We read in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abides faith, hope, love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.” How can hope be listed as a foundation of being a Christian? The answer is that the Christian concept of hope does not mean “wish.”
The lexicon tells me that the word translated hope literally means to expect, to look for, to await. It is not to wish for something to happen. In Romans 4:16-22, Paul speaks of Abraham being the father of many nations, and he says Abraham “believed in hope”? Does that mean Abraham hoped that God did not lie to him about his future? That is absurd. Verse 19 tells us that Abraham believed and was not weak in faith. Abraham’s hope was looking for what was about to happen.
The Christian concept of hope does not depend on what we possess, what we can do for ourselves, nor what any other human may do for us. We don’t hope (wish) that we will go to heaven. We look forward to it. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 and see if you think Paul expresses the WISH that heaven awaits him. He looked forward to heaven.
Over and over, we see this Christian concept of hope in the Bible. In 2 Corinthians 1:10, Paul wrote, “On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.” He did not say we wish He could or would. Colossians 1:27 speaks of the “hope of glory.” Not that we wish it was, but that we are waiting for it. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul refers to Christians and repeats the message of our key passage in 1 Corinthians 13:13. He wrote, “Let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for the helmet the HOPE of salvation.” Notice that this is a covering for the head, the most sensitive part of our bodies. Notice it is not the “wish of salvation.” It is “the hope of salvation.” It is the expectancy, the things we are waiting for.
In Hebrews 6:17-20, we see this stated again. Read the passage. Notice that there are two unchangeable things. One is that God cannot lie. The other is that our HOPE is an anchor for us. That is our promise of salvation. In Romans 15:13, we see God referred to as the “God of HOPE.” The God of promise. The God we can look forward to. Not the God of “maybe” or “possibly” or “could be.” Things like the current pandemic can be approached fearlessly by Christians because we have the assurance that something better is coming – guaranteed!!
— John N. Clayton © 2020