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Since the words "faith" and "hope" are used side-by-side and in ways that faith (πίστις) is built on hope (ἐλπίς), they shouldn't have the same meaning.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.

Both are internal beliefs that change the way we look at the world and how we act in it. What is the difference in the two words?

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Restatement: What is the difference between Faith and Hope, in New Testament texts? Evidently, the usage of the Greek words, "Faith" and "Hope", are clearly distinct from each other, even used in the same sentence, so it seems there must be a notable difference between the two.

Answer: "Hope" bears with it an emotional sense of "Joyful Expectation" ; whereas, "Trust/Faith" bears with it the rational sense of Certain Expectation".


Hope implies a Joyful Expectation

Luke 23:8, NASB - Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him..


Identifying the Overloaded Connotations/Baggage:

This topic gets difficult because we have to "wade through" generations of Religious baggage, that mixes with it an appropriate Latin/English, (Fide/Feit), sense of "Confidence".

For us, the term is now overloaded well beyond ambiguity with ideas such as, "Blind Faith, Leap of Faith, Faith vs. Works", and so on.

It is also very important to note, that New Testament English translators, haphazardly translate this same Greek word, incredibly inconsistently, either as faith, belief, or trust.

On the otherhand, you could employ one single word, in every New Testament Context, to accurately convey the writers intent--"Trust/Trustworthy/Trusted/Entrust", etc.


Understanding the Philosophical Context of "πίστις/Pistis" in the Classical Greek World:

The Greeks certainly had the advantage of Plato and Aristotle without the utter absurdity of the "faith/works" schism.

In a way, they too had this common term hi-jacked by Philosophers ...

Trust denotes certainty after an expectation has been set, either through experience, or a promise given.

We "Trust" an employer to pay us, because they promised to. And, after they have, over and over, we become more and more confident/trusting.

In the same way, James asserts that trusting in God provokes obedience, because if you trust the Father to provide, why not freely feed the hungry?

It is impossible to read Paul, and not bump into all of the echoes of Platonic thought and Aristotelian Logic ... Therefore, we must employ Classical Greek context :

In the Early Church, "πίστις" was understood by the Greeks, in a very common, secular sense, not at all analogous with our modern understanding of "Faith."

NOTE: The following dialogue, employs the same Greek term, (pistis, attempting to tackle the some of the exact same philosophical issues, lamenting that in the presence of blindness and obscurity, that reason prohibits the act of trusting/entrusting.

Plato Hom. Il. 2.345: 505e- “Quite so,” he said. “That, then, which every soul pursues and for its sake does all that it does, with an intuition of its reality, but yet baffled and unable to apprehend its nature adequately, or to attain to any stable belief/[confidence/trust] about it as about other things, and for that reason failing of any possible benefit from other things,— 506a- in a matter of this quality and moment, can we, I ask you, allow a like blindness and obscurity in those best citizens to whose hands we are to entrust all things?” Plato remarks on the inadequacy to comprehend the nature of goodness, and our resultant instability, and inability to trust in it like we trust in other things :

Plato book 6, section 505e, etc: ... δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσα λαβεῖν ἱκανῶς τί ποτ᾽ ἐστὶν οὐδὲ πίστει χρήσασθαι μονίμῳ οἵᾳ καὶ περὶ τἆλλα, διὰ τοῦτο δὲ

many/lots, of secular examples of trust being an incredibly rational function.


Trust, in the sense of Certain Expectation, in Biblical Contexts:

If the promise made is a good one, there is hope! BUT, "Trust/Faith" does not necessarily lead to Joy. It can lead to fear ...

James 2:19 - You Trust that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons Trust—and tremble!

New Testament authors are quite clear how the rational function of Trust, in the Character or Promises of God, led people to the Emotional outcome of Hope--a Joyful Expectation.

Hebrews 11:1 - Now trust is the assurance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen.

