by Christian Union Day and Night Staff
The strengthening of believers—one strengthening another, through encouragement, service, and prayer—is a major theme of the New Testament. Jesus instructs Peter to strengthen his brothers once he has turned back to the Lord after denying him before his crucifixion (Luke 22:32). Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and their companions traveled from church to church "strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith" (Acts 14:22; see also Acts 15:32, 41; 16:5; 18:23). Paul wrote to the Romans, "I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you" (1:11). And even before his visit, at the end of his letter to them he praises God for the reality that God will strengthen the Romans through the letter itself: "Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ...to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ!" 16:25, 27).
Elsewhere in his letters Paul prays that believers may "be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy" (Col 1:11) and God may grant believers "to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in [their] inner being, so that...being rooted and grounded in love, [they] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:16–19)
These and many other verses show that Christians are strengthened by God's grace in part through the deliberate and intentional efforts, words, and prayers of other Christians. Being deliberate and intentional in our efforts to strengthen one another in the body of Christ is both a privilege and a responsibility to which we must devote ourselves.