s For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).
DC Comics Wonder Woman was given several powerful weapons forged by Greek gods, but her signature weapons were her indestructible Bracelets of Victory and Lasso of Truth. The bracelets, coupled with her superhuman reflexes allow her to deflect bullets, while the Lasso confines opponents and compels them to speak truth.
Christ has empowered us with superhuman gifts, too.
Unfortunately, ours are not as flashy or even visible. Our gifts and weapons are invisible and must be accessed by faith, which is what makes it hard. Oh the havoc I could wreak with those WW bracelets, baby!
2 Timothy 1:7 was my key scripture in prayer today. I was prompted to research the word sound so I could understand more clearly exactly what God meant when the Spirit inspired Paul to write that word. My findings were surprising. Let’s dig in, shall we?
According to Strong’s Concordance, Greek adjective 4998 – sóphrón refers to of sound mind and self-controlled. Pronounced (so’-frone), it’s defined as: of sound mind, self-controlled, temperate, sober-minded, modest and chaste.
Sṓphrōn (“acting in God’s definition of balance“) makes someone genuinely temperate, i.e. well-balanced from God’s perspective. True balance is not “one-size-fits-all” nor is it blandly static. Biblical moderation (4998 /sṓphrōn) describes “a man who does not command himself, but rather is commanded by God‘” (K. Wuest, Word Studies, 2, 46). This root (sōphro-, “soundness”) then reflects living in God-defined balance.
In Thayer’s Greek lexicon, Greek word 4995, sóphronismos means self-control or self-discipline. It’s an admonishing to soundness of mind, moderation and self-control.
Digging further into a dictionary, the word “sound” as an adjective is defined several ways, to be:
- free from injury or disease (of sound mind)
- free from flaw, defect, or decay (sound timber).
- sound emphasizes the absence of disease, weakness, or malfunction as in (a sound heart).
- Another meaning is free from error or fallacy as in (sound advice, sound reasoning).
Synonyms for this word: healthy, sound, wholesome, robust, hale, and well are all indicative of good health. Healthy implies full strength and vigor as well as freedom from signs of disease ⟨a healthy family⟩.
Put it All Together Please!
Therefore, if one reads this verse from the NIV, NLT and ESV they will see that Christians are to be self-disciplined. One can read it from God’s Word Translation and find an exhortation to act with good judgment or read the NASB and see an admonition to act with discipline.
So what are Christians to do? Act from self-discipline – or– believe they’ve been given the gift of a mind free from injury, disease, defect or fallacy? These are two differing meanings for one word.
Personally, as a new believer in the 1980’s, I was taught scriptures and concepts from the King James version, told it remained truer to the original Greek meanings. I am so pleased to have Bible teachers who did so, because in my own personal research over the ensuing years, this has proven true. This verse is a prime example of two very different extractions from the same word.
Fundamental or a Mental Case?
While I’m certain Bible scoffers view me as the latter, I’m somewhat of a fundamentalist in that I take God’s word at face value. However, as one who aims to study to show herself approved unto God, I desire to rightly divide His Word. This means it is vital to read entire chapters in context, plus read past chapter divisions to capture the essence of what that author is saying.
So when a seeming conflict arises, such as over the meaning of sound mind, it’s important to ask God personally for clarification. After all, we have the Teacher Himself residing within, right?
In context, Paul is writing his spiritual son, Timothy, reminding him to not be ashamed to tell others about Christ. Paul also tells Tim HOW to do so – by flaming the spiritual gift that God gave him. Verse seven reminds Tim to act with courage and boldness by stirring himself up. When we read verse seven in the entire context of Chapter One, all sixteen verses, we see it as an exhortation to boldness in telling others about God.
We can stir ourselves up using self-discipline, according to the five translations referenced above.
But I have found that DOES NOT WORK in my Christian walk.
Where does Holy Boldness originate?
I began this inquiry believing that 2 Timothy 1:7 meant a sound mind, one free from injury or disease, healthy, robust and free from flaw, defect or decay. While I still wholeheartedly believe the Greek and German root words are true, my understanding has expanded. I see that certain versions as noted above, mistranslate or water down the original meaning by pointing readers to ‘self-discipline or self-control.’
If I could live the Christian life in my own strength, why would I need Holy Spirit?
I also know that Christians who live their lives under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 5:22 NKJV), display Biblical moderation because they do not command themselves, rather they are commanded by God. I choose to see living in soundness as living in God-defined balance under the guidance and leadership of Holy Spirit, rather than living under the temperance of my own self-discipline.
Why Does This Matter to 21st Century Christianity?
This matters because it affects our prayer life and daily walk with God. If one views 2 Timothy 1:7 as admonition to self-control and self-discipline, one will aim to walk out their daily Christianity in the power of their flesh. One might be successful awhile, but eventually failure, self-condemnation and weariness will set in. Shame will accompany their sense of failure and their prayer life may cease in effectiveness.
But the believer who views 2 Timothy 1:7 as a reminder that we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit resident within us has a vastly different perspective. When fear, anxiety, depression and any other physical or mental illness comes against us in the daily grind of life, this verse promising a mind free of disease, defect or flaw rears up within. AS WE SPEAK THESE PROMISES ALOUD over ourselves in the place of prayer, a resurgence of divine power wells up within us! As I heard myself declaring this verse and these life-affirming promises over myself and a beloved family member, I KNEW that heaven was hearing my decree. Faith arose in my heart because I knew GOD would cause deliverance from fear, anxiety and depression to come to pass … rather than me attempting to discipline myself into a state of courage by repeating positive affirmations. Praying God’s Word brings change because it is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12)!
I pray that my research and reflections today on this topic helped you gain insight into one promise of God available to all His children. My hope is that you take hold of every aspect of 2 Timothy 1:7 for yourself and your loved ones, speaking it aloud over yourself and passionately kicking to the curb every thought that assails your mind, taking it captive and pulling it down using a corresponding scripture (2 Corinthians 10:5).
No one can do it for you.
You’ve been given soundness of mind. Stop allowing the world to steal it. Like Wonder Woman, your birthright is to enforce it. Raise your Bracelets of Victory to deflect every mental lie exalting itself against the knowledge of the truth (that you’ve been given a sound mind) and employ your Lasso of Truth (God’s Word) to demolish every mental assault. Hebrews 4:12 tells us the power available to us: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Ride into this day as the victor in Christ you are!