Hebrews 11:1

From: Jason Lee (jllee@mailcity.com)
Date: Tue May 18 1999 - 14:11:43 EDT

Estin de pistis elpizomevoon hupostasis pragmatoon elenchos ou blepomenoon

One way of looking at Hebrews 11:1 is to consider elpizomevoon as objective genitive receiving the action from the action noun hupostasis, which is from huphistamai (cf. anastasis from anistamai). Greek hupostasis is equivalent to Latin substantia and English substance (hypo = sub, stasis = stantia). (In fact, hupostasis is the preferred theological term over the Latin persona in early church fathers' description of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit, the three hypostases of the Godhead. This, in itself, is too big a topic to be glossed over here.) In Hebrews 11:1, the idea is faith substantiates the things hoped for, as hearing substantiates music. Hence, the footnote in ASV (1901) translates hupostasis as the giving substance to. J.N. Darby's New Translation (1890) reads: Now faith is the substantiating of things hoped for ... The RcV (1991) translates as Now faith is the substantiation of the things hoped for... The Amplified Bible (1987) inserts Faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the

As for the second half, elenchos is from elenchoo, meaning show, demonstrate, bring to light, expose, test, reprove, convict. One can say that pragmatoon ou blepomenoon is also an objective genitive as the object of elenchoo that faith brings to light. Or perhaps, it is a subjective genitive: the factually (ou, not mee) unseen things which convict. Most English versions render the second half as the conviction of things not seen. I suppose, one can also say the conviction comes out of the things not seen, thereby pragmatoon ou blepomenoon is a genitive (ablative) of source. This interpretation befits the context of Hebrews 11. Verse 1 gives the definition of faith; verses 2 through 40 enumerate the martyrs of faith, to which I can add one other example from Daniel 3. Remember the three friends of Daniel? When they refused to worship the golden image made by Nebuchadnezzar, what did they say to the king that made him so mad so as to heat up the furnace seven times hotter? It was not verse 17 (If it be so, our
 God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king), but verse 18 (But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up) that really set Nebuchadnezzar afire. It was verse 18 that demonstrated their faith, or their conviction that the idols are not God. The only God, who is, in fact, not seen, convicts them of His reality. Out of this conviction, they did not fear the king's decree. This was their faith. Whether they were actually delivered out of the king's furnace, or not, was beside the point.


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