by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 3 Study # 10 December 18, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
1901 ASV Translation:
24 For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth?
I. Paul's Turn to the Issue of Our "Salvation".
A. His declaration is "we were saved by hope...".
1. The phrase is in the simple locative/instrumental/dative form without any preposition. The question that this raises is the perennial hermeneutical question of what Paul meant by a phrase that can be, linguistically, taken in a host of ways. He could mean "we were saved in (locative) hope" (as in the ASV); he could mean "we were save by (instrumental) hope" (as in the AV); or he could even mean "we were saved to (dative) hope".
a. In Paul's "theology of hope" in Romans, he declared that Abraham "against hope believed upon hope so that he might become the father of many nations according to that which was spoken -- so shall thy seed be" (4:18). Here he distinguished hope from faith in that "faith" made a decision "against hope" (an expectation rooted in his own body and the deadness of Sarah's womb -- 4:19) and "upon hope" (an expectation rooted in the promise which had been spoken -- 4:20). In other words, at the root of faith is the source of any expectation. These sources in this text are two: typicalphysicalexperience; and the wordsofGod. At the root of all biblical faith are the expectations that are generated by the words of God, often in contra- diction to typical physical experience. Clearly, no one "hopes" without first "believing" something; but, just as clearly, no one "believes" anything without cause. Paul used "hope" as the "cause" word and intended that we understand that "faith" builds upon "faith" in this sense: "faith" looks for a valid foundation (a "source" of expectation); then, having found a basis for "validity", "faith" puts the "believer" at risk on the foundations of that basis so that if that basis proves to be illegitimate later, the risk is realized in failure. Thus, "hope" is the result of demonstrated integrity through multiple experiences and, by that, becomes the basis for "further risk" -- "faith". This process is actually outlined by Paul in Romans 5:3-5.
b. Also in Paul's "theology of hope" in Romans, he declared that a future experience of "the glory of God" is primary to the "content" of hope's expectation. He did this both in Romans 5:2 and in Romans 8:17, 18, 19, 21, and 23. The words of God focus upon a promise of an experience of future glory (resurrection, ultimate redemption, a place in Messiah's Kingdom, etc.). "Faith" looks for, and finds, evidences in experience that the words of God can be trusted to have validity/integrity, uses those evidences to establish "hope", and then "risks" the experience of its possessor upon the foundations of that "hope". Thus, "hope" is a settled expectation derived from experience, and "faith" is the willingness to "risk".
2. Thus, we are inclined to think that Paul meant that we were saved by hope. "Salvation" is an actual deliverance from somethingreal. Our ability to function upon the foundations of hope is totally dependent upon our actually being saved from something (one cannot function without some form of "hope" and one cannot "hope" in a biblical sense unless he/she has had some experience of divine integrity -- experiencing a real deliverance is the root of discovering the reality of divine integrity. Once discovered, this conviction of the validity of divine integrity needs only His words to establish "hope". Then, once "hope" is established, "faith" can take actionable risk and legitimate "function" can occur. In other words, if the salvation is real, we can function in a way that is opposed to bondage; but, without "hope" we do not see the salvation as real.
3. So, in what sense are we "saved" while our bodies are yet committed by God to the futility of bondage to corruption? Obviously, the "salvation" is not in the physical realm. We are not "saved" from the disintegration, but we can be "saved" from the physical tyranny of a body demanding release from the disintegration and from the emotional fear of what the disintegration will mean. Both the demand and the fear are met by resurrection: the demand will be met -- this is our hope; and the fear is empty -- resurrection declares that whatever the disintegration will mean is temporary and, thus, no real threat.