Hebrews 11:11
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.
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(11) Through faith also Sara herself.—Rather, By faith Sarah herself also, or, even Sarah herself. This emphatic introduction of the name of Sarah may point to the unbelief which for a brief while she displayed (Genesis 18:12); but the words may simply mean, “Sarah also, on her part”—the joint recipient with Abraham of the divine promise, a promise in which it might at first seem that she had no part. (Comp. Genesis 16:1-2.) The words “was delivered of a child” are absent from the best authorities; so that we must read, “even when she was past age.” With the last words of the verse compare Hebrews 10:23.

Hebrews 11:11-12. Through faith also Sara — Though at first she laughed at the promise through unbelief; received strength Εις καταβολην σπερματος, for the conception of seed; and was delivered of a child when she was past age — That is, beyond the due time of age for such a purpose, when she was ninety years old, and in the course of nature absolutely incapable of being a mother. “I believe,” says Dr. Owen, “that this was not a mere miraculous generation, but that she received a general restoration of her nature for the production of a child, which was before decayed, as Abraham afterward, who, after his body was in a manner dead, received strength to have many children by Keturah.” Because she judged him faithful who had promised — And that, as he could, so he would fulfil his promise, whatever difficulties might stand in the way of its fulfilment. Therefore — By this mighty principle of faith in her and in Abraham; sprang there even of one — Of one father; and him as good as dead

Till his strength was supernaturally restored; so many as the stars of the sky in multitude — This expression was first used by God himself, who brought Abraham forth abroad, and bade him look toward heaven, and number the stars, if he were able; and then said, So shall thy seed be. It is evident that at the first view, as they were shown to Abraham, not being reduced into constellations, there can perhaps be no greater appearance of what is innumerable, than the stars. Probably too in this comparison not only their number, but their beauty and order were intended. In the other allusion, as the sand which is by the sea-shore, they are declared to be absolutely innumerable. It is not said that they shall be as many as the sand by the sea-shore, but as innumerable, to which the event wonderfully corresponded.

11:8-19 We are often called to leave worldly connexions, interests, and comforts. If heirs of Abraham's faith, we shall obey and go forth, though not knowing what may befall us; and we shall be found in the way of duty, looking for the performance of God's promises. The trial of Abraham's faith was, that he simply and fully obeyed the call of God. Sarah received the promise as the promise of God; being convinced of that, she truly judged that he both could and would perform it. Many, who have a part in the promises, do not soon receive the things promised. Faith can lay hold of blessings at a great distance; can make them present; can love them and rejoice in them, though strangers; as saints, whose home is heaven; as pilgrims, travelling toward their home. By faith, they overcome the terrors of death, and bid a cheerful farewell to this world, and to all the comforts and crosses of it. And those once truly and savingly called out of a sinful state, have no mind to return into it. All true believers desire the heavenly inheritance; and the stronger faith is, the more fervent those desires will be. Notwithstanding their meanness by nature, their vileness by sin, and the poverty of their outward condition, God is not ashamed to be called the God of all true believers; such is his mercy, such is his love to them. Let them never be ashamed of being called his people, nor of any of those who are truly so, how much soever despised in the world. Above all, let them take care that they are not a shame and reproach to their God. The greatest trial and act of faith upon record is, Abraham's offering up Isaac, Ge 22:2. There, every word shows a trial. It is our duty to reason down our doubts and fears, by looking, as Abraham did, to the Almighty power of God. The best way to enjoy our comforts is, to give them up to God; he will then again give them as shall be the best for us. Let us look how far our faith has caused the like obedience, when we have been called to lesser acts of self-denial, or to make smaller sacrifices to our duty. Have we given up what was called for, fully believing that the Lord would make up all our losses, and even bless us by the most afflicting dispensations?Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed - The word "herself" here - αὐτὴ autē - implies that there was something remarkable in the fact that "she" should manifest this faith. Perhaps there may be reference here to the incredulity with which she at first received the announcement that she should have a child; Genesis 18:11, Genesis 18:13. Even "her" strong incredulity was overcome, and though everything seemed to render what was announced impossible, and though she was so much disposed to laugh at the very suggestion at first, yet her unbelief was overcome, and she ultimately credited the divine promise. The apostle does not state the authority for his assertion that the strength of Sarah was derived from her faith, nor when particularly it was exercised. The argument seems to be, that here was a case where all human probabilities were against what was predicted, and where, therefore, there must have been simple trust in God. Nothing else but "faith" could have led her to believe that in her old age she would have borne a son.

When she was past age - She was at this time more than ninety years of age; Genesis 17:17; compare Genesis 18:11.

Because she judged him faithful who had promised - She had no other ground of confidence or expectation. All human probability was against the supposition that at her time of life she would be a mother.

