Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Ordinary C37


Now faithA is the assuranceB of things hopedC for,

Notes on verse 1a

A “faith” = pistis. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.
B “assurance” = hupostasis. 5x in NT. From hupo (by, under, about) + histemi (to stand, place, set up, establish, stand ready, stand firm, be steadfast). This is literally standing under – used to indicate ownership. It can be a possession, property, support, or substance. Figuratively, it can also be assurance, confidence, or essence.
C “hoped” = elpizo. From elpis (expectation, hope, trust, confidence, faith; expectation whether abstract or concrete); from elpo (to anticipate, welcome, expect; usually to anticipate positively); from elpomai (to anticipate, expect). This is to expect, trust, hope for, or to wait in an active way.

the convictionD of thingsE not seen.F Indeed, by faith our ancestorsG received approval.H 

Notes on verses 1b-2

D “conviction” = elegchos. 2x in NT. From elegcho (to expose, reprove, discipline, convict, or rebuke; using convincing evidence to expose a wrong). This is proof, evidence, conviction.
E “things” = pragma. 11x in NT. From prasso (to do or practice – something done on an on-going basis or by habit; to accomplish, attend, or commit). This is an action, matter, or business. It is something done on a regular basis that is done in order to get something done.
F “seen” = blepo. This is literally to see – it is primarily used in the physical sense. However, figuratively it can be seeing, which includes attention and so to watchfulness, being observant, perceiving, and acting on the visual information. It can also mean beware.
G “ancestors” = presbuteros. From presbus (old man). This is an elder as one of the Sanhedrin and also in the Christian assembly in the early church.
H “received approval” = martureo. From martus (a witness whether having heard or seen something; witness literally, judicially, or figuratively; by analogy, a martyr). This is to bear witness, testify, give evidence. It is to testify in a literal or figurative sense.

By faith we understandI that the worldsJ were preparedK

Notes on verse 3a

I “understand” = noeo. 14x in NT. From nous (mind, understanding, reasoning faculty, intellect, capacity to reflect); from noos (mind); probably from the base as ginosko (to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn; gaining knowledge through personal experience)}. This is to think, understand, conceive, realize, see. It is one who thinks things through sufficiently to reach a conclusion or value judgment. It is also one’s moral reasoning.
J “worlds” = aion. From the same as aei (ever, always, unceasingly, perpetually; on every occasion). This is an age, cycle of time, course, continued duration. It is also used to describe the eternal or forever. This is the word used to discuss the present age or the messianic age.
K “prepared” = katartizo. 13x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + artizo (get ready, prepare); {from artios (perfect, complete, ready, adequate, fitted); from arti (now, in the moment); from airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}. This is to prepare, complete, perfect for final use. This is restoring something to a good condition, whether for the first time or one more. It is to repair in a literal or figurative sense.

by the wordL of God,M so that what is seen was madeN from things that are not visible.O

Notes on verse 3b

L “word” = rhema. From rheo (to speak, command, make, say, speak of); from ereo (to all, say, speak of, tell; denotes ongoing speech). This is word, which implies a matter or thing spoken, a command, report, promise, thing, or business. Often used for narration, commands, or disputes.
M “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
N “made” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
O “are…visible” = phaino. This is to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear. This is show in a literal or figurative sense.

By faith AbrahamP obeyedQ when he was calledR

Notes on verse 8a

P “Abraham” = Abraam. From Hebrew Abraham (exalted father); from the same as Abiram (exalted father, a high father – lofty) {from ab (father literal or figurative) + rum (rise, bring up, being high, extol, exalt, haughty; to raise in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is Abraham, father of many nations or father of a multitude.
Q “obeyed” = hupakouo. From hupo (by, under, about, subordinate to) + akouo (listen, hear, understand through hearing). This is to listen, to attend to, or obey. It is acting subordinate to one who speaks – heeding a command or authority.
R “called” = kaleo. Related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on). This is to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud.

