1 Corinthians 16:13 – “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
At the end of the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul is sending some final greetings to his recipients. Within these final greetings is a statement that is simple, yet easily confused in our day and age. He says “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Act like men. What does that mean?
The Greek word for “Act like men” is the word andrizomai. The root word from andrizomai is anair, which is one of the words we translate to say “man” or “husband.” So when you understand that Greek word, you can understand why the English Standard Version of the Bible translates 1 Corinthians 16 as it does. The problem is that the culture around us is afraid of sexism to the point that it seems many want to completely abolish any sense that men have roles that are separate from women. Many places have done away with separating men’s and women’s bathrooms for fear of offending. Someone in that vein of thinking would say 1 Corinthians 16:13 is offensive.
So what should Bible translators do? They should seek to be faithful to the original text, since our goal in Bible reading should be to read what the original authors tried to communicate. Unfortunately the New International Version of the Bible, along with the New Living Translation of the Bible, feel it is more important to cater to the culture we live in than to seek to translate the Bible as closely to the original as possible. The New Living Translation says: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” The New International Version is similar: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Ironically in the New Living Translation, the translators felt the need to include a footnote next to “courageous” that simply says, “Greek: Be men.” If the Greek means “Be men” then why not translate the Greek to say what the Greek says?
The picture that our culture gives of manhood is confusing to boys growing up today. Media oftentimes likes to show men who are stupid, irresponsible, incapable of maturity, and altogether second to women. The Bible’s portrayal of men gets ignored as culture’s voice is much louder and stronger in people’s ears. Boys are becoming men much later than normal, and men are obeying their culture’s teaching, leading to the downfall of today’s family. Al Mohler said: “As the family goes, so goes the culture.”
The Bible’s portrayal of a man is that he is God’s leader. God created man and woman in His image. Men and women are equal in their worth, in their dignity, in their respect, and in their value. God loves men and women equally. While the roles and responsibilities he gives them are different, he shows through Scripture that women are to be treasured and served and loved. The real man will see the way that women at times are oppressed, and he will combat their oppression with love and respect. At the same time, God has high standards for men. We are told that real men lead. Real men work. Real men shepherd. Real men serve. Real men love Jesus.
Don’t follow the culture’s teaching of what it means to be a man. Follow Scripture’s teaching. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).