Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)
THE GREEK WORD TRANSLATED here as “confidence” (v. 35, hypostasis) is also translated as substance and assurance in other versions. Its meaning has a technical undercurrent that would have been understood by the business world of the first century. This word could be used to indicate ownership of property. Think of a title to your house. You can show this to your county recorder’s office and your county will recognize you as the legal homeowner. You don’t have to show them the house, your car in the driveway, or your belongings in the closet—the title is evidence enough. This was the sense with which the word hypostasis could be understood in the first century. It was used to indicate ownership of property.
The act of exercising true faith as we pray is itself the title/deed of what we hope for. In the absence of our answered prayer, faith is the evidence of God’s in-advance promise that we already own that for which we hope. The answer may still be in His hands, waiting for the right time to be delivered, but it is ours.
So it is no wonder that in these few verses we see four related words; pistis, hypostasis, elegchos, and parresia. In the niv they are translated as faith, confidence, assurance, conviction, boldness, courage, resolution, steadfastness, and fearlessness. The author of Hebrews was begging his readers not to shrink back, but to live in their faith with boldness because that which they longed for was already theirs.
Pray with confident faith that God’s answer is already yours.
Andrea Summers is an ordained minister and has served on staff in her local church for five years. She is the director of Women’s Ministry for The Wesleyan Church.