I’ve been preaching through 1 Corinthians at our church for the last couple years, and in my most recent message we came to a little phrase in 1 Corinthians 16:13 that has become a stumbling block for some readers. The underlying Greek verb (andrizesthei) is rendered variously as “act like men” (ESV, NASB; cf. CSB, KJV) or “be courageous” (NIV, NRSV, NLT). Some of those who favor “act like men” understand the text as a call to manhood. Others dismiss that interpretation by noting that the command is addressed to both men and women.
For my part, I think either translation is fine. Both of them are actually capturing something true about the original expression. The Greek word in question is built on a root that refers to adult males (aner). That means that there are at least two semantic oppositions here, not one—male as opposed to female and adult as opposed to child. As Thiselton explains, “it does not simply pose a contrast with supposedly ‘feminine’ qualities; it also stands in contrast with childish ways.”1 In other words, the root idea invokes both masculinity and maturity. Continue Reading →