The Hope of His Calling- Ephesians 1:18

As we continue our examination of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers (and all other believers as well), we find that the eyes of our hearts are to be enlightened for a specific purpose, in order that we may “know” something. The Greek word know here is the perfect infinitive of oida, to understand or comprehend. Paul prays that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened in order that we may understand something, and that we may understand it once and for all, which is what the use of the perfect tense here implies. The first thing we are to understand is the “hope of His calling”. We will examine this phrase in some detail in order to see just what Paul would have us to understand about ourselves and our lives. The word hope here is the Greek word elpis, literally an expectation. This is not hope as merely a wish, as in “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow”, but an expectation which is acted upon. If you don’t expect it to rain, you leave your umbrella at home, you act based on what you expect to happen. In the Greek world of Paul’s time, hope was a subjective thing which was determined by each individual for him or her self. It was defined as a “subjective expectation of the future based on what one considers his own possibilities”. Each individual’s own being determined what and how he or she hoped, each individual determined for themselves what their own possibilities were and whether or not they would fulfill them. Hope was not something that came from outside us, but from inside us, it was a basic characteristic of who we are, a fundamental aspect of our being. Our hope determined who we are and what we are to become. This is not, however, how Paul uses the term here. Being a formally trained rabbi, Paul’s understanding of hope would not have come from Greek philosophy but from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, hope was indeed an expectation for the future, but it was most often contrasted with fear. Hope was an expectation of good for the future, while fear was and expectation of bad, and hope was closely linked with faith (or trust). Trust in God brought the expectation of good in the future, seen primarily in the Jewish hope for a coming Messiah. The fundamental difference then in Paul versus Greek thinking is that in Paul hope is not something which is determined within us, but rather comes from outside us. Hope is a characteristic of who we are, a fundamental aspect of our being, but it is not self-determined but given to us by God. God defines our possibilities, God determines who we are and what we can become. Our hope is not declared but discovered, and Paul prays here for all believers that each one would understand what his or her hope is, who they are and what they expect to become. These are determined by God, not us, and each of us is exhorted here to discover just what our hope is, just who we are and what we are able to become. This hope is then further defined by relating it to our “calling”. The word “calling” has different “senses” to it, different shades of meaning. What is meant by this is that what we call something can refer to its name, to what it is. The word calling can also refer to one’s vocation, not only to who he or she is but to what he or she is called to do. The word calling can also refer to an invitation or summons. It is our contention that Paul uses the word here in all three senses. God tells us who we are and what we are to do, and invites or summons us to discover and live out our meaning and purpose, that our “hope” is fulfilled as we live out His calling to and for us. So what we find here is that the very first thing Paul prays for the believers to understand and comprehend is “the hope of His calling”, that each of us would understand exactly who we are, why we are here and what we are to do with our lives. God has a purpose and a plan, a hope, for each and every one of us, and He invites each one of us to discover and live out His plan and purpose for our lives. It is Paul’s prayer here that every believer would discover, understand and live out God’s “hope” for them, that they would each discover and comprehend who they are and why they are here, and live out the “hope” which God has for them, and which they are to have for themselves.

No Comments Biblical Psychology  //  Christian Philosophy  //  Growing In Grace  //  Living with a Purpose

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