The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Epistle of the Blessed Apostle Paul to the Hebrews
What is faith? It is that which gives substance to our hopes, which convinces us of things we cannot see.
It was this that brought credit to the men who went before us.
It is faith that lets us understand how the worlds were fashioned by God’s word; how it was from things unseen that the things we see took their origin.
It was in faith that Abel offered a sacrifice richer than Cain’s, and was proved thereby to be justified, since God recognized his offering; through that offering of his he still speaks in death.✻
When Enoch was taken away without the experience of death, when God took him and no more was seen of him, it was because of his faith; that is the account we have of him before he was taken, that he pleased God;✻
and it is impossible to please God without faith. Nobody reaches God’s presence until he has learned to believe that God exists, and that he rewards those who try to find him.
When Noe received a warning about dangers still unseen, it was faith that made him take alarm, and build an ark to preserve his family. Thus he proved the whole world wrong, and was left heir to the justification which comes through faith.
And he to whom the name of Abraham was given shewed faith when he left his home, obediently, for the country which was to be his inheritance; left it without knowing where his journey would take him.✻
Faith taught him to live as a stranger in the land he had been promised for his own, encamping there with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of a common hope;
looking forward all the while to that city which has true foundations, which is God’s design and God’s fashioning.
It was faith that enabled Sara, barren till then, to conceive offspring, although she was past the age of child-bearing; she believed that God would be faithful to his word.
Here is one man, a man for whom life is already over; and from him springs a race whose numbers rival the stars of heaven, or the uncounted grains of sand on the sea-shore.
It was faith they lived by, all of them, and in faith they died; for them, the promises were not fulfilled, but they looked forward to them and welcomed them at a distance, owning themselves no better than strangers and exiles on earth.
Those who talk so make it clear enough, that they have not found their home.
Did they regret the country they had left behind? If that were all, they could have found opportunities for going back to it.
No, the country of their desires is a better, a heavenly country. God does not disdain to take his title from such names as these; he has a city ready for them to dwell in.✻
Abraham shewed faith, when he was put to the test, by offering up Isaac. He was ready to offer up an only son, this man who had made the promises his own,
and received the assurance, It is through Isaac that thy posterity shall be traced.
God, he argued, had the power to restore his son even from the dead; and indeed, in a hidden sense, he did so recover him.✻
It was by faith that Isaac, in blessing Jacob and Esau, foretold what was to come;
by faith that Jacob, on his death-bed, made reverence to the top of Joseph’s staff, as he blessed his two sons in turn;✻
by faith that Joseph, when he, too, came to the end of his life, spoke of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt, and gave orders for the removal of his bones.
The parents of Moses shewed faith, in making light of the king’s edict, and hiding their child away for three months, when they saw what a fine child he was.
And Moses shewed faith, when he grew up, by refusing to pass for the son of Pharao’s daughter.
He preferred ill-usage, shared with the people of God, to the brief enjoyment of sinful pleasures;
all the wealth of Egypt could not so enrich him as the despised lot of God’s anointed; he had eyes, you see, for nothing but the promised reward.✻
It was in faith that he left Egypt behind, defying the royal anger, made strong as if by the very sight of him who is invisible;✻
in faith that he performed the paschal rite, and the sprinkling of the blood, to leave Israel untouched by the angel that destroyed the first-born;
in faith that they crossed the Red Sea as if it had been dry land, whereas the Egyptians, when they ventured into it, were drowned.
Faith pulled down the walls of Jericho, after seven days spent in marching round them;
faith saved Rahab, the harlot, from sharing the doom of the disobedient, because she had given the spies a peaceable welcome.
What need is there to say more? Time will fail me if I try to go through all the history of Gedeon, of Barac, of Samson, of Jephte, of David and Samuel and the prophets.
Theirs was the faith which subdued kingdoms, which served the cause of right, which made promises come true. They shut the mouths of lions,
they quenched raging fire, swords were drawn on them, and they escaped. How strong they became, who till then were weak, what courage they shewed in battle, how they routed invading armies!
There were women, too, who recovered their dead children, brought back to life. Others, looking forward to a better resurrection still, would not purchase their freedom on the rack.
And others experienced mockery and scourging, chains, too, and imprisonment;
they were stoned, they were cut in pieces, they were tortured,✻ they were put to the sword; they wandered about, dressed in sheepskins and goatskins, amidst want, and distress, and ill-usage;
men whom the world was unworthy to contain, living a hunted life in deserts and on mountain-sides, in rock-fastnesses and caverns underground.
One and all gave proof of their faith, yet they never saw the promise fulfilled;
for us, God had something better in store. We were needed, to make the history of their lives complete.✻
The Holy Bible