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We are in the midst of a series on Paul’s trustworthy sayings.
The first in 1 Timothy 1:15 told us that “Jesus came to save the sinners.”
The second in 1 Timothy 4:9 was the saying that spiritual exercise is beneficial as we live a godly lifestyle.
Remember we skipped the one found is 1 Timothy 3:1 concerning church leadership.
Today we’ll look at the third on found in 2 Timothy 2:11-13
Paul is encouraging Timothy to stay strong in the grace of Christ Jesus in verse 8.
He uses examples of a soldier, athlete, and a farmer to show that all the hard work they put in brings a reward.
Enduring all the hardships, trials, and persecution is tied to remembering Jesus who rose from the dead.
Paul shares that it is for the gospel that he has suffered to the point he is now a criminal in prison.
Even though he can’t get out to preach, the word of God is not bound by chains.
He endures all the suffering for the elect, those who believe the gospel he brought to them.
His endurance provided an example to Timothy and the others to follow.
The Trustworthy Saying
Beginning in verse 11, we find the trustworthy saying.
Remember this formula means “Listen up” or “Pay attention.”
These verses were probably an early Christian hymn or a quotation used in a Christian ceremony.
Some even believe that Paul may have been the author.
But he does give us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, another one of the early hymns of the church.
This saying is affirming that it is faith in Jesus Christ that gives us the victory and the ability to endure the sufferings.
We should not fear our enemies, for they have already been conquered by Jesus Himself.
Through our identification with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection, we have won the victory.
This hymn has for “if” clauses introducing a conditional/result statement.
The first two are positive and the last two are negative.
The third and fourth clauses have an extra line.
Death and Life
The first couplet contrasts death and life.
The believer’s death to sin at the moment of salvation and the new life begun now with Christ in the world and eternity.
This phrase is very similar to what Paul wrote in Romans 6:8
Romans 6 describes how believers are freed from the power of sin.
Paul is so confident of that relationship he could say he endures everything for the sake of the elect in verse 10.
He knew of the sure promises of God.
“With Him” from the context we know he is talking about Christ.
Romans 6 implies identification with Christ.
By faith we identify with Christ in his death, recognize his death was for our sins, and thus we have spiritual life now and not just in the future.
The dying most likely implies to the sacrament of baptism.
Paul connects baptism with the death of Jesus.
Paul means our identification is seen in the act of being baptized by immersion and then rising once again.
Another interesting fact here is that dying is a past tense verb indication something has happened in the past.
Our salvation event is meant here.
Interesting the living with him is a future tense.
Meaning we are confident of sustained fellowship with Jesus.
Not just a day by day faith, but one day face to face with Jesus.
Endure and Reign
In verse 12, Paul encourages Timothy to remain loyal even in the face of suffering.
To “endure” demands a “continuing experience of bravely bearing up under the hardships and afflictions heaped upon the believer because of his relation to Christ.
Verse 11 phrase “if we die” implies a single act.
“If we endure” implies an ongoing action.
We only salvation once.
But enduring through life is a continual action requiring constant prayer, guidance, and wisdom.
But the reward is beyond comprehension.
A future reward after Christ returns.
Believers will participate in the reign of the glorified Messiah, during the millennium.
That indeed is a great reward.
Deny Him, Deny Us
The first two were positive, now we turn to the two negatives.
This second conditional clause in verse 12 was a warning to Timothy and all believers including us.
This language resembles what Jesus said in Matthew 10:33
This couplet reveals that commitment to Christ must be total, no turning back; to disown results in being disowned.
The Greek tense in the phrase “if we disown” is future.
Paul was confident that Timothy and the others hearing this letter were true believers.
So these words provided a solemn warning.
Yet to deny Christ was unthinkable to the early Christians, even in the face of mounting persecution.
True believers might be faithless and weak at times.
They might falter when giving a testimony.
They would never disown their Lord.
While the word deny has been used in place of “disown” meaning here implies deliberate refusal of Jesus as Lord.
Paul had listed several earlier in this letter and other places of people who deserted him because of the persecution and imprisonment.
Those deserters or deniers, those who disown Jesus will be disowned by Him at the final judgement.
They will enter and eternity in lostness.
This serious warning did not apply to a temporary denial such as Peter demonstrated (Luke 22:54–62) but to a permanent denial such as Judas illustrated.
Faithless and Faithful
The last couplet doesn’t follow the pattern the other three follow.
Verse 13 reveals the depth of the relationship between believers and Christ the Lord.
When we fail at times, this does not mean God will reject us forever.
These words apply not to faithless unbelievers, but to believers who at times fail the Lord.
Humans, by their very nature, are prone to failure; and Christians, though born again, are still human.
But even when believers act faithlessly, God remains faithful.
Believers are secure in Christ’s promises.
This does not give a license for faithlessness; rather, it eases our conscience when we fail, allowing us to come back to the Father and start anew.
God does not deny those for whom he died.
F. B. Meyer said, “Three things are impossible with God—to die, to lie, and to fail the soul that trusts him.
Even when we cannot muster faith enough, his word of promise cannot be frustrated.”
This means that Christ will remain faithful to His purpose, to His character, and to His goal regardless of what we do.
We need to remember the faithfulness of God will not be thwarted even by our faithlessness, and this good news is not based on who we are but on who God is.
He will be faithful, for he cannot deny who he is!
As the great hymn says “Great is thy faithfulness.…
There is no shadow of turning with thee!”
Our goals from this passage is to identify with Christ who died for us so that we are given eternal life.
Second, To endure hardships of this present life knowing that the life to come will be far better.
Remember our future hangs, not on the strength of our faith, but on the strength of God’s faithfulness.
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