2 TIMOTHY 2: Athletes for Christ

2 Timothy 2:1-7 

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.  3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs– he wants to please his commanding officer.  5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.  6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.  7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.


            In the Apostle Paul’s day, athletes were highly respected.  In fact, in the writings of Paul in the New Testament, he makes references to athletes or sports more than twenty times.  In Paul’s writings overall, he uses the athlete to highlight self-control and determination.  When he thinks of perseverance, he thinks of an athlete.

            In verse 5, Paul says that an athlete cannot receive victory unless they follow the rules.  What is he talking about?  In Paul’s day, before athletic games, there were many rules and oaths athletes would adhere to.  Not following rules means no competing.  That is why in 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul says, “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  An athlete had to be self-disciplined or they could not even compete for the prize.

            The Apostle Paul knows that the Christian life is one that requires faith, but also requires us to be self-disciplined and self-controlled.  Self can definitely get in the way of being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.  Self can get in the way of us faithfully living for Jesus Christ.

Paul says elsewhere in 2 Timothy: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (1:7).

Paul tells the Thessalonians: “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

Paul tells Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:11-12).

In verse 5 of this chapter and in many of his other letters, the Apostle Paul set’s up the truth that being a disciple of Jesus Christ takes self-discipline, self-control, and determination to be successful and deeply faithful.


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