Ephesians 6:10-11; The Christian life as a contest to be endured and completed.
length: 69:10 - taught on Apr, 12 2022
Tuesday April 12, 2022
The noun “fight” is agon, and it is also used in several places that help us to understand our subject. It means to be in a contest or conflict, and the Bible tells us that whether we like it or not, we are in a fight. “Don’t be surprised by the fiery ordeal among you that has come upon you for your testing” (1PE 4:12).
“Fight the good fight [agon]:” agon - contest, conflict.
The noun agon is used in these two as “the [good] fight.” Its origin is interesting. In classical Greek it referred to the gathering that met to watch the games and eventually evolved to mean the place (arena or stadium) and the spectators, and eventually to describe the participants in the games who contested with one another. The meaning of the noun became “struggle.”
We learn even more about the revelation of this struggle, this fight in which we stand firm, when we read the additional passages where this word is used.
The NT uses agon to present the Christian life as a contest which must be completed or endured.
We must be careful, as usual, with defining such large and complicated things like the Christian life. It is presented as a contest but it is not only a contest. The Christian life is multifaceted as we would expect. One-word definitions would never be complete. Still, spiritual warfare is a major portion of the Christian life. There are a lot of things in this world that oppose it, and as we have seen over our years of study, that the successful Christian has to be diligent, make every effort, be alert and sober, endure tribulation, and overcome or he will be a spiritual casualty.
PHI 1:30, The fight involves all Christians. We are to stand firm together, striving together in one spirit and mind.
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm [EPH 6:11] in one spirit, with one mind (soul : ASV; NIV : contending as one man) striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29 For to you it has been granted (graciously given) for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
“to believe” and “to suffer” are both present active infinitives which have a continuous meaning. The continuous nature of a present infinitive reads awkwardly in English, but can be expressed in teaching. We continually believe in Christ and we continually suffer. Not every moment is suffering, just like we are not every moment thinking of our faith in Christ, but consistently we do think or our faith in Christ and also, throughout our lives, to some extent, we suffer quite consistently. Why? The maturing believer resists temptation, is persecuted for not bending the truth, will not conform to the way of the world, sacrifices money and time in the service of others, and in these ways and more, there is an element of suffering. Thus Paul concludes that the life of all believers is a conflict (agon - fight) just like his own life was.
It was a struggle that the Philippians saw in Paul and at the time of writing, were hearing about him. He was struggling (fighting the good fight) when he was in Philippi and was still fighting years later when he was in prison writing this letter.
Our continued conflict will depend on what we do. If we continue to reach ahead to the upward call, like Paul, we will consistently face struggle throughout our lives, not continually, but consistently.
COL 2:1, We fight (struggle) in the service of others.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged (comforted), having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Paul’s fight in this case is for whatever he can do to foster their encouragement and unity, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a full knowledge of God’s mystery - Christ Himself.
1TH 2:2, We fight to proclaim the gospel, with gentleness, but boldness in the face of other ideas that oppose the gospel.
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. 3 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts. 5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed — God is witness — 6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.
Paul and his team suffered in Philippi and then in Thessalonica and then in Berea and Athens and Corinth and then back in Jerusalem and then in prison. Paul had a unique calling for sure, but we see that some did not remain with Paul and having loved the present world, left him. Paul stayed the course of God’s will and for that he faced opposition consistently, not constant, but consistent.
When he states that they did not seek glory from men, nor money, he reminds us of why most people tried to persuade others of certain ideologies - it was the pay-off to themselves. This is one of the schemes of the devil - popularity and wealth to those who teach what he wants taught. History bears witness that legitimate teachers of the truth do not find the people of the world showering them with praise and wealth, and good thing, because they are very powerful at corrupting even the most sincere.