A Good Soldier

UNDER THE SHADOW of the Roman power, the Apostle Paul writes, “Take your share of suffering, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him.” (II Tim. 2:3,4, Revised Standard Version) The apostle was fully aware, of course, that the Roman soldier concerned only in the military affairs of that great empire was absolutely engrossed in his service. He had no thought or matter which had priority over that soldierly profession of which he was so proud. For him it meant the entire suppression of every self-interest, for the advancement of the supreme cause he contracted to serve faithfully, and for which cause, if need be, he must die. Absolute, loyal obedience to his emperor, or king, was imperative.


Concerning the true Christian, he is indeed ‘a good soldier of Christ Jesus,’ the Captain (or chief leader) of our salvation. We are to render loyal obedience under his captaincy in the very service to which he devoted his life and all his energies, even unto death. We are to follow the Divine plan of his campaign, on behalf of the whole world of mankind.

The good soldier of Jesus Christ is to excel in his faithfulness and true allegiance to his Lord, ever ready to obey and willing to undergo discipline. But, is it not true that some may claim to be Christians, and yet positively refuse to give true allegiance to Jesus Christ? We, as good soldiers of Jesus, instructed by God’s Holy Word, must be loyal to him. We must be so obedient that we willingly, gladly, and courageously endure hardness under his leadership rather than let our love, loyalty, and zealous obedience diminish in the slightest degree.

Throughout history we find that many have joined an earthly king’s army, yet have never fought in a battle. They have never experienced warfare. With the soldiers of Christ it is necessary for each one to “fight the good fight of faith” (I Tim. 6:12), to endure afflictions and hardness as his soldiers, and prove faithful unto death.


Our Captain’s plan of campaign is, of course, his Father’s plan, because he lived, and ever lives, to do the will of his Father. What then is God’s will in this connection? It is his good pleasure “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.”—Eph. 1:10

Jesus was actually appointed by God to be king over the earth, and the Scriptures show this office to be that of a priestly king, to undertake the blessing of all mankind. The Revelator speaks of him as “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev. 19:16) Paul says, “he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.”—I Cor. 15:25

We are reminded that the Heavenly Father sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world. Mankind cannot solve the problem of the world’s salvation. The world in general fails to realize that ‘salvation’ is to make, and keep, safe and sound from all harm. This costs infinitely more than they are able to pay or provide. The salvation of a sinful, dying world, the lifting up out of sin, darkness, and death, into loyalty, obedience, light, and life is a superhuman work, and when done, will be the miracle of eternity.

Jesus, who had a prehuman existence as the mighty Logos, a glorious spirit being next to his Father, made himself of no reputation (in harmony with God’s will); was made flesh; and as a perfect man died for the sin of the world. He who was rich, for our sakes “became poor,” that we “through his poverty might be rich.”II Cor. 8:9

This sacrifice of our Lord’s perfect humanity was as a substitute for the forfeited life of father Adam, who sinned and brought condemnation and death to himself, and which continues upon all his descendants. As the Apostle Paul explains, “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:22) Jesus “gave himself a ransom,”—a corresponding price for Adam on behalf of all mankind—“to be testified in due time.”—I Tim. 2:6

Because of our Lord’s faithfulness under supreme tests, even unto death upon a cross, he was raised from the dead by the mighty power of God, and was highly exalted, a glorious spirit being of the Divine, immortal nature. All authority has been given to him in heaven and on the earth. Satan is to be destroyed. There will also be the complete destruction of all sin, all evil, and the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.—I Cor. 15:26

Before taking this power and exercising it by the overthrow of Satan, sin, and death, Jesus was to deal during the Gospel Age with God’s servants. This is the selection and development of a church, variously described in the Scriptures as members of his body, his bride, and a royal priesthood under the great royal High Priest and King.

The Revelator pictures Jesus as highly exalted and standing on Mount Sion. In this “mount Sion” picture there are others with him—“an hundred forty and four thousand.” “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” (Rev. 14:1-4) They are the true church, partakers of the Divine nature, members of his mystical body, good soldiers of his who have faithfully endured hardness and have victoriously finished their course this side of the veil.


