Crowned for Endurance
“If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself” (vv. 12–13).- 2 Timothy 2:11–13
John Chrysostom became archbishop of Constantinople late in the fourth century, and he suffered exile and many other hardships for his willingness to preach against the decadence of the powerful and the wealthy, not least in his own congregation. This man, who was intimately acquainted with suffering, comments on today’s passage that “the narrow path is unattractive by nature but becomes easy when we choose to follow it, because of our hope for the future” (ACCNT 9, p. 246).
Scripture calls us to walk the narrow path of life (Matt. 7:13–14), and it never minces words about the tribulation we may bear when we are faithful to Christ. But as we have seen thus far in our study of 2 Timothy, the Bible also promises an eternal reward to those who are willing to suffer for the gospel in this present evil age. Paul expands upon this point in today’s passage with his “faithful saying” that promises life for those who die with Jesus (2:11). Here the apostle is echoing his teaching in Romans 6:5–11 wherein he promises resurrection in the future and power over sin in the present to all those who by faith are baptized into Jesus, being buried with Him that they might rise with Him to new life. Putting on Christ in our conversion means that we must be willing to die for Him if that is what God appoints for us, but it also means life everlasting for those who are willing to pay the ultimate price for the Savior.
This blessing is far more than we deserve for our faithfulness, but our gracious God does not stop there. Paul also says that those who endure through suffering will also reign with Jesus (2 Tim. 2:12). Incredibly, we will rule alongside the Messiah and play a part in judging even the angels (1 Cor. 6:3; Rev. 20:4–6). Knowing that we will be used of the Lord to administer His righteous verdicts is certainly enough to keep us going when trials come.
With the promise of blessing comes a reminder of responsibility — denying Jesus means that He will also deny us (2 Tim. 2:12). Those who have authentic faith in the Lord will heed this warning, knowing that God uses it to keep us in His covenant even as we trust Him to preserve us faithful until the very end.
Paul ends today’s passage with yet another reminder that God remains faithful to us even when we are faithless (2 Tim. 2:13). But those who know the Lord do not take this faithfulness for granted; they also pay attention to His warnings. How do you respond to the warnings God gives us in Scripture? Do you act as if they are not real, or do they motivate you to examine your heart and ask the Spirit to put to death any unfaithfulness that remains in you?
Passages for Further Study
Psalms 31:23; 32:7