How Does Hope Anchor the Soul?

God’s Word tells us that we have hope in Christ as an anchor for our souls. We are forever tethered to our Savior, who entered the Father’s presence in heaven. Our hope is firm and secure because God has promised an oath to fulfill His Word.

Contributing Writer
Jul 22, 2022
How Does Hope Anchor the Soul?

In their song called “Anchor,” Hillsong Worship sings of the hope we have in Jesus: “I have this hope/As an anchor for my soul /Through every storm/I will hold to you.”

Since the earliest times in church history, Christians have valued the symbol of an anchor. Today, this nautical device is just as representative of our faith and hope. Scripture reminds us that we have assured and steadfast hope, like an anchor, for the soul (Hebrews 6:19).

When studying this passage in Scripture, we understand that hope is compared to an anchor for our souls. However, we may wonder how it grounds us. To answer this question, we first need to establish the background context of the passage.

Background of Hebrews 6:19

In the context of the passage, the author of the epistle rebuked the Jewish Christians for their lack of growth.

They already had complete knowledge of the fundamentals of the faith, including salvation in Christ and “baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:2, NLT).

Spiritual growth should have been occurring, but the Jewish believers were not progressing. The author of Hebrews is urging them onto greater growth (Hebrew 6:3).

In addition to rebuking them, he also warns them against the dangers of falling away in apostasy (Hebrews 6:4-8).

The warning is given to motivate them, not discourage them. He was assured of their faith, noting that their actions had proven that they loved and trusted in the Lord (Hebrews 6:10-11).

As the epistle includes, “Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation” (Hebrews 6:9, NLT).

At the end of the chapter, he provides the basis for the confidence of the believer’s hope. Jesus’ death and resurrection are what saves us when we place faith in Him.

Christ has entered the heavenly Holy of Holies and secured our future destiny (Hebrews 6:19-20). He has paid the price for our sins completely (Hebrews 1:3; 7:27; 10:12).

The hope we have for a future eternity with God is secure and steadfast, like an anchor. We can have confidence in this hope because it gives us assurance, encouragement, and motivation. Also, this hope grounds our souls like an anchor against the shifting grounds of apostasy.

Steadfast Assurance in Jesus

The author of Hebrews uses an anchor as a metaphor for our hope: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain” (Hebrews 6:19).

In the previous verse, the author had compared our salvation to finding refuge in God (Hebrews 6:18). References to a refuge and an anchor imply stability and steadfastness.

During biblical times, anchors on boats were not lowered into the ocean. Instead, a sailor would leave the boat and secure the anchor on shore to keep it from floating away.

Jesus is like that sailor. He entered the Father’s presence in the Holy of Holies in heaven at the ascension. Christ is our forerunner and High Priest (Hebrews 6:20). Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have assured hope anchored in heaven’s sanctuary.

Like the nautical device, the hope we have in Jesus grounds us and steadies our souls. As believers, our hope is not like the subjective hope of the world. People commonly say they “hope” circumstances will go well, but this is wishful thinking instead of assurance.

Biblical hope is a steadfast trust that God will fulfill His promise. The author of Hebrews says that the basis of our hope is God. He has given us both a promise and an oath (Hebrews 6:18). Since the Lord cannot lie, we can trust that He will carry out His word.

Hope as Encouragement and Motivation

Hope also anchors our souls because it encourages us. We have the assured promise of being with the Lord in heaven, which is the “hope that lies before us” (Hebrews 6:18, NLT).

Through Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins and a relationship with the Father (Ephesians 1:7). The knowledge and hope of our future help us stay focused on loving others (Hebrews 6:10-11).

The future hope and inheritance in the Lord should keep believers from being spiritually dry, ineffective, and lazy (Hebrews 6:11-12). The specific word used in verse 12 carries the idea of sluggishness and laziness.

As Zane Hodges notes in his exegesis of Hebrews, “The [Greek] of this verse can mean, ‘We do not want you to be lazy’ rather than ‘become lazy’” (“Hebrews.” Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament edition). Our hope should motivate us toward greater spiritual maturity instead of slothfulness.

Therefore, God wants to encourage us in this passage in Hebrews. Believers have an assured promise of heaven based on Jesus’ work. We are going to live forever with Him.

A wonderful future stand before us, which should encourage us in our walk with Christ and spur us toward greater maturity. Having the grounding anchor of hope in our souls provides encouragement and motivation for the Christian walk.

Protection Against Apostasy

Based on the surrounding context of the verse, another way that hope anchors the soul is that it guards us against apostasy. The Book of Hebrews details how people can hear about the truth of salvation and enter a community of believers but fall away in apostasy.

These people were never saved, as shown by their lack of spiritual fruit, which the author of Hebrews compares to a field of thorns (Hebrews 6:8; also see 1 John 2:19).

The discussion of having steadfast hope encourages us to examine ourselves. In 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Do we trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection alone to save us, or are we trusting in our works?

Asking questions like this one assists us in making our hope sure (Hebrews 6:11). We should have confidence in our hope, knowing that our eternal salvation is secure.

Another test of our faith is if we see spiritual fruit. The “fruit” of apostates is thorns, while the fruit of the Spirit in believers is a good crop (Hebrews 6:7-8).

In the epistle to the Hebrews, the Jewish Christians demonstrated the fruit of salvation through their love for God and others (Hebrews 6:10-11; also see Jesus’ words in John 13:35).

While believers will continually fight against sin and temptation in their lives, we should see evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives (Galatians 5:22).

Hope anchors our souls by giving us confidence in our salvation. False doctrine is rampant. No church is immune to the insidious influence of apostates. By basing our hope on Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can fight against false teachings which tell us lies about Christ and our salvation.

The author of Hebrews urged the Jewish believers onto spiritual maturity, and we are wise to heed the rebuke and warning as well.

Growing in spiritual maturity means moving on from being spiritual infants so that we are no longer “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

Instead, we can have a steadfast assurance in Christ, who anchors us against the stormy waters of false doctrine.

Why Does This Matter?

God’s Word tells us that we have hope in Christ as an anchor for our souls. We are forever tethered to our Savior, who entered the Father’s presence in heaven. Our hope is firm and secure because God has promised on oath to fulfill His Word.

Because of this hope, we have a solid assurance of our salvation, encouragement to follow Jesus, motivation for spiritual growth, and protection against the influence of false doctrine. Despite the pressures in life that come against us, we can stand firm with confident trust in our Lord.

For further reading:

Can Hope Really Heal Us?

How to Have Hope in Anxious Times

What Is the Meaning of 'Christ in You, the Hope of Glory'?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/mariephoto28

Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening. 

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