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Bible Q

What is the difference between thinking something will happen and hoping that something will happen?

Today when we talk of ‘hope’, we might say “I hope I win the Lotto”.  We are not always confident that what we hope for will actually happen.  But this meaning is not quite the same as the way ‘hope’ is often used in Scripture. ‘Hope’ is a vital theme in the New Testament.  The Greek word used for hope in the New Testament, is generally ‘elpis’.  It means – to anticipate; expectation or confidence.  It is associated with faith:

Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The theme of ‘hope’ is closely linked to the resurrection, like in 1 Peter 1:3-5:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  (4)  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  (5)  who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

and Acts 24:14-15:

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,  (15)  having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

Contrasting ‘thinking’ to ‘hoping’ in a Scriptural context – things we think might happen, may or may not happen- eg we may think a certain prophecy will be fulfilled in a particular way – we may be right or we may be wrong.  But there is no doubt about the ‘hope’ spoken of in Scripture.  This hope is the inheritance kept in heaven for us, which Jesus will bring with him when he returns to earth* – the immortality to be given to us at the resurrection and inheritance of the world** to be given to the faithful at the 2nd coming.  Without this hope, our faith is pointless.***

*Philippians 3:20-21:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  (21)  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

**Romans 4:13:

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

***1 Corinthians 15:17-19:

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  (18)  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  (19)  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

In conclusion, ‘hope’ is a foundation stone of the Christian faith – the focus that every believer should have.

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