Paul begins by explaining what faith is.
Faith is the focus of Hebrews. Faith allows us to be justified before God and it allows us to continue in obedience. We all have the opportunity to continue living in faith and obedience to God. If we do, we will gain an inheritance with Jesus as a reward. Faith assures us and gives us confidence that what we hope for is real. It allows us to believe the promises of God: that obedience is worth it and that there is a greater reward.
It is important to note that faith only applies to things not seen by men. Paul defines faith as having confidence in something we do not see as though we do see. We have faith when we are convicted or convinced of things we cannot see as certainly as if we did see. By faith people that have gone before us have gained approval from God and will be rewarded. We cannot see God. But faith allows us to have conviction that what God promises us is true, as though we could see it.
Faith is also the assurance that we have things hoped for as certainly as though we already possessed it. The word for assurance is ὑπόστασις, which could also be translated “realized.” The sentence here could be stated as “in faith, things hoped for become realized,” or “things hoped for become reality.”
Everyone seeks what they think is in their best interest. In Hebrews, Paul admonishes us that God’s reward is infinitely greater than anything we can pursue on earth in this life. Faith is the realization of our hopes, as real as though it were already in our hands.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval.
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