2 Timothy 2:4
No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) No man that warreth . . .—Better rendered, while engaged on military service, or serving as a soldier. The first picture is suggested by the last simile (in 2Timothy 2:3). It was one very familiar to the numerous peoples dwelling under the shadow of the Roman power, this picture of the soldier concerned only in the military affairs of the great empire—the legionary wrapped up in his service, with no thought or care outside the profession of which he was so proud. None of these sworn legionaries have aught to do with buying or selling, with the Forum, or any of the many employments of civil life. So should it be with the earnest and faithful Christian; paramount and above any earthly considerations ever must rank his Master’s service, his Master’s commands.

The soldier of Christ should never allow himself to be entangled in any earthly business which would interfere with his duty to his own General. But while this general reference to all members of the Church lies on the outside, beneath the surface a solemn injunction may surely be read, addressed to Timothy and to others like him in after times specially engaged in the ministry of the Word and in matters connected with the government of the Church of Christ. And so the Catholic Church has generally understood this direction to Timothy as warning her ministers from engaging in secular pursuits, either connected with business or pleasure.

That he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.—More accurately rendered, who enrolled him as a soldier. Only those soldiers who with heart and soul devote themselves to their military work win the heart of their commander. The question has been asked, What of St. Paul’s own example and that of other of the early Christian teachers, such as Aquila? did not they, at all events from time to time, pursue a secular calling—that of tent-makers? The reply here is not a difficult one. The Jewish life in those days contemplated and even desired that its rabbis and teachers should be acquainted with, and even, if necessary, practise some handicraft. The well-known Hebrew saying, “He that teacheth not his son a trade teacheth him to be a thief,” is a proof of this. In the case of these early teachers, this occasional practice of an industry or a trade brought them more directly into contact with their Jewish brethren. It was thus among the Jewish people that the Hebrew rabbi often passed imperceptibly into a Christian teacher. It must also be borne in mind that in St. Paul’s case, and also in the case of the presbyters of the first and second age, especially if missionaries, it was impossible always to ensure subsistence, unless by some exertions of their own they maintained themselves. It was, too, most desirable that these pioneers of Christianity should ever be above all reproach of covetousness, or even of the suspicion that they wished for any earthly thing from their converts. That however, it was not intended that any such combination of work—at once for the Church and for the world—should be the rule of ecclesiastical order in coming days, the positive and very plain directions of 1Corinthians 9:1-15 are decisive, and incapable of being misunderstood.

2 Timothy

THE TRUE AIM OF LIFE - PLEASING CHRIST

2 Timothy 2:4.

PAUL had enough to do to infuse some of his own vigour into the feebler nature of Timothy. If we may judge from the prevailing tone of the Apostle’s letters to him, his young assistant lacked courage and energy; was easily beaten down, needed tonics for the ‘often infirmities’ of his mind as well as of his body. The delicate ingenuity with which this letter accumulates all conceivable encouragements for the drooping heart that was to take up the old lion-heart’s nearly finished work, is very beautiful. One topic of encouragement is conspicuous by its absence. There is no rosy painting of the Christian life, or of a Christian teacher’s life, as easy or pleasant to flesh and blood. On the contrary, none of Paul’s letters give more emphatic utterance to the fact that suffering is the law of both.

That is wise; for the best way to-brace people for difficult work and hardship is to tell them fairly what they will have to face. It will act as a filter and Gideon’s test, no doubt, but it will only filter out impure matter, and it will evoke latent enthusiasm; for there is always fascination to generous natures or fervent disciples in the thought of danger and toil, undertaken for a beloved cause or favourite pursuit. Boys are made sailors by the stories of wreck and hardship told them to keep them ashore. So Paul encourages’ son Timothy’ by putting before him all the toil and the peril which are the conditions of the work to which he has set his hand. In this context we have a number of illustrations and analogies, according to all of which self-denial and persistent work are indispensable. The wrestler has not only to brace every limb in his struggle till the muscles stand out like whipcord, but he has to abide by the laws of the arena. The farmer has to exercise long patience, and to labour hard in the field and wild weather, before he can sit down and eat of the fruit of the harvest. The soldier has not only to take his life in hand, but to abandon his civil pursuits and make the pleasure of his commander the law of his life. The diligence of other people in their worldly callings may well put us to shame; and if that is not enough, our own diligence in the one half of our life may shame our laziness in the other. All fire there, and all ice here !

