Monday, 4 May 2015
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
Paul has laid out his doctrine, explained his intentions, and given his directions for the coming gift which is to be taken to Jerusalem. Now he immediately turns to final exhortations beginning with, “Watch!” This is a common sentiment found in the Bible. Ezekiel was designated a watchman, Jesus exhorted the disciples to watch on several occasions, and Paul follows along with this same admonition. It is an exhortation he uses elsewhere as well –
“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6
Next he tells them to “stand fast in the faith.” Five other times Paul uses the term “stand fast” for various reasons. One of them parallels his thought here which is concerning doctrine –
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15
After this, he tells them to “be brave.” This is the Greek word andrizó. It means, “Act like men!” It is its only use in the New Testament, but the Greek translation of the OT does use it. Notably it is seen in Joshua 1 several times such as in this verse –
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
These and similar exhortations are found all around the Bible. They implore us to always be alert and careful. Jesus gives quite of few of them to the seven churches of Revelation and also towards the end of Revelation. For those in Corinth, like many churches today, they are especially important because of the spiritual lethargy which permeates the church. As John Chrysostom notes, in Christian matters the church is “drowsy, unstable, effeminate, and factious.” Only by being on constant guard will we steer clear of disaster as we await the return of our righteous Lord.
Life application: As a church, when we think we have it made, we should probably step back and evaluate where we really stand. Reading and taking to heart the seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation is a good way of making a personal evaluation of where any individual congregation stands at any time. Let us heed the words of the Lord and be watchful concerning our spiritual state.
Heavenly Father, a large comfy church with lots of donations coming in, coffee going out, and great light shows at every service does not necessarily indicate either a healthy church, or one which is safe from falling. I know that what You cherish is adherence to Your word, a right explanation of it, and congregants willing to place sound doctrine above ease and comfort. Help me to be such a person and to be an example of such a person to others. My hope and desire is not to be comfortable on Sunday morning, but to have Your approval when I face You for judgment. Amen.