The apostle having, in the preceding chapter, spoken in commendation of
the grace, and life of faith, and of its usefulness to preserve from
apostasy, proceeds in this to give some account of the nature and
actings of it; and which he illustrates by the examples of many of the
Old Testament saints: he begins with a definition of it, which consists
of two parts, \\#Heb 11:1\\ and with an account of the usefulness of it
to the elders in general, who by it obtained a good report, \\#Heb 11:2\\
and of the service it is of in understanding the creation of the
worlds, the author and original of them, \\#Heb 11:3\\ and then goes on
to give particular instances and examples of faith among the elders, or
ancient believers, which are reduced into several classes; and the
first is of the saints before the flood, Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Abel's
faith lay in offering a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, in
obtaining a testimony from God that he was righteous, and in yet
speaking, though dead, \\#Heb 11:4\\. Enoch's faith is evidenced by his
translation of God, that he should not see death, and by the testimony
he received from him before it, that he was acceptable to him; by which
it is clear he had faith, since, without it, it is impossible to please
God; nor can any come aright unto him, without believing that he is, and
has a gracious respect to all that diligently seek him, \\#Heb 11:5,6\\.
Noah's faith was seen in preparing an ark, by the order of God, for the
saving of his family, and in condemning the world by so doing, and by
becoming an heir of righteousness through faith, \\#Heb 11:7\\. The
next class is that of the saints from the flood, to the times of Moses,
in which are Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Abraham's
faith is celebrated for his obedience to the divine call, quitting the
country where he was, and going he knew not where; and for his
sojourning in the promised land, as in a strange one, in which Isaac
and Jacob dwelt with him in tents; and for looking by faith for the
heavenly city built by the Lord; and for his offering up his son at the
command of God, who was the son of promise, believing God was able to
raise him from the dead, from whence he received him by faith,
\\#Heb 11:8-10,17-19\\. Sarah's faith lay in receiving strength through
it to conceive, bear, and bring forth a child when past age, which was,
founded upon the faithfulness of a promising God; hence from Abraham,
by her, sprung a large posterity, like the stars of the sky, and the
sand on the sea shore, \\#Heb 11:11,12\\. Now all these patriarchs,
both before and after the flood, as they lived by faith, they died in
it; who, though they had not received the things promised, yet by faith
saw them at a distance, were very well persuaded they would come to
pass, and so, in some sense, enjoyed them; hence, while they lived,
they lived like pilgrims and strangers, showing that they had no regard
to the country they came from, and had no mind to return thither, but
sought another, a better, and an heavenly one; so that God is not
ashamed to be called their God, he having prepared a city for them,
\\#Heb 11:13-16\\. Isaac's faith is commended in blessing his two sons
with respect to things future, \\#Heb 11:20\\ and Jacob's faith is well
spoken of for blessing both the sons of Joseph in his last moments,
worshipping on the top of his staff, \\#Heb 11:21\\ and Joseph's faith
is instanced in two things; in making mention of the departure of the
Israelites out of Egypt, as a certain thing; and in giving them strict
orders to carry his bones along with them, when they went from thence,
\\#Heb 11:22\\ the third class of men, famous for faith, is that of
such from the times of Moses to the judges, in which are the parents of
Moses, Moses himself, the Israelites in general, and the harlot Rahab.
The parents of Moses showed their faith in hiding him three months,
seeing him to be a lovely child, contrary to the king's edict,
\\#Heb 11:23\\. Moses's faith lay in refusing to be called the son of
Pharaoh's daughter; in preferring afflictions to the pleasures of sin,
and the reproach of Christ to the riches of Egypt; he having, by faith,
a respect to the heavenly glory, another instance of it; and by
forsaking Egypt, without fear of the king's displeasure, by faith
seeing a King who is invisible; and by keeping the passover, with the
sprinkling of blood, that so the destroyer of the firstborn of Egypt
might not touch the Israelites, \\#Heb 11:24-28\\. The instances of the
faith of the Israelites are their passage through the Red sea, as on
dry land, when the Egyptians, who attempted it, were drowned; and their
compassing the walls of Jericho seven days, believing they would fall,
as accordingly they did, \\#Heb 11:29,30\\. The faith of Rahab, the
harlot, is commended for two things; for peaceably receiving the spies
that came to her; and for the salvation she believed she should have,
and had, when the unbelieving inhabitants of Jericho perished,
\\#Heb 11:31\\. And the last class of heroes for faith, includes the
times of the judges, kings, prophets, and the Maccabees; the judges,
kings, and prophets, are lumped together, and only a few of their names
are observed as a specimen of the rest, the apostle not having time to
mention particular one, \\#Heb 11:32\\ and various instances of without
reference to particular persons to whom they belong, are recorded; some
which lay in doing things greatly heroic, and even miraculous,
\\#Heb 11:33-35\\ and others in suffering things the most cruel and
torturing, and death itself in divers shapes, \\#Heb 11:35-38\\. And
thus, by an induction of particulars, the apostle proves both his
definition of faith, \\#Heb 11:1\\ and the usefulness of it to the
elders, \\#Heb 11:2\\ they by it obtaining a good report, though they
did not receive the thing promised, \\#Heb 11:39\\ wherefore New
Testament saints have great encouragement, and much more reason, to
exercise this grace; since God has provided for them the better thing
he promised to others, that the one without the other might not be
perfect, \\#Heb 11:40\\.