Faith Is ‘hupostasis’ – Hebrews 11:1

Hebrews 11:1 is the one verse in the Bible that best defines faith.  It is also one of the more difficult passages in the New Testament to translate.  One of the reasons for this difficulty is the use of the Greek word ‘hupostasis’.  The writer of Hebrews states that, “Faith is the ‘hupostasis’ of things hoped for…”  As you can see, the translation of this word is critical to the understanding of this verse and to the overall understanding of faith.  Let us look at how various translators have rendered this verse:

Hebrews 11:1

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  (New Living Translation)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (New American Standard Bible – NASB)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  (King James Version – KJV and New King James Version – NKJV)

Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for, the conviction of things which are not being seen.  (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)

Confidence, Assurance, Substance, and Title-deed – what kind of word is this that can be translated with such diverse meanings?  Look at the following attempts to define ‘hupostasis’ in English, and how they relate to these four meanings.

Hupostasis

Strong’s Concordance #5287 – ὑπόστασις “upostasi” hupostasis; gen. hupostaseos , fem. noun from huphstemi (n.f.), to place or set under. In general, that which underlies the apparent, hence, reality, essence, substance; that which is the basis of something, hence, assurance guarantee, confidence (with the ob. sense).

The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon – (1) a setting or placing under, thing put under, substructure, foundation, (2) that which has foundation, is firm , that which has actual existence (a substance, real being), the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing, the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution (confidence, firm trust, assurance)

Vine’s Expository Dictionary – hupostasis lit., “a standing under, support” (hupo, “under,” histemi, “to stand”), hence, an “assurance,” is so rendered in Heb_11:1, RV, for AV, “substance.”  In Hebrews 1:3, of Christ as “the very image” of God’s “substance;” here the word has the meaning of the real nature of that to which reference is made in contrast to the outward manifestation (see the preceding clause); it speaks of the Divine essence of God existent and expressed in the revelation of His Son.  The AV, “person” is an anachronism; the word was not so rendered till the 4th cent.  Most of the earlier Eng. versions have “substance.”  In Hebrews 11:1 it has the meaning of “confidence, assurance” (RV), marg., “the giving substance to,” AV, “substance,” something that could not equally be expressed by elpis, “hope.”  It also may signify a title-deed, as giving a guarantee, or reality.

Word Pictures in the New Testament – A.T. Robertson, 5:418, states: “Hypostasis is a very common word from Aristotle on and comes from huphistemi, what stands under anything (a building, a contract, a promise).”

Wuest Word Studies – K. S. Wuest – Vincent (Word Studies In The New Testament – M. R. Vincent) says, “It is important that the preliminary definition be clearly understood, since the following examples illustrate it.  The key is furnished by verse 27 , as seeing him who is invisible. Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is real seeing.” The word “substance” deserves careful treatment. It is hupostasis, made up of stasis “to stand,” and hupo “under,” thus “that which stands under, a foundation.” Thus, it speaks of the ground on which one builds a hope.

The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament – Moulton & Milligan – reports its use as a legal term. They say that it stands for “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited in archives, and forming the evidence of ownership.” They suggest the translation, “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.” The Holy Spirit energized act of faith which a believer exercises in the Lord Jesus is the title-deed which God puts in his hand, guaranteeing to him the possession of the thing for which he trusted Him. In the case of this first-century Jew, his act of faith in Messiah as High Priest would be the title-deed which God would give him, guaranteeing to him the possession of the salvation for which he trusted God. Thus, he would have assurance.

In other words, “that which underlies what is apparent.”  Amplified a bit further, it is that which, though perhaps unseen, exists beneath and supports what is visible.  It then, has the sense of a foundation.  Even as the foundation of a building is unseen, and the building above ground is visible, the foundation – the hupostasis – is nonetheless real, supporting the building. Hupostasis is the unseen support of what is standing in clear view.

The Greek word ‘hupostasis’ is used five times in the New Testament:

2 Corinthians 9:4 …otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we–not to speak of you–will be put to shame by this confidence.  (New American Standard Bible)

2 Corinthians 11:17 What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.  (New American Standard Bible)

Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (New American Standard Bible)

Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, (New American Standard Bible)

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  (New American Standard Bible)

Next, let us review each of the various translated words for hupostasis.

