A Good Soldier

2 Timothy 2:3
Suffer hardship with me as a GOOD SOLDIER of Christ Jesus .

Three Kinds of Soldiers - Ten Principles of Warfare

The Roman Soldier by Edward Gibbon (from Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire)

The Roman Soldier - Description from Josephus

A Few Soldier Stories & Sermons

2 Timothy 2:3-4 Notes on "A Good Soldier"


1. The young soldier has the will to fight; however, experience in fighting is lacking -- zeal without knowledge.

2. The old soldier has experience in fighting; however, the will to fight is missing -- knowledge without zeal.

3. The good soldier has both the will to fight and the experience in fighting -- the right combination of zeal and knowledge.


1. The Objective is the goal toward which all are striving.

a. The objective must always be clearly defined.

b. There is always an ultimate objective and other immediate objectives.

c. All immediate objectives must contribute to the ultimate objective.

2. The Offensive is to take the initiative by attacking and imposing your will on the enemy.

a. This involves attitude even when it cannot involve action.

b. It allows the commander to set the pace of the battle.

c. It allows the commander to exploit the weaknesses of the enemy.

d. Defensive action is only adopted for a limited period of time as a secondary measure to allow the opportunity to take offensive actions.

3. Concentration is to mass one's forces at a critical time and place for decisive action.

a. Superiority results from the proper combination of the elements of combat power.

b. Through concentration, numerically inferior forces can obtain combat superiority by striking at crucial points in the enemy's line.

4. Economy of force is skillful and prudent use of forces.

It involved measured allocation of available combat power to primary and secondary tasks.

5. Mobility is the ability to move with all speed and ease of movement.

6. Cooperation is collective action and coordinated efforts of all forces toward a common goal.

a. Allies are not at war with one another.

b. Allies come under one commander.

c. Cooperation with an enemy is not cooperation! It is treason!

d. Failure to cooperate with an ally is a gross error.

7. Security is measures taken to prevent surprise, preserve freedom of action, and deny the enemy

access to vital information.

a. It involves accurate intelligence of the enemy.

b. It involves continuous protection from the enemy.

8. Surprise is striking an enemy at a time, in a place, and in a manner for which he is not prepared. It does not always mean to take unawares. It means, also, to take in such a way that when the enemy does find out about it that it is too late to do anything.

9. Communication is a system for the sending and receiving of messages, intelligence, and supplies.

a. Lines must be kept open.

b. Lines must not be overextended.

10. Pursuit is an active following after an enemy with a view to his total destruction.

Victory must be pursued to the point where the beaten enemy will never rise again. "Only active pursuit of the beaten enemy will yield the total fruit of victory," General Clauswitz.

by Edward Gibbon
The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

(See Gibbon's description of
The Legions under the Emperors, Arms, Cavalry, Auxiliaries, Artillery, Encampment, March)

1. The military establishment of the Roman Empire assured its tranquility and success.

2. In the purer ages of the Roman Empire, the use of military arms was reserved only for citizens who

a. had a country to love,

b. had property to defend,

c. had a share in enacting laws which were to their interest and duty to maintain.

3. The patriotism of the Romans made them almost undefeatable.

4. Upon entering the army, soldiers took a solemn oath

a. never to desert their standard, (The standard was a golden eagle, an object of fondest devotion.)

b. submit his own will to the commands of the leaders,

c. sacrifice his life for the safety of the Emperor and the Empire.

5. Soldiers were inspired by pay which was excellent.

6. The soldiers were also inspired by fear.

a. It was impossible for cowardice or disobedience to escape the severest punishment.

b. Centurions were authorized to chastise soldiers with blows.

c. Generals were authorized to chastise with death.

7. It was an inflexible maxim that the soldiers should dread their officers more than the enemy.

This dread produced

a. firmness

b. docility. They were easily managed, obedient, easily taught, and willing to learn; thus, a valor was produced that outdid the barbarians who were impetuous and of irregular passions.

8. Valor alone was not enough. Military exercises were vital and continuous.

a. These were held morning and evening.

b. Even if a soldier was older, he still did his exercises daily.

c. Sheds were erected in the winter for exercises.

d. Arms used in the exercises were double the weight of those used in actual warfare.

e. The only difference in activity or circumstances during peace and war was the presence of

blood on the battlefields.

f. They cultivated the science of tactics.

g. They could advance 20 miles in 6hrs, and they carried their baggage until they met the enemy.

9. The best generals and emperors encouraged the soldiers by the following:

a. their presence,

b. their example,

c. their personal instruction, and

d. challenging their personal strength.

