Faith as a trust in that which is invisible and future:
v. 1. Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
v. 2. For by it the elders obtained a good report.
The sacred writer here states the fundamental thought of this chapter, the most impressive section on the power of faith in his entire letter, if not in the whole Bible. He begins with a definition of faith: But faith is a conviction of mind concerning things hoped for, a certainty of things which are not seen. Faith, saving faith, that has accepted Jesus and His righteousness, is always and without exception a definite firmness of mind, a certain persuasion concerning the things which God has promised us in His Word for the purpose of having us place our hope upon them; it is an unalterable conviction of the heart regarding those things which we cannot see, which it is impossible for our eyes and for our reason and for our understanding to fathom and to know. Faith thus concerns things which are future, though they may have their beginning in this life; it is not an expectation of dreadful happenings, but a hope of blessed, glorious gifts; it keeps its peculiar form and characteristics, even when it is weak, a mere glowing taper; it is opposed to doubt and unbelief. Faith stands firm in all afflictions. Faith overcomes all weakness, for it is in the midst of tribulation and persecution that faith proves itself a persuasion of the heart that clings to God's promises. These qualities, or attributes, of faith the author now intends to bring out by referring to a number of examples of men and women of the Old Testament: For in this lay the commendation of the men of old. It was on the ground of their possessing faith that the leading men of the Old Testament received the commendation of God, their deeds being recorded for the benefit of ages to come, of the generations of the New Testament.