Letter to the Hebrews
Remembering the heroes of faith
1 Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see. 2 Be cause of their faith our ancestors were approved.
3 By faith we understand that the stages of creation were disposed by God’s word, and what is visible came from what cannot be seen.
4 Because of Abel’s faith his offering was more acceptable than that of his brother Cain, which meant he was upright, and God himself ap proved his offering. Because of this faith he cried to God, as said in Scripture, even after he died.
5 By faith Enoch was taken to heaven, instead of experiencing death: he could not be found because God had taken him. In fact, it is said that before being taken up he had pleased God. 6 Yet without faith it is im possible to please him: no one draws near to God without first believing that he exists and that he re wards those who seek him earnestly.
7 By faith Noah was instructed of events which could not yet be seen and, heeding what he heard, he built a boat in which to save his family. The faith of Noah condemned the world and he reach ed holiness born of faith.
8 It was by faith that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as a stranger in that promised land. There he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, beneficiaries of the same promise. 10 In deed, he looked forward to that city of solid foundation of which God is the architect and builder.
11 By faith Sarah herself received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that he who had made the promise would be faithful. 12 There fore, from an almost impotent man were born descendants as numerous as the stars of heavens, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.
13 Death found all these people strong in their faith. They had not received what was promised, but they had looked ahead and had rejoiced in it from afar, saying that they were foreigners and travelers on earth. 14 Those who speak in this way prove that they are looking for their own country. 15 For if they had longed for the land they had left, it would have been easy for them to return, 16 but no, they aspired to a better city, that is, a supernatural one; so God, who prepared the city for them is not ashamed of being called their God.
17 By faith Abraham went to offer Isaac when God tested him. And so he who had received the promise of God offered his only son 18 although God had told him: Isaac’s descendants will bear your name. 19 Abra ham reasoned that God is capable even of raising the dead, and he received back his son, which has a figurative meaning.
20 By faith also Isaac blessed the future of Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, before he died, blessed both children of Joseph and worshiped as he leaned on his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when about to die, warn ed the children of Israel of their exodus and gave orders about his remains.
23 By faith the parents of the newly born Moses hid him for three months, for they saw the baby was very beautiful and they did not fear the order of Pharaoh. 24 By faith Moses, already an adult, refused to be called son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He preferred to share ill treatment with the people of God, rather than enjoy the passing plea sures of sin. 26 He considered the humi liation of Christ a greater riches than the wealth of Egypt, and he looked ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt without fearing the king’s anger, and he persevered as someone who could see the Invisible.
28 By faith Moses had the Pass over celebrated, sprinkling the doors with blood so that the Destroyer would not kill their firstborn sons. 29 By faith they cross ed the Red Sea, as if on dry land, while the Egyptians who tried to cross it were swallowed by the waters and drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho crumbled and fell, after Israel had marched round them for seven days; 31 by faith, also, the prostitute Rahab escaped death which befell the unbelievers for having welcomed the spies.
32 Do I need to say more? There is not enough time to speak of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jeph thah, David, as well as Sa mu el and the prophets. 33 Through faith they fought and conquered nations, established justice, saw the fulfillment of God’s promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quen ch ed raging fire, escaped the sword, were healed of their sicknesses; they were weak people who were given strength to be brave in battle and repulse foreign invaders.
35 Some women recovered their dead by resurrection but there were others – persecuted and tortured be lievers – who, for the sake of a better resurrection, refused to do what would have saved them. 36 Others suffered chains and prison. 37 They were stoned, sawn in two, killed by the sword. They fled from place to place with no other clothing than the skins of sheep and goats, lacking everything, afflicted, ill-treated. 38 These people of whom the world was not worthy had to wander through wastelands and mountains, and take refuge in the dens of the land.
39 However, although all of them were praised because of their faith, they did not enjoy the promise 40 be cause God had us in mind and saw beyond. And he did not want them to reach perfection except with us.