Now, you can understand why Paul referred to the military life when he exhorted, instructed, warned, charged, and prepared Timothy to guard the gospel. Paul was well-acquainted with the Roman army. Why? When Claudius Lysias 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. Yes, Paul knew the life of a soldier. Do you? Will you? Or are you too entangled in civilian affairs?

from Jewish Historian Josephus

Now here one cannot but admire at the precaution of the Romans, in providing themselves of such household servants, as might not only serve at other times for the common offices of life, but might also be of advantage to them in their wars; and indeed, if any one does but attend to the other parts of their military discipline, he will be forced to confess that their obtaining so large a dominion, hath been the acquisition of their valor, and not the bare gift of fortune; for they do not begin to use their weapons first in time of war, nor do they then put their hands first into motion, while they avoided so to do in times of peace; but, as if their weapons did always cling to them…


… they have never any truce from warlike exercises; nor do they stay till times of war admonish them to use them; for their military exercises differ not at all from the real use of their arms,

… but every soldier is every day exercised,

… and that with great diligence,

… as if it were in time of war which is

… the reason why they bear the fatigue of battles so easily; for neither can any disorder remove them from their usual regularity, nor can fear affright them out of it, nor can labor tire them; which firmness of conduct makes them always to overcome those that have not the same firmness; nor would he be mistaken that should call those their exercises unbloody battles, and their battles bloody exercises.

SOBER IN SPIRIT - 1Pe 1:13, 2Ti 4:5
BE ON ALERT - 1Co 16:13, Ep 6:18, Col 4:2, 1Th 5:6, 1Pe 5:8

… Nor can their enemies easily surprise them with the suddenness of their incursions; for as soon as they have marched into an enemy's land,

Ep 6:11, Ro 13:12, 14, 1Th 5:8, Col 3:10, 12, 14

… they do not begin to fight till they have walled their camp about;

nor is the fence they raise rashly made, or uneven;

nor do they all abide in it,

nor do those that are in it take their places at random;

but if it happens that the ground is uneven, it is first leveled:

their camp is also foursquare by measure,

and carpenters are ready, in great numbers, with their tools, to erect their buildings for them.

JOSEPHUS: The Wars of the Jews
(3, 72-107)

1. (70) Now here one cannot but admire at the precaution of the Romans, in providing themselves of such household servants, as might not only serve at other times for the common offices of life, but might also be of advantage to them in their wars; (71) and indeed, if any one does but attend to the other parts of their military discipline, he will be forced to confess that their obtaining so large a dominion, hath been the acquisition of their valor, and not the bare gift of fortune; (72) for they do not begin to use their weapons first in time of war, nor do they then put their hands first into motion, while they avoided so to do in times of peace; but, as if their weapons did always cling to them, they have never any truce from warlike exercises; nor do they stay till times of war admonish them to use them; (73) for their military exercises differ not at all from the real use of their arms, but every soldier is every day exercised, and that with great diligence, as if it were in time of war which is the reason why they bear the fatigue of battles so easily; (74) for neither can any disorder remove them from their usual regularity, nor can fear affright them out of it, nor can labor tire them; which firmness of conduct makes them always to overcome those that have not the same firmness; (75) nor would he be mistaken that should call those their exercises unbloody battles, and their battles bloody exercises. (76) Nor can their enemies easily surprise them with the suddenness of their incursions; for as soon as they have marched into an enemy’s land, they do not begin to fight till they have walled their camp about; (77) nor is the fence they raise rashly made, or uneven; nor do they all abide in it, nor do those that are in it take their places at random; but if it happens that the ground is uneven, it is first leveled: their camp is also foursquare by measure, (78) and carpenters are ready, in great numbers, with their tools, to erect their buildings for them.

2. (79) As for what is within the camp, it is set apart for tents, but the outward circumference hath the resemblance of a wall, and is adorned with towers at equal distances, (80) where between the towers stand the engines for throwing arrows and darts, and for slinging stones, and where they lay all other engines that can annoy the enemy, all ready for their several operations. (81) They also erect four gates, one at every side of the circumference, and those large enough for the entrance of the beasts, and wide enough for making excursions, if occasion should require. (82) They divide the camp within into streets, very conveniently, and place the tents of the commanders in the middle; but in the very midst of all is the general’s own tent, in the nature of a temple, (83) insomuch that it appears to be a city built on the sudden, with its marketplace, and place for handicraft trades, and with seats for the officers, superior and inferior; where, if any differences arise, their causes are heard and determined. (84) The camp, and all that is in it, is encompassed with a wall round about, and that sooner than one would imagine, and this by the multitude and the skill of the laborers; and, if occasion require, a trench is drawn round the whole, whose depth is four cubits, and its breadth equal.

