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Hebrews 11 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Hebrews 11 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

3 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.

4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

"Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous."
Has there ever been a righteous person?

5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

"Enoch was translated that he should not see death."
Has anyone ever ascended into heaven?
Must everyone die? Did Enoch die?
As this verse says, Enoch was translated. Of course he could not ascend to heaven himself, but God translated him.
See John 3:13 where the author of the SAB reads something different.
On must everyone die, see chapter 9:27.
On if Enoch died, see below, verse 13.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

"Without faith it is impossible to please him." If you're not a Christian, it's impossible to please God.
11:6: "believe that he is" -- Mosiah 4:9
Saying you are a Christian is not enough. You need to believe in Christ and have accepted his righteousness. If you do not, you have only your own righteousness, and how can that please God?

7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

"Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed."
Did Sarah have faith that she would conceive?
This inspired verse clearly says she had. It is true that she laughed. But does it imply that if someone has no faith at some point, he will never have it? Sarah laughed initially, but believed afterward. Perhaps the rebuke about her laughing caused this change. She realised that only God would know that she laughed, as she did it silently and secretly in her heart.

12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

(11:9-13) "These all died in faith, not having received the promises."
Did Enoch die?
In Genesis (13:15, 15:18, 17:8) and Exodus (32:13) God promises Abraham and his descendants "the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession." But here Paul admits that God's promise went unfulfilled.
Clearly the apostle has already excluded Enoch (verse 5) and is referring to those that had faith, died, but not obtained what their faith promised. In that sense of having faith, but having seen the thing promised by faith is applicable to Enoch as well.
On the promise of everlasting posession: these were conditional upon obedience. Wny would King Hilkiah rent his clothes (2 Chr. 34:14-21) if he and his people would posses the land forever regardless what they did? No, they read the book, i.e. the books of Moses, and read that they had greatly sinned.
The true promise was of a heavenly kingdom that would not be taken away from them, and of a new heart, a heart of flesh, that would no longer be a heart of stone.
But the apostle does not admit these promises were unfulfilled. That cannot be. They did not receive it in their lifetime! But they did receive it afterward, as all these believers have inherited the heavenly kingdom.

14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

"His only begotten son"
How many sons did Abraham have?
The meaning depends on the context. Abraham is said to have only one begotten son in the sense of only one son that was born of him and Sarah. He is said to have two sons when the context is Sarah versus Hagar. And we know that after the death of Sarah Abraham married again and had some more children, Gen. 25:1.

18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

(11:27) "Not fearing the wrath of the king"
Did Moses fear the king?
The author of the SAB mentions two events that are 40 years apart. Moses feared initially. But he went to a 40 year journey in the desert, which I suppose was God's school after 40 years education in the Egyptian system.
See also the response by LookingUntoJesus.

28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

(11:28) "He [Moses] kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them."
The Israelites kept the passover and sprinkled blood on doorposts so that God wouldn't kill their firstborn children (like he did the Egyptians in Exodus 12:29).
The Egyptians killed the males of the Israelites, remember? God will not let go nations killing babies forever. Their blood cries for wrath.
Also, the Egyptians could sprinkle this blood on their doorposts as well. Only the blood on the doorposts was the distinction, not race.

29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

(11:29) "By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land."
The author of the SAB was there and can confirm it didn't happen. But how come we have found the mummy of every Farao, except one?

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

(11:30) "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down."
These facts can be seen with your own eyes when you visited Jericho. See The Walls of Jericho.

31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

(11:31) "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not."
God saved Rahab because she believed. (He killed all the non-believers in Jericho.) But James (2:25) says she was saved by works (God saved her for lying.)
Was Rahab saved by faith or works?
Rahab was saved by faith as she believed that God's time had indeed come to punish the inhabitants of Israel for their sins, and she showed by her works that she had the true faith by protecting the spies. So we are saved by faith, and our works are a demonstration of it, and follow from it.

32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.