What did the Biblical writers mean when they used the word “hope”?

Biblical hope is real.  It is sure.  It is certain.  It is guaranteed.  Biblical hope is based on the demonstrated trustworthiness of a particular object.

Biblical hope is not like modern hope.  The way we talk about “hope” today is nothing like the “hope” the Biblical writers spoke of.  We say things like:

  • “I hope it doesn’t rain during tomorrow’s picnic…” or
  • “I hope my favorite football team wins their game this weekend…” or
  • “I hope So-&-So brings their famous cookies to our company Christmas party…”

We use hope just to describe our wishful thinking.  We use the word “hope” when what we really mean is that we “want”, “wish”, “prefer”, “desire”, or “would like” for some particular thing to happen.  This kind of “hope” is not true hope at all.  There is no sense of certainty in this type of hope.  We have no assurance that these things we are wishing for will actually happen.  This “hoping” is based on nothing more than our own sense of preference – what we would like to have happen.

When the Biblical writers spoke of hope, they had a completely different idea in mind altogether.  Their sense of hope was not based on their own desires and wishes, but in the faithfulness demonstrated by a trustworthy object.  Romans 5 is a great place to learn what real, Biblical hope is all about.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  -Romans 5:1-2

Here, Paul (the writer of Romans) defines for us several hopes that we have – justification, peace with God, and ccess to God.  He also tells us the object of our hope: our Lord Jesus Christ.  These are not just things that Paul would like to see happen – this is not just Paul’s preferred future.  He is SURE that these things will come to pass!  So much so that at the end of verse 2, Paul says we can boast in these hopes!

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. -Romans 5:3-5

Biblical hope does not disappoint us!  When I “hope” something happens today, like, “I hope the boss sends us home early…”, then I am easily disappointed when the hope is not met.  Biblical hope, on the other hand, never goes unmet!  It is certain.  How can we know?  Because of God’s down payment on His promise.

In my next post, I’ll dig deeper into the meaning of this amazing “down payment” God has made – this sure “deposit” on which our hopes can rest with certainty!

What are you hoping for today?  Think bigger than mere wishful vanities here…  What are you truly hoping for that only God alone could come through on?

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