Hebrews 11:8
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
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(8) When he was called to go out.—Our older versions are here better than the Authorised, bringing in the word “obeyed” after “called”—“obeyed to go out into,” &c.

Which he should after receive.—The English rendering may seem to imply that when “called” Abraham received the promise that the land to which he would be directed should in the future be his inheritance. It is not so (Acts 7:5); for this promise is not found in Genesis 12:1-3, but was bestowed when he had obeyed (Genesis 12:7). The meaning here is, “unto a place which he was to receive.”

Hebrews 11:8. By faith — In the divine promises; Abraham when he was called — The call here intended is referred to Genesis 12:1; to go out — From his father’s house and native land; into a place far distant, which God promised he should afterward receive for an inheritance — Without disputing or murmuring, obeyed; and — Relying on the power and veracity of God; went out, not knowing whither he went — Although he did not know the country to which he was going, nor whether it was a good or a bad land.

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?By faith Abraham - There is no difficulty in determining that Abraham was influenced by faith in God. The case is even stronger than that of Noah, for it is expressly declared, Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Compare notes, Romans 4:1-5. In the illustrations of the power of faith in this chapter, the apostle appeals to two instances in which it was exhibited by Abraham, "the father of the faithful." Each of these required confidence in God of extraordinary strength, and each of them demanded a special and honorable mention. The first was that when he left his own country to go to a distant land of strangers (Genesis 15:8-10); the other when he showed his readiness to sacrifice his own son in obedience to the will of God, Hebrews 11:17-19.

When he was called - Genesis 12:1, "Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee."

Into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed - To Palestine, or the land of Canaan, though that was not indicated at the time.

And he went out, not knowing whither he went - Genesis 12:4. Abraham at that time took with him Sarai, and Lot the son of his brother, and "the souls that they had gotten in Haran." Terah, the father of Abraham, started on the journey with them, but died in Haran; Genesis 11:31-32. The original call was made to Abraham, Genesis 12:1; Acts 7:2-3, but he appears to have induced his father and his nephew to accompany him. At this time he had no children Genesis 11:30, though it seems probable that Lot had; Genesis 12:5. Some, however, understand the expression in Genesis 12:5, "and the souls they had gotten in Haran," as referring to the servants or domestics that they had in various ways procured, and to the fact that Abraham and Lot gradually drew around them a train of dependents and followers who were disposed to unite with them, and accompany them wherever they went. The Chaldee Paraphrast; understands it of the proselytes which Abraham had made there - "All the souls which he had subdued unto the law." When it is said that Abraham "went out, not knowing whither he went," it must be understood as meaning that he was ignorant to what country he would in fact be led. If it be supposed that he had some general intimation of the nature of that country, arid of the direction in which it was situated, yet it must be remembered that the knowledge of geography was then exceedingly imperfect; that this was a distant country; that it lay beyond a pathless desert, and that probably no traveler had ever come from that land to apprize him what it was. All this serves to show what was the strength of the faith of Abraham.

8. From the antediluvian saints he passes to the patriarchs of Israel, to whom "the promises" belonged.

called—by God (Ge 12:1). The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "He that was called Abraham," his name being changed from Abram to Abraham, on the occasion of God's making with him and his seed a covenant sealed by circumcision, many years after his call out of Ur. "By faith, he who was (afterwards) called Abraham (father of nations, Ge 17:5, in order to become which was the design of God's bringing him out of Ur) obeyed (the command of God: to be understood in this reading), so as to go out," &c.

which he should after receive—He had not fully received even this promise when he went out, for it was not explicitly given him till he had reached Canaan (Ge 12:1, 6, 7). When the promise of the land was given him the Canaanite was still in the land, and himself a stranger; it is in the new heaven and new earth that he shall receive his personal inheritance promised him; so believers sojourn on earth as strangers, while the ungodly and Satan lord it over the earth; but at Christ's coming that same earth which was the scene of the believer's conflict shall be the inheritance of Christ and His saints.

