New Testament Hope According to Paul: Hope Series 3/4

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Paul uses the word hope 59 times in his writings.  He used “hope” about 70% of the times it is recorded in the New Testament.

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New Testament hope is a gift from God which is verified by the Holy Spirit.

Hope has three main meanings[1] in the New Testament.

  1. The object upon which the hope is set.
  2. The objective benefit of salvation towards which hope is directed.[2]
  3. Eschatological fulfillment.[3]

Paul makes it clear that his definition of hope is vastly different from the Old Testament definition.

“All the New Testament witnesses are agreed that through the coming of the promised Christ the situation described in terms of hope in the Old Testament has been fundamentally altered” (Hoffmann, 242). The future hope of the Old Testament had entered into man’s time, although some aspects of the eschatological timetable are still in the future.

The death and resurrection of Christ altered the focus of hope. It is now upon Christ.

His finished work of the cross brought in His reign and kingdom. However, the reign of Christ is here and also not yet fully here. The Kingdom of God is here and yet, not fully here. Because of what Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit accomplished through this salvific act, Believers can continue on in hope knowing that the unrealized eschatological actions will yet appear.

These eschatological actions include the following . . . 

  • the Second Coming of Jesus,
  • the Resurrection of the dead,
  • the Rapture,
  • the Tribulation,
  • the Millennium,
  • the Binding of Satan,
  • the Last Judgment, and
  • The New Heavens and the New Earth.

Here too, this idea of hope is not merely individual. Instead its larger and more correct focus is “the universal kingly rule of God, in which He will be all in all[4] (Hoffmann, 242).

Another difference of the New Testament hope is that it is “a gift of the Father’s grace”[5] (Hoffmann, 243) which is collaborated by the Holy Spirit.

Paul, in Romans 8, makes “clear that hope is inseparable from the gift of the Holy Spirit and the new life Christians have as heirs of God. The Holy Spirit assures Christians that they are fellow heirs with Christ because the giving of the Spirit is a sign that Christ has already entered into His inheritance; it is a guarantee that the expectations of those who still wait will be fulfilled.” (DPHL, 416)

The pagans of New Testament times saw hope as neutral in meaning, an “expectation [not a certainty] of good or evil.

  • Some like Thucydides, treat it cynically,
  • others like Menander, extol it;
  • Sanskrit poets class it among evils.” (Tongue, 271)

Here again, we see that the God of the Christians, is very different than the god(s) of other peoples. This risen God is the producer, supplier and focus of hope which makes Him and His people very different from the surrounding cultures’ god(s) and peoples.

Your Turn . . . 

  • Is hope neutral in meaning for you? Is it an evil to avoid?  Or is it a guiding, comforting, gift from God?

Related Posts . . .

4 Part Hope Series. The posts will be hot-linked as they go live.

  1. Hope Based on Personal Strength is Futile (5/16)
  2. Biblical Hope (5/20)
  3. New Testament Hope According to Paul (5/22)
  4. Biblical Hope Shapes Response to Life (5/27)

[1] This information is from Hoffmann, 241.

[2] See Galatians 5:5; Colossians 1:5; Titus 2: 13.

[3] See Romans 8:24; 12:12; 15:13; Ephesians 2:2.

[4] See I Corinthians 15:28.

[5] See 2 Thessalonians 2:16.

 FYI. During April I participated in the A-Z Challenge. Most of the posts were from drafts that are at least a year old. I want to clear out my draft pile (193 as of May 15, 2013). So I am continuing to make a special effort to finish those. This is one such post.
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