Hebrews 11:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 11:11, NIV: And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.

Hebrews 11:11, ESV: By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.

Hebrews 11:11, KJV: 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, NASB: By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.

Hebrews 11:11, NLT: It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise.

Hebrews 11:11, CSB: By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the one who had promised was faithful.

What does Hebrews 11:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This passage from Hebrews details Old Testament heroes who obeyed God, despite not fully understanding the future. This forward-looking trust, based on their experiences with God, is what the book of Hebrews commends as faith that pleases God. Prior examples given were Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham.

This reference is to Abraham's wife, Sarah (Genesis 16:1). Despite being barren for some ninety years, she was able to conceive and birth a son, just as God had promised (Genesis 17:15–16; 21:1–2). This verse is particularly interesting, since Sarah is commended for her faith—her trust that God could make such a thing happen. And yet, we see that at one point, Sarah and Abraham tried to "help out" God by using her servant Hagar as a surrogate mother (Genesis 16:2–4). Even the name of that promised child—Isaac, meaning "laughter"—was a reference to the reaction of both Abraham and Sarah to God's initial promise of a natural-born child (Genesis 17:17; 18:12): they laughed.

The lesson, it seems, is that Sarah's initial doubts, and occasional failures, did not prove that she lacked genuine faith in God. This, too, should be reassuring to the readers of this passage. While the writer of Hebrews is commending faith—specifically, a trusting reliance on God—he brings examples which are just as flawed as we are. Later, as the theme shifts to faith in the face of more dire circumstances, we will see that true "faith" does not make a person morally or spiritually perfect.