Hope in Hebrews

The Identity of Hope

The role of spiritual hope in sanctification is so vital that God anointed a special prophet, New Testament-style, to write the definitive book on hope. Weaving through all the great themes in Hebrews, hope is the “New Covenant life.”

“Christian! Your new identity is hope,” Hebrews says. This hope is eternal: it transforms, overcomes, and produces.



The flow in the book of Hebrews (top to bottom)

Here’s how Hebrews builds hope:

  1. The hope of our amazing identity in God’s Eternal Plan, firmly established by Jesus (chapters 1-2). The person, authority and victory of Jesus adopts us into the family of God as heirs.
  2. Live in hope today! (Chapters 3-6.) The road is open, the way is clear, all is ready but the only barrier is unbelief and unwillingness to follow Christ “behind the curtain” into new life.
  3. Hope supercedes the Mosaic Covenant and replaces it (chapters 7-10). Established long ago, this hope is the superior, substantive, God-designed road to life.
  4. Hope overcomes anything and changes everything (chapters 11-13). Hope produces a victorious, joyous and fruitful lifestyle despite the worse opposition in a way the Old Covenant never did.

In short, New Covenant Hope is fixed on our new identity in Jesus, while the Old Covenant was driven by works and rituals and all about receiving forgiveness. New Covenant Hope goes far beyond forgiveness, was fully obtained by placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus at the cross. What remains unfinished is obtaining our inheritance, and therefore it is a superior hope. This is the argument made by the author of Hebrews.

Think about it. Check it out. See if it’s true.


As the writer intended, the effect of his letter is life-transforming to those with a spiritual heart open to change:

  • When burdened with guilt or failure, I am living under Old Covenant hope (7:19; 10:1-3).
  • When I am consumed with my own self-worth, I am still living under Old Covenant hope and struggling with “Milk Truths” about the finished work of the cross (5:13; 6:1).
  • When worried about the future, I am fixing my hopes and dreams on something uncertain which cannot possibly be my real hope (12:26-28).
  • New Covenant hope builds substance in my life (6:10-12) and I become useful and significant to people God has placed in my life (6:7).
  • People are scared of me or shun me if I’m living under the performance and works of Old Covenant hope (12:18-21).
  • People enjoy being around me when I am pursuing New Covenant hope (12:14).
  • When I “settle down” I’ve lost sight of New Covenant hope (11:9,10).
  • I cut the ties to my past living under New Covenant hope (11:15-16).
  • My sinful habits become boring and dissatisfying under New Covenant hope (11:25-26).
  • I experience real joy even in the midst of terrible suffering under New Covenant hope (12:2).

Here’s the big question: does anyone else see “hope” mentioned in Hebrews?

(You can get my Hebrews teaching series at the Podcast site.)

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17 thoughts on “Hope in Hebrews

  1. joesnake

    Keith, I’m really thankful you’re taking so much time to work through the book of Hebrews like this. God is giving you some amazing insight and he is impacting people through you with it. This hope thing especially is exciting because it’s the forgotten missing link in my (and most Xians lives) – as you explained, it is the bridge between faith and love. I can’t wait for the exciting series of teachings that will conclude this book!

  2. jim-james

    This is a good summary of the book of Hebrews. It is interesting that Old Covenant hope was based on receiving forgiveness, which was works and ritual-driven, while New Covenant is fixed on our new identity and the forgiveness has already been received so that we can be useful and significant to others and to obtaining our inheritance.

  3. b

    I mean i do see hope in Hebrews. Mainly because you brought it to my attention. And real quick let me just say its really cool to see how excited you are about this.

    I think this is a part that I see hope in the most –

    “I experience real joy even in the midst of terrible suffering under New Covenant hope (12:2).”

    Thats a real cool way of seeing things, because when you have real hope “New Covenant Hope”, you know even when under terrible circumstances and trials, you have something amazing coming your way, and its not just a hope that “oh man i hope i win the lottery”, its real hope that can pull you out this world when the time is right. I think this definitely is something to always keep in mind, because i know i get mad or frustrated when small trials come around, but what always gets me through, is my knowing that Jesus is there, and I can settle down because hes going to make everything better.

  4. barker jr.

    I feel it is very important to not lay on a foundation of repentance from dead works. The hope and promise of God’s resurective power through Christ is the startof the renewal of our minds. My personal prayer would be conviction of the Holy Spirit to thirst for his wisdom in our lives over natural inclinations.

  5. brian.t

    I’ve read through Hebrews before and missed the whole hope thing until you brought it to my attention. This hope is really cool. I’ve definitely noticed one of your examples in that some sinful habits do become very boring and dissatisfying under the new covenant hope, especially pertaining to putting all my energy into my job.

  6. Charlotte Plahuta

    I definately see hope in Hebrews. Wow, I am so grateful that I live in the New Testament times. I am glad that we don’t have to rely on works alone and do all the rituals of the Old Testament. Keith, I am glad you mentioned the whole “focused on my self worth” part. I sometimes get stuck in this mindset. I get down on myself (I am a mel) and then I am all worried about my self image and stuff. I get this horriable self focus and forget who I really am. I am a child of Christ. Made in His image. When I actually remember this and get past myself I do have hope. I know that no matter what God loves me and then I actually feel like I have significance. It’s when I focus on Him and the hope He provides that my prayer life, my outreach, my relationships, everything does much better. Also, I have seen God’s hope at work in my life with my Grandmother’s death. I was very close to her, so as I watched her suffer at the end of her life, it was really hard for me. Not long before she went, Michael and I visited with her and talked with her about Christ. I was pretty sure she was saved, but never knew for sure. We asked and she told us she was saved. I was so relieved to hear that. And at her service, the minister from the church she was attending shared with my family that she was saved also. I thought my grieving would be much harder, but I had this peace in my heart. And the only reason I had this is because I know I will get to see her again one day. It’s because of Christ’s death on the cross (and my grandma’s and my own acceptance of this) and the hope He provides that I will actually get to talk to my grandma again one day. God’s hope is so awesome and I am so grateful that we believers get to experience it.
    I think my favorite passage fom Hebrews is 6:17-19:
    “17In the same way God, desiring even more to show to (A)the heirs of the promise (B)the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
    18so that by two unchangeable things in which (C)it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of (D)the hope set before us.
    19This (E)hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which (F)enters within the veil”

