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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Hope

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HOPE.—In considering the relation of hope to Christ and the Gospels, we are at once met with the fact that in the Gospels the word ἐλπίς does not occur at all, and ἐλπίζω only five times, viz. once in Mt (Matthew 12:21), where the Evangelist quotes the LXX Septuagint, three times in Lk (Luke 6:34; Luke 23:8; Luke 24:21), and once in Jn (John 5:45); and in none of these instances does it refer to the theological virtue.

This absence of the word is the more remarkable, when we remember not only that Judaism, the religion in which our Lord and His disciples were reared, was essentially a religion of hope, but also that the result of the teaching of Jesus was vastly to enlarge and deepen that hope, by imparting to it the riches of the Christian faith. Great as was the religious hope inspired by the older dispensation, it was small when compared with that ‘better hope’ (Hebrews 7:19) which rested on the unchangeable kingly Priesthood of Christ.

The disciples doubtless were too fully absorbed in the present to have felt deeply expectations for the future. They were held captive by the greatness of His personality and the depth of His love, and ultimately came to realize that they had in Him the Hope of Israel itself. And if Simeon, having received the Messiah into his arms, felt his greatest hopes realized, then the disciples, having found the Christ, must have been so absorbed by Him as to have had little room and little need for longings regarding the future.

But why did Jesus, who taught the necessity of faith (Mark 11:22, John 3:16) and the pre-eminence of love (Matthew 22:40), remain silent as regards hope. It was due to the fact that in training His followers, the first necessity was to concentrate their attention on Himself as their present possession. Had He taught them fully of the fruition that awaited them at the end of the age, and had He thus made hope a distinctly prominent portion of His teaching, He would have dissipated their attention and diverted it from that which they most required to learn. St. Paul could teach, ‘Christ our hope’ (1 Timothy 1:1). Jesus had to lay the foundation by teaching, ‘Come unto me’ (Matthew 11:28).

But if He did not give direct teaching on the point, He nevertheless laid deeply the basis upon which the Church’s doctrine of hope was to be built; for He pointed the disciples, in His promises, to the blessings which they ultimately would enjoy. The promises of His resurrection, of His perpetual spiritual presence, and of His final return in glory, were sure foundations upon which the Church could build her doctrine, and on this basis the developed teaching of the Epistles rests. And if the death of Jesus rudely shattered the Messianic hope of the disciples, His resurrection, followed by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, restored it to them in a purified and spiritual form.

As we study in the Epistles the doctrine of hope, which was thus awakened and became an integral part of Christian life, we find it vitally connected by the Church with her faith in Christ risen and glorified. (1) His resurrection is regarded as the ground of the Christian’s hope: by it Christians are begotten ‘unto a living hope,’ and through it their hope in God is established (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:21). (2) All Christian hopes are realized in Him. Various objects worthy of hope are mentioned, such as salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8), eternal life (Titus 1:2; Titus 3:7), the glory of God (Romans 5:2, Colossians 1:27), the resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:15; Acts 23:6); but all these different blessings are summed up in Jesus Christ. When they hope for Him, they hope for them all; for in Him all the scattered yearnings of the human heart are united and find their fulfilment. Thus it is that St. Paul calls Him ‘our hope’ (1 Timothy 1:1). (3) The Church therefore fixes her gaze on the heavens; for her Hope is there. She is ever ‘looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13), for then she shall lie like Him, for she shall see Him as He is; ‘and every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself’ (1 John 3:2-3). Even inanimate nature groans for its coming redemption at the Parousia, having been subjected to vanity ‘in hope’ (Romans 8:20). (4) But while the full realization of Christian hope will not be reached until the return of Christ, yet even now the Church has a foretaste of the bliss that ultimately will be hers. For Christ now dwells in the Church and in the hearts of her members, and thus grants an earnest of final fulfilment. Christ in the Church and in the individual is ‘the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27), and therefore to be without Christ is to be without hope (Ephesians 2:12).

See, further, the following article.

Charles T. P. Grierson.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Hope'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/h/hope.html. 1906-1918.

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Friday, February 21st, 2020
the Sixth Week after Epiphany
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