Hope is amazing but what is it really?
In most instances in the New Testament, the word hope is the Greek ἐλπίς (elpis/elpizo). There is no doubt attached to this word. Therefore, biblical hope is a confident expectation or assurance based upon a sure foundation for which we wait with joy and full confidence. In other words, “There is no doubt about it!” ἐλπίς means to anticipate, usually with pleasure. There is an expectation or confidence.
But the Messiah 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 (NASB)
The “if” clause in Hebrews. 3:6 is interesting and needs to be understood in the light of the total context, which is Moses leading Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. The writer is not suggesting that we, as disciples of Jesus, must keep ourselves saved. This would contradict the major theme of the book, which is the finished work of the Messiah and His heavenly ministry guaranteeing our eternal salvation. Rather, the writer is affirming that those who hold fast their confidence and hope are proving that they are truly born again.
The word “confidence” literally means “freedom of speech, openness.” When you are free to speak, then there is no fear and you have confidence. A believer can come with boldness (same word as “confidence”) to the throne of grace with openness and freedom and not be afraid.
We have this boldness because of the shed blood of Jesus the Messiah. Therefore, we should not cast away our confidence, no matter what the circumstances might be. We should not have confidence in ourselves, because we are too prone to fail; but we should have confidence in Jesus who never fails.
Because of this confidence in Jesus and this confession of the Messiah, we can experience joy and hope. The writer exhorted these suffering saints to enjoy their spiritual experience and not simply endure it. Jesus the Messiah is the beloved Son over His house, and He will care for each member of the family. He is the faithful High Priest who provides all the grace we need for each demand of life. As the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus the Messiah is using the experiences in His people’s lives to equip them for service that will glorify His name.
Those who have trusted Jesus prove this confession by their steadfastness, confidence, and joyful hope. They are not burdened by the past or threatened by the present, but are “living in the future tense” as they await the “blessed hope” of their Master’s return. It is this “heavenly calling” that motivates the believers to keep on living for the Savior even when the going is tough.
The wandering of Israel in the wilderness is a major topic in this section of Hebrews. Two men in that nation — Caleb and Joshua — illustrate the attitude described in Hebrews 3:6. Everybody else in Israel over the age of twenty was to die in the wilderness and never enter the Promised Land. But Caleb and Joshua believed God and God honored their faith. For forty years, Caleb and Joshua watched their friends and relatives die; but those two men of faith had confidence in God’s Word that they would one day enter Canaan. While others were experiencing sorrow and death, Caleb and Joshua rejoiced in confident hope. As believers, we know that God is taking us to heaven, and we should reveal the same kind of joyful confidence and hope.
Hope is confident in the New Testament, especially here, and thus leads to boasting. But not to boasting in prideful self-confidence—rather, to boasting in the faithfulness of the Messiah as God’s Son over us, who are God’s household if we hold tight.
The word for “confidence” connotes confidence to speak in public, “boast” connotes speaking in public, and “hopeful” describes the boast as looking forward with assurance to the Messiah’s return. So holding tight our confidence and hopeful boast means not only to maintain belief in Jesus. It means also to maintain witness in the world at large despite its antagonism.
- Hebrews 3:6 (NASB) — But the Messiah 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.
- Ephesians 1:18–19 —I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
- Hebrews 7:18–22 —For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Master has sworn And will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’ ”); so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
- Hebrews 10:23 —Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
- Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (p. 878). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 286–287). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Strong, J. (1996). The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.