Concerning the ordinary, earthly military army of today there are, for the guidance and management of soldiers, carefully prepared instructions, which have been known to some as the ‘King’s Regulations.’ The Holy Scriptures are our heavenly king’s regulations, and the whole testimony of God’s Word is to be our guide. These Divine regulations reveal to us that the ‘good soldier of Jesus Christ’ has been begotten anew as a spiritually-minded new creature. He has renounced his own carnal will to embrace the Divine will. It is for the doing of this will that he lives, and it is his life to study and obey it. “He no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”—I Pet. 4:2


Jesus said, “He who has my commandments, and observes them, that is he who loves me; and he who loves me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) We indeed have a wonderful Captain, and how simply are his instructions stated for us! For example: Have you any enemies? Love them! Are there any who curse you? Bless them! Do you know of any who hate you? Do good to them! And what about those who despitefully use you and persecute you? Pray for them!—Matt. 5:44

Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12), has said concerning his true followers, “You are the light of the world . … let your light shine before men.” (Matt. 5:14,16, WED) Concerning truth, the world is still a dark place; but not so dark that no man can work. We are to “do all things without murmurings and disputings,” that we “may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation [generation, WED], among whom ye [are to] shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life.”—Phil. 2:14-16

These instructions to us are beautifully clear—‘Shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life.’ The Lord has given us this precious Word of Truth, not man, and we should see to it that on every suitable occasion, by our words and deeds, we give light before men.


To use another figure of speech, as good soldiers we are to be faithful ‘ambassadors’ of Jesus Christ in a most wonderful ministry of reconciliation. “All things are from that God who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given to us the ministry of the reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting to them their offences; and has deposited with us the word of the reconciliation. On behalf of Christ, therefore, we are ambassadors; as if God were inviting through us, we entreat, on behalf of Christ,—be you reconciled to God.”—II Cor. 5:18-20, WED

We are ambassadors of Christ, and our ambassadorship is to continue throughout our earthly pilgrimage. Then, passing over into the glorious heavenly phase of the kingdom, and being actually partakers of the Divine nature with our glorified Lord and Head, we may rest from our labors, yet our works will follow with us.—Rev. 14:13

Whoever will faithfully exercise his ambassadorship, and not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, will speedily know something of the sufferings of Christ and can say truly, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. —Rom. 15:3; Matt. 5:10-12; 10:22; Ps. 69:9

The Apostle Paul exhorts, “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist [be a proclaimer of the glad tidings], make full proof of thy ministry [fully accomplish thy service].” (II Tim. 4:5) In other words, demonstrate what you have professed, and what you know to be Truth. Be not ashamed that you are a good soldier of Jesus Christ, and are proclaiming the true Gospel. Concerning the abuse, ridicule, and persecution which comes to us for doing this, rejoice and be quite happy about it. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.”—I Pet. 4:14


We are to endure, or bear up under, hardness, afflictions, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (I Pet. 4:16) The world, the flesh, and the Adversary continually oppose us.

In this conflict we must not overcome evil with evil, but with good. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down, or demolishing imaginations, or reasonings, and every height rearing itself up against the knowledge of God. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is to be used against these imaginations and human reasonings which are contrary to the knowledge of God. Details of our armor are described in Ephesians 6:13-18, and the good soldiers of Jesus Christ are well practiced in the use of the whole armor which God supplies. They also watch and pray.

Each of these faithful good soldiers cheerfully endures hardness in the narrow way, and with joy can testify: In the world I shall have tribulation. I am to drink the cup that my Captain drank of, and be baptized with the baptism that he was baptized with. I have to immerse my will completely as Jesus did, into the will of God. To me it is graciously given, on behalf of my Captain, not only to believe into him, but also to suffer for his sake, and to suffer with him. And if I endure patiently, I shall also reign with him.

The Apostle Paul certainly did endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. To this end he shunned no dangers, shrank from no labor, reproach, or privation. He bravely, cheerfully, and joyfully endured, suffering the loss of all things (temporal), that he might be approved by him into whose service he had been enlisted. When Paul wrote his second epistle to Timothy, he was a lonely prisoner in Rome awaiting a criminal’s end. Yet he does not complain of his hardship, nor express his regret concerning the position or condition in which he found himself because of his loyalty to the Lord.

In this epistle Timothy and all the Lord’s true people are urged on to faithfulness—bear affliction, endure hardness—do not run away from it. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (II Tim. 2:1) Fan the flame of zeal and courage. Be a good soldier of Jesus Christ, ever ready to obey, ever willing to undergo discipline.

We can hear the apostle saying to Timothy and to us, “Do you think of my chains and of my hardship in this cold prison? They are nothing—not worth a word or a thought. But you, be brave. Be not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Hold high the banner of Truth. We may be weak, and in the eyes of the world, defeated. Nevertheless, God’s promises are sure. His purposes never fail. We are able to be strong in the Lord, and faithful unto death.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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