10 Key Bible Verses on Hope

This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

Hope Unswervingly

As believers, we put our ultimate hope not in this world, but in what is unseen. We trust and wait expectantly for God to usher forth the promised King and kingdom. Be encouraged by these verses and commentary adapted from the ESV Study Bible.

Romans 5:2–5

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

The grace in which we stand refers to the secure position of the believer’s standing (as a blessing of justification), and the hope of the glory of God refers to the promise that Christians will be glorified and perfected at the last day—a hope that results in joy.

The people of God rejoice not only in future glory but in present trials and sufferings, not because trials are pleasant but because they produce a step-by-step transformation that makes believers more like Christ.

Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

The second exhortation of Hebrews 10:22–25 calls forth a faithful, unwavering embrace (see Heb. 3:6, 14) of the confession of our hope, i.e., the church’s assent to the teachings concerning Christ and his work (see Heb. 3:1; 4:14; cf. 2 Cor. 9:13; 1 Tim. 6:12), teachings that produce hope (Heb. 6:18–20; 7:19). Confident hope in God’s promises (see Heb. 6:12–20) stems from God’s trustworthy character (also Heb.11:11).

1 Peter 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Salvation is due to God’s mercy, grace, and sovereignty, for he miraculously gave sinners new life (caused us to be born again, cf. 1 Pet.1:23). Peter may be connecting “born again” to through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, meaning that the new birth was made possible because God thought of those who believe in Christ as being united to him in his resurrection (cf. Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:19–20; 2:5–6; Col. 3:1). Or he may be linking the resurrection to the living hope of believers, since that hope immediately follows the resurrection. In the latter case, the hope of Christians is their future resurrection. Believers have an unshakable hope for the future, for Christ’s resurrection is a pledge of their own future resurrection.

Ephesians 4:4–6

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Just as a human body has one spirit that animates it, so Christ’s body, the church, is enlivened by one Holy Spirit who enlivens Christians to eternal life. one hope. Christians do not have separate “hopes” but are together called to eternal life and to enjoy God forever in resurrection glory. They are also called to express that unity this side of eternity. On the church as a body, see Romans 12:4–8; 1 Cor. 12:12–31.

“One Lord” refers to Jesus Christ. “One faith” refers to the doctrinal truths Christians commonly confess. “One Spirit” (Eph. 4:4), “one Lord [Christ]” (Eph.4:5), and “one God and Father” (Eph. 4:6) constitute a Trinitarian formula. one baptism. Christians have disagreed about the proper mode of baptism beginning in the early history of the church. “One baptism” here, however, may refer to the baptism of all believers into one body (as described in 1 Cor. 12:13), which is the result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit when one becomes a genuine believer in Christ. If this view is correct, water baptism would be an outward sign of the inward reality of the believer being in Christ as the result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:5, 8; Titus 3:5). There is therefore a profound spiritual unity of all genuine believers who are “in Christ” (see John 17:21, 23), founded on “one faith” in “one Lord,” irrespective of denominational differences. Others hold that the reference here is to water baptism, but would disagree concerning the proper mode.

Romans 8:22–25

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Creation is personified, showing that it also longs for the day when the salvation that has already begun in God’s children will be completed. God’s people also groan and long for the completion of his saving work. The tension is seen here between the already and not yet in Paul’s theology. Christians already have the firstfruits of the Spirit, but they still await the day of their final adoption when their bodies are fully redeemed and they are raised from the dead. Their adoption has already occurred in a legal sense (Rom. 8:15), and they already enjoy many of its privileges, but here Paul uses “adoption” to refer to the yet greater privilege of receiving perfect resurrection bodies.

1 Corinthians 13:7

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The terms “believes” and “hopes” are sandwiched between “bears” and “endures” and, like them, probably refer to relationships between people rather than to faith and hope in God. Love believes the best of others and hopes the best for them.

The relationship of faith, hope, and love is a frequent theme in Paul’s letters. See Romans 5:1–5; Galatians 5:5–6; Ephesians 4:2–5; Colossians 1:4–5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8.

Psalm 42:11

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Psalms 42–43 go well together as a song with three stanzas: they share a refrain (Ps. 42:5, 11; 43:5); Psalm 43:2 is almost the same as Psalm 42:9; and they both express the longing to return to God’s presence in the sanctuary (Ps. 42:2; Ps. 43:3–4). In these psalms the singer laments his circumstances (connected with enemies who despise God and oppress his faithful servants), which keep him from attending worship at the central sanctuary. Singing this in corporate worship would especially foster a sense of yearning and expectation in the faithful, so that they would learn to attend worship looking for God’s presence, to mourn any circumstances that prevent them from attendance, and to count their attendance at worship as a great gift from God (certainly not a burdensome duty!). Other psalms that express yearning for God include Psalm 63 and Psalm 84.

Hebrews 6:17–20

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The two unchangeable things are God’s promise/purpose and his oath. The character of God is holy, and he does not lie. Thus his announcement of his promise is sure, and doubly sure when combined with his oath. This encourages one to hold fast (see Heb. 4:14) to the hope (Heb. 3:6; Heb. 6:11; Heb. 7:19; Heb. 10:23) of God’s promises.

The Christian hope is in the person and saving work of Christ (pictured here as the high priest). An anchor was a common ancient metaphor for stability; hope provides security and stability for the soul. Clearly, even though the author warns the readers concerning apostasy (Heb. 6:4–8), he believes they can have assurance of their salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:19

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The proof that Christ’s death was an effective substitutionary sacrifice for sins (1 Cor. 3; 11:24–25) lies in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. (See also Rom. 4:25.) If in fact Christ has not been raised, then his death did not pay for sin, and there is no hope for life with God in heaven (see 1 Cor. 15:18–19).

Although Paul believed that those who died went to be with the Lord immediately after their death and prior to their resurrection (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21, 23), he also conceived of the believer’s eternal existence as an embodied existence. If there is no such existence, then there is no eternal life.

2 Corinthians 4:16–18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Earlier Paul’s suffering was a burden too heavy to carry (Gk. bareō, 2 Cor. 1:8), but now it is a light, momentary affliction in view of the eternal weight (Gk. baros) of glory beyond all comparison (see Rom. 8:18). Far from harming him permanently, the affliction is preparing him to receive great eternal reward. Affliction does not by itself bring this benefit, however, but only as it is seen in the light of God’s eternal perspective, as we look not to the things that are seen (i.e., Paul’s suffering and all the shortcomings of this present age) but to the things that are unseen (the full restoration of all things at the resurrection to come, and the sure fulfillment of God’s purposes for history). This contrast between transient and eternal shows that “eternal” (lit., belonging to or characterized by the “age” [Gk. aiōnios] to come) refers not to timelessness but to that which lasts forever.

All commentary sections adapted from the ESV Study Bible.


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