Fight (ἀγωνίζομαι)

Luther Walker

In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul encourages Timothy to fight the good fight of the faith. Fight (ἀγωνίζομαι) is a word that describes the struggle that an athlete has in striving to be the best in competition, 1 Corinthians 9:25. Unlike in a battle with Satan where we parlay (πάλη) against him by putting on the armor of God and standing firm, this struggle has to do with laying hold of eternal life; therefore, it involves the exercising of our senses to discern what is proper from what is wrong, Hebrews 5:14.

While Jesus was going through the cities and villages teaching on His way to Jerusalem, one of the disciples questioned Him concerning the number that would be saved, Luke 13:21. Jesus tells them that they are to struggle to enter through the narrow gate, not the way many will seek to enter, for those who do not enter through the narrow gate will not be able to find their way into the Kingdom of God, Luke 13:24. He then speaks of a time coming when the Master of the house will shut the door. All who are outside will not be permitted in, even though they claim to have eaten and drank in His presence while He taught. Jesus is the only way, and all those who seek salvation through other means will not find it, John 14:6.

Near the end of Paul’s life, while giving instructions to Timothy regarding the duties of a Pastor, he writes that he has struggled the proper struggle, for he guarded the faith, 2 Timothy 4:7. The faith Paul refers to is the doctrine concerning the good news of the Christ. Through Christ’s death for our sins, burial, and resurrection on the third day, according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, we have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3. When we cease from sin, we will struggle because of the suffering that comes upon us, for the world system rejects such a wholesome lifestyle, 1 Peter 4:1. Everyone who struggles is self-controlled in all things. Those who are unbelievers struggle to receive that which is perishable, but we struggle the good fight to receive a victor’s wreath that does not perish. We do not fight as those who beat the air, but through self-control and discipline, we seek to live a life that shows forth our salvation in Christ so that we are not disqualified before all, 1 Corinthians 9:25-26. Therefore, we are to fight the good fight, being diligent to add to our faith virtue, and to our virtue, knowledge, and to our knowledge self-control, and to our self-control patience, and to our patience godliness, and to our godliness brotherly kindness, and to our brotherly kindness love. When these things exist, we will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the full experiential knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 1:5-8. We are not to be among those who are shortsighted and forget they have been cleansed from their old sins; rather, we are to be diligent in doing our firm calling even election so that we do not stumble, 2 Peter 1:9-10, and can say at the end of our lives that we have fought the good struggle and laid hold of the eternal life we have in Christ.