one who bestows wealth. I think another rendering of 1 Chronicles 29:15 with the full implications could be:

      "We had no hope apart from you, God. Even though we were foreigners and strangers to you (a negative connotation, because the culture of the era was xenophobic to a some extent), you still select us and our ancestors to bestow blessings upon."

    3. Very interesting. Thanks for the references :)

      It makes me think of what the environment must have been for whoever was writing Hebrews, its not like they could just go and look up all the old texts like we can, they might be working off of memory, and I bet they would certainly expect that those reading it would also not be able to go look it up, but instead would just have to rely on memory as well. Twisting the original to your will would be fairly trivial, and maybe even done on accident.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...