Here begin instances of this Divine faith after the flood from Abraham to Moses’s time, Hebrews 11:8-22. The first is the father of believers, so entitled by God, eminent in the exercise of this grace, of whose ancestry, and their descent from him, these Hebrews did greatly glory. He had an express discovery of the will of God unto him, that he should leave the idolatrous place where he lived, Genesis 11:31 12:1-3; compare Joshua 24:2 Acts 7:2,3; and with his family should travel to a land which God would show him, and which he would give him as an inheritance for him and his, which was the land of Canaan, as described, Genesis 13:14-17 25:18,19,21. This command of God, strengthened by a promise, he obeyed, Genesis 12:4 Acts 7:4: through faith, really, freely, and fully resigning up himself and his to God’s disposal.

And he went out not knowing whither he went; he went forth with his father Terah from his country, kindred, and friends, in Ur of the Chaldees, to Charran, and there they dwelt till Terah died, Genesis 11:31 Acts 7:4. After which, he pursued God’s orders in his motion from place to place, though he knew neither the way, nor the place in which and whither he was to move, resting himself on God’s word and guidance, and relying wholly on his provision for him, and protection of him in all his ways.

By faith, Abraham, when he was called,.... The Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read, "by faith he who was called Abraham"; but this call is not to be understood of his name; for though his first name Abram might be given him, in the faith of his being a great man, and his second name Abraham, when he himself was a believer; yet this change was made some years after the call referred to; which is that in Genesis 12:1 when he was called out of his own country, kindred, and father's house; which was an emblem of the call of God's people out from among the men of the world, and from their friends, relations, and acquaintance, and even out of themselves; and as Abraham was called from "Ur" of the Chaldees, so they from darkness, bondage, idolatry, and communion with wicked men; that, as he, they might not perish with idolaters, being chosen vessels, and for whom God has peculiar blessings in store: and so the grace of God is seen in calling them, without any respect to their deserts, as in calling Abraham: and the care and goodness of God may be observed, in raising up fit instruments to propagate his cause and interest. Now Abraham, being called

to go out into a place; from Ur of the Chaldees, to the land of Canna;

which he should afterwards receive for an inheritance; not in his own person, but in his seed and posterity, unless after the resurrection, in the New Jerusalem church state, and which inheritance was typical of heaven;

obeyed the divine call; and which was a fruit and evidence of his faith, and may he called the obedience of faith:

and he went out, not knowing whither he went: for though he went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan he came, Genesis 12:5, yet, when God called him to go forth, and he prepared to obey his call, he knew not what land he was to go into; for it is only said, Genesis 12:1,

unto a land that I will show thee: upon which words a Jewish commentator (r) has this note;

"he (God) did not immediately make known the land unto him, that so it might be lovely in his eyes;''

and it is, elsewhere, said by the Jews (s), that Abraham

"came from Aspamia (i.e. Mesopotamia), and its companions, , "and he knew not where" he was, as a man that is in the dark;''

all which agrees with our apostle: and, from hence, it may be observed, that God sometimes leads his people in ways they have not known, though they are known to him, and are always right; and that it is the property of faith to follow God, when it cannot see its way; and a great mercy it is to have God for a guide. This also shows, that Abraham's faith agrees with the apostle's definition of it, Hebrews 11:1.

(r) Jarchi in Genesis 12.1.((s) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 60. fol. 52. 3.

{7} By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

(7) Abraham and Sarah.

Hebrews 11:8. A proof of believing confidence in God it was that Abraham at God’s command wandered forth without knowing whither. Comp. Genesis 12:1; Genesis 12:4; also Acts 7:2-3.

ὁ καλούμενος] is not: “he who is called Abraham, whereas, namely, he formerly bore the name of Abram” (Theodoret, Clarius, Zeger, Bisping, Ewald, al.), which would be a very tame addition. It signifies: “Abraham, who was thereto (sc. to the ἑξελθεῖν) called or summoned by God.” That this sense could have been expressed only by καλούμενος without the article (Bleek, Delitzsch, Reiche, Comm. Crit. p. 108; Maier, Moll, Kurtz), can hardly be maintained. The only difference between the two modes of expression is, that with the article the καλεῖσθαι is merely stated as an historic fact; without the article, on the other hand, is at the same time represented as a cause of the ὑπακούειν. The participle present, moreover (not κληθεἰς), is chosen in order to accentuate the immediate sequence of the καλεῖσθαι and the ὑπακούειν.

εἰς τὁπον ὃν κ.τ.λ.] namely, to Canaan.

ποῦ] inexactly used, instead of ποῖ. Comp. Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 439.

On the indicative ἔρχεται, see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 279 f.; Buttmann, Gramm. des neutest. Sprachgebr. p. 218.

Hebrews 11:8-10. The example of Abraham.

Hebrews 11:8. Πίστει καλούμενος Ἀβραὰμ.… “By faith Abraham on being called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went out not knowing whither he was going.” καλούμενος, as in Mark 1:20 and Isaiah 51:2, ἐμβλέψατε Ἀβραὰμὅτι εἷς ἦν, καὶ ἐκάλεσα αὐτόν. The present, not κληθεὶς, expresses the idea that no sooner was the call given than it was obeyed [“dass er, so wie der Ruf an ihn ging, gehorsamte” (Bleek)]. The same idea is expressed by the immediate introduction of ὑπήκουσεν, which more naturally would come at the end of the clause, and thus allow ἐξελθεῖν (cf. Genesis 12:1; Acts 7:2) to follow καλοὑμενος. The faith of Abraham appeared in his promptly abandoning his own country on God’s promise of another, and the strength of this faith was illustrated by the circumstance that he had no knowledge where or what that country was. He went out μὴ ἐπιστάμενος ποῦ ἔρχεται. The terms of the call (Genesis 12:1) were ἔξελθεκαὶ δεῦρο εἰς τὴν γῆν, ἣν ἄνσοι δείξω. It was, therefore, no attractive account of Canaan which induced him to forsake Mesopotamia, no ordinary emigrant’s motive which moved him, but mere faith in God’s promise. “Even still 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” (Davidson). This did not exhaust the faith of Abraham. Further πίστει παρῴκησεν.… “By faith he became a sojourner in a land [his] by the promise as if it belonged to another, dwelling in tents, along with Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs with him of the same promise.” παρῴκησεν, as in Acts 7:6, πάροικον ἐν γῇ ἀλλοτρίᾳ, dwelt alongside of the proper inhabitants. Cf. Genesis 17:8 and passim. εἰς in its common pregnant sense, John 21:4; Acts 8:40; Pet. Hebrews 5:12 and especially Acts 7:4. He lived in the promised land, ὡς ἀλλοτρίαν, as if it belonged to some other person; neither did he make a permanent settlement in it but dwelt in tents, shifting from place to place, the symbol of what is temporary, see Isaiah 38:12; 2 Corinthians 5:4. The presence of his son and grandson must continually have prompted him to settle. They were included in the promise, but they too were compelled to move with him from place to place. But how did this evince faith? It did so by showing that he had given a wider scope and a deeper significance to God’s words. He was content to dwell in tents, because he looked for “the city which has the foundations”. ἐξεδέχετο γὰρ τὴνπόλιν. “For he expectantly waited for thecity.” ἐκδέχομαι (Jam 5:7, ὁ γεωργὸς ἐκδεχ., Acts 17:16; 1 Corinthians 11:33) occurs in Soph. Phil., 123, where Jebb says: “The idea of the compound is ‘be ready for him,’ prepared to deal with him the moment he appears”. The city is described as one “that has the foundations” which the tents lacked, and which according to Hebrews 13:14 is by implication not only μέλλουσαν but μένουσαν. In Hebrews 12:22 it is called “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” and in Galatians 4:26 ἡ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ. A city was the symbol of a settled condition, as in Psalm 107:7, πόλις κατοικητηρίου. Cf. the interesting parallel in Philo. Leg. Alleg., iii.–xxvi., p. 103, πόλις δέ ἐστιν ἀγαθὴ καὶ τολλὴ καὶ σφόδρα εὐδαίμων, τὰ γὰρ δῶρα τοῦ θεοῦ μεγάλα καὶ τίμια. It is further described as ἧς τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς ὁ θεός, “whose constructer and maker is God”. τεχνίτης is used of the silversmiths in Acts 19:24, of God as Maker of the world in Wis 13:1; Wis 14:2, τεχνίτνς δὲ σοφίᾳ κατεσκεύασεν. Perhaps “artificer” comes nearest to the meaning. δημιουργός, originally one who works for the people, but applied by Plato (Rep., p. 530) to God; and so, very often in Josephus and Philo (see Krebs. in loc.). For the use of the title among the Gnostics, see Mansel, Gnostic Heresies, p. 19. In Clement, Ep., 20, we have ὁ μέγας δημιουργὸς καὶ δεσπότης τῶν ἁπάντων. In 2Ma 4:1, τῶν κακῶν δημιουργὸς. “Maker” most adequately translates the word. Wetstein shows that τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς was not an uncommon combination and aptly compares Cicero (De Nat. D., i. 8) “Opificem aedificatorem mundi”. The statement of this verse shows that Abraham and other enlightened O.T. saints (cf. chap. 4) understood that their connection with God, the Eternal One, was their great possession, of which earthly gifts and blessings were but present manifestations.