Confidence

The word ‘confidence’ is a poor translation choice.  If the simple concept of confidence was the intended meaning, there were at least four other Greek words more suitable for the writer to use:

Strong’s #3954 ‘parrhsia’ – used 31 times in the N.T., 4 times in Hebrews.  It is translated: confidence, boldness, and boldly.

Strong’s #3982 ‘peiqw’ – used 52 times in the N.T., 4 times in Hebrews.  It is translated: confidence, persuaded, convinced, confident, obey, and trust.

Strong’s #4006 ‘pepoiqhsi’ – used 6 times in the N.T.  It is translated: confidence

Strong’s #2292 ‘qarrew’ – used 6 times in the N.T., one time in Hebrews.  It is translated: confidently, good courage, bold, and boldly.

What about the two uses in 2 Corinthians?  I suggest the following words in place of the word ‘confidence.’

2 Corinthians 9:4 “…otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we–not to speak of you–will be put to shame by this (reality).”  The whole context of the passage is the exhortation to the Corinthians to let down Paul in his boasting of them.  In other words, if the Macedonians come and see them unprepared, ‘the reality’ would put Paul, and them, to shame.  Confidence has nothing to do with it.

2 Corinthians 11:17 What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this (example) of boasting.  Paul is talking about the ‘reality or essence’ of his actual boasting, and not his ‘confidence’ of boasting.

Faith exudes confidence but it is not based on mere confidence.  We have confidence because of faith, not faith because of confidence.

Assurance

The word ‘assurance’ is a better translation choice.  Faith is an assurance by God of our hopes.  In this context, the word ‘assurance’ works well.  It conveys a certain something from God that stands beneath, and supports, our hopes, transforming them into a reality.

Word Studies In The New Testament – M. R. Vincent – Substance (upostasiv).  See on Hebrews 1:3 and 3:14.  On the whole, the Rev. assurance gives the true meaning.  The definition has a scholastic and philosophic quality, as might be expected from a pupil of the Alexandrian schools. The meaning substance, real being, given by A.V., Vulg., and many earlier interpreters, suggests the true sense, but is philosophically inaccurate.  Substance, as used by these translators, is substantial nature; the real nature of a thing which underlies and supports its outward form or properties.  In this sense, it is very appropriate in Hebrews 1:3, in describing the nature of the Son as the image or impress of God’s essential being: but in this sense, it is improperly applied to faith, which is an act of the moral intelligence directed at an object; or a condition, which sustains a certain relation to the object.  It cannot be said that faith is substantial being.  It apprehends reality: it is that to which the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial.  Assurance gives the true idea.  It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact.

I agree with Vincent in his discussion of ‘substance.’  I disagree however, with faith being defined as ‘an act of the moral intelligence directed at an object.’  Faith is not an act of anything; it is a definite ‘something’ from God.  Only when we first have this ‘something’ can we then ‘act’ accordingly.  Faith may not be a ‘substantial being’ but it is a ‘substantial something,’ having the ability to apprehend the reality of unseen objects of hope.  If the word ‘assurance’ does that for you, good, it does not for me.  Assurance does not convey the full tangibility of the word.

Substance

The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament – Spiros Zodhiates, – Hupostasis, the word translated “substance,” means “that which underlies the apparent; that which is the basis of something, hence, assurance, guarantee and confidence.”  The English “substance” is built from a prefix and a root which together mean “that which stands under.” Webster’s defines it as “the real or essential part or element of anything; essence, reality, or basic matter.”  It is very similar in meaning to hupostasis.

Substance in this sense is a good translation option; it conveys the concreteness, or tangibility, of hupostasis.  By tangibility I do not mean to say that faith is an actual spiritual substance or force that God allows us to wield.  As enjoyable as it may be to imagine, faith is not some spiritual tractor beam drawing our hopes to us.  The trouble with the word ‘substance,’ however, is that we today do not have a common appreciation for its exact meaning.  In all the years of reading my King James Bible, I never fully appreciated the description of faith in Hebrews 11:1, as being the ‘sub’ ‘stance’ of things hoped for.  The one thing it did do, was to make me wonder how the KJV word ‘substance’ was rendered ‘assurance’ in my current NASB Bible.

