bits from bob....

"Be diligent...." (2 Timothy 2:15)

by Robert J. Young
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

This is a familiar passage. "Study to show thyself approved...." Although in the KJV, the word is translated "study," in other translations we read "be eager" or "give diligence." In Greek, spoudazo! I like this word. I like to say it. It has character. It is unique. I like its sound. But what is this word? What we are being told to do?

For years, I was sure this text meant I was to study God's word, because that is the way I heard it used in sermons and classes. The way the Greek word is used in other biblical texts may help us. Consider these from the NIV.

The Greek word is not in the papyri references according to Moulton and Milligan. Bauer defines the verb as (1) hasten, hurry, (2) be zealous or eager, take pains, make every effort. The adjective (spoudaios) is defined as as "eager, zealous, earnest, diligent, intent upon something." The adverb is defined as "with haste, with special urgency, diligently, earnestly, zealously." The noun (spoude) is defined as haste, speed, eager, earnest, diligence. Secondarily, one may discover meanings such as good will toward, devotion for something, make every effort to add, be eager.

From the English dictionary, we learn the development of the word diligence through Middle English, Old French, and Latin: diligentia, from diligere, to esteem highly, select, thus di-(apart) and legere (to choose, collect). The concept is one of constant, careful effort or perseverance. Thus the meaning is persevering and careful in work, hard-working, industrious, that which is done with careful, steadfast effort, painstaking.

This is our word! This is what we are to do and to be, always in our lives, as Christians. Be diligent. This is always good advice. Be diligent. In a former time, we knew that all of life should be lived in the same way one studies. That was back when studies required study. Study. Be diligent. That meaning has all but escaped us in contemporary English. How many times have you as I heard someone say that this verse commands us to study God's word? Perhaps so, but not in the connection many tend to make.

Let us look at our familiar text more closely. Why should we be diligent?

Spoudazo. I like the sound of that word. I like to say it. Better, I like it when I see it at work in my life, and in the life of the church. Be diligent!

Go to Articles Index

Return to Home Page Last updated November 5, 2003.