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1st Corinthians 15:58

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

 

Probably through the years I've signed my name in different Bibles thousands of times, always affixing 1st Corinthians 15:58 underneath the scribbling. It's my Life Verse!

By the way, that's a good idea! Get the different Preachers who come to your Church to do so! Autograph your Bible! You can then pray for them, by name! And you can quickly learn their favorite Verses of Scripture too!

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, "THEREFORE"

It's just one single verse of Scripture, 1st Corinthians 15:58. But I remember the day I memorized it! Just a teenager, this and one more verse were added to my "list" one summer afternoon. The other verse was Galatians 6:9.

Here they are in full. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9

Both are concerned with one's not quitting on the Lord!

Staying faithful!

Today, this preacher's birthday, May 26th, we begin a short study of the first of these Texts.

It can't involve more than a few lessons, one would think.

But first we must investigate that opening word, "therefore!" 

In Greek "hoste" is a conjunction, a part of speech that "joins" two thoughts or series of thoughts. In the King James Text it is translated "therefore" 9 times. But it's "so that" 25 times! And "wherefore" 17 times! And "insomuch that" 16 more times! All the way down to "so then," just 5 times. It's found a total of 83 times in the whole New Testament Corpus.

More technically, "hoste" blends the Greek words "hos," which just means "as," and "te," meaning "and."

Here's the whole idea, "with the result that!" Or, similarly, "for the purpose of!" And at times, though in an unusual way, "in order that!"

Old Dr. Harry Ironside, well-known Bible teacher and author and pastor for many years, passed away in 1950. He's the first one who said, "When you are studying your Bible and encounter the word "therefore," always stop and see what it's THERE FOR! A reason certainly exists!"

Let's do that today!

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

Since some things are undeniably true, things Paul has now been discussing for the previous 57 verses, we should automatically respond according to the dictates of our Text, verse 58. "Therefore ... do as instructed!" You must! The situation demands it!

But what is it that impels us, constrains us, motivates us to be so ceaselessly faithful?

Of course we can't exegete all those foregoing 57 verses today, but we can summarize them.

Paul has been talking about the Resurrection! In fact, 1st Corinthians 15, apart from the four Gospel accounts of Jesus' literal bodily Resurrection, is clearly the the premier New Testament source for such material.

Just like 1st Corinthians 13 is the "Love" chapter and John 15 is the "Vine and branches" chapter and James 3 is the "Tongue" chapter, so are we now discussing the "Resurrection" chapter!

Point one: Jesus, once dead, is now alive! And Paul even lists the witnesses to this awesome fact, himself included! "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." 1st Corinthians 15:8

Point two: the Resurrection is vital to our faith! Without it, our preaching is vain! So is our faith! And we are false witnesses! And we are still in our sins! And the dead in Christ have perished! And we are consequently, of all people, most miserable!  But forget all that, Jesus is alive!

Point three: since Jesus has been resurrected, so shall we! Even after death, should that occur first! When the Lord comes again! Yes, our bodies well may be "sown" in the ground, but they will be "raised" by Almighty God! Here's Paul, word for word, about the saint's body: "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory.  It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power." 1st Corinthians 15:42-43

Point four: the mechanics of this change may be hard to comprehend, but can be simply described. So Paul continues: "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1st Corinthians 15:51-55

Point five: our Text! "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 

These things being true, verses 1-57, how could we ever quit, verse 58?

Jesus is alive! Christians, be steadfast!

Jesus is coming again! Saints of God, be unmoveable!

We, even if already dead, will be raised again to meet Jesus in the air! That's our dead bodies only, having instantly been glorified! Our spirits have long been in the presence of Jesus! Since the second we died! Our souls having been saved! So, Believers, always stay busy for Jesus!

Victory is assured!

It has already been acquired!

THEREFORE, certain things are expected of us who are saved!

In light of these stupendous facts!

And that's why our opening word is "therefore!"

Consequently ...!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, "MY BELOVED BRETHREN"

I've always thought of John as the beloved Apostle. He certainly seems to identify himself as "the Disciple whom Jesus loved."

But Paul is not far behind, if any!

Last night I discovered 27 times Paul uses the term "beloved" in his writings, including Hebrews.

But, even then, only once does the great Apostle employ this expression, "my beloved brethren!"

And it's in our Text today!

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58

The word for "beloved" is "agapetos." In it you can readily see "agape," the most spiritual of all the koine Greek terms for "love."