Romans 10:14 - How then will they call on Him in whom they have not trusted? How will they Trust in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

Romans 10:17 - So Trust comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

NOTE: In Romans 10:17, it is important to consider that "Word" in this verse, ῥήματο, in Greek, is different from "Logos" used in other places--it bears with it the Connotation of Legal Statement/Declaration/Affidavit. ... "Truly, Truly," which a court/hearer must then determine is credible or not.

Examples of Jesus Recognizing incredible Trust/Confidence by the rationality of others, and their sense of certainty:

Luke 7:8 - For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great Trust, not even in Israel!” 10 And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.

And again, Similarly:

Matthew 15:27-28 - And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your Trust! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

  • You should include translations of foreign language texts. Most people here speak English. We ask questions in English. We answer in English. So, it would assist readers in providing the English translation along with the Greek/foreign language text. :) – user862 Dec 5 '14 at 19:03
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 I am incredibly sorry for waiting so long to update this answer to fulfill what I should have done in the first place, which you rightly pointed out. I hope this last edit addresses the issue, and clarifies. – elika kohen May 2 '15 at 2:57
  • Hebrews has a shadow/reality theme throughout. The word translated first by Luther as 'assurance' in Heb 11.1 is hupostasis meaning 'essential nature'. Filling out the second half of Heb 10.1 "The law... shadow." 11.1 Faith = reality. The things not seen, hoped for, etc (32 of them) are references to the kingdom of heaven. Faith is the essential nature of the kingdom, and the incontrovertible proof of the kingdom. The same word used in Heb 1.4 as "exact representation", "character", "nature","person","being", "substance". in other translations. – Bob Jones Jul 21 '18 at 12:45
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Speaking strictly from a Biblical perspective... The world has adopted the word 'faith' to speak of other things. Strictly speaking, from what follows, only a Christian can have 'faith'.

Some people would have difference of opinion. The following is from a general Word of Faith background, stemming from a study of the words in Greek and the apparent verses.


The difference between faith and hope is that hope applies to the future and faith is "now"--it is always in the immediate moment.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 KJV

More directly, in the verse quoted, there is a connection between faith and hope. You can be in 'hope' for something, and that is something (usually good) that you may get or receive in the future. But faith is the substance of it and proof that it is yours now. Faith is, then, in a spiritual sense, the 'now' possession of the thing despite your apparent natural condition which would appear in the contrary.

The word "substance" is 'hypo-stasis' in the Greek. The prefix 'hypo-' meaning 'beneath/below', and 'stasis' meaning 'state/status/structure'. One alternate translation for 'hypostasis' is 'foundation'.

So, the picture here is, suppose you have hope for a certain thing. That is some time in the future. You do not in any sense possess it now. Now, when the underlying structure or foundational reality of that comes into your possession, that is what faith is. It is having that substance, that conviction, which, spiritually speaking (according to the Word), is the possession of the desired end.

In the realm of physical healing in the Gospel (Mark 16), the difference is often related this way. To say that "God will heal me" is hope. It relates only to the future. Faith says, "God has healed me". It is having the conviction, assurance, or substance of that healing in the present.

Faith is more than simply "name it and claim it" (or, "blab it and grab it", as some call it). Faith, when it is really faith, never fails, biblically, because it is actually having the item in a spiritual sense, and, because of that 'possession', it is the same as having it in the physical reality. The physical will reflect the spiritual "sooner or later".

Further, faith is the the evidence of the thing, or legal 'proof'. To defend oneself, or to justify ones belief (whether it be about God, a miracle, or even a point of doctrine), the primary and undefeatable logic is to simply stand on faith and claim, 'Because I believe it'. Faith, when it is truly faith, is proof, as in, legal evidence in a court of law.

Which raises the last point. While we can hope for many things, we can only truly have faith for what actually is. Because 'faith' is the actual (albeit invisible) substance of the thing, you cannot truly have faith for something that isn't there. Because you are possessing a reality, you cannot truly possess a falsehood.

