The Difference Between Faith and Hope

A friend of mine and I were talking about the difference between faith and hope a few weeks ago. Lo and behold, James P. Boyce includes this very discussion as the final item addressed in his chapter on faith.

That they are not the same is evident from 1 Cor 13:13, where they are plainly distinguished from each other; also in Rom 5:2-5; 1 Pet 1:21; Heb 11:1.

Christian faith and hope differ,

1. In their nature.

(a) Faith is reliance upon something now present as known or believed. Hope is looking forward to something in the future, with more or less expectation of receiving it. Faith may become the assurance of things hoped for but not the hope that looks forward to them.

Faith is belief, hope is expectation. Each in involves the idea of trust, but with the use of different prepositions. Faith is trust in or reliance upon any person or thing. Hope is trust of some person or thing, or expectation of the happening of something desirable.

(b) Joyful expectation enters into the nature of hope, but not into that of faith. It is only because the things believed beget a joyful hope, that the Christian’s trust can be mistaken for hope.

2. Hope is the result or effect of faith, and, therefore, not faith itself. (Rom 5:2-5, 15:4-3; Gal 5:5; Heb 11:1.)

3. They differ in their objects. Faith rests upon Christ and his work for our salvation and upon the promises made of blessings. Hope rests in the blessings resultant from that work and those promises. Its object is salvation, freedom from sin, heaven, glory hereafter. We cannot say we have faith in salvation, but in the Savior and his work; we have not faith in future freedom from sin; but we have it in the promised deliverance. Likewise we have not faith in heaven or glory, but in these as promised to us.

(James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, 1887, reprint 2006 Founders Press, 394.)

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About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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