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What does it mean to abound in hope?



From the start, one of the reasons the Lord set up the church of the New Testament was to bring Jews and Gentiles together into one body of Christ. In Romans 15:7–12, Paul told Jewish Christians in Rome to accept God's plan and let Gentiles join the family of God. He ended with a peaceful blessing: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13, ESV).


The phrase "abound in hope" means that there is so much hope that it is impossible for anyone to make or describe. The Greek word "abound" means "to run over, to be rich, to have more than enough, and to go beyond all limits."


Paul knew that the idea he was proposing—that Jews and Gentiles could live together in peace—would shake the early Christians to their core. God would have to step in to break down long-standing walls of racial and ethnic prejudice. People from both Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds met in their homes and ate meals together for the first time in history. For them to be able to love each other and live together happily, they would need the Holy Spirit to fill their whole beings with supernatural power.


Hope is the expectation that something you want will come true. In the Bible, hope always looks to the future with a confident expectation or a firm belief that God will keep his promises. It is not the same as wishing for something. The believer's hope is a "living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" of a "inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade." This inheritance is held for you in heaven" (1 Peter 1:3–4). We are full of hope as we look forward to "that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed" (Titus 2:13, NLT).


Paul's main hope when he prayed in Romans 15:13 was that people from every nation, tribe, and language would be saved. He wanted Christians to look forward to the time when Israel would be saved and the "full inclusion" or "full number of the Gentiles" would be saved (Romans 11:12, 25). He prayed that the Roman Christians would keep their minds on the end of history and the glory of the new heavens and earth, which both Jews and Gentiles will share.


Keeping our eyes on the future and putting our trust in the Lord for a great future takes patient hope, which God gives us through the Holy Spirit when we are saved. Paul said, "Because we were saved by this hope. But hope that you can see isn't really hope at all. Who wants what they've already got? But if we hope for something we don't have yet, we patiently wait for it (Romans 8:24–25).


In the Bible, hope is based on God, who is called "a strong and reliable anchor for our souls" (Hebrews 6:19, NLT). Without God in our lives, there is no hope (Ephesians 2:12). But hope that is firmly rooted in God gives Christians the inspiration and motivation they need to live the Christian life, even when things are hard and painful (Psalm 42:5; 2 Corinthians 1:10; Job 13:15).


We can have a lot of hope if we look forward to everything God has promised us in His Word (Isaiah 46:8–11; Jeremiah 29:11). The author of Hebrews says, "Let's hold on tight to the hope we have, without wavering, because we know God will keep his promise" (Hebrews 10:23, NLT). The Bible itself "gives us hope and encouragement as we patiently wait for God's promises to come true" (Romans 15:4, NLT).

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