1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
substance (v.1) = foundation, the ground on which one builds hope, assurance — of future hopes — Faith makes our hope a fact, not just an expectation.
evidence (v.1) = proof which results in conviction — of present realities — Faith proves that unseen things exist.
Faith gives us assurance of things to come and confidence in our present circumstances — because it’s based on the Word of God — whereas our own senses can betray us, God never will.
Verse one isn’t a definition of faith but a statement of its working.
elders (v.2) — those referred to in the rest of the chapter
good testimony (v.2) = “bore witness to” — God bore them witness that their faith gave the victory over obstacles.
understand (v.3) = discern
worlds (v.3) — the physical world in time — time and space
framed (v.3) = made fit, prepared
word (v.3) = utterance (rhema) as opposed to “logos” which is inward will expressed — refers to the utterance of God, not the Son of God
Faith is taking God at His word. Nobody was here to witness creation but we know how it happened (v.3) because God told us.
There is still an unseen force that does not submit itself to experimental science, and this is the object of faith. — Hebrews in the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, page 196.
The individuals listed in Hebrews 11 span all the dispensations between Conscience and Law (Human Government and Promise).
A study of the Gospels discloses the fact that the Judaism of the first century was not the supernatural system given by God whereby the sinner was given a salvation in answer to his faith in the Offering for sin which God would some day set forth, the animal sacrifice he offered being an outward testimony of his inward faith in the Sacrifice it symbolized. The Judaism of that day was an ethical cult. It taught salvation by works. The sacrifices were a mere form on the altars of Judaism.
It was therefore necessary for the writer to prove to this Jew that salvation was by faith, not works. He does this in 11:1-12:2, basing his proof on the Old Testament Scriptures this Jew professed to believe. He first defines faith (11:1-3). Then he illustrates the efficacy of faith by using examples of First Testament saints (11:4-40). Finally, he exhorts to the act of faith (12:1-2). — Wuest, page 192.