Our main verse… 1 Corinthians 16:13… Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Matthew 24:42… Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
Galatians 5:1… It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
1 Kings 2:2… I am going the way of all the earth. So be strong, and prove yourself a man.
1 Corinthians 16:13 is A GREAT CHRISTIAN “TETRAD” FOR ALL GOD’S CHILDREN
Tetrad describes a set of four things, especially four things regarded as a similar object or thought.
*Be on the alert, *stand firm in the faith, *act like men, *be strong.
This great exhortation from Paul to the Corinthians who needed correction has four “staccato-like” commands, each one in the present imperative…
The present imperative being: Continually or habitually follow this command! The Present Imperative is often a call to a long-term commitment and calls for the attitude or action to be one’s continual way of life (lifestyle)… giving four “opportunities” (necessities) to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey.
These four exhortations have a military tone.
• Believers must be as sentinels on guard, they must maintain their position, they must manifest courage, and must become strong.
And the exhortations were evidently needed, against insensibility to spiritual dangers, against desertion from the truth, against moral weakening.
The Corinthian church was replete with problems.
Paul had sent spiritual leaders and teachers among them with mixed results.
He now gives a few final exhortations which are concise but poignant.
In simple words, Paul is telling the Corinthian Christians to grow up and behave like men.
Paul’s commands were not merely to be memorized or written down—they were meant to be put into practice immediately and lived out continually.
So… Let’s look at our 1st command for victorious living:
BE ON THE ALERT!
Be on the alert… Greek verb: gregoreuo (gray-gor-yoo’-o) (be on guard, be watchful, be vigilant, stay awake spiritually, watch out)
Matthew Henry on Be on the alert… “That they should watch (KJV), be wakeful and upon their guard. A Christian is always in danger, and therefore should ever be on the watch; but the danger is greater at some times and under some circumstances. The Corinthians were in manifest danger upon many accounts: their feuds ran high, the irregularities among them were very great, there were deceivers among them, who endeavored to corrupt their faith in the most important articles, those without which the practice of virtue and piety could never subsist. And surely in such dangerous circumstances it was their concern to watch. If a Christian would be secure, he must be on his or her guard; and the more his or her danger the greater vigilance is needful for security.”
We are to be watchful and ready to respond to external influences, focused, alert for the winds of temptation or overt attacks of evil.
The first use of gregoreuo (gray-gor-yoo’-o) by our Lord is in relation to His Second Coming.
• Matthew 24:42… “Therefore be on the alert (gregoreuo (graygor-yoo’-o) is in the (present imperative: make this your lifestyle), for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
He wants us to be alert for we do not know the hour when He will return, but we know He will return.
Most of the NT uses are in reference to the Christians’ being spiritually awake and alert, as opposed to being spiritually indifferent and listless.
1 Peter 5:8… Be of sober spirit (aorist imperative): Calls for a SPECIFIC, DEFINITE, DECISIVE choice. “DO THIS NOW, AT ONCE, ONCE FOR ALL and in one quick action (in contrast to present imperative which commands a habitual action). Often expresses a note of URGENCY.), be on the alert (gregoreuo – present imperative: habitually follow this command!) (WHY???). Your adversary, the devil, (present tense – continually) prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Yes, we can cast the burden of our anxiety and cares on God, but we are not absolved of the duty to remain sober and watchful.
God’s Spirit will enable us to carry out both of these commands but we are ultimately responsible to carry them out in loving obedience.
To sum up all of the commands given to us in the NT (of which there are in the range of 1000!), believers are 100% dependent and 100% responsible to obey!
Peter is saying you must “Do this now. Keep your head clear!”
So… Be of Sober Spirit… Be on the Alert!
Let’s look at our 2nd command for victorious living:
STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH!
Paul had warned of the danger of prideful “standing” writing “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed (present imperative: Continually, habitually follow this command!) see that he does not fall..” (1 Cor 10:12)
In giving the “definition” of the Gospel Paul alluded to “standing” in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2… “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, (perfect tense: ACTION COMPLETED at a SPECIFIC POINT of TIME in PAST (●) with results CONTINUING into the PRESENT) (So they took their stand by grace through faith and still standing) 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.”
Stand firm (be unmoved) in the faith… Make this the habit of your life.
The only way to “stand firm” is to be standing on a rock solid, unshakeable foundation and here the foundation is the faith, not subjective faith (believing) but objective faith (the object believed)
“The faith of which Paul speaks here is not the faith of trusting but the faith of truth, the content of the gospel.” (MacArthur)
Indeed, most often in the NT, the faith refers to the sound Christian doctrine, especially the Gospel.
Paul had just written “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand (perfect tense = your state) ” (1 Cor 15:1)
In other words…Paul is saying in essence keep standing firm in the Gospel of your salvation.
The Gospel saved you in the past (justification – past tense salvation), it continues to save you daily (progressive sanctification) and will “save” you into Heaven (glorification – future tense salvation) when you receive your new resurrection body.
In sum, the faith refers not to the ACT of believing but rather to WHAT is believed.
The phrase stand firm has three modifiers in the NT and all are critical if one is to stand firm…
(1) stand firm in the faith (1 Cor 16:13),
(2) standing firm in the Spirit (Php 1:27+)
(3) stand firm in the Lord (Php 4:1+, 1 Th 3:8+).