Title-deed

Kenneth Wuest has the following to say about hupostasis in Hebrews 11:1 in his Wuest Word Studies

The Title-Deed to Answered Prayer – “FAITH is the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1 ).  The Greek word translated “substance” had a technical meaning in the business world of the first century.  It referred to one’s property or effects.  It was used in such expressions as “Out of this estate I declare that my husband owes me,” or, “more land than I actually possess,” the italicized words being the translation of the word.  It was also used to refer to “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited in the archives, and forming the evidence of ownership.”  Moulton and Milligan in their “Vocabulary of the Greek Testament” say of these uses, “These varied uses are at first sight somewhat perplexing, but in all the cases there is the same central idea of something that underlies visible conditions and guarantees a future possession.”  Thus, they translate “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.”

To substantiate this usage, there is in “Living Yesterdays,” a delightful brochure by H. R. Minn, the story of a woman named Dionysia. She is described as “a woman of set jaw and grim determination.”  It seems that she had lost a case in a local court over a piece of land to which she laid claim.  Not satisfied with the decision of a lower court, she determined to take her case to a higher court in Alexandria.  She sent her slave to that city, with the legal documents safely encased in a stone box.  On the way, the slave lost his life in a fire, which destroyed the inn where he had put up for the night.  For 2,000 years, the sands of the desert covered the ruins of the inn, the charred bones of the slave, and the stone box.

Archaeologists have recently uncovered these remains.  In the box, they found the legal documents.  They read the note, which this woman had sent to the judge in Alexandria, “In order that my lord the judge may know that my appeal is just, I attach my hupostasis.”  That which was attached to this note, she designated by the Greek word translated “substance” in Heb. 11:1.  The attached document was translated and found to be the title-deed to the piece of land, which she claimed as her own possession, the evidence of her ownership.

What a flood of light is thrown upon this teaching regarding faith.  The act of exercising true faith as one prays, or as one leans on the resources of God, is itself the title-deed or evidence of the sure answer to our prayer or the unfailing source of the divine supply. It is God’s guarantee in advance that we already possess the things asked for.  They may still be in His hands, awaiting the proper time for their delivery, but they are ours.  If the answers to our prayers are not forthcoming at once, let us rest content with the title-deed, which God has given us, namely, a Holy Spirit energized act of faith.  We may be absolutely certain that our God will honor this title-deed at the right moment.

When you own property, you are given a ‘title-deed’ to prove your ownership . . . it is yours, and no-one can take it from you. Your ‘faith,’ is a title-deed that God holds on your behalf, His promised land. No-one can take this from you . . . there is no persuasion or pressure that can change your ‘stance.’. . . because of its ‘substance’ . . . He stands under you.  You can own something that you do not see, and it is no less yours.

Finally, concerning the use of ‘title-deed, let us read verses 1 through 4 of Hebrews 11 in context, with personal revisions:

(1) Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for, the proof or evidence of things not seen.  (2) For by it the men of old gained witness.  (3) By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.  (4) By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he gained witness that he was righteous, God bearing witness about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

We see that together these four verses act like a preamble to the list of faith events to follow.  These verses also have language that leads credence to the use of title-deed or some other legal variant.

The word “proof or evidence” is the translation of ‘elegchos’, which means, “a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested.”  Thayer (Thayer’s Greek – English Lexicon of the New Testament – Joseph Thayer) in commenting on its use defines it as follows: “that by which invisible things are proved and we are convinced of their reality.”  His second definition of the word is “conviction.”

The words “bearing or gained witness” are the translation of ‘martureo,’ which means, “to bear witness to.”  It is used three times in these verses, and two more times in the remainder of the chapter.  Here the verb is in the passive voice.  Literally, “for by it the elders were borne witness to.”  God bore witness to them that their faith would gain victory for them over all obstacles.

