“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” 1.

When we read the Gospels, it becomes apparent that Jesus knew beforehand that He was going to suffer and be killed, and He also knew He was going to rise from the dead. 2. The confidence that Jesus had that He would resurrect from the dead is referred to in biblical terms as “hope.”

Nowadays, when we use the word “hope,” it is generally understood as referring to something that someone would like to see happen. It conveys the idea that we don’t know what is going to happen, but we wish for a certain outcome. Scripture sometimes uses the word “hope” in this manner as well. But more often, this word conveys a much more substantial meaning in the Bible.

The biblical understanding of the Greek word elpis, translated as hope, is “a desire of some good and an expectation of obtaining it.” The Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments explains that “Rather than expressing the desire for a particular outcome that is uncertain, hope in the New Testament by definition is characterized by certainty.”

The expectancy of biblical hope is a certainty because it is rooted in the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. His death, followed by His rising from the dead, is what gives us the assurance—or certainty—that we too will one day be raised from the dead to eternal life. Having placed our faith in Jesus as our Savior—by believing that He is the Son of God—our hope, our expectation, though not a reality right now, is a certainty. Our expectancy of obtaining God’s promise of salvation, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life with God is certain, based on the promises of God.

Faith and hope are closely connected, as the certainty of hope is based on our faith in God. The Bible tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” 3. Hope, in the biblical sense, relates to the future, as it is the assurance that something promised by God will happen. It may not have happened yet, but we are assured that it will.

For example, the apostle Paul speaks of the grace of God which teaches us to live godly lives in this present age, while we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” 4. The hope spoken of here is the certainty of expectation, knowing that Christ will appear in glory. Because we have the certainty of hope, we place our trust in God and His promises. We know that His promises are true, even though we haven’t seen the complete fulfillment of them yet.

An example in the Bible of a person who had such hope is found in the life of Abraham. He and his wife Sarah had reached old age, and she was past the age of childbearing when God told him that within a year Sarah would bear a son. This seemed so improbable that Abraham asked himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 5.

But as the apostle Paul wrote: “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations. … Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised6.

Abraham was unwavering in hope, in belief, in the sure knowledge that God would do what He had said. The Bible tells us that “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore” 7.

God’s Word is the foundation of our faith. Paul wrote about the “hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began” 8. Paul speaks of this hope of eternal life as a certainty which is promised by God. Since God does not and cannot lie, we know without any doubt that we will be the beneficiaries of His promises.

When we understand hope in this biblical manner, we can find strength to endure life’s tests and trials. Sometimes the pathway of life takes us through very trying and difficult times. But when we place our hope in God, we have the assurance that He will help us and eventually we will overcome—if not in this life, then in the next. Such hope can give us the courage and fortitude to stay positive and praiseful through the challenges of life and the ups and downs we face.

We place our hope on the promises of God, who has promised to work all things together for the good of those who love Him 9. We are able to endure hardship with the knowledge that we will live in the presence of our Lord forever. We have the conviction that whatever we face, no matter how difficult and trying it might be, in the end we will be forever with the Lord 10.

Our faith is based on the certainty of our hope, which Scripture calls “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” 11. Our knowledge that Jesus died on the cross so that we can be in relationship with God, that He is present in our lives each day, and that we are assured of eternal life with Him should guide the way we think and feel about our life.

When we remind ourselves of what lies ahead—the assurance of our salvation and blessings for eternity—we can face our challenges courageously, with the sure knowledge that no matter what the outcome, we have the hope of a future with God. When we live with this hope, we know that the eternal outcome will be glorious, and we can better face the difficulties of life, knowing that He has a purpose and a plan for our lives and for the world.

We have been given the priceless gift of salvation and will spend forever in love, joy, and peace with God. As the bearers of such hope, we are called to likewise share that hope of glory with others, to do our best to represent Jesus to them, to love them as He does, and to help them to experience His love and care through us. May we always consciously live with the hope we have through Christ, and share that hope with others, as Jesus shared it with us.

  1. Romans 15:13
  2. See Luke 18:31–33
  3. Hebrews 11:1
  4. Titus 2:12–13
  5. Genesis 17:17
  6. Romans 4:18–21
  7. Hebrews 11:12
  8. Titus 1:2
  9. Romans 8:28
  10. 1 Thessalonians 4:17
  11. Hebrews 6:19