Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:1-2; 30-31
Here in Hebrews the mystery of whether Rahab had genuine faith or not is resolved. Hard to get a better recommendation than being listed in the FAITH chapter by name. The Hebrew writer tells us in verse 2, the ancients were commended for a faith defined in verse 1.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
I’ve quoted it often myself. It is, after all, the classic definition of what the Bible calls faith. I haven’t looked at it closely in a long time but it is calling me this morning.
To have faith, according to this verse, there are two necessary ingredients: confidence and assurance. The word translated “confidence” here is the Greek hypostasis (5287) from hypo = under and histemi = to stand. Helps Word-studies gives this:
properly, (to possess) standing under a guaranteed agreement (“title-deed”); (figuratively) “title” to a promise or property, i.e. a legitimate claim (because it literally is, “under a legal-standing“) – entitling someone to what is guaranteed under the particular agreement.
Our confidence in God establishes a transaction of legitimate claim to what God has promised us. This reminds me that I have no legit claim to anything apart from the work of Jesus. But that was the plan all along – for him to secure in order to give it to me.
“In what we hope for” is where our confidence lies. Elpizo means “to hope – actively waiting for God’s fulfillment about the faith He has inbirthed through power of His love” (Helps Word-studies)
So faith is actively waiting to see my legitimate claim and guaranteed to be fulfilled.
Then there is assurance. Elegchos –
“a proof, persuasion or reproof – inner conviction.” Helps-Word-studies says: “inner conviction focuses on God confirming His inbirthing of faith (“the internal persuasion from Him”)
“About what we do not see” – Blepo’ – to see or observe.
So here faith is a mystery because the ability to have conviction concerning something we cannot physically see comes from the faith God has implanted within us.
There is so much more to this verse. Every defined word leads to some other truth that deepens and explains the miracle of any human being ever reaching the faith needed to do business with God. When one crosses the line from death to life, we have done so by God’s mysterious way. You just can’t explain it!