Paul's Letters To Timothy
by Greg Williamson (c) 2014, 2019
Featuring the text of the New American Standard Bible *
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Intro | 1 Timothy 1:1-11 / 1:12-17 / 1:18-20 | 2:1-8 / 2:9-15 | 3:1-7 / 3:8-13 / 3:14-16 | 4:1-6 / 4:7-12 / 4:13-16 | 5:1-16 / 5:17-25 | 6:1-2 / 6:3-10 / 6:11-21 | 2 Timothy 1:1-7 / 1:8-12 / 1:13-18 | 2:1-7 / 2:8-13 / 2:14-18 / 2:19-26 | 3:1-9 / 3:10-12 / 3:13-17 | 4:1-4 / 4:5-8 / 4:9-22 ** | Articles & Definitions | Sources

(2 Timothy 2:8-13)

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,
9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.
10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
11 It is a trustworthy statement: 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 also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

The world looks on us as evildoers; but we are God’s elect, willing to live and die for Jesus Christ. - Warren Wiersbe [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Growing Stronger
As our trials increase, we need to grow stronger in that which is good; our faith stronger, our resolution stronger, our love to God and Christ stronger. This is opposed to our being strong in our own strength. - Matthew Henry [ref]

2 TIMOTHY 2:8 - Paul's Gospel
Focusing On Christ

To fulfill God’s will in our lives, we must keep our minds focused on the Lord Jesus Christ -- who He is, His ministry, and His promises. (see 2 Timothy 2:8-13) [ref]

Remember Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:8)
The thought here is: "Have ever in your thoughts" [ref] or "Be continually remembering" [ref] (present active imperative) Jesus Christ in order to faithfully follow his example. [ref] Apparently "Paul places 'Jesus' first and 'Christ' second in order to indicate that the Jesus who lived on earth was the Christ." [ref]

It is a profoundly sad fact that the Christian Church "has often forgotten Jesus Christ, absorbing itself instead now in barren theological debate, now in purely humanitarian activity, now in its own petty, parochial business." [ref]



The supper Jesus shared with his disciples a few hours before he was arrested and taken to his trial and death (thus often called “The Last Supper”); the ceremony of partaking of the bread and wine that Christians have come to call the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20), the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7), Holy Communion (from the expression of 1 Cor 10:16), the Eucharist (the Greek word for “thanksgiving,” see Mk 14:23), or the Mass. The apostle Paul speaks of handing on what he had “received from the Lord” concerning the institution of this supper “on the night when he was betrayed.” Like Luke, Paul gives the Lord’s command to his disciples: “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24–25). According to Acts 2, the early Christians from the beginning of the life of the church met regularly for “the breaking of bread.”

The Accounts of the Institution
The institution of the Lord’s Supper is recorded in Matthew 26:26–30; Mark 14:22–26; and Luke 22:14–20. John’s Gospel (ch 13) tells of the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples, of his washing the disciples’ feet and the teaching associated with that, but does not mention his institution of Communion. Many see the Lord’s Supper reflected in the teaching of John 6, following the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus’ speaking of himself as “the bread of life,” but this is open to question. First Corinthians 11:23–26 gives Paul’s version of the institution, which he speaks of as “receiving” and “delivering” to the Corinthian Christians.

The Time of the Institution
All of the narratives -- the three Gospels and 1 Corinthians -- speak of the Last Supper when the Eucharist was instituted as taking place a few hours before Jesