Hebrews 11:3
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

King James Bible
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Darby Bible Translation
By faith we apprehend that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that that which is seen should not take its origin from things which appear.

World English Bible
By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible.

Young's Literal Translation
by faith we understand the ages to have been prepared by a saying of God, in regard to the things seen not having come out of things appearing;

Hebrews 11:3 Parallel
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed - The first instance of the strength of faith which the apostle refers to is that by which we give credence to the declarations in the Scriptures about the work of creation; Genesis 1:1. This is selected first, evidently because it is the first thing that occurs in the Bible, or is the first thing there narrated in relation to which there is the exercise of faith. He points to no particular instance in which this faith was exercised - for none is especially mentioned - but refers to it as an illustration of the nature of faith which every one might observe in himself. The "faith" here exercised is confidence in the truth of the divine declarations in regard to the creation. The meaning is, that our knowledge on this subject is a mere matter of faith in the divine testimony. It is not that we could "reason" this out, and demonstrate that the worlds were thus made; it is not that profane history goes back to that period and informs us of it; it is simply that God has told us so in his word. The "strength" of the faith in this case is measured:

(1) by the fact that it is mere faith - that there is nothing else on which to rely in the case, and,

(2) by the greatness of the truth believed.

After all the acts of faith which have ever been exercised in this world, perhaps there is none which is really more strong, or which requires higher confidence in God, than the declaration that this vast universe has been brought into existence by a word!

We understand - We attain to the apprehension of; we receive and comprehend the idea. Our knowledge of this fact is derived only from faith, and not from our own reasoning.

That the worlds - In Genesis 1:1, it is "the heaven and the earth." The phrase which the apostle uses denotes a plurality of worlds, and is proof that he supposed there were other worlds besides our earth. How far his knowledge extended on this point, we have no means of ascertaining, but there is no reason to doubt that he regarded the stars as "worlds" in some respects like our own. On the meaning of the Greek word used here, see the notes on Hebrews 1:2. The plural form is used there also, and in both cases, it seems to me, not without design.

Were framed - It is observable that the apostle does not here use the word "make or create." That which he does use - καταρτίζω katartizō - means to put in order, to arrange, to complete, and may be applied to that which before had an existence, and which is to be put in order, or re-fitted; Matthew 4:24; Mark 1:19; Matthew 21:6; Hebrews 10:5. The meaning here is, that they "were set in order" by the Word of God. This implies the act of creation, but the specific idea is that of "arranging" them in the beautiful order in which they are now. Doddridge renders it "adjusted." Kuinoel, however, supposes that the word is used here in the sense of "form, or make." It has probably about the meaning which we attach to the phrase "fitting up anything," as, for example, a dwelling, and includes all the previous arrangements, though the thing which is particularly denoted is not the making, but the arrangemenent. So in the work here referred to. "We arrive at the conviction that the universe was prepared or arranged in the present manner by the Word of God."

By the word of God - This does not mean here, by the "Logos," or the second person of the Trinity, for Paul does not use that term here or elsewhere. The word which he employs is ῥῆμα rēma - "rema" - meaning properly a word spoken, and in this place "command;" compare Genesis 1:3, Genesis 1:6,Genesis 1:9, Genesis 1:11, Genesis 1:14, Genesis 1:20; Psalm 33:6. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." In regard to the agency of the Son of God in the work of the creation, see the notes on Hebrews 1:2; compare the notes on John 1:3.

So that things which are seen - The point of the remark here is, that the visible creation was not moulded out of pre-existing materials, but was made out of nothing. In reference to the grammatical construction of the passage, see Stuart, Commentary in loc. The doctrine taught is, that matter was not eternal; that the materials of the universe, as well as the arrangement, were formed by God, and that all this was done by a simple command. The "argument" here, so far as it is adapted to the purpose of the apostle, seems to be, that there was nothing which "appeared," or which was to be "seen," that could lay the foundation of a belief that God made the worlds; and in like manner our faith now is not to be based on what; "appears," by which we could infer or reason out what would be, but that we must exercise strong confidence in Him who had power to create the universe out of nothing. If this vast universe has been called into existence by the mere word of God, there is nothing which we may not believe he has ample power to perform.

Hebrews 11:3 Parallel Commentaries

February 3. "He Went Out, not Knowing Whither He Went" (Heb. xi. 8).
"He went out, not knowing whither He went" (Heb. xi. 8). It is faith without sight. When we can see, it is not faith but reasoning. In crossing the Atlantic we observed this very principle of faith. We saw no path upon the sea nor sign of the shore. And yet day by day we were marking our path upon the chart as exactly as if there had followed us a great chalk line upon the sea; and when we came within twenty miles of land we knew where we were as exactly as if we had seen it all three thousand miles
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Pilgrim's Longings
Now, our position is very similar to theirs. As many of us as have believed in Christ have been called out. The very meaning of a church is, "called out by Christ." We have been separated. I trust we know what it is to have gone without the camp, bearing Christ's reproach. Henceforth, in this world we have no home, no true home for our spirits; our home is beyond the flood; we are looking for it amongst the unseen things; we are strangers and sojourners as all our fathers were, dwellers in this wilderness,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 18: 1872

The Voices of the Dead
"And by it he being dead yet speaketh." Hebrews xi. 4. Much of the communion of this earth is not by speech or actual contact, and the holiest influences fall upon us in silence. A monument or symbol shall convey a meaning which cannot be expressed; and a token of some departed one is more eloquent than words. The mere presence of a good and holy personage will move us to reverence and admiration, though he may say and do but little. So is there an impersonal presence of such an one; and, though
E. H. Chapin—The Crown of Thorns

The Practice of Piety; Directing a Christian How to Walk that He May Please God.
Whoever thou art that lookest into this book, never undertake to read it, unless thou first resolvest to become from thine heart an unfeigned Practitioner of Piety. Yet read it, and that speedily, lest, before thou hast read it over, God, by some unexpected death, cut thee off for thine inveterate impiety. The Practice of Piety consists-- First, In knowing the essence of God, and that in respect of, (I.) The diverse manner of being therein, which are three persons--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. (II.)
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Cross References
Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Psalm 33:6
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.

Psalm 33:9
For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

John 1:3
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Romans 4:17
(as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

1 Corinthians 2:7
but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;

1 Timothy 4:5
for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

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