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Hebrews 11:7

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

By faith Noah - See the whole of this history, Genesis 6:13.

Warned of God - Χρηματισθεις . As we know from the history in Genesis that God did warn Noah, we see from this the real import of the verb χρηματιζω, as used in various parts of the New Testament; it signifies to utter oracles, to give Divine warning.

Moved with fear - Ευλαβηθεις· Influenced by religious fear or reverence towards God. This is mentioned to show that he acted not from a fear of losing his life, but from the fear of God; and hence that fear is here properly attributed to faith.

He condemned the world - He credited God, they did not; he walked in the way God had commanded, they did not; he repeatedly admonished them, 1 Peter 3:20, they regarded it not; this aggravated their crimes while it exalted his faith and righteousness. "His faith and obedience condemned the world, i.e. the unbelievers, in the same sense in which every good man's virtues and exhortations condemn such as will not attend to and imitate them." Dodd.

Became heir of the righteousness - He became entitled to that justification which is by faith; and his temporal deliverance was a pledge of the salvation of his soul.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

By faith Noah - It is less difficult to see that Noah must have been influenced “by faith” than that Abel and Enoch were. Everything which Noah did in reference to the threatened deluge, was done in virtue of simple faith or belief of what God said. It was not because he could show from the course of events that things were tending to such a catastrophe; or because such an event had occurred before, rendering it probable that it would be likely to occur again; or because this was the common belief of men, and it was easy to fall into this himself. It was simply because God had informed him of it, and he put unwavering reliance on the truth of the divine declaration.

Being warned of God - Genesis 6:13.” The Greek word used here means divinely admonished; compare Hebrews 8:5.

Of things not seen as yet - Of the flood which was yet future. The meaning is, that there were no visible signs of it; there was nothing which could be a basis of calculation that it would occur. This admonition was given an hundered and twenty years before the deluge, and of course long before there could have been any natural indications that it would occur.

Moved with fear - Margin, “Being wary.” The Greek word - εὐλαβηθεὶς eulabētheis- occurs only here and in Acts 23:10, “The chief captain fearing lest Paul,” etc. The noun occurs in Hebrews 5:7, “And was heard in that he feared,” (see the note on that place), and in Hebrews 12:28, “With reverence and godly fear.” The verb properly means, “to act with caution, to be circumspect,” and then “to fear, to be afraid.” So far as the “word” is concerned, it might mean here that Noah was influenced by the dread of what was coming, or it may mean that he was influenced by proper caution and reverence for God. The latter meaning agrees better with the scope of the remarks of Paul, and is probably the true sense. His reverence and respect for God induced him to act under the belief that what he had said was true, and that the calamity which he had predicted would certainly come upon the world.

Prepared an ark to the saving of his house - In order that his family might be saved. Genesis 6:14-22. The salvation here referred to was preservation from the flood.

By the which - By which faith.

He condemned the world - That is, the wicked world around him. The meaning is, that by his confidence in God, and his preparation for the flood, he showed the wisdom of his own course and the folly of theirs. We have the same phrase now in common use where one who sets a good example is said to “condemn others.” He shows the guilt and folly of their lives by the contrast between his conduct; and theirs. The wickedness of the sinner is condemned not only by preaching, and by the admonitions and threatenings of the Law of God, but by the conduct of every good man. The language of such a life is as plain a rebuke of the sinner as the most fearful denunciations of divine wrath.

And became heir of the righteousness which is by faith - The phrase “heir of righteousness” here means properly that he acquired, gained, or became possessed of that righteousness. It does not refer so much to the “mode” by which it was done as if it were by inheritance, as to the “fact” that he obtained it. The word “heir” is used in this general sense in Romans 4:13-14; Titus 3:7; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 6:17. Noah was not the “heir” to that righteousness by “inheriting” it from his ancestors, but in virtue of it he was regarded as among the heirs or sons of God, and as being a possessor of that righteousness which is connected with faith. The phrase “righteousness which is by faith” refers to the fact that he was regarded and treated as a righteous man. notes on Romans 1:17. It is observable here that it is not said that Noah had specific faith in Christ, or that his being made heir of the righteousness of faith depended on that, but it was in connection with his believing what God said respecting the deluge.

