Remaining vigilant in the faith requires constant attention and care for one another.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14: “Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong! Let all that you do be done in love.”
As the apostle Paul is drawing his first Corinthian epistle to a close, this spontaneous admonition stands in contrast to the comparatively mundane instructions surrounding it. It’s as if he is summarizing the content of the epistle within these simple phrases.
This concept of being strong and standing firm in the faith is a common one throughout Hebraic culture of the Bible.
- Psalm 27:14: “Wait for Yahweh. Be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for Yahweh.”
- Psalm 31:24: “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in Yahweh.”
In Hebrew, the concept of being courageous is equated with being bold, standing firm, being strong, and standing alert. This was the admonition presented to Joshua by Moses as he was being instructed to take the land of Canaan for the Israelites.
- Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for Yahweh your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you.””
- Deuteronomy 31:23: “He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to them. I will be with you.””
Paul appears to be harkening back to these passages of encouragement. The Corinthian believers were struggling on many fronts, both internally and externally, and they needed to be encouraged.
- 1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the congregation. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
- 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 – Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
Interestingly, Paul encapsulates the idea of standing firm and being strong within the practice of recognizing their own weaknesses and loving one another. By loving one another, the believers could stand strong, building one another up in the faith.
This vigilance is necessary for believers today as we stand apart from this world and its value system. There is strength in unity and love. We can overcome internal differences and struggles that we may have, just like the Corinthian believers were challenged to do. May we stand strong together with vigilance in the face of all opposition in this current generation as we seek to honor the One who calls us to himself.
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