All of the above words have very precise meanings.  The wordings have a very technical businesslike tone, and seem to point toward some type of heavenly transaction.  One that requires a certain proof or God given validation.  It sounds similar to:

Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, (14)  who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

My Own Suggestion

My own non-Greek-scholar word recommendation for hupostasis is ‘reality.’  Everything that is seen in this world comes from the unseen spiritual realm.  To understand anything about faith we must understand that everything begins when God speaks.  Faith is the doorway into the reality of God’s ‘speaking,’ and faith is conveyed to us by Him speaking to us.  Faith is not an extremely convincing thought, but rather, a tangible God given confidence in His speaking. God transfers the power of His speaking to us through faith. That is what is meant by, ‘speaking His word.’ Faith comes to us in the form of God’s promises that have become a reality in our heart.  Faith comes to the heart the moment a promise comes alive, and the promise becomes ‘real’ to the individual.  Again, this ‘reality’ may not be an actual ‘substance,’ but it must be sufficiently real and distinct in the mind of God for Him to consider it as ‘evidence of things not seen.’ Apparently, the Holman Christian Standard Bible agrees with this word choice because they also use it in their recent translation.

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Hebrews 11:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Something special happens the moment faith is born in the heart.  In a certain momentary flash of God’s grace, an ownership of a hope is placed within the heart.  God places within us the ‘heart reality’ of our promised hope.  An ownership of sorts, conveyed prior to our ever seeing our new possession.  A new possession gained by a divine approval, and bestowed upon a cultivated hope.  The diligent underground cultivation of hope brings a visible harvest of faith, which when combined with prayer and patience, brings forth the manifested reality.  Hupostasis is the word chosen to describe the heart reality of hope’s promise.

Perhaps faith is not an actual title-deed of our hopes, but it is real enough, and authoritative enough, to stand as proof and evidence that we have gained a personal decree from God Himself.  We can boldly say that this faith is the proof and approval for the divine issuance of our desired hopes.

Hope is a divine possibility, based on a general promise in the word of God – a specific comment or promise within the total (logos) of God.  Faith is the personal reality of this promise made real by a specific (rhema) communication to our heart from God. Doubt sees what currently is and no more. Hope sees what can be but is not yet. Faith sees what is and what will be.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 King James Version

The reality of things hoped for, comes from a message that is heard, a message that is heard from the spoken word of Christ.  Romans 10:17, My Version

Additional Translations of Hebrews 11:1

(NKJ) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

(God’s Word) Faith assures us of the things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.

(TLV – Tree of Life) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen.

(TEV) To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

(NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

(Jerusalem) Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.

(NEB) And what is faith? Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.

(REB) Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see.

(RSV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

(Phillips) Now faith means that we have full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.

(Living) What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.

(Greber) Faith is a confident trust in the things we hope for, and a firm belief in things that cannot be seen with our physical eyes.

(Anderson) Faith is being sure about things we hope for and certain about things we can’t see.

(Book of Books) Now faith is the sure confidence of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen.

(Basic English) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the sign that the things not seen are true.

(Worrell) Now faith is an assurance of things hoped for, a sure persuasion of things not seen;

(Amplified) Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality — faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.

(The Message) The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

(New Berkeley) But faith is an assurance of what is hoped for, a conviction of unseen realities.

(Berkeley) But faith forms a solid ground for what is hoped for, a conviction of unseen realities.

(Lattimore) Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the proof of things unseen;

(Holy Bible for Children) Now, faith is being sure we’re going to get the things we hope for. It is being sure of the things we cannot see.

(Holman Christian Standard Bible) Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

(NAB) Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.

(Beck) Faith is being sure of the things we hope for, being convinced of the things we can’t see.

(ASV) Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.

(Knox) What is faith? It is that which gives substance to our hopes, which convinces us of things we cannot see.

(Noli) Now faith gives us confidence in what we hope for, and insight in what we cannot see.

(Wuest) Now faith is the title deed of things hoped for, the proof of things which are not being seen.

(Barclay) Faith is the confidence that the things which as yet we only hope for really do exist. It is the conviction of the reality of the things which as yet are out of sight.

(Moffatt) Now faith means that we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see.

(Douay) Now, faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.

(Authentic) Now faith is the solid ground of our expectations, the proof of unseen actualities.

(New Life) Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.

(20th Cen., Revised) Faith is the realization of things hoped for — the proof of things not seen.

(20th Cen., Tentative) Faith is confidence in the realization of one’s hopes; it is a conviction regarding things which are not yet visible.

(Syriac) Now faith is the persuasion of the things that are in hope, as if they were in act; and [it is] the manifestness of the things not seen.

