Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

1 Corinthians 15:57-58

57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

The Original Intent

1) What victory is Paul celebrating? (verse 57)

Though military victory may be the first image we consider, Paul’s emphasis moves far past a temporal, human battlefield to the eternal one. In chapter 15, Paul has been countering arguments and skewed perspectives on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

The city of Corinth was overrun with pagan worship as it was the location for the false, Greek goddess Aphrodite’s temple, which included pagan prostitutes as part of their “worship”. Corinth was a hotbed of deception and rumors plaguing the early church, which led Paul to passionately and clearly address their skepticisms and misunderstandings, especially around the most foundational belief of The Way (Christianity), Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

As he concludes his letter to the Corinthian church, he places every last drop of emphasis on the resounding victory Christ has already won through His physical, bodily resurrection from the dead, robed in the garment of a new, heavenly body that will last forever.

Because Christ is raised and lives today, we also have the assured hope of also rising from the dead with new bodies and new life once we die if we have trusted Christ and repented from sin while we are alive on earth. Christ offers new, eternal life with new bodies that sin will never again destroy, but He also offers His constant presence now in our everyday lives when we choose to trust Him and His sacrifice on our behalf as He paid for our sin with His death.

This is absolutely worth celebrating and praising God for every moment of every day! Paul’s words of victory praise God that the reign of death was cast aside because of Jesus’ resurrection; now, grace reigns instead!
(written by Carol Graft)

The Everyday Application

1) What victory is Paul celebrating? (verse 57)

If we only started reading verse 57, skipping the verses before it, we could surmise that following Christ makes believers victorious in all areas of life. Insert your own definition of “victory” and apply it to every painful circumstance in your life, and you will end up with a really poor understanding of the Word of the Lord, not to mention a lot of disappointment when your circumstances don’t transform to “victorious”.

Backing up to read the full context of chapter 15, we see Paul is writing about the victory available over Hell, death, and the grave because of the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus purchased our salvation and our victory through His death on the cross; His victory over sin and the grave is now freely offered to all who will confess Him as their ruling Lord and Savior.

We who trust Christ for our rescue can and will overcome all things because Jesus is our Victor. We may not see the full victory in everything while living on earth because all of life has been infected with the deadly disease of sin, but one day, when Christ physically returns, all will be made right. (Colossians 1:20) We can live in confidence now, because of the coming hope of full restoration. We can know with all assurance that everything done for the Lord will last into eternity, nothing will be wasted.

Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5) Faith and trust in Jesus, involving true surrender to Him and repentance (turning away) from our sin, is the key to eternal victory. Even if our circumstances are hard now, we can look with eyes of faith to the promised victory to come and rest in Hope!
(written by Carol Graft)

The Original Intent

2) Why does Paul use similar words as commands in verse 58? Aren’t “steadfast” and “immovable” the same?

All of Paul’s urgings, instructions, and teachings from his letter are concluded with three action commands in how to live out the truth God has provided. The Corinthian believers were instructed to “be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord.” (verse 58)

The Greek word translated “steadfast” in our Bibles had an original meaning of “sitting sedentary, deeply settled”. ( Steadfast isn’t active fighting to maintain position, it’s settled, resolute, determined, but also involves decidedly resting. If you’re sitting in a chair, your full weight is upon it; you aren’t moving unless you very intentionally decide to get up. You aren’t on the edge, fearful the chair won’t hold, you are restfully sitting firmly with all trust, neither are you angrily defending your firm seat. This is the action Paul intended the Corinthians to choose when it came to their trust in the resurrection of Christ. The matter is decided, there were over 500 witnesses of Christ’s bodily resurrection and many who had witnessed His tortured death. There was no reason to choose anything but decidedly sit steadfast in this faith, which, by the way, colors absolutely everything else about following Jesus.

The Greek word translated “immovableis defined as “persistently unmoved; untouched from its place”. Consider someone with an emotional attachment to a beloved object. Perhaps it’s an heirloom or a wedding ring. It doesn’t move, and everyone knows it. That object has permanence, and no one will convince the owner to displace it. For the context of faith, immovable isn’t arrogance, but it is firm unbending because of the steadfastness of their trust. Remembering that Corinth was inundated with false teaching, deception, and mockery toward the resurrection; steadfast, immovable faith was essential in order to withstand the raging winds of false doctrine. (James 1:6-8)
(written by Rebecca Adams & Carol Graft)

The Everyday Application

2) Why does Paul use similar words as commands in verse 58? Aren’t “steadfast” and “immovable” the same?

