Message # 59 | 1 Corinthians 16:5-24 | October 15, 2017

Introduction

“Man up and show affection for one another.” Well now, that’s a bit unusual. You’ve probably seen or heard of things that don’t typically go together, fire and water, orange juice and milk, orange juice and oreos ☹, chocolate and mustard, dogs and cats, chocolate and your pocket on a warm day, your grandma and breakdancing, a shared entrance for a candy store and kids yoga studio, and the list could go on . . . some of you are thinking it went on longer than it should have already.

I suppose it’s a bit of cliché or a broad generalization but men and affection often don’t seem to get placed together. Let me point you to the two verses that, at first glance, seem to communicate this. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor 16:13–14 ESV). We’re going to take a deeper look at these phrases, but before we do, let me offer a statement that more accurately portrays Paul’s sentiment rather than, “man up and show affection.”

Purpose Statement. Spiritual maturity and healthy community require intense spiritual strength accompanied by abundant affection.

A Courageous Community (16:13)

Be Watchful. Be alert. Be vigilant. Of course this word is used in a number of different context – moments as literal as Jesus telling his disciples to not fall asleep in the garden. But, when used in a more figurative manner, it usually refers to two types of alertness. (1) First, we are to be alert and waiting for the return of the Lord. “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matt 24:13). While we ought to always be alert for the return of the Lord, this is probably not the meaning of the verse in 1 Corinthians. (2) Secondly, this word is used in the context of being alert for the attacks of the flesh and Satan. Paul is calling these Corinthian believers to be spiritually alert to the reality of spiritual warfare, similar to the charge Peter offers in his epistle.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8–9 ESV).

Paul doesn’t want these believers to be lulled into a state of complacency. There is never a moment we get to turn off our alertness. We are always on spiritually.  This can be challenging though.

Consider having people in your home, friends or family. While they are present, you have a sense of obligation to them. You feel responsible to entertain them. Probably your family conversations  are more guarded. You probably wear different clothes when guests are over. You never really rest in the same way that you would when it’s just your family at home. You are always on. You are always alert to your words and actions (or at least hopefully you are). When your guests leave, the pajamas and the normal family mocking and sarcasm come back in force.

So then, let’s tie that idea to what Paul is commanding here. While we are still present within this world, we don’t ever really get to the place where we can turn off our alertness to the reality of the presence of sin and evil forces lurking around us. We are always turned on. Always spiritually awake. Don’t ever let your guard down. Satan is always looking for ways to cause us to stumble and destroy us.

Stand Firm in the Faith. To stand implies stability, firmness and steadfastness.[1] In this context it communicates the idea of “I’m not moving.”

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. . . . take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore (Ephesians 6:11–14 ESV).

But upon what are we standing? We are to stand in the faith. We are not standing in our faith. Our faith is weak and unstable. We stand in “The Faith.” While faith can refer to our personal trust, it can also refer to the content in which we trust. Paul writes similarly to the Thessalonians. “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us” (2 Thess 2:15 ESV). Similarly, Jude writes, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3 ESV).

Be Courageous and Strong. I purposefully place these two imperatives together, and I will explain in a moment. Before I do, let’s wrestle just a bit with their meaning. The ESV and NAS translate the first command as “act like men” and the KJV offers the even more confusing phrase, “quit you like men.” Other versions translate this word as “show courage” (NET) or “be courageous” (NLT, NIV). Our modern colloquialisms “man up” or “put your big boy pants on,” while probably a bit insulting and demeaning, are equal in meaning to this Greek word.

In a technical sense, it is entirely appropriate to translate this word as “act like men.” The Greek word for man is at the root of the word,[2]  but as one commentator wrote:

Thiselton. But here the gender issue threatens to obscure the force of be a man! ἀνήρ has two semantic oppositions, not one: it does not simply pose a contrast with supposedly “feminine” qualities; it also stands in contrast with childish ways, as strikingly in 1 Cor 13:11 . . . (I had a childish mind-set, attitude) but I set all this aside . . . (when I became a man). Hence the Greek suggests both maturity and courage:[3]

So then, the statement is not intended to command everyone to be like a man in contrast to a woman, but instead be mature in contrast to being childish. Be courageous in contrast to being driven by fear and emotion.