(Easy-to-Read) Faith means being sure of the things we hope for. And faith means knowing that something is real even if we don’t see it.

(Weymouth, 3rd) Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.

(Cotton Patch) Now faith is the turning of dreams into deeds; it is betting your life on the unseen realities.

(Wand) Now faith is a conviction of the fulfillment of our hopes, and a continual reliance upon the unseen world.

(Kleist & Lilly) Faith is the foundation of the blessings for which we hope, the proof of the realities which we do not see.

(Swann) Now faith is a foundation of things hoped for; it is the means of proving unseen realities.

(Lovett) What is faith, you ask? Well, it is an inner assurance that the things we hope for actually exist, and the conviction that they are already ours even though we cannot see them.

(Simple English) Faith is the title-deed to the things we hope for. Faith is being sure of things we cannot see.

(Laubach) Faith means being sure of the thing we hope for. It is being convinced of what we cannot see.

(Hayman) What then is faith? — a realization of things hoped for, a conviction of facts unseen.

(Adams) Now faith is a solidly grounded certainty about what we hope for, a conviction about the reality of things we don’t see.

(Klingensmith) Now faith is the real part of things hoped for. It is the proof we do not see.

(Montgomery) Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for, the putting to the proof of things not seen.

(Way) Faith is that attitude of mind which is the foundation-rock on which hope stands, that which satisfies us of the reality of things as yet beyond our ken.

(Williams) Now faith is the assurance of the things we hope for, the proof of the reality of the things we cannot see.

33 comments to Faith Is ‘hupostasis’ – Hebrews 11:1

  • anthony d'souza

    Pastor Jim,

    Heb 1:3 – The Son is the impress of God’s ‘hupostasis’. Since God is invisible and even unapproachable – I call God utter transcendent – we have The ONLY BEGOTTEN SON of God as the tangible evidence of intangible God. That’s what is expressed in Heb 1:3. If you consider the first part of the sentence – “He is the brightness of God’s glory, then the above meaning makes much sense. This even makes very much applicable in light of Gen 1:3 vs 2Cor 4:6.

    I agree with what you say on Heb 11:1 – our faith is ‘hupostasis’ – is based on Christ.

  • Nat Hadsock

    Faith is the substance (Seed) of things hoped for (Planted in our imagination) the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

  • […] And we didn’t even get to ὑπόστασις! Here is a good place to […]

  • Delisa Smith

    Faith is like a baby being born in the earth. When it comes into the world, it comes fully equipped. The baby is born in the image and likeness of its parents. It has all the muscles and sinews and potential as the parents. It only needs to grow and mature into its own abilities. It is no less human, no less endowed than the oldest person on the earth, just less developed. Rom 12:3 says that every man is given the gift of faith. Faith is measured, even as we are weighted in at the doctor’s office when we get our physical. But faith is quantified in strong faith, (Abraham), weak faith (not weak in faith), and little faith, (the disciples). So yes, when you are born again, you come fully equipped. But like a child, faith have to be nourished, protected, exercised, and grow into its full potential. Of a certainty, you have what you say. So be prayerful of the words you say. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord my strength and Redeemer. Place a guard at my mouth that I not sin against Thee.” Death and life are in the power of your tongue. We grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him. We haven’t arrived at full knowledge, yet. We must be opened to the truth of the Word of God. He means what He say and say what He mean. We need not add to it, or take away from it. “Have faith in God” is empowerment, if you receive it by faith. A gift isn’t a gift, until it’s received! In Love.

    • Yes, Christians have many endowments springing from our birth ‘in Christ.’ Paul teaches many things concerning what it means to be ‘in Him.’ And yes, our words are super important. But faith still comes by hearing and hearing by the spoken word of God.

      Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and he wanted to walk to Him. He called out to Jesus and He responded by saying “Come.” Within that single word from Jesus resided all the miracle-working power necessary for him to do it. When he received that word, he received the ability. Before he received that word, he could never have done it.

      Peter could not have said, “I will walk on the water because all men have faith. I will choose to do it.” No, Jesus spoke, Peter heard, Peter threw his legs over the side of the boat, and Peter walked on the water. We seek God, He answers, we believe it and act on it, the answer comes. The voice of Jesus is the witness of God upon our hope, and it is the foundation and reality of our hopes. That is what Hebrews 11:1-6 is talking about.

