“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 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.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
As Paul came to the end of his earthly life, he took great pains to encourage his disciple to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1) and to guard and pass on the precious teachings that Paul had taught him.
Paul compared Timothy’s life in the ministry of the gospel to the life of a soldier. The Greek word translated “endure hardness” is used twice more by Paul, each in this book. “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions [same word], do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). Paul holds himself up as an example of such endurance when he claims: “I suffer trouble [same word], as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound” (2 Timothy 2:9).
As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we are to avoid entangling ourselves with something that will hinder our effectiveness. The word “entangled” means “entwined,” or “involved with.” The soldier must be able to draw his weapon freely and use it effectively, and cannot do so if something is clutching onto him, binding his arms and legs.
Our text follows the well-known admonition “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (vv. 1-2). The goal of a soldier is to please his leader. So must be our goal in the warfare at hand, preserving and passing on the truth. As Christians, we have been chosen to be in the army of the General who Himself died to assure our ultimate victory. He deserves our total devotion. JDM