1 Timothy


Paul's charge to Timothy, 2:3-4:8

i] A call to dedication and faithfulness, 2:3-13

a) Serving with dedication


Paul has just charged Timothy to look to the grace of God in Jesus Christ to progress his ministry and to teach the teachers Pauline theology. Now he calls on him to face the difficulties of gospel ministry square on.


i] Context: See 1:1-5. The Charge to Timothy, 2:3-4:8, contains general instructions for Christian ministry exercised in the midst of a corrupt human society which survives under the shadow of the day of judgment. In such a society, moral laxity, error and persecution are inevitable. In response, Timothy must live a life that is both disciplined and activated by the need to communicate the gospel. Barrett says of this charge to Timothy that it "spreads diffusely."


ii] Background: See 1:1-5.


iii] Structure: Serving with dedication:

Proposition / Exhortation:

"Join with me in suffering", v3


The serving soldier, v4;

The training athlete, v5;

The hardworking farmer, v6.


Reflect on this, v7.


iv] Interpretation:

Paul has just encouraged Timothy to source his strength for ministry in the grace of God found in Christ, v1, and to undertake a teaching ministry which rests squarely on Pauline theology. For his teaching ministry to be effective, it needs to be team based; "reliable people (faithful men)" must be instructed so that they can then teach others, v2.

Paul now moves to the body of his ministerial charge. Paul begins by encouraging Timothy to face the pressures of ministry, of pressing forward in the face of difficulty, v3-7. To make his point, Paul uses three illustrations. First, accept the limitation ("suffering") of service "as a good soldier of Christ" by not getting entangled in "civilian pursuits" (the danger of divided loyalties), v3-4. Second, prolonged training is essential for a professional athlete if they are to win the prize, and effective ministry requires the same dedication, v5. Third, it is only the hardworking farmer who gets to share in the fruits of his labor and effective ministry requires the same daily slog, v6. Paul then calls on Timothy to reflect on these images, and asks the Lord to aid his understanding, v7.


v] Exposition: A simple verse-by-verse exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:3

In ministry, be strong and endure - press forward in the face of difficulty, v3-7. A minister of the gospel must expect hardship and endure it as if a soldier in service, or a hard-working farmer, or an athlete in training. Calvin argues that the soldier image serves to illustrate "patience". Marshal argues that the image is of the "self-denial and privation that may have to be endured" as a soldier. Johnson argues that "the soldier's dedication, effort, and willingness to suffer in order to accomplish a goal are morally transferable qualities." Given the general nature of the illustrative sayings in v3-6, numerous applications apply. Paul leaves the application to the leading of the Spirit; this seems to be the point he makes in v7.

sugkakopaqhson (sugkakapaqew) aor, imp. "endure hardship with us / join with me in suffering" - share in, take part in suffering. The aorist, being punctiliar / perfective, indicates a specific command. The TNIV improves the NIV translation since Paul is calling on Timothy to suffer with him and the other believers.

wJV "like" - as. This comparative particle may be expressing manner, "in like manner to the way a good soldier of Christ Jesus would suffer", but probably simply as a comparative, "as a good soldier in Christ would suffer."

kaloV adj. "good" - [a] good [soldier]. "Good soldier" servers as a nominative subject of the assumed verb "would suffer." "Praiseworthy / outstanding", Knight.

Cristou Ihsou "of Christ Jesus" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, limiting "soldier"; "the one who has enlisted Timothy and whom he serves as a soldier and prepares the way", Knight.


Like a soldier, dedication, effort and a willingness to suffer in order to accomplish a goal, are essential qualities in service to Christ. Single-minded service is required to carry out the commander's orders. As Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase puts it, "a soldier on duty doesn't get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders." Rather than be distracted by home-life, or business, a good soldier gives undivided service iJna, "in order to", aresh/, "please", tw/ stratologhsanti, "the one who enlisted him as a soldier." Marshal suggests the image is of "self-restraint" for "single-minded service / undivided attention to carrying out the commander's orders."

oudeiV adj. "no one" - Nominative subject of the verb "is entangled." The adjective generalises the application of the illustration.

strateuomenoV (strateuw) pres. mid. part. "serving as a soldier" - If we take oudeiV, "no one", as a substantive, then the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "no one"; "A soldier who is on active duty."

taiV ... pragmateiaiV (a) dat. "in [civilian] affairs" - [is entangled = involved in] the affairs, business, undertakings, activity, pursuits. Dative of direct object after the en prefix verb "to be entangled in."

tou biou (oV) gen. "civilian" - of daily / civilian life. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "affairs", as NIV, or possibly verbal, objective, "enterprises for making a living", Berkeley. "Soldiers on duty don't work at outside jobs", CEV.

iJna "but rather" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order to please."

aresh/ (areskw) aor. subj. "to please" - he may please. Paul elsewhere expresses the idea of pleasing God, cf., Rom.8:8, 1Cor.7:32, 1Thes.2:15, 4:1. There is though a problem with the intended sense of the word in that it extends to "accommodate" and even "serve", cf., BAGD. Does Paul rally mean "please", particularly when the only way we can please God is by relying on the only one who does please God, namely Christ. It is impossible for a sinful person to please God through their behaviour, compromised as it always is. So, the sense "serve" is to be preferred; "A soldier on duty doesn't get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders", Peterson.

tw/ stratologhsanti (stratalogew) dat. aor. part. "his commanding officer" - the one who enlisted him. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the verb "to please."


