2 Timothy 2:3-4 Commentary



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2 Timothy 2:3-4 Commentary

2 Timothy 2:3  Suffer hardship (2SAAM) with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: sugkakopatheson (2SAAM) os kalos stratiotes Christou Iesou. 
Amplified: Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: Accept your share in suffering like a fine soldier of Christ Jesus. (
Westminster Press)
KJV: Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
NLT:  Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Put up with your share of hardship as a loyal soldier in Christ's army. (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Take your part with others in enduring hardships as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (
Young's Literal:  thou, therefore, suffer evil as a good soldier of Jesus Christ;


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2 Timothy 2:3-4 Five Qualities Of A Good Soldier
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2 Timothy 2 Commentary
2 Timothy 2 Commentary  
2 Timothy 2:3-7 Embracing Hardship for Gospel
2 Timothy Expository Notes
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2 Timothy 2:1-10
2 Timothy: Perseverance in Difficult Days
2 Timothy 2 Commentary
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2 Timothy: How we should Encourage each other to do God's Work
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2 Timothy 2 Commentary
The Second Epistle to Timothy
2 Timothy Commentary
2 Timothy 2:3 Good Soldiers of Christ
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2 Timothy 2:3-4 The Lord's Army

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2 Timothy 2:3-4 A Good Soldier Of Jesus Christ

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2 Timothy 2:3 A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ
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2 Timothy 2:3 Is Faith An Escape?

Good Soldier

Three Kinds of Soldiers - Ten Principles of Warfare
Roman Soldier from Decline & Fall of Roman Empire
Roman Soldier - Description from Josephus

A Few Soldier Stories and Sermons
Roman Soldiers - 1868 J S Howson book "The Metaphors of St Paul"

SUFFER HARDSHIP WITH ME: sugkakopatheson (2SAAM): (2 Timothy 2:10; 1:8; 3:11; 4:5; 1Cor 13:7; 2Cor 1:6; Heb 6:15; 10:32; 11:27; 12:2;3 James 1:12)

Other translations = Take your share of suffering (NET), take your share of hardship (Vine), Endure hardship with us (NIV), Share in the troubles that we have (ICB), Bear your share of hardship along with me (NAB), Be ready to do without the comforts of life (BBE).

Suffer hardship with me (4777) (sugkakopatheo from the combination of sun= together, with [speaks of intimate relation] + kakós = evil [of a soldier = cowardly] + patheo = suffer) means to suffer what is bad, to suffer ill treatment, to endure persecution, to suffer misfortune, to be in sorry case, - and to do all of these together with another. This compound verb is found only in here and in 2 Timothy 1:8. where Paul commands Timothy to "join with (him) in suffering for the gospel according to the power (dunamis) of God." (Click for discussion of 2Ti 1:8)

The basic meaning of kakopatheo in use from Homer onwards is that of experiencing something which originates from outside of an individual and which affects that individual, either for good or ill.

NIDNTT writes that the related root word

pascho originally meant nothing more than “to be affected by”, but how one was affected had to be expressed by additional words, e.g. kakos paschein, to be in a bad situation (Homer, Od. 16, 275); eu paschein, to be in a good situation (Sophocles, OC 1489). However, since such additions tended to be negative, the vb. itself came to have a negative meaning, unless there were clear indications to the contrary. Thus the idea of being affected is replaced by that of suffering... In most cases it is a matter of being delivered up to an adverse fate or to malevolent gods and men (Diogenes Laertius, 5, 61; Diodorus Siculus, 13, 98, 2), and only rarely refers to enduring a punishment." (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan

Larry Richards writes that this word group (pascho, patheo, etc)...

in Greek culture expressed the view that humanity is afflicted with experiences that are beyond our control and yet cause us physical and mental anguish. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)

Paul is saying "Timothy be willing to take your share of rough treatment with me."

Suffer is not a suggestion but a command - the aorist tense and imperative mood together convey a sense of urgency, and even ring out like a sharp military command. The idea of the aorist imperative is "Do this now! Do it effectively!"

Wuest comments that the aorist imperative...

is a sharp command given with military snap and curtness...How we in the ministry of the Word (Ed note: and in some sense every believer falls into this category) need that injunction today. What “softies” we sometimes are, afraid to come out clearly in our proclamation of the truth and our stand as to false doctrine, fearing the ostracism of our fellows, the ecclesiastical displeasure of our superiors, or the cutting off of our immediate financial income. I would rather walk a lonely road with Jesus than be without His fellowship in the crowd, wouldn’t you? I would rather live in a cottage and eat simple food, and have Him as Head of my house and the Unseen Guest at every meal, than to live in royal style in a mansion without Him. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans or Logos)

The pronoun me is not in the original Greek but is inferred from the preposition with in the verb sugkakopatheo. By the use of this compound verb (especially sun = with) Paul assures his young protégée Timothy that he will not suffer alone (cf note 1 Peter 5:9). Paul is not asking anything of Timothy that he was not willing to experience himself.

In some of his last written words, Paul uses the root kakopatheo commanding Timothy to endure hardship (see note 2Timothy 4:5)

This idea of suffering for one's faith is foreign to most believers in Western Christianity and it's easy to forget that the Christian life entails continual warring against the forces of evil.  Paul wanted young Timothy to have no illusions but to understand that being faithful to the truth, unwilling to twist it or compromise it for personal gain, and constantly preaching it even against threat of persecution would inevitably lead to suffering. This truth is well known to those who have come to faith in countries where conversion is punishable by imprisonment, beating and even death.

All of this truth should come as no surprise for Jesus warned His disciples of the certain warfare declaring that...

If the world (kosmos [word study]= represents the self-centered, godless value system of fallen mankind which loves sin and error and hates truth and holiness) hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. (John 15:18-21)

Every true believer is in a sense in "active service" and must expect some measure of ill-treatment, even as every soldier does.

MacArthur adds that

It is difficult for Christians in most of the Western world to understand what serious spiritual warfare and suffering for Christ mean. The secular environment in our society is becoming more and more hostile to Christianity and to religion in general. But we are not faced with loss of job, imprisonment, and execution because of our faith. With few exceptions, being a Christian will not keep a student out of college or a worker from getting a good job. But the more faithful a Christian becomes and the more the Lord blesses his work, the more Satan will put roadblocks, hardships, and rejection in the way, the more evident the spiritual warfare will become, and the more frequent and obvious the hardship will become." Chrysostom wrote that "It behooves thee not to complain if thou endure hardness; but to complain if thou dost not endure hardness. (MacArthur, J. 2 Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)

Felix Neff adds that a

A Christian without affliction is only like a soldier on parade.

Too often Christianity is presented to non-believers as the cure to all anxieties, difficulties, and trials and this so-called "gospel" can result in false disciples and/or false expectations.  The essence of Paul's invitation still rings true...

Take up your armor and join me in a lifelong struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

A fruitful Christian life, inevitably, is accompanied by intense spiritual  warfare and opposition. Paul wanted to encourage young Timothy to stand strong, as he himself had done for so long. Did Timothy obey? Paul answers this himself writing later that

you followed (closely, side by side) my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings... (2Ti 3:10, 11-note)

The writer of Hebrews has an interesting entry near the close of the letter recording...

Take notice (present imperative) that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I shall see you. (He 13:23-note)! 

Timothy surely would have been familiar with the attributes of Roman soldiers and Plummer notes Timothy would have understood that Paul's charge was no small matter but that it involved...

self-sacrifice, endurance, discipline, vigilance, obedience, ready co-operation with others, sympathy, enthusiasm, loyalty.

Larry Richards writes that to suffer hardship as a good soldier means that...

An easy life, distractions from our goal, these are all to be rejected. We’re to pick up our packs, and march through life as men and women on a mission." (Richards, L. The 365 Day Devotional Commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books. 1990 )

Just as the Roman legionnaires suffered hardship in the service of the Emperor for temporal hardship for temporal gain, even more should be the willingness and desire of the Christian soldier in the service of the King of kings to suffer temporal hardship for eternal gain!

