The author of Hebrews used the lives of three ancient biblical characters as examples of those who were declared righteous by God because they trusted Him; Abel, Enoch, and Noah. But in Hebrews 11:8-19, he focuses more attention on the founders of those who live by faith; Abraham and Sarah. Jews, Muslims and Christians alike look to Abraham as the father of those who believe. Thomas says, “Abraham’s faith shined brightly out of a dark background. Paul spent an entire chapter (Rom. 4) commending the faith of this spiritual leader. Abraham received a call to follow God which he accepted without question. He left Haran by faith (Gen. 11:31–12:4) and let God supply the road map. He did not receive his inheritance at the time of his first call, and he did not even know the location of the Promised Land. His daring faith earned him the title of ‘father of the faithful.’”[1]

The commentary on Abraham begins with the focus on Abraham’s faith. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Morris observed the point of the writer of Hebrews regarding this chapter when he wrote, “To leave the certainties one knows and go out into what is quite unknown—relying on nothing other than the Word of God—is the essence of faith, as the author sees it.”[2] This is what faith, even today, is all about. Wuest quoted Davidson and says, “…the life of faith must be entered on in ignorance of the way to the inheritance, or even what the inheritance and rest in each one’s particular case will be, and of the experiences that the way will bring. This is true even of ordinary life.”[3]

Whereas it might not be as clear regarding the obedience of Abel and Enoch, Noah and Abraham are commended for hearing God’s word and responding to it in obedience. It’s all about “faith” that leads to obedience! I’m afraid many suggest that to us, it’s about obedience to the law. But I’d argue just as Noah had a message from God and acted on it and Abraham had a message from God and acted on it, so too do we have a particular message from God apart from the law and are called to “act” on it by believing in it! It might sound strange to think of believing in the Gospel as an act of “obedience” but as Bob Wilkin says, “It is biblically correct to speak of faith as an act of obedience. After all, God commands us to believe the Gospel (e.g., Acts 16:31). Support for this view is seen in many passages. Acts 6:7 says that ‘many of the priests were obedient to the faith.’ Romans 10:16 and 2 Thess 1:8 speak of obeying or disobeying the Gospel. See also, John 3:36; 6:28-29; 1 Pet 1:2, 22; 2:7-8; and Acts 5:32.” He then concludes, “The obedience of faith spoken of in Rom 1:5 and 16:26 does not refer to obeying all that God has commanded. No one but the Lord Jesus has done that. Rather, it refers specifically to obeying the command to believe the Gospel. If you’ve done that, you’ve exercised the obedience of faith.” See

[1] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 201.

[2] Leon Morris, “Hebrews,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 118.

[3] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 10 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 201.