“Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities that are not seen.”—Hebrews 11:1, New World Translation.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”—Hebrews 11:1, King James Version.
Meaning of Hebrews 11:1
This verse provides the most concise Scriptural definition of faith and shows that faith involves more than mere belief.
“Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for.” In the original-language text of Hebrews 11:1, the Greek word translated “faith” conveys the thought of confidence, trust, or firm persuasion. Such faith is not based on wishful thinking; it is an “assured expectation.” The Greek term rendered “assured expectation” * could also be translated “title deed,” referring to a guarantee that gives assurance, or confidence, to the one possessing it.
“Faith is . . . the evident demonstration [or, “convincing evidence,” footnote] of realities that are not seen.” Faith exists as a result of compelling proof. Such proof is so strong that it convinces a person that even though he cannot see a thing, it is real.
Context of Hebrews 11:1
The Bible book of Hebrews is a letter written by the apostle Paul to first-century Christians living in and around Jerusalem. In this part of the letter, Paul discusses the importance of faith. For example, he writes: “Without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6) After defining faith in Hebrews 11:1, Paul provides examples of men and women in the Bible record who displayed this quality. He recounts how they demonstrated their faith by acting in harmony with God’s will.—Hebrews 11:4-38.
^ par. 4 The Greek word here translated “assured expectation” is hy·poʹsta·sis, which could literally be rendered “that which stands under, a foundation.” In Latin, this word is translated sub·stanʹti·a, from which the English word “substance,” used in the King James Version, is derived.