Hope (ἐλπίς), a term used in Scripture generally to denote the desire and expectation of some good (1Co 9:10); specially to denote the assured expectation of salvation, and of all minor blessings included in salvation, for this life and the life to come, through the merits of Christ.
(1.) It is one of the three great elements of Christian life and character (1Co 13:13). Faith is the root, love the fruit-bearing stem, and hope the heaven-reaching crown of the tree of Christian life. Faith appropriates the grace of God in the facts of salvation; love is the animating spirit of our present Christian life; while hope takes hold of the future as belonging to the Lord, and to those who are his. The kingdom of God, past, present, and future, is thus reflected in faith, love, and hope. Hope is joined to faith and love because spiritual life, though present, is yet not accomplished. It stands in opposition to seeing or possessing (Ro 8:24 sq.; 1Jo 3:2 sq.); but it is not the mere wish or aspiration for liberation and light which is common to all creation (Ro 8:19-22), nor the mere reception of the doctrine of a future life, which may be found even among the heathen philosophers. It is, beyond these, the assurance that the spiritual life, which dwells in us here, will be prolonged into eternity. Hence, in the scriptures of the N.T., Christians are said to have hope rather than hopes (Ro 15:4,13; Heb 3:6; Heb 6:11,18). The Holy Spirit imparted to believers is the ground and support of their hope (1Pe 1:3; Ac 23:6; 2Co 5:5; Ro 8:11; Ro 15:13; Ga 5:5). Hence the notion of hope appeared first in the disciples in its full force and true nature, after the resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Ghost. In the test we do not find it with its significance (see Heb 7:19).
Thus hope is an essential and fundamental element of Christian life, so essential, indeed, that, like faith and love, it can itself designate the essence of Christianity (1Pe 3:15; Heb 10:23). In it the whole glory of the Christian vocation is centered (Ephesians 1, 18; 4:4); it is the real object of the propagation of evangelical faith (Tit 1:2; Col 1:5,23), for the most precious possessions of the Christian, the σωτηρία ἀπολύτρωσις, υἱοθεσία, δικαιοσύνη, are, in their fulfillment, the object of his hope (1Th 5:8 sq.; Ro 8:23; comp. Eze 1:14; Eze 4:17; Ga 5:5; 2Ti 4:8). Unbelievers are expressly designated as those who are without hope (Eph 2:12; 1Th 4:13), because they are without God in the world, for God is a God of hope (Ro 15:13; 1Pe 1:21). But the actual object of hope is Christ, who is himself called ἡ ἐλπίς, not only because in him we place all our dependence (the general sense of ἐλπίς), but especially because it is in his second coming that the Christian's hope of glory shall be fulfilled (1Ti 1:1; Col 1:27; Tit 2:13). The fruit of hope is that through it we are enabled patiently and' steadfastly to bear the difficulties and trials of our present existence, and thus the ὑπομονὴ is a constant accompaniment of the ἐλπίς, (1Th 1:3; Ro 8:25), and even is sometimes put in its place with faith and love (Tit 2:2; compare 2Ti 3:10; 1Ti 6:11). As it is the source of the believer's patience in suffering, so it is also the cause of his fidelity and firmness in action, since he knows that his labor "is not in vain in the Lord" (1Co 15:58). Christianity is the religion of hope, and it is an essential point of its absolute character, for whatever is everlasting and eternal is absolute. To the Christian, as such, it is therefore not time, but eternity; not the present, but the future life, which is the object of his efforts and hope. See Herzog, Real- Encyklop, 6, 195; Krehl, N.T. Handwörterbuch, p. 372.
(2.) "One scriptural mark," says Wesley, "of those who are born of God, is hope. Thus St. Peter, speaking to all the children of God who were then scattered abroad, saith, 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope' (1Pe 1:3) — ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν a lively or living hope, saith the apostle, because there is also a dead hope as well as a dead faith; a hope which is not from God, but from the enemy of God and man, as evidently appears by its fruits, for as it is the offspring of pride, so it is the parent of every evil word and work; whereas, every man that hath in him the living hope is 'holy as he that calleth him is holy' — every man that can truly say to his brethren in Christ, 'Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and we shall see him as he is,' 'purifieth himself even as he is pure.' This hope (termed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 10:22, πληροφορία πίστεως, and elsewhere πληροφορία ἐλπίδος, Heb 6:11; in our translation, 'the full assurance of faith, and the full assurance of hope,' expressions the best which our language could afford, although far weaker than those in the original), as described in Scripture, implies, first, the testimony of our own spirit or conscience that we walk 'in simplicity and godly sincerity;' but, secondly and chiefly, the testimony of the Spirit of God 'bearing witness with' or to 'our spirit that we are the children of God,' 'and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." The passage, "Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts" (Ps 21:9), suggests that hope is an inbred sentiment. Considered as such, it implies (a) a future state of existence; (b) that progress in blessedness is the law of our being; (c) that the Christian life is adapted to our constitution. See, besides the works above cited, Homilist, 5, 116; Jay, Sermons, vol. 2; Tyerman, Essay on Christian Hope (London 1816, 8vo); Craig, Christian Hope (London 1820, 18mo); Garbett, Sermons, 1, 489; Wesley, Sermons, 1, 157; Liddon, Our Lord's Divinity (Bampton Lecture), p. 72, 75; Martensen, Dogmatics, p. 450 sq.; Pye Smith, Christian Theology, p. 622 sq.; Pearson, On the Creed, 1, 24, 401, 460, 501; Fletcher, Works (see Index, vol. 4); Jahrb. deutsch. Theol. 10:694; Bates, Works (see Index in vol. 4); Harless, Systen of Ethics (Clark's Theol. Libr.), p. 174 sq.; Nitzsch, System d. christl. Lehrb, § 209 sq.