Hope in Jesus / hope in God

While browsing through some NT texts on hope, a couple of things stand out.

1. The object of Christian hope is overwhelmingly and consistently personal – it is no-one else but God himself.

Paul says in Romans 5:2 that ‘We boast in the hope of the glory of God’. And multiple other texts locate hope in the same place. The entire biblical narrative has as its climax the restored relationship between God and those created in his image. A relationship of peace, joy and worship with nothing to hinder its free expression.

Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1 :21

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13

better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. Heb 7:19

while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17

That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess 1:3

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1:27

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, Eph 1:18

On him [God] we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 2 Cor 1:10

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied 1 Cor 15:19

And this hope of restored relationship and perfected worship is most powerfully described in Revelation 21:1-5 where

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Rev. 21:3

2. The object of this hope is interchangeable between God and Jesus Christ.

Now this is quite remarkable, but fully consistent with the extraordinary and high christology within the NT.

A sort of unofficial triumvirate of key writers has emerged on the development of early Christology: Richard Bauckham, Larry Hurtado and J D G Dunn, all of whom have written important books. See previous post here

Dunn’s most recent book on this was Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? The NT Evidence (SPCK, 2010). In it he shows a fair degree of ambivalence about whether the NT provides evidence that Jesus himself was the object of worship. He cautions against a sort of ‘Jesus-olatry’ where Jesus is worshipped almost as a separate deity from God.

Hurtado has a review essay of Dunn’s book on his website and judges that while Dunn’s concern is legitimate, he is too cautious in affirming what the NT does say about the worship of Jesus. I’m with Hurtado – you can judge for yourself here.

What is clear is the astonishing way Jesus is spoken in the NT as with an exalted status but always in conjunction with God / his Father. Christians do not worship two or three Gods, but one God.

What is remarkable in the NT is how Jesus is so regularly and consistently and unhesitatingly equated with God. [Bauckham argues that he is included in the ‘divine identity’].

It seems to me that the way hope in Jesus is used interchangeably with hope in God, is another strand of evidence in this discussion and one, perhaps, that has been somewhat overlooked.

Comments, as ever, welcome.

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