Hope. Such a small word carries so many emotions and expectations. We use hope to describe everything from wishing to confident expectation. This hope that Paul talks about in Acts 26 is much more than wishing or even confident expectation. This hope leaves all those other kinds of hope in its dust. It is “an essential and fundamental element of Christian life, so essential that, like faith and love, it can itself designate the essence of Christianity” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
Paul tells us where his hope lies: “in the promise made by God to our fathers…” God promised salvation and resurrection from the dead to His people. Jesus is the fulfillment of this promise. The salvation that the Jews had been earnestly longing for had come, and they denied Him. This hope is a funny thing. The Jews longed for it yet refused to accept it when Jesus offered it. But Paul understands that view. It was a view he once held himself until he personally encountered the author of hope.
The next few verses encourage and challenge me. Paul doesn’t launch into a deep theological exposition on Christ or salvation or the resurrection from the dead. He shares his story of how this hope reached out to him on the road to Damascus and radically changed his life. He shares the transformation from chasing after an empty hope to believing in the Person who offers rock solid, unchanging, undeniable, life-altering hope. He shares this hope before a king, just as Jesus said he would in Acts 9:15.
We might not ever stand before a king, but each of us has our own story of encountering the person of Jesus and the eternal hope that He offers. 1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) encourages us this way, “…And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” Paul showed us the best way, not a wordy, theological answer, but simply by sharing his story of how he encountered Christ and found hope forever.