A willingness to accept an assignment to suffer is the sure mark of a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

In a parallel passage on the call of disciples to suffer hardship Luke records that after Paul and Barnabas

had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations (thlipsis) we must enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:21, 22)

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FISHING IN A TUB - Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ - The other day I read about a man who decided that his weekly fishing excursion was costing him too much money and causing him too much work. Therefore he purchased a large washtub, filled it with water, placed it under a shade tree in his backyard, pulled up a comfortable lawn chair and started his fishing. It seemed like a great idea. He thought of the money he was sav­ing, and of the fact that he was no longer weary from hooking and unhooking his boat and loading and unloading his motor. He was also avoiding the bother of toting a gasoline can, tackle box, and supply of bait. Often he caught as many fish out of the tub as he did when he worked so hard on the lake or stream! (Exactly nothing!) However, this business of fishing in a tub gradually lost its appeal. He never felt the tingle of excitement that comes when the bobber disappears and a sudden tug is felt on the line. He also missed the fact that he no longer could tell stories to his friends about the large fish he caught, or the larger one that got away. Finally, he decided that although fishing in a tub is cheaper and easier, it is not nearly as rewarding as going to a lake or stream.

Christians who are primarily concerned with relaxation and ease will soon find that life without discipleship and zealous service is not very rewarding. It's like fishing in a tub! Paul knew this, so he exhorted Timothy to endure hardness like a good soldier, to strive to excel like a determined athlete, and to toil patiently like a faithful farmer. This is the kind of Christian life that pays dividends and produces inner joy and satisfaction. Only thus can one know the thrill of being a true "fisher of men" and of bringing a needy soul to Jesus Christ! (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Fishers would you be of men?
Cut loose every shoreline then;
Listen to the Master speak:
"Launch out! Launch out into the deep!"— J. Oatman, Jr.

If you are not "FISHING,"
you are not properly FOLLOWING the Lord!


Help Wanted! - Perhaps the most effective advertisement ever written appeared in a London newspaper early in the 20th century: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful." Those were the words written by Sir Ernest Shackleton, the famous South Pole explorer.

Commenting on the overwhelming response he received, Shackleton said, "It seemed as though all the men in Great Britain were determined to accompany us."

Shackleton's words remind me of Jesus' words in Matthew 16:24, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." The Lord was calling people to go with Him on a hazardous journey—the way of the cross. He issued that call after telling His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and be killed.

Through the centuries, thousands have responded to Jesus' words by forsaking all to follow Him. But unlike Shackleton's expedition that came to an end, the Lord's work goes on and volunteers are still needed. He continues to call for those who will serve Him regardless of the cost.

Have you answered His call?— Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Never came the call more clear,
Midst the storms of hate and fear,
Jesus' love to show in this world of woe;
For His grace is ever near. —Loes

A faith that costs nothing
and demands nothing is worth nothing.

AS A GOOD SOLDIER OF CHRIST JESUS: os kalos stratiotes Christou Iesou: (Click for description of "Good Soldier" in Josephus, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, et al) (See Torrey's Topic "Saints Compared To" ~ Metaphors for saints)(2Cor 10:3, 4, 5 Eph 6:11-18; 1Ti 1:18 1Cor 9:7; Php 2:25)

The Metaphors of St Paul by John Saul Howson (1868)

Chapter 1 -  Roman Soldiers
Chapter 2 - Classical Architecture
Chapter 3 -  Ancient Agriculture
Chapter 4 - Greek Games

Other Translations = as a loyal soldier (TEV), as a good (first-class) soldier (AMP), as one of the army of Christ Jesus (BBE)

Paul informs us in Ephesians that all believers are involved in a spiritual battle

"against the schemes (methodeia [word study] > English "method" = orderly logical effective arrangement usually in steps - our mortal enemy is very organized and methodical - Look out!) of the devil". Paul goes on to remind us that our "struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." The need of the hour for every "good soldier" of the Lord is to "take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." (Ep 6:11; 12; 13-see notes Ep 6:11; 12; 13)

All believers must recognize that the Christian life is not a playground; but a battlefield where battles are being won and lost in real spiritual battles. Ultimately Christ Jesus has was victorious over the powers of darkness at Calvary, but in the meantime He has left us here and called us to be "good soldiers".

Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Cor 15:57)

Good (2570) (kalos [word study]) does not refer to that which is superficial or cosmetic but to what is genuinely and inherently good, organically healthy, fit, useful, serviceable. Another Greek word, agathos is used generally for what is good and useful, especially moral goodness in relation to God who is perfect.

Although kalos can be used as a synonym with agathos, kalos tends to stress more the aesthetic aspect, and stands for beautiful, fine, free from defects. When applied to acts, kalos means noble, praiseworthy. In secular Greek writings a suitable kalos was used to refer to a suitable harbour (Homer); a healthy body (Plato); pure, genuine gold (Theognis) and an unblemished sacrifice (Xenophon).  Kalos came to mean that which was aesthetically beautiful. Finally the meaning of kalos broadened to include the sense of morally good.

NIDNTT adds that

in the course of the history of Greek thought, the concept kalos achieved an inclusive meaning, linked with taxis (order) and symmetria (symmetry). In this context kalos came to mean “the total state of soundness, health, wholeness and order, whether in external appearance or internal disposition. For the Greek., then, the term applies particularly to the world of the divine” (W. Grundmann, kalos TDNT III 537). (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan  or Computer version)

Paul is urging Timothy to be a fit, useful soldier (4757)  "of Christ Jesus", this latter phrase indicating that Timothy was not his own but belonged to Christ Jesus and was His to engage in spiritual warfare for Him. Roman troops were a model of discipline, and because of that discipline, they were unbeatable. In a greater, grander degree we as Christian soldiers who are obedient to our Commander and empowered by His grace are even more than conquerors through Christ.

As a good soldier named Joshua learned, Christ (Messiah) Jesus is the Commander of the army of the LORD (Josh 5:14 NKJV) and in recognition of His Commander's authority,

Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to Him "What does my Lord say to His servant?

Joshua's response should be the attitude of all who would be known by the glorious title "good soldier" --

What do You command Your servant, my Lord? (NRSV)

Christ Jesus is our Commanding Officer, and we owe total obedience to Him!

Paul knew the characteristics of good Roman soldiers. When Claudius Lysias (see Acts 23:1-35) ordered Paul to go to Caesarea for a government trial, two hundred soldiers, two hundred spearmen, and seventy horsemen from the Roman army formed his personal escort! He was also chained to a Roman soldier night and day for two whole years. Paul was also chained to a soldier even as he wrote these words and so he understood how good soldiers behaved, and how they obeyed the commanding officer. And thus Paul calls on Timothy and all "recruits" of Christ to endeavor to be good soldiers.

MacArthur adds that

a spiritual Christian does not simply do minimum duty for his Lord, Christ Jesus, but serves Him with everything he is and has." (MacArthur, J. 2 Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)

Timothy would be familiar with "soldier language" because in the first epistle Paul had used the military term command (paraggello [word study] from para = side + anagello = declare) 12 times (1Co 7:10; 11:17; 1Th 4:11; 2Th 3:4, 6, 10, 12; 1Ti 1:3; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17).

Paraggello in the ancient world meant to transmit a message or order from one to another and when it was a military command it demanded that the subordinate obey the order without hesitation. The idea inherent in paraggello  is found in our word "subpoena" where the refusal to obey makes the recipient liable to punishment.

Paraggello was also used of a doctor’s prescription or instruction to the patient, the failure to obey having potentially serious effects.

Every example of paraggello conveys the idea of binding the recipient or hearer to make the proper response or else! 

As the spiritual leader in the church, Timothy was expected to give the soldiers under him God’s “marching orders” and so Paul commanded Timothy to...

Prescribe (paraggello; KJV, NIV = command and present imperative  = is a command to keep on "prescribing" or "commanding") and teach these things" (1Timothy 4:11-note)

I charge (paraggello) you in the presence of God, Who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, Who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Ti 6:13 14)

As Warren Wiersbe quipped

If the men and women in the armed forces treated their orders with the same carelessness the average Christian treats God’s Word—they would probably all be court martialed!

