Generally when people speak of hope they define it in the sense of wishful thinking, stating that they hope a certain thing occurs or that they receive a particular thing. Unfortunately that mentality also bleeds over into their philosophy of Biblical hope. They then will state that they “hope” to go to Heaven or they “hope” that God will answer their prayers. These statements are also made as nothing more than wishful thinking with no certainty involved.
Thankfully, this is not the Biblical teaching of “hope.” The term in the New Testament that is translated “hope” comes from the Greek word elpis and literally means “expectation or confidence in someone or something” (Strong). This is by no means similar to the earlier definitions discussed.
Biblical hope lies in confidence that something will occur, not a wish that something might occur. There is a vast difference between the two. In Hebrews 6 and 7 it is shown that we have a better hope available through Christ than any who came before. This confident hope comes from the understanding that God always keeps his promises (Heb.6:11-19), has raised his son from the dead to be our high priest (Heb.6:20-7:18), and makes available the perfection of full salvation through our Lord (7:19).
If we understand that God, through his word, has laid at our feet all that we need in order to have a Biblical hope, full of confidence and expectation; there is no reason for us to be as those Paul discussed in Ephesians 2:12 when he wrote: “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Paul would on another occasion state that the things which were written beforetime were written for our learning that we might have hope (Rom. 15:4).
When we have a Biblical hope, that hope will sustain us no matter the difficulty. In Hebrews, it is declared to be the anchor of the soul (Heb.6:19). In the letter to the Romans it is described as that which will not make us ashamed (Rom.5:5). John wrote that the ones who truly understood the hope that we have in Christ will see to it that they purify themselves appropriately (1 John 3:2-3).
Therefore it must be understood that when we speak of having “the hope of eternal life,” or “the hope of Heaven,” or “hope in prayer,” it does not mean that we simply wish that these things were so. Rather, it is a statement of fact signifying the ultimate level of confidence one can have in these things based upon the evidence made available to man through the Word of God.
Which type of hope do you have?