Sunday, August 21, 2016

2 Timothy 2:11-13

Thomas Constable's Expository Notes on 2 Timothy
3. A popular saying 2:11-13

To encourage Timothy further to endure hardship Paul cited, or perhaps adapted, a commonly accepted and used quotation that encouraged believers to remain faithful to their Christian profession (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; Titus 3:8). It may have been part of a baptismal ceremony, a hymn, or a catechism. It consists of four couplets, two positive and two negative. Each one represents a condition Paul assumed for the sake of his argument to be real, not hypothetical, since each is a first class condition in the Greek text.

“Each protasis (the ‘if’ clause) describes an action of a believer.”[41]

2:11-13 The first couplet (v. 11) is a comforting reminder that since the believer died with Christ (Col. 2:20; 3:1, 3) he or she has also experienced resurrection with Him to newness of life (cf. Rom. 6:2-23, esp. v. 8). This seems to be a better interpretation than the one that views this statement as a reference to dying as a martyr.[42] The first class condition and the aorist tense of the verb synapethanomen, translated “died,” argue for the former view.[43]

Knight suggested that since Paul wrote this epistle from Rome, it is possible that the church in Rome developed this first line by reflecting on Romans 6, especially verse 8. Water baptism symbolizes the death and resurrection of the believer.[44]

The second couplet (v. 12a) is also a comfort. If the believer successfully endures temptations to apostatize, he or she will one day reign with Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 4:8; Rev. 3:21; 5:10). While all Christians will reign with Christ in the sense that we will be with Him when He reigns, the faithful will reign with Christ in a more active sense (cf. Matt. 10:33; Luke 12:9).[45] The Bible seems to teach that there are degrees of reigning as there are differences in rewards (cf. Luke 19:11-27; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21). The idea that all Christians will remain faithful is true to neither revelation nor reality (cf. Luke 8:13; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 3:12; cf. 2 Tim. 4:4).

The third couplet (v. 12b) is a warning. If the believer departs from following Christ faithfully during his or her life (i.e., apostatizes), Christ will deny him or her at the judgment seat of Christ (Matt. 10:33; Mark 8:38; Luke 12:9; cf. Luke 19:22; Matt. 22:13).[46] The unfaithful believer will not lose his salvation (1 John 5:13) or all of his reward (1 Pet. 1:4), but he will lose some of his reward (1 Cor. 3:12-15; cf. Luke 19:24-26). To deny Christ clearly does not mean to deny Him only once or twice (cf. Luke 22:54-62) but to deny Him permanently since the other three human conditions in the couplets are permanent.

“Denial of Christ manifests itself in various ways in the NT. It can consist in denying his name (Rev. 3:8) or faith in him (Rev. 2:13). It can thus take the form of forsaking or repudiating the Christian faith and its truths, particularly the truth concerning Jesus. In doing so one personally denies Christ (and the Father, cf. 1 Jn. 2:22-23). The denial can also manifest itself in the moral realm. Some may ‘profess to know God, but by their deeds deny him’ (Tit. 1:16; cf. 1 Tim. 5:8).”[47]

The fourth and final couplet (v. 13) is another comforting reminder that if the believer is unfaithful to God Christ will still remain faithful to him or her. The Greek word apistoumen can mean either “unbelief” or “unfaithful.” The context makes clear that “unfaithful” is the meaning here since the contrast is with “faithful.” The present tense of the Greek word translated “faithless” denotes a continuing attitude. Christ will not renege on His promises to save us (cf. 1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:18-20; 1 Thess. 5:24; et al.) even though we may go back on our commitments to Him (1 John 5:13). God’s dealings with the Israelites in the Old Testament are the great proof that God will not cast off or abandon those He has redeemed and adopted even if they prove unfaithful and unbelieving. Christ’s faithfulness to us should motivate us to remain faithful to Him (cf. Luke 22:31-32; John 21:15-22).

The point of this quotation is that Christians should continue to endure hardship and remain faithful to the Lord in view of what Jesus Christ has done and will do.[48],” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 1:1 (Autumn 1988):21-33.

Some interpreters believe the references to denying the Lord and being denied by him refer to unbelievers. However, there is nothing in the context to indicate that Paul had unbelievers in mind. On the contrary he used “we” and “us,” which without further explanation would naturally include Paul and Timothy. In the context Paul made frequent references to the judgment seat of Christ (1:12, 18; 4:8). This whole epistle constitutes an exhortation for Christians to remain faithful to the Lord in view of that coming event.

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