This is the second post in a three-part series titled: ”Three Things Remain.” The purpose of this series is to go deeper into the meaning of the three greatest Christian virtues: faith, hope, and love.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Hope is a beautiful word used by people all over the world. It represents the possibility of a positive outcome, a beacon of light in the darkness. It is highly esteemed in the Bible, and many biblical characters spoke of it.
However, hope in the Bible is different from its everyday use. Nowadays, hope is expecting something to happen, but not being entirely sure it will; it is more like a wish. For example, hoping it doesn’t rain or hoping your favorite team wins the championship, etc.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines hope as “to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or to be true.” This definition is based on doubt and uncertainty, but biblical hope is knowing for a fact that the desired outcome will happen. It’s not wishful thinking, but a confident expectation.
For further understanding, let’s look at the Hebrew and Greek words for hope.
Hope in Hebrew
Two main Hebrew words are translated as hope in the Old Testament. The first word is yachal, and it appears about 48 times in the Old Testament.
According to Strong’s concordance, yachal means to wait or to be patient. It is translated as such in some verses such as Genesis 8:12, 1 Samuel 10:8, 2 Kings 6:33, and Job 6:11. But it also appears as hope in other verses like Job 13:15, Psalm 31:24, and Psalm 71:14.
Yachal is most often associated with waiting on God; it may be waiting on His word, promises, or actions such as in Job 13:15 “Though He slays me, I will hope in Him.” But sometimes yachal is used when waiting continually or enduring such as in Psalm 71:14, “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”
The second word is tiqvah or qavah. Tiqvah means cord or attachment. It first appears in Joshua 2:18 “you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window…” and is translated as cord in the book of Joshua only. In other books, it is translated as hope, such as in Ruth 1:12, Job 4:6, Psalm 9:18, Proverbs 19:18, and the famous Jeremiah 29:11.
Tiqvah means to expect, and it is related to the Hebrew word qavah, which means to wait for, to expect. or look eagerly. Qavah comes from the root word qav, which means cord. Qavah is a feeling of tension and expectation while waiting for something to happen, like pulling a cord tight to produce a state of tension. Qavah appears in Genesis 49:18, Job 7:2, Psalm 25:3, Psalm 37:4, and is primarily translated as wait.
In conclusion, hope in the old testament means to wait for something with expectation and anticipation it will happen. It is often accompanied by joy and pleasure, and it’s related to God.
SEE ALSO: What is Patience in the Bible?
Hope in Greek
The word hope in the New Testament is from the Greek word elpis. According to Strong’s Concordance, elpis means expectation, trust, and confidence. It comes from the root word elpo, which means to anticipate (with pleasure) and to welcome. Elpis is an expectation of what is guarantee.
Elpis first appears in the New Testament in Matthew 12:21, “and in His name, the Gentiles will hope.” The word hope in this verse comes from the verb form of elpis, which is elpizo. In some versions, elpizo is hope and in other versions, trust.
Elpis appears over 50 times in the New Testament and is used when in anticipation of future events that are certain to come. Hope in the New Testament means a reasonable expectation, looking towards the future with assurance. It is also accompanied by joy and pleasure, and it’s related to Jesus.
Putting it all together
Hope in the Bible is not a mere wish as used today that implies doubt. On the contrary, it is confidently expecting that something will happen and waiting patiently for it with joy and pleasure. John Piper puts it this way: “Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass.”
Furthermore, biblical hope takes its foundation from faith. Hebrews 11:1 states “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” We cannot have one without the other.
GotQuestions.org puts it this way: “Faith and hope are complimentary. Faith is grounded in the reality of the past; hope is looking to the reality of the future. Without faith, there is no hope, and without hope, there is no true faith.“
Hope is looking expectantly towards the future based on our faith in God in the present and His faithfulness in the past.
Christians need to have hope. It motivates us to move forward because life is a neverending flow of hardships and trials. When we have hope, we can navigate those turbulent waters without despair. We can have joy and peace despite our circumstances because we know we have a God that works all things for our good. As Desmond Tutu said, “hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
Attributes of biblical hope
The Bible mentions the word hope about 129 times, and it is one of the most important virtues of the Christian alongside with faith and love. Here are some of its biblical attributes.
1. Hope is always in the future and never seen
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Hope requires trust in God; we do not see what we are waiting for, nor do we know when it will come. But through our trust in God, we are confident it will come, and we wait for it patiently.
2. Perseverance in our suffering brings hope
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
Trials, develop our endurance, and teach us to trust God despite our sufferings. And that perseverance builds our character and enables us to see beyond our current circumstances to the future God promised, which produces hope.
3. Hope brings joy and peace
The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
Hope produces joy because you know a favorable event will happen, and your wait is not in vain.
4. Christ is our living hope
waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
Christ is our living hope, the fulfillment of everything we wait for in this life. He is coming soon to make all things new, and Christians are expecting His return with joy.
5. We have hope for a resurrection
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
The Resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith, As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:14, if Jesus has not risen then our faith is empty and without His resurrection, we have no hope for the next life. But Christ is risen, and we can confidently expect to rise on the last day.
6. Without Christ, there is no hope
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
If Biblical hope is waiting on a future event with confident expectation, and the word of God is the only sure thing in all of creation; therefore, without God, there is no hope. People that do not believe in Christ can not have hope in this life or the next.
7. Hope makes us bold
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,
2 Corinthians 3:12
Hebrews 6:18 says God can’t lie. Every promise God makes will come to pass, and we can be bold and confident in our hope and even boast of it because we know it will happen.
Grace and peace God bless you everyone.