See resources for more on what characterized a good "soldier"...

Three Kinds of Soldiers - Ten Principles of Warfare

The Roman Soldier  (Gibbon's Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire)

The Roman Soldier - Description from Josephus

A Few Soldier Stories & Sermons
Roman Soldiers - by J S Howson

What else characterizes a "good" Roman soldier ?

Roman soldiers were bound to service through a long term, took a solemn oath, were never to desert their standard (the golden eagle), were to submit their will to the commands of the leaders, were to sacrifice their life for the safety of the Emperor, received excellent pay, were constantly involved in military exercises regardless of age or weather conditions, exercised with weights double those used in actual warfare, cultivated the science of tactics, were able to advance 20 miles in 6 hours even with their baggage until they met the enemy. Soldiers were not allowed to marry during their term of service and were to be strictly devoted to their service for over twenty years but only about half survived to retire.

Alexander Maclaren has written that...

In Paul's time there were no standing armies, but men were summoned from their ordinary avocations and sent into the field. When the hasty call came forth, the plough was left in the furrow, and the web in the loom; the bridegroom hurried from his bride, and the mourner from the bier. All home industries were paralyzed while the manhood of the nation were in the field.

C Campbell Morgan has an interesting note for those of us who have never suffered through a global war:

"This word of Paul took on new meaning for many of us during the years of the Great War (WWI). Indeed, today it seems to some of us as though we had never seen it at all before. Of course, we had seen it, and we had given it a certain conventional interpretation. Our thinking, however, of what was included in the phrase "the affairs of this life," was very superficial in many cases. We thought of certain liberties and comforts, which the soldier is denied; and, of course, that thinking was correct so far as it went. We needed the stern and awe-inspiring experiences of those dread years to enable us to apprehend the full content of the phrase. Now we know that nothing is left out. The soldier on active service breaks with everything except the War. We saw them go in millions, leaving father, mother, brother, sister, wife, and lover; we saw them march away from promising careers, loved occupations, high ambitions, and the finest things of responsibility. Nothing was permitted to entangle them, to hinder them, or in any way to interfere with the one thing. This new understanding has brought a new revelation of the claims which our Lord's campaign makes upon us. He only asks His people to do what the sons of the commonwealth did, grudgingly. Does not the consideration bring a sense of shame with it? How often those who should constitute the sacramental host of God have played at war! May God forgive us, and give us another chance! And if in His grace He will, may we be worthy of it!" (Morgan, G C: Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. page 326, 1926). (Bolding added)

William Barclay commenting on why Paul may have used the metaphor of a soldier writes...

The picture of man as a soldier and life as a campaign is one which the Romans and the Greeks knew well. “To live,” said Seneca, “is to be a soldier” (Seneca: Epistles 96:5). “The life of every man,” said Epictetus, “is a kind of campaign, and a campaign which is long and varied” (Epictetus: Discourses, 3, 24, 34). (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press or Logos)

Rienecker adds

"the Roman soldier -- always ready to faithfully obey his commander without grumbling or complaining; constantly in training whatever hardships must be endured; never leaving his post even if it meant death; working with his company as a unit, carrying out his specific task...received praise from his commander and was rewarded for his service. (Rogers, C L - originally by Fritz Rienecker: New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. Zondervan. 1998)

The respected Jewish historian Josephus noted that

each soldier every day throws all his energy into his drill, as though he were in action. Hence that perfect ease with which they sustain the shock of battle: no confusion breaks their customary formation, no panic paralyzes, no fatigue exhausts them. All their camp duties are performed with the same discipline, the same regard for security: the procuring of wood, food-supplies, and water, as required—each party has its allotted task; nothing is done without a word of command. The same precision is maintained on the battlefield; nothing is done unadvisedly or left to chance. This perfect discipline makes the army an ornament of peace-time and in war welds the whole into a single body; so compact are their ranks, so alert their movements, so quick their ears for orders, their eyes for signals, their hands to act upon them. None are slower than they in succumbing to suffering. (Josephus: Wars of the Jews: 3. 72-107 )

A good measure of all worldly activities is...
Does it
(whatever "it" represents) entangle me?
Have you become entangled in "Civilian" Affairs?

Matthew Henry writes that...

The soldiers of Jesus Christ must approve themselves good soldiers, faithful to their captain, resolute in his cause, and must not give over fighting till they are made more than conquerors, through him that loved them, Romans 8:37 (note). Those who would approve themselves good soldiers of Jesus Christ must endure hardness; that is, we must expect it and count upon it in this world, must endure and accustom ourselves to it, and bear it patiently when it comes, and not be moved by it from our integrity." (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible)

Dwight L. Moody did not want his song leader Ira Sankey to use “Onward Christian Soldiers” in their evangelistic meetings. It was all right for Sankey to have the crowd sing “Hold the Fort, for I Am Coming” but not “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Why? Well, Mr. Moody thought that the church as he knew it did not look or act like an army of Christian soldiers, and maybe he was right.

Guy King writes that the good soldier...

must not allow himself to get entangled with civilian interests, when all his energies are supposed to be devoted to the war. He must, for the time, forswear anything, and everything, that would prejudice his soldiering.

A like sacrifice must be seen in the soldier of the Cross. He may find that he will have to give up certain things, certain interests, certain habits, certain amusements, even certain friends - not because any of these are wrong in themselves, but because they are a snare, an entanglement, to him; they get in the way of his success as a soldier.

He will not criticise his fellow Christians if they find no harm in such matters - it is not his business to criticize; though, when asked, he is free to give his opinion, and to explain the reason for his own avoidance.

Anything that interferes with our being the best that we can be for Him is to be sacrificed - however harmless it may be to others, and however attractive it may be to ourselves; even though it be so darling a possession as a hand, or a foot, or an eye, Matthew 18:8-9. Let it be made clear that there are many things in "this life" that, for the Christian soldier, are plain duty, family things, social affairs, business matters, that must be attended to - and done all the better for the very reason that he is a Christian - but the point lies in that word "entangleth": that is where the emphasis rests. When anything, however otherwise legitimate, becomes an entanglement, it must be severely, and sacrificially, dealt with. (2 Timothy 2:1-7 Some Things Every Christian)

A. A. Harmer tells the story...

During the Crimean War a young chaplain, newly arrived in camp, inquired of a Christian sergeant the best method for carrying on his work, among the men. The sergeant led him to the top of a hill and pointed out the field of action. "Now, sir," said he, "look around you. See those batteries on the right, and the men at their guns. Hear the roar of the cannon. Look where you will, all are in earnest here. Every man feels that this is a life and death struggle. If we do not conquer the Russians the Russians will conquer us. We are all in earnest here, sir; we are not playing at soldiers. If you would do good, you must be in earnest; an earnest man always wins his way." Such was the advice of Queen Victoria’s servant to the servant of King Jesus." (A. A. Harmer. Biblical Illustrator)

Ramsey has the following notation on soldiers writing that...

The Roman soldier, marching under the colors of his regiment, was marching under the standard of idolatry, for the standards (signa) were all divine, and worship was paid to them by the soldiers as a duty of the service, and all contained one or more idolatrous symbols or representations; moreover he was frequently required, standing in his place in the ranks, to take part in idolatrous acts of worship. The soldier could not retire and take to some other way of life, for he was bound to the service through a long term of years. Here, again, the rule and practice of the Church seems to have been that in ordinary circumstances the converted soldier should remain passive, and as far as possible silent, during the ceremony at which he was compulsorily present, but should not actively protest.

An Example of a Good Soldier - William Wilberforce's Source of Strength - When wanting to faint after years of fighting against slave trade William Wilberforce leaned upon the Lord for his strength. On his forty-first birthday, as rededicated himself to his calling, he prayed, “Oh Lord, purify my soul from all its stains. Warm my heart with the love of thee, animate my sluggish nature and fix my inconstancy, and volatility, that I may not be weary in well doing.” (Neh 8:10, Isa 40:31, Gal 6:9, Eph 3:16, Col 1:11, 2 Tim 2:1 ) (John Piper, Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce, pg 48)

Click full sermon

"Paul does not exhort Timothy to be a common, or ordinary soldier, but to be a "good soldier of Jesus Christ"; for all soldiers, and all true soldiers, may not be good soldiers..."

