Do you find it frustrating to be motivated to do or be something – but not told how to achieve it? I do! This can be a real pulpit type problem. When I read 1 Corinthians 16:13 emphasis on imperatives Paul seemed to fall into that trap. But then I realised the answer to ‘how’ is within other sections of the letter or books.
The fourth imperative calls upon us to be ‘strong.’ The Greek word is ‘kratos’ and means ‘mighty.’ This isn’t a word defining a theory. It is the expression of power in action. Other Greek words speak about strength and power with a different emphasis than ‘kratos.’ It seems, at least to me, that the word Paul says to the Corinthians is the source from which the other aspects are resourced and permeated. I came to this view when I checked out its 24 references [includes kratos, krataioo, krataios, pantokrator –the Almighty]. We know the Lord God is almighty because of His cross and resurrection. This triumph stripped the Devil of death’s keys (Hebrews 2:14. Revelation 1:18) and made our salvation possible.
When Paul wrote to the Ephesian church he included a specific prayer. He wanted them to know God’s kratos in their lives. What was that power? That which the Father had expressed by the resurrection of Christ. The reality of this indwelling experience of faith and commitment cannot be imprisoned in the soul. It has to be let loose in relationships, service and worship. Paul says we are strengthened to become mighty by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Again, how is this made known? By knowing and loving Jesus as Lord and Saviour. From that relationship we are to walk in a manner honouring Him and blessing or challenging others. Now that really requires us allowing the grace and power of our Lord unrestricted access to our lives.
When we read about the possibility of having a wrestling match against the ungodly forces behind ‘flesh and blood’ opposition we can shudder and shake. Sure, the armour is supplied but no matter how good the armour is, when the person in it is weak, terrified, untrained, there’s un-pleasantries awaiting. What can make the nervous person, though properly clothed in armour, spiritually capable for the fight? The kratos of his Commander in Chief. This means being mentally, biblically, spiritually and devotedly confident in the indwelling presence of Christ. We can glibly say “the battle belongs to the Lord” but we are the one doing the fighting. Therefore, whether we live or die, succeed or seemingly fail, we are to face the battle, without liking it, to uphold the honour of the Lord. I think that is why we are encouraged by ‘having done all, to stand.’ This is depicted in Acts 19:20 where it says God’s word increased by the kratos of the Lord. That was in the face of much opposition and disturbances.
One of the fascinating features associated with kratos is the response by believers and angels. It is summed up so beautifully in the words of the doxologies. These are expressions of praise and recognition we and angels have towards the Triune God. The word ‘mighty’ is used over and over again as Christians worship with adoration. “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God Almighty (pantokrator), who was and is and is to come” (Revelation 4:8). ‘To the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power (kratos) and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen’ (Jude 25).
The fourth imperative pushes us to realise that to be strong requires the indwelling and free rein of Christ Jesus within. The prayer of Paul for the believers’ in Colossae remains true for us: “May you be made strong with all the strength (kratos) that comes from His glorious power, and may you endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father…’ (Colossians 1:11-12).
©Ray Hawkins Jan 29 2017.
©Ray Hawkins Jan 29 2017.