Now faith is the confidence that we shall receive the things for which we hope, the proof of the reality of things we do not see. It was because of their faith that the men of old were approved by God. Through faith we know that the universe was made perfect by God's command and that what is seen was made out of what is not seen.
Through faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, and so received the assurance that he was an upright man, for God approved of his gifts. Though dead, yet because of his faith he still speaks.
Through faith Noah, having been told by God about things still unseen, in reverent obedience built an ark to save his household; and in doing so he condemned the world and became heir to the righteousness that comes through faith.
Through faith Abraham obeyed, when he was called to go to the place which he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out, not knowing where he was going. Through faith he made his home in the land that had been promised to him as in a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who shared the same promise with him.
Through faith Abraham, when put to the test, sacrificed Isaac, yes, was ready to sacrifice his only son, although he had received the divine promises and had been told, "It is through Isaac that your family name will be carried on," for he believed that God was able to raise men even from the dead. In a sense, he did receive his son back from the dead.
Through faith, also, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even telling them of things to come. Through faith Joseph, as he was dying, thought of the time when the Israelites would go out of egypt and gave orders about his own bones.
Through faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after birth because they saw that the child was beautiful, and because they did not fear the King's command.
Through faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to share ill treatment with God's people than to enjoy for a short time the pleasures of sin.
Through faith he left Egypt, not because he feared the King's wrath, but like one who saw the Unseen king he never faltered.
What more shall I say? For time would fail me if I tried to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—they who through faith conquered kingdoms, did righteous acts, received promises from God, closed the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, in the hour of weakness were made strong, who proved mighty in war and put to flight foreign armies!
Women received back their dead restored to life. Others were tortured, refusing release, that they might be raised to a better life. Others stood the test of taunts and blows, yes, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were burned, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, lacking everything, persecuted, ill treated (men of whom the world was unworthy), wandering in lonely places and among the hills, in caves and in holes in the ground. Through faith they all won God's approval, but they did not receive the promised blessing, for God had planned something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Therefore, surrounded as we are by such a host of witnesses, let us also lay aside every handicap and the sin which clings so closely to us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy which lay before him, patiently endured the cross, thinking nothing of the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.