During devotions recently I came across these wonderful little verses that I never noticed before – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 – in the ESV:
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.
I have to admit, in this case, I really like the translation of the English Standard Version. I’ve looked at the Greek myself and it is more accurate and literal. The Greek word is ἀνδρίζεσθε and literally means to “act manly.” The word also has the connotation of “courageous” and so these translations are not inaccurate. But you can see the prefix “ἀνδρί” which is always about something to do with ‘maleness’ or ‘masculinity.’ Maybe Paul meant it to mean both – “be courageous men.” It’s a 2nd person plural imperative, a command to a group of men.
I don’t believe that Paul was intending to leave out the women of the church in his letter, but perhaps this specific command was just to the men of the church alone, since there are other more gender neutral words Paul could have chosen that also mean courageous.
This verse is perfect for us men. It sums up both our need to be the men God created us to be, but at the very same time it totally destroys stupid stereotypes in our culture about what men are and are not supposed to be. It says to be on our guard and act manly and courageous and strong. True, these things are generally considered to be more masculine traits in our culture. But Paul doesn’t end there. He finishes out his command with telling us to do everything in love. This is not some command to be stoic uncaring stern men. No. These men are to be both strong and incredibly loving in all of their actions and relationships, in the community, church, and in their families. This is what masculinity means I think in God’s eyes. Men are to be strong, steadfast, and courageous, but they are to above all be loving in everything they do. Let us strive to embrace our masculinity, our manhood and stop pretending to be women. And as we do so, let’s not just give in to the often troubling stereotypes of masculinity in our culture, but instead let us strive to be the kind of men God created us to be!