Ready for any sacrifice of time and pains in that, grudging every such sacrifice in this!

Our text constitutes the first of that series of illustrative metaphors, each of which adds something of its own to the general idea. In it we have a whole series of striking thoughts suggested, which can be but very imperfectly worked out in the brief space at our disposal.

I. The first thing that strikes one in the words is their grand statement of the all-comprehensive life’s aim of the Christian soldier.

There is savagery and devilry enough about the soldiers’ trade to make it remarkable that it should be so constantly chosen to illustrate the life of the servants of the Prince of Peace. But there are grand qualities brought out in warfare, which need but to be transferred to their most worthy object; and for the sake of these, the metaphor is used here. The one great peculiarity of military discipline is prompt, unquestioning obedience. Wheresoever inferiors may discuss their superiors’ will, or reason on the limits of obedience, or allow themselves a margin of delay, all that is mutiny in the army, and short and sharp work will be made of it, if it appear. ‘Their’s not to reason why,’ but to do what they are bid, when they are bid, as they are bid. Their only standard of duty is their commander’s will, and men have been shot as mutineers for doing grand deeds of heroism contrary to orders. The highest guerdon of courage and faithfulness is the general’s praise, and men have gladly flung away their lives for a smile or a ‘well done’ from some Alexander or Napoleon, counting the gain far greater than the price paid.

Such an attitude towards a fellow-man makes men machines, and yet there is something in that absolute obedience and out-and-out submission to authority very noble in itself, and going a long way to ennoble even warfare. To obey may he bad or good, according to the master and the service; but obedience is fitting for a man, and there can be no attainment of the highest dignity, beauty, or force of character in lawless ‘self-pleasing, but only in willing submission to a law and a lawgiver, discerned by the will to be authoritative, by the conscience to be morally good, and by the heart to be love-worthy. If, then, we can find one ruler, leader, and commander of the people, whose authority is rightfully supreme, whose commands coincide with our highest wisdom and lead to our purest felicity, to obey him must lift a life into dignity. Then we have found the secret which will make little things great, and great things small; which will dignify all life, and make the most absolute service the truest freedom, the kingliest rule.

So our text lays hold of the great central peculiarity of Christian morals, when it makes pleasing Christ to be the great, all-comprehensive aim of the Christian soldier. It is this which makes the law of morality, as re-fashioned by Christianity, altogether new and blessed. How entirely different a thing it is to give a poor, feeble, solitary man a living, loving Lord to serve and to please, and to set him down before a cold, impersonal ‘ideal’; and say to him, ‘There! live up to that, or it will be the worse for you.’ The gospel sets forth Jesus Christ as the Pattern and Law of duty, in whom all the statuesque purity of the marble is changed into the warm, breathing flesh and blood of a brother. It sets Him forth as the power for duty, who stoops down from His height to reach forth a helping hand to us poor strugglers in the bogs at the mountain’s foot, while Law but looks on with pure and icy eyes at our flounderings, and counts the splashes on our dress. It sets Him forth as the Motive for duty, who draws us to what is right by ‘the cords of love and the bands of a man,’ while the world’s morality knows only how to appeal either to low motives of whips and pay, or to fine-spun considerations of right and obligation that melt like October’s morning ice before the faintest heat of temptation. Finally, it sets Him forth as the Reward of obedience, teaching us that the true recompense of well-doing lies in pleasing Him, and that to win a smile, an ‘honourable mention,’ from the General, life itself would be wisely paid.

Such are the great characteristics of Christian morality. Everything clusters round a living Person. All the coldness and remoteness and powerlessness which incurably weaken all law, whether it be that of a statute-book, or of conscience, or of moralists, are changed into their very opposites. Christ is duty; Love is law. Christ is power; Christ is impulse. Christ is motive; Christ is reward. Therefore the hearts and wills that found no attraction, nor owned any constraining authority in any tables of stone or any voice of conscience or any systems of ethics, yield glad obedience to Him who makes His law love; and feeble hands are strengthened to do His will by His own power breathed into them; and the hope of recompense is freed from selfishness when its highest object is His word of praise and His look of pleasure? This, and this alone, is the morality that will work. This is the new thing in Christianity, not so much the contents of the conception of duty, though even these have been changed, but the new form in which Duty appears, in a Person who being what all men should be, is the new power for its fulfilment which He brings, and the new motive whose touch moves all our conduct.

