Monday, October 02, 2006

Faith, Hope and Love

Hope is a great theme of the bible, but may be easily misunderstood by us, because we use the English word differently from the way the words it translates are used in the bible.

In English, hope implies uncertainty, but in the bible
to hope is to look forward expectantly for God’s future activity. Biblical hope is more than a simple wish; it entails certainty based on God’s demonstration of faithfulness to people in the history of salvation as recorded in the Scriptures and as experienced by the church. Ultimately the Christian’s future hope lies in the promise of Christ’s return and the anticipation of resurrection from the dead.

Hope is a door (Hos 2:15), “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb 6:19 NIV) and a helmet (1 Thess 5:8).

Hope is an essential characteristic of the Christian life and a central feature of Paul’s theology. Every statement Paul makes about Christian hope is also a statement about what God has given the believer in Christ. In his letters, especially the letter to the Romans, Paul explores the ground of Christian hope, what it means to live in hope and the Christian hope for the future.

The New Testament concept of hope is rooted in the OT; Christian hope includes trust in God, patient waiting and confidence in God’s future. But the situation of the Christian who hopes is decisively different from that of the OT. Christian hope rests on God’s act of salvation in Christ. Christ’s resurrection marks the beginning of the messianic age, the presence of the Spirit is evidence that the end has begun and Christian hope waits for the complete manifestation of the kingdom of God at the Second Coming.

Ferguson, S. B., & Packer, J. (2000, c1988). New dictionary of theology (electronic ed.) (321). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press
Grenz, S., Guretzki, D., & Nordling, C. F. (1999). Pocket dictionary of theological terms (61). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. (2000, c1998). Dictionary of biblical imagery (electronic ed.) (399). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G. (1997, c1993). Dictionary of Paul and his letters (electronic ed.). Logos Library Systems (415). Downers Grove: InterVarsity.


Wayne Leman said...

Good point, David. It's not just the technical words (propitiation, etc.) in many Bible versions that don't communicate well, but common words that are used with different meanings. I've been trying to find a working email address for you, but can't. I wanted you to read my latest blog post about the TNIV.

Catez said...

Hi David,
I appreciated this post. Several years ago I discovered that hope means having a positive expectation. That changed my understanding of several things.

The Concise Oxford says of hope:
"expectation and desire combined"

and "look with expectation and desire".

I quite like that because it reminds me of the desire that comes from the Spirit within - he works within us to do His will and good pleasure - including giving us hope.

Just some thoughts from me. Also thankyou for leaving your very encouraging comment on my blog. I have been awol a little since then. Hope all is well in Aus. It's Spring but we had a hail storm this week - it was spectacular. (I know, I'm completely off topic now).

David McKay said...

Concerning common words with different meanings, I am puzzled why bible translators will translate Hebrew and Greek words as "leprosy" and then footnote the translation with a comment that this does not mean what we mean by leprosy!

Similarly with Ethiopia, because the biblical Ethiopia is not what we call Ethiopia today.