I Corinthians 16:12-24 NKJV
12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.
13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.
15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints— 16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.
17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s.
22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Here at the close of Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth, two things seem to stand out.
First, in v. 13 Paul urges the brethren to “watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave (literally ‘act like men’), be strong.” In Paul’s day the Corinthian congregation had some serious concerns such as adultery, an unclear grasp of the Lord’s Supper, and an unclear understanding about Christ’s resurrection and resurrection in general. Paul spent no small number of words in this first letter trying to get them on the right track again. They were to keep watch over their lives, watch and wait for the Lord’s return, and watch out for each other as the household of faith, and they were to be brave and strong in doing so. Their bravery and strength came only, of course, from Christ.
Then at the end of the letter, Paul writes some shocking words: “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” Some may say this is not loving at all, but the warning Paul gives is quite appropriate. Whoever does not love Jesus – in other words, whoever does not believe by faith that Christ’s all-atoning suffering and death for all sin is for him – cannot be saved and will ultimately be damned. God’s offer of forgiveness is for all people of all time and is refused to one’s eternal peril.
Most certainly, these imperatives are just as relevant today as they were to the first century church. Watchfulness is the “watchword” for the end of the Church Year and into the Advent season during which time our attention is focused on the second coming of Christ. He is coming again to receive His Bride, the Church, to Himself on the Last Day. All who do not believe will perish eternally, but all who by God-given faith do believe in Christ will be saved.
May our good and gracious God strengthen and feed you with His saving and comforting Gospel and His life-giving and eternal life-sustaining Sacraments, so that you may be able to say with confidence, “O Lord, come!”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, keep me in the one true faith until You bring me Home. Amen.