      What you propose is a faith that does not require the word being planted in the heart, and a time of seeking Him for His will and response. Without that, everything is open-ended and vague. Those that believe that do not believe that God speaks directly to people today. He is speaking, and we must listen to what He says to have the real God kind of faith?

    • Another thought – Faith is not a general thing that one can get a big bunch of and then use that faith for things throughout their life. Faith is not general; it is specific to the thing and the time.

      People in the Bible did not get a general faith to do as they please. They received a specific faith for a specific purpose. And they received that faith, not at birth, but when they heard God speak the specific promise to them. Faith is specific because God’s word to us is specific.

  • Pastor Jim

    Both faith and Christ are hupostasis, in Hebrews – Paul said “I live by the faith OF THE SON OF GOD Gal 2:20 (see vs. 16) Christ is the reality of faith. If you have Jesus you have his faith as well, it requires no steps or keys to get more – its all there dealt to every believer. We don’t have to try and get what we already have. Saved by faith it is a “gift” of God.

    • Delisa Smith

      Amen! Amen! Amen!

    • I disagree. Yes, Hebrews 1:3 and Hebrews 3:14 associate hupostasis to Jesus and Hebrews 11:1 has faith as the hupostasis of our hopes. But that in no way means that if you have Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) in your heart you have all the faith you need for your whole life.

      So, what you are saying is that God has given us all the faith we need and we do not have to do anything to determine that level of faith. I know that Romans 12:3 says that, “…God has dealt to each one a measure of faith,” but I also believe that is not meant to convey that we just sit on the couch and rely on some measure of faith that we supposedly have, or wait till God gives it to us when He wants to. I believe that verse is referring to our initial saving faith.

      If it were the case that God gave faith as He saw fit, outside of any action or obedience of man, then why did Jesus chide His disciples for not having faith and not having enough faith? He would actually have been chiding God for not giving them enough faith. It does not make sense. He did not chide them for not using faith but for not having faith. Jesus commended ‘individuals’ for ‘their’ high level of faith and explained to them that their miracle came in response to that level of faith.

      Faith, the Bible says, comes by hearing and hearing by the (spoken – rhema) word of God (Christ) Romans 10:17. If you do not listen you will not hear, and if you do not hear you will not have faith. Jesus repeatedly told the people to listen, hear, and obey. Faith is a gift, and it comes when you hear Him speak.

      Much of this thinking comes as a natural explanation to the overall Church’s lack of faith. Saying God gives all faith and whatever happens is God is nonsense. How can you believe God if you do not know what to believe? You only know that by hearing from Him. Faith comes when the will of God is known.

      Look at the victorious people in the Bible, all of them. Here is the pattern – God spoke to them, they either received and believed, or they did not. If they heard and received they were victorious. None of them walked along ‘hoping’ that things would turn out well.

  • Jack Calligan

    Keep up the wonderful work, Rhema Rocks!

  • Ricky

    I know that this is an old post, but I would like to pose a thought: perhaps “essence” is a better translation than “reality”. I believe that it captures all the intended connotation behind “reality” but more naturally embraces the notion of “substance”, “basis of” and “foundation”. Any thoughts?

    • Let’s see – “Now faith is the ‘essence’ of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

      Thank you for the suggestion. This really made me think but I don’t think ‘essence’ fits here. Faith is not the nature, soul, or attribute that makes a thing a thing. Faith is not the essence of hope as it is, rather, it is the reality of what hope can become. Faith takes the essence of a particular hope and brings it into reality. Faith does not change hope; it always remains a hope. Once the witness of God’s voice touches hope it takes on reality through faith. Receiving faith is receiving the reality. Faith is true reality, God’s Reality – within a godless world. Faith is the God reality of our hope.

      Great suggestion though. Keep pondering the things of God. Keep pondering essence, I could be missing the mark. Keep digging, God’s word is deep enough to keep you interested and satisfied. God bless you, thanks. Rex

      • Ricky

        Thank you for your reply, I really appreciate it. The only problem I see with translating “hypostasis” as “reality” comes from the verses that follow; v. 4-38. Here faith is described as the ‘something’ by which a hope/God’s promise became a reality; for Abel, Enoch, Abraham and so on. Therefore faith seems to something that “makes into reality” rather than the “reality” itself.