Must be loyal to his King..."

A soldier of Jesus Christ owns the divine Redeemer as his King, and confesses his sole and undivided sovereignty in the spiritual kingdom.

(2) "Obedient to his captain’s commands...."

Are we doing all the Master’s will?...The soldier who did not take the trouble to read the orders of his superior, might justly be suspected of mutinous intentions. Disobedience rankles in any heart where there is carelessness about knowing the Lord’s will. Be courageous enough always to look Scripture in the face. It is after all nothing more than your bare duty.

(3) "To conquer will be his ruling passion..."

The passion for victory with the soldier often makes him forget everything else. Before the battle of Waterloo, Picton had had two of his ribs smashed in at Quatre Bras, but he concealed this serious injury, and, though suffering intensest agony, he rode at the head of his troop, and led one of the greatest charges which decided the fortunes of the day. He never left his post, but rode on till a ball crushed in his skull and penetrated to the brains. Then in the hot fight the hero fell." ...To be a good soldier of Jesus Christ, there must be a passion for victory, an insatiable greed for setting up the throne of Jesus in the souls of men.

(4) "A good soldier is very brave at a charge."

When the time comes and the orders are given for the good soldier to advance to the attack, he does not wish himself away; though a perfect hail of hurtling shot whistles all around, and the ranks of the army are thinned, he is glad to be there, for he feels the stern joy that flushes the face in the light of battle, and he only wants to be within arm’s length of the foe and to come to close quarters with him. So is it with the genuine Christian when his heart is right with God. If he be bidden to advance, let the danger be what it may, he feels he is honored by having such a service allotted to him. But are we all such? I fear not. How many of us are silent about Jesus Christ in private conversation, how little do we show forth our light before men. If we were good soldiers, such as we ought to be, we should select every favorable opportunity in private as well as in public intercourse with our fellow men, and prudently but yet zealously press the claims of Jesus Christ and his gospel upon them. Oh, do you this, beloved, and good will come of it....My beloved, may you and I be ready for anything, and bold to bear witness for Christ before a scoffing world. In the pulpits where we preach, in the workshops where we labor, in the markets where we trade, in every company amidst which we are called to move; wherever we may be, may we be brave enough to own our Lord and to uphold his cause.

(5) "A good soldier is like a rock under attack."

So British soldiers have been; they have stood in solid squares against the enemies’ cavalry until their foes have dashed upon them madly, gnashed their teeth, fired in their faces, thrown their guns at them, and yet might just as well have ridden against granite rocks; for our soldiers did not know how to yield, and would not retreat; as fast as one fell another filled up the gap, and there stood the square of iron defying the rush of the foe. We want this kind of fixed, resolved, persevering Godliness in our churches, and we shall have it if we are good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Alas! too many are exhausted by the zeal at first exhibited; for a time they can reach the highest point, but to continue on, and on, and on, this is too difficult a task for them. How many young people will join the church, and for awhile seem very zealous and then grow cold! Alas! it is not always the young, there be some among yourselves who were once most diligent in your various forms of service; what doth hinder you that you are not diligent in your Master’s business now? Has Christ given you leave to retire into inglorious ease? Does he exempt you from service? Take heed lest you are also exempt from reward. No, we must through life still maintain our integrity, still resist temptation, still tread the separated path, and, withal, still seek the souls of men with undying ardor, with indefatigable earnestness, still wrestling with God for men and with men for God. Oh, for more of this stern determination to stand, and having done all to stand!

(6)  "He derives his strength from on high."

This has been true even of some common soldiers, for religious men when they have sought strength from God have been all the braver in the day of conflict....Often has my soul said to her Captain, “My Lord, I will do that work if thou wilt give me a grip of thy conquering right hand.” Oh, what power it puts into a man when he gets a grip of Christ, and Christ gets a grip of him! Fellowship with Christ is the fountain of the church’s strength. Her power did never lie in her wealth, nor in the eloquence of her preachers, nor in aught that comes of man; the strength of the church is divine, and if she fails to draw strength from the everlasting hills, she becomes weak as water. Good soldiers of Jesus Christ, watch unto prayer, “praying in the Holy Ghost,” for so shall you be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." (Click Spurgeon's full sermon)


2 Timothy 2:4  No soldier  (continuously) in active service (PMPMSN) entangles (3SPPI) himself in the affairs (civilian affairs) of everyday life, so that he may please (3SAASthe one who enlisted  (AAPMSDhim as a soldier. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: oudeis strateuomenos (PMPMSN) empleketai (3SPPI) tais tou biou pragmateiais, hina to stratologesanti (AAPMSD) arese; (3SAAS
Amplified: No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him.
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: No soldier who is on active service entangles himself in ordinary civilian business; he lays aside such things, so that by good service he may please the commander who has enrolled him in his army. (Westminster Press)
KJV: No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
NLT:  And as Christ's soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army. (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Remember: That no soldier on active service gets himself entangled in business, or he will not please his commanding officer (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: No one when engaged in military service allows himself to become involved in civilian pursuits, in order that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.  (
Young's Literal:  no one serving as a soldier did entangle himself with the affairs of life, that him who did enlist him he may please

NO SOLDIER IN ACTIVE SERVICE ENTANGLES HIMSELF IN THE AFFAIRS OF EVERYDAY LIFE: oudeis strateuomenos (PMPMSN) empleketai (3SPPI) tais tou biou pragmateiais: (See Torrey's Topic "Self Denial") (Dt 20:5, 6, 7; Lk 9:59, 60, 61, 62, 4:10; Lk 8:14; 1Co 9:25-note, 1Co 9:26-note  1Ti 6:9;10, 11, 12 2Pe 2:20-note)

See related studies:

Exercising self-control
Self Control

as Christ's soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life (NLT),

No one when engaged in military service allows himself to become involved in civilian pursuits, (Wuest),

Whoever serves in the military doesn’t get mixed up in non-military activities (GWT),

Every one who serves as a soldier keeps himself from becoming entangled in the world’s business (Weymouth),

he does not waste his time doing the things that most people do (ICB)

No (3762) (oudeis) means no one, nothing, none at all and particularly places emphasis on not even one!.

Some believers think they can be a Christian but not have to fight as a soldier but they are deceiving themselves, for all believers are on "the front line" whether they realize it or not. Those Christians who do not realize the intent or intensity of the real spiritual war are essentially "asleep at the post" a dangerous position to be in!

See Wayne Barber on Spiritual Warfare, Torrey's Topic "Warfare of the Saints" for a good Scriptural review of this important doctrine

in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan...we are not ignorant of his schemes [2Cor 2:11]

Soldier in active service (4754) (strateuo or strateuomai from strategos = army, stratos = an encamped army) means literally to perform military service, serve as a soldier in the army, go to fight,  carry on a military campaign, make a military expedition, lead soldiers to war or to battle.

Most of the NT uses are figurative, two speaking of believers "waging war" (not according to the flesh, 2Cor 10:3; fighting the good fight, 1 Ti 1:18) and two speaking of moral enemies that continually wage war against us (pleasure in James 4:1, fleshly lusts in 1 Peter 2:11)

Wuest adds that strateuomai means to

to make a military expedition, to do military duty, be on active service, to be engaged in warfare.

Strateuomai is in the present tense indicating that this active service is to be a lifestyle, not an occasional endeavor.

Strateuomai is used 3 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Judges 19:8, 2Sa 15:28, Isa 29:7). Here is a representative use...

Isaiah 29:7 And the multitude of all the nations who wage war (Lxx = related derivative verb epistrateuo) against Ariel, Even all who wage war (Hebrew = tsaba = wage war; Lxx = strateuomai) against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, Shall be like a dream, a vision of the night. (Comment:

There are 7 uses in the NT...

