Which is Better: Faith or Hope?

Several days ago My Joyce and I heard Ron Byler, MCC/USA Executive Director, give an illustrated report of the work of MCC and its partners as they witness for the peace of Jesus in many of the hot spots around the world.  Byler displayed Hebrew 10:23-24 on the screen before us.

Having preached a life time of sermons I saw a sermon in his text:

hold-fast-fishbowl (1)Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to provoke one another to love and good works, . . .

The text said confession of your “hope”.  I correcly remembered the KJV as saying “of your faith”  So which is it, hope or faith? The Biblehub compares twenty-six translations.  Only four translations use “faith.” The other 22 translations agree that “hope” is the better translation.  (To make your own count go to the Biblehub by clicking here.)

faith-hope I dug further using tools  provided by The Blue Letter Bible. I found that the Greek word The Greek word translated here is elpis. This word occurs 54 times in the Greek New Testament.   I discovered that the renowned translators of the 1611 KJV chose hope as the appropriate translation, except in Hebrews 10:23 where they elected to use the word faith.  Why they did so I don’t know.  If I were to preach on this text I would surely hold hope fast, and celebrate it.  My hope is based on the way Jesus lived, lived everywhere, and lived now.

Universal hope is that war be no more. Managers of conomic systems so repent that every debt is forgiven. Prison doors are opened wide so all prisoners are set free.  Shelter is provided for all, so there are homeless no more. Daily bread is on every table and a cup of fresh clean water is in everone’s hand.  Every one is satisfied with a shalom fullness.  (For the definition of shalom click here )

A second significant phrase in the text is “let us consider.”  This phrase asks us to interact thoughtfully with others.  Another word in the text is interesting in both English and as translated: provoke.  In English, provoke may mean either to annoy or to stimulate someone.  But does a Greek word have double meanings?  (Remember that I am not a scholar in the Greek language.  I can only make a few observations using tools that are available to me on the internet.)

Image result for provokeThe Greek word paroxysmos stirs up positive responses like love and good works. The word is used in only one other situation in the N.T.

The paroxysmos (contention)  was so sharp between Paul and Barnabas that they parted company. This fascinates me. Could paroxysmos stir up more love and more good works in today’s church? Might such love and good works be the way to confess our hope, and might it not be better to hold on to the confession of our hope than a confession of faith?

Five Mennonite institutions combined their resources to enable young people to have a Culture Shock Conference to equip Mennonite youth of color.  Could this be done without the right kind of provokeing?    To feel some of the shock as the youth built community, restored hope and transformed lives click here for the Sunday Morning worship.  Be sure to have your sound turned up.

Oh worship the Lord
in the beauty of paroxysmos
to love and good works

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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