3. (85) When they have thus secured themselves, they live together by companies, with quietness and decency, as are all their other affairs managed with good order and security. Each company hath also their wood, and their corn, and their water brought them, when they stand in need of them; (86) for they neither sup nor dine as they please themselves singly, but all together. Their times also for sleeping, and watching, and rising, are notified beforehand by the sound of trumpets, nor is anything done without such a signal; (87) and in the morning the soldiery go every one to their centurions, and these centurions to their tribunes, to salute them; with whom all the superior officers go to the general of the whole army, (88) who then gives them of course the watchword and other orders, to be by them carried to all that are under their command; which is also observed when they go to fight, and thereby they turn themselves about on the sudden, when there is occasion for making sallies, as they come back when they are recalled, in crowds also.

4. (89) When they are to go out of their camp, the trumpet gives a sound, at which time nobody lies still, but at the first imtimation they take down their tents, and all is made ready for their going out; (90) then do the trumpets sound again, to order them to get ready for the march; then do they lay their baggage suddenly upon their mules and other beasts of burden, and stand, at the place for starting, ready to march; when also they set fire to their camp, and this they do because it will be easy for them to erect another camp, and that it may not ever be of use to their enemies. (91) Then do the trumpets give a sound the third time, that they are to go out in order to excite those that on any account are a little tardy, that so no one may be out of his rank when the army marches. (92) Then does the crier stand at the general’s right hand, and asks them thrice, in their own tongue, whether they be now ready to go out to war or not. To which they reply as often, with a loud and cheerful voice, saying, “We are ready.” And this they do almost before the question is asked them; they do this as filled with a kind of martial fury, and at the time that they so cry out, they lift up their right hands also.

5. (93) When, after this, they are gone out of their camp, they all march without noise, and in a decent manner, and every one keeps his own rank, as if they were going to war. The footmen are armed with breastplates and headpieces, and have swords on each side; (94) but the sword which is upon their left side is much longer than the other; for that on the right side is not longer than a span. (95) Those footmen also that are chosen out from amongst the rest to be about the general himself, have a lance and a buckler; but the rest of the foot soldiers have a spear and a long buckler, besides a saw and a basket, a pickaxe and an ax, a thong of leather, and a hook, with provisions for three days; so that a footman hath no great need of a mule to carry his burdens. (96) The horsemen have a long sword on their right sides, and a long pole in their hand: a shield also lies by them obliquely on one side of their horses, with three or more darts that are borne in their quiver, having broad points, and no smaller than spears. They have also headpieces and breastplates, in like manner as have all the footmen. (97) And for those that are chosen to be about the general, their armor no way differs from that of the horsemen belonging to other troops; and he always leads the legions forth, to whom the lot assigns that employment.

6. (98) This is the manner of the marching and resting of the Romans, as also these are the several sorts of weapons they use. But when they are to fight, they leave nothing without forecast, nor to be done offhand, but counsel is ever first taken before any work is begun, and what hath been there resolved upon is put in execution presently; (99) for which reason they seldom commit any errors; and if they have been mistaken at any time they easily correct those mistakes. (100) They also esteem any errors they commit upon taking counsel beforehand, to be better than such rash success as is owing to fortune only; because such fortuitous advantage tempts them to be inconsiderate, while consultation, though it may sometimes fail of success, hath this good in it, that it makes men more careful hereafter; (101) but for the advantages that arise from chance, they are not owing to him that gains them; and as to what melancholy accidents happen unexpectedly, there is this comfort in them that they have however taken the best consultations they could to prevent them.

7. (102) Now they so manage their preparatory exercises of their weapons, that not the bodies of the soldiers only but their souls, may also become stronger: they are moreover hardened for war by fear; (103) for their laws inflict capital punishments, not only for soldiers running away from their ranks, but for slothfulness and inactivity, though it be but in a lesser degree; as are their generals more severe than their laws, for they prevent any imputation of cruelty toward those under condemnation, by the great rewards they bestow on the valiant soldiers; (104) and the readiness of obeying their commanders is so great, that it is very ornamental in peace; but when they come to a battle, the whole army is but one body, (105) so well coupled together are their ranks, so sudden are their turnings about, so sharp their hearing as to what orders are given them, so quick their sight of the ensigns, and so nimble are their hands when they set to work; (106) whereby it comes to pass, that what they do is done quickly, and what the suffer they bear with the greatest patience. Nor can we find any examples where they have been conquered in battle, when they came to a close fight, either by the multitude of the enemies, or by their stratagems, or by the difficulties in the places they were in; no, nor by fortune neither, for their victories have been surer to them than fortune could have granted them. (107) In a case, therefore, where counsel still goes before action, and where, after taking the best advice, that advice is followed by so active an army, what wonder is it that Euphrates on the east, the ocean on the west, the most fertile regions of Libya on the south, and the Danube and the Rhine on the north, are the limits of this empire. One might well say, that the Roman possessions are not inferior to the Romans themselves.