Luke 3:14 And some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages."

1 Corinthians 9:7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,

1 Timothy 1:18  This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight,

2 Timothy 2:4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

James 4:1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?

1 Peter 2:11 (note) Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war (present tense) against the soul. (Comment: Take careful note of the tense - fleshly lusts will be ambushing us and trying to trip us up until we see Jesus face to face.)

The point is that a good soldier in active service does not have a 9 to 5 job but is on duty (and needs to be alert) around the clock, "7x24". All that the soldier is belongs to the military in which he serves. A soldier on active duty is always a soldier.  He can't call a "time-out" in the middle of battle.  As we have seen in recent wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc, even when the soldier is on leave, he is still subject to recall without notice. Whenever he is ordered into dangerous duty, he is expected to put his life on the line without question or hesitation. This picture emphasizes the total commitment necessary in order to be a good soldier.

As Solomon writes

there is no discharge in the time of war (Ec 8:8)

How would your "military service" be evaluated?
Are you AWOL?
Are we acting like children playing "toy soldiers"?

Active service calls for rigorous self discipline (1Ti 4:7; 4:8; 4:9; 10-notes 1Ti 4:7; 4:8; 4:9; 4:10;cf Ec 9:10) and unquestioning obedience (see Jn 14:15, 1Sa 15:22, 23). A good soldier must have a steady intake of the "solid food" of truth who by practice train his or her senses (He 5:14-note) to distinguish between the "good and evil", between "good" and the "best", constantly striving to choose the Commander's priority.

Either perpetual warfare
Perpetual preparation

Plummer observes that

Military service implies vigilant, unwearying and organized opposition to a vigilant, unwearying, and organized foe.... Military service is either perpetual warfare or perpetual preparation for it. And just such is the Christian life: it is either a conflict, or a preparation for one. The soldier, so long as he remains in the service, can never say, “I may lay aside my arms and my drill: all enemies are conquered; there will never be another war.” And the Christian, so long as he remains in this world, can never think that he may cease to watch and to pray, because the victory is won, and he will never be tempted any more. It is for this reason that he cannot allow himself to be “entangled in the affairs of this life." (Plummer, Alfred: 2 Timothy) (Bolding added)

C. Garret says

"You cannot be a saint on Sundays and a sinner in the week; you cannot be a saint at church and a sinner in the shop; you can not be a saint in Liverpool and a sinner in London. You cannot serve God and Mammon. You are a soldier everywhere or nowhere, and woe to you if you dishonour your King."

Albert Barnes writes that...

He "wars a good warfare" who is engaged in a righteous cause; who is faithful to his commander and to his post; who is unslumbering in observing the motions of the enemy, and fearless in courage in meeting them; who never forsakes his standard, and who continues thus faithful till the period of his enlistment has expired, or till death." (Barnes' Notes on the New Testament)

F B Meyer adds that

"It is good to begin, but it is better to keep on steadily to the end. It is much when the young soldier, well equipped for battle, steps out into the early dawn, with the light shining upon his weapons, but it is more important far, if, in the late afternoon, he is found standing in the long thin line, resisting the perpetual onset of the foe. We are told of Daniel, that he "continued" (Da 1:21-note). This, perhaps, is the greatest tribute to him, that through decades he did not swerve from his loyalty to God, or devotion to the high interests which were committed to his charge. The men that are steadfast in their loyalty to truth, in their prosecution of duty, in their holding the post assigned to them by the providence of God, are those which leave the deepest impression on their contemporaries. It is not the flash of the meteor which the world really wants, but the constant radiance of the fixed star. What though the storm beats in your face, and every effort is made to dislodge you, though it seems as if you were forgotten in that lone post of duty, still stand fast: the whole situation may depend upon your tenacity of purpose, the campaign may be decided by your holding your ground without flinching. If the Master has put you as a light on the cellar stair, never desert that post because it is lonely and distasteful, and because the opportunity of service comes rarely. To be found doing your duty at the unexpected moment, when His footfall is heard along the corridor, will be a reward for years of patient waiting." (Meyer, F B: Our Daily Walk) (Bolding added)

Entangles (1707) (empleko from en = in + pléko = tie, braid, twist - pléko is used of the Roman soldiers "weaving a crown of thorns" to mock Jesus in Mt 27:29) means in general to interconnect closely and so to wrap or twist together and thus entwine, intertwine, braid, entangle and finally to be caught in. Figuratively empleko means to become involved in an activity to the point of interference with other activities or objectives.

BDAG's lexicon has a picturesque definition of empleko stating that it means

to be involuntarily interlaced to the point of immobility" and was used "literally of sheep whose wool is caught in thorns" and of the "hares (rabbits) who are caught in thorns; Aesop's Fables (Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature)

The picture of a sheep whose wool has been caught in thorns illustrates the difference between involvement and entanglement - one is entangled when he is not free to get loose! When the affairs of this life hem us in so tightly that we can't get loose to fulfill our Captain's commands then we have become entangled in the "thorns" of non-eternal pursuits. The world's pleasures can easily entwine us especially in hedonistic America!

Empleko refers to the act of getting so involved in something that one becomes restricted and controlled, no longer free to do what one should do.

Liddell and Scott write that empleko was used in secular writing meaning...

"to entwine one's hand in another's clothes, so as to hold him."

Empleko is used only once in the (non-apocryphal) LXX in Proverbs where the translation of the Greek is

He that walks justly is assisted: but he that walks in crooked ways shall be entangled therein.

The NAS reads 

He who walks blamelessly will be delivered, But he who is crooked will fall all at once. (Pr 28:18)

Guthrie explains that empleko...

envisages a soldier's weapons entrammelled (hampered or obstructed by entangling) in his cloak. The main point is therefore the renunciation of everything which hinders the real purpose of the soldier of Christ. There is nothing intrinsically wrong, in other words, about civilian affairs until they entangle. Then they must be resolutely cast aside. (Guthrie, Donald . 2 Timothy).

Empleko was also used of weaving or braiding the hair. This latter picture reminds us of Samson, a strong soldier, who lost his power because he got entangled with Delilah at first lying to her saying that

If you weave the seven locks of my hair with the web and fasten it with a pin, then I shall become weak and be like any other man. (Judges 16:13-note)

Lot was a lot like Samson, for he LOOKED at Sodom (Ge 13:10), then pitched his tent "TOWARD Sodom" (NIV "near Sodom" Ge 13:12), and finally was "LIVING IN Sodom" (Ge 14:12). Little by little, Sodom began to move INTO Lot and entangle him to the point that he did not please the Lord, eventually costing him dearly. (Ge 19:15ff).

Empleko pictures a soldier's sword becoming so entangled in his cloak that he is unable to defend himself in battle! The position of the soldier demands detachment from all that would hinder his wholehearted obedience to the call of His commander. James would call a soldier who entangles himself "a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:8-note) Like a single-minded soldier, we should respond to the orders of our commanding officer, the Lord Jesus, with unquestioning and immediate obedience.

Deuteronomy 20:5, 6, 7, 8 warns a man not to go to war if there are unsettled affairs in his life. The battle is serious and a soldier cannot be distracted by entanglements of business or family affairs.

Plummer observes that the Christian soldier...

has a duty to perform “in the affairs of this life,” but in doing it he is not to be entangled in them. They are means, not ends; and must be made to help him on, not suffered to keep him back. If they become entanglements instead of opportunities, he will soon lose that state of constant preparation and alertness, which is the indispensable condition of success. (Plummer, Alfred: 2 Timothy). (Bolding added)

Paul's description of the Christian soldier who is not entangled so that he might please his Lord could be summed up with terms like...

Single minded
Whole hearted
Undivided heart
A man of one mind
Singleness of purpose

Bernard in his Pastoral Epistles writes that...

Singleness of purpose and detachment from extraneous cares are essential conditions of successful service.

The Roman code of Theodosius said

We forbid men engaged on military service to engage in civilian occupations.

John Bunyan (Pilgrim's Progress) would undoubtedly refer to such a soldier as "Mr. Facing-both-ways."

