In the past, the Christians in Corinth had been much too weak. The result was that many wrong and foolish ideas had taken control over both their church and their lives. They must not allow this situation to continue. Now they must learn to be strong.
Paul has already given such an instruction in 1 Corinthians 15:58. Here in 1 Corinthians 16:13, he repeats the same instruction in 4 different ways, to emphasise it even more strongly.
These 4 instructions are all military instructions. They are the kind of advice that soldiers give to each other before a battle.
(1) Like soldiers, Christians must watch carefully (Mark 14:38). Their enemy, the devil, will certainly try to attack them (1 Peter 5:8).
(2) When the enemy attacks, Christians must stand firm. They must put their trust completely in God. They must not allow the devil to frighten them. A soldier who tries to run away from the battle is in great danger (Psalm 78:9).
(3) So, during troubles, Christians should be brave. They should behave like men, and not like children (3:1-2; 13:11).
(4) Lastly, even the weakest Christian should be strong. A soldier must use all his strength to fight in a battle (Joel 3:10). However, Christians do not depend on their own strength. God gives them the strength that they need (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The last two instructions also appear in the Septuagint for Psalm 27:14 and Psalm 31:24. The Septuagint was an ancient Bible translation in the Greek language.† Perhaps Paul wanted to remind his readers about those Psalms. They emphasise something that Paul does not explain here. Godís people follow these instructions because they are waiting for God to act powerfully on their behalf. It is God, and not any person, who will win this battle.
Next part: Act in love (1 Corinthians 16:14)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.