During times of uncertainty, when we’re feeling all at sea, there’s an anchor for our souls. What do we mean when we quote the phrase, “Hope, an anchor of the soul?” Unlike many such catchphrases and platitudes we latch onto, this one does not originate from Shakespeare, Gibran, or Confucius. This one comes from the Bible – The Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament.
Like all such phrases, this one has its own context. On its own, it is an incomplete part of a longer sentence, which in turn is a part of a twenty-verse chapter. To grasp the full importance of Hope as an anchor of the soul, you will have to read all twenty verses on your own. For the purposes of this short article, I am going to take the journalistic liberty of limiting its context to the last four verses within which it appears.
Hope In Hebrews
“In which God willing to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His Counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things in which impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong consolation – who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us – which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast; and which enters into that within the veil; where the forerunner is entered for us – Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec!” (Hebrews 6:17-20)
What we learn here, is that anchor is both sure and steadfast. It will hold our ship securely and firmly, come what may. In an age where the word “hope” is somewhat more akin to hopeless, we need to clarify what the biblical meaning is first and foremost at the outset, whether or not it is a true anchor of the soul.
The original Greek word ELPIS means a confident expectation. On this basis alone, hope is an anchor of the soul needing a confident expectation of good! There’s more though, and it’s revealed within the context of this amazing phrase, both within the preceding and following verses. What we can derive from the preceding verse eighteen, is “we have a strong consolation … for refuge …” And, from verse seventeen in which it appears, this hope is both “sure and steadfast.”
Finally, what the biblical context is seeking to establish, is that we have a forerunner, Who has entered the Veil separating us from the Most Holy Place housing the Presence of God, to serve as our High Priest forever on our behalf! It is gratifying to note that still within the context of the same Letter to the Hebrews, the writer testifies:
“But this, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood – so much so, He is able to also save to the uttermost them who come to God by Him – seeing He ever lives to intercede for them!” (Hebrews 7:24-25)
The sure and steadfast Anchor of our souls is none other than our forever High Priest – Jesus Christ – our Forerunner, Who lives to intercede for us on our behalf for our strong consolation!