        I pose the word ‘essence’ as a better alternative, only if it works to capture the word’s fullest meaning to the readers. The definition of ‘essence’ is the intrinsic nature of something; ‘something’ without which ‘it’ would not exist or be what ‘it is’. Faith is certainly the foundation and substance to hope, but not just. It is also the power to ‘realise’. I believe that ‘essence’ captures both of these meanings.

        I would like to further support this suggestion by saying that Faith (Gk. pistis) is not a word unique to the bible. Furthermore, it does not hold any meaning without context. Its meaning is exercised only when you have faith ‘in’ something. In other words, what someone chooses to have faith in induces different results. For example, if one was to have faith in money, this could spark a host of different, probably negative, outcomes, but that outcome certainly won’t be God’s reality of our hope. Only when you have faith in God/God’s word/Jesus Christ, a hope becomes or is reality. This works with the word ‘essence’.

        “Now faith is the ‘essence’ of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This provides that if one was to have faith in ‘something’, that would become the intrinsic nature of his/her hope. This makes intuitive sense, as we recognize that a man’s hopes are shaped by what or where he chooses to place his heart. When a man places faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ becomes the ‘essence’ of his hopes, and only then, faith has power to turn hopes into reality.

        I truly value this discussion and your website. I would be interested to hear your thoughts again.

        • Your comment – “Therefore faith seems to (be) something that “makes into reality” rather than the “reality” itself” – is excellent. Bravo, I totally agree. Faith is that spiritual something which works behind the scenes and brings hope into reality.

          When I wrote the article, I think I was visualizing ‘reality’ as being a ‘spiritual reality’ of hope. A spiritual reality hidden in the heart of man that manifests a hope’s reality to the world, but never supplanting or changing the true reality of that hope.

          I am starting to not like the word ‘reality’ by itself as a choice. It does not adequately convey the thought of hidden support, ownership, conveyance, or possession documentation. As Kenneth Wuest states, “Something that underlies visible conditions and guarantees a future possession.”

          For the same reasons I don’t like ‘reality,’ I don’t like ‘essence.’ Hupostasis is not the essence or intrinsic nature of hope. Again, faith is the vehicle by which we manifest the essence of a hope. Faith can still have the power to ‘realize’ without being the essence of the thing.

          Once again I like ‘title-deed’ as a primary choice. I will have to ponder this, and will rewrite a part of this article. Fascinating – Faith is the ______ of things hoped for, the evidence of things not (yet) seen. God’s word is specific enough and vague enough to require hard work and the help of the Holy Spirit to fully understand it. Great job!

  • [...] We encourage you to read the very in-depth discussion of hupostasis at Hope Faith Prayer. [...]

  • [...] not be detected at first. This is an excerpt from Chapter 9 of Christ the Healer. See also – Faith Is ‘hupostasis’ – Hebrews 11:1  and  The Life of F.F. [...]

  • Delisa Smith

    Now this is a real Bible study. The most in depth I’ve seen online so far. God bless you and continue your ministry. I found you thru John A Macmillan The Authority of the Believer recommended by Billye Brim, a great work. It has helped me so much in affirming and giving fresh insight to me. Thank you.

  • Maurice Litzow

    Hi this is a great website. Enjoy every bit of it. Love your explanations getting a lot from it. I understand the New Testament is translated from the Greek. I agree completely with your interpretation of faith ,it truly is the reality of the image (hope) that you see inside yourself. Great way to explain as reality. Was looking at some ancient Hebrew about to believe or to have faith. To believe is a verb AMAN meaning to support. So to support something it needs to be firm. So we could read it as faith is for God’s word to be firm in you so that you can support it through your mouth and actions.
    Thanks

    • Maurice – You’re getting it. We must spend the necessary time with God to turn Bible promises of hope into faith realities by hearing from Him. Faith is based on the Bible verses coming alive to us as God speaks them to our heart. God bless you. Keep reading the Bible and hearing God’s voice, it is the road to victory.

  • Olivia

    Thank you for your work and for your ministry. xoxo

  • Tina Gentilini

    Thanks so much. Moulton and Milligan’s commentary gave me a new insight into this verse.

