Summary: Paul final instructions to the Corinthians are too frequently neglected in the rush for self-fulfillment in this day. The Apostle would urge modern believers to embrace these instructions or face defeat before the enemy of the soul.
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
A fusillade of commands at the conclusion of most of his letters is a mark of authenticity for Paul’s letters; and this first letter to the Christians of Corinth is no exception. In this day when Christians are more likely to be dilettantes, sciolists or abecedarians rather than warriors, one cannot help but be struck by the masculine, martial tone of the commands with which Paul draws this letter to a close. It is obvious from his writings that the Apostle admired the manly characteristics of the ancient warriors—courage, commitment, confidence. Such values are expected to mark the life of each Christian.
Though the apostolic commands speak of virile faith and life, by no means should we expect that women are excluded from the expectation for vigorous service. Just as godly men are expected to be gentle, nourishing the weak, so Christian women are urged to exhibit these qualities that mark vigorous faith. Together, we will do well to explore the words of the Apostle, as we seek to equip ourselves to glorify God and to advance His Kingdom.
ESSENTIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR A POWERFUL CHRISTIAN LIFE — The five imperatives of our text summarise the whole duty of the Christian in trying times and amid the various temptations such as have been described in this letter to Corinthian Christians. If we will honour God and perform the duties assigned by divine decree, we must memorise these commands, exercising them in our individual lives continuously until we unconsciously perform them in our daily walk.
Listen once again to the commands as we prepare to examine them in greater detail. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” The first command that the Apostle has given believers is to “Be watchful.” This particular command was frequently issued by our Lord. Especially as He began instructing the disciples concerning the last days, Jesus spoke frequently of the need to be watchful.
After careful instruction describing the conditions during the last days, the Master spoke of His coming again. He said to the disciples, “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into” [MATTHEW 24:36-43]. He concluded His instruction with this warning, “Stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” [MATTHEW 24:42]. “Stay awake,” “be watchful.” As the last days near, keep our eyes open and watch for the Master.
Shortly after this, Jesus told the parable of the ten virgins. You will no doubt recall the parable that Jesus told His disciples. “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”
Take special note of the concluding warning the Master appended to this parable. “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” [MATTHEW 25:1-13].