When taken together, the "vocative" expression, "my beloved brethren," is a term of endearment.

Paul most often uses "agapetos" when referring to individuals. Romans 16:8, "Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord." Then again in Romans 16:9, "Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved." Then, again, three verses later, "Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord." Notice also Ephesians 6:21, "But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things." And Colossians 4:7, Tychicus again, "All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord." Plus Colossians 4:9, "With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here." Even Colossians 4:14, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you." And two more times in Philemon! "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer." Then, "And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house."

Paul loved people!

But I couldn't help but notice that Paul did use the term, "beloved" for whole Church congregations too. Several times.

Here's a case in point, Philippains 4:1, the whole church. "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved."

But most often, by far really, he uses "agapetos" or "beloved" toward a very unlikely group! The Corinthians!

Count the references. 1st Corinthians 4:14, "I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you." And 10:14, "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry." Then in 2nd Corinthians 7:1, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." And 12:9, "Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying."

And the foregoing does not include our Text verse, 1st Corinthians 15:58. Paul loved the Corinthians dearly! The whole church fellowship!

Why would this be so unexpected?

Because the Corinthians probably gave Paul more grief and sorrow and heartache than any of his Churches!

They criticized him!

They belittled him!

They mocked him!

They at times refused to follow him, preferring other leaders!

Yet Paul loved them anyway!

Now here's the point of today's lesson.

Paul did not love the Corinthians for their personalities! A category in which they were sadly lacking!

Nor for their gracious love offerings! They gave none.

Not the lavish accommodations he enjoyed while in Corinth either! He lived with Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple, and worked, making tents, during the daytime.

Why did Paul call them, most often of all, his "beloved brethren?"

More precisely, "my beloved brethren."

I believe Paul's love was connected to his faith! To his hope! He loved people not for what they had been! And he loved them not even for what they were at the moment!

No!

Paul loved folks for what they could become in the Lord Jesus Christ!

For instance, the Philippians. "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

Wow!

That's a good way to look at the Lord's people! Hence the noun "brethren" enters our verse. In Greek "adelphos" means two or more children, boys or girls, having been "born from the same womb!" Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Now, does this sanctified "hope" appear in our verse? Our Text verse? The only verse in all the Pauline corpus where he uses those three words consecutively, "my beloved brethren?" 

Yes!

Watch!

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

He hopes for their steadfastness!

And prays for their unmoveability!

And their overflowing labour in the things of the Lord!

He loves them, seeking to spur them onward and forward and upward in their Christian lives!

In a roundabout way we are saying that it might be possible, to some degree anyway, to literally LOVE someone into maturity! To LOVE them into being more for Jesus Christ!

To actually love them into good works!

Proof needed?

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works." Provoked to good works, with love at the bottom of it all! Hebrews 10:24

It's so strange that no Baptist ever forgets Hebrews 10:25, but seldom quotes Hebrews 10:24. Both verses should be emphasized!

And do remember this also. "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." Hebrews 6:9

Paul was laboring in love ... even toward the carnal, divisive Corinthians ... hoping better things of them all! 

Amen!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, "BE YE"

The verb is an imperative.

And maybe it's the most simple of all the verbs, "to become." But "to become" in this sense, "to be born, to be created!"

This is something we are commanded to actually "be," as Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ! That's right, as individuals who have accepted the fact of Resurrection. Both Jesus our Lord being literally raised from the grave and also the future rapture of our bodies too, miraculously so!

Let me again show you the verse we are studying this week. I will capitalize the verb in focus. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58

Again, let this fact impact you. We are required TO BE or TO BECOME something as Christians!

Now everyone knows that some things are absolutely impossible, especially when required! To require this preacher to play the piano, to be a musician, would be a fruitless deed. I can't do that! Or to demand that I climb into the cockpit of a huge airliner and fly it to some distant city! I am not a pilot. I'm just not capable of such!

What I'm saying is this. If God is going to ask that one of His followers BECOME something, then God must make that goal a possibility!

I must be empowered to become what God expects!

That empowerment, surely, comes from God the Holy Spirit!