It was “faith or confidence” in God which was the ground of his justification, in accordance with the general doctrine of the Scriptures that it is only by faith that man can be saved, though the specific mode of faith was not what is required now under the gospel. In the early ages of the world, when few truths were revealed, a cordial belief of any of those truths showed that there was real confidence in God, or that the “principle” of faith was in the heart; in the fuller revelation which we enjoy, we are not only to believe those truths, but specifically to believe in him who has made the great atonement for sin, and by whose merits all have been saved who have entered heaven. The same faith or confidence in God which led Noah to believe what God said about the deluge would have led him to believe what he has said about the Redeemer; and the same confidence in Godwhich led him to commit himself to his safe keeping in an ark on the world of waters, would have led him to commit his soul to the safe keeping of the Redeemer, the true ark of safety. As the “principle” of faith, therefore, existed in the heart of Noah, it was proper that he should become, with others, an “heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

(If this righteousness which is by faith be the same with that in Romans 1:17; Romans 3:21; and of this there can be no doubt - if it be the same with what forms the ground of the sinner‘s justification in every age, namely, the glorious righteousness which Christ has worked out in his active and passive obedience - then clearly there is no way of getting possession of this, but by faith in Jesus, And, without doubt, by “this” faith, Noah was saved. It is absurd to suppose that the doctrine of salvation by the Redeemer was unknown to him. Was not the ark itself a type and pledge of this salvation? 1 Peter 3:21. Was Noah ignorant of the promise concerning the Messiah? Dr. Owen can scarce speak with patience of the view that excludes Christ as the specific object of Noah‘s faith,” That in this faith of the patriarchs no respect was had unto Christ and his righteousness, is such a putid figment, is so destructive of the first promises, and of all true faith in the church of old, is so inconsistent with, and contrary to the design of the apostle, and is so utterly destructive of the whole force of his argument, that it deserves no consideration.” The idea indeed seems to derogate from the glory of Christ as the alone object of faith and salvation in every age; see also Scott. Bloomfield, McLean.)

In regard to the circumstances which show the strength of his faith, we may make the following remarks:

(1) It pertained to a very distant future event. It looked forward to what was to happen after a lapse of an hundred and twenty years. This was known to Noah Genesis 6:3, and at this long period before it occurred, he was to begin to build an ark to save himself and family; to act as though this would be undoubtedly true. This is a much longer period than man now is required to exercise faith before that is realized which is the object of belief. Rare is it that three score years intervene between the time when a man first believes in God and when he enters into heaven; much more frequently it is but a few months or days; not an instance now occurs in which the period is lengthened out to 120 years.

(2) there was no outward “evidence” that what Noah believed would occur. There were no appearances in nature which indicated that there would be such a flood of waters after more than a century had passed away. There were no breakings up of the fountains of the deep; no marks of the far distant storm gathering on the sky which could be the basis of the calculation. The “word of God” was the only ground of evidence; the only thing to which he could refer gainsayers and revilers. It is so now. There are no visible signs of the coming of the Saviour to judge the world. Yet the true believer feels and acts as if it were so - resting on the sure word of God.

(3) the course of things was much against the truth of what Noah believed. No such event had ever occurred. There is no evidence that there had ever been a storm of rain half sufficient to drown the world; or that there had ever been the breaking up of the deep, or that there had been ever a partial deluge. For sixteen hundred years the course of nature had been uniform, and all the force of this uniformity would be felt and urged when it should be alleged that this was to be disturbed and to give place to an entire new order of events. Compare 2 Peter 3:4. The same thing is now felt in regard to the objects of the Christian faith. The course of events is uniform. The laws of nature are regular and steady. The dead do not leave their graves. Seasons succeed each other in regular succession; people are born, live, and die, as in former times; fire does not wrap the earth in flames; the elements do not melt with fervent heat; seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter follow each other, and “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” How many probabilities are there now, therefore, as there were in the time of Noah, against what is the object of faith!

(4) it is not improbable that when Noah proclaimed the approaching destruction of the world by a deluge, the “possibility” of such an event was strongly denied by the philosophers of that age. The fact that such an event could have occurred has been denied by infidel philosophers in our own times, and attempts have been gravely made to show that the earth did not contain water enough to cover its surface to the height mentioned in the Scriptures, and that no condensation of the vapour in the atmosphere could produce such an effect. It is not improbable that some such arguments may have been used in the time of Noah, and “it is morally certain that he could not meet those arguments by any philosophy of his own.” There is no reason to think that he was endowed with such a knowledge of chemistry as to be able to show that such a thing was possible, or that he had such an acquaintance with the structure of the earth as to demonstrate that it contained within itself the elements of its own destruction. All that he could oppose to such speculations was the simple declaration of God; and the same thing is also true now in regard to the cavils and philosophical arguments of infidelity. Objections drawn from philosophy are often made against the doctrine of the resurrection of the body; the destruction of the earth by the agency of fire; and even the existence of the soul after death. These difficulties may be obviated partly by science; but the proof that these events will occur, does not depend on science. It is a matter of simple faith; and all that we can in fact oppose to these objections is the declaration of God. The result showed that Noah was not a feel or a fanatic in trusting to the Word of God against the philosophy of his age; and the result will show the same of the Christian in his confiding in the truth of the divine declarations against the philosophy of “his” age.