Matthew Henry has an interesting way to describe not entangling oneself....

A soldier, when he has enlisted, leaves his calling, and all the business of it, that he may attend his captain’s orders. If we have given up ourselves to be Christ’s soldiers, we must sit loose to this world; and though there is no remedy, but we must employ ourselves in the affairs of this life while we are here (we have something to do here), we must not entangle ourselves with those affairs, so as by them to be diverted and drawn aside from our duty to God and the great concerns of our Christianity.

Those who will war the good warfare
must sit loose to this world.

That we may please him who hath chosen us to be soldiers. Observe, 1. The great care of a soldier should be to please his general; so the great care of a Christian should be to please Christ, to approve ourselves to him. The way to please him who hath chosen us to be soldiers is not to entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life, but to be free from such entanglements as would hinder us in our holy warfare. (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible) (Bolding added)

Solomon picks up on Paul's warning and exhorts all "soldiers" on active duty to

Watch over (command) (Greek word phulake pictures setting a sentry at the "eye gate" of your heart) your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." (NLT translates it "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do") (Proverbs 4:23-note)

Paul would add that Christian soldiers

have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel" and thus should "speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts." (see note 1Thessalonians 2:4)

Lea writes that

Paul’s appeal shows the importance of developing an ability to distinguish between doing good things and doing the best things. Servants of Christ are not merely to be well-rounded dabblers in all types of trivial pursuits. They are tough-minded devotees of Christ who constantly choose the right priorities from a list of potential selections. Paul prohibited the loss of single-mindedness and the longing for an easy life. (Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary Page 203. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers) (Bolding added)

Life Application Bible makes the point that...

"Christian workers, whether pastors or laymen, must watch their outside involvements carefully. Business ventures, serving on committees or boards, volunteer assignments, and/or home projects can eat up valuable time and energy"... (and goes on to add the caution that) "Some have taken Paul’s advice to mean that Christians should do nonstop Christian work. While the image of the soldier presents helpful insights about endurance, even soldiers need rest. Wise commanders know their soldiers need breaks from the action. Even when there have been no wounds, the soldier needs relief from the stress of the battle. We must maintain a healthy balance in our lives between spiritual activity and spiritual rest. Pastors, teachers, and other ministers cannot function without times of refreshment. Do you give yourself permission to take time away from work?  (Barton, B, et al: The NIV Life Application Commentary Series: Tyndale or Logos)

Where would an army be if every soldier had part-time work that took him away from his military duties! Our main task is to please our Commander and Lord—not others and not ourselves.

It was disobedient double-mindedness of one (bad) soldier (Achan) that led to Israel’s defeat at Ai after their great victory at Jericho (Joshua 7:1-26). Joshua had given a clear command to the soldiers to dedicate to God all the spoil from Jericho, but Achan who failed to guard the "eye gate" of his heart,

saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then" he "coveted them and took them” (Josh 7:21)

Achan (and his entire family) were stoned and then burned with fire. Israel also reaped a bitter defeat in their first attempt to conquer Ai including the loss of 36 Israelites. Why such tragedy? All because of one unfaithful selfish soldier unwilling to remain unentangled.

The Roman soldier was to avoid all preoccupation with the daily affairs of the marketplace in order to be free to obey without hesitation or hindrance the commander's order. Engaged in a continual spiritual war, the Christian soldier likewise must ever concentrate on his Lord's work and must not devote his time and interests to a business on the side which hinders his faithful performance of his primary responsibility. Paul is not saying that a Christian soldier should have no contact at all with his former friends and surroundings, but that he is not to become caught up and enmeshed in them. Furthermore, Paul does not mean that the Christian worker must never engage in any secular work, for Paul himself was engaged in "tent making" for a living, but it was only a means toward furthering his passion of preaching Christ crucified. What Paul is saying is that the "good soldier" must not allow ordinary affairs of life to become the main object of existence. Instead, the active service for Christ must always occupy the prominent place, while the things of this life are kept in the background.

The active soldier must be on guard against becoming so involved in such pursuits that he no longer feels free to give himself fully to the call of Christian service. Stated another way, a believer's life is not to be wrapped up in the passing pleasures and non-essentials of this life.  Because we live on the battlefront continually, all things are to be subservient to winning the battle, remembering that "the battle is the Lord's". (1Sa 17:47) 

Christians like soldiers in the field must avoid anything that hampers their effectiveness in battle.  Christian soldiers should be so consumed with their duties that they are oblivious to the passing pleasures and enticements of the world like God's servant Moses (He 11:24, 25, 26-note, He 11:27-note).

John reminds us that

"the world is passing away, and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God abides forever." (1Jn 2:17)

Paul advised the Corinthian saints

"Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away." (New Living Translation paraphrase) (1Cor 7:31)

MacArthur  notes that in his wide experience,

Many Christians, pastors, special ministries, and doctrinally sound churches have been undermined by concerns and activities that are innocent in themselves but have been allowed to crowd out the primary purpose of serving Jesus Christ in the advancing of His kingdom against the forces of darkness. (MacArthur, J. 2 Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)

Paul's point is illustrated by the story of the Civil War soldier who had been a watchmaker in civilian life and set himself up in business in his camp, repairing watches and earning extra money. One day the bugle blew and his company was ordered to be ready to move within the hour.

“I can’t do it!” the watchmaker lamented. “I have too much work to do and I’ll lose my customers!”

Luke 9 gives 3 examples of entanglement in the lives of individuals which impeded their active service in the Lord's army. The first person confidently declared to Jesus

"I will follow You wherever You go"

but Jesus who knew all men's hearts replied

"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" indicating that this individual was more concerned with comfort than truly following the Lord.

To another person Jesus said "Follow Me" to which the individual answered with the excuse "Permit me first to go and bury my father." 

To which Jesus in turn replied "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God."

Finally, the third said "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home."

But again Jesus made it clear He was not recruiting part-time, half-hearted soldiers answering that "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (see Lk 9:57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62)

Similarly, Jesus taught that “the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches”  (Mt 13:22) are some of those affairs of everyday life that can keep an unbeliever from receiving Christ and by extrapolation certainly can keep believers from loyal, single minded service to their Commander-in-chief. Just as the dutiful soldier places his life willingly on the line in service of his country, so the faithful Christian will willingly “deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow” his Captain (Mt 16:24).

A solider has to give up many things; some of them are bad things (pride, independence, self-will), and some of them are good things (his home, his family) - but if he is not willing to suffer hardship, he is not a "good solider of Christ Jesus". The issue doesn’t have to be between “good” or “bad.” Whatever gets in the way of serving our Commanding Officer, and in the way of being a good solider, must be removed. Using a the figure of an individual in a race, the writer of Hebrews gives a similar exhortation that  we

lay aside every encumbrance (superfluous bodily weight athletes shed during training), and the sin which so easily entangles us, and...run with endurance the race (agon = fight, conflict) that is set before us." (He 12:1-note)

One race. One war. One life.

Will you fight the good fight?
Will you be willing to lay aside the good in order to experience God's best?

Here is a good barometer by which you can assess every activity --

Does it entangle you? 

We are called to be IN in the world but not to be ENTANGLED by it.

One can do many things during wartime, but a faithful soldier does not have the right to do anything that will entangle him and make him less effective as a soldier.  A good soldier must put priority on his calling and be completely dedicated to his task and his Commander. When a soldier makes a decision, the big question is not “Is it safe, popular or right" but "Is it what my Commander-in-chief wants me to do?” We should follow the lead of our Captain, Who in the heat of His most agonizing battle left us "an example...to follow in His steps" (1Pe 2:21-note) declaring "Not My will, but Thine be done". (Lk 22:42)

McGee comments

Imagine a soldier in the midst of battle going to his sergeant or his lieutenant and saying, “Sir, I’m sorry to have to leave, but I have to go over into the city to see about some business; and then I have a date with a local girl, and I just won’t be able to be here for the battle tonight!” A great many Christians are trying to fight like that today!...There are those who interpret this verse to mean that a Christian is not to get married. Well, he is not talking about celibacy, but he is talking about being so entangled in worldliness that he is not able to live the Christian life. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary:  Thomas Nelson or Logos) (Bolding added)

This idea of "separation", of being in the world but not of the world, is not an easy task. Every believer faces the same danger as the frog in the kettle where the water temperature is being slowly, imperceptibly increased.

