In Hebrews 11:7, the author moves from Enoch’s faith to talk about Noah’s. In verse 1 of this chapter we read that faith consisted of believing in something that remains unseen. Then in verse 6 we learn that faith consists not only of believing in God’s existence but also believing that he is a good God who has our best interest foremost in mind. He loves us and will keep all His glorious promises. Noah’s faith seems to illustrate both of these dynamics. He believed in a promise-keeping God to keep a promise that he could not see. Lane says that Noah’s faith, “demonstrates a spiritual sensitivity to the reality of God that enabled Noah to endure the scorn of his contemporaries and the occasional doubts of his own mind, firmly persuaded that the safety of his family would be the reward that would follow a period of persevering expectation.”[1]

Hebrews 11:7, says, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” The last phrase is the most significant phrase to me. All Jewish literature of the first century and even our time makes claims to the righteousness of Noah in and of himself. But the writer of Hebrews clarifies the nature of Noah’s righteousness by connecting it to the comment about how righteous people live in the book of Habakkuk. Again, Lane says, “Noah responded to God with a full measure of faith, and this accounts for the attestation of Scripture that he was righteous. It also anticipates the prophetic oracle that ‘my righteous one shall live by faith’ (Hab 2:4), which was cited in 10:38 just before the catalogue of attested witnesses.”[2]

Notice that the writer calls Noah an “heir” of the righteousness that comes by faith. The book of Hebrews begins by pronouncing Jesus as “the heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2). Then in the course of the next few chapters he insists that those who believe in Jesus are now co-heirs with Him. To finish my quote from Lane, he says, “The concept of ‘an heir of the righteousness according to faith’ implies that others who respond to God with the faith that Noah demonstrated will share with him in the righteousness God bestows upon persons of faith. The theme of the heir is a recurring motif in Hebrews, where the Son of God is acknowledged as ‘the heir of everything’ (1:2) and Christians are described as the heirs of salvation (1:14) and of the promises of God (6:12, 17; cf. 9:15).”[3] Of all the issues that could be discussed regarding these verses on Noah and the Genesis account of Noah, we can’t overlook the fact that the focus in Hebrews was about Noah’s faith. God gave him a “word.” God spoke to him. He believed it and then acted on what he believed. Morris put it this way, “Here in v. 7 we have the author’s one use of the term “righteousness” in the Pauline sense of the righteousness that is ours by faith. In the Bible, Noah was the first man to be called righteous (Gen 6:9). He was right with God because he took God at his word; he believed what God said and acted on it.”[4] Today, God gives us His Word in a person; His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. We act on God’s word by believing in Jesus.

[1] William L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, vol. 47B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1991), 339.

[2] William L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, vol. 47B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1991), 340.

[3] William L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, vol. 47B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1991), 341.

[4] 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), 116.