First Corinthians 15:58 is the concluding verse of a famous chapter in the New Testament, which focuses on the resurrection and contains one of the earliest creeds in the first-century church. The verse states, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” The expression “stand firm” is also translated as being “steadfast” in the ESV and NKJV.
The connecting word therefore indicates that the verse is related to what comes before. Since this verse comes at the end of the chapter, we should examine the entire chapter to understand the broad context and gain a better understanding of what it means to stand firm.
First Corinthians 15 is Paul’s apologetic of the resurrection, and internal evidence indicates that he is responding to claims denying the resurrection of the dead (verse 12). He presents his response with a creedal reminder of the gospel essentials (verses 1–4) and by sharing key appearances of the resurrected Jesus to eyewitnesses (verses 5–10). In the remaining parts of the chapter, Paul argues for the reality of resurrection of the dead, which forms the Christian’s hope. Based on this hope and the victory over death, the reader is encouraged to stand firm.
The Greek phrase for “stand firm” implies stability, firmness, and strong devotion to something. The Corinthians of old and modern Christians are encouraged to remain committed to Christ and devoted to Him. Several metaphors come into play here. One can think of a tree standing firm against a strong wind, soldiers holding down a fort, or a spouse supporting an ailing partner. To stand fast is to be loyal, faithful, devoted, and unmoving.
The resurrection of Christ is evidence that there is more to this world. This should broaden our perspective from the temporary to the eternal. Whatever we do on earth for Christ is not in vain because of the resurrection. Pain and suffering are also temporary, as our new resurrected bodies will not be subject to these limitations (1 Corinthians 15:42–44).
We should stand firm in the face of trials, temptations, persecutions, and opposition. The Christian journey is not an easy one, especially with the increasing animosity toward Christian values. The church also faces attacks from false teachers who preach a different gospel, deny core Christian doctrines, and deceive many people. The deconstruction movement further emphasizes the need for steadfastness. While these trends are to be expected, they also serve as a wake-up call.
How does a Christian stand firm? It all begins with a strong trust in the Person and sacrificial work of Christ. He is the foundation. Christians should also depend on the Holy Spirit for strength, regularly feed on Scripture, and maintain fellowship with God through prayer. Christians are told to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10–11). A day will come when God will “wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).