Soldiers must "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good,  abstain from every form of evil" (1Th 5:21,22-note) "trying to learn (dokimazo [word study] = proving a thing as worthy or not as in Ro 12:2-note) what is pleasing to the Lord" (Ep 5:10-note) in order to remain ready for action. We are to be constantly testing the thoughts and trends of the world around us against the revealed will of God (in the word of God) or we too like the frog in the kettle will become gradually, imperceptibly entrapped in the web of this evil world system and will become ineffective soldiers of Christ.

Peter using military language warned the saints

as aliens and strangers to abstain (present tense = continually) from fleshly lusts (strong desires that emanate/originate from the fallen flesh , still present in all beleivers until glory - It can never be improved, only defeated by walking in obedience to the Spirit - see Ro 8:13-note) which wage war (present tense = strategizes continually - this is why Jesus warned/commanded us to continually watch and pray Mt 26:41 - we are continually in "harm's way" and the moment you forget this fact, you are in even greater peril, dear soldier of Christ. Furthermore, if you think you've conquered your flesh, you are deceived! Only the power of the Cross conquers the flesh. So daily [yea, even moment by moment] we must take up the mighty cross [Lk 9:23, Mk 8:34, Mt 10:38, 39] and deny ourselves! No furloughs in active spiritual combat [the war is incessant, our enemies -- the world, the flesh and the devil  -- are relentless] dear brother or sister! ) against the soul. (1Pe 2:11-note

If we yield to our sinful appetites, then we will start living like the unsaved world around us, and will become ineffective soldiers. And don't forget the truth of  Proverbs 5:22-note!  A good "soldier's prayer" would be to pray

that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." (Php 1:9, 10, 11-see notes Php 1:9; 10; 11)

Affairs (4230) (pragmateia from from pragma = matter, business) refers to transactions, negotiations, business affairs.

Paul's point is that it's hard to obey our Captain's orders when there are so many distracting influences. Paul is emphasizing single-mindedness and focused purpose (cf "one thing I do" see Php 3:13-note), abstaining from anything contrary to the will of the Lord.

It is interesting to note that the related word (pragmateuomai) is translated occupy (KJV) in Luke 19:13 Jesus told His disciples to

Occupy (do business in the aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't delay! Conveys sense of urgency) until I come back.

Our word, pragmatic, is derived from these Greek words. As Christian believers, it is pragmatic for us to be active in our daily responsibilities while waiting for Christ, but it is also spiritually pragmatic not to be so involved with these activities as to hinder our service to our Commander. In fact, even our daily occupations should be carried out in His name and in ways that please Him (1Co 10:31, Col 3:23-note).

Plummer adds that

Paul does not suggest that Christians should keep aloof from the affairs of this life, which would be a flat contradiction of what he teaches elsewhere (1Th 4:11,12-note). He has a duty to perform "in the affairs of this life," but in doing it he is not to be entangled in them. They are means, not ends; and must be made to help him on, not suffered to keep him back. If they become entanglements instead of opportunities, he will soon lose that state of constant preparation and alertness which is the indispensable condition of success. (Plummer, A: 2 Timothy)

Albert Barnes notes that

Roman soldiers were not allowed to marry, or to engage in any husbandry or trade; and they were forbidden to act as tutors to any person, or curators to any man’s estate, or proctors in the cause of other men. The general principle was, that they were excluded from those relations, agencies, and engagements, which it was thought would divert their minds from that which was to be the sole object of pursuit.



2Timothy 2:4 was Jim Elliot's "Life Verse" as related by his widow Elizabeth Elliot. Before she became Jim's wife, she was Elizabeth Howard a student at Wheaton College. Elizabeth had scrutinized the boys on campus and decided that there was really only one who interested her and his name was Jim Elliot. He displayed a maturity and godliness she found most attractive. When the school yearbooks were handed out, Elizabeth asked Jim to sign hers, hoping that if there was any interest in her, he might indicate so in signing her yearbook. When he returned it, she rushed to her room, found his signature and read beneath it 2Timothy 2:4. He later wrote

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose.


He was willing to suffer hardship as a good soldier even it meant dying for his Commander which is exactly what he did. His actions backed up the words he lived by in 2 Timothy 2:4. Jim Elliot was a good soldier like Paul who said

I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

SO THAT HE MAY PLEASE THE ONE WHO ENLISTED HIM AS A SOLDIER: hina to stratologesanti (AAPMSD) arese (3SAAS): (1Co 7:22,23; 2Cor 5:9-note; 1Th 2:4-note Gal 1:10)

his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him (Amp)

The one who enlisted him (4758) (stratologeo from stratos = warfare + lego = in this instance lego means "to choose") primarily means to gather or select as a warrior or choose to be a soldier and is used here in the verb participle form to describe the soldier's commander.


As discussed above, a Christian's commander is Jesus Christ Whom, the One we are endeavor to please. Paul's constant "ambition, whether at home or absent (was) to be pleasing to" his Lord. (2Cor 5:9-note)


The paramount concern of every saint should be to please their Lord in every area of their life. And remember that you can't always be a "people pleaser" and "God pleaser" at the same time.  It is impossible to serve two commanders, just as it is impossible to serve two masters (Mt 6:24-note). As the "good soldier" gives himself fully to his calling, allowing no outside pursuits to interfere with his duties as Christ's soldier, he may appear radical to those less committed but he will "please" his Commander. To obey is better than sacrifice. The faithful Christian’s fondest hope is to be rewarded for loyal, obedient service and to hear his Master say,

Well done, good and faithful slave (Note reasons he heard well done - "good", "faithful" or trustworthy - Are you? Am I? We all have some responsibility to be good stewards - e.g., we all have been allotted precious moments of time to redeem and use wisely for His glory! Don't waste your life - see video by John Piper = Don't Waste Your Life); you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master (Mt 25:21)

Please (700) (aresko [word study] from airo = through the idea of raising up, elevating or exciting emotion - not everyone agrees ) originally meant to make peace, to reconcile someone, to be well disposed to someone. It came to mean to be satisfied with, to take pleasure in and then to take a pleasant attitude toward someone. In short it means to cause someone to be pleased with someone or something or to be pleasing to or acceptable to. Aresko can sometimes mean  to strive to please to accommodate one’s self to the opinions desires and interests of others.

To please means to give or be the source of satisfaction, pleasure or contentment to another. It means satisfying or behaving properly toward one with whom one is related and so to agreeable and to please them.

Paul a good soldier of Christ Jesus explains to the Galatians what it means to please one's commander writing

am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Gal 1:10)

Indeed a good soldier is in a sense a "bond-servant" of his Commander-in-chief. Paul writes to the Romans that "those who are in the flesh (non-believers) cannot please God" (Ro 8:6-note). So clearly to please the Commander one must be a believer and secondly like a bondservant, he must be willing give up his will and surrender to His will as Albert Barnes elaborates on below.

Barnes adds that a good soldier's

great object is to approve himself to (his Commander). It is not to pursue his own plans, or to have his own will, or to accumulate property or fame for himself. His will is absorbed in the will of his commander, and his purpose is accomplished if he meet with his approbation. Nowhere else is it so true that the will of one becomes lost in that of another, as in the case of the soldier. In an army it is contemplated that there shall be but one mind, one heart, one purpose - that of the commander; and that the whole army shall be as obedient to that as the members of the human body are to the one will that controls all. The application of this is obvious. The grand purpose of the minister of the gospel is to please Christ. He is to pursue no separate plans, and to have no separate will, of his own; and it is contemplated that the whole “Corps” of Christian ministers and members of the churches shall be as entirely subordinate to the will of Christ, as an army is to the orders of its chief. (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible)

 William Barclay writes that

The soldier is conditioned to obedience. The early training of a soldier is designed to make him unquestioningly obey the word of command (Ed note: see the illustration of this principle in the devotional below "What Comes Naturally?") There may come a time when such instinctive obedience will save his life and the lives of others. There is a sense in which it is no part of the soldier’s duty “to know the reason why.” Involved as he is in the midst of the battle, he cannot see the over-all picture. The decisions he must leave to the commander who sees the whole field. The first Christian duty is obedience to the voice of God, and acceptance even of that which he cannot understand. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press or Logos)

Guy King writes...

