2 Timothy 2:5
And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
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(5) And if a man also strive for masteries.—More accurately translated, again, if a man strive in the games. Another picture is drawn, and the picture is, as before, a well-known one to all the dwellers in the great cities of the empire. An athlete is chosen to represent the professed servant of Christ, one of those who, after long and careful training, contends in the public games, then so popular, so entirely a part of the life of every city—in the games of wrestling or running, or in the chariot-racing, or in the hand-to-hand contests. Again, this one—as in the case of the soldier—if he aspired to victory and success, must “endure hardness.”

Except he strive lawfully.—“Lawfully”—i.e. according to the prescribed conditions of the contest. He must, of course, submit himself to the strict rules of the theatre where the games are held, and (for this is also included in the “lawfully”) must besides—if he hopes for a prize—go through all the long and severe training and discipline necessary before engaging in such a contest. Galen uses the same phrase, in the sense of complying with the recognised rules of training as regarding diet.

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.And if a man also strive for masteries - As in the Grecian games. See this favorite illustration of Paul explained in the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:24 ff.

Yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully - In conformity with the rules of the games. See Grotius, in loc. No one could obtain the prize unless he had complied with all the laws of the games, and had thus given to those with whom he contended, a fair opportunity to succeed. "In those contests, he who transgressed the rules in the least matter, not only failed of the prize, even though the apparent victor, but was sometimes disgraced and punished." Pictorial Bible. So the apostle here represents the Christian minister as engaged in a struggle or conflict for the crown. He says that he could not hope to win it unless he should comply with all the laws by which it is conferred; unless he should subdue every improper propensity, and make an effort like that evinced by the combatants at the Olympic games; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

5. And—"Moreover."

strive for masteries—"strive in the games" [Alford]; namely, the great national games of Greece.

yet is he not crowned, except—even though he gain the victory.

strive lawfully—observing all the conditions of both the contest (keeping within the bounds of the course and stript of his clothes) and the preparation for it, namely, as to self-denying diet, anointing, exercise, self-restraint, chastity, decorum, &c. (1Co 9:24-27).

And look as it is in the public games in use amongst you, where divers strive by wrestling, fighting, racing, where there is a crown proposed as the prize for those who are the conquerors in the game; they have not that crown set upon their heads, unless they keep to the laws of that game wherein they are exercised. So it is in the spiritual warfare, or contest; there is a far greater reward, even a crown of glory, proposed for such as overcome; but none shall have it, unless those who keep to the laws which God hath made for those who exercise themselves in that spiritual combat.

And if a man also strive for masteries,.... In the Olympic games, by running, wrestling, leaping, &c.

yet is he not crowned; with a corruptible, fading crown, a crown made of herbs and leaves of trees, as parsley, laurel, &c.

except he strive lawfully; according to the laws and rules fixed for those exercises; so no man that calls himself a Christian, minister, or any other, can expect the crown of life, the prize of the high calling of God, except he runs the race set before him, in the right way; looking to Christ, the mark, pressing through all difficulties, towards the prize, and holds on and out unto the end.

{3} And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

(3) The third admonition: the ministry is similar to a game in which men strive for the victory, and no man is crowned, unless he strive according to the laws which are prescribed, be they ever so hard and painful.

2 Timothy 2:5. A new thought is added, that the contender who wishes to be crowned must contend νομίμως.

ἐὰν δὲ καὶ ἀθλῇ τις] καί connects this thought with what precedes: “if one, too, does not permit himself to be kept from the struggle by other occupations;”[23] but the figure here is different from that we had in 2 Timothy 2:4, ἈΘΛΕῖΝ (ἍΠ. ΛΕΓ. in the N. T.) denoting the contest in running, to which the Christian calling is often compared; comp. 2 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

Οὐ ΣΤΕΦΑΝΟῦΤΑΙ, ἘᾺΝ ΜῊ ΝΟΜΊΜΩς ἈΘΛΉΣῌ] The runner, in order to gain the prize, must in the contest adhere to its definite rules. Theodoret: ΚΑῚ Ἡ ἈΘΛΗΤΙΚῊ ΝΌΜΟΥς ἜΧΕΙ ΤΙΝᾺς, ΚΑΘʼ ΟὛς ΠΡΟΣΉΚΕΙ ΤΟῪς ἈΘΛΗΤᾺς ἈΓΩΝΊΖΕΣΘΑΙ· Ὁ ΔῈ ΠΑΡᾺ ΤΟΎΤΟΥς ΠΑΛΑΊΩΝ, ΤῶΝ ΣΤΕΦΆΝΩΝ ΔΙΑΜΑΡΤΆΝΕΙ. In this, too, according to 1 Corinthians 9:25, ἘΓΚΡΑΤΕΎΕΣΘΑΙ should be observed; comp. Galen, Comm. in Hippocr. i. 15: οἱ γυμνασταὶ καὶ οἱ νομίμως ἀθλοῦντες ἐπὶ μὲν τοῦ ἀρίστου τὸν ἄρτον μόνον ἐσθίουσι, ἐπὶ δὲ τοῦ δείπνου τὸ κρέας. The word ΝΟΜΊΜΩς occurs only here and in 1 Timothy 1:8.

The thought contained in it is this, that Timothy, in order to share in the reward, must conduct himself in his evangelic warfare according to the laws of his evangelic office.

[23] Hofmann denies this connection of thought, maintaining wrongly that καί could only have this meaning if the apostle had continued to use the same figure.