Athletes have no hope of winning unless they train hard ("unless he strives according to the rules of training"). "The rules of training" is probably intended, rather than the rules of the competition. In the Olympics, a minimum of ten moths full-time training is required of all those who compete. "The call is thus again for self-denying service under a strict regime", Marshall.

de "-" - but/and. Here as a transitional connective, indicating a step to a new illustration.

kai "similarly" - also. Adjunctive, making the same point; "again", Moffatt.

ean + subj. "-" - if [anyone strives, he is not crowned]. Introducing a conditional 3rd. class clause where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, [some athlete competes in a competition], then [he is not crowned unless .....]"

ean mh + subj. "except" - unless [he competes lawfully, according to the rules]. Introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception. The sense of the exception is unclear; keeping what rules? Obviously "the rules of the game", Barclay, but given the context, most likely the specific rules regarding training, as noted above. As with v6, to reap the produce a farmer must kopiaw, "do the work."


It is the hardworking farmer who gets to enjoy the produce of his crop. The syntax is somewhat awkward, made more so by the presence of prwton, "first". Reward is probably not the point; it is more likely that the illustration makes the same point as v4 and 5, with the emphases on labouring rather than reward.

kopiwnta (kopiaw) acc. pres. part. "hardworking" - [the] toiling [farmer to share in (receive one's share in) first the fruits (first fruits of the earth = crop) is necessary]. The participle, serving as the accusative subject of the infinitive metalambanein, "to share in", is adjectival, attributive, limiting farmer; "the farmer who labours to the point of exhaustion."

prwton adv "the first" - The adverb is usually taken to modify the infinitive "to share / receive a share in", so Mounce, ..., as NIV. Although irregular, it seems likely that the adverb serves as an attributive adjective limiting "fruits"; "the first fruits." "The first fruits" here simply refer to the production of a crop, the first fruiting being the most significant. The idea of a hard-working farmer getting the first pick of the crop implies an unequal cooperative of some kind, which image doesn't really suit the context. Rather, it is the hard-working farmer who brings in a crop because he does the necessary work.

metalambanein (metalambanw) pres. inf. "to receive a share of" - to share in. The infinitive serves as the subject of the verb dei, "is necessary."

twn karpwn (oV) gen. "the crops" - the fruits. Genitive of direct object after the meta prefix verb "to share in."


Paul refocuses on his exhortation in v3, "join the company of those who are prepared to suffer for their faith", Barclay. Verses 4-6 illustrate this exhortation, and if Timothy reflects on the three illustrations he will get the point Paul is wanting to make (through the insightful guidance of the Lord). The point Paul makes is that to serve as a minister of the gospel you have to work at it. Some commentators make a point of the prize, that "Timothy's share of hardship will be followed by reward - beyond warfare is victory, beyond athletic effort a prize, and beyond agricultural labor a crop", Barrett; The illustrations "speak of a vigorous and undivided service that is rewarded", Knight; "One must be willing to suffer if one wants to gain reward", Johnson; also Towner .... This seems unlikely, and certainly Mounce is not convinced that reward is the point of the three illustrations; "No interest is shown in the concept of a reward, that is simply presupposed. Rather the emphasis rests upon the one who has done the work", D/C.

noei (noew) pres. imp. "reflect on" - think on, consider. The present tense, being durative / imperfective, probably indicates a general instruction. "Think over the way this applies to you", Lock.

o} rel. pro. "what" - [what] i say. Introducing a relative clause which stands as the object of the verb "to think on." The antecedent is unstated, but is presumably the point to be drawn from the three illustrations (better than the whole book). Possibly referring forward to Jesus and his place in the life of a suffering believer, but unlikely.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why reflection on the illustrations will be fruitful; "because" the Lord will give Timothy understanding.

oJ kurioV (oV) "the Lord" - the lord [will give to you]. Nominative subject of the verb "to give." Presumably the reference is to Jesus.

en + dat. "into" - [understanding] in. Here adverbial, expressing reference / respect; "with respect to all things,

pasin adj. "all this" - all things. "Everything" = "all the attended implications of the illustrations", Knight.


2 Timothy Introduction



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