to set outS for a placeT that he wasU to receiveV

Notes on verse 8b

S “set out” = exerchomai. From ek (from, from out of) + erchomai (to come, go). This is to go out, depart, escape, proceed from, spread news abroad.
T “place” = topos. This is a place or region. It is a smaller space that can only hold a limited number of people whereas chora is a larger place. Figuratively it could be an opportunity.
U “was” = mello. Perhaps from melo (something that one is worried or concerned about, something one pays attention to or thinks about). Properly, this is ready, about to happen, to intend, delay, or linger. This is just on the point of acting.
V “receive” = lambano. It does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.

as an inheritance,W and he set out, not knowingX where he was going.Y 

Notes on verse 8c

W “inheritance” = kleronomia. 14x in NT. From kleronomos (heir); {from kleros (lot, portion, heritage; that share assigned to you; also a lot used to determine something by fate, chance, or divine will); {perhaps from klero (casting a lot) or from klao (to break in pieces as one breaks bread)} + the same as nomos (what is assigned – usage, law, custom, principle; used for the law in general or of God’s law; sometimes used to refer to the first five books of the Bible or the entire Old Testament; also used to refer to theology or the practice and tradition of interpreting and implementing the law of God); {from nemo (to parcel out, assign)}}. This is inheritance, heritage, or possession.
X “knowing” = epistamai. Related to “assurance” in v1. 14x in NT. From epihistemi (to stand upon, be present, stand by, be urgent; to attack, confront, appear); {from epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + histemi (see note B above)}. This is to know, stand on, get knowledge face to face or with personal effort, comprehend, be acquainted. It is related to “epistemology.”
Y “going” = erchomai. Related to “set out” in v8. See note S above.

By faith he stayed for a timeZ in the landAA he had been promised,BB as in a foreignCC land,

Notes on verse 9a

Z “stayed for a time” = paroikeo. 2x in NT. From para (by, beside) + oikeo (making a home or living at home; to dwell or indwell, remain, reside, or cohabit); {from oikos (house – the building, the household, the family, descendants; the temple)}. This is to sojourn or visit. It is to live as a stranger or foreigner.
AA “land” = ge. This is earth, land, soil, region, country, the inhabitants of an area.
BB “promised” = epaggelia. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + aggello (to announce, report); {from aggelos (angel, messenger); probably from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, drive)}. This is a summons, promise, or message. It is a formal promise that is officially sanctioned. In the New Testament, this usually refers to a promise made in the Old Testament.
CC “foreign” = allotrios. 14x in NT. From allos (other, different, another; this is one more of the same kind or a similar type). This is something or someone that belongs to others. By extension, this is another, stranger, foreign, or foreigner.

livingDD in tents,EE as did IsaacFF and Jacob,GG who were heirs withHH him of the same promise. 

Notes on verse 9b

DD “living” = katoikeo. Related to “stayed for a time” in v9. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + oikeo (see note Z above). This is to live or settle on a permanent basis.
EE “tents” = skene. Perhaps related to skeuos (vessel, tool, container, implement; also vessel in a figurative or literal sense) or perhaps related to skia (shadow, thick darkness, outline; figurative for a spiritual situation that is good or bad). This is a tent, booth, tabernacle, or dwelling. It could be a cloth hut. This is a tent in a literal or figurative sense.
FF “Isaac” = Isaak. From Hebrew yitschaq (Isaac, “he laughs”); from tsachaq (to laugh, mock, play, make sport; this is laughing out loud whether in joy or in a scornful way). Isaac, meaning “he laughs.”
GG “Jacob” = Iakob. From Hebrew Yaaqob (Jacob); from the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is James, meaning heel grabber or usurper.
HH “heirs with” = sugkleronomos. Related to “inheritance” in v8. 4x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + kleronomos (see note W above). This is a joint heir, participant, or co-inheritor.

