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Hebrews 6:18-20 NASB (emphasis mine):

so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

What is this hope that is referred to multiple times in the passage? It is described vividly but I do not see it defined. Is the author referring to the promise from verse 14?

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The content of the "hope" has been described in different ways from the beginning of the letter.

It is described in negative terms, as not falling under condemnation in the final judgement; "How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (ch2 v3, RSV).

It is described in positive terms as being brought to glory (ch2 v10), and having everything under our collective feet (ch2 v8).

It is the promise of entering into the Lord's "rest" (ch4 v1), when we "cease from our labours as God did from his" (ch4 v10).

It is the "eternal salvation" which we receive through the Son (ch5 v9); that is, once again, being saved from the danger of being found guilty on the day of judgement.

I suggest that the references to "hope" really go back to the argument of ch6 vv9-12. The writer has just given a warning about unfaithfulness, but feels "sure of better things" in the prospects of his first readers. He urges them to show "earnestness in realising the full assurance of hope" and be like those who "through faith and patience inherit the promises". Surely this refers to the promises of salvation and glory and rest already mentioned in the previous chapters.

In the logic of ch6, v14 is a different promise being quoted in order to establish the point that God keeps his promises. This encourages us to seize hold of the main hope (v18), a hope which "enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain" (v19). In other words, it gets into the presence of God where Jesus has preceded us.

In fact I'm inclined to identify the hope with the promise in Thessalonians; "And so we shall always be with the Lord" (2 Thessalonians ch4 v17).

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As Thayer's lexicon correctly observes, the great Christian "hope" ἐλπίς (elpis) is -

in the Christian sense, joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation: Acts 23:6; Acts 26:7; Romans 5:4; Romans 12:12; Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 3:15

For example:

  • 1 Tim 1:1 - Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
  • Titus 1:2 - in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.
  • Titus 2:13 - as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Titus 3:7 - so that, having been justified by His grace, we would become heirs with the hope of eternal life.

More specifically, in the letter to the Hebrews, we have five instances of this wonderful hope of eternal salvation in Christ as our great High Priest:

  • Heb 3:1, 2, 6 - Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, set your focus on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. 2He was faithful to the One who appointed Him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. ... But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope of which we boast.
  • Heb 6:11 - We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. [This refers back to Heb 3 above.]
  • Heb 6:18 - Thus by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be strongly encouraged. [This refers back to Heb 3 above.]
  • Heb 7:19 - (for the Law perfected nothing), and the introduction of a better hope, by which we draw near to God. [This refers back to Heb 3 above. Heb 7 also contrasts the Levitical law/covenant (V11) with the "better hope" found in the new covenant (Heb 8).]
  • Heb 10:23 - We should hold fast to the confession of our hope, unwavering; for the One having promised is faithful. {This is, again, about faith in Christ's offer of eternal life through his gift.]

Thus, the "hope" in Christ's eternal life by the merits of the eternal priesthood of Jesus offers a solid basis for the Christian hope as documented above.

Lastly, the reference to "Hope" in Heb 6:18 is not a reference to the promise made to Abraham, but the God who makes such promises, because "it is impossible for God to lie" (Heb 6:18). That is the great Hope! God has promised us eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, and, because He cannot lie, it becomes a great Hope with a "firm foundation" that "enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain" (V19).

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  • Thank you!! A wonderful answer as well, especially the last paragraph. Apr 21, 2023 at 17:21
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This is a hope that through Christ we shall enter there, where Christ has entered, not to the “sacred of sacred” of the Old Covenant, into which only a High Priest was permitted to enter and this only once per year, but to incomparably more sacred place, to the non-handmade temple and altar of God, which means His Eternal Heavenly Kingdom, and become the co-heirs of the Only Begotten Son, the Lord and God Jesus Christ, addressing together with Him God as “Father”, having received through Him, Christ, the Spirit of sonship (I do not add “daughtership” not to pay homage to the idol of Political Correctness, but it is implied).

Thus, even a simplest and lowest of Christians is incomparably higher and more intimately united to the Father through the Only Begotten and the Spirit than the Old Covenant high priest could even fancied.

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