C. H. Spurgeon: "As the young Hannibal was brought by his father to the altar of his country, and there sworn to life-long hatred of Rome, so should we be, from the hour of our spiritual birth, the sworn enemies of sin, the enlisted warriors of the Cross; to fight on for Jesus till life’s latest hour, when all shall be "more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us." The Spartan mother, as soon as her child was born, looked upon the babe as having in it the possibilities of share; and the whole training of the Lacedemonians aimed solely at producing good soldiers, who would honour the race from which they sprung. So should we look upon every young convert as a recruit; not merely as one who has been himself saved, but as having within his new-born mature the possibilities of a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (The Biblical Illustrator)

C. H. Spurgeon: A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ: (CLICK HERE for entire sermon by Spurgeon)

Many men, many minds. In reference to what a Christian is there have been very many and diverse opinions. Paul’s description of a Christian in the text is that of a soldier, and that means something very far different either from a religious fop, whose best delight is music and millinery, or a theological critic who makes a man an offender for a word, or a spiritual glutton who cares for nothing but a lifelong enjoyment of the fat things full of marrow, or an ecclesiastical slumberer who longs only for peace for himself. The Christian is a self-sacrificing man as the soldier must be. A soldier is a serving man. A soldier is full often a suffering man. Once again, the true soldier is an ambitious being. 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. David had many soldiers, and good soldiers too, but you remember it was said of many, "These attained not unto the first three." Now Paul, if I read him rightly, would have Timothy try to be of the first three, to be a good soldier.


1. We must begin with this fundamental — he must be loyal to his King.

2. He is obedient to his Captain’s commands.

3. To conquer wilt be his ruling passion.

Wellington sent word to his troops one night, "Ciudad Rodrigo must be taken tonight." And what do you think was the commentary of the British soldiers appointed for the attack? "Then," said they all, "we will do it." So when our great Captain sends round, as he doth to us, the word of command, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," if we were all good soldiers of the cross, we should say at once, "We will do it." 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. In that same battle one of our lieutenants, in the early part of the day, had his left forearm broken by a shot; he could not, therefore, hold the reins in his hand, but he seized them with his mouth, and fought on till another shot broke the upper part of the arm to splinters, and it had to be amputated; but within two days there he was, with his arm still bleeding, and the wound all raw, riding at the head of his division. Brave things have been done amongst the soldiers of our country — Oh, that such brave things were common among the armed men of the Church militant!

4. A good soldier is very brave at a charge.

5. A good soldier is like a rock under attack.

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. I like the story of Frederick the Great; when he overheard his favorite general engaged in prayer, and was about to utter a sneering remark, the fine old man, who never feared a foe, and did not even fear his majesty’s jest, said, "Your Majesty, I have just been asking aid from your Majesty’s great ally." He had been waiting upon God.

In the battle of Salamanca, when Wellington bade one of his officers advance with his troops, and occupy a gap, which the Duke perceived in the lines of the French, the general rode up to him, and said, "My lord, I will do the work, but first give me a grasp of that conquering right hand of yours." He received a hearty grip, and away he rode to the deadly encounter. 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!

II. Thus I have described a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Give me a few minutes while I EXHORT YOU TO BE SUCH.

1. I exhort you who are soldiers of Christ to be good soldiers, because many of you have been so. Dishonour not your past, fall not from your high standing. "Forward" be your motto.

2. Be good soldiers, for much depends upon it.

3. Good soldiers we ought to be, for it is a grand old cause that is at stake.

4. I implore you to be good soldiers of Jesus, when you consider the fame that has preceded you.

A soldier when he receives his colors finds certain words embroidered on them, to remind him of the former victories of the regiment in which he serves. Look at the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and see the long list of the triumphs of the faithful. Remember how prophets and apostles served God; recollect how martyrs joyfully laid down their lives; look at the long line of the reformers and the confessors; remember your martyred sires and covenanting fathers, and by the grace of God I beseech you walk not unworthy of your noble lineage.

