The New Testament Scriptures are saturated with hope. This is not a wishy-washy, wishful-thinking kind of hope, like the concept that hope most often communicates in English (“I sure hope they aren’t out of coleslaw already”); rather, New Testament hope (elpizo) is a settled confidence in a certain future (“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God” [1 Tim. 4:10, ESV]). This kind of hope is a source of strength and comfort precisely because of the hoper’s firm conviction that the thing he is hoping for cannot be countermanded or undermined.
It is no great surprise, therefore, that the return of Christ to rapture His church is often referred to as our blessed hope. Drawing on this terminology, Paul urged his readers to adopt an attitude of watchful expectancy (Titus 2:13) and to await the return of Christ just as one might await the return of an absent relative (Phil. 3:20). Jesus comforted His agitated disciples with the assurance of His second coming: “Let not your heart be troubled. . . . I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:1–3). The earliest Christians reflected this New Testament emphasis on Christ’s return by greeting one another with the salutation “Maranatha,” an Aramaic expression that means “Our Lord, come!” They were a hopeful community because they watched and longed for Christ’s appearing.
I cannot help but notice the acute dearth of hope in the non-Christian world today. For so many of our fellow humans, the present is unsettled because the future is unclear. How sad it must be to live without hope. As for me and my house, our hope is set on Christ—and on His death, resurrection, and soon return. I trust you can say the same. Maranatha!
David Gunn is director of Regular Baptist Press.