“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4, NASB).
The idea that the soldier is serving or on active duty seems to be implied in the wording, so many translations include this idea. “No serving soldier entangles or involves [emplekō] himself” uses the root word for weaving (as soldiers wove Jesus a crown of thorns), to communicate becoming tangled up on your clothes or vines in such a way that progress or freedom is limited.
So, we combine terms to speak of priorities of focus and passion. The idea of distraction is predominate in Paul’s discussion.
“Focus! Timothy,” Paul says.
We say, “No soldier on duty becomes distracted from his orders but remains focused upon doing what he superior officers have assigned.”
We could have a lengthy discussion about the application of Paul’s admonition to Timothy, I suppose, but the elements of the verse apply to each of us on the level of our personal assignment in the kingdom of God.
“Join me in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” Paul says, to introduce this exhortation.
The word means “together we share a spiritual experience of “pathos,” the passion of kingdom leaders sharing the same assignment from Jesus Christ.”
Paul identifies the passion for suffering, the Superior officer giving them a shared assignment, and the distraction to avoid that diminishes obedience: a lack of submission to the priority of your assignment.
You are unfaithful when you get stuck, investing emotional energy in distraction, cutting corners that lead to less than the fullness of fulfilling your orders. You do not do the minimum when you share the spiritual experience of Paul as a Timothy to an apostolic metron and kanon.
“Serving soldiers” is a good translation because of this context.
Paul also says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of our Lord’s testimony or of me His prisoner, but share my pathos for the Gospel as God empowers you” (2 Timothy 1:8, my translation).
This is a shared spiritual experience between fathering leader and one of his inheritors. What Paul experiences, Timothy shares, receiving an internal development of the same level of endurance, strength from God, experiencing how a father submits so his inheritor can build the same levels of endurance. Father and son were working the same estate of apostolic metron and kanon at the same time, empowered by God to sustain pathos at a high level that eclipses distractions and avoids entangling limitations.
“Please the Superior Officer.”
Paul says: “Follow orders. Just do it. It will cost you everything. Expect to die. Expect to endure suffering. Expect to experience what you are experiencing with me, as a spiritual father. We are both pleasing the Superior who assigned us this shared kingdom leadership.”
Notice the presupposition that pleasing Jesus Christ means submitting to a fathering leader, prioritizing your life to his priorities of kingdom metron and kanon. Note that Paul measures the empowering of God by Timothy submitting to shared spiritual suffering.
“Suffer with me,” Paul says. The fathering leader says this twice.
“If you quit because you want me to do all the suffering, you will not be ready to endure your fuller assignment when fresh orders come from Jesus Christ addressed personally to you,” Paul says.
Another of the many Scriptural instances where the presuppositions of fathering leadership reveal a kingdom principle: fathering is essential to kingdom culture as a spiritual leadership dynamic.
Application to Here and Now
If you are not on active duty now, when in the wide world would you expect to be?! If we are not in an all-out battle for God here and now, when can we ever think we would be?!
All leave is canceled! All entanglements need to cut off of you. We have no room for entangling distractions. Get on the wall watchers. Get in the closets intercessors. Get into your prophetic function prophets. Get out the blueprints apostles.
Turn your hearts children to father, and fathers to children.
Give like this is the end. Pray as if there is no tomorrow. Stand as if this is the last stand. Live as if you were born for this!
No serving soldier entangles. And, we should not have any soldiers on leave, in retirement, or too young to serve. This is all-out conflict and confrontation, and no decent human would stand aside when millions of babies are slaughtered, and the nation is under siege by globalists and socialists who hate Jesus and the kingdom purposes for America!
If you are not on active duty, how can we not say you are a coward? If you are avoiding your assignment, running about trying to become a celebrity instead of digging into the trenches where the blood and sweat of battle are happening, if you are preaching as if we are enjoying peace – tell me how you are not a traitor to the orders of the Superior Officer? Tell me! I’m listening.
Tell me how your entanglements excuse you. Tell me, preacher, how you can avoid full confrontation of this threat to the Inheritor in your country club congregation? Tell me, how you can avoid training the people of God for war! Tell me. I’m listening.
We are all on active duty or traitors, are we not?