Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Colossians 1:5 – Hope

...because of the hope being stored for you in heaven which you heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel... 

After speaking about the faith and love of the Colossians, Paul goes on to discuss what lies behind those virtues: hope...the hope stored up in heaven for them and for us. 

The Greek word for hope is elpis, and it means expectation or confidence. The Catechism's glossary tells us that hope is “The theological virtue by which we desire and expect from God both eternal life and the grace we need to attain it.” 

A theological virtue is a gift God infuses into our souls to make us faithful and obedient to Him all the way to eternal life. Hope is one of these virtues, and it makes us long for that eternal life. It makes us thirst after the grace that God gives us to get us home to Him. What's more, it even encourages us to expect God to give us what we desire. We have confidence that God will indeed provide all the grace we need to get us home to Heaven. We know we can't save ourselves, but we trust that God will save us if we cooperate with Him, open our hearts to embrace His grace, and obey His commands. This is hope. 

Paul tells us that hope is stored up in Heaven for us. This might seem a little strange considering the definition we just explored. How can a gift like hope remained stored up in Heaven? Wouldn't God spread this theological virtue freely among us? 

Perhaps Paul is actually using a narrower sense of hope here, a more concrete sense rather than the abstract sense offered in the definition. We do this ourselves when we say something like, “It is my hope that he gets home safely,” and then when that happens, we sigh with relief and remark, “My hope has been fulfilled!” In the second instance, we are really referring to the object of our hope, that our loved one gets home safely, rather than the abstract concept of desire and expectation expressed in the first statement. 

Paul, then, is probably referring to the object of our hope in this verse, the concrete expectation we have, namely, eternal life. What we hope for is right now at this very instant being stored up for us in Heaven. God is preparing a place for us, an eternal life. He gives us the theological virtue of hope right now so that we can desire and expect that object and the grace we need to attain it. 

Isn't that amazing? God gives us a special virtue to help us desire and expect both eternal life and the grace we need to get there all at the same time that He is preparing the object of that hope: a home with Him forever.

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