Today’s reading: 1 Cor 16
In the closing chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul is saying goodbye and making plans to travel and eventually make his way back to Corinth. As he is doing so he states a final summary of his teaching:
Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
This is a verse that can and should be closely analyzed.
“Be watchful” – Why? Paul’s invocation to be watchful implies that there is a reason to be watchful. What could this reason be? It could be something good or bad. The second coming of the Lord or the temptation to fall into sin? Regardless, things are coming and sitting by and being idle is not the way of a Christian.
“stand firm in your faith” – In advocating this Paul implies that faith will be tested and can fail. Thus, no can have a personal assurance of salvation at all times. One must stand firm in faith by continuously recommitting to it.
“be courageous” – courage is the ability to face a problem when it arises. By advocating that the Corinthians be courageous he is implying that there will be dangers to face in the future.
“be strong” – in this context to be strong implies that whatever danger arises will last for a period of time. One could be courageous the moment something arises but as time goes on one can grow weary. Paul is advocating a sustained courage and a sustained faith because the dangers will last.
“Let all that you do be done in love.” – This is the essence of the Gospel. It matters not if you have faith alone for “faith without works is dead”. What matters is faith working through love. In fact, Paul will say exactly that in the letter to the Galatians.
One could read this last chapter and blow through it quickly giving little thought to Paul’s “travel arrangements”. However, reading scripture closely reveals that every word has a potentially greater meaning.
Tomorrow: 2 Cor 1