“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

Manliness has taken a beating in our modern world.  It is often either denied or distorted.  It’s difficult even mentioning manliness without turning it into a joke somehow.

But the gospel is so comfortable with God’s created order that manliness has a vital place.  Paul takes all he has taught in 1 Corinthians — the humility of the gospel, sexual integrity, marriage and singleness, personal entitlements, how to take communion, spiritual gifts, the resurrection — he translates all that theology into this practical summary: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

Act like men?  Yes.  Calvin: “He encourages them to be manly and courageous.”  And Paul gives this charge to the entire congregation in Corinth — men and women, boys and girls.  I remember reading about a Scottish mother whose son had been taken prisoner of war.  She didn’t go into hysterics.  Her comment was, “God have mercy on the man who’s chained to our Davy!”

Like the valiant Jesus himself, “the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).

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4 thoughts on “1 Corinthians 16:13”

  1. Laura says:

    What does he contrast manliness with? Immaturity? Or womanliness? I hope not the latter, because if so, this:

    the humility of the gospel, sexual integrity, marriage and singleness, personal entitlements, how to take communion, spiritual gifts, the resurrection — he translates all that theology into this practical summary: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

    implies some really awful things about womanliness.

    1. Wyeth Duncan says:

      Do you consider 1 Peter 3:7 an insult to women?

      “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel…”

      It’s not. It’s a simple statement of fact: the average man is stronger than the average woman. I would think any wife would be grateful if her husband treated her “in an understanding way, showing honor.”

      In the same way, I don’t think 1 Corinthians 16:13 should be taken to imply something awful about womanliness. It is truly an unfortunate situation if something positive can’t be said about men or manliness without someone taking offense.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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