In the previous session, we saw how all creation waits for the redemption of all things. In this study, we read about how we should wait. 

(A) The wait for hope

Paul shifts from talking about creation and addresses people like him (we ourselves) -- people who believe in Jesus Christ, and have the ‘firstfruits of the Spirit’ (Rom 8:23a). The concept of firstfruits is linked to agriculture, to the harvest. It specifically refers to the first produce of the harvest, but also signals that there is more to come. This is our first clue that for people who are in the Spirit, there is more of the harvest to come, more to hope for. 

We also read that these people ‘groan inwardly’ (Rom 8:23b), like creation. Pain and suffering and the troubles of the whole world indicate that it is broken. But this brokenness was not merely on a cosmic scale. Paul is now drawing attention to the believer's own brokenness. This inward groaning is not just because of the difficulties of life, but also in awareness of the brokenness brought on by sin. Why did Paul need to mention this intentionally? It may be that Christians had begun to increasingly detach themselves from the things happening around them, and sometimes maybe we do this today too. We are not exempt from the experience of brokenness and groaning. We also cannot revel so much in the blessings that God has graciously provided already, so much so that we forget there is a greater hope. 

These groaning believers are told to wait ‘eagerly’ (Rom 8:23) and ‘with patience’ (Rom 8:25). On a closer look, we might realise that these are 2 contrasting adverbs. Eagerness carries with it the idea of enthusiasm, excitement, longing, zeal, thirst/hunger – all things that can serve as motivation for action and it builds a desire for something. But it can be impatient. This is where Paul introduces the idea of patience -- bringing with it the idea of endurance, persistence, perseverance – things that come with assurance of the goal. Realise also that we are not always excited while waiting patiently, e.g. waiting to see a doctor. Hence, when we put both descriptors together, we see that we are waiting excitedly and also with endurance, fully assured of a hope that is truly amazing and wonderful! 

(B) The promises of hope 

Here, we'll take a look at the example of Abraham and Sarah: (Heb 11:8-13). From these verses, we are meant to see that they acted in obedience in response to a promise. Everything they did was within the frame and in view of this promise. This was what they were working towards. The table below breaks down the verses for us: 


What they did:


How they did it:


Why they did it:



Fulfilment of promise


Left home, not knowing where to go. Lived in a foreign land as a nomad.

By faith

He was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God

From one man, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.


Gave birth even though she was 90.

She considered Him faithful who has promised.

From these verses, we can learn one principle -- We are to wait in a way that reflects the value of what is being waited for. We spoke about ‘waiting well’ in the last study, and this study, we'll take a deeper look at what it means.  Abraham and Sarah did not live passively, but they had an active waiting. They exercised faith, and were active, eager to do as God commanded. Their hope was anchored in the promises of God, and they knew the character of the one who made these promises. As a result, they waited intentionally, and patiently, fully assured of the goal, and looked forward to the hope of the fulfilment of these wonderful promises. Do we wait well, when there is a hope in front of us? Are we waiting well as we are students, or working? What can we do to wait better? 

But, what specific promises are believers waiting for? We turn back to Romans 8:23b and see that we are waiting for our adoption as sons and the redemption of our bodies. As we have seen in previous studies, it means having a new identity in Christ and a new inheritance through faith. The redemption of bodies is about the restoration of our corrupted physical and spiritual states. Everything is going to be made new, made right. This is such a complete, comprehensive and full restoration. There is a vertical aspect to it -- mending of relationship with God (sons) -- and a horizontal aspect -- mending of bodies and the world around us (redemption). 

But notice also that these are promises made specifically to those who believe in the Gospel of Christ -- Paul says "in this hope we were saved". What does hope have to do with our salvation (Rom 8:24a)?  Salvation is inseparable from the hope it brings – like a package deal. By being saved we are also given a new hope. It is sometimes much easier to think on salvation because in some ways, it’s more tangible – but if you’re like me, you sometimes forget hope because it’s further off and less imaginable. The assurance of salvation is the assurance of hope. What does it mean that salvation and hope come together? Doesn't it also show something about the God who gives these promises, saves us, and provides our hope? 

Here, we learn a second important principle -- Our hope is founded upon the promises of a faithful God who saves. It is incredible how much we receive when we come into the fold of God. He pulls us out of the pit of sin, despair and death, and not only that, He gives us this abundant hope. This is grace given freely to us through the Gospel, but we often forget hope, do not treasure it. How can we take all of God’s grace to heart? How can we remember them constantly? 

(C) The worth of hope

Paul uses a rhetorical question -- a question with an obvious answer -- in Rom 8:24b. He asks, "for who hopes for what he sees?". This affirms a clear, established idea for the reader or hearer. He is trying to establish thet point that what we do not see is better than what is seen. Why is that? Here, hope is being used as both a verb and a noun. What is coming (noun) and waiting for it (verb) is so much better than insisting and contending with what you have now. Like what he said earlier, we have the firstfruits of the Spirit now, but there is still a greater harvest to come. 

This verse also challenges and warns us against putting our hopes in things that are seen. We are told clearly that hope that is seen is NOT hope! Heb 11:14-15 shows us that everyone is looking for something to hope in or for, and can easily return to past hopes, worldly ways of thinking, and  therefore we ‘wait’ (i.e. live) for these "seen" things.  We can break it down into 3 broad categories:

  • Worldly pursuits (If I gain money, power, good grades, recognition, I am satisfied, my hope is met)
  • Earthly Spiritual blessings (If my ministry in church or in school is prospering, if I know more about God, if I experience Him, that’s all there is to Him)
  • Making the unseen seen (I know so much about the hope that is to come, that I say it almost flippantly, I remember it but that’s that). 

Instead of putting our hopes in these things and these things only, we have to desire the right thing (Heb 11:16) – a better country, a heavenly one. The verses in Hebrews also show us God's provision for His people, and His personal relationship with them! God is not ashamed to be called the God of those who hope in the things not seen. 

As we close this study, we are reminded and challenged that the only hope worth waiting for is the future we cannot see.  One day our faith will become sight, and we will see the fulfilment of the promises of all the things unseen. But as we continue to live and wait here, what are some seen things we hope for and wait for? Will we once again put the only hope worth waiting for back into our hearts and lives?