How much more powerful this thought of pleasing Christ is, as a motive, than that of a bare Theism, needs scarcely be named. ‘Thou, God, seest me’ grandly restraining and stimulating as it is, may easily become a trembling before ‘the great Taskmaster’s eye,’ or may fade into a very dim thought of a very far-off God. But when we think that the divine eye which rests upon us wept over the sinful city, and sought the denier with the look of sorrowing reproach, untarnished by one glitter of anger, we need not fear His knowledge, nor doubt that He is as near to each of us, as glad at our obedience, and as grieved by our hardness of heart, as ever He was to the little group that lived on His smile long ago. It is no remote God whom we have to please, but our very Brother, the Captain of the Lord’s host, who knows all the conditions of the fight.

The thought implies the reality of Christ’s present knowledge of each of us. Who, then, is this, who is supposed to know so accurately the true characters - not only the actions, but the motives which determine the worth of the actions - of men in every age and country to the world’s end? Who can exercise such an office, and be the centre of such observance, but One only? This must be God manifest in the flesh. Else it is stark nonsense for people, nineteen centuries after His death, to think of pleasing Him; and it is blasphemy worse than nonsense, to set aside all other law and commandments in order to take our duty from His life, and our reward from His approbation. But when we see in Christ the Word made flesh, then it is reasonable to believe that He knoweth the hearts of all men, and reasonable to ‘labour that, whether present or absent, we may be well-pleasing to Him.’

Such singleness of aim contributes in many ways to make life blessed and noble. It simplifies motives and aims, because, instead of being dragged hither and thither by smaller attractions, and so having our days broken up into fragments, we have one great object which can be pursued through all the variety of our occupations, making them all co-operant to one end - and there is blessedness in that. It lifts us above many temptations, which cease to be temptations to a heart intent on pleasing Christ, as glacial plants and animals fled to the north when cosmic changes put an end to the ice age in England. It delivers from care for men’s judgment, for the opinion of the crowd matters very little to the soldier whose fame is to be praised by his commander. It gives energy for work, and turns hard, dry duty into a joy, for it is ever blessed to toil for One we love, and the work that is done with love for its motive, and with the hope of giving Him pleasure for its inspiration, will not be wearisome, though it may be long; nor grievous, though it may be hard. Freedom and dignity, and happiness and buoyancy, all flow from this one transfiguring thought, that the one all-sufficient aim for life is - pleasing Christ, the Captain of the Lord’s host.

II. But our text employs a significant form of speech to designate Jesus Christ: ‘Him who hath called him to be a soldier’; or as the Revised Version has it, ‘enrolled him as a soldier.’

And that phrase is used, I suppose, instead of the simple name, in order to bring out the reference to the great act of Christ’s, on which the duty of making His pleasure our sovereign aim rests.

In old-world times when war broke out each chief would summon his clansmen to his standard and enrol them as his force. To raise a troop was the act of the leader, who then took command of the men he had raised, and did so because he had raised them. Christ has enrolled us as His soldiers, and because He has done so, he has the right of command.

Now, while there are many ways by which our Lord summons us to His service, we shall, I think, be true to the usual current of New Testament representations, if we see here mainly a reference to the great act by which He draws us to Himself. The fiery cross used to be the signal which summoned the tribesmen to the fray. So Christ’s men are summoned by the Cross. His great work for us, His life of sympathy and sorrow, His death of sacrifice and shame, His resurrection of glory - these are the call which He sends out to all the world, to gather loving souls to His side whom He may honour by using as His servants and soldiers. The Cross is the magnet by which He will ‘draw all men unto Him’; or in other words, the one power which will draw men away from a life of self and sin, and hearten them to fight against the evils in themselves and the world which they used to serve, is the fact of Christ’s death, believed and rested on. This, and this alone, changes our tastes and makes us deserters from our old colours, to take service under a new Commander. That mighty and unspeakable proof of Love will bend our hearts to obedience when nothing else will, and the voice of endless pity for us, and awful suffering for our sake, which sounds out from Christ on the Cross, is His heart-reaching call to us all to enlist in His service. The message of the Cross is not only a message of forgiveness and blessedness for ourselves, but it is as a trumpet-note of defiance to all the powers of evil, and a call to us to take our part in the fight, which in one aspect was finished when He overcame by death, but in another will last till that far-off future day when He that is called King of kings shall ride forth, followed by all the armies of those who on earth were his soldiers, to fight the last fight, and win the final victory.

He has given Himself wholly for us, therefore He has absolute right of authority over us. Not merely because of His divine nature, not merely because, as we believe, He has been from the beginning the divine agent of all creation and of all providence, but because of His great love and of His utter and bitter sacrifice for us men, does He possess the right to their absolute obedience. His dominion is a dominion founded on suffering; the many crowns are twined round the crown of thorns, as the iron crown of Monza has for foundation a bit of iron said to be a nail of the cross beaten into a circlet, and covered now with gold and jewels. Nothing but entire self-surrender for us can warrant entire authority over us, and only He who tasted death for every man has the right to assume the captainship over men. He gave Himself for us, therefore are we to give ourselves to Him. He dies for us, and then living, turns to us with,’ Will you not serve Me?’ We owe Him lives, souls - all. They are ours by the purchase of His exceeding bitter pains and death. Surely we shall not refuse His summons to service, which is also a merciful invitation to joy and blessing, but yield ourselves to the attraction of His cross and the magic of His love. Let Him take the command of your lives, and give Him all the secret springs of nature and desire to control. He has called you to be His soldiers, and your plain duty is to please Him. ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,’ and most chiefly by that chiefest mercy, the sacrifice of Christ, ‘that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God.’

III. Finally, the text brings prominently forward the discipline of abstinence which this warfare requires.

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 went 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 paralysed while the manhood of the nation were in the field. That state of things suggests the language here. The word rendered ‘that warreth’ might be more vividly translated, as the Revised Version has it, ‘on service’ - the idea being that as long as a man is on a campaign, he can do nothing else but soldiering. When peace is proclaimed, he may go back to farm or merchandise; but in the field, he has but one thing to do - and that is to fight, He will scarcely win the general’s good word on other things.

What, then, is the corresponding Christian duty? Of course our text, though originally spoken in reference to Christian teachers’ devotion to their work, is not to be confined to them. The sort of work which a Timothy or a Paul may have to do may be peculiar to their offices, but the spirit in which it is to be done, and the conditions of faithfulness, are the same for all doers of all sorts of work for Christ. If the apostle and the teacher need non-entanglement ‘with the affairs of this life,’ all Christians need it just as much.

Now it is to be noticed that the parallel of the soldier on service and the Christian in his warfare fails in this one respect: that the soldier had to abandon entirely all other occupation, even the most needful and praiseworthy, because he could not both do them and fight; but the abandonment of the affairs of this life is not necessary for us, because occupation with them is not incompatible with our Christian warfare. Nay, so far from that, these ‘affairs’ furnish the very fields on which a large part of that warfare to be waged. If these are abandoned, what is left to fight about? What is our Christian warfare but the constant struggle with evil in ourselves and temptation in the world; the constant effort to bring all the activities of our spirits and hands under the power of Christ’s law, and to yield our whole selves, in heart, mind, will, and deed, to Him? How then can that warfare be waged, and that ennobling self-surrender achieved, but by the heroic, patient effort to deal with all the affairs of this life in a Christ-like temper, and to Christ-pleasing ends? The Christian who abandons any of these is much liker the frightened deserter who runs from his post, and may expect a stern rebuke, if nothing worse, than the faithful soldier, whose face will one day brighten beneath the smile of his chief.

We must put stress on that word ‘entangled,’ if we would rightly understand this saying. It is not occupation with the things of life, but entanglement in them, that is fatal to the possibility of pleasing the King. The metaphor is plain enough, and vivid enough. As some poor struggling fish in the meshes of a net vainly beats its silver scales off, and gasps out its life, and swims no more in the free deep; or as some panting forest creature is checked in its joyous bounding, and, tangled in the half-seen snares, only tightens the cords by its wild plunging; or as some strong swimmer is caught in the long, brown seaweed which clings to his limbs till it drags him under and drowns; so men are snared and caught and strangled by these multitudinous cords and filaments of earthly things. The fate of Jonah befall, many a professing Christian, who, if he know what had really come to him, might cry with him, ‘The weeds are wrapped about my head.’

We are not bound to abandon the affairs of this life, but we are called upon to prevent their interfering with our warfare. If we are caught in the thicket whilst we are pressing on to the fight, out with the billhooks and hew it down. It may be full of pretty peeps, where there are shade and singing-birds; but if it stands in our way, it has to be grubbed up. ‘If thy right eye cause thee to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for thee.’

And that interference can easily be detected, if we honestly wish to do so. Does a certain thing - some legitimate, or even praiseworthy occupation, or possession, the exercise of some taste or accomplishment, some recreation, some companionship-clog my feet when I ought to march; clip my wings when I ought to soar; dim my eyes when I ought to gaze on God? Then no matter what others may do about it, my plain duty is to give it up. It is entangling me. It is interfering with my warfare, and I must cut the cords. I can only do so by entire abstinence. Perhaps I may get stronger some day, and be able to use it as not abusing it; but I cannot venture on that at present. So go it must. I judge nobody else, but whoever may be able to retain that thing, whatever it be, without slackening hold on Christ, I cannot.

So, brethren, if you find that legitimate occupation and affairs are absorbing your interests, and interfering with your clear vision of God, and making you less inclined and less apt to high thoughts and noble purposes, to lowly service and to Christ-like life, your safety lies in at once shaking off the venomous beast that has fastened on you into the fire. Unless the occupation be a plain duty, a post where the Captain has set you as sentry, and which it would be fiat disobedience to forsake, leave it at any cost, if you would kept your Christian integrity.

But if you have to stand to your post, perilous though it be, lift your heart to Him who can neutralise the poison, and who will so pour health into the veins of His servants, that, in the execution of His commands, ‘they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.’

The affairs of this life must not entangle us; that is the one indispensable condition to pleasing Him. That they may not, they must always be rigidly subordinated, and used as helps to our higher life. Sometimes, when they cannot be so used, they must be abandoned altogether. Each must settle that for himself. Only let us make it our one great purpose in life that, whether present or absent, we may be well-pleasing to Him; and that single, lofty motive will breathe unity into our life, and giving us clear, sure insight into good and evil, will instruct us, by the instinct of hearts and wills tuned to harmony to His, to shun the evil and cleave strenuously to the good. So living, ever looking to His face to catch His smile as our highest reward, it will not be hard to give up anything that hinders the light of His countenance shining upon us. So surrendering, we may hope to be His obedient, and therefore in highest reality, His victorious soldiers. So fighting, we may possess in our hearts the assurance that His wonderful mercy accepts even our poor service as well-pleasing in His sight, and may lay ourselves How, in peace on the field where we seem to ourselves to have berne ourselves so badly and been so often beaten, with the wondrous hope to keep us company in the grave, that when the triumph comes, and our King goes up as conqueror, we, even we, shall follow, and receive from His lips the praise, and from His face the smile, which make the highest heaven of reward for all Christ’s soldiers.2:1-7 As our trials increase, we need to grow stronger in that which is good; our faith stronger, our resolution stronger, our love to God and Christ stronger. This is opposed to our being strong in our own strength. All Christians, but especially ministers, must be faithful to their Captain, and resolute in his cause. The great care of a Christian must be to please Christ. We are to strive to get the mastery of our lusts and corruptions, but we cannot expect the prize unless we observe the laws. We must take care that we do good in a right manner, that our good may not be spoken evil of. Some who are active, spend their zeal about outward forms and doubtful disputations. But those who strive lawfully shall be crowned at last. If we would partake the fruits, we must labour; if we would gain the prize, we must run the race. We must do the will of God, before we receive the promises, for which reason we have need of patience. Together with our prayers for others, that the Lord would give them understanding in all things, we must exhort and stir them up to consider what they hear or read.No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life - Having alluded to the soldier, and stated one thing in which the Christian minister is to resemble him, another point of resemblance is suggested to the mind of the apostle. Neither the minister nor the soldier is to be encumbered with the affairs of this life, and the one should not be more than the other. This is always a condition in becoming a soldier. He gives up his own business during the time for which he is enlisted, and devotes himself to the service of his country. The farmer leaves his plow, and the mechanic his shop, and the merchant his store, and the student his books, and the lawyer his brief; and neither of them expect to pursue these things while engaged in the service of their country. It would be wholly impracticable to carry on the plans of a campaign, if each one of these classes should undertake to prosecute his private business. See this fully illustrated from the Rules of War among the Romans, by Grotius, "in loc." 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. So with the ministers of the gospel. It is equally improper for them to "entangle" themselves with the business of a farm or plantation; with plans of speculation and gain, and with any purpose of worldly aggrandizement. The minister of the gospel accomplishes the design of his appointment only when he can say in sincerity, that he "is not entangled with the affairs of this life;" compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:25-27.

That he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier - That is, him who has enlisted him, or in whose employ he is. His great object is to approve himself to him. 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.

4. "No one while serving as a soldier."

the affairs of (this) life—"the businesses of life" [Alford]; mercantile, or other than military.

him who hath chosen him—the general who at the first enlisted him as a soldier. Paul himself worked at tent-making (Ac 18:3). Therefore what is prohibited here is, not all other save religious occupation, but the becoming entangled, or over-engrossed therewith.

Having told Timothy that his life was to be the life of a soldier, in which he would be exposed to many difficulties, and dangers, and hazards, he here mindeth him of the law and custom of soldiers, who being once entered in the muster-roll, use to sequester themselves from other employments in trading, husbandry, or the like, that thereby they might be at the command of their general, or captain, to be called out upon what service he pleaseth. So he who is a minister of the gospel ought not voluntarily and of choice engage himself in secular employments, but give up himself wholly to the ministerial work, that so he might please the Lord Jesus Christ, who hath chosen him to be his soldier. No man that warreth,.... Who is a soldier, and gives himself up to military service, in a literal sense: the Vulgate Latin version, without any authority, adds, "to God"; as if the apostle was speaking of a spiritual warfare; whereas he is illustrating a spiritual warfare by a corporeal one; and observes, that no one, that is in a military state,

entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; with civil affairs, in distinction from military ones. The Roman soldiers might not follow any trade or business of life, or be concerned in husbandry, or merchandise of any sort, but were wholly to attend to military exercises, and to the orders of their general; for to be employed in any secular business was reckoned an entangling of them, a taking of them off from, and an hindrance to their military discipline: and by this the apostle suggests that Christ's people, his soldiers, and especially his ministers, should not he involved and implicated in worldly affairs and cares; for no man can serve two masters, God and mammon; but should wholly give up themselves to the work and service to which they are called; and be ready to part with all worldly enjoyments, and cheerfully suffer the loss of all things, when called to it, for the sake of Christ and his Gospel:

that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier; his captain, or general, who has enlisted him, enrolled and registered him among his soldiers; whom to please should be his chief concern; as it should be the principal thing attended to by a Christian soldier, or minister of the Gospel, not to please men, nor to please himself, by seeking his own ease and rest, his worldly emoluments and advantages, but to please the Lord Christ, in whose book his name is written.

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of {b} this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

(b) With affairs of household, or other things that belong to other ordinary businesses.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Timothy 2:4. “Hoc versu commendatur τό abstine; accedit versu seq. τό sustine” (Bengel).

οὐδεὶς στρατευόμενος] alludes to στρατιώτης: “no one serving as a soldier” (de Wette); comp. 1 Timothy 1:18.

ἐμπλέκεται ταῖς τοῦ βίου πραγματείαις[22]] ἐμπλέκεσθαι elsewhere only in 2 Peter 2:20.

πραγματείαι] occurs only here in the N. T. (the verb πραγματεύεσθαι, Luke 19:13); αἱ τοῦ βίου πραγμ. are the occupations which form means of livelihood; Heydenreich: “the occupations of the working class as opposed to those of the soldier class.”

From these the στρατευόμενος abstains ἵνα τῷ στρατολογήσαντι ἀρέσῃ] στρατολογήσας (only here), from στρατολογεῖν: “gather an army, raise troops,” is a term for a general.

Only that soldier who gives himself up entirely to military service, and does not permit himself to be distracted by other things, only he fulfils the general’s will. The application to the στρατιώτης Ἰησ. Χρ. is self-evident; he, too, is to devote himself entirely to his service, and not to involve himself in other matters which might hinder him in his proper calling. The literal interpretation, according to which the apostle or preacher should take no concern whatever in civil affairs, is contradicted by Paul’s own example; according to the precept here given, he is to avoid them only when they are a hindrance to the duties of his office.

