2 Timothy 2: “A Trustworthy Saying”

At the end of Chapter 2, as he does quite often, Paul tells Timothy the following remarks are “a trustworthy saying:”

11 If we die with him,
    we will also live with him.
12 If we endure hardship,
    we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
    he will deny us.
13 If we are unfaithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is.

Let’s take a few minutes and break each one of these statement down a little further.

11 If we die with him,
    we will also live with him.

The concept of dying with Christ isn’t foreign to a believer who has read God’s word. Many places in scripture we are invited to come and die. Thomas, who’s known for his “doubt” is actually the one who said in John 11:16 (NLT), “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” The Bible really speaks of dying with Jesus in two key ways.

  1. Dying with Christ through Baptism- The old is gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17).
  2. Dying physically for Christ- While Paul is sitting in prison awaiting his sentence and subsequent death, he write to young Timothy that the ultimate death for Christ is experienced as a Martyr for Christ. This is probably what Paul is referencing here in (v. 11).

The contrast statement to experiencing Christ’s death, is experiencing Christ’s resurrection. For as much as we read about death and suffering, we are blessed with the assurance that we too will be resurrected with Christ in our death (Rom. 6:5).

12 If we endure hardship,
    we will reign with him. 

Paul is no stranger to hardship, in fact, many times in his letters he indicates that suffering isn’t a matter of “if” but “when.” Here’s the kicker of what Paul is indicating in this verse. Paul isn’t saying “if” we experience hardship, but rather indicates that the results of our destiny is wrapped up in “if” we endure it! Hardship is unfortunately a part of the deal, but “if” we endure it, which indicates choice, WE WILL (powerful promise) reign with God for eternity! We need to remember that God trains us to rule in the earthly realm, in order for God to trust us to rule with him in the heavenly realms.

If we deny him,
    he will deny us.

Plain and straight to the point, Paul summarizes the teaching found in Matthew 10:33 (NLT) 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. One of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning is quoted as saying,“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

13 If we are unfaithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is.

We would expect Paul to write these words from this perspective…

 If we are faithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is.

However, now that we’ve been reading Paul for a while, we know Paul would hesitate to say that we have the ability to be faithful without God. Regardless of our faithfulness, God will always remain faithful. Praise the Lord that God’s faithfulness is never dependent upon our faithfulness.

Connecting both faithfulness and a desire to not deny Christ, scholar David Guzik recalls, “When one Christian in the days of the ancient Roman Empire was commanded to give money to the building of a pagan temple, he refused; and though he was old, they stripped him practically naked, and cut him all over his body with knives and spears. They started to feel sorry for him, so they said, “Just give one dollar to the building of the temple.” But he still would not. “Just burn one grain of incense to this pagan god,” they asked – but he would not. So he was smeared with honey, and while his wounds were still bleeding, they set bees and wasps upon him until he was stung to death. He could die; but he could not deny his Lord.

The Lord can give you the same strength to live for Him, even as this man died for Him.”