5. Be good soldiers because of the victory which awaits you.

6. Besides, and lastly, if I want another argument to make you good soldiers, remember your Captain, the Captain whose wounded hands and pierced feet are tokens of his love to you. Redeemed from going down to the pit, what can you do sufficiently to show your gratitude? Assured of eternal glory by-and-by, how can you sufficiently prove that you feel your indebtedness. (The Biblical Illustrator)

C. Garrett: "Some of God’s people seem to forget this. They think they are soldiers on pay days and at reviews: but as soon as the fiery darts begin to fall around them, and the road gets rough and rugged, they fancy they are deserters. A strange mistake this. You are never so much a soldier as when you are marching or fighting. I fear the fault of this mistake lies very much with some of us who may be called recruiting sergeants. In persuading men to enlist we speak much more of the ribbons, the bounty money, and the rewards, than we do of the battle-field and the march. Hence, perhaps, the error. But if we are to blame in this respect our great King is not. The whole of His teaching is in the other direction. He puts all the difficulties fairly before us, and we are exhorted to count the cost, so that we may not be covered with shame at last." (The Biblical Illustrator)

H. O. Mackey: The personal magnetism of General McLellan over his soldiers in the Civil War was a constant experience. Once when the tide of success seemed to go against the Union forces, and dismay was gradually deepening into despair, his arrival in the camp at night worked a revolution among the troops. The news "General McLellan is here" was caught up and echoed from man to man. Whoever was awake roused his neighbour, eyes were rubbed, and the poor tired fellows sent up such a hurrah as the army of the Potomac never heard before. Shout upon shout went out into the stillness of the night, was taken up along the road, repeated by regiment, brigade, division, and corps, until the roar died in the distance. The effect of this man’s coming upon the army — in sunshine or in rain, darkness or day, victory or defeat — was ever electrical, defying all attempts to account for it. (The Biblical Illustrator)

A young Christian officer said, "Our heavenly Captain wants no feather-bed soldiers. He wants those who are not afraid of camp bed and marching orders, who don’t mind "roughing it a little by the way, because they know that perfect rest awaits them when their home-call sounds, and their race here is ended." (The Biblical Illustrator)

Major Smith: "I remember a story of a French grenadier, who, in a war with the Austrians, was in charge of a small fort commanding a narrow gorge, up which only two of the enemy could climb at a time. When the defenders of the fort heard that the enemy were near, being few in number, they deserted, and left the brave grenadier alone. But he felt he could not give up the place without a struggle, so he barred the doors, raised the drawbridge, and loaded all the muskets left behind by his comrades. Early in the morning, with great labour, the enemy brought up a gun from the valley, and laid it on the fort. But the grenadier made such good use of his loaded muskets that the men in charge of the gun could not hold their position, and were compelled to retire; and he kept them thus at bay all day long. At evening the herald came again to demand the surrender of the fort, or the garrison should be starved out. The grenadier asked for a night for consideration, and in the morning expressed the willingness of the garrison to surrender if they might "go out with all the honours of war." This, after some demur, was agreed to, and presently the Austrian army below saw a single soldier descending the height with a whole sheaf of muskets on his shoulder, with which he marched through their lines and then threw them down. "Where is the garrison?" asked the Austrian commander, astonished. "I am the garrison," replied the brave man, and they were so delighted with his plucky resistance that the whole army saluted him, and he was afterwards entitled the "First Grenadier of France." (The Biblical Illustrator)

C. H. Spurgeon: The Commons of England being very importunate (troublesomely urgent -overly persistent in request or demand) with Edward to make war with France, he consented to satisfy their importunity, though willing rather to enjoy the fruits of his wars and toils, and spend the rest of his days in peace. When he took the field he ordered to accompany him a dozen of fat, capon-eating burgesses (representatives in British parliament), who had been most zealous for that expedition. These he employed in all military services, to lie in the open fields, stand whole nights upon the guard, and caused their quarters to be beaten up with frequent alarms, which was so intolerable to those fat gentry accustomed to lie on soft down, and that could hardly sit on a session’s (session = a meeting of the legislature) bench without nodding, that a treaty being desired by King Louis, none were so forward to press the acceptance of his offers, or to excuse so little done by the king with so great preparations. (The Biblical Illustrator)

William Barclay on the good soldier:

“To live,” said Seneca, “is to be a soldier” … “The life of every man,” said Epictetus, “is a kind of campaign, and a campaign which is long and varied”…

(i) The soldier’s service must be a concentrated service .

Once a man has enlisted on a campaign he can no longer involve himself in the ordinary daily business of life and living; he must concentrate on his service as a soldier. The Roman code of Theodosius said: “We forbid men engaged on military service to engage in civilian occupations.” A soldier is a soldier and nothing else; the Christian must concentrate on his Christianity. That does not mean that he must engage on no worldly task or business. He must still live in this world, and he must still make a living; but it does mean that he must use whatever task he is engaged upon to demonstrate his Christianity.

(ii) The soldier is conditioned to obedience .

The early training of a soldier is designed to make him unquestioningly obey the word of command. 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.

(iii) The soldier is conditioned to sacrifice .

