Do You Have Faith According to Hebrews 11?

Tamela Turbeville

iBelieve Contributor
Updated May 20, 2022
Do You Have Faith According to Hebrews 11?

Sometimes we want to give in and give up. Who could blame us? Living in today's world is harder than ever. However, the followers of Christ do not shrink back. We find the strength to endure through faith.

But what is faith? Is it something we can point to and identify? How do we know we have faith? For that answer, most Christians, and unbelievers for that matter, turn to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is called the "Hall of Faith." It describes the lives of righteous men and women from the Old Testament, who exemplified faith. As the author notes toward the end of the chapter, there is no way to list them all, and it is probably not necessary. We can see from these examples what faith is, how faith is lived, how faith changes everything, and we learn where faith begins. Through the stories of these righteous followers of God, Hebrews 11 instructs us on the fundamentals of faith.

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man jumping, hebrews 11 faith in the unseen

Faith Is Hope in the Unseen

The first verse of Hebrews 11 gives us the definition of faith:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Faith is the certainty that God is all-powerful. Faith is trusting God to do what is best. Faith believes God is faithful all the time. Faith is not a leap, nor a strong emotion. It is action based on trust and belief in God alone. The world secures hope to things they can see, such as a person or place; but Christians place their confidence in what is unseen. We cannot see God, but we know He is real when we look at spring flowers, towering trees, and, most often, in lives changed.

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man worshipping on mountaintop, Hebrews 11 faith in the creator

Faith Knows the Creator

In verse 3, we learn that because of our faith, we believe God created everything. One translation says it this way, "Faith helps us understand that God created the whole world by his command" (Hebrews 11:3 ERV). Understanding God is Creator is the first sign that faith lives. By faith, we know and understand that God, in seven days, created everything. The New Living Translation phrases it another way, "the entire universe was formed at God's command." This belief is the beginning of our faith, knowing that the Creator of the universe made everything out of nothing.

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man walking, hebrews 11 faith is obedient

Faith Is Obedient

In the "Hall of Faith" from chapter eleven of Hebrews, we read about the faith of many of God's righteous followers. Able, Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Issac, and Jacob are just a few, and in that list are several patriarchs who were counted righteous because of their obedience. Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice before there were sacrificial laws. “It was by faith that Abel obeyed God and brought an offering that pleased God more than Cain's offering did” (Hebrews 11:4 NLT).

Abraham, too, obeyed God's call even when he could not see where he was going. “Abraham trusted God, and when God told him to leave home and go far away to another land that he promised to give him, Abraham obeyed. Away he went, not even knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8 NLT). Faith answers when God asks more of us than we dream possible.

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person walking, hebrews 11 faith walks with god

Faith Walks with God

There is not much written about Enoch in Scripture. He is the son of Cain, the father of Methuselah, he lived 365 years and had other sons. What we also know is that he walked consistently with God. Both the Old and New Testament remember Enoch as a revered and righteous man. “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then, he was no more because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24 NIV). 

The phrase "walked with God" used about Enoch in the Old Testament means Enoch lived a life characterized by devotion to God. To walk with God is to live for Him and by His strength, and apparently Enoch lived consistently this way. Faith depends on God, spends time listening to God, and follows Him step by step. Enoch's faith so pleased God that he never knew the sting of death, only the presence of God. Our faith puts us, like Enoch, in the presence of God.

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woman praying, hebrews 11 faith surrender to god

Faith Surrenders to God

When God commanded Noah to build an ark, the rain had never fallen on the earth. There was no apparent reason for him to construct a huge boat. Yet, his faith surrendered in obedience to God's plan. He heard and heeded the warning that God would judge the world, and the ark was a symbol of his faith. He believed God over the words of the world.

Abraham also surrendered control to God's command. God told Abraham to leave his family and give up his comfort and stability and move to a land he had never seen, a place where he would be an alien. Yes, he, too, through faith in God's plan, was obedient. Neither Noah nor Abraham would see the results of their obedience, but Noah would be named righteous because of his faith, and Abraham would become the patriarch of Jews and Gentiles alike. Because they trusted God, they put aside their plans and surrendered to God's commands.

