A young woman exclaims in frustration, “I hope I get married before I’m 40!”
A man crosses his fingers and whispers, “I sure hope I have the winning lottery numbers…”
These illustrate the common meaning we ascribe to the word “hope”. We “hope”, or want/desire/wish, for things to happen. These things may or may not come to be, but we want them to come about. Stated more sophistically, our “hope” is “the desire for a particular outcome that is uncertain” or to “want something to happen or be the case”.
Our modern usage of the word “hope” can easily distort our reading of the same word in the Bible. We must be careful and remember that the Bible wasn’t written in English but was later translated from other languages into English by educated men. Not only that, but most of these translators lived in previous decades (and some in previous centuries!) when the meanings of words were different than they are today. For instance, imagine a 60’s housewife one evening telling her husband he looks “hot!” She would, no doubt, be telling him how angry he appears, not how he looks particularly handsome in the moonlight! ;)
When we read in the New Testament the word “hope”, it usually signifies an attitude of confident expectation. It would be similar to me saying, “I hope the sun will rise in the morning.” or “I hope it snows in Alaska this winter.” Both of these things I confidently expect will happen in the future.
So, when we read about the hope of our salvation and the hope of the resurrection from the dead, we should have full assurance that such things will one day fully come to pass. How exciting it is that as Christians we don’t have to cross our fingers and wish that such things will come true, but we can confidently expect them!
Helpful Hint: If you’re still having difficulty with the word “hope” in the New Testament consider replacing the word when you read it with the word “trust”.
 Ralph Martin, ed., Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1997) 499.
 New Oxford American Dictionary, 2005 ed., s.v. “Hope”
 Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999).
Questions for Reflection
Are there Scripture passages you have read in the past that you need to re-read now that you have a better understanding of hope’s biblical definition?
Does the New Testament’s definition of hope and its implications on Bible Truth excite you?
Do you “hope” or do you “hope” in Christ’s salvation? That is, do you wish or confidently expect that when you die your salvation will be fully realized and you’ll live forever with God in heaven?
Scriptures for Reading and Meditation
“so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:7
“but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house – whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” Hebrews 3:6
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotes are taken from the New American Standard Bible, 2006.