2 Timothy 2:5. The sequence of images here—the soldier, the athlete, the field-labourer—affords an interesting illustration of repetition due to association of ideas. The soldier and the field-labourer are combined in 1 Corinthians 9:7-10; the athlete appears in 1 Corinthians 9:24 sqq. And the present passage has light thrown upon it from the earlier epistle, in which the various figures are more fully developed.

The connexion between the thought of the soldier and the athlete lies in the word νομίμως (see note on 1 Timothy 1:8); and the exact force of νομίμως will appear from a reference to 1 Corinthians 9:25, “Every man that striveth in the games is temperate in all things”. No one can be said to comply with the rules of the contest who has not undergone the usual preliminary training. One illustration from those cited by Wetstein will suffice, that from Galen, comm. in Hippocr. i. 15: οἱ γυμνασταὶ καὶ οἱ νομίμως ἀθλοῦντες, ἐπὶ μὲν τοῦ ἀρίστου τὸν ἄρτον μόνον ἐσθίουσιν, ἐπὶ δὲ τοῦ δείπνου τὸ κρέας.

5. And if a man also strive for masteries] The ‘also’ is placed by R.V. before ‘a man’ instead of after as A.V.; correctly, though awkwardly; as implying not that a man may perhaps beside soldiering also contend in the games, which is the proper inference from the position of ‘also’ in A.V., but that ‘there is first the case of a soldier, and there is also the case of an athlete.’ The verb, from which comes our ‘athlete,’ occurs here only in N.T., though the substantive in the derived sense of ‘conflict’ occurs in Hebrews 10:32, ‘a great conflict of sufferings.’ Render, and if again a man contend in the games. We have had the illustration from the race-course and its ‘games’ in 1 Timothy 6:12, and shall have it again lower down, ch. 2 Timothy 4:7. As Ephesians 6 is the chief soldier’s illustration, so 1 Corinthians 9:25 sqq. is the chief athlete’s, in St Paul. The foot-race is used very strikingly also, Hebrews 12:1. Cf. Appendix, K.

except he strive lawfully] Except he have kept the rules of the contest. ‘The six statues of Jupiter at Olympia were made from the fines levied on athletes who had not contended lawfully.’ Pausan. 2 Timothy 2:21. (Bp Wordsworth.) Among the rules of the Olympic games were the following; competitors had to prove to the judges that they were freemen, of pure Hellenic blood, not disfranchised, or convicted of sacrilege, and that they had gone through the ten months’ preparatory training; they, their fathers, brothers, and trainers had to take oath that they would be guilty of no misconduct in the contests; and they had then a month’s preliminary exercises in the gymnasium at Elis under the superintendence of the judges. The ‘games’ included longer and shorter foot-races for men and for boys, chariot-races, horse-races, wrestling, boxing; the pentathlon, a combination of leaping, flat-racing, discus-throwing, spear-throwing, and wrestling; and the pancration, a union of boxing and wrestling. ‘Without interruption for upwards of a thousand years the full moon after the summer solstice every fourth year witnessed the celebration of these games. b.c. 776–a.d. 394.’ Wordsworth, Greece, p. 315.

Verse 5. - Also a man for a man also, A.V.; contend in the games for strive for masteries, A.V.; he is not for yet is he not, A.V.; have contended for strive, A.V. Contend in the games (ἀθλῇ); only here in the New Testament, and not found in the LXX., but common in classical Greek. It means "to contend for ἄθλον the prize, to be an "athlete." This is also the meaning of the A.V. "strive for masteries." "To strive," means properly to contend with an antagonist, and "mastery" is an old English word for "superiority," "victory," or the like. Dryden has "mastership" in the same sense -

"When noble youths for mastership should strive,
To quoit, to run, and steeds and chariots drive."

(Ovid., 'Met,' bk. 1.) Lawfully (νομίμως, as 1 Timothy 1:8); according to the laws and usages of the games. So Timothy must conform to the laws of the Christian warfare, and not shrink from afflictions, if he would gain the great Christian prize. 2 Timothy 2:5Strive for masteries (ἀθλῇ)

N.T.o. olxx. Paul uses ἀγωνίζεσθαι (see 1 Corinthians 9:25), which appears also in 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7. For masteries is superfluous. Rev. contend in the games; but the meaning of the verb is not limited to that. It may mean to contend in battle; and the preceding reference to the soldier would seem to suggest that meaning here. The allusion to crowning is not decisive in favor of the Rev. rendering. Among the Romans crowns were the highest distinction for service in war. The corona triumphalis of laurel was presented to a triumphant general; and the corona obsidionalis was awarded to a general by the army which he had saved from a siege or from a shameful capitulation. It was woven of grass which grew on the spot, and was also called corona graminea. The corona myrtea or ovatio, the crown of bay, was worn by the general who celebrated the lesser triumph or ovatio. The golden corona muralis, with embattled ornaments, was given for the storming of a wall; and the corona castrensis or vallaris, also of gold, and ornamented in imitation of palisades, was awarded to the soldier who first climbed the rampart of the enemy's camp.

Is he not crowned (οὐ στεφανοῦται)

The verb only here and Hebrews 2:7, Hebrews 2:9. For στέφανος crown, see on Revelation 2:9; see on Revelation 4:4; see on 1 Peter 5:4. Paul has στέφανον λαβεῖν, 1 Corinthians 9:25.

Lawfully (νομίμως)

Pasto. See 1 Timothy 1:8. According to the law of military service which requires him to abandon all other pursuits. So the law of the ministerial office requires that the minister shall not entangle himself with secular pursuits. If he fulfills this requirement, he is not to trouble himself about his worldly maintenance, for it is right that he should draw his support from his ministerial labor: nay, he has the first right to its material fruits.

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