If I am to "be steadfast," I must be indwelt by the steadfast Spirit of God! Equally so of any "unmoveableness" I might inherit! In fact, we know for sure nine graces a saint of God cannot produce on his own! They are so unreachable via human means that they are even labeled "the fruit of the Spirit." You know, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance." Galatians 5:22-23

A Preacher once wrote a whole series of little commentaries on various Books of the Bible, calling them all by the verb "Be." For example, I think, "Be Joyful" was Philippians. And "Be Patient" was Job! "Be Counted" was Numbers! And so forth. Well, Paul has started his own "Be" Series here!

BE steadfast!

BE unmoveable!

BE always abounding in the work of the Lord!

Just as long, again, as the Holy Spirit is the Impetus for that "being!"

Now to the verb precisely, it's a form of "ginomai" and is translated half a dozen different ways in the King James Bible, at least. It's just "be" 255 times! Then it's "come to pass" another 82 times. As "be made" it appears 69 times. "Be done" 63 more! "Become" is its meaning 47 times. It's even "be fulfilled" 3 times and "be married to" 3 more times! And I've not included them all, not by any means. Totally, 678 times in the New Testament, "ginomai."

But for once let's advance from the basic verb form to the specifics as used here. Then, "ginomai" looks like this: "ginesthe." To the skilled Greek teacher, we have just come across an "imperative mood, present tense, middle voice, 2nd person, plural in number" verb!

It's issuing a command, hence imperative!

The action is to be constant, on-going, durative, thus present tense.

The voice, being "middle," means this "becoming" will impact the subject! I myself will be changed by this thing that has been newly born into me! It is not something I do on my own! Impossible!

By the way, most lexicons here say that "ginesthe" can be either "middle" or "passive" voice, the verb endings here being identical in either case. If so, the Holy Spirit is all the more indicated! He literally takes over my life, birthing into me, forming into my soul, growing into me these traits; steadfastness, unmoveableness, constant labor in the Name of the Lord, even including absolute assurance of future rewards for such labor!

The 2nd person trait in any verb means that the "you are," not the "I am" or the "they are" paradigm rules. Paul is commanding, directly under the Holy Spirit's inspiration, that the Corinthians themselves be steadfast and unmoveable and so forth. You Christians in Greece, you be faithful to Jesus!

And the plural number just means that Paul is not talking to one single member of the Corinthian Church! But at least to two or more! More likely, to the whole group! The entire assembly!

Sorry for the grammar lesson today!

But it's that important!

If we are expected TO BE or TO BECOME something or someone in Christ, we need to know the specifics!

That's no doubt one of the major reasons why God crafted language initially. It's primarily a vehicle of communication!

Have you been born again?

If so, have these traits developed in your life?

Again, I've underlined them.  "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

And if you simply "don't care" today, maybe you'd better read 2nd Corinthians 13:5. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"

Yes!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, "STEDFAST"

The word is "steadfast."

As in: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye STEDFAST, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58 gives us the old English spelling, of course. It's from the lovely and majestic King James Version of the Bible.

The modern spelling would be "steadfast."

What does it mean to be that, "stedfast?"

The word, Greek in history, is spelled like this, "edraios." But it has a marker above its first letter that tells us to sound an initial "h" with it. So, we get "hedraios." It is linked to the verb "hezomai," simply meaning "to sit." The idea is this: to remain stationary! Not to be tossed to and fro! To be fixed, as with an anchor! It's only used four times in the New Testament, three of them being translated just like here, "stedfast." The other occasion, Colossians 1:23, it's "settled." Paul said to those Asian Christians: "Continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel."

I just noticed too, every instance of the word in the New Testament flows from the pen of Paul, Mr. Faithful himself! All four times!

Yes, Paul longs for stability among his new Believers in Christ! Faithfulness is a great asset for the Christian. In fact, it's a requirement!

In 1st Corinthians 7:37 Paul mentions the person who "standeth STEFAST in his heart." This is a favorable comment.

Then, as a noun, our word surfaces once. It's still Paul writing though! "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." In other words, "Timothy, if I am delayed in coming to you, I write these words, the whole Epistle of 1st Timothy, to teach you how to conduct yourself at the House of God!" I've capitalized "hedraioma" in the Text, for easy identification, "ground."

The Church, to Paul, is the very pillar and ground of the Truth!

Amen!

The Church is to be stationary, not shifting with the world!

It's also interesting to see the synonyms the Holy Sprit links to our word for "stedfast," to "hedraios." I have found three.

And all three are quite outstanding, "pillar" as just mentioned above, and then "unmoveable" (to be studied tomorrow, Lord willing), and "grounded."