Before the objections about the apparent paradox about why this person claimed to have 'faith' and it they didn't get what they were claiming, the Biblical defense, take it or leave it, is that true faith is demonstrated if and only if the object of that faith manifests into reality. If it does, no matter the length of time, then it was genuine faith. If it does not, either it wasn't faith, or the person abandoned their faith before delivery, thus short-circuiting the process.

Hope is a postive expectation of something good, and faith is the sure knowing and conviction that it is yours now.

  • 1
    The faith of the woman with the flow of blood was not, "I am healed," but, "...I know I will be perfectly whole." Matthew 9:20 And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment.21 For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." – user2027 Nov 25 '14 at 0:45
  • I would still differ.. Her faith was in the touch. It was still a 'now' thing, which was only manifested by her action. It's just where she connected her faith. The future tense is seen as relating to the touch in the current time, but the conviction of healing was present. – user6152 Nov 25 '14 at 0:49
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The Idea in Brief

The relationship between faith, hope, and love appears in correspondence to the three crowns of rewards mentioned in the New Testament. If this correspondence, or alignment, is correct, then specific nuances appear that discriminate the meaning between faith and hope.

Discussion

There are three crowns of reward found in the New Testament: --the Crown of Righteousness; the Crown of Life; and the Crown of Glory. These three crowns appear in alignment with faith, hope, and love, respectively, and therefore specific nuances of meaning appear to discriminate one from the other.

The Crown of Righteousness

The Crown of Righteousness appears in the context of faith:

2 Tim 4:7-10 (NASB)
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 9 Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica...

The idea is keeping faith, which looks for the coming of the Lord. In contrast, Demas appears in this context as someone who has lost faith.

As the examples of Hebrews 11:1-40 illustrate, faith is God-ward. That is, the faith described in Hebrews 11:1-40 is directed toward God through the Promised made by God. So the Word of God is the means by which one exercises faith.

True Bible knowledge and true prophesy come from faith in the Word of God. That is, one gains understanding of the Word of God through faith: for example, the Word is God is by divine inspiration; therefore the Lord will illuminate His word for understanding -- compare Daniel Chapter 9, where the angel Gabriel answers Daniel's prayers for insight with 2 Tim 2:7.

Therefore, in the context of 1 Cor 13:1-13, such faith in the Word of God may result in unparalleled insights -- for example, speaking all mysteries and all knowledge of the Word of God in not just the tongues of men, but of angels as well. Such faith can move mountains; and if we understand "mountains" in the wider context of the Word of God to include the idea of human government, then such faith can overcome great human power.

The Crown of Life

The Crown of Life appears in the context of hope: that is, hope appears in the context of suffering.

Jam 1:12 (NASB)
12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Rev 2:10 (NASB)
10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

The idea is perseverance. While this idea does not exclude "faith" (cf. Heb 11:35-38), the idea is greater - that is, hope is the testing of faith through intense suffering.

When the Apostle Paul took his vow and then decided to travel to Jerusalem to proclaim the gospel to the Jews (Acts 18:18 and Acts 19:21), he anticipated great suffering. Notwithstanding his willingness to sacrifice his own body to save his own countryman (Rom 9:1-5), Paul's actions caused great distress to his fellow Christian believers. The believers in Ephesus cried on the beach with Paul, fearing they would never see his face again (Acts 20:36-38). Other believers in Caesarea begged him not to go into Jerusalem.

Acts 21:13 (NASB)
13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul's hope in suffering was more strong than his love with and between other believers, who included Jews (his fellow countrymen who had already had believed in Jesus).

After Paul's arrest in Jerusalem and subsequent arrival to Rome, he wrote his epistle to the Philippians. Paul wrote that "according to my earnest expectation and hope" (Phil 1:20) Christ would be exalted in his body in life or death, yet his personal preference was to be with Christ. However, Paul realized that his suffering was the means of greater hope for believers (ref. 2 Cor 1:6), and therefore, he told the Philippians that "to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake" (Phil 1:24).

