Paul's 5-Point Exhortation

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Much of Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth was aimed at correcting a multitude of problems in the congregation. The church was divided as expressed in 1:10ff. He also dealt with a variety of other problems within the church, all of which may have been the result of their divided state. But in I Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul gave them a five-point exhortation. He wrote, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.” McGarvey, commenting on these statements, said, “In these brief...phrases, Paul sums up the burden of this entire epistle.” (Commentary on I Corinthians)

Watch ye. Even though this was originally addressed to the saints at Corinth, this is a timely duty for all Christians at all times. Both they and we today need to “watch” lest we cause division, for those who will teach false doctrine, and for those atheistic denials of God, the resurrection, and God’s inspired word. Jesus said for us to “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:42). The idea expressed here is that we must watch and be prepared at all times. Remember Peter’s admonition for us to be watchful because our “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8 ASV).

Stand fast in the faith. The faith that all Christians are to stand fast in is the Word of God, “the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). It is the Gospel which is “God’s power unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). We are warned against tampering with it in any way (Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18-19; II John 9-11). This is the marching order for every Christian for all time and in all places. Paul himself gave it a very important place in his own life, stating near the end, “I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6-8).

Quit you like men. Other translations give: “be brave” (NKJV); “be men” (YLT); “act like men” (ESV). Paul is saying “quit acting like babies, grow up, and act like men.” Many of the problems in the church at Corinth and today are caused by men acting like babies, quarreling, causing division, and insisting on having their way.

Be strong. We must be strong when it comes to resisting temptations, knowing that God provides the needed help (I Cor. 10:13). We must be strong in facing the “wiles of the devil” while completely outfitted with the armor provided by God (Eph. 6:11). We must be strong in refusing to be “conformed to this world,” but rather being “transformed” (Rom. 12:1-2). We must demonstrate this strength by regular and faithful attendance at worship service, by constant and liberal giving, by loving consideration of the rights, opinions and needs of others, and by the repudiation of the world’s value judgments. True strength is manifested by courageous and unwavering loyalty to the Word of God. We must study, learn, and use “the sword of the Spirit” properly (Eph. 6:17).

Let all things be done in charity (love). This statement is a summary of the entire 13th chapter. A constant and sincere love of the Lord, of His church, and of each individual member is the mark of a strong Christian. Love is the greatest because it is always marked by obedience (I Cor. 12:13; John 14:15; I John 3:18).

Let each of us study these things often and strive to make them a part of our everyday Christian life. 

Paul M. Wilmoth