Abounding in Hope
“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
Jesus brought hope to the Gentiles, taking people who had no hope of salvation because they were outside the covenants of promise with Israel and redeeming them, giving them a secure, everlasting hope of abundant life in the presence of God. In so doing, Christ also confirmed hope for the Jews, fulfilling the Lord’s promises to make the family of Abraham the source of blessing for the world because He, as Abraham’s seed, provides for the salvation of people from every tribe and tongue (Rom. 15:8-12; see Gal. 3:15-29; Eph. 2:11-22). This theme of hope is prevalent in Romans 15:8-12, as Paul establishes this teaching and then quotes extensively from the Old Testament to support his instruction. We find even more reasons to rest in the hope of salvation when we read these prophecies from Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah, and their fulfillment in Christ through His ministry to bring Gentiles into the kingdom of God. Jesus accomplished what was prophesied centuries beforehand, so we can trust the Lord who revealed to the prophets what was to come regarding the work of His Son. We can trust that He is able to save as He has promised.
This theme of hope prompts Paul to move once more into a prayer-exhortation in today’s passage. He asks “the God of hope”—the Creator who is the source and guarantor of the hope of redemption—to fill us with “joy and peace in believing.” The twin virtues of joy and peace accompany true faith in Christ. Of course, because of our remaining sin, there will be times when we do not feel joyful or peaceful. At such times, we must remember that the reality of the peace and joy that we enjoy in Christ does not depend on our subjective experience. If we are in Christ by faith alone, then we are at peace with God and not under His wrath, and the joy of salvation, even when temporarily obscured, is not destroyed. Heaven rejoices that we have come home, and the objective joy of kingdom citizenship sustains us in the night until we find joy again in the morning (Ps. 30:1-5; Luke 15:7; Rom. 5:1).
God’s kingdom consists in “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17), which are ultimately grounded in the hope of final redemption that Jesus purchased for us. Faith in Christ and the hope He has secured leads to the joy and peace that this hope enables, and dwelling on this hope increases the joy and peace it provides. John Murray writes in his commentary Romans, “Joy and peace are conditioned by hope…they are produced by faith and they promote hope.”
Even though the subjective experience of peace and joy will wax and wane to some degree over the course of our walk with Christ, we should nevertheless expect our sense of peace and joy to grow stronger as we mature in the faith. As we meditate on the surety of our hope to come, we will rejoice that there is treasure laid up for us in heaven and we will find more reasons to be at peace, knowing that this fallen world can threaten our peace only in a temporary sense.
Passages for Further Study
1 Timothy 4:6-10
1 Peter 1:13