A. J. Gossip tells how, as a chaplain in the 1914–18 war, he was going up the line for the first time. War and blood, and wounds and death were new to him. On his way he saw by the roadside, left behind after the battle, the body of a young kilted Highlander. Oddly, perhaps, there flashed into his mind the words of Christ: “This is my body broken for you.” The Christian must ever be ready to sacrifice himself, his wishes and his fortune, for God and for his fellow-men.

(iv) The soldier is conditioned to loyalty .

When the Roman soldier joined the army he took the sacramentum , the oath of loyalty to his emperor. Someone records a conversation between Marshal Foch and an officer in the 1914–18 war. “You must not retire,” said Foch, “you must hold on at all costs.” “Then,” said the officer aghast, “that means we must all die.” And Foch answered: “Precisely!” The soldier’s supreme virtue is that he is faithful unto death. The Christian too must be loyal to Jesus Christ, through all the chances and the changes of life, down even to the gates of death.

(The letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. 2000, c1975 (William Barclay) Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.)




that is to say, he has to learn his business. A good soldier is not to be made in a day; there must be time and pains spent upon him; he must be trained and taught, and that very carefully, before he is fit to fight against the enemies of his country. And it is just the same with Christian soldiers. They have to learn to act together, so as to support and help one another in the conflict with evil. And then they have to learn the use of their weapons — of one more especially, which is called the "sword of the Spirit."


real enemies, not imaginary ones: "the world, the flesh, and the devil." In order to enable you to understand what is meant by fighting against the "flesh" and "the devil," I will tell you a story, or rather, two stories, both of them true. Some years ago there lived a good and holy man, who was a most useful minister of the gospel. This good man’s Christian name was William. Now when he was a little boy, about four or five years old, he one day was left in the dining-room alone, and on the table was a plate of sweet cakes, of which he was particularly fond, but which he had been forbidden to touch. Somebody coming quietly into the room found the boy looking at the cakes, his little hands tightly clasped together behind his back, and saying to himself over and over again, as if he were saying a lesson, "Willie mustn’t take them, ‘cause they are not Willie’s own." Now this was a victory over the "flesh." The flesh said, "These cakes are very nice, Willie; just smell them. No one will see you, Willie, if you do take one. Mamma will not miss the cakes, Willie, there are so many of them." But little Willie would not do wrong, although he was sorely tempted to it. He fought with the "flesh," and came off conqueror. But there was one sad occasion on which Willie, now grown up to be a tall, handsome lad of seventeen, was beaten by the enemy. There was a servant in the family who was a wicked man; and wicked men, whether they know it or not, are agents for the devil, and do his work. This servant, annoyed at his young master’s goodness, said once, in a sneering sort of way, and in William’s hearing, "Oh! as for Master William, he’s not man enough to swear." The taunt — it was just like a fiery arrow shot from Satan’s bow — stung the young lad beyond endurance; and for the only time in his life, I believe, he took God’s holy name in vain, and swore a terrible oath. Whenever William spoke of the matter — years, long years, after — it was with expressions of the bitterest regret, though he felt in his heart that God had forgiven him. Well, that was a fight with the devil in which the devil was the victor. The Christian soldier was beaten, for the moment. Satan, through the mouth of one of his servants, triumphed over him.


A "good" soldier obeys orders strictly; does not get tired of his duty, but sticks to it; and never dreams of turning his back and running away when the enemy is coming.


A good general makes good soldiers. He infuses his own spirit into them, and leads them to victory. And we have a good general, the Lord Jesus Christ. Put yourselves, then, into His hands, and He will make you what you ought to be. I wish you especially to notice that you cannot be a true Christian warrior without possessing that loyal devotion to Christ which springs from love. (The Biblical Illustrator)

W. Landels, D. D: Much as war is at variance with the spirit of Christianity, there are few things to which the Scriptures more frequently allude when treating of the spiritual life. There is reason for this; for, notwithstanding all that is objectionable in the soldier’s occupation, there are many things in the personal qualities of the man which pertain to the very noblest type of character. That which makes him a good soldier would also, if combined with other elements, make him a higher style of man.


"One volunteer is worth many pressed men." The adage was singularly verified during the war between Austria and Prussia. The Austrian soldiers fought well, but not with the enthusiasm of men who cordially approve of the object for which they fight. Drawn from various nationalities — believing, some of them, that the war was hostile to the dearest interests of their country — they were not so much free agents as machines forced into the strife; and this fact, perhaps, more than bad generalship or insufficient equipment, accounted for their signal defeat. Whereas the Prussians, although not enlisted voluntarily in the first instance, nevertheless entered voluntarily into the conflict. With an appreciation of the purposes of the war which few gave them credit, believing that it was to promote the much-coveted unity of the Fatherland, they fought with an enthusiasm which is the surest pledge of victory; and to this, quite as much as to the superiority of their arms and their leaders, did they owe their splendid triumphs. And so to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must freely and enthusiastically engage in His service.