[22] Ambros. de Offic. i. 1 : is, qui imperatori militat, a susceptionibus litium, actu negotiorum forensium, venditione mercium prohibetur humanis legibus.—Athan. Dict. et Interpr. Parab. S. Ev. qu. 119: εἰ γὰρ ἐπιγείῳ βασιλεῖ ὁ μέλλων στρατεύεσθαι οὐκ ἀρέσει, ἐὰν μὴ ἀφήσῃ πάσας τὰς τοῦ βίου φροντίδας, πόσῳ μᾶλλον μέλλων στρατευθῆναι τῷ ἐπουρανίῳ βασιλεῖ;2 Timothy 2:4. στρατευόμενος: militans Deo (Vulg.). Soldier, in the sense of a person belonging to the army, not soldier on service, as R.V., which makes the same error in Luke 3:14 marg. (See Expositor, vi., vii. 120).

ἐμπλέκεται: implicat se (Vulg.). The verb is used in a similar metaphor, 2 Peter 2:20, but in a more adverse sense than here. A soldier, who is bound to go anywhere and do any thing at the bidding of his captain, must have no ties of home or business. The implied counsel is the same as that given in 1 Corinthians 7:26-34, with its warnings against distraction between the possibly conflicting interests of the Lord and of this life. Note the use of ἀρέσκω in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34.

ἀρέσῃ: that he may be of use to (see Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 2:4).4. No man that warreth] More literally no one on service, as in Luke 3:18 ‘men on march’ came to St John Baptist. Carr, however, there quotes instances from the classics for the absence of the article, Eur. Ion 639, Med. 68, as shewing that possibly it may be used irregularly as a substantive, ‘no fighting man.’

entangleth himself with the affairs of this life] The verb occurs only here and in 2 Peter 2:20; the noun only here: ‘affairs,’ in the sense in which we speak of a ‘man of affairs’ skilled in public business; the word has been debased and generalised since the writing of A.V. and of Shakespeare’s

‘There is a tide in the affairs of men

Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.’

And now we use the word chiefly of ‘the affairs of every-day life’ and the like. The Vulg. has well ‘implicat se negotiis secularibus.’

who hath chosen him] Rather, who enrolled him; the word is only here in N.T., a later Greek word.2 Timothy 2:4. οὐδεὶς, no man) The word abstain (abstinence) is recommended in this verse: sustain[3] (endurance) is added to the recommendation in the next.—στρατευόμενος, warring) Do with all thy might what thou art doing.—πραγματείαις, with the affairs [matters of business] of this life) in which merchants and workmen are involved.—ἀρέσῃ, may please) being entirely devoted to the duties of a soldier.

[3] It is here in the sense of withstand. It was thought right to use it to give the reader an idea of the antithesis in the original.—TR.Verse 4. - Soldier on service for man that warreth, A.V.; in for with, A.V.; enrolled him as for hath chosen him to be, A.V. Soldier on service (στρατευόμενος); as 1 Corinthians 9:7 (see, too. 1 Timothy 1:18). In Luke 3:14 στρατευόμενοι is rendered simply "soldiers," with margin, "Greek, soldiers on service." There is no difference in meaning between the "man that warreth" in the A.V., and the "soldier on service" of the R.V. Affairs (πραγματείσις); only here in the New Testament, but common in the LXX. and in classical Greek, where it means, as here, "business," "affairs," "occupation," "trade," and the like, with the accessory idea of its being an "absorbing, engrossing pursuit." Enrolled him, etc. (στρατολογήσαντι); only here in the New Testament, not found in the LXX., but common in classical Greek for "to levy an army," "to enlist soldiers." The great lesson here taught is that the warfare of the Christian soldier requires the same concentration of purpose as that of the earthly warrior, if he would win the victory. That warreth (στρατευόμενος)

Better, when engaged in warfare. Rev. no soldier on service. In Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Corinthians 10:3. In Pastorals only here and 1 Timothy 1:18.

Entangleth himself (ἐμπλέκεται)

Only here and 2 Peter 2:20 (see note). This has been made an argument for clerical celibacy.

In the affairs of this life (ταῖς τοῦ βίου πραγματίαις)

Better, affairs of life. Not as A.V. verse implies, in contrast with the affairs of the next life, but simply the ordinary occupations of life. In N.T., βίος means either means of subsistence, as Mark 12:44; Luke 8:43; 1 John 3:17; or course of life, as Luke 8:14. Βίος Po.

Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier (τῷ στρατολογήσαντι)

N.T.o. olxx. Better, enrolled him as a soldier.

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