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Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι.

This is rendered variously as "formed", "made", "created", "prepared", "founded" and such. What is this verse actually saying?

http://biblehub.com/hebrews/11-3.htm

Young's Literal Translation has this:

by faith we understand the ages to have been prepared by a saying of God, in regard to the things seen not having come out of things appearing;

BDAG has this:

καταρτίζω fut. καταρτίσω; 1 aor. κατήρτισα, mid. κατηρτισάμην, 2 sg. κατηρτίσω. Pass.: aor. κατηρτίσθην LXX; pf. pass. κατήρτισμαι (ἀρτίζω, ‘get ready, prepare’, s. next entry; Hdt. et al.; ins, pap, LXX; TestSol 5:12 H). ① to cause to be in a condition to function well, put in order, restore. ⓐ restore to a former condition, put to rights (since Hdt. 5, 28; 106; Dionys. Hal. 3, 10) τὶ someth. nets (by cleaning, mending, folding together) Mt 4:21; Mk 1:19 (cp. GWynne, Exp. 7th ser., 8, 1909, 282–85). Fig. κ. τινά restore someone ἐν πνεύματι πραΰτητος in a spirit of gentleness, i.e. in a gentle manner Gal 6:1. Pass. καταρτίζεσθε mend your ways 2 Cor 13:11. ⓑ put into proper condition (cp. Epict. 3, 20, 10 of a trainer who adjusts parts of the body), adjust, complete, make complete τὶ someth. καταρτίσαι τὰ ὑστερήματα τ. πίστεως ὑμῶν to fix up any deficiencies in your faith or to complete what is lacking in your faith 1 Th 3:10. τινά someone: ὑμᾶς ἐν παντὶ ἀγαθῷ make you complete in every good thing Hb 13:21. κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοὶ̈ καὶ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ adjusted / made complete in the same mind and the same conviction 1 Cor 1:10. ἐν μιᾷ ὑποταγῇ IEph 2:2. ἐν ἀκινήτῳ πίστει ISm 1:1. Abs. 1 Pt 5:10. κατηρτισμένος (fully) trained, practiced (Polyb. 5, 2, 11 τ. εἰρεσίαις κατηρτισμένοι) κ. πᾶς (μαθητὴς) ἔσται ὡς ὁ διδάσκαλος αὐτοῦ when fully trained, the pupil will be like the teacher Lk 6:40. S. Betz, Gal. 297 n. 43. ② to prepare for a purpose, prepare, make, create, outfit. ⓐ act. and pass., of God (w. ποιεῖν) B 16:6. (W. κτίζειν) τὰ πάντα Hm 1:1. Pass. ὁ κόσμος κατηρτίσθη Hv 2, 4, 1; also οἱ αἰῶνες (s. αἰών 3) ῥήματι θεοῦ Hb 11:3. κατηρτισμένος εἴς τι made, created for someth.: σκεύη ὀργῆς κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν vessels of wrath, designed for destruction Ro 9:22. ἄνθρωπος εἰς ἕνωσιν κατηρτισμένος a man set on (lit. made for) unity IPhld 8:1. ⓑ mid. (PGM 4, 1147) καταρτίζεσθαί τί τινι prepare someth. for someone σῶμα Hb 10:5 (Ps 39:7 codd.: BSA). W. reflexive mng.: for oneself κατηρτίσω αἶνον you prepared praise for yourself Mt 21:16 (Ps 8:3).—DELG s.v. ἀραρίσκω. M-M. TW. Spicq.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 526). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Also, is this verse thematically connected to Hebrews 1:2?

Young's Literal Translation in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages;

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] ἐπ' ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων, δι' οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας·

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I believe I have "cracked the case" of this enigmatic verse with two results:

  • the way this verse has been understood in the past (creation ex nihilo) is upended (because the scriptures actually teach creation ex hudato)

  • a previously overlooked gem of a passage has been brought to light

First of all, this is the way this has been translated/understood in the past:

BSB Hebrews 11:3By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

This assumes that the "ages" are "worlds" and thus "the universe" and that it was made ex nihilo (out of nothing). But this is not in Hebrew thought where what God made was a biodome and it was made from preexisting material (the light was extracted from the preexistent dark, the dry land from the preexistent ocean, etc.):

So Peter says that faith is not in ex nihilo (out of nothing) but rather ex hudato (out of water). Peter is adamant that the making of the biodome (the heavens and the dry land) came from out of the abyss, just as Moses described:

BSB 2 Peter 3:5 But they deliberately overlook the fact that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water,

NET Genesis 1: 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water. 3God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light! 4God saw that the light was good, so God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” There was evening, and there was morning, marking the first day. 6God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate water from water. 7So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. It was so. 8God called the expanse “sky.” There was evening, and there was morning, a second day. 9God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.” It was so. 10God called the dry ground “land” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” God saw that it was good...

Now the correct understanding (if my take is correct and think it is) is as I said, quite a gem and makes an amazing assertion that should have a profound impact on how one sees the world and is to see the world as the scriptures say one is to see it - as a world specifically formed to require faith. Here's how I would translate Hebrews 11:3:

By faith we understand that the ages have been so ordered by divine fiat that what we see having happened would not have been obvious beforehand.

In other words, by faith we understand that we will never have a clear picture of what the future holds beforehand and must trust God by faith to bring about the unforeseeable. Wow! Now that is an amazing and game-changing and uniquely scriptural perspective on life!

And look how nicely it participates in the context and develops the train of thought:

KJV for verses 1 and 2 with my sweetening [in brackets] and verse 3 is my translation:

Hebrews 11: 1 [From where we stand] Now faith is the [predictive] substance of things hoped for, the [promise of God is our] evidence of things not seen. 2For by it [believing in promises of the future] the elders obtained a good report. 3 By faith we understand that the ages have been so ordered by divine fiat that what we see having happened would not have been obvious beforehand.

So rather than verse 3 being the first example in the hall of fame of faith it is still explaining how faith works: it grasps what Paul also describes:

BSB Romans 8: 24For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.

Boom!

Oh, and Hebrews 1:2 is related in that he is asserting that this is a new age and what was once spoken in riddles to the fathers by the prophets is now revealed in a "son":

BSB Hebrews 1: 1 On many past occasions and in many different ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets. 2 But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son [in a son], whom He appointed heir of all [these] things, and through whom He made the universe [ages].

  • You base a lot from the position Genesis 1 is describing the initial work of creation. So you say “the light was extracted from the preexistent dark…” Then obviously ex hudato is not in play on day 1. And who created the preexistent darkness? “I form (יוֹצֵ֥ר) light and create (וּבוֹרֵ֣א) darkness (חֹ֔שֶׁךְ)” Isaiah 45:7 Darkness was created and the light was formed, not extracted. Ex nihilo is the better explanation. – Revelation Lad Oct 17 '17 at 14:05
  • I wouldn't offer the term "ex hudatos (greek)" except for the nice wordplay with "ex nihilo (latin)" and is the term actually used in the scriptures by Peter. I don't know if there was an earlier creation ex nihilo and am only concerned with Genesis 1 of which Peter says "But they deliberately overlook the fact that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water [EX hUDATOS] and by water,". – Ruminator Oct 17 '17 at 14:45

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