  • Israel Harel

    Shalom,
    Read with interest! I just published a book called “Enter the Rest – Lessons from the epistle to the Hebrews” that address what The book is about, it goals, target and main message which is resting in God, in depth. Somebody called it: An Israeli’s perspective on the Jewishness of the epistle to the Hebrews. You may be interested reading it.
    Many Blessings,
    Israel Harel
    Pastor Shaar HaEmek Congregation
    Israel
    Link to the book: http://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781622306596

  • Anonymous

    Awesome! What a store house of insight and interpretations collectively brought together to “define” the essence of passage concerning Faith. Thank you for your efforts and insight to our Ownership of Faith all Christians share.

  • Michael Murrell

    Faith is a much more complex “something” to enable one to define it with one or two words.

    Neither assurance, title-deed, confidence, conviction, believing, knowledge nor substance can aptly define faith for faith encompasses all of these…..and more. All these being integral to faith!

    It appears to me that faith is the confluence of knowledge, belief, trust, evidence, revelation (and others of which I know not) which are welded together by the work of the Spirit of God, producing in the person the confidence that God is and is assured that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

    It seems to me that Hebrews 11:1 is a description of what faith achieves rather than a definition of what faith is. Rather than being the title deed, faith provides the title deed by which comes the assurance of things hoped for, and provides the evidence for seeing the unseen.

    Faith provides the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; and rather than
    being the assurance, it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (paraphrase of the New Living Translation)

  • Nick Lambert

    After receiving much teaching on this verse still not being able to understand what faith is, I now have what I believe a God-given interpretation.

    Heb.11:1. Now faith (which comes by hearing is a free gift of God’s grace)enables us to walk in hope (the confident expectation of good based on this Rhema word\promise of God), knowing that the thing He has promised, He will do (it will become a reality).

    I notice that all of the above interpretations talk of “our hope” the things “we hope for”. This can only be true if our thoughts, desires hopes are fully aligned with His. His thoughts come before ours are higher than ours! They must come to us through us before this verse can make any sense.

    So, faith comes, as long as we believe receive it we know that the promise will be fulfilled at some point. The interim period is called “Hope”.

    Now read the examples of faith given in Hebrews 11; 12. Nobody in the illustrations given moved without, first, receiving faith. The outcomes were all assured the period of time these people walked lived “in hope” varies. I can only work on the basis that it is the same for us today!

    This understanding takes the burden away from believers to have, generate, or develop “Faith”. I was taught that “Faith is an action” but no longer believe this as I now know that “Faith is a re-action, inspired by God!”

    So, this has nothing to do with my faith in God but has everything to do with God’s faith (deposited) in me.

    It is now time to relax, enter His rest, stop striving for more more faith. By the grace of God, we are what we are His grace is sufficient so wait, be still because He will work miracles among us, His body, “by (only by) the hearing of faith…”

    Hope you are blessed.

  • Hishonda WIlson

    I was doing a study on Hebrews 11 this is an awesome study, thanks for sharing.

  • Raymond

    This is an excellent study; you bring a lot of ‘substance’ to the table. I am still left wondering what ‘faith is’ in the context of this verse. I understand the natural usage like ‘title-dead’ in relationship of ownership. My problem is application. For instance: Faith is the substance of hope or faith is the reality of hope or faith is the title-deed of hope. What does that mean toward application? Does it just end up being confidence, which you argued against? Of all the translations I believe that the ones that state faith gives substance or reality to our hopes is the strongest. All the rest seem to dance around, in a passive voice, this active translation. Looking at the context of the rest of the chapter and in light of the New Testament, again we find a solid fit.

  • [...] I think thats what I love most about faith. It doesn’t come from us. It, like all of our great gifts, comes from God. We are asked to take it, be thankful for it, and offer it back to him. When we don’t have faith, what were really doing is turning away that gift, and that, in a nutshell, is true free will. God offers us something and we can choose to accept it or not. The rest of what we call freedom is an illusion, but I’ll write more on that another day. The key term that causes such a differentiation in the translation of this verse is the Greek word ‘hypostasis’. A much more in-depth analysis of the various translations is available here. [...]

  • Pastor Jim

    I love it all

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