The term “hope” appeared many times within the letters of Paul, fifty-four in the NIV Bible to be exact. The Greek term that Paul used for “hope”, “ἐλπίς ”, conveys a sense of trust in a divinely given future. Paul amplified this definition for hope in Romans; he wrote, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”
Paul expressed this same idea that hope comes through God throughout his letters . Paul prayed, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” This verse of prayer clearly exemplified Paul’s belief that hope is of God and to receive this hope one must trust in God. It appears that Paul constituted Christian existence with this hope in God. It even seems that Paul considered those who were not Christians to be hopeless when he wrote, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”
Throughout biblical history , the idea of hope morphed. It began as confidence that God would provide the necessities of life - food, water, and land; protection from danger - not only as an individual but also as a group; justice - the righteous would be rewarded and the wicked would be punished; and community – God would always be there for His chosen people, and they would live in peace with other humans. However, the ways in which God would provide these four parts of hope changed in the New Testament. Characterizing this change, the Oxford Companion to the Bible says,
There is in the Bible a growing pessimism that God's promises will b...
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New Testament. Vol. 2. Edited by Gerhard Kittel. Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964.
“Hope.” Oxford Companion to the Bible, ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, online. Internet. http://www.oxfordreference.com, accessed January 15, 2014.
“HOPE (NT).” The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 3. Edited by David Noel Freedman, et al.
New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc, 1992. Pp. 282-284.
Lash, Nicholas. "Hoping Against Hope or Abraham's Dilemma." Modern Theology 10, no. 3
(July 1, 1994): 233-246. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed January 31, 2014.
Price, James L. The New Testament: Its History and Theology. New York: Macmillan
Publishing Company, 1987. Pp. 352-354.
The Holy Bible. New International Version. Colorado Springs: Biblica Inc, 2011.
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