IDEA: Faith is both objective and subjective.
TEXT: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
PURPOSE: To help listeners commit themselves to live before God by faith.
When you study the Bible, do you ever look at the same passage in different translations? Why?
I. Read Hebrews 11:1 in some different translations and you find a difference in emphasis.
The NIV, RSV, and NASR translate the verse “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and being certain of what we do not see.”
The KJV, NKJV, and NEB translate it “Now faith is the substance of what we hope for, the evidence of things not seen.”
II. What is the difference in these two translations?
One refers to a “subjective” knowledge because it is within me: “assurance, confidence, etc. No matter what comes, my confidence in Jesus will not be shaken.
The other is “objective”: it refers to something that is not a part of me, but instead it is “substance,” something on which I can rely.
III. The differences arise from our understanding of the original Greek word hypostasis. Both translations have support in the way the word was used in biblical times.
The word is used in sources outside the Bible of a “title deed.” That is objective. The second part of the verse would be “evidence.”
The same word is used in Hebrews 3:14 for “confidence.” The second part of the verse would be “conviction.”
There is truth in both of these translations. In 1563 a German theology professor formulated his personal faith, combining them both:
Created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel,
Is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything that God reveals in his Word is true,
But also a deep-seated assurance
That not only others, but I, too, have had my sins forgiven,
Have been made forever right with God,
And have been granted salvation.
These are gifts of sheer grace earned for us by Christ.
Would you accept that definition? Change it?