10 For he looked forwardII to the cityJJ that has foundations,KK whose architectLL and builderMM is God. 

Notes on verse 10

II “looked forward” = ekdechomai. 7x in NT. From ek (from, from out of) + dechomai (to warmly receive, be ready for what is offered, take, accept, or welcome; to receive in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is to take or receive, expect, await; to welcome someone from your heart; focusing on the goal of waiting or the outcome.
JJ “city” = polis. This is a city or its inhabitants. It is a town of variable size, but one that has walls. This is where “metropolis” and “police” come from.
KK “foundations” = themelios. 16x in NT. From tithemi (to put, place, set, fix, establish in a literal or figurative sense; properly, this is placing something in a passive or horizontal position). This is related to a foundation, building substructure. It is a foundation in a literal or figurative sense.
LL “architect” = technites. 4x in NT. From techne (art, craft, skill, or trade); {from tekton (craftsman; particularly one who works with wood); from the base of timoria (penalty, punishment, vengeance); from timoreo (to punish, protect honor); {perhaps from time (worth or something’s perceived value; literally, price, but figuratively, the honor or value one sees in someone or something else; also esteem or dignity; also precious or valuables); {from tino (to pay, be punished, pay a penalty or fine because of a crime); from tio (to pay respect, value) or from tikto (to produce, bring forth, beget)}}. This is a craftsman, architect, builder. It can also mean creator figuratively.
MM “builder” = demiourgos. 1x in NT. From demos (district, multitude, rabble, assembly; Greeks bound by similar laws or customs); {from deo (to tie, bind, compel, declare unlawful)} + ergon (word, task, action, employment); {from ergo (to work, accomplish) or from erdo (to do)}. This is builder, creator, mechanic. It is a person who works for the public.

11 By faith, with Sarah’sNN involvement,OO he received powerPP of procreation,QQ

Notes on verse 11a

NN “Sarah’s” = Sarra. 4x in NT. From Hebrew Sarah (Sarah, meaning princess or ruler); from sarah (princess, mistress, noble lady, queen); from sar (chief, ruler, captain, official, prince). This is Sarah, meaning princess or ruler.
OO {untranslated} = steira. 5x in NT. From steiros (barren) OR from stereos (hard, solid, steadfast, sure, stable; solid in a literal or figurative sense). This is barren or sterile. It may be from the root as stiff or not natural. This is the root that “sterile” comes from.
PP “power” = dunamis. From dunamai (to be able, have power or ability). This is might, strength, physical power, efficacy, energy, and miraculous power. It is force literally or figuratively – the power of a miracle or the miracle itself.
QQ “procreation” = katabole + sperma. Literally, “conception of seed.” Katabole is 11x in NT. From kataballo (to cast down, lay prostate, set a foundation); {from kata (down, against, throughout, among) + ballo (to throw, cast, place, put, drop)}. This is a foundation or a plan for one – setting the foundation according to the plans. Figuratively, it can be the beginning of something, sowing, or conception. Sperma is from speiro (to sow seed, spread, scatter); perhaps from spao (to pull, to draw a sword). This is something sown so it could be seed or offspring and descendants. This is where the word “sperm” comes from.

even though he was too old,RR because he consideredSS him faithfulTT who had promised.UU 

Notes on verse 11b

RR “too old” = para + kairos + helikia. Literally, “beyond the opportune age.” Kairos is season, opportunity, occasion. The word chronos is used for chronological time. Kairos is used for spiritually significant time – the right time or appointed time.  Helikia is 8x in NT. From the same as helikos (of what size, how much; properly, full grown, an adult); from helix (mature, adult, of the same age). This refers to maturity, stature, life span, or being of a suitable age. It could refer to maturity in terms of years or size.
SS “considered” = hegeomai. Related to “promised” in v9. From ago (see note BB above). This is to think, suppose, have an opinion. It is to lead the way, what comes in front or first, initial thought, high esteem or authority. It can refer to one who commands in an official capacity. This word shares a root with the word “hegemony.”
TT “faithful” = pistos. Related to “faith” in v1. From peitho (see note A above). This is faithful, trustworthy, reliable, sure, or true. It is a fullness of faith. This is the same root as the word “faith” in Greek.
UU “promised” = epaggellomai. Related to “promised” in v9 & “considered” in v11. 15x in NT. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + aggello (see note BB above). This is to proclaim, profess, or make a promise that is fitting.