Matthew Henry on “Stand firm in the faith… Keep your ground, adhere to the revelation of God, and not give it up for the wisdom of the world, nor suffer oneself to be corrupted by it. Stand for the faith of the gospel and maintain it even to death; and stand in it, so as to abide in the profession of it, and feel and yield to its influence. A Christian should be fixed in the faith of the gospel, and never desert nor renounce it.
Galatians 5:1… It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm (present imperative calling for us to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) and do not be subject (present
imperative with a negative) again to a yoke of slavery.
• Present imperative with a negative… ‘’STOP an action which is already going on’’. CEASE an act in progress. Keep on refusing to do this and/or, stop doing this if it has already started!
John MacArthur… “Satan cannot take saving faith away from us, but he can, and often does, obscure the content of our faith, the sound doctrines of God’s Word. If we do not hold fast to right interpretations of Scripture, we are certain to slip into wrong thinking, wrong belief, and wrong behavior.”
Here is an illustration of a man who was standing firm… At the height of WWII, Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for taking a stand against Hitler. Yet he continued to urge fellow believers to resist Nazi tyranny. A group of Christians, believing that Hitler was the Antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer, “Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day, and all your work and suffering will be for nothing.” Bonhoeffer replied, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it’s finished.
Let’s look at our 3rd command for victorious living:
ACT LIKE MEN!
Act like men… This command is “short hand” for “Grow up,” stop acting like little children!
The thought is for them (enabled by the Spirit) to be courageous like men as opposed to little children, which is how Paul had characterized many of them (this was when he was actually present with them the first time) writing they were “men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.” (1Cor 3:1).
And in 1 Corinthians 14:20 Paul had written “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.”
They, the Corinthians, needed to set aside their fussiness, whining, and complaining and instead progress toward maturity in Christ, but they had failed to shed their dependence on the blankies, bottles, and binkies that had soothed them in their baby Christian days.
These “props” of comfort were closely connected to the secular world around them.
How easy it was for them to slip back into the secular crib of their infancy rather than learn to walk on their own two feet by the grace of God and through the power of the Spirit!
Matthew Henry on Act like men… “Act the manly, firm, and resolved part: behave strenuously, in opposition to the bad men who would divide and corrupt you, those who would split you into factions or seduce you from the faith: be not terrified nor inveigled won over by by them; but show yourselves men in Christ, by your steadiness, by your sound judgment and firm resolution. Christians should be manly and firm in all their contests with their enemies, in defending their faith, and maintaining their integrity.”
Act like men … andrizo… act in a valiant or courageous way, be brave, conduct oneself in a courageous way, behave oneself (middle voice) with the wisdom and courage of a man, as opposed to a babe or child in Christ.
LISTEN… Sexual immorality, relentless assault of feminism, overexposure to perversion, complete collapse of homes has just produced generations of bad fathers.
And the reality is nothing is more devastating to a society than that, nothing.
And on the other hand, the only hope for stability and the only hope for sanity, the only hope for peace in a society is masculine, virtuous men.
Evil abounds absolutely everywhere. How men respond to its presence determines the survival and well-being of a society.
No culture will ever rise above the character of its men.
Courage is the stock-in-trade of a man: courage in the face of danger, courage in the face of temptation, courage in the face of loss, couragein the face of suffering.
There’s nothing more manly than a man with consummate conviction, courage, and endurance, who is marked by love.
That’s a man – not weak, not vacillating, not fearful.
Let’s look at our 4th command for victorious living:
Paul taught that one should pray for spiritual strengthening even as he prayed for the saints in Ephesus asking the Father to “grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man (Eph 3:16).
Be strong… Paul is calling for spiritual, not physical strengthening.
In the physical world one might lift weights and so strengthen themselves, but in the spiritual world, believers cannot strengthen themselves for that task belongs solely to the Lord!
However, don’t forget that believers do have a role/responsibility in this spiritual strengthening… we are not just to “Let go and let God”.
The believer’s “job” is to submit [yield, surrender] himself or herself to God’s Spirit [believers can resist, quench and grieve the Spirit] in order for Him to strengthen us.
The Greek verb passive voice of ‘Be Strong’ conveys the idea that the SUBJECT is being ACTED UPON by an OUTSIDE force or power.
• SUBJECT is the RECIPIENT or the RECEIVER of the verbal action or effect.
• In English passive voice is usually indicated by the phrase “to be”.
So, with that in mind let’s look at this verse in 2 Timothy 2:1… “We can only “be [passive voice] strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” , and “be [passive voice] strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”
“The strength to obey the Lord is not connected to an Olympian physique. It comes by the power of God to the inner person—the unseen character, attitudes, affections, and passions that drive us toward the good and away from the bad.”
In Philippians 2:13… Paul lets us in on a secret about the inner power that transforms our outer lifestyle: “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Our responsibility is to take on the world’s challenges with strength,but we must do so knowing that our strength comes from the Lord, not from ourselves.
The person who thinks he is strong in himself is in the greatest danger of falling (1 Cor 10:12)….The supreme source of all spiritual strength, of course, is Christ Himself. “I can do all things through Him Who (present tense… continually) strengthens (endunamoo, (en-doo-nam-o’-o) me.”
Psalm 27:14… Wait for the LORD; Be strong (act like a man!) and let your heart take courage, be strengthened in your heart.
Psalm 31:24… Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.
*Be on the alert, *stand firm in the faith, *act like men, *be strong!