11. also Sara herself—though being the weaker vessel, and though at first she doubted.

was delivered of a child—omitted in the oldest manuscripts: then translate, "and that when she was past age" (Ro 4:19).

she judged him faithful who had promised—after she had ceased to doubt, being instructed by the angel that it was no jest, but a matter in serious earnest.

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed; by the same Divine faith in Abraham and Sarah was brought forth the child of promise. For though the instance be expressly in Sarah, yet it is inclusive of Abraham also, who was eminent for his faith in this thing, acquiring an eminent title by it, even of the Father of believers, as the apostle declareth, Romans 4:17-22, and therefore jointly to be considered with Sarah. She, who first through unbelief laughed at the promise, yet being reproved by Christ, the Angel of the covenant, for it, believed on the repetition of it, Genesis 18:9-16, and gave testimony of it by her waiting for the promised mercy. As barren as she was, yet faith made her fruitful; when it was impossible of herself to expect it for nature or years, yet received she power and strength from God, by believing, to conceive seed, that is, laying the foundation of it, conceiving in her dead womb, and bearing a son.

And was delivered of a child when she was past age; she was not only naturally barren, but of ninety years of age at this time, when the most fruitful were past such work; yet was she delivered of a son, and became the mother of Isaac by faith, as he was the son of promise, Genesis 15:4 18:11; compare Romans 4:17-19.

Because she judged him faithful who had promised; she gave glory to God by a firm and hearty closure with his promise, accounting God faithful to his word, and able to perform it, and so rested on it, and waited for him, as Abraham did, Romans 4:18,20,21. The promise which he made was: That they in their old age should have a son, Genesis 12:2; made in general, Genesis 13:15,16 in particular, Genesis 15:4,5; to both, Genesis 17:15-17 18:10,14 21:1-3,12.

Through faith also Sarah herself,.... Some copies add "being barren"; and so read the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; which is a circumstance which makes her faith appear the greater: but it is a question whether the apostle speaks of the faith of Sarah, or of Abraham; some think he speaks of Abraham's faith; and that it was through his faith that Sarah conceived; and observe, that the last clause may be rendered, "because he judged him faithful", &c. and the rather, because the apostle, both before and after, is speaking of Abraham's faith, Hebrews 11:8. And in Hebrews 11:12 mention is made only of one, even of Abraham; and in Romans 4:17 only notice is taken of Abraham's faith, respecting this matter; nor is Sarah's faith observed in the history of it, but her diffidence: but why may not Sarah be joined with Abraham, in this commendation, as well as Isaac and Jacob? and though, at first, she distrusted, yet she afterwards feared, and believed: other women are mentioned in this catalogue of believers; and they share in the same grace and privileges as men: and Sarah, being a believer, as well as Abraham,

received strength to conceive seed: sometimes "strength" itself signifies seed, as in Proverbs 31:3 and so to receive strength is to receive seed; which the female does from the male; hence that saying of the Jews (t), the male does not receive strength from another, but the female "receiveth strength" from another; but here it is to be understood of receiving power from God to retain seed, received from men, and conceive by it; which Sarah, in her circumstances, without the interposition of the almighty power, could never have done. The nymph Anobret is so called, in imitation of this conception of Sarah's; or as she is called in the Phoenician language, , which signifies "conceiving by grace": as this conception must be entirely ascribed to the power and grace of God:

and was delivered of a child when she was past age; of bearing and bringing forth children, being ninety years of age, Genesis 17:17. Now though the conception, bearing, and bringing forth of children are things natural, ordinary, and common, yet here was a particular promise respecting this matter; and there were great difficulties in nature attending it, and such as to reason were insuperable; but these were got over, through the power and grace of God, and which is ascribed to faith in the faithfulness of a promising God:

because she judged him faithful who had promised; that she should have a son at the time of life; See Gill on Hebrews 10:23.

(t) Caphtor, fol. 21. 2.

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.
Hebrews 11:11. Καὶ αὐτὴ Σάῤῥα] even Sarah herself, sc. although she had before been unbelieving. At first, namely, when she had received the divine promise that she should yet bear a son, she had, in consideration of her great age, laughed thereat, and thus manifested unbelief; presently afterwards, however, she was afraid, and denied her laughter, had thus passed over from unbelief to belief. Comp. Genesis 18:12; Genesis 18:15. Erroneously is the enhancing καὶ αὐτή interpreted by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Bengel, Böhme, Stein, Tholuck (the last-named, however, undecided): even Sarah also, the wife, or: although she was only a woman; Kurtz: “Sarah herself and no other,” namely, not Hagar. Just as false the interpretation of Schlichting, Schulz, and others: even Sarah herself, although she was barren. To the last mode of supplementing points also the gloss στεῖρα, or στεῖρα οὖσα, or ἡ στεῖρα, which is found, with Theophylact, in some cursives, translations (including Vulg.), and early editions. Quite wrongly will Delitzsch, followed therein by Alford and Hofmann, have no gradation whatever recognised in καὶ αὐτὴ Σάῤῥα, in that he supposes καὶ αὑτή to serve only for extending a like statement to a second subject, and consequently placing the first mother of the chosen race side by side with the first father thereof. If the author had wished to express nothing more, he would have written merely καὶ Σάῤῥα. For αὐτός or αὐτή is in the N. T. never used in the nominative for the unaccented he or she. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 141, Obs.

εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος] for the founding of a posterity. καταβολή is employed, therefore, in the same sense as in the expression καταβολὴ κόσμου, Hebrews 4:3, Hebrews 9:26, and σπέρμα, as Hebrews 11:18; Hebrews 2:16, and frequently. The words cannot denote: she received power to conceive seed, as is interpreted by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact (who, however, is undecided), the Peshito, Vulgate, Erasmus, Vatablus, Calvin, Beza, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Er. Schmid, Grotius, L. Bos, Wolf, Bengel, Carpzov, Schulz, Heinrichs, Huët, Stengel, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Alford, Kurtz, and others. For this must have been expressed by εἰς ὑποδοχὴν (σύλληψιν) σπέρματος.[107] Constrained and unnatural, however, is also the explanation, first mentioned by Theophylact, and subsequently adopted by Drusius, Jac. Cappellus, Schlichting, Heinsius, Wittich, Rambach, and others: she received power for the bringing forth of seed.

καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἠλικίας] and that contrary to the favourable period of life, i.e. since the δύναμιν λαμβάνειν, on account of the youthful freshness being already lost, was opposed to all probability. Incorrect, because in that case the full signification of καιρός (opportunitas) is not brought out, Delitzsch: “in contradiction with the time of life, namely, the ninetieth year, in which she was.”

ἐπεὶ πιστὸν ἡγήσατο τὸν ἐπαγγειλάμενον] comp. Hebrews 10:23.

[107] Michaelis and Storr would therefore, in writing καὶ αὐτῇ Σάῤῥᾳ, refer the statement, ver. 11, still to Abraham, in connection with which, however, more meaning must be put into εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος than can lie in the expression, and which has in other respects much in the context against it. See Bleek, II. 2, p. 767 f.

Hebrews 11:11-12. The example of Sarah.

Hebrews 11:11. Πίστει καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα.… “By faith Sarah herself also received power to become a mother even when past the age, since she counted Him faithful who had promised.” καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα is rendered by Vaughan, Sarah “in her place” as [Abraham] in his; she on her part. The reference of αὐτὴ is disputed; it has been understood to mean “Sarah the unfruitful”. In [34]. στεῖρα is added; or, as Chrysostom and Bengel, “vas infirmius,” the weaker vessel. Delitzsch thinks that as in Luke 20:42; Luke 24:15, it merely means “so Sarah likewise”. But apparently the reference is to her previous unbelief. By faith she received strength εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος, “the act of the husband not of the wife” (see a score of passages in Wetstein), hence Bleek, Farrar and several others prefer to understand the words of “the founding of a family,” citing Plato’s πρώτη καταβολὴ τῶν ἀνθρώπων. But if εἰς be taken in the same sense as in Hebrews 10:19, “as regards” or “in connection with” or “with a view to,” the difficulty disappears. [Cf. Weiss who says the words signify “nicht ein Thun, zu dem sie Kraft empfing, sondern die Beziehung in welcher sie ein Kraft bedürfte, wenn dasselbe für sie wirksam werden sollte”. Cf. also Genesis 18:12.] Her faith was further illustrated (καὶ = and this indeed) by the circumstance that she was now παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας, the comparative use of παρά frequent in this Epistle. For a woman who in her prime had been barren, to believe that in her decay she could bear a son was a triumph of faith. Cf. Genesis 18:12-13, ἐγὼ δὲ γεγήρακα. But she had faith in the promise (cf. Hebrews 6:13-18), “wherefore also there were begotten of one—and him as good as dead—[issue] as the stars of heaven in multitude and as the sand by the seashore innumerable”. Probably the καὶ is to be construed with διὸ as in Luke 1:35; Acts 10:29, etc. ἀφʼ ἑνὸς, that is, Abraham (cf. Isaiah 51:2, εἷς ἧν); καὶ ταῦτα, a classical expression, see Xenophon, Mem., ii. 3, and Blass, Gram., p. 248. νενεκρωμένου, “dead” so far as regards the begetting of offspring, cf. Romans 4:19. καθὼς τὰ ἄστρα, a nominative to ἐγεν. may be supplied, ἔκγονοι or σπέρμα. For the metaphors cf. Genesis 22:17. ἄστρον is properly a constellation, but used commonly for “a star”. χεῖλος found in the classics in same connection.

