Reigning with Christ
“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him” (vv. 11–12a).- 2 Timothy 2:11–13
In some ways, Christians share in the anointing that Jesus enjoys as the Christ, the “anointed one” (Acts 10:34–43; 1 John 2:20, 27). Therefore, every believer fulfills the prophetic, priestly, and kingly roles for which our Savior has been anointed. In a sense, we are all prophets called to proclaim God’s Word, priests ordained to offer ourselves as sacrifices, and kings enthroned to war against the Lord’s enemies and help expand His kingdom (Matt. 28:18–20; Rom. 12:1–2; Rev. 17:1–14). Yet we do not share in Christ’s kingly office only in the sense that we fight against the Devil and his minions; rather, we also reign with Jesus over creation.
This is the teaching of today’s passage, which is one of the proof texts for question and answer 32 of the Heidelberg Catechism. In one of several “trustworthy sayings” found throughout 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, the Apostle Paul outlines the incredible truth that those who persevere in faith are truly united to Christ and will live and reign with Him forever (2 Tim. 2:11–13). We may not often think of ourselves as kings and queens who will rule over creation, but this consequence of our redemption flows directly from who the Lord made us to be and what salvation accomplishes in repairing His broken images. God made us to have dominion over creation, to rule it for His glory (Gen. 1:26–31). We forfeited our ability to fulfill this vocation in Adam, but Christ has succeeded in reigning over creation as the last Adam. In Him, we are now able once more to achieve our original purpose as righteous rulers of the world (Rom. 5:12–21; Eph. 2:1–7).
Today’s passage stresses the future aspects of our reign with the Lord, a reign that will involve us judging even the angels, as Paul tells us elsewhere (1 Cor. 6:3). We should all be looking forward eagerly to that final day, but let us not forget that we are even now reigning with our Savior in many ways. Sin no longer has dominion over those who believe in Jesus, for we live in the gracious era in which we have been adopted as God’s children (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 4:1–7). By the Spirit, we can now conquer sin and grow in holiness. We are also free from the tyranny of the Law over guilty consciences. Forgiven in Christ, we may fulfill the royal law of liberty in serving our Creator (1 Peter 2:16; James 1:25).
The truth that we are kings and queens in Christ is not some idea conjured up to boost our self-esteem but a present reality that we will enjoy in its fullness at the resurrection of the dead. At that point, we will sit on thrones alongside our Savior and enjoy by grace what is His by right. Until then, we are to reign over our sinful passions, bringing our minds, wills, and affections into submission to Jesus by the power of the Spirit through His Word.
Passages for Further Study