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person falling, hebrews 11 faith gives us courage

Faith Gives Us Courage

If we depend on our personal ability to endure and persevere, we will be disappointed and abandon hope. One of the first weapons the enemy wields against us is fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of pain, they all deny us the strength to pass through difficult times. But faith gives us courage instead of despair amid desperate times.

The Pharaoh decreed that every Hebrew son should be killed (Exodus 1:22), but the parents of Moses were not afraid. Their faith in God Almighty gave them the courage to hide baby Moses for three months. They could see he was special and trusted God's plan, not fear. Through faith, they were not afraid of the Pharaoh, and their courage would enable Moses to fulfill God's plans to free the Israelites. Faith trades fear for courage.

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woman smiling in field, hebrews 11 faith believes gods promises

Faith Believes God's Promises

Several people listed in the "Hall of Faith" are commended because they believed God's promises. “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise” (Hebrews 11:11 NLT). The people of Israel believed God would rescue them from the Egyptians and bring down the walls of Jericho. “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land” (Hebrews 11:29).  By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. And Rahab, because she believed, was spared when the unbelieving in her city were killed. Their faith spurred them to action, and their efforts saw God's promises fulfilled.

These men and women of faith died without seeing the Promised One. They believed the promised Messiah was coming but never realized the fulfillment, but they never gave up hope. It would be the saints of the New Testament who witnessed Jesus' coming, and we have the gift of knowing He will come again. Although we may not see the fulfillment of this promise, like those listed in Hebrews, through faith, we believe it will be true.

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cross, hebrews 11 faith conquers

Faith Conquers and Endures

At one point, the author does not have enough words to describe all the evidence of how the faithful men and women of God prevailed over adversity and endured under pressure. By faith, kingdoms were overthrown. By faith, justice triumphed, and the dead were resurrected. Because this long list of faithful believed in the power of God, their weaknesses became strength. They could close the mouths of lions, pass through flames, and escape death because of belief in the power of God.

This same weakness that becomes strength is what Paul writes about when he says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Why would Paul brag about his weakness? Because it is faith that gives Him strength.

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person standing outside, hebrews 11 faith pleases god

Faith Pleases God

Living with the belief and trust that God is our Creator, who rewards obedience and full surrender, gives us courage, fulfills all of His promises, and gives us strength pleases God. Without genuine faith, it is impossible to please God. “And it is impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6).

Why does living in faith please God? Because our faith starts with the belief that He exists. “Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). The central purpose of this letter to the Hebrews is found in this passage. The author is telling us that our faith begins with the belief that God exists, and if we trust this truth, the reward is ours. If we know He is real, then, by faith, we want to know Him, and this pleases Him. Our reward is a relationship of trust and faith. “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT).

Do you believe that God exists? Do you have faith? If so, then He is waiting to show you more of His character and attributes that strengthen your faith. He invites you to seek Him and know Him intimately. He is waiting to show you things yet unseen.

Tamela Turbeville wants every woman surviving abuse to know God loves them, and that they are worthy and wanted. Most of all, healing is possible. She began Living One Word to write and share how God redeems the lives of survivors and you can read more about Tamela and her healing journey at, on Facebook, and Instagram.

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tamela turbeville headshotTamela Turbeville wants every woman to know God loves them, no matter what their past looks like. She lives in Arkansas and while writing she is surrounded by her six rescue dogs who are usually sleeping. She began her website and blog, Living One Word, to share how God redeems even the most broken lives. You can read more from Tamela at, on Facebook, and Instagram. Her new book, A Rescued Life, is now available on Amazon.

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

"Be Still and Know that I Am God"
"Pray Without Ceasing"
"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made"
"All Things Work Together for Good"
"Do Not Fear"

Originally published Tuesday, 21 April 2020.