Thursday, March 29, 2007


Greek Word Pronunciation: ah-go-NID-zo-mai
Strong’s Number: 75
Goodrich/Kohlenberger Number: 76
Key Verse: “I have fought the good fight …” -- 2 Timothy 4:7

Our English word “agonize” comes directly from this Greek verb, agonizomai. The root of the word is the noun agon, meaning “struggle,” “contest,” or “opposition.” That is how it is usually translated in Philippians 1:30, Colossians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:2, Hebrews 12:1, and 1 Timothy 6:12 and 2 Timothy 4:7. Literally, the noun means “a gathering.” But since the main gatherings in the Greek-Roman world were for athletic contests, the word came to be applied to the contests themselves. The present day football game is a fair example of the terrific struggle for supremacy in the Greek athletic games. Thus, the verb means “to contend for a prize” or “to compete in an athletic contest,” can accurately be translated as “intense struggling or wrestling.”

Agonizomai appears only seven times in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 9:25, it is used in competing in public games. In John 18:36, it is to fight or engage in conflict. More often, it is used metaphorically to “contend with perseverance.” The Lord Jesus Christ issued a command in Luke 13:24 to strive to enter by the narrow door. According to Ralph Earle, “the struggle for the kingdom of heaven allows no indolence, indecision or relaxation; the door is so narrow, we cannot take our worldliness with us, thus the struggle.” In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul issues a command to Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. In Colossians 4:12, Epaphras was always laboring in his prayers. In Colossians 1:29, Paul is constantly striving according to God’s power for others’ salvation. Paul throws in everything and sacrifices himself for the salvation of the people of God.

And finally, in 2 TIMOTHY 4:7, Paul says that he has fought the good fight. In this instance, the verb is in the perfect tense, indicating an action completed in past time with present results. Paul fought his fight with sin to a finish and was resting in a complete victory. What a happy ending to a strenuous, active, heroic life. Wuest said that "if we Christians would live our Christian lives and serve the Lord Jesus with the intensity of purpose and effort that is put forth in a football contest, what God-glorifying lives we would live."


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