  7. Donna Urban

    Hebrews 6:19 tells us that hope is the anchor of the soul. Hope is the force that keeps us steady in times of trial.

    I have felt deep, dark hopelessness and I am beginning to feel the lightness and joy of hope. I pray to believe, to hope, to expect and accept the goodness of God.

  8. justind

    Hebrews 3:6 “but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house–whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.”

    Ya it seems hope is everywhere in Hebrews, I counted 8 times the word Hope was used throughout it (NASB).

  9. mike.h

    ya i counted 8 times in hebrews as well.

    i do like the verse justin dished out it had some intesity behind it. I think its amazing how people can use their hope for faith. Its like trusting the Lord and putting all your faith in Him rather than ourselves. Its sooo hard sometimes to get out of the flesh and into the spirit. God has proven himself countless times to me, and still it seems like a temporary thing to me like at the time i will trust him and then booom its gone. like for all of my homechurch teachings i turn it all over to God, He is speaking through me its not me its Him. If only i could live like that all the time, and put my full trust in Him when evangalizing, or reading the word, or even just simple trials like going on dates…… GOD HELP ME!!!! haha

  10. Nick.s

    I have read through Hebrews before, but never have I seen it in this light and with this understanding. I can’t wait the dig into it more and get even more insight into the hope that is set before us.

  11. Jacqueline León

    Hebrews 8:7 gives us an idea that new covenants were needed to replace the old; therefore, it makes sense that this new covenant of Christ replaces all the preceding covenants. This verse alone provides an example of hope: Christ’s death on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins was God’s ultimate act of grace. We no longer have to abide by Mosaic laws, because Christ Himself said that He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. There is no need for any new covenants to be made between God and us, because His spirit dwells in anyone who asks for salvation. That position is locked. Just look at Hebrews 10:9, 18 for scriptures on eternal hope.

    Hebrews 10: 19-39 involves hope through enduring suffering. Christ suffered, and He has our backs in our own times of suffering, especially when it’s for His sake. And how cool is that to be backed up by God? It’s so cool that I still struggle with being able to comprehend and even fully accept it! It’s like it’s too good to be true, but that’s why grace is what it is: an undeserved favour. But no amount of struggle is enough to consider it worthy to lose faith. There’s also hope because the Holy Spirit works in us in convicting us so that we don’t end up with the ones who do fall away.

  12. Yana.r

    Hebrews is one of the hardest books for me to understand in the NT, I am looking forward to learning more about hope in hebrews

  13. J Small Z

    I agree with what Joe had to say, this has definitely been a missing link in my life. I find myself, usually time and time again, struggling with trying to satisfy the Lord with abiding by the Law rather then rejoicing and having victory in his Hope. I’ve grown up in a household where WWJD is a common phrase or principle. I’ve been told it’s inappropriate to swear, listen to music with swearing, and that we should have be a ‘Christian Example’ to others. Even though I was a big rebel of my parents throughout my teenage life, those common practices and traditions in my family are somewhere embedded in my heart…

    It’s hard to let go of my feelings of not being able to impress the Lord with things like having little successful outreach, being a nagger, being someone important. I get all caught up in little areas where I feel I suck at, when in reality, I’m not very significant in any areas! The spiritual talents and gifts I have were all given to me! I never had anything to offer! I am so desperately depraved! I urgently seek the Lord’s refuge! Only through his Hope and Love am I able to co with the forces of evil today… The least I can say is I am truly grateful that God loves each and every one of us…

  14. Angie

    WEll, for me, hope is something that gets me through every day. It means that no matter how I fail today, how awful I am to my kids, to my co-workers, to my friends, I can still trust god’s promise that I belong to Him, and that I can ask Him for help, and that I can act on it when I receive His help, even when I just want to be whiney or cover up my head and hide. It means, for me, taking a deep breath and relaxing. Heb. 4:16 says it well for me, and is, I think, a really hope-filled passage: “Therefore let us draw near with cfonfidence to the throne of grace, so taht we may secure mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” I also find hope in Heb 12:6 and 10, especially when I’m experiencing difficult times: “those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” and “He disciplines us for our good, so taht we may share His holiness.” Makes me look at tough times a whole different way, usually just when I really need to! How comforting, really, to know God loves me enough to discipline me! How strange that I can even say that sentence and believe it!! 🙂

  15. Leah.Z

    This was a great article. I have spent so much of my time thinking about faith. It is important to remind ourselves to have faith in god in these specific issues. (Future, self-worth, old-laws, learning meat truths, my significance to others, Fear, etc.) I never thought about hope. I think hebrews does a good job of showing us that we can have faith in god, but without hope, a bad attitude or a negative attitude can exist along side of the faith if we are not hopeful that our circumstances will get better.

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