2 Timothy 2:5

And if a man also competes as an athlete, yet is he not crowned, unless he strives lawfully.
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Ambrose of Milan

AD 397
What is the world but an arena full of fighting? Therefore the Lord says in the Apocalypse, “To the victor I shall give the crown of life,” and Paul says, “I have fought the good fight,” and elsewhere, “No one is crowned unless he has competed according to the rules.” He who initiated the contest is actually almighty God. When one initiates a contest in this world, does he not prepare all that is necessary for the contest, and only after he has made ready the wreaths for rewards call those who are to contend for the crown, so that the winner may not meet with delay but depart after being given his reward? The rewards of man are the fruits of the earth and the lights of heaven. The former are for his use in the present life; the latter, for his hope of life eternal. Like an athlete, then, he comes last into the arena…. It is he who poises the blow, it is Christ who strikes; he lifts his heel, Christ directs it to the wound…. In preaching Christ he deals wounds to all those spiritual evi...

Basil the Great

AD 379
But, if you place yourself in the hands of a man rich in virtue, you will become the heir of the good qualities he possesses and you will be supremely blessed with God and men. On the other hand, if, to spare the body, you seek a master who will condescend or, rather, degrade himself to the level of your vices, all in vain did you endure the struggle of renunciation, since you have surrendered yourself to a life of gratifying your passions by choosing a blind guide who will lead you into the pit. .

Gregory of Nyssa

AD 394
How can there be a lawful contest if there is no opponent? If there is no opponent, there is no crown. Victory does not exist by itself, without there being a defeated party. .


AD 420
Christ’s athlete is not crowned unless he has competed according to the rules, unless he has accepted and sustained the challenge, unless his face is black and blue from the fray and bathed in blood. It is the discolored bruises that deserve a crown, and suffering and pain that merit joy.

John Cassian

AD 435
One who wants to extinguish the natural desires of the flesh should first hasten to overcome those vices whose ground is contrary to our nature. For if we desire to test out the force of the apostle’s counsel, we ought first to learn what are the laws and what the discipline of the world’s contest. This is so that finally by a comparison with these, we may be able to know what the blessed apostle meant to teach to us who are striving in the spiritual contest.

John Chrysostom

AD 407
You say that her clothes are shabby, but virginity resides not in clothing nor in one’s complexion but in the body and soul. Is it not strange that we have different standards? We will not judge the philosopher by his hair or his staff or his tunic but by his way of life, his character and soul. The soldier too we will not approve for his mantle or belt but for his strength and manliness. Yet the virgin, who represents a state so admirable and superior to all others, we will simply and offhandedly assume practices her virtue because of the squalor of her hair, her dejected look and gray cloak. We do not strip her soul bare and scrutinize closely its inner state. But he who has drawn up the rules for this contest does not permit this. He orders that those who have entered not be judged by their clothing but by the convictions of their souls. “Athletes,” Paul says, “deny themselves all sorts of things,” anything that would trouble the health of the soul. “If one takes part in an athletic...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
In a word, it is absolutely necessary for one who hopes to please God and to be acceptable and pure, not to pursue a relaxed and slippery and dissolute life, but a laborious life, groaning with much toil and sweat. For no one is crowned, Paul says, “unless he competes according to the rules.”

John Chrysostom

AD 407
What is meant by “lawfully”? It is not enough that he enters into the lists, that he is anointed, and even engages, unless he comply with all the laws of the exercise. This includes those that pertain to diet, to temperance and sobriety, and all the rules of the wrestling school. Unless, in short, he goes through all that is befitting for a wrestler, he is not crowned.

The Apostolic Constitutions

AD 375
For those who conquer and those who are conquered are in the same place of running, but only those who have bravely undergone the race are where the garland is bestowed; and "no one is crowned, unless he strive lawfully."

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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