II. The second thing required of a good soldier is IMPLICIT OBEDIENCE TO HIS COMMANDER’S ORDERS.

Much has been said of the drill and discipline of the Prussian soldiers as accounting for that marvelous succession of victories which, culminating in Sadowa, changed the map of Europe. The far-seeing men who contemplated and conducted the war, with a keen appreciation of the means by which their end was to be gained, had been drilling most severely for years, until the soldier had become a kind of living machine. And that is really what is required in order to good soldiership.

III. A third quality essential to the good soldier is FAITH IN HIS LEADER.

In the war to which we have referred, the Austrian soldiers, after two or three defeats attributable to mismanagement, lost all faith in the capacity of their general, and not only ceased to fight with spirit, but were forthwith changed into a panic-stricken rabble. Even the brave Italians, with all their enthusiasm, recovered slowly from their defeat at Custozza, because of the manifest bungling which brought about the disaster. Whereas the Prussians, having in their leaders men whose clearness of vision and capacity for command were equal to their own fighting efficiency and power of endurance, do not seem ever to have faltered in their victorious career. Such confidence is manifestly indispensable. The private soldier knows little or nothing of the plan of the battle in which he is an actor, knows not why he is led into this position or that, or how he is to be led out of it, knows not why he is required to do this or that; but his general knows, and unless he has full confidence in the men who are directing the movements of the troops he will fight with very little courage, and prove himself but a poor soldier. And in our warfare we are equally required to have faith in our King.

IV. A fourth quality is CAREFUL TRAINING.

In the war referred to, the best trained and most intelligent men proved the best fighters. Intelligence consists with, and is conducive to, the highest state of discipline; and of the human machine, which the soldier must needs become, the thinking is by far the most efficient specimen. So in our warfare the best soldier, other things being equal, is the man whose mind is most thoroughly trained. The servants of Christ should seek to understand the requirements of their time, and prepare to meet them. The conditions of warfare and the works required of the Christian soldier now are not what they were once; and unless men have understanding of the times, they may, though with the best intentions, render very bungling service. The worthier the master, the more efficient should his servants be.


We cannot understand in what sense they are soldiers of Christ who enter His service simply with a view to their own comfort. Their notion is that they are to have a nice pleasant time, plenty of sweet experiences, and no trials, with temporal comforts to match the unruffled smoothness of their spiritual course. So much has been said of making the best of both worlds, that the highest conception which many form of Christianity is that it is a system which rewards men in the next world for seeking to be comfortable in this. Young men should under stand that a soldier’s life is one of warfare and endurance. In order to your being good soldiers of Jesus Christ, there must be —


Union is strength, insomuch that one small band of men, acting together for one purpose and under one head, will scatter thousands who have neither leader nor organisation. (The Biblical Illustrator)

H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A

Let no one say that he has no taste for warfare. Each one of us is pledged to fight. Each one of us bears the sign of the Cross, which binds him to be Christ’s soldier till his life’s end. Once, in the old wars, an English drummer-boy was taken prisoner by the French. They amused themselves by making the lad play on his instrument, and presently one asked him to sound the retreat. The drummer answered proudly that he had never learnt how to do that! So in our warfare there is no retreating.

It was the boast of Napoleon’s soldiers — the guard dies, but never yields! We Christians are bidden to be faithful unto death, and Jesus promises us a crown of life.

When Maximian became Emperor of the West he did his utmost to destroy Christianity. There was in the Roman army a famous legion of ten thousand men, called the Thebian Legion. It was formed entirely of Christians. Once, just before going into battle with the enemy, the Emperor commanded the Thebian Legion to sacrifice to idols. Their leader, in the name of his ten thousand soldiers, refused. The Emperor then ordered them to be decimated — that is, every tenth man to be killed. Still they were firm, and again, the second time, the cruel order was given for every tenth man to be slain. Fully armed, with their glittering eagles flashing on their helmets, the Christian soldiers stood in the perfect discipline of Rome, ready to die, but not to yield. Again they were ordered to sacrifice, and the brave answer was returned, "No; we were Christ’s soldiers before we were Maximian’s." Then the furious Emperor gave the order to kill them all! Calmly the remaining soldiers laid down their arms, and knelt whilst the other troops put them to the sword. So died the Thebian Legion, faithful unto death!

Each one of us is in one sense a martyr, a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Those of us who bear hard

words, and cruel judgments, and harsh treatment, patiently, rendering not evil for evil, are martyrs for Jesus. Again, as fellow soldiers, let us remember the NAME under which we serve. To a Roman soldier of old the name of Caesar was a watchword, which made him ready to do or die. In the wars of the middle ages, when our countrymen went into battle the cry was, "St. George for Merry England," and every soldier was ready to answer with his sword.

