Bible Notes

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebr. 11:1)—The Greek word "hupostasis," here translated "substance," is employed in a wide variety of senses. Literally, it means "a setting, or placing" (stasis), "under" (hupo), and so, in a wider sense, "that which is a foundation, is firm ... substance, real being, courage, resolution, confidence, firm trust, assurance" (Thayer: Greek Lexicon, p. 645). In the papyrus documents of the early centuries it often occurs in the special sense of "title-deeds"—a rendering suggested by Professors Moulton and Milligan in commenting on this verse (Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, p. 660). If the latter rendering be accepted, "faith" would then be the guarantee of proof of possession of the things for which we hope. The term "elegchos" can mean either "evidence," as here, or "proof, conviction" (Thayer: op. cit., p. 202). Moffatt translates: "Now faith means we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see;" and Goodspeed: "Faith means the assurance of what we hope for; it is our conviction about things that we cannot see;" while Weymouth (5th edition) has: "Now faith is a confident assurance of that for which we hope, a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see."

"Things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebr. 11:3)—It may be noted that the verb rendered "see" often means "to discern mentally, or to understand" in addition to its familiar reference to physical sight (cf. Thayer: op. city., p. 103). It may be observed that the Greek term translated "things which do appear" is practically identical in form with the English word "phenomena," and, like it, refers to things which are perceived by the senses (Meyer: Hebrews, p. 398), the "objects of experience" (Webster's Dictionary). In the original Greek the negative can be taken either with the word "made," as in our Common Version, or with "things which do appear." In the latter case the sense would be: "Things which are seen were made of things not perceived by the senses;" hence Moffatt's translation: "The visible was made out of the invisible." Weymouth has: "What is seen does not owe its existence to that which is visible;" and Goodspeed: "The world we see did not simply arise out of matter."

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