[34] Claromontanus Parisiensis Nationalis 107, Graeco-Latinus.

11. also Sara herself] Rather “even.” Perhaps the “even” refers to her original weakness of faith when she laughed (Genesis 18:12; Genesis 21:2; comp. Romans 4:19). Dr Field thinks that these words may be a gloss, and that the verse refers to Abraham, since ἔτεκεν, “was delivered,” is not found in א, A, D.

to conceive seed] For technical reasons the probable meaning here is “for the founding of a family” (comp. the use of the word katabolç in Hebrews 4:3, Hebrews 9:26 and “seed” in Hebrews 2:16, Hebrews 11:18).

who had promised] Comp. Hebrews 10:23.

Hebrews 11:11. Καὶ αὐτὴ) even herself, the weaker vessel.—σπέρματος, seed) by her aged husband.—παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας, past age, past the time of life) Paul has a similar passage, Romans 4:19.—πιστὸν ἡγήσατο, she judged Him faithful) Otherwise she would not have laughed. The laughter argued a mixture of distrust; but yet more of faith, especially after the reproof.

Verses 11, 12. - By faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, even when she was past age (ἕτεκεν, as in the Textus Receptus, after καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας, may be rejected, being, perhaps, an interpolation suggested by καὶ), because she judged him faithful who had promised. 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. The vitality of Abraham's faith is represented as evinced by its surviving and triumphing over a succession of trials, over apparent impossibilities. One such peculiar trial was the long delay of the birth of a legitimate heir through whom the promise of an innumerable seed might be fulfilled, and this till it seemed out of the question in the natural course of things. Yet "he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief... being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able to perform" (see Romans 4:17-23, which is a fuller statement of the idea of this verse, including the use of the words νενεκρώμενον and νέκρωσις to express effeteness, and ἐδυναμώθη, corresponding to δύναμον ἔλαβε here. This is a further instance of Pauline thought in this Epistle - ideas already enlarged on by St. Paul being taken for granted as understood.) In Romans Abraham's faith in this regard is treated as typifying Christian faith in the resurrection from the dead (ver. 24), as is also, in the chapter before us (ver. 19), his faith displayed on the occasion of the offering of Isaac. For to us also our inability to conceive the mode of accomplishment of what well-grounded faith assures us of is no just cause for staggering. "How are the dead raised up? and with what kind of body do they come?" was asked by the Corinthian doubters. St. Paul directs them, in reply, to faith in "the power of God" (cf. Mark 12:24) to accomplish his purposes and fulfill his promises in ways unknown to us, transcending, though analogous to, the mysterious processes of nature that we see before our eyes. For "with God all things are possible." Sarah is here joined with Abraham, as also "receiving power" by faith, i.e. her own faith, as the structure of ver. 11 seems evidently to imply. But how is this consistent with the account of her in Genesis, where she is nowhere held up as an example of faith; nay, is censured for incredulity (Genesis 18:12-16) with respect to the promise cf. offspring? The answer may be that her temporary unbelief is concluded to have been succeeded by faith, as proved by the result, viz. that she "received power." And, indeed, her laughter recorded in Genesis 18, does not seem intended to imply any permanent "heart of unbelief;" for even Abraham had laughed as she did when the same announcement had been previously made to him (Genesis 17:17), and the "laughter" associated with her memory has quite a different meaning given it when that of temporary incredulity was changed into that of joy on the birth of the promised son, who was consequently called Isaac (equivalent to "laughter"). It is, however, Abraham himself who is put prominently before us as the great example of faith; Sarah is only introduced by his side (with the words καὶ αὐτὴ) as sharing it and cooperating to the result. To him singly the writer returns in ver. 12, Διὸ καὶ ἀφ ἑνὸς, etc. Hebrews 11:11Sarah

Faith prevailing against natural impossibilities. See Romans 4:19-22. Both Abraham and Sarah doubted at first (Genesis 17:17; Genesis 18:12); but both became persuaded of the truthfulness of the promise.

Herself (αὐτὴ)

She who at first doubted.

To conceive seed (εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος)

In every other instance in N.T. καταβολή means foundation, and appears in the phrase καταβολὴ κόσμου foundation of the world. Originally it means throwing down; hence, the depositing of the male seed in the womb. The sentence may be explained either, "received strength as regarded the deposition of seed," to fructify it; or, "received strength for the foundation of a posterity," σπέρμα being rendered in accordance with Hebrews 2:16; Hebrews 11:18, and καταβολή in the sense of foundation, as everywhere else in N.T.

And was delivered of a child when she was past age (καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας)

Was delivered of a child not in the text. Καὶ and that. Rend. "received strength," etc., "and that when she was past age." Παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας, lit. past the season of age. For ἡλικία see on stature, Luke 12:25.

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