With pagan neighbors stirring up doubt and asking questions the Corinthians weren’t sure how to answer, they understandably struggled with how to handle Christ’s death and resurrection. They even wondered if maybe they could sidestep and not have an opinion. Wouldn’t that be more tolerant? Paul silenced their flaky arguments by stating, “If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)

Do you ever find yourself in their shoes, wondering if you should be more silent about your biblical beliefs so others will see you as more tolerant? Or perhaps, on the other side, you aren’t sure what to believe and you feel unsure how to answer questions about your beliefs. If so, you’re in good company; you aren’t the first to wrestle with doubts!

Paul wrote about growing steadfast in faith so that believers are not tossed around by false teaching in his letter to the Ephesians and James used similar words in his letter to the scattered, persecuted church. (Ephesians 4:13-15, James 1:5-8)

When doubts hit, let’s decide to be immovable on what we know to be true in God’s Word. With resolute steadfastness, let’s go back to His Word and seek Him, knowing He will answer. (Jeremiah 33:3)

Let’s practice growing firm in our faith by gathering with other believers for encouragement (Hebrews 10:25), praying together (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), asking someone more mature in faith to mentor us (2 Timothy 1:5-6), and worshipping the Lord through song (Psalm 96). Like placing a stake in the ground, let’s decide to be immovable by the winds of deception, but stay anchored in the unchanging truth of God’s Word so we can resist the enemy’s tactics and live holy lives before the Lord! (Psalm 1, Ephesians 6:10-11)
(written by Carol Graft)

The Original Intent

3) How is one to excel in the Lord’s work and what is the motivation for these three commands? (verse 58)

The Greek word for “excellingis defined as “an over-abundance, exceeding all expectation of measure; overflowing beyond capacity”. Paul had previously mentioned in this chapter how he had given his whole life for the sake of Christ. (verses 31-32)

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, he wrote in detail of his specific sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:23-33) coming as a result of his steadfast decision to “consider[ed] everything as a loss compared to knowing Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-10) Excelling for the Lord, surrendering everything, is worth it, and Paul wanted to make sure the believers in Corinth understood how significantly valuable it is to pour your life out for Christ.

Paul “bookends” his three commands to be steadfast, immovable, and always excelling in the work of the Lord, with a motivator on either end. Verse 58 begins with the signal flag of “Therefore”, notifying us that the follow-on statement is built solidly on what came before it, which is the praise Paul gives to the Lord for the assurance of Christ’s victory given to us because of His resurrection from the dead.

We will one day be given the same victory Christ won when His once-dead body began breathing again. What greater motivation can there be?! But Paul wraps his three commands with another strong incentive, “because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

We have already been given the greatest victory possible, eternal life, righteousness, and complete forgiveness, but adding to it, every act, word, or thought done for the Lord will be recognized and rewarded in eternity by the Lord Himself!
(written by Rebecca Adams)

The Everyday Application

3) How is one to excel in the Lord’s work and what is the motivation for these three commands? (verse 58)

I assign my younger children chores every morning that fall within their ability level. They know exactly what these tasks entail and what my standards are for their completion. Most mornings, they finish them without much complaint and only a few reminders, but some mornings, they go far above and beyond the “measure of my expectation”. They know from experience that I am generous and gracious, and they understand there is a high likelihood I will reward excellent work with donuts!

This excelling requires unity and teamwork; they are highly motivated to excel because they have a firm grasp on my character as someone who rewards excellent work. They also know I won’t get them donuts every morning, so they don’t work to excel every morning.

With the Lord, however, Paul passionately pens his final words of chapter 15, “because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Unlike my kids’ diligent work, which may or may not gain them donuts on a particular morning, every work done for Christ is seen, recognized, and will be rewarded. Not one ounce of it is lost. Not one tear, not one hardship, not one loss; everything done for the Lord will be rewarded in eternity when we are raised from the corruptible to the incorruptible. (verse 52)

Our gains with the Lord far surpass any loss we could experience; Paul says our suffering isn’t even worth comparing to the glories to come. (Romans 8:18) So let’s keep our focus on Christ and the victory He has won for us with His resurrection and, together, press on to always excel in the work of the Lord!
(written by Rebecca Adams)

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