(5) it is beyond all question that Noah would be subjected to much ridicule and scorn. He would be regarded as a dreamer; a fanatic; an alarmist; a wild projector. The purpose of making preparation for such an event as the flood, to occur after the lapse of an hundred and twenty years, and when there were no indications of it, and all appearances were against it, would be regarded as in the highest degree wild and visionary. The design of building a vessel which would outride the storm, and which would live in such an open sea, and which would contain all sorts of animals, with the food for them for an indefinite period, could not but have been regarded as eminently ridiculous. When the ark was preparing, nothing could have been a more happy subject for scoffing and jibes. In such an age, therefore, and in such circumstances, we may suppose that all the means possible would have been resorted to, to pour contempt on such an undertaking. They who had wit, would find here an ample subject for its exercise; if ballads were made then, no more fertile theme for a profane song could be desired than this; and in the haunts of revelry, intemperance, and pollution, nothing would furnish a finer topic to give point to a jest, than the credulity and folly of the old man who was building the ark. It would require strong faith to contend thus with the wit, the sarcasm, the contempt, the raillery, and the low jesting, as well as with the wisdom and philosophy of a whole world. Yet it is a fair illustration of what occurs often now, and of the strength of that faith in the Christian heart which meets meekly and calmly the scoffs and jeers of a wicked generation.

(6) all this would be heightened by delay. The time was distant. What now completes four generations would have passed away before the event predicted would occur. Youth grew up to manhood, and manhood passed on to old age, and still there were no signs of the coming storm. That was no feeble faith which could hold on in this manner, for an hundred and twenty years, believing unwaveringly that all which God had said would be accomplished. But it is an illustration of faith in the Christian church now. The church maintains the same confidence in God from age to age - and regardless of all the reproaches of scoffers, and all the arguments of philosophy, still adheres to the truths which God has revealed. So with individual Christians. They look for the promise. They are expecting heaven. They doubt not that the time will come when they will be received to glory; when their bodies will be raised up glorified and immortal, and when sin and sorrow will be no more.

In the conflicts and trials of life the time of their deliverance may seem to be long delayed. The world may reproach them, and Satan may tempt them to doubt whether all their hope of heaven is not delusion. But their faith fails not, and though hope seems delayed, and the heart is sick, yet they keep the eye on heaven. So it is in regard to the final triumphs of the gospel. The Christian looks forward to the time when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea. Yet that time may seem to be long delayed. Wickedness triumphs. A large part of the earth is still filled with the habitations of cruelty. The progress of the gospel is slow. The church comes up reluctantly to the work. The enemies of the cause exult and rejoice, and ask with scoffing triumph where is the evidence that the nations will be converted to God? They suggest difficulties; they refer to the numbers, and to the opposition of the enemies of the true religion; to the might of kingdoms, and to the power of fixed opinion, and to the hold which idolatry has on mankind, and they sneeringly inquire at what period will the world be converted to Christ? Yet in the face of all difficulties, and arguments, and sneers, “faith” confides in the promise of the Father to the Son, that the “heathen shall be given to him for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession,” Psalm 2:8. The faith of the true Christian is as strong in the fulfillment of this promise, as that of Noah was in the assurance that the guilty world would be destroyed by a flood of waters.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Here follow some illustrious examples of faith from the Old Testament. Abel brought a sacrifice of atonement from the firstlings of the flock, acknowledging himself a sinner who deserved to die, and only hoping for mercy through the great Sacrifice. Cain's proud rage and enmity against the accepted worshipper of God, led to the awful effects the same principles have produced in every age; the cruel persecution, and even murder of believers. By faith Abel, being dead, yet speaketh; he left an instructive and speaking example. Enoch was translated, or removed, that he should not see death; God took him into heaven, as Christ will do the saints who shall be alive at his second coming. We cannot come to God, unless we believe that he is what he has revealed himself to be in the Scripture. Those who would find God, must seek him with all their heart. Noah's faith influenced his practice; it moved him to prepare an ark. His faith condemned the unbelief of others; and his obedience condemned their contempt and rebellion. Good examples either convert sinners or condemn them. This shows how believers, being warned of God to flee from the wrath to come, are moved with fear, take refuge in Christ, and become heirs of the righteousness of faith.
Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 95

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7. While Noah was giving his warning message to the world, his works testified of his sincerity. It was thus that his faith was perfected and made evident. He gave the world an example of believing just what God says. All that he possessed, he invested in the ark. As he began to construct that immense boat on dry ground, multitudes came from every direction to see the strange sight and to hear the earnest, fervent words of the singular preacher. Every blow struck upon the ark was a witness to the people. PP 95.1

