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. Chapter 11.

A call to faith


1 AND WHAT IS FAITH? Faith gives substance [Or: assurance.] to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.

2 It is for their faith that the men of old stand on record.

3 By faith we perceive that the universe was fashioned by the word of God, so that the visible came forth from the invisible.

4 By faith Abel offered a sacrifice greater than Cain's, and through faith his goodness was attested, for his offerings had God's approval; and through faith he continued to speak after his death.

5 [ Gn.5.24, Sir.44.16. ] By faith Enoch was carried away to another life without passing through death; he was not to be found, because God had taken him. For it is the testimony of Scripture that before he was taken he had pleased God, 6 and without faith it is impossible to please him; for anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who search for him.

7 By faith Noah, divinely warned about the unseen future, took good heed and built an ark to save his household. Through his faith he put the whole world in the wrong, and made good his own claim to the righteousness which comes of faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed the call to go out to a land destined for himself and his heirs, and left home without knowing where he was to go. 9 By faith he settled as an alien in the land promised him, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs to the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

11 By faith even Sarah herself received strength to conceive, though she was past the age, because she judged that he who had promised would keep faith; 12 [ Gn.15.5-6, Gn.22.17. ] and therefore from one man, and one as good as dead, there sprang descendants numerous as the stars or as the countless grains of sand on the sea-shore.

13 All these persons died in faith. They were not yet in possession of the things promised, but had seen them far ahead and hailed them, and confessed themselves no more than strangers or passing travellers on earth. 14 Those who use such language show plainly that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If their hearts had been in the country they had left, they could have found opportunity to return. 16 Instead, we find them longing for a better country—I mean, the heavenly one. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he has a city ready for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when the test came, offered up Isaac: he had received the promises, and yet he was is on the point of offering his only son, 18 [ Gn.21.12. ] of whom he had been told, 'Through the line of Isaac your descendants shall be traced.' [Or: God's call shall be for your descendants in the line of Isaac.] 19 For he reckoned that God had power even to raise from the dead—and from the dead, he did, in a sense, receive him back.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau and spoke of 21 [ Gn.47.31. ] things to come. By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshipped God, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, spoke of the departure of Israel from Egypt, and instructed them what to do with his bones.

23 By faith, when Moses was born, his parents hid him for three months, because they saw what a fine child he was; they were not afraid of the king's edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 preferring to suffer hardship with the people of God rather than enjoy the transient pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the stigma that rests on God's Anointed greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed upon the coming day of recompense. 27 By faith he left Egypt, and not because he feared the king's anger; for he was resolute, as one who saw the invisible God.

28 By faith he celebrated the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the destroying angel might not touch the first-born of Israel. 29 By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though it were dry land, whereas the Egyptians, when they attempted the crossing, were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled on seven successive days. 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab escaped the doom of the unbelievers, because she had given the spies a kindly welcome.

32 Need I say more? Time is too short for me to tell the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets. 33 Through faith they overthrew kingdoms, established justice, saw God's promises fulfilled. They muzzled ravening lions, 34 quenched the fury of fire, escaped death by the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength, they grew powerful in war, they put foreign armies to rout. 35 Women received back their dead raised to life. Others were tortured to death, disdaining release, to win a better resurrection. 36 Others, again, had to face jeers and flogging, even fetters and prison bars. 37 They were stoned, [Some witnesses insert: they were put to the question.] they were sawn in two, they were put to the sword, they went about dressed in skins of sheep or goats, in poverty, distress, and misery. 38 They were too good for a world like this. They were refugees in deserts and on the hills, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. 39 These also, one and all, are commemorated for their faith; and yet they did not enter upon the promised inheritance, because, with us in mind. 40 God had made a better plan, that only in company with us should they reach their perfection.

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NEBNew English Bible: © The Delegates of the Oxford University Press & the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 1961. This Webpage layout © Paul Ingram 2009. Any mismatches, truncated verses, other mistakes? Please e-mail me.