Epistle to the Hebrews, perhaps beyond all others, is designed to strengthen
the faith, confidence, and assurance of God's people. This is everywhere apparent:
the great quality that is extolled in chapter 11 is not zeal or godliness or
love, but faith; the Israelites, we are told, failed to enter into Canaan
because of unbelief (3:19); the condition of our having become partakers
of Christ is this same confidence of faith, and that not only at the
beginning but all the way through (3:14); and the ministry of our High Priest
is aimed at securing that we do not cast away our confidence (10:35),
or our confession, (4:14 R.V.), for if a man abandons his confession of faith
in Christ, what is he?
and elenchos are both used as descriptions of faith in Hebrews 1:1.
Faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for. The word basically means
"an underlying support, foundation." Then in one direction, it develops the
meaning "substance, substantial nature, essence, actual being, reality." So,
for instance, Christ is the very image of God's substance (1:3, R.V.). In another
direction, it develops the meaning "steadiness, firmness, conviction, assurance,"
and from that it is an easy step to the meaning "a giving substance to, a guaranteeing,"
and so "title deeds," which are instruments of guarantee and security. The choice
of meaning in Hebrews 1:1
is not easy (witness the differences in the versions),
but it lies between giving hypostasis a passive meaning, i.e., "faith
is the inwrought confidence and assurance that one day we shall possess the
things we hope for," and an active meaning, i.e., "faith gives substance to
our hopes, turning them into solid realities." If here the active meaning seems
preferable, in 3:14 the passive meaning alone is possible. The expositor, rather
than the grammarian, must decide.
similar situation pertains to the word elenchos, which basically means "proof,
proving, something which brings conviction." It is perhaps possible to give
it a passive meaning, "faith is the inner conviction about things not seen,"
but the active meaning is grammatically easier, "faith is that which supplies
the conviction and makes us certain of things not seen."
Excerpted from Precious Seed Nov./Dec. 1962