I am preaching through 2 Timothy and last week’s message covered 2 Timothy 2:8-13. I believe in eternal security, but I have to admit that this passage seems easier to explain if you take the other side. As I studied the commentaries, most of them just finessed the topic and few actually dealt with the theological implications of it head on. The passage in question, verses 11-13 is an ancient saying that some believe is an early hymn. I think it is a series of tweets by the Apostle Paul, but who knows.
Where is the text.
11 For if we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.
The first couplet is clear – dying with Christ is essential if we would live with him.
The trouble comes in verse 12 and its two couplets. The first demands endurance if we would reign with Christ. The second warns that if we deny Christ he will deny him. It seems to be directed at those who once professed and then later turn their backs and deny Christ such as those Paul warns Timothy about so often in these two letters. The last of the couplets is assuring, reminding us that Christ is faithful even when we are not.
Explanations of verse 12 fall into several categories.
- Some say this clearly teaches apostasy and the possibility of losing one’s salvation.
- Some say this passage speaks of those who had a false profession but were never truly saved. By their fruits you know them.
- Many posit that what is in view here is the crowns and rewards Paul speaks of so often. If you deny Christ you will be denied the crowns and rewards he sought and speaks so highly of at the judgment seat he tells us that every Christian will stand before.
- Others use poetic structure to explain the passage – explanations I find interesting, but I’m not sure they answer the question as to what denying Christ and Christ denying us means.
- There are probably other inventive ideas I didn’t come across.
Have you studied this passage in any depth? What’s your exegetical/expositional solution?
I am committed to eternal security, but I think if I were going to argue the other side, this is the verse I’d start with, even more than Hebrews 6.
So, whaddya say?