They tell us that the name of the great Duke of Wellington was alone enough to restore courage and spirit to the flagging troops. Once when a regiment was wavering in the fight, the message was passed along the ranks, "The Duke is coming," and in an instant the men stood firm, whilst one old soldier exclaimed, "The Duke — God bless him! I had rather see him than a whole battalion."

The name of our Leader is one indeed to inspire perfect faith, courage, and hope. In all ages certain regiments have had their distinguishing names. Among the Romans of old time there was one famous band of warriors known as the Thundering Legion. In later times there have been regiments known as the "Invincibles," the "Die-hards." One famous corps has for its motto a Latin sentence meaning "By Land and Sea," and another has one word for its badge, meaning "Everywhere."

These mottoes remind the soldier that the regiment to which he belongs has fought and conquered, served and suffered, all over the world. The proud badge of the county of Kent is "Invicta"— unconquered; that of Exeter is "The Ever-faithful City." All these titles belong of right to our army, the Church of Jesus Christ.

It is said that in New Zealand, some years ago, many of our troops were mortally wounded by concealed natives, who hid them selves in holes in the earth, and thence darted their deadly spears upward against the unsuspecting soldier. So our spiritual enemy, Satan, hides himself in a thousand different places, and wounds us with some sudden temptation when we are least aware. (The Biblical Illustrator)

Richard Newton, D. D.: We must FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS. When Alexander the Great was leading his army over some mountains once, they found their way all stopped up with ice and snow. His soldiers were tired out with hard marching, and so disheartened with the difficulties before them, that they halted. It seemed as if they would rather lie down and die than try to go on any farther. When Alexander saw this, he did not begin to scold the men, and storm at them. Instead of this, he got down from his horse, laid aside his cloak, took up a pickaxe, and, without saying a word to any one, went quietly to work, digging away at the ice. As soon as the officers saw this, they did the same. The men looked on in surprise for a few moments, and then, forgetting how tired they were, they went to work with a will, and pretty soon they got through all their difficulties. Those were good soldiers, because they followed the example of their leader. (The Biblical Illustrator)

C. Garrett: A Good Soldier:


1. A soldier is a person wire has enlisted in an army. Had looked at the reasons for and against entering the army, and at last he enlisted.

2. He is the property of the king. Gives up his free agency. Gives up his very name. Known and called by the number he bears.

3. He is provided for by the king. Must take off his own clothes, whether of best broadcloth or corduroy. Must be clothed, and fed, and armed by the king.

4. He must always wear his regimentals. A soldier can always be recognised as such.

5. He is prepared for trial and conflict. Soldiers are the result of war, and if there were no war, there would be no soldiers. He enlisted to fight. For this purpose he is armed, and trained, and drilled.


It is implied that Christ is a King, that He has enemies, that He has an army, and that the person spoken of belongs to this army. I have to glance at the ground we have already passed — You have enlisted, etc.


There are soldiers and soldiers. There are some who are idle and dissipated: a disgrace to the profession to which they belong. Others only swell the numbers and fill up the ranks, they look very well at reviews, but don’t count for much in the battle-field. Others are so true and faithful that they cover the army to which they belong with glory.

1. A good soldier is thoroughly loyal. Not a mercenary, fighting for pay. Proud of his uniform, his name, his king.

2. Patriotic. Loves his country. Every soldier is his comrade. The defeat of the army is his sorrow; its success his joy.

3. Obedient. He may be at home in the midst of his family — a telegram comes; by the next train he leaves to join the army, perhaps to cross the seas and perish in a distant land.

4. Earnest.

5. Brave.

6. Patient. Not enlisted for a day, but for life. Often put where there is nothing to excite or gratify ambition. There will be the long wearisome march, or the still more wearisome halt. While his comrades are assaulting cities and winning victories, he has to stand and watch, or lie and suffer.

7. Self-denying.

8. Modest. His motto, Deeds not words. It is said that the word "glory" is not found in the despatches of the Duke of Wellington. He merely states what the army had done. So with the Christian. What are you? A rebel? Your defeat is certain. A deserter? Return. A penitent, longing to be enlisted in Christ’s army? Come. A soldier? Be "a good soldier." (The Biblical Illustrator)

Albert Barnes: Roman soldiers were not allowed … 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 proctor 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. (The Biblical Illustrator)

Spurgeon: God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we may be certified of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery, real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials. God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains his soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs."

The soldier follows his captain, the servant obeys his master, much more must we follow our Redeemer, to whom we are a purchased possession. (Morning and Evening)