Paul likely purposefully placed these two commands to be strong and courageous together. It is very reflective of a common command throughout the Old Testament. Three times in Moses farewell address in Deuteronomy 31, Moses charges the people of Israel to “be strong and courageous”. Don’t fear for the Lord God will go with you (Deut 31:6, 7, 23).  Joshua offers a nearly identical charge to the people of Israel as they enter the promised land. “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land” (Josh 1:6). “Be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law” (Josh 1:7, Cf. 1:18). “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed” (Josh 1:9, 10:25). This same charge to be strong and courageous rings throughout the Old Testament, whether it’s reminders to Moses command (1 Chron 2:13), David’s exhortation to Solomon in the building of the temple (1 Chron 28:20), amidst the fear of an attacking enemy (2 Chron 32:7), or general exhortations in the Psalms (27:14, 31:24) and Prophets (Ezek 22:14, Dan 10:19).

At each point, the people of God were in a precarious position, a position that would naturally insight fear. God calls them to look to Him and not be afraid. Similarly, the believers in Corinth find themselves in a precarious position. They were being drawn away from the truth. Paul offers them a very common clarion call, “be courageous, be strong.”

An Affectionate Community (16:10-24)

Finish the statement for me. “Real men don’t.” Real men don’t use social media for more than 10 minutes a day. Real men don’t shave their armpits. Real men don’t carry their dogs in a handbag. Real men don’t wear skinnier pants than the women in their lives. Real men don’t admit to watching anything on Hallmark or Lifetime. Real men don’t stop and ask for directions. I suppose if you can keep driving and ask for directions you might still be a real man though. One blogger writes, “Real men don’t change, they evolve.”[4]  I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds manly.  The Huffington Post goes so far as to say, “real men don’t exist.”[5] (They do so rhetorically by the way.) Let me offer two more. Real men don’t cry. Real men don’t show too much emotion.

I would like to propose to you that Paul would likely recoil at those last two.  Within Christianity 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 may not be surprising, but they may seem a little unusual to even us. Paul has just exhorted us to “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” I don’t think many of us expected him to transition into “Let all that you do be done in love.” You could say that Paul thought the solution to every problem was to love everybody.

Love one another by serving. There are a few places within these twenty verses (16:5-24) in which Paul directs the Corinthian believes to serve the needs of others. (1) First, Paul mentions there service to him, “perhaps I will stay with you . . . so that you may help me on my journey” (1 Cor 16:6). (2) This same type of service was to be rendered to Timothy when he came. “When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace” (1 Cor 16:10–11 ESV). (3) He takes it a step further in verse 15 and commands the church to subject themselves to those “who have devoted themselves to the service of the saints” (1 Cor 16:15). He tells the church to voluntarily place themselves under the control and needs of these fellow servants. They were to voluntarily serve them.[6] They were to voluntarily submit to the model that they provide and to the needs they had.  They submitted themselves to Paul’s needs. They submitted themselves to the needs of Timothy. Their love for others was to be displayed through action.

Love one another with affection. Just in case you thought we were done with all the awkward conversations in 1 Corinthians, Paul throws one last awkward command in his closing. “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (1 Cor 16:20 ESV). This command is not unusual for Paul. Four times, in the closing of an epistle, he commands the church to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom 16:16, 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Thess 13:12). “The fact that the command to kiss appears four times in Paul and once in 1 Peter makes it necessary to ask why something as spontaneous as a kiss would need to be commanded.”[7] Justin Martyr, one of the early-second-century apologists, referenced this practice in his writings.