"Pillar," from 1st Timothy 3:15, is "stulos" and means a huge "column" used to support a building, a structure! It's derived from the little verb "stuo," that is, "to make stiff." It is also related to "histemi," to "take a stand" for something!

And "grounded" is "themelioo," a verb, "to lay a foundation!" It's related ultimately to "tithemi," to "put something in place." To "establish" it! To "lay" it down.

From all angles, Paul is saying that we Believers are not to be unstable! But, conversely so, constant or unchanging or firm!

Jesus was, and still is!  "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." Hebrews 13:8

Paul was too! "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 2nd Timothy 4:6-7

Lord helping, we can be too! After all, "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." 1st Corinthians 4:2

I'm not at all sure that Paul is telling us here just to make stedfastness a "goal" either, some kind of "aspiration." Seems like he may be teaching us that it's a by-product of living for Jesus! A side-effect of loving our Lord!

An expected result, considering the rewards God has prepared for the faithful! For the truly stedfast!

And, if such is the case, not one citizen of Heaven will ever be able to "brag" about his or her faithfulness! Because it too is a gift from God! We're faithful because He lives within our hearts! Remember, "God is faithful." So says 1st Corinthians 10:13.

What good thing does any of us possess that God did not give us? "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" 1st Corinthians 4:7

Amen!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, "UNMOVEABLE"

Today we study a new word in our Text Verse for the week, 1st Corinthians 15:58. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, UNMOVEABLE, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

The word is "unmoveable." God wants us to be unmoveable, in certain areas anyway. Paul spoke of those who were, shamefully, "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." Then, Ephesians 4:14 illustrates the opposite of being unmoveable!

And James also mentioned people who were unstable, again the opposite of unmoveable in some ways. "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." James 1:8

Here's a man "unmoveable" in the Old Testament! "And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory." In 2nd Samuel 23:11-12 Shammah did not run, being unmoveable!

Paul began 1st Corinthians 15:58 on a positive note, be "stedfast!

Then, immediately, he inserts a negative thought, "unmoveable!" Do not budge! Stay put! Don't change! The Apostle undoubtedly has in mind doctrinal issues! He has just, for 57 verses, helped the Corinthians better understand the Christian truth of Resurrection! That's both the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Saviour from the grave and the resurrection of the saints of God, their bodies being at that moment glorified, at the Rapture of the Church!

Apparently some at Corinth did not believe in the resurrection at all! Paul asked in 1st Corinthians 15:12, "How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?"

Get this straight! And then do not move one iota in your doctrine! "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Yes! 1st Corinthians 15:3-4 is clear!

And understand this too! About the saints of God! When they die, their spirits immediately go to Heaven, "absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." But their dead bodies, planted in the earth, await Jesus' Return! Then they too will be resurrected! "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1st Corinthians 15:51-52

Settle in your minds and hearts this great fact, Resurrection!

And once you do, be "unmoveable" in it!

That's exactly what Paul is saying in our Text today! "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, UNMOVEABLE, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." Again, 1st Corinthians 15:58, but I want you to memorize this reference.

Now, to the Greek word itself. "Ametakinetos" is a blended term. It consists of "a," the prefix, then "meta," a preposition that intensifies the whole expression, and finally, "kineo," the verb. At its heart, "kineo" means "to set something in motion." Especially something that is going to stay in motion, the swinging of a clock's pendulum, for example! Or the wagging of a tongue!

Here's "kineo" in Matthew 27:38, at Jesus' Crucifixion. "And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." Shame!

Paul uses the verb elsewhere, too. "For in Him (God) we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." Acts 17:28

Here's Jerusalem, agitated, ready to riot! "And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut." Acts 21:30, at Paul's arrest!

Unceasing energy, "For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." So said Paul's enemies of him in Acts 24:5.

And here's an earthquake, described in terms of kinetic energy! "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island WERE MOVED out of their places." Revelation 6:14. If I were a seismologist, I'd invest some time studying this concept!

Back to "ametakinetos," putting it all together, "absolutely not to be moved!"

The present tense of our verse's main verb, "be," says this too. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye ... unmoveable." In other words, "Keep on being unmoveable!" Or this, "Be more and more unmoveavle!" Or even, "Continue becoming unmoveable!"

Truth is truth!

It is non-negotiable!

It does not change!

It's absolute!

God's Word is Truth, the Bible!

