1st Timothy 6:12 reads, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (NKJV). As a good “spiritual father,” the apostle Paul seeks to encourage Timothy, his “son in the faith” with these words. But I have no doubt that these words were intended for us as well, so as we look at this verse in more detail, may we all allow the Spirit of God to challenge and encourage our hearts.

Paul had already exhorted Timothy in 1:18 to “war a good warfare” and now he emphasizes that by saying “fight the good fight of faith.” The moment Timothy was saved he entered into a spiritual warfare. We read of this in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Satan and his host of demons are arrayed against the believer, seeking to overthrow our “personal faith” in the Lord, as well as “the faith” (the truths that we believe in). In order to “fight the good fight of faith” we will need to arm ourselves with the “shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). Armed with the “shield of faith” we will not only be able to deflect the attacks of Satan, but we will be given the ability to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The apostle Paul said at the end of his life, “I have fought the good fight…I have kept the faith” (2nd Timothy 4:7) and his desire for Timothy (and US!) is to be faithful to the end.

He then encourages Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life.” To help us understand these words, let’s also read Paul’s exhortation to wealthy believers in verses 18-19, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that THEY MAY LAY HOLD ON ETERNAL LIFE.” These words are not written to sinners to show them how to gain eternal life; they are written to true believers who already possessed eternal life (see John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24 and 20:31 which teach us that all believers HAVE ETERNAL LIFE). It’s one thing to POSSESS eternal life, and it’s another thing to LAY HOLD ON eternal life. The former speaks of WHAT WE HAVE, and the latter speaks of WHAT WE DO WITH IT. We are to allow the new life we possess to be manifested to those around us! How do we do this? Paul went on to remind Timothy in verse 12 that he had “confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” This may refer to his baptism when he confessed Christ as His Savior before men, but it could also include his whole life’s testimony before the world, where he not only spoke of Christ with his lips, but he manifested Christ in all that he did. Paul’s words to rich believers seems to support this, for he told them that if they were willing to be “rich in good works, ready to give, and willing to share,” they would be “laying hold on eternal life.” So, to “lay hold on eternal life” is to experience the life God has imparted to us by manifesting it to others. If we do allow this precious life to be seen, we will also be “storing up for [ourselves] a good foundation for the time to come,” which means we will be rewarded eternally for everything that was done for the glory of Christ and for the blessing of others. In that way too we will be “laying hold on eternal life.” (242.1) (DO)