"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
This article explains the Apostle Paul's exhortation to the Corinthian church to be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, and be loving (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
Consider. In what areas of your personal life today are you being challenged to stand firm in your faith in Christ? In what areas do you believe the church of Christ today needs to stand firm against the attacks of the enemy?
Introduction. The Apostle Paul concludes his letter to the Corinthian church with a concise and sharp series of exhortations. The first four exhortations in 1 Corinthians 16:13 - be alert (be watchful), stand firm in the faith, act like men (be courageous), and be strong - are like "pistol shots" or shouted military commands (Ref. 1). In contrast, the last exhortation in 1 Corinthians 16:14 - "Let all that you do be done in love" - is more gentle.
Paul loved the church at Corinth, and he spent much time teaching them (Acts 18:1, 5, 11). Even though Paul loved them and had taught them about Christ, he was concerned that they were "schismatic and factious," "ill-grounded in regard to very fundamental doctrines of the faith," undisciplined, and incapacitated for "vigorous warfare" (Ref. 1). Paul includes these sharp and emotional exhortations at the end of his letter to help them preserve their souls and to stand firm against the enemies of truth.
Be on the alert. The Greek word for be on the alert is grégoreó. Grégoreó means literally, stay awake, and figuratively, be vigilant, responsible, and watchful (Ref. 2). Paul's exhortation to the Corinthian church (to be alert, watchful) applies equally to us as believers in Christ today. Paul urged the Corinthian church to guard constantly against evils such as dissension, erroneous doctrine, false teaching, and temptations, "lest the enemies of truth and of holiness should steal upon them and surprise them" (Ref. 3). "They were to watch with the same vigilance that is required of a sentinel who guards a camp, lest an enemy should suddenly come upon them, and surprise the camp when the army was locked in sleep" (Ref. 3).
Stand firm in the faith. The Greek word for stand firm in 1 Corinthians 16:13 is stékó which means to persist, persevere, and stand fast (Ref. 4). The Greek word for faith is pistis which means belief, trust, faith, and confidence (Ref. 5). As believers in Christ, in addition to being watchful, we are to stand firm in the faith - that is, stand firm in our belief, trust, and confidence in Christ and in the word of God. I suggest these examples for standing firm in the faith:
Act like men (be courageous and brave). Paul uses the Greek word andrizó, which the 1995 New American Standard Bible translates as act like men (Ref. 7). Andrizó means "properly, to act as a full-grown, mature man; (figuratively) to be responsible and courageous by taking the initiatives God reveals through faith" (HELPS Word-studies, Ref. 8). Note the connection in the Greek definition between God providing the Christian believer faith and the Christian believer being courageous and brave to stand firm. The Greek word andrizó (act like men) occurs only once in the New Testament - here in 1 Corinthians 16:13 (Englishman's Concordance, Ref. 8).
Paul's message applies to both male and female believers today. We are to be spiritually mature, courageous, and brave as we stand firm in the faith.
Be strong. In 1 Corinthians 16:13 Paul uses an unusual word which is translated as be strong. The Greek word used here for be strong is krataioó. Krataioó (be strong) means to prevail by God's dominating strength working in the believer through faith (Ref. 9). Paul uses the same Greek word krataioó in his prayer for the church at Ephesus. "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man ..." (Ephesians 3:14-16, italics added).
Let all that you do be done in love. Paul transitions from the captain's words of command in 1 Corinthians 16:13 to the gentler exhortation, "Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14). The Greek word for love in this verse is agapé, which means divine love (what God prefers) (Ref. 10). As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, when we stand firm in the faith, we are to show God's divine love to others in everything that we say and do. Paul describes the love we are to show others when he wrote, "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered ..." (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
Apply. In what area of your personal life do you need God's strength to help you stand firm? What can you do to help the church of Christ today to stand firm against the enemies of God's truth?
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him." (1 John 5:1)
"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16)
This lesson is the third lesson in the series, "The Children of God" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2). This lesson is the second of two lessons on the Characteristics of a Child of God (Ref. 2). To learn more about "Becoming a Child of God," please review Ref. 1.
Consider. If someone asked you to describe the characteristics of a child of God, what would you say?
A child of God illumines others with the light of Christ. Jesus Christ himself is the light of the world (John 1:9, John 8:12). When Jesus said to his disciples, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14), Jesus described their (our) role to shine with his light, the light of Christ, upon the world. The light of Christ that we shine enlightens people and leads them to salvation and eternal life. When we are a child of God, we share the light of Christ upon the world effectively because the Holy Spirit indwells us and empowers us (John 14:16-17, Acts 1:8, Ref. 3).
A child of God should have the proper motive in doing good works. Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16, italics added). We are to avoid doing good deeds for ostentatious ("look at me") purposes. Jesus criticized people who do good works to bring praise to themselves rather than to God (Matthew 6:1-6). Our motive as a child of God should always be to glorify God, not ourselves.
A child of God must love all people.
The Greek word for love in these verses above is agapaó, which means to have a preference for, wish well to, regard the welfare of (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Ref. 4).
A child of God has the witness of the Spirit. The Apostle Paul writes, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16). The Greek word for bears witness with is summartureó which means to testify jointly, i.e. corroborate by (concurrent) evidence (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Ref. 5). When we are born of God, the Holy Spirit jointly testifies with our human spirit that God is our heavenly Father and that we are his child (Romans 8:15, Ref. 6 below).
A child of God should be alert (watchful) and sober (free from illusion). The Apostle Paul begins 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 with "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Then Paul says, "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day ..." (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, italics added).
Paul then states a characteristic of children of God, "so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:6, italics added.) As a child of God:
Apply. In self-examination, consider each of the characteristics of a child of God covered in this lesson.
In the next, and final, lesson in this series, we will discuss the nature and benefits of our adoption as children of God.
6. Kenneth S. Wuest, "Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament," Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973
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