It is not surprising why Paul spoke more about hope than anyone else in the New Testament. Hope for him was a strong conviction, an article of faith. He even stated that “Christ in us is our hope of glory.” He used the word hope nothing less than twenty-five times in his writings. (Romans 4:18; 5:5, 8:20, 24-25; 12:13; 15:4, 13; 1 Cor.9:10; 13:7; Eph.1:18; Col.1:5, 23, 27; Phil.1:20; 3:20-21; Titus 1:2; Heb.3:6; 9:38, etc. ). We need to understand Paul’s concept of hope.
Paul’s idea of hope is alien to the hope of this generation. His concept of hope in God is one of complete resignation to his will, and if need be, to die for God. Unlike the self-centeredness of this generation, Paul’s hope is Christ-Centered. Just read what he says, “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better” (Philippians 1:20-21 NLT).
Paul’s kind of hope poses a big challenge to us in this generation. It is sacrificial, Christ-centered and heaven bound hope. This kind of hope is different from what we have today. The hope of this present generation is self-centred, materialistic, worldly and earthbound. Its goal is on how to become materially rich. It is focused on here and now, and unmindful of life hereafter.
Now, Paul hoped that he would never be ashamed. Did he truly not suffer shame in the course of ministry? By worldly standards, he suffered shame. But what was a shame to the world was glory to God. By heaven’s standard, Paul won accolades and heaven’s applause.
Paul’s theology of hope made room for suffering and believed that suffering worked out the purpose of God. He believed that under no circumstance would the purpose of God be thwarted by the devil. God is sovereign and works out all things to his purpose and glory. Paul explains in the statements below:
“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans5:2-5 NLT)
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians4:16-18 NLT).
In Romans 15:13, Paul prayed for the Christians in Rome that the God of hope may dwell in their hearts and that they may abound in hope. “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NLT). To embrace the Pauline idea of hope, we must also make this prayer ours. The Pauline kind of hope can only come by the power of the Holy Spirit.