"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." Psalm 119:89

Resurrection is a fact!

Herein we stand!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, "ALWAYS ABOUNDING IN THE WORK OF THE LORD"

It's a clause, an independent clause. But it's loaded with meaning. Here the words are capitalized for easier identification. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58

Here we have an adverb, a participle, a couple of prepositions, two articles and two more nouns. But in this verse, as in all Scripture, they are sanctified by the Spirit of God!

Probably the biggest interpretive issue centers on motive.  Do we labor so hard because of the fact of Resurrection, as already discussed by the Apostle Paul in verses 1-57? Or do we work because of future rewards that are so certain, but not mentioned until the end of verse 58?

In other words, does this fervent "labor" find its source in looking backward, or forward?

Or both?

Or yet again, is the Christian's faithful service to His Lord an "automatic" thing, "inherent" in the child of God, simple because He is born-again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God?

The first two reasons are explicit in the context. The third is more implicit, but nonetheless true.

Actually even a fourth might be suggested! We desire to be diligent servants of Christ Jesus because of overflowing thanks, gratefulness to The One Who loved us and died for us and is now raised again and living for us! If this case can be made, our spiritual "work" is simply an extension of our "worship!"

There is probably not a "wrong" answer to the just asked questions. One might in this situation truly say, "All of the above."

"Always abounding in the work of the Lord ..."

The noun "work" is central here. It's spelled "ergon" and is the parent of our English word "energy." It means "any act or deed or thing done," especially emphasizing the effort required in accomplishing said goal. The Greek verb "ergo" means "to toil," particularly when used as an occupation.

When used in the same form as here, a neuter singular dative noun, "ergon" first appears in Matthew 24:19. "And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people." Jesus worked, so do His followers! In fact, through the power of the Holy Spirit, our Lord amazingly promised, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." John 14:12, Wow!

Yes, the saints of God will "work," but it's the "work of the Lord" in view here, specifically! Possible this includes all we do! Since Paul said, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." Colossians 3:17

If, as Proverbs certainly says, even "the plowing of the wicked is sin," so might "the plowing of the godly" be righteousness!

The Greek noun "Lord" is "kurios," meaning anything from a person deserving "respect," a person with great authority and power, one's master, or the Almighty God! Every true believer knows which one best fits here, with Jesus in mind! 

Then comes the participle, the verbal adjective in our clause, "abounding" translates "perissueo," one of those "overflowing" words! It means "to exceed a fixed number!" To exist in abundance! More than necessary! Over and above! Something further! So much there are "leftovers!"

The only other place it's used in the New Testament, again, in the exact form as here, is Colossians 2:7. Except there we are "abounding" in thanksgiving! "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."

Now all that's left is the adverb, "always," or as Paul wrote, "pantotes." This little word blends two Greek terms, "pas" and "hote." The first one means "the whole" of something, every bit of it! The second just means "when!" Literally we have "at all whens." Get it? At all times! At all opportunities! At every open door!

Now, go back to today's opening paragraphs, choose the "motive" the Holy Spirit selects for you, and get busy for Jesus!

Come to think of it, you probably already are!

So then, "Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9

Amen!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, "FORASMUCH AS YE KNOW"

It's for sure!

We can know it, that being one of the major premises of our Text verse.

Here's today's clause, capitalized for identification.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58

The verb is spelled "oida," at its heart meaning "to see." But here, clearly, "oida" suggests mental perception. "Seeing" with one's mind and soul and heart.

One Greek teacher says that "oida" adds a particular emphasis to the "knowing" verbs of the New Testament. That it means a "knowing" that is intuitive. Not something I learned solely on my own! Not information acquired by human effort! Knowledge given me by the indwelling Holy Spirit! Spiritual truth come from God! Born within me, since I've been born-again!

Even more surely, "eidotes," the exact verb form used in our Text, is a perfect participle in the active voice. I must be willing to accept the knowledge, even though it's a gift from God! And, once that perception is granted me, it stays! It's divinely imparted knowledge that once bestowed, keeps on impacting me and influencing me and changing me! Action completed in the past, but certainly with on-going effects!

We are blessed, analyzing "eidotes" exactly as found here in 1st Corinthians 15:58, to have two dozen other New Testament examples to study!

Here's the first one. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." Matthew 22:29, but again, remember, it's "intuitive" knowledge! Now here's its Markan twin. "And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?" Mark 12:41

Jesus, on his way to raise a little 12 year old girl from the dead, "And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead." Luke 8:53

"Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord." In John 21:12, such assurance only comes from God Himself!

