Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Biblical meaning of "hope"

Before I start the note for this week, I want to make something completely clear. I do not consider myself a great theologian, a biblical scholar, or even a particularly important person. I am just a kid who loves Jesus and wants to tell as many people as possible everything I know about having a relationship with Him. This is basically a personal journal of things I am learning and struggling with in my life. It is incredibly humbling that so many people who I respect and could learn a lot from want to hear what I have to say. My number one goal in this is to share whatever God has laid on my heart for the week. My prayer is that if something has helped me with my walk with God, maybe it can help someone else also. That is why I’m committing to write this every week. As my friend I was with in Tanzania would say, I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who can save anybody…

Today, I want to talk about hope. Until recently, I’ve always struggled with the word hope and how it is used in the Bible. There are many passages that speak about “putting our hope of salvation in Jesus” or something very similar. See 1 Peter 1:13, Titus 1:2, 2:13, or 1 Timothy 4:10 if you want specific examples. My problem was this; salvation for eternity is the most important thing conceivable and I desire certainty about it. In common English usage, hope is an incredibly weak word. When someone says, “I hope this works,” how often does it work? “I hope you change your mind,” “I hope our team wins,” etc... the word hope normally implies a lack of confidence and an almost foolhardy blind faith that wants something to happen despite the odds against it. I don’t know about everyone else, but the English word hope doesn’t seem to fit the confidence and assurance that I have in God that He will do everything promised to us in the Bible. I was reading a commentary on Romans 5 when everything I thought about hope was changed.

The Greek words we translate as “hope” are the noun elpis, and the verb elpizo. Unlike the English word “hope,” these words contain absolutely NO uncertainty. The meaning of these words is something that 100% undoubtedly will happen, but simply hasn’t occurred yet. The way the Greeks would use these words might go like this; “I elpizo that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow,” or “I have elpis that this rock will eventually come back down to earth after I throw it.” Biblical hope has no doubts or uncertainties. We should have comfort and peace in knowing that every promise God gives us in the Bible is true.

Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Revelation 3:20 Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.” Joshua 1:5 “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 6:18-19 “God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”

We are still forced to use the word “hope” because there is no better word in the English language. However, learning that the biblical meaning of “hope” is solid, unshakeable, and inevitable has given me a new level of peace in my relationship with Christ.

I elpizo that this note has been an encouragement and I pray that you have a blessed week (-:

In Christ,
Steven Stockwell

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