Acts 23: “Hope in the Resurrection”

What Do You Hope For?

Hope is a word that get’s thrown around pretty willy-nilly these days. Shoot, I do it myself when I say things like, “I hope Michigan beats Ohio State this year!” Or, “I hope that light stays green!” These aren’t bad uses of the word “hope,” but they just don’t really mean anything in the end. As we begin today, ask yourself this question: What do you hope for in the end? I mean, really hope for? You have to know that what we hope for determines a lot about how we live. It’s been scientifically proven that mentality helps shapes your future.


A man approached a little league baseball game on afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, “Eighteen to nothing-we’re behind.”

“Boy,” said the spectator, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.”

“Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy. “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!”

Hope in the Resurrection

Hope: “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Let me be clear, what we hope for determines a lot about how we live. Paul in Acts 23 makes a bold declaration both philosophically and theologically.

Acts 23:6-7 (NLT) Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!”

This divided the council—the Pharisees against the Sadducees—

There’s a couple of reasons why Paul made this statement regarding his hope in the resurrection. The first reason was to turn the attention in the room off of him and put it on the religious differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees. For lack of time, the difference was this: Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead, and angels. While the Sadducees, did not. The second reason Paul chose to make such a bold declaration was to insert the theology of the resurrection into his argument.

Paul wasn’t afraid to let everyone know that he places his hope in the belief that one day he too will be resurrected with Christ in the end. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul says it like this:

Romans 6:4-6 (ESV) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Here’s the thing; Paul didn’t just write about this, or believe this, but most importantly Paul LIVED THIS! I love Eugene Peterson’s Translation of  Rom. 8:15-17 in the Message:

Romans 8:15-17 (MSG) 15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Don’t be a grave tender! You haven’t been put on this earth to manicure your burial plot! You’ve been put here to manicure the earth and everything in it! The hope of glory is not a future event, but one that begins at the moment of salvation!

I need to ask you again: What do you hope for? Hoping in the resurrection will change the way you live resurrected!

“Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: “Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.”

― Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope