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What is the difference between faith and hope?


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Question: "What is the difference between faith and hope?"

Faith and hope are distinct yet related. That there is a difference between faith and hope is evident in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Two of the three greatest gifts are faith and hope, listed separately. That faith and hope are related concepts is seen in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for.”

Faith is a complete trust or confidence in something. Faith involves intellectual assent to a set of facts and trust in those facts. For example, we have faith in Jesus Christ. This means we completely trust Jesus for our eternal destiny. We give intellectual assent to the facts of His substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, and we then trust in His death and resurrection for our salvation.

Biblical hope is built on faith. Hope is the earnest anticipation that comes with believing something good. Hope is a confident expectation that naturally stems from faith. Hope is a peaceful assurance that something that hasn’t happened yet will indeed happen. Hope must involve something that is as yet unseen: “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” (Romans 8:24). Jesus’ return is our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)—we can’t see Him yet, but we know He’s coming, and we anticipate that event with joy.

Jesus said He is coming again (John 14:3). By faith, we trust Jesus’ words, and that leads to hope that we will one day be with Him forever. Jesus was resurrected from the dead, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). That is the basis for our faith. Then we have Jesus’ promise: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). That is the basis of our hope.

The relationship between faith and hope can be illustrated in the joy a child feels when his father tells him they are going to an amusement park tomorrow. The child believes that he will go to the amusement park, based on his father’s word—that is faith. At the same time, that belief within the child kindles an irrepressible joy—that is hope. The child’s natural trust in his father’s promise is the faith; the child’s squeals of delight and jumping in place are the expressions of the hope.

Faith and hope are complementary. Faith is grounded in the reality of the past; hope is looking to the reality of the future. Without faith, there is no hope, and without hope there is no true faith. Christians are people of faith and hope. We have “the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2).

Recommended Resource: So Great Salvation by Charles Ryrie

Related Topics:

How do God’s mercy and justice work together in salvation?

What is the plan of salvation?

What does it mean that the greatest of these is love?

What is the grace of God?

What is the definition of grace?

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What is the difference between faith and hope?

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