Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 11:3 - 11:7

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 11:3 - 11:7

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The example of Abel, Enoch, and Noah:

v. 3. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

v. 4. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he, being dead, yet speaketh.

v. 5. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

v. 6. But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

v. 7. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

The sacred writer begins his recital with a general reference, purposely ascribed, not to Adam or any individual believer, but to the believers of all times: By faith we perceive that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, that what is seen has not come into being out of things which appear. The existence of the world, its creation and preservation, is not a matter of conjecture, of idle guesswork, with the Christians, as it is with the heathen and with the unbelievers in general, who have astonished the world with theories that challenge the belief even of the credulous. We hold no such vain theories, the products of speculation based upon false assumptions. Had the visible universe really been formed out of materials which were subject to our inspection, or to the observation of any human beings, then our standpoint would bear the marks of foolish speculation. But the entire manner in which the world came into existence, all parts being adapted to one another and the whole to its purpose, is not a matter of reasonable consideration, but of faith. Faith is the knowledge which tells us that it was the almighty word of God which called things into being out of nothing, created something which was not there before. And the result of this creative act on the part of Almighty God is the existence and preservation of all things which make up the visible universe. Note: It is a matter of comfort to us to know that the same almighty God rules the universe today, and that His promise concerning the preservation of the world still stands, Gen_8:22.

In taking up specific instances, the writer now mentions that of Abel first: By faith Abel offered to God a more adequate sacrifice than Cain, through which he was attested to as being righteous, God testifying upon his gifts; and through the same he, though dead, yet speaks. The better, the more excellent, the more adequate sacrifice of Abel, the peculiar value of his offering, was not due to the choice of the materials, but to the fact that he had faith, that he believed in the coming Messiah. It was on account of this faith, also, that God testified of him that he was righteous, Gen_4:3-5; Mat_23:35. God accepted the offering of Abel, indicating His complete satisfaction with the gift and the prayer which accompanied it; He had respect unto him and his offering, as the text in Genesis has it. Thus the faith of Abel was the reason why God imputed to him the righteousness of the coming Messiah, in whom he placed his hope. Just in what way God showed His acceptance of Abel's sacrifice, whether by having the smoke of its burning arise directly toward the sky, or by having fire fall down from heaven to devour his offering, or by revealing His attitude to Adam, as the priest of the family, we do not know. Of one thing we are sure, namely, that his offering was accepted because of his faith. And another fact is to be noted, namely, that the murder of Abel was not the end of his activity or influence. Though he is dead, yet he is ever speaking to us. His faith is a shining example to all men as to the manner of obtaining justification, as well as to the necessity of being faithful to the Lord, even if hatred and enmity on the part of the nearest relatives is the result, Gen_4:10; Heb_12:24.

Next is cited the example of Enoch: By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, and he was not found because God had translated him; for before his translation he had had this testimony, that he was well pleasing to God. Of Enoch very little is said in Scriptures, See Gen_5:22-24; Jud_1:14-15. Since the earliest days the children of God, the descendants of Adam that trusted in the mercy of the coming Messiah, had caused the proclamation of this Gospel-truth to be made in their midst, and had taught it to their children. Thus Enoch had learned the truth and the way of salvation, thus had he come to faith; and therefore he was well-pleasing to God. In his case, therefore, the Lord determined to manifest His good pleasure in a particularly extraordinary way. He removed him from the earth, in order that he might not see death; in some form or manner the Lord took his body away, up to the abode of the blessed. And all this because he believed and led a godly life in agreement with his faith, because he walked with God, as the Hebrew text has it, Gen_5:22-24. He was translated, he was removed, he was no longer found. It may well be that his relatives searched for him, as the children of the prophets did for Elijah, 2Ki_2:16, and that they eventually received information from the Lord as to the method of their relative's removal from the earth. All this was the result of his faith: For without faith it is impossible to please God well; for he that comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He becomes a rewarder to those that diligently seek Him. The author again uses the picture of a priest's or a worshiper's drawing nigh to God, Heb_7:25; Heb_10:22. Such a person that worships God in truth will not only believe in the existence of God, but will know also that God will in mercy reward those that seek Him, that His gift to them is eternal life through Jesus Christ the Savior. It is he whose Christianity is not a matter of mere form and of outward ceremonies, but a true matter of the heart, he whose faith is of the kind that does not grow weary in seeking the Lord and His holy will, that will become a partaker of the Lord's merciful reward.

The example of Noah teaches the same lesson: By faith Noah, after being informed by God concerning that which was as yet not seen, with pious reverence constructed an ark for the saving of his household; by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Gen_6:8-22; Gen_7:1-24; Gen_8:1-22; Gen_9:1-29. Noah was perfect in his generations, in the midst of a world which blasphemed the Lord and scorned His Word: he walked with God and found grace in the sight of the Lord. For this reason the Lord gave him information, issued a warning to him concerning the plans which he had with regard to the world and its punishment. While Noah, at God's command, constructed the ark, it was always with trust in things which had as pet not come to pass. It is very probable that he had to endure the scorn and derision of the unbelievers on all sides for his act of building a ship on dry ground. But Noah continued his work in pious reverence, combined with cautious forethought, knowing that this ark would serve for the saving of his household, or family, for since the Lord had first spoken with him, he had married, and his three sons had grown up and taken wives also. By this exhibition of his faith, Noah condemned the unbelieving children of the world, for by this time the congregation of believers had dwindled down to include only his family. The faith of Noah made the unbelief of the scoffers stand out all the more strongly. Incidentally it made him an heir of the righteousness which is given to men by faith. He became the possessor, the owner of its spiritual blessings, the righteousness of the coming Savior was imputed to him by God, not being earned by the act of his faith, but being accepted by this faith. It is the very same process which obtains today in bringing salvation to men.