What is hope?

Do you have hope? What is your hope? In Colossians chapter 1 Paul mentions hope four times and that might not sound like a lot because a lot of words are repeated throughout the chapter and throughout the Bible in general so what makes, or should make a word like hope stand out?

Not all words are created equal. Words like love, freedom, victory and hope carry more weight than other words. For example, if you are in sales then a word like “discount” carries more weight than other words. When you are talking to a customer and they hear the word “discount” it will make their ears perk up. Use it two or three times in the conversation and you have their attention. If you are talking to your kids (little kids) and you mention a snack they instantly pay a little more attention because a word like “snack” means something more to them. The same thing holds true here in Colossians 1 with the word “hope.”

Hope as is typically used means something along the lines of “want something to happen or be the case” but that is not what the word means in Greek. In Greek, hope, as used here, means “confident expectation” which is to say you know this is a thing is going to happen. The difference is huge because in the typical usage definition you would like something to be true but in the Bible (especially in Colossians) you know it to be true.

I think we get it. Let’s look at Colossians 1:27 which says, “God wanted to make known among the Gentile (non-Jews) the glorious wealth of this mystery which is Christ in you the hope of glory.” With the understanding of what hope is in biblical terms, we can read this and see that Christ in us is the confident expectation of glory. What a relief! I don’t have to be great or good enough but Christ in me is good enough. Jesus is the answer to the question of what does God want from me. All my work can be laid down and I can rest in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. I can rest from my labor and take His yoke. I can stop trying to figure out how to make myself good enough because it is Christ in me that is good enough.

Hope is such a powerful word. Hope is an amazing thing because the hope is Christ, not my better performance. If we back up and look at two of the other uses of hope in chapter 1 we read that we can love others because of our hope in Christ (Col 1:5a). We can love others the way we should and want to because of the hope of Christ. The pressure to perform or be self-sufficient is gone because of Jesus. The hope (confident expectation) we have in Jesus frees us to love others.

The hymn writer Edward Mote wrote “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” Our hope is built or founded in Christ and on His work. This brings us to the second point which is that our understanding of this hope is found in the Gospel (Col 1:5b). Because of the message of the Gospel and the confirmation from the Holy Spirit we can understand that there is hope. The Holy Spirit brings the truth of the Gospel to life in us and produces fruit. The hope of Christ is not pie in the sky but is a living hope that is useful and producing fruit in us now.

I will close with this thought from Paul in Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Hope is not only an amazing and wonderful thing but if your hope is in Christ, and that is the key, then it will not disappoint because Jesus is faithful. He is always faithful and will always be faithful because He cannot be anything but faithful. That might now always show in the way you want but it will always be true. You can count on that.

Just a thought,

Mike

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