One bitterly cold winter's morning, long before the War, the business men, warmly and snugly wrapped up, arrived at their city terminus, to be met with the ticket-collectors' chorus, "All seasons, please!"

So they had to unwrap and unbutton, to search in every pocket for the ticket that, of course, they had forgotten that morning and had left at home. Tempers ran out, and strong words, likewise. As one man came to the barrier he said to the collector,

"I'm afraid you're not very popular this morning", to which the official replied, with a grin, "Well, I don't care so long as I'm popular up there" - pointing to the office of the General Manager of the Line. Splendid if he could manage to retain his popularity with the passengers, but the principal thing, the essential thing, was to be well-thought of by the Company.

Would you deem me irreverent if, pointing my finger heavenwards, I say that the thing that counts is to be "popular up there"? - "that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier". To receive His smile - what honour, what ineffable happiness, what all embracing satisfaction, And we haven't to wait till the end to receive it, for, as Hebrews 11:5 says of Enoch, "before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased GOD."

Having come with me thus far, do you wonder that both Timothy and we need strength to carry out what has been laid before us? It will have to be a strength beyond our own. Very affectionately Paul reminds Timothy of that strength before ever he shows him why he will so badly need it. In the opening verse: "My son" - it is "my child," really; so affectionately does this father think of his son in the faith - "be strong [strengthen yourself] in the grace that is in Christ Jesus".

You will only adequately strengthen yourself when you learn day by day to draw upon His grace which alone is sufficient to strengthen you for a life so strategic, so strenuous, so sacrificial - and withal, so satisfying,

That will be, as we shall see later on, the very last word that the Apostle will write to him: "Grace be with you. Amen." (2 Timothy 2:1-7 Some Things Every Christian)

Audie Murphy (Wikipedia) was an unlikely hero. Weighing in at only 112 pounds and with the face of a child, Audie was 18 years old when he went overseas during World War II. Nothing about him suggested a hero in the making. Yet when called upon by his commanding officers to do the duty of a soldier, Murphy held nothing back. By war’s end, the quiet boy from Texas had fought with extraordinary bravery and saved the lives of countless fellow soldiers. He returned home to an adoring public, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and received at least 36 other medals—more than anyone else in U.S. history, all because nothing meant more to him as a soldier than the will of his commanding officer.

The great puritan preacher Richard Baxter wrote

It is a most lamentable thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles, while God is cast aside. He who is all seems to them as nothing, and that which is nothing seems to them as good as all. It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion! If God had never told them what they were sent into the world to do, or what was before them in another world, then there would have been some excuse. But it is His sealed word, and they profess to believe it.

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INTENTIONS - A strong desire to please God is the highest incentive for doing His will and shows a true understanding of godly fear. We may have other worthy motives, such as the inner satisfaction of doing what's right or the anticipation of heavenly rewards. But we bring the greatest glory to God when we obey and serve Him because we long to do what brings Him delight.

Craig, a first-grader, beamed with satisfaction as he handed me a spelling test on which his teacher had written a large "100—Good work!" Craig said,


I showed this to Dad and Mother because I knew it would please them.


I could just see him riding home on the bus, hardly able to wait for the moment when his parents would express their excitement with how well he had done. His desire to make Dad and Mom happy obviously was a strong motivating factor in his life.

When Paul used the
simile of a soldier serving with single-minded devotion to please his commanding officer (2Timothy 2:3, 4), he wanted Timothy to know the supreme reason for serving God, even when the going gets tough. Wholehearted devotion, marked by hard work and careful attention to God's rules, brings the greatest glory to the Lord when it comes from a yielded, loving heart. Our Savior, Who in His humanity shrank from the prospect of being made the sin-offering for mankind, nevertheless prayed,


Not My will, but Yours, be done (Luke 22:42)


Our motive, like His, should be the desire to please the Father. —H V Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Man weighs the deeds;
God weighs the intentions.


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What Comes Naturally? - The story is told about an elderly man who retired after many years in the British Army. One day a man who knew about his long and distinguished military career decided to play a prank on him. As the old soldier walked down the street with his arms full of packages, the jokester sneaked up behind him and shouted, "Attention!" Without hesitation, the military man dropped his arms to his side, and every package went tumbling to the sidewalk. Without a conscious thought, the veteran was doing what comes naturally for a soldier. Similarly, as believers in Christ, we should respond in a manner that corresponds with our new life. Our behavior is to be more and more in line with the example of Jesus' life. We still must deal with sinful desires, so we need to discipline ourselves to be the kind of person God wants us to be. Like a soldier or athlete in training (2Timothy 2:3, 4, 5), we need to practice repeatedly until doing what's right comes naturally.

Through faith in Christ we are children of the heavenly Father. By the power of the indwelling Spirit, therefore, let us develop the habit of submitting to God's Word. Then, in every situation of life we will increasingly find that obeying Him is "doing what comes naturally." —R W De Haan (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Lord, may our lips and lives express
The blessed gospel we profess;
So let our works and virtues shine
And speak of Him who is divine. —Anon.

When we walk with Christ, we become more like Him.


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Supreme Motive - April 15, 2006 READ: 2 Timothy 2:1-13


"walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work." —see note Colossians 1:10


A first-grader beamed with satisfaction as he handed me a spelling test on which his teacher had written a large "100%—Good work!" The boy said, "I showed this to Mom and Dad because I knew it would please them." I could just see him riding home on the bus, hardly able to wait for the moment when his parents would express their excitement with how well he had done. His desire to make Mom and Dad happy was obviously a very important motivating factor in his life.

In 2Timothy 2:3, Paul used the image of a soldier who serves with single-minded devotion to please his commanding officer. He wanted Timothy to know the supreme reason for serving God, even when the going gets tough. Wholehearted devotion, marked by hard work and careful attention to God’s rules, brings the greatest glory to the Lord when it comes from a yielded and loving heart.

In His humanity, our Savior desired that the prospect of a cruel death and of becoming the sin-offering for mankind would pass from Him. Nevertheless He prayed, "Not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). Jesus’ supreme motive was a desire to please His Father. That should be our incentive too. —Herbert Vander Lugt (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


In all I think and say and do,
I long, O God, to honor You;
But may my highest motive be
To love the Christ who died for me. —D. De Haan

Others see what we do, but God sees why we do it.


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Is Faith An Escape? - November 25, 1996 - READ: Hebrews 11:32-40


Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. --2Timothy 2:3


Travel to the moon is no longer a fantasy. Human beings have walked on its surface. But years ago when the Hayden Planetarium in New York advertised (merely in jest) that it would take reservations for that lunar trip of 240,000 miles, 18,000 people applied within a few days.

A psychologist who studied their letters concluded that most of them were eager to escape from their responsibilities and problems. One woman wrote, "It would be heaven to get away from this busy earth . . . and just go somewhere that's nice and peaceful, good, safe, and secure."

Many who don't believe in Christ think of Christians as emotionally weak people who are looking for an escape from real life now and pie-in-the-sky later. But biblical faith is not an opiate that induces drug-like passivity. In Hebrews 11:32-38 we read about men and women who chose to endure torture rather than renounce their spiritual convictions. And today, bold missionaries throughout the world illustrate that following Christ is difficult.

As modern-day believers, we may not experience great persecution for our faith, but we do face hardships and trials. Our faith in Christ is not an escape; it gives us the strength to endure. —Vernon C Grounds (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world. --Yates

Great faith is often built during great trials.

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