Do you ever take apart a verse by its Greek or Hebrew definitions? I love doing this. Brings such a deeper and broader meaning to the verse. This one is very interesting. Let’s see…
Faith is always now, in the present tense; we can’t have faith for yesterday. We can have expectant faith for tomorrow but our faith does not work in the future, except when we get there. It works right here and now. Except in one case: we have faith for our eternal home in heaven with the Lord.
However, that is not the meaning of the word now used in the above verse. It does not mean at this moment of time, though many good sermons have been based on that premise. It is a conjunction or connecting word between two thoughts, joining terms for repeated emphasis.
It means but, moreover, moreover also, even, and, also, and also, or but rather. It would be more appropriate to say, “Moreover faith is…” or “And also faith is…”
So, what is faith moreover or and also? The preceding verses in Hebrews 10:35-39 tell us not to cast away our confidence, that patience and endurance in doing the will of God receives what is promised, that the just shall live by faith, and not to draw back in timidity or unbelief to ruin, destruction, or loss.
…is the substance…
The Greek word for substance means support, setting under, assurance, confidence, essence, person, a guarantee of reality, substantial quality or nature of a person, substructure or foundation, and is firm and has actual existence or real being.
This word is used in Hebrews 1:3 of Jesus as the “express image of His essence” (RGT), the image, character, or exact copy, as the actual reality or personification of God.
…of things hoped for…
The word for things hoped for means to expect, confide, trust, or confident expectation.
Evidence also means that by which invisible things are tested or proved, conviction, proof, or test, as convincing proof.
Pragma is the word for this use of the word things, which also means an object, business, matter, work, that which is an accomplished fact or is being accomplished, that which exists, and so on. From this, we get our English word pragmatic, which one definition means the testing of concepts to determine their validity by the practicality of their results.
…not being seen.
That which is not beheld with the eyes. The whole invisible, spiritual world.
Therefore, defined, we might reword this verse to say, “Moreover, faith guarantees reality to what is expected, as an accomplished fact, the confident anticipation of matters being accomplished, the validity being produced as visible proof of the invisible.”
So, moreover faith is…
* maintaining our confidence…rewarded
* continuing patience and endurance in doing the will of God
* what the just live by
* and not drawing back in timidity or unbelief to ruin, destruction, or loss.
And the result? We receive the reward of God’s promises.
“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe,” so said St. Augustine. And Martin Luther said, “Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see.”
If “God…Who…speaks of the non-existent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed,” (Rom. 4:17b), then do we permit ourselves to be seized by the non-existent things that we cannot yet see? Don’t we usually want to see the evidence first and then we’ll believe? What would happen in our lives if we actually lived in faith to see what we believe?
Wouldn’t we see God’s promises substantiated, as the fulfillment of the things we hope for, making them present realities to us?