Hebrews 11 is famously called the faith chapter. The book (some consider it a sermon) addresses four major theological points: (1) Jesus is greater than the angels; (2) Jesus is greater than Moses; (3) high priests have specific characteristics; and (4) Jesus is a better priesthood, sanctuary, covenant, and sacrifice. Intertwined with these four points are four exhortations that the preacher gives to his audience: (1) a call to not drift away; (2) a command to rest; (3) a rebuke for continuing to drink the milk instead of eating the heavy meat of Scripture, and (4) encouragements and warnings as a response to the work of Christ.
Hebrews 11 forms part of the final exhortation delivered in the epistle and follows the appeal: “You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Heb. 10:36). The promise is that “He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (v. 37). The exhortation continues by challenging believers to live by faith and to not draw back, but instead “believe to the saving of the soul” (v. 39).
The conversation of faith begins in chapter 10, and the discussion ends in chapter 11. Hebrews 12:1, 2 concludes the topic, stating, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
One can look at Hebrews 11 as a parenthetical piece of the homily, where the author pauses his admonition to advocate for a faith fixed on Jesus, taking time to explain what faith is. What the faith chapter is doing is very simple. Essentially, the preacher describes various examples of faithful people and uses the experiences of these individuals to teach lessons on faith. As we read the epistle, we discover that faith is manifested in varied ways. We also see that faith is not stale or limited, but applies to every aspect of life. Finally, we see that the life of faith is experienced by men and by women, by old people as well as the young. In some cases faith is the result of a successful conquest; in other situations, faith is an invisible victory behind outward failure.