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience." Romans 5:3

No seminar was necessary to teach us this. "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." Romans 6:9

Then Romans 13:11. "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."

The "inherent" nature of this knowledge is so obvious, again and again! Imparted of God!

Here's one that perfectly "fits" our context, the setting of 1st Corinthians 15:58. "Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." Ephesians 6:8

Then Colossians 3:24 actually helps us too, adding collateral proof to our Text. "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." Again we have Holy Spirit sanctioned knowledge about our future rewards!

Ironically, here it is translated not as "knowing," but "seeing!" 1st Peter 1:8 tells us: "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

There's a certain "knowing" about our Blood redemption, too! "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1st Peter 1:18-19, here's assurance!

Still, "knowing" and rewards! "Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." 1st Peter 3:9

But there's not only a knowledge about future rewards, but also about present suffering! "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." 1st Peter 5:8-9

Today we have relied not only on grammar, but on the Bible itself, to furnish data on the significance of  "knowing," that is, "eidotes" style "knowing!"

There is more than one way God can open human eyes!

These things being said, each Christian should examine himself or herself. Do you actually possess, enjoying and practicing it daily, such inherent "knowledge?"

Do I?

The proper answer is "yes."

Because of what Paul said, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

God is keeping record!

"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." Hebrews 6:10

Amen!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, "YOUR LABOUR"

We have practically studied every word in the verse! "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58

Today we have come to the little word "labour," a noun. In fact, this verse could be a wonderful "labor day" sermon! The Greek foundation for our noun is "kopos," an unusual word indeed, especially in this setting. But the New Testament so uses it just over a dozen times.

By definition "kopos" is "something beaten," or the "beating" itself! It then comes to mean "something that causes trouble, pain, exhaustion." Then is inherits this idea, "intense labor!" Labor with consequences, toil even!

It's root verb is "kopto," meaning "to cut" or "to chop!" Then the textbooks say, "specially, to beat the breast!" And the grammarians say this kind of "beating" is not talking about a single blow! But repeated strikes, "hacking" a person again and again!

I told you it was strange!

This is about the strongest Greek word, the most blatant expression available to Paul, to express the weariness of human labor!

And he uses it of "working" for Jesus!

Talk about being honest!

Jesus lived by this principle, among many others of course: "If it were not so, I would have told you." He said that in John 14:2.

Christianity tells the truth!

Even it it hurts!

What other faith would invite followers this way? "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2nd Timothy 3:12

Looking even more closely, 1st Corinthians 15:58 presents Christian service as something that possibly becomes more and more difficult as time progresses! In other words, the more one matures in Christ, the harder his work assignments become!

Look! I'm going to highlight, capitalize really, two words. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your LABOUR is not in vain in the Lord." Our living for the Lord, the duties our following Him might involve, are categorized two ways. At first our service is simply called "work," using the rather mild and tame noun "ergon." That's our common word "energy." So far, so good! But then, shockingly, with the passing of time, our activities become "labourious," in Greek "kopos," as you already know. Intense, even at times troublesome and painful! Exhausting!

I know we have wonderful songs like "Every Day With Jesus, Is Sweeter Than The Day Before!" And I agree! He is altogether lovely!

And, "The Longer I Serve Him, The Sweeter He Grows!" Indeed! Amen! Yes! It's true!

But, conversely, if a man or woman is really living for Jesus, in days of spiritual darkness and apostasy, or around imbued brazen worldliness, get ready! Things are going to get hard, troublesome, maybe even downright painful!

That's the truth!

Many a Pastor this Monday morning knows what I mean! He is living it today, being the victim of some lashing tongue yesterday! Or worse!

If you don't think Paul meant this literally,  that the Christian life ultimately requires "labour," don't read 2nd Corinthians 23-28. "I am in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."

Sounds like toil to me!

Pretty grievous!

To be saved, born-again, no work is required, not at all! Salvation is a gift of God! By Grace through faith!

But to live for Jesus successfully requires effort, much of it too! The Holy Spirit empowers us, but even then He asks us to cooperate!

Anyone reading here today ever experienced such "labor" serving Jesus?

Don't misunderstand. Our Lord is not a hard taskmaster. Even with our Christian service being so "heavy," Jesus still promises: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28

I'd rather have a heavy work-load with Jesus in my heart, than be care-free living for the devil!