Justin Martyr. But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person . . . Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss.[8]

We would probably find the practice of greeting one another with a kiss as quite uncomfortable and probably inappropriate. Some of you struggle letting anyone hug you. Kissing everyone sounds unthinkable and maybe even a little unhealthy 😊 Of course all of us would probably prefer our kids not pick up too quickly on the practice. We’re not alone in this concern. Another early church apologists was Clement of Alexandria. In reference to greeting one another with a kiss, he wrote the following.

Clement of Alexandria. And if we are called to the kingdom of God, let us walk worthy of the kingdom, loving God and our neighbour. But love is not proved by a kiss, but by kindly feeling. But there are those, that do nothing but make the churches resound with a kiss, not having love itself within. For this very thing, the shameless use of a kiss, which ought to be mystic, occasions foul suspicions and evil reports. The apostle calls the kiss holy.2 When the kingdom is worthily tested, we dispense the affection of the soul by a chaste and closed mouth, by which chiefly gentle manners are expressed.[9]

Athenagoras, another second century apologists, went so far as to say that the Logos says, “If any one kiss a second time because it has given him pleasure, [he sins].” Although somewhat humorous, his intent was for the care of his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Athenagoras. we exercise the greatest care that their bodies should remain undefiled and uncorrupted . . . Therefore the kiss, or rather the salutation, should be given with the greatest care, since, if there be mixed with it the least defilement of thought, it excludes us from eternal life.”[10]

Athenagoras offers an appropriate caution, but Tertullian offers an interesting view of the holy kiss. He complained that some have been withholding the “kiss of peace” after prayer made with brethren. He goes on to say, “What prayer is complete if divorced from the “holy kiss?”[11]

So then, Paul commands us to greet one another with a holy kiss. How do we follow his intent today? What is the point we are to draw from this? To answer that, lets first consider what the kiss conveyed or communicated. In the first century, as it does today, a kiss can communicate regard and honor. It can display affection. Likely Judas’ kissing Jesus on the cheek fit in with the current cultures manner of respecting a teacher – showing honor.

The Gospel of Luke tells us of a story in which Jesus was in Simon’s home. A sinful woman came into the home and anointed Jesus feet and continued to kiss his feet while wiping them with her hair. In the dialogue that follows Jesus tells Simon, “You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment” (Luke 7:45–46 ESV). Simon should have greeted Jesus with honor and respect by greeting him with a kiss. The woman on the other hand showed immense honor and affection for Jesus. This same affection was displayed by the Ephesian elders when they kissed Paul when he was leaving them for the last time.[12]

Before you conclude that the kiss was a culturally acceptable thing for the first century believer, let me caution you against drawing such a conclusion. “Greco-Roman society treated the public kiss . . . with considerable reticence.”[13] Evidence would indicate that while it may not have been abnormal for men to greet other men that way or women to greet other women that way, it likely was not culturally acceptable for men and women to greet one another this way. Yet, Paul tells them to do so anyway. And this may seem odd, afterall “ethical teachers are not noted for urging people to kiss. . . . [Paul] was certainly the first popular ethical teacher known to instruct members of a mixed social group to continue to greet each other with a kiss whenever and wherever they meet.”[14]

The timeless principle that flows from Paul’s command is that we should be quick to publicly show affection for other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to value and prize the relationship we share with one another to such a degree that we display this honor, affection, and unity by visibly and physically embracing one another. Paul’s command for these believers doesn’t seem to be restricted to the times when they worship together but extends to whenever they see one another.  The love that we say we possess for one another should be displayed visibly and publicly. Remember that it is by our love for one another that people will realize that we are disciples of Christ (John 13:35).

Love Christ. At this point in the epistle, Sosthenes (1:1) appears to have handed the pen over to Paul. Paul writes, “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand” (1 Cor 16:21). There is a lot of speculation as to why Paul wrote these three verses, some of the speculation quite scholarly and nuanced. Let me offer my simple perception. The fact that Paul is writing this makes it really important. We ought to pause and pay careful attention. Paul has no doubt agonized over the last 16 chapters. He has confronted them on

Disunity within the body over attachments to specific teachers,

Proclaiming the message of Christ crucified even though it appeared to be foolish,

Sexual immorality that has been ruining the church,

Forbidding lawsuits,

Addressing celibacy and divorce,

Their knowledge leading to pride,

Fleeing idolatry,

Gender distinctions in the church,

Head coverings,

Inappropriate observance of the Lord’s Supper,

Abuse of the spiritual gifts,

Lack of love, and

Disorder in their worship.