12 Therefore from oneVV person, and this one as good as dead,WW descendants were born,XX

Notes on verse 12a

VV “one” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
WW “as good as dead” = nekroo. 3x in NT. From nekros (dead or lifeless, mortal, corpse; figuratively, powerless or ineffective); from the same as nekus (corpse). This is to put to death, make weak, see as a corpse, subdue. It can be in a literal or figurative sense.
XX “were born” = gennao. Related to “made” in v3. From genna (descent, birth); from genos (family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense); from ginomai (see note N above). This is to beget, give birth to, or bring forth. Properly, it refers to procreation by the father, but was used of the mother by extension. Figuratively, this can mean to regenerate.

“as manyYY as the starsZZ of heavenAAA

Notes on verse 12b

YY “many” = plethos. From pletho (to fill, accomplish, supply; to fill to maximum capacity). This is fullness, multitude, great number.
ZZ “stars” = astron. 4x in NT. From aster (star literally or figuratively); probably from stronnumi or stronnuo (to spread, make a bed). This is a star or a constellation seen as a single unit. It can also evoke the Roman god Saturn.
AAA “heaven” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.

and as the innumerableBBB grains of sandCCC by the seashore.”DDD

Notes on verse 12c

BBB “innumerable” = anarithmetos. Related to “prepared” in v3. 1x in NT. From a (not, without) + artithmeo (to number or count; shares a root with “arithmetic,” which literally means the “art of counting”); {from arithmos (a number or total that has been counted to together); from airo (to raise, take up, lift, remove)}. This is impossible to be counted, innumerable. See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/arithmetic
CCC “sand” = ammos. 5x in NT. From psammos (sand). This is sand or sandy ground.
DDD “seashore” = cheilos + ho + thalassa. Cheilos is 7x in NT. Perhaps from the same as chasma (chasm, gap, gulf); from chasko (to yawn); from chao (to gape, yawn). This is lip, edge, shore, mouth, language. Thalassa is perhaps from hals (sea, salt, a boy of saltwater) or halas (salt; can be figurative for prudence). This is the sea, a lake, or seashore.

13 AllEEE of these diedFFF in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they sawGGG and greetedHHH them.

Notes on verse 13a

EEE “all” = pas. This is all or every.
FFF “died” = apothnesko. From apo (from, away from) + thnesko (to die, be dead). This is to die off. It is death with an emphasis on the way that death separates. It can also mean to wither or decay.
GGG “saw” = horao. To see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience. Properly, to stare at and so implying clear discernment. This, by extension, would indicate attending to what was seen and learned. This is to see, often with a metaphorical sense. Can include inward spiritual seeing.
HHH “greeted” = aspazomai. Related to “procreation” in v11. Perhaps from a (with, together with) + a form of spao (see note QQ above). This is to welcome, salute, or greet. It can also be to embrace or acclaim.

They confessedIII that they were strangersJJJ and foreignersKKK on the earth,LLL 

Notes on verse 13b

III “confessed” = homologeo. From homologos (of one mind); {from homos (the same) + lego (to say, speak, tell)}. This is to agree, speak the same, declare, promise, praise, celebrate. It can mean to align with, express the same conclusion, endorse.
JJJ “strangers” = xenos. 14x in NT– including 5x in Matthew 25 of the judgment of the nations “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” This is foreign or foreigner, an alien or guest. It could also be something new, novel, or strange. This is where the word “xenophobia” comes from.
KKK “foreigners” = parepidemos. Related to “builder” in v10. 3x in NT. From para (beside, by, in the presence of) + epidemos (sojourning in); {from epidemeo (to be at home, visit a foreign place on a temporary basis, stranger); {from epi (on, upon, among, what is fitting) + demos (see note MM above)}}. This is a stranger, exile, sojourner, or foreigner.
LLL “earth” = ge. Same as “land” in v9. See note AA above.

