Sometimes I am stunned by the simplicity of how God speaks to us. Through Paul He gave it to us pretty straight. He didn’t say, a few things or occasionally or if I feel like it. Nope.
God’s goal for us is to do everything in love. May I live this daily.
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to come to you with the brothers, but he was not at all willing to come now. However, he will come when he has an opportunity. Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love. Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (1 Co 16:12–14). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Apollos was an eloquent Jew who was brought into the full understanding of the good news by Priscilla and Aquila. He had ministered with great power at Corinth, and there was a segment of the church there that felt attached to him. It is unlikely that Apollos promoted this division, for his great concern seemed to be to preach the Messiah. In spite of the division (“The Apollos Fan Club”), Paul did not hesitate to encourage Apollos to return to Corinth for further ministry. It is clear that there was no envy on Paul’s part or sense of competition on the part of Apollos.
Paul did not have the authority to place men against their will. Apollos did not feel he should go to Corinth at that time, and Paul had to concur with his decision. It is wonderful the way these different men worked together.
Perhaps it was in the light of the divisions in the church that Paul gave the admonitions in 1 Corinthians 16:13–14. Watch simply means “Be alert! Be vigilant!” The enemy is always at hand, and we are never safe from attack. Satan would certainly attack the church and try to hinder the ministry of Timothy or Apollos.
To stand fast in the faith means to have mature stability. Paul had already warned them that they were immature children who needed to grow up (1 Cor. 3:1ff). No wonder Paul added, Quit you like men which means, “Act like men, not children.” (The word quit is short for “acquit”—to perform or act.) It was a call to courageous manliness at an hour when mature leadership was needed.
But even manliness needs to be balanced with love, lest leadership become dictatorship. Paul had expounded the value and virtues of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Carl Sandburg, when addressing the United States Congress, said that Abraham Lincoln was a man of “velvet steel.” That is a good image for the Christian to borrow, for true manliness does not exclude tenderness.