The Rallying Call
The Greek word (parakaleo) is indeed a call to action. Young's Concordance shows us that, although it is rendered 23 times as `comfort' (strength) it is also translated 19 times as `exhort' and 43 times as `beseech.' Moreover, William Barclay in the book "New Testament Words" tells us that in ancient writings, "Above all it is used of exhorting troops who go into battle." He also wrote, "Again and again we find it is the word of the rallying call".
Let us remember that we have been called out to battle. Christ said to us, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). That is one battle front. But preaching to others also involves getting ourselves right with God first. That is another battle front. Hence the need for the two-edged sword, sword of the consolation of Christ's helping hand, for he said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt 28:30).
We are an army engaged in a life-long war: war against outside opposition. Let us heed the rallying call and each strive to make the standard which the apostle Paul set himself, our own.
Bro Luke Chawinga (Bolero, Malawi)