He then draws their attention back to the Gospel in chapter 15. He then tells Sosthenes to hand him the pen because he needs to write something important. “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!” (1 Cor 16:22 ESV).

Here’s the bottom line. You either don’t love Jesus and you are cursed or you love Jesus and are looking forward to his coming. Are you in or out? Make a decision. And as you do, remember, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt 6:24 ESV).

Conclusion

Paul’s conclusion to the book: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1 Cor 16:23–24 ESV).

Our conclusion to this passage: Spiritual maturity and healthy community require intense spiritual strength accompanied by abundant affection.

 

 

[1] Timothy Friberg, et al., Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 356. στήκω  impf. ἔστηκον (RV 12.4); a new verb from ἕστηκα, the perfect of ἵστημι (place, put); (1) literally stand (MK 11.25); (2) figuratively; (a) as demonstrating stability stand firm, be steadfast (1C 16.13); (b) as gaining approval when examined stand (RO 14.4), opposite πίπτω (fall)

[2] Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 128.  Act like men. ἀνδρίζω, med., come to manhood, Ar.fr.772 K.-A., Hyp.Fr. 228, τῷ σώματι ἀνδρίζεσθαι, Luc.Anach.15. II. make physically strong or manly, τοὺς γεωργοῦντας X.Oec.5.4. 2. endow with moral strength, Pl.Tht.151d; med., take courage, be resolute, X.An.4.3.34, Arist.EN1115b4, Lxx Jo.1.6, 1Ep.Cor.16.13, D.C.50.24.7.

[3] Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 1336.

[4] Most of these ideas came from a couple of lists online. Accessed October 12, 2017

https://www.onecountry.com/things-real-men-dont-do-2209779576.html

http://chadhowsefitness.com/2012/06/100-things-a-real-man-doesnt-do

[5] Accessed October 12, 2017 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jincey-lumpkin/real-men-dont-exist_b_1680278.html

[6] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 393. ὑποτάσσω    1aor. ὑπέταξα; pf. pass. ὑποτέταγμαι; 2aor. pass. ὑπετάγην; 2fut. pass. ὑποταγήσομαι; (1) active subject, bring under firm control, subordinate (RO 8.20b); (2) passive with a middle sense; (a) with a component of compulsion have to submit (LU 10.17, 20); (b) with a component of voluntary submission be submissive, obey, subject oneself (LU 2.51; EP 5.21)

[7] William Klassen, “The Sacred Kiss in the New Testament: An Example of Social Boundary Lines.” New Testament Studies 39, no. 1 (January 1993): 122.

[8] Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 185.

[9] Clement of Alexandria, “The Instructor,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 291.

[10] Athenagoras, “A Plea for the Christians,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. B. P. Pratten, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 146.

[11] Tertullian, “On Prayer,” in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. S. Thelwall, vol. 3, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 686.

[12] Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 1345.  The evidence of the Gospels may seem to suggest that the kiss usually denoted regard, respect, and honor, whether or not it also denoted affection. The kiss of Judas (Luke 22:47) accorded with the convention according to which a servant or pupil greeted a master with honor. Similarly, a host would kiss an honored guest (Luke 7:45). The parting kiss of the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:37) expresses gratitude and respect for Paul as well as affection.

[13] William Klassen, “The Sacred Kiss in the New Testament: An Example of Social Boundary Lines.” New Testament Studies 39, no. 1 (January 1993): 126.

[14] William Klassen, “The Sacred Kiss in the New Testament: An Example of Social Boundary Lines.” New Testament Studies 39, no. 1 (January 1993): 130.

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