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What does it mean to stand fast in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13)?

stand fast in the faith

“Stand fast in the faith” was a frequent encouragement of the apostle Paul. He told the Galatians to “stand fast” in their spiritual freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1, NKJV). He urged the Philippians to “stand fast in one spirit” as they live a life worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27, NKJV). And to the believers in Corinth, Paul exhorted, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, NKJV).

Christians in the early church confronted numerous trials and challenges that tested their commitment to Christ. “Stand fast in the faith” seems to be Paul’s mantra, compelling believers to dig in their heels and remain consistent as they face hardship, danger, persecution, and conflict. Paul calls fellow believers to “stay true to the Lord” (Philippians 4:1).

Other translations render the command as “stand firm in the faith” (NIV, ESV, NLT, CSB, NASB). Stand fast or stand firm appears eight times in the New Testament. In the original Greek, the term means “to hold one’s ground, maintain a position, be steadfast, remain upright, persist, persevere, and don’t give up.” In other words, Paul wants us to stay on our toes, spiritually speaking.

In a similar warning to remain steadfast in the face of adversity, the apostle Peter writes, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:8–9). Christians have a real and active enemy who is constantly trying to take them down. We stand fast in the faith through prayer and spiritual warfare—by staying alert and on guard with our eyes wide open so that the devil doesn’t hit us with a surprise attack. For this reason, Paul instructs us to “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, NLT).

We stand fast in the faith by studying God’s Word and not wavering in the truth of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1). Paul tells the Thessalonians, “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Like Timothy, we must work hard and do our best to present ourselves to God “as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Like Paul, we make it our goal to know and understand what we believe and, most importantly, know the One in whom we have believed: “That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:12–14, NLT).

We stand fast in the faith by staying in fellowship with other believers. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23–25, NLT). As members of Christ’s body, we are like living stones being built into a spiritual temple (1 Peter 2:4–5). With Jesus as our foundational Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6) and God living in us by His Spirit, we are becoming a solid, immovable house for His glory (Ephesians 2:19–22).

We stand fast in the faith by depending on God, who establishes, enables, and anoints us to “stand firm in Christ” and “hold firmly to the faith we profess” (2 Corinthians 1:21; Hebrews 4:14). God’s divine power gives us “everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3, NLT). Instead of shrinking back or turning away from Christ in challenging times, we “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). In our own strength, we are powerless. In Christ, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). We are like fragile clay jars holding a priceless treasure. We do not faint, and we do not lose heart. We never give up because “our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God” (2 Corinthians 4:1–18, NLT).

The Christian life requires spiritual endurance and stamina. We cling to Jesus Christ and never let Him go. We stand fast in the faith as we mature toward a spiritually stable stance that is rooted, grounded, established, and anchored in Christ and that can never be moved (see Colossians 2:5–7; 4:12; Hebrews 6:19).

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Questions about 1 Corinthians

What does it mean to stand fast in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13)?
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This page last updated: January 26, 2023