14 for people who speakMMM in this way make it clearNNN that they are seekingOOO a homeland.PPP 

Notes on verse 14

MMM “speak” = lego. Related to “confessed” in v13. See note III above.
NNN “make…clear” = emphanizo. Related to “are…visible” in v3. 10x in NT. From emphanes (visible, apparent, openly, understood); {from en (in, on, at, by, with) + phaino (see note O above)}. This is to declare, make visible, or exhibit in person. It can also be to report against or notify.
OOO “seeking” = epizeteo. 13x in NT. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + zeteo (to seek, search for, desire. searching for something by inquiring or investigation; to seek in a literal or figurative sense; to worship God). This is to desire, search for, seek, or want. It is following through on a personal goal by seeking.
PPP “homeland” = patris. 8x in NT. From pater (father in a literal or figurative sense) OR from parasemos (marked on the side, wrongly marked a ship’s figurehead); {from para (beside, by, in the presence of) + semaino (to give a sign, signify, indicate, make known); {from sema (a sign or mark)}}. This is belonging to one’s father or ancestors. It could be hometown, native town, country, or heaven as home.

15 IfQQQ they had been thinkingRRR of the land that they had left behind,SSS they would have had opportunityTTT to return.UUU 

Notes on verse 15

QQQ {untranslated} = men. This is truly, indeed, even, in fact. Often, it is not translated, but used to emphasize affirmation.
RRR “thinking” = mnemoneuo. From mnemon (mindful) OR from mneme (memory or mention); {from mnaomai (to remember; by implication give reward or consequence) or mimnesko (to remind or remember; memory through an active, intentional process or being mindful; not incidentally or accidentally remembering); or form meno (to stay, abide, wait, endure) or from massaomai (to chew, gnaw); from masso (to knead, squeeze)}. This is to remember, recollect. It does not necessarily imply remembering something that you forgot – it could be simply calling something to mind. It can mean to punish or rehearse.
SSS “left behind” = ekbasis. 3x in NT. From ekbaino (to cast, produce, expel, pull, banish, thrust out); {from ek (from, from out of) + baino (to walk, to go)}. This is a way out, outcome, departure, escape, exit.  It can be literal or figurative.
TTT “opportunity” = kairos. Same as “too old” in v11. See note RR above.
UUU “return” = anakampto. 4x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, among, between, anew) + kampto (to bend or bow). This is to return, bend back.

16 But as it is, they desireVVV a betterWWW homeland, that is, a heavenly one.XXX

Notes on verse 16a

VVV “desire” = orego. 3x in NT. This is to stretch out towards, yearn for, aspire to, desire.
WWW “better” = kreitton. 15x in NT. From the same as kratistos (strongest, noblest – high in dignity or honor; used to speak to a high ranking Roman; can also differentiate an equestrian from a senator); from kratus (strong); from kratos (strength, power, dominion; vigor in a literal or figurative sense; power that is exercised). This is stronger, better, more dominant or nobler. It is better in the sense that it is mastered or developed.
XXX “heavenly one” = epouranios. 19x in NT. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + ouranos (air, sky, the atmosphere, heaven; the sky that is visible; the spiritual heaven where God dwells; implies happiness, power, and eternity); {perhaps from oros (mountain, hill)}. This is heavenly, celestial, high, heavenly one, heavenly thins. It is the heavenly sphere in contrast to the earthly one, the place of spiritual activity. Figuratively, it can mean divine or spiritual. Properly, this describes that which is fitting from heaven’s perspective.

Therefore God is not ashamedYYY to be calledZZZ their God; indeed, he has preparedAAAA a city for them.

Notes on verse 16b

YYY “is…ashamed” = epaischunomai. 11x in NT. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + aischuno to dishonor, put to shame, shrink, disfigure); {from aischos (shame, disgrace, disfigurement)}. This is to be ashamed or disgraced. It is a personal humiliation or dishonor – a shame that matches an error.
ZZZ “called” = epikaleo. Related to “called” in v8. From epi (on, upon, among, what is fitting) + kaleo (see note R above). This is to call on, appeal to, worship, invoke for help.
AAAA “prepared” = hetoimazo. From hetoimos (make ready, be ready because of being prepared, standing by, adjusted; ready to meet some opportunity or challenge). This is to prepare or provide.

Image credit: “Creation of the Heavens & the Earth” at the church of Christ the King, Gordon Square in London. Photo by Lawrence OP, 2008.

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