Hebrews 11:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 11:3, NIV: "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible."

Hebrews 11:3, ESV: "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."

Hebrews 11:3, KJV: "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

Hebrews 11:3, NASB: "By faith we understand that the world has been created by the word of God so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible."

Hebrews 11:3, NLT: "By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen."

Hebrews 11:3, CSB: "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible."

What does Hebrews 11:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse continues to define faith in a way harmonized with the theme of this entire letter. The point made here helps to explain faith by combining our sense of the past, present, and future. Earlier verses described faith looking forward, to "things hoped for…not seen." The context of this idea is that what we have seen and experienced of God ought to inspire trusting confidence in the future (Hebrews 11:1–2). Here, that same idea is used to show faith looking backwards, to the past.

As with earlier verses, it is easy to take these words out of context and misunderstand them. The writer is not suggesting that belief in God as Creator is a matter of wishful thinking, or of gullible self-deception. The entire letter of Hebrews, so far, has been a combination of evidence and logic pointing to a certain conclusion. Other parts of the Bible extoll the value and need for evidence (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:18–20; Luke 1:1–4). The point being made here is not about inventing beliefs, but about putting our trust in God, based on what we can see, in order to rely on Him in areas where we cannot see.

This perspective is especially important when reading upcoming verses about biblical figures. In each case, their faith is demonstrated by obedience to God, despite a lack of complete knowledge. Abraham is held up as the highest example of trusting faith for that reason: his actions show that he was willing to trust God, though he himself could not see how God's plan was going to be worked out. Spiritually, as well as physically, God takes what is "unseen" to us, and makes things which, later on, we can see.