I am fascinated by certain Greek concepts in 2 Timothy 2. One is Strateuo, which means to launch a military expedition or to be in active service or to be engaged in warfare.
So this key word entangleth is Empleko in the Greek. It means to enweave, to be involved, to be entangled.
Wuest translates this passage that is verse 3: “Take your part with others as enduring hardships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in military service allows themselves to become involved in civilian pursuits, order that he may please the one that enlisted him as a soldier.”
Seneca said, “To live is to be a soldier.” (Also note that is Seneca; Epistles 96:5.) Paul often used the example of soldiering. He calls Epaphroditus, “my fellow soldier.” (Philippians 2:25).
Barclay raises the question: “What then were the qualities of the soldier, which Paul would have repeated in the Christian life?”
- The soldier’s service must be a concentrated service.
- The soldier is conditioned to obedience.
- The soldier is conditioned to sacrifice.
- The soldier is conditioned to loyalty.
The Roman code of Theodosius said, “We forbid men engaged on military service to engage in civilian occupations.” I don’t think this means that a Christian cannot engage in secular work.
But I think that even secular work can be commandeered for the sake of the Christian’s mission. Barclay points out that when a soldier joined the army, he took a Sacramentum, the oath of loyalty to his emperor.
The next verse employs a metaphor of the athlete. It says that if anyone engages in an athletic contest, he does not win the crown unless he observes the rules. Reekier is Athlein nomimos. The phrase was used by later writers to describe a professional as opposed to an amateur.
The man who strolled nonimos was the man who concentrated every thing. Barclay notes it was not just a “spare time thing, as it might be for an amateur.” It is not proper to be an amateur Christian.
Beyond this, the athlete is a man under discipline and self-denial. “He must keep to his schedule of training and let nothing interfere with it.”
How can I apply all of this to my own life?