8. Abraham] As was natural, the faith of “the father of the faithful was one of the commonest topics of discussion in the Jewish Schools. Wordsworth (Eccles. Sonnets, xxvi.) speaks of

Faith, which to the Patriarchs did dispense

Sure guidance ere a ceremonial fence

Was needful to men thirsting to transgress.”

when he was called] The Greek (if ὁ καλούμενος be the right reading) can only mean literally either “he who is called Abraham,” which would be somewhat meaningless; or “Abraham, who was called to go out.”

to go out] from Ur of the Chaldees (Acts 7:4).

a place which he should after receive] Genesis 12:7.

Hebrews 11:8. Ἀβραὰμ, Abraham) Romans 4:1; Romans 4:16, etc.—ὑπήκουσεν ἐξελθεῖν, καὶ ἐξῆλθε, obeyed so as that he should go out, and went out) A gradation [but Engl. Vers. joins ἐξελθεῖν with καλούμενος]; comp. 2 Corinthians 8 Hebrews 11:10, at the end, and Hebrews 11:11.—ἔμελλε) A word adapted to future events. So Hebrews 11:20; with which comp. Hebrews 11:1.—μὴ ἐπιστάμενος, not knowing) Comp. Acts 7:3, at the end.

Verse 8. - By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed (literally, when called, obeyed to go out, etc.); and he went out, not knowing whither he went. The reference is to the first call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1), his obedience to which is the first instance of the faith which the whole life of the father of the faithful so eminently exemplifies. The fact of the place he was to go to being so far unrevealed (intimated only as "a land that I will show thee") enhances the faith displayed, He followed the Divine voice as it were blindly, not seeing whither it was leading him, knowing only that it was right to follow it. So to those who walk by faith now the future may be unknown or dim.

"Lead thou me on.
... I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me."
Hebrews 11:8Paul exhibits faith as the element of personal righteousness in Abraham. In these verses (Hebrews 11:8-22) faith, according to the opening definition in this chapter, is that assurance and conviction of unseen things which caused Abraham and the patriarchs to rely confidently upon the future fulfillment of the divine promises.

When he was called to go out - obeyed (καλούμενος ἐξελθεῖν ὑπήκουσεν)

A.V. is wrong. Ἐξελθεῖν to go out should be construed with ὑπήκουσεν obeyed, and καλούμενος being called is to be taken absolutely. Καλούμενος, the present participle, indicates Abraham's immediate obedience to the call: while he was yet being called. Rend. "when he was called obeyed to go out." The infinitive explains the more general obeyed, by specifying that in which his obedience was shown. For the construction, see Acts 15:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 5:5. For the narrative, see Genesis 12:1-6, and comp. Acts 7:2-5.

Whither he went (ποῦ ἔρχεται)

Note the picturesque continued present tense, "whither he is going," as of Abraham on his journey.

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