Question: "What does it mean that we have this hope as an anchor (Hebrews 6:19)?"
Answer: In Hebrews 6:16–20, the biblical writer intends to instill steadfast hope in his readers to keep them from drifting about aimlessly through the Christian life. He does so by identifying three wholly reliable sources of hope as an anchor for the soul: God’s Word, God’s character, and God’s Son.
The Lord not only gives us the promise of salvation and eternal life (John 3:16), but He reinforces it by binding Himself with an oath “so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind” (Hebrews 6:17, NLT). God’s Word and nature are rock solid. He is trustworthy, and “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). The dependability of God’s promise and His character bolster our faith so that we can “take hold of the hope set before us” and “be greatly encouraged” (verse 18).
“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 6:19–20). God’s Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, is a powerful and dependable anchor for our souls.
Our hope-inspired encouragement is based on the finished work of Christ. As our high priest, Jesus “has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven. . . . With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:11–12, NLT). Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ has won the ultimate victory over sin and death for us (Colossians 2:14–15; Romans 6:9; 1 John 5:4). Because of Him, we have the promise of eternal life (1 John 2:25).
The anchor has been a symbol of hope among Christians since the days of the early church. (A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, Vol. I, W. Smith & S. Cheetham, ed., London: John Murray, 1875, p. 81). The anchor metaphor emphasizes the stability and safety of Christ as our hope. The writer describes this hope as an anchor that is “firm and secure” (NIV), “sure and steadfast” (ESV), “strong and trustworthy” (NLT). A ship’s anchor allows the vessel to remain fixed and unmoving regardless of the conditions at sea. Our faith in Jesus Christ keeps us from becoming “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).
Just as an anchor stops a ship from drifting with the winds and currents, keeping our eyes on the hope of heaven (2 Corinthians 4:16–18) and the “pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), who is Jesus Christ, will prevent our souls from wavering and wandering in times of pressure and turmoil. God has “caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:3–6, ESV).
As believers, we have “a living hope” and “hope as an anchor” that holds secure because it is tethered to the steadfast Word of God and the unchanging, reliable character of God. He is faithful, and His promises are true (Joshua 21:45; Psalm 33:4; Hebrews 10:23). One commentator imagines the anchor’s rope extending “from heaven’s heights back down to earth, where faithful people can ‘seize the hope set before us.’ Like rock climbers scaling an imposing height, Christians steady themselves by trusting God’s promises, holding on for dear life to this cord of hope” (Long, T., Hebrews, John Knox Press, 1997, p. 78). With Jesus Christ as our anchor, no power of darkness and no earthly opposition can harm us (Romans 8:31–34).
We live with hope because we possess the Holy Spirit inside us as a guarantee of our redemption and full adoption as sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:23–25; Ephesians 1:11–14). When this “earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling . . . so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 5:1–5).
The hope set before us as an anchor of our soul is that Jesus Christ has already gone before us into the holy of holies where God dwells in glory. God’s Word promises that we will be with Him there one day. That future reality is already secured by the finished work of Jesus, our High Priest. He is also our Great Shepherd who “through the blood of the eternal covenant” equips us “with everything good for doing his will” while we are on earth (Hebrews 13:20–21; see also Ephesians 2:8–10). This hope as an anchor holds us steady in this life and secure in the future because it is firmly attached to the eternal throne of God.