Sunday, May 14, 2006

Faith and Hope

The English words faith and hope carry the idea of trust, assurance that what has been told will occur. The word hope means confidence, reliance, trust, belief, and assurance. There is within Scripture a clear connection between the concepts of faith and hope. Hebrews 11:1 teaches that

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
In Romans 8:24 we learn that we are saved by hope and yet Ephesians 2:8 teaches that we are saved by grace through faith. We are told to place our faith and hope in God in 1 Peter 1:21. So what does it all mean? What exactly is faith and how does it relate to words like trust, hope, and believe.

The KJV states that the unidentified writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews wrote (at 11:1)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

The NLT translates the passage as, "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see." The NIV states, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."

These translations have more in common with each other than differences. What they all lack, however, is a Semitic context. All attempt to translate the very Semitic sentiment in a western (or Greek) context. Each mistakenly reduces the concept of “faith” to a mental exercise.

To be accurate, it is not “faith” that is referred to in Hebrews 11:1, but faithfulness, fidelity, or fealty. In other words, “loyalty to God.”

(Heb 11:1) estin de pistis elpizomenon upostasis, pragmaton elegxos ou blepomenon.

Upostasis (or hupostasis) is Greek for “to stand underneath” and is often translated as “substance” or “essence” or “basis.” Here, however, the writer refers to a more proper use of the word. A hupostasis is a document that confers a right, much like a title deed. Its use, like that of a deed or automobile title today, was to prove (actually to convey) ownership.

So, loyalty is the ‘title deed’ or ‘guarantee’ of these “things hoped for.” Now, what are they?


If we look at Acts 23:6

But knowing that the one part consisted of Sadducees, and the other of Pharisees, Paul cried out in the sanhedrin, Men, brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am being judged concerning hope even resurrection of the dead!


And Acts 24:14-15

But I confess this to you that according to the Way, which they say is a sect, so I worship the ancestral God believing all things according to that having been written in the Law and the Prophets, having hope toward God, which these themselves also admit, of a resurrection being about to be of the dead, both of just and unjust ones.

And Acts 26:6-8

And now for the hope of the promise having been made by God to the fathers, I stand being judged; to which our twelve tribes hope to arrive, worshiping in earnestness night and day, concerning which hope I am accused by the Jews, king Agrippa. Why is it judged unbelievable by you if God awakens the dead?

Now, it is clear that the “things hoped for” refer to the awakening (or arousal) of the dead to a new life.

Now, loyalty to God, is a title deed to the resurrection of the dead; a proof the unseen.

Now, faithfulness is the title deed of the "thing hoped for," the proof of the "unseen things." In other words, faithfulness is in itself a transaction which guarantees an awaited resurection.