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).
Here we have a unique link between the spiritual and material domains; it is said to be only by faith that we can understand about this transaction. Faith in turn is defined in a previous verse as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (v.1). So here we receive information about a spiritual act giving rise to a physical phenomenon in a way that we could not know by objective inquiry. Only God can reveal this information to us, and He has done just that in Scripture.
Notice that the framing (structuring) of the creation came from Gods words. Of course, modern science has shown that matter and energy are interchangeable in some situations, and maybe God used such a mechanism. Somehow spiritual words were translated into the material realm. Such cause and effect implies that the source has to be greater than the product. An idea in Gods mind, when effected as speech, was transformed immediately into the space-mass-time universe.
This is somewhat similar to a telephone signal coming into a receiver, which activates a machine to switch on the tape recorder, gives a prerecorded message, awaits a response, and hangs up. A suitable stimulus creates a sequence of events that captures the activity on a permanent storage device.
Finally, Paul clarifies what the nature of this transaction has been; spiritual things can be interchanged with visible things. He goes on in the rest of the chapter to illustrate the power of this faith in executing unusual results. We have an incredible access to this transit system through Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (12:2). KBC