Question: "What is the significance of the anchor in the Bible?"
Answer: Anchors are nautical devices that provide stability to ships during harsh storms, protecting them from being tossed around at sea. Throughout history, anchors have served as a much-needed device for sailors. In the Bible, an anchor is used as a symbol of our hope in Jesus that gives us stability and steadfastness in life. In ancient days, the anchor was used in artwork and engravings as a symbol of Christianity. Anchors appear in the Roman catacombs on the tombs of Christians, showing the Christians’ steadfast hope in eternal life.
The word anchor is mentioned only in the New Testament. It refers to a literal anchor in some passages but is used as a metaphor in others. Anchors are mentioned in the account of Paul’s voyage to Rome during a severe storm and subsequent shipwreck (Act 27:13, 17, 29–30, 40). Jesus and His disciples are also said to have anchored their boat in Gennesaret (Mark 6:53).
The Bible uses an anchor figuratively to depict the hope we have as the anchor of our soul: “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:17–20). According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, sailors would often carry the anchor in a smaller boat away from the ship to where it could be dropped (Victor, 1983, p. 797), and this is a good image of Jesus, our forerunner, who has entered heaven and made our hope secure. Instead of an anchor that reaches down into the sea, the Christian’s anchor reaches up into heaven where Jesus continually intercedes for us (Hebrews 6:20; Romans 8:34). We are anchored to the Holy of Holies.
According to Hebrews 6:19, the anchor of our souls is our hope of God’s inheritance in Christ. Unlike the feelings-based, doubt-infused definition of hope common in our world, the Christian’s hope is “a strong and trustworthy anchor” (NLT). Our hope is “firm and secure” because it is based on Jesus and the promises of God. Our hope anchors us during the stormy seasons of life. We have been given an anchor for the soul, a lasting hope “both sure and unshakable” (BLB). All else is fleeting and changing, but Jesus remains the same (Hebrews 13:8).
When the storms of life flood the Christian with fear, worry, or doubt, he or she can hold onto God’s promises and find stability in the salvation Jesus has provided. No matter what happens, God’s promises remain. He does not want His children to be set adrift; He wants them to be fixed in a secure place. Just as an anchor grounds a ship to protect it from going adrift at sea, so also does our hope in Jesus keep us grounded and secure during the difficult, uncertain, and often painful tempests of life.