While Paul did nothing "wrong" in exercising his faith to suffer and was willing to die in Jerusalem, Paul's hope in suffering now was subservient to his love with and between other believers.

The Crown of Glory

Finally, the Crown of Glory appears in the context of love.

The Apostle Peter described this reward for those who exercised their spiritual gift voluntarily and with eagerness versus any motive from compulsion or sordid gain.

1 Pet 5:1-4 (NASB)
1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

There are two examples of those who exercised their spiritual gift under compulsion which includes "lording over those allotted to your charge." The first is Diotephenes, whom the Apostle John described as an autocrat (2 Jn 1:9-10). The other is Archippus, who appeared to shirk from his spiritual gift (compare Col 4:17 with Philemon 1:2.) That is, Archippus appeared to be related to Philemon, who was the leader of the church in Colossae. Archippus therefore appeared to have some pastoral role in this church, for which he was exercising his spiritual gift voluntarily and with eagerness.

The Apostle Paul mentioned to the Corinthians that it was not the compulsive exercise of the spiritual gift, but the voluntary exercise of the spiritual gift that resulted in reward.

1 Cor 9:15-17 (NASB)
15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

Ones spiritual gift is special stewardship, which aligns with the ten minas (Matt 25:14-30) or the ten talents (Luke 19:11-27). Some of the slaves were eager, and produced much fruit; others were compulsive, and hid their spiritual gift. The result was reward or the lack of reward.

Conclusion

Faith and hope are Godward, and they may function independent of direct love toward other Christians. Examples of such great faith without love include: deep insight into the Word of God with no ensuing edification for others; personal experience with God through untranslated tongues that otherwise mean nothing to anyone; proclamation of the Word of God to move great masses of people ("moving mountains"), but at the one-on-one level you are autocratic and compulsive. Examples of great hope without love include the willingness to sacrifice ones self for the gospel (as was the case of Paul going to Jerusalem) notwithstanding the intense grief caused to fellow believers. These exercises of faith and hope are not "wrong" per se, and to some degree may even result in the Crown of Righteousness and the Crown of Life, respectively; but in tandem with love, they become greater, and therefore there is the Crown of Glory.

The Crown of Glory is the exercise of ones spiritual gift voluntarily and with eagerness to edify others. (Thus while faith and hope appear more Godward, love would be more man-ward.) In this regard, the exercise of ones spiritual gift is not affected by compulsion, autocratic power, self-aggrandizement, or greediness for money. In this particular respect, the Crown of Glory is asymmetrical, because this reward does not come for being the first, but for being the last.

In summary, if the Crown of Righteousness is heavenly reward cum laude, and the Crown of Life is heavenly reward magna cum laude; then the Crown of Glory would be heavenly reward summa cum laude. This latter reward is for those who place edification of others first, and therefore they are "last" in the temporal sense. In the eternal sense, however, those with the Crown of Glory will have special distinction as the "first."

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While I admire all the theological, philosophical, philological and hermeneutical acumen displayed in the other answers and comments, I believe that an analogy drawn from human affairs is much more satisfactory. In fact it perfectly highlights the difference.

[Faith] Suppose that you have built a relationship of trust with a person. Suppose this person says, "I will be there, waiting for you until 12." It is not a strech to say that you have faith that that person will be there until 12. But if, for any reason, you arrive at 12:10, you shouldn't say that there has been a breach of trust on the part of the person who wasn't there any more to wait for you.

[Hope] Now, suppose that, NOT ONLY you have built a relationship of trust with a person, BUT ALSO, this relationship includes (a certain amount of) mutual forgiveness, or, at least, forgiveness on his/her part. Suppose, again, that this person says, "I will be there, waiting for you until 12." If, for any reason, you arrive at 12:10, even if you know that you shouldn't say that there has been a breach of trust on the part of the person who wasn't there any more to wait for you, you still hope that the person will forgive your delay and wait for you.

In conclusion we may say that we have faith in someone's keeping of a promise/pact, whereas we have hope in someone's forgiveness.

As a Scriptural application, I believe that Abraham's response to God's demand, in Genesis 22 ("Binding of Isaac") includes BOTH Faith AND Hope. In fact Love is there too, in the form of obedience towards God and of love for Isaac, although the latter is definitely not so obvious.

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Faith has a variety of applications. For example it can be to believe something specific requiring discernment in each instance and it is used to denote the covenant of eternal inheritance in contrast to Sinai. When used with hope Paul is drawing on the deeply entrenched and traditional Rabbinic teaching of emunah and bitachon - faith and trust - a very specialised application of these words in the context of the religion of Israel/Judah. They teach faith is the foundation of trust ie. (and in a nutshell) faith is the rational acceptance of God's absolute control of the universe he created and trust is the personal outplaying of that belief in life circumstances that challenge it. Breaking down Heb 11:1 (Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen) and looking at Hebrew dynamic equivalents one gets the traditional Jewish teaching: faith is the foundation of trust, (god's) means of testing the hidden things of the heart. Paul often uses this, applying this Hebrew idea directly within the covenant of eternal inheritance. This use is different to faith as the defining essence of conversion. That use is another specialised application requiring full appreciation of the dynamic at play between god and Abraham in order to grasp the governing parameters of the covenant of eternal inheritance, which understanding resolves the apparent discrepancies between Paul and James. Not discerning "faith" accurately is one of Christianity's big weaknesses and a source of frustration for enquiring lay people. The reason it is neglected and the reason no exhaustive word study exists explaining the precise intent of the word faith in each instance of its use in the NT, is no doubt because scholars and those in authority lack the necessary insight .

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"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

This scripture makes a clear Biblical distinction between Hope and Faith, although we often use these terms interchangeably.

Here we see that hope deferred makes the heart depressed and sick; from the heaviness of an 'approaching hope' that has been delayed or outright canceled from manifestation. This speaks of the limitations of the human heart to endure hopelessness and reveals God's secret remedy, by FULFILLING our HOPE. God even describes the 'Realization of Hope' as a Tree of Life!

God desires to FULFILL our FAITH in Him and His ways, with the manifestation of REALIZED HOPE. He knows hope deferred makes our hearts SICK, so He teaches us to set our hope on Him, instead of people, places or things. This sets God free to FULFILL the HOPE held in our hearts. God can finally demonstrate His Sovereign Love, Glory, Power and Provision toward us, by His manifestation of that which only God Himself can fulfill or even know about.

Our responsibility lays with our own hearts, setting them on God and His ways alone; His solutions, His choices, His methods. We learn to desire His ways instead of our old fleshly 'hope' of winning the power-ball and buying a Porche.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Mathew 6:33

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, - so why would we want to hope in things that go against God's will in our lives, only to become depressed later from a desire for impure things? By setting our hearts on God and His plans, we can save ourselves much disappointment, confusion and heart ache. And iF we don't already know His plans for us, we can always ask.

As we grow with God, we find that He Himself places divinely inspired desires and dreams into our hearts, so that our FAITH in Him may grow strong and robust, regularly living divine manifestations of FULFILLED HOPE. Soon this becomes our 'normal' experience and strengthens our Trust toward God and His ways, increasing our Faith in Him and creating a fertile heart ready to receive His anointed seeds, watered by our Hope. By this manner He changes us from glory to glory; and when God can trust our hearts, then we become "Co-Creators" in Christ with His direct invitation.

Then one day God will ask: "So, .... what do you want? What desires do you want to see manifested in your life and the lives of others? What about the Nation, the World? Tell Me your dreams ..."

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1

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