As Paul nears the end of his life, he makes a simple but challenging statement summarizing his life. In 2 Timothy 4:7 he says,
“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith!”
Paul describes the Christian life in three ways. It is a competition, a race and something to which he pledged his loyalty.
In relation to the Christian life being a contest, the NET Bible makes this observation,
“The expression I have competed well (Greek “I have competed the good competition”) uses words that may refer to a race or to a boxing or wrestling match.”
As Eugene Minor observes, this wording,
“Describes the quality of fighting/contending Paul exhibited in the contest of life and is translated adverbially: ‘completed it well.’”
The word translated “well” can have the emphasis of “grand” or “noble.” Paul did his best as he competed in the great contest of the competition of the life of faith. Paul does not describe himself as perfect, or as fighting against other Christians, but as someone who competed well in the arena of life assigned to him. He did his best. He gave it his all and as a result is pleased with his effort as he reflects on life.
Paul also describes the Christian life as a “race.” Paul finished the contest. The emphasis can be that he “ran the full distance.” Paul did not take shortcuts, did not loaf; he did not quit when obedience was challenging, and he climbed the hills as they came. He ran the whole race. He endured and he finished.
Finally, Paul describes the Faith as something he “kept.” Paul can say with a good conscience that he had “guarded” the Faith that had been entrusted to him. He was “loyal” to it to the end of life. He now is trying to pass it on to his son in the Faith, Timothy.
Father, may I be able to say at the end of my life that I have competed well, I finished the whole race, and I guarded and was loyal to the Faith all my days.
Following Jesus with you,