God had promised Abraham many descendants through Isaac. Now God demanded the death of Isaac. Abraham then offered Isaac readily and intentionally. What was he thinking? “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb. 11:19). This is the writer’s explanation of Abraham’s action. He uses the word “considered” (logisomai). The word means, “think (about), consider, reason.” (Gingrich) Abraham “reasoned” (NIV). It refers to “inward conviction, persuasion.” (William L. Lane) Abraham believed in his heart that even if Isaac died, God could raise him from the dead.
Note the adjective “able” (dunatos) which means “powerful, strong, mighty, able.” (Gingrich) The writer is describing the power of God. God is powerful to raise Isaac. Note the adverb, “even” (kai) in v. 19—“that God was able even.” God is powerful and mighty even to raise Isaac from the dead. The adjective “dead” (nekros) is plural—many dead people. The writer is emphasizing the power of God even to raise Isaac from the many dead.
Hence, Abraham was convinced that God is powerful—even to raise Isaac from the dead. God has promised to give him many descendants through Isaac. So Abraham reasoned in his mind and believed in his heart that God could raise Isaac from the dead.
Isn’t faith lacking reason? Isn’t reason lacking faith? How can faith have reason? Faith exercises reason based on the revelation of God. Faith is based on the facts of God’s Word.
The tense of the verb “considered” is aorist tense. The aorist tense speaks of action that is once and for all. Abraham reasoned with conviction once and for all that God could raise Isaac from the dead.
That is the attitude of faith. Faith counts on God’s power to fulfill His promise.
Then in v. 19, the writer says that Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead, but figuratively speaking. “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb. 11:19). Literally, it reads, Abraham “received him back in a figure.” The word for “figure” is parabole, which means “symbol, type, figure.” (Gingrich) The receiving back of Isaac to Abraham is a symbol, a type, or a figure of the future. Hebrews speaks of the future resurrection of the dead. The writer says that Abraham did receive Isaac from the dead—symbolically. This receiving back of Isaac is a symbol of what is to come—the resurrection of the dead.