Many at first appeared to receive the warning; yet they did not turn to God with true repentance. They were unwilling to renounce their sins. During the time that elapsed before the coming of the Flood, their faith was tested, and they failed to endure the trial. Overcome by the prevailing unbelief, they finally joined their former associates in rejecting the solemn message. Some were deeply convicted, and would have heeded the words of warning; but there were so many to jest and ridicule, that they partook of the same spirit, resisted the invitations of mercy, and were soon among the boldest and most defiant scoffers; for none are so reckless and go to such lengths in sin as do those who have once had light, but have resisted the convicting Spirit of God. PP 95.2

The men of that generation were not all, in the fullest acceptation of the term, idolaters. Many professed to be worshipers of God. They claimed that their idols were representations of the Deity, and that through them the people could obtain a clearer conception of the divine Being. This class were foremost in rejecting the preaching of Noah. As they endeavored to represent God by material objects, their minds were blinded to His majesty and power; they ceased to realize the holiness of His character, or the sacred, unchanging nature of His requirements. As sin became general, it appeared less and less sinful, and they finally declared that the divine law was no longer in force; that it was contrary to the character of God to punish transgression; and they denied that His judgments were to be visited upon the earth. Had the men of that generation obeyed the divine law, they would have recognized the voice of God in the warning of His servant; but their minds had become so blinded by rejection of light that they really believed Noah's message to be a delusion. PP 95.3

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 65

Noah and his family were not alone in fearing and obeying God. But Noah was the most pious and holy of any upon the earth, and was the one whose life God preserved to carry out his will in building the ark and warning the world of their coming doom. Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, lived until the very year of the flood, and there were others who believed the preaching of Noah, and aided him in building the ark, who died before the flood of waters came upon the earth. Noah, by his preaching and example in building the ark, condemned the world. God gave all an opportunity who chose to repent and turn to him. But they believed not the preaching of Noah. They mocked at his warnings, and ridiculed the building of that immense boat on dry land. Noah's efforts to reform his fellow men did not succeed. But for more than one hundred years he persevered in his efforts to turn men to repentance and to God. Every blow struck upon the ark was preaching to the people. Noah directed, he preached, he worked, while the people looked on in amazement, and regarded him as a fanatic. 3SG 65.1

God gave Noah the exact dimensions of the ark, and explicit directions in regard to the construction of it in every particular. In many respects it was not made like a vessel, but prepared like a house, the foundation like a boat which would float upon water. There were no windows in the sides of the ark. It was three stories high, and the light they received was from a window in the top. The door was in the side. The different apartments prepared for the reception of different animals were so made that the window in the top gave light to all. The ark was made of the cypress or gopher wood, which would know nothing of decay for hundreds of years. It was a building of great durability which no wisdom of man could invent. God was the designer, and Noah his master-builder. 3SG 66.1

After Noah had done all in his power to make every part of the work correct, it was impossible that it could of itself withstand the violence of the storm which God in his fierce anger was to bring upon the earth. The work of completing the building was a slow process. Every piece of timber was closely fitted, and every seam covered with pitch. All that men could do was done to make the work perfect; yet after all, God alone could preserve the building upon the angry, heaving billows, by his miraculous power. 3SG 66.2

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 63

Noah and his family were not alone in fearing and obeying God. But Noah was the most pious and holy of any upon the earth, and was the one whose life God preserved to carry out His will in building the ark and warning the world of its coming doom. Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, lived until the very year of the Flood; and there were others who believed the preaching of Noah, and aided him in building the ark, who died before the flood of waters came upon the earth. Noah, by his preaching and example in building the ark, condemned the world. SR 63.1

God gave all who chose an opportunity to repent and turn to Him. But they believed not the preaching of Noah. They mocked at his warnings and ridiculed the building of that immense vessel on dry land. Noah's efforts to reform his fellow men did not succeed. But for more than one hundred years he persevered in his efforts to turn men to repentance and to God. Every blow struck upon the ark was preaching to the people. Noah directed, he preached, he worked, while the people looked on in amazement and regarded him as a fanatic. SR 63.2

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 154

I have, since a child, been afflicted with dropsy and heart disease, occasioned by my misfortune when about nine years old. For several years, in the spring, I have had a shock of paralysis which has nearly cost me my life. But, in answer to prayer, I have recovered from its effects. The last spring I had no symptoms of this much-dreaded affliction. I have no trouble with dropsy or heart disease. I have within eight months lost twenty-five pounds of flesh. I am better without it. I have more strength than I have realized for years. 4aSG 154.1

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