Paul, using "kopos" exactly as here in our Text, writes to the Thessalonians. "For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our LABOUR be in vain." 1st Thessalonians 3:5 clearly says Paul "laboured" in that little city, diligently toiling for our Lord!

Well, Preacher Bagwell, be careful! You will discourage anyone from wanting to follow Jesus, from joining His work force!

No!

Because, even when things are that intense, that trying, that "labour" oriented, it's still called a "labour of love" in Hebrews 6:10! And God will reward it abundantly! "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."

Well now, the truth has been told today!

For sure!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, "IS NOT IN VAIN"

We have come to the last few words of 1st Corinthians 15:58. That's where Paul assures us that our labour "is not in vain in the Lord." Here we have a verb, an adverb, an adjective, two prepositions and two nouns, one of them being a Proper Noun.

The verb is quite basic, "is." A form of "eimi," it just means "to exist." Paul is stating a fact! Rejoice in this truth! Because God "is," some other things "are" as well! Jesus proves this directly in John 14:19. "Because I live, ye shall live also."

And it's also Paul who tells us in Colossians 1:17, speaking of Jesus again, "By Him all things consist." The verb "consist" blends "sun" and "histemi," meaning "to stand together!" Things have cohesiveness ... because of Jesus! The sun rises and sets! Atoms stay in union! Life continues! The universe functions!

And ... especially for our discussion today ... what we do for Jesus is NEVER useless or fruitless or forgotten!

The word "vain" is spelled "kenos" and means "empty." It also can mean "without result, to no purpose, foolish or senseless." Without effect!

Our word is translated "empty" four times in the New Testament. Mary the Virgin  rejoiced in the Lord, "He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away." Luke 1:53

Other than "empty" however, all Bible uses of "kenos" use the word "vain" in translation, either as adjectives or nouns, called substantives really.

In searching "kenos" this morning, in the Scriptures, I've found three or four things that are absolutely said NOT to be in vain!

These are precious promises for the Christian!

First of all, God's Grace is not in vain! "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." The truth of 1st Corinthians 15:10 is glorious! God's Grace is not purposeless! It is not empty or void of power and effect!

Then secondly, because Christ Jesus is risen from the grave, our preaching is not in vain! We can expect "results!" Fruit will be borne! Dead, empty preaching is boring! Preaching the living Word of God is exciting! We're handling spiritual dynamite! Paul proves this fact in a negative way, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain." But Christ is risen; therefore, our preaching has purpose and power! 1st Corinthians 15:14

Thirdly, real faith is not in vain! Never! Again, because Jesus lives! "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." 1st Corinthians 15:17, unlike James 2:20, is talking about living faith! "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" If you exercised genuine faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, you are born again! Nothing "fake" about it! It's genuine! Purposeful!

Then, back to our Text, lastly, our work for Jesus is not in vain either, "Your labour is not in vain in the Lord." To strengthen this argument, Paul adds elsewhere: "Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." Philippians 2:16

And: "For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain." 1st Thessalonians 3:5

Jesus was right, as always! "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Matthew 10:41-42, in other words, again says that our labor is not in vain in the Lord! God's rewards are sure!

Even down to the bare minimum, offering a cup of cold water!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, "IN THE LORD"

First of all, it contains a command.

Then comes a promise.

Watch.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58

Note the command: "Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord."

Then the promise: "Your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

But, is this true for everyone?

Under all circumstances?

Let's go back to the verse and let me emphasize three words, the final three. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

This is only true "in the Lord!"

For those who have been born-again and placed, by the Holy Spirit of God, "into" the Lord Jesus Christ! Listen to Paul, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." All men are not new creatures, just those who have been saved!

"IN THE LORD!"

Another strong indication Paul is writing only to Believers here is his opening "vocative" phrase, "my beloved brethren!" The noun "adelphos" means "two or more born from the same womb!"

Putting it all together: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

Is this true for the sinner, the lost man, the ungodly?

No!

Only for the person "in the Lord!"

Sinners are not our "brethren," not born again!

Sinners don't even care about the "work of the Lord" either!

And sinners, certainly, have no "rewards" to anticipate. Rather, the very opposite! They have certain "judgments" awaiting them, the very wrath of God! "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him." John 3:36

This verse is not for the lost!

Then, how about hypocrites, the "fake" so-called "religious" people who grow in God's wheat field? Like tares, weeds, among the real plants?

Does 1st Corinthians 15:58 apply to them? "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

No!

They are not "beloved brethren!"

They are rather something like this, using Jesus' words: "Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." Matthew 23:27

"Religious" but not "saved" people are not "in the Lord" either! Rather, they are, again quoting our Lord, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." John 8:44

And, furthermore, false professors have no pleasant rewards awaiting them either!

Matter of fact, even concerning saved people who have not faithfully served the Lord ... future rewards are questionable!

"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." 1st Corinthians 3:11-15 is, I believe, written to encourage faithful living for Jesus! Notice the attached promise of "rewards" for the faithful, enduring and precious, and "loss of rewards" for the careless, burned by the fires of God's holiness! This event, when "every man's work will be tried," occurs at the Judgment Seat of Christ. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." 2nd Corinthians 5:10

In summary, 1st Corinthians 15:58 is not for the sinner!

Nor for the lost religious impostor, the hypocrite!

Nor even the lazy saint!

It's for the faithful Believer in Jesus!

To those who are indeed laboring "in the Lord!"

That little preposition "in" is spelled, logically, "en" in Greek. When used with a dative case object, as here, it means; "in, near, within, among, on, by, or with!" Pretty "close" terms!

I now live "in the sphere" of the Lord Jesus Christ!

And to those readers today, you who also are "in the Lord," saved by God's Grace; "Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord!"

For, be sure, all you do for Jesus, in His Name, will be duly noted and rewarded! "You labour is not in vain in the Lord!"

What a place to live!

"In the Lord!"

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

SOME CONCLUDING REMARKS:

Today, just a few concluding remarks about our Text for this week, 1st Corinthians 15:58. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

An old Puritan, William Gurnall by name, wrote a short booklet on our Text. However, all his literary works were not that brief! His Book on the complete armour of God, a few verses in Ephesians six, consists of three full volumes! What a commentary!

Several of today's observations have been gleaned from his work.

For example, "Man is born to labor. And the Christian is not born-again to be idle!" That's good!

Remember that 1st Corinthians 15:58 focuses on the Christian's service for the Lord.

Don't be surprised that the Lord would have you labor for Him while still on earth! After all, in Heaven you will rest eternally! "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." Revelation 14:13

Then again, balance into that thought this verse: "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him." Revelation 22:3

"We travel the labor train on a companion ticket! The Lord helps us in all we do for Him! He is the great Co-Laborer!"

When it comes to working for Jesus, God keenly knows that "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 26:41

"In Christian service, do your BEST and God will forgive your WORST!" Again, that's from Mr. Gurnall.

Yes, our work for Jesus can be hard, again according to 1st Corinthians 15:58, but hard work does not imply a hard Master! "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:30, Jesus again!

It's hard to claim God's promises, when one sits idle!

Christians, take heart! Yes, labor here is intensive at times, but the rewards so outweigh the trials that in Heaven eternal joy will be yours!

Rejoice that God plans for us any rewards whatsoever! And we know He does! "Ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." Our labor is so sin-tainted it's amazing that God would acknowledge it at all!

There's at least one Bible example of God rewarding a heathen King! If He does that, you know He will reward His saints! "Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army." Ezekiel 29:18-19, wow!

And when it comes to the commandments of the Bible, Psalm 19:11 clearly says, "In keeping of them there is great reward."

Caesar would often show his troops a distant but beautiful city just before attacking it! Thus he excited the will and determination of his warriors! Jesus often spoke of a City, too, a heavenly one! Glory! New Jerusalem! That's where our rewards will be found!

Some ancient armies fought while wearing their jewels and most expensive robes! They did so to remind themselves what great losses would occur should they fail in the conflict!

The dying words of James Ussher, the man who supplied the "dates" for certain events as published in the notes of the old Scofield Reference Bible, King James Version, are as follows: "O God, forgive my sins of omission!" What we didn't do for Jesus!

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

Christian workers, be faithful!

Let 1st Corinthians 15:58 be to you either a "spur," to incite you to more good works than ever, or a "bridle," to help slow you from veering into any empty activities!

Christian labor, what an honor!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 


 

This is one of the greatest Verses in the Bible. And it has 31,102 of them! I'm thankful we've had the opportunity to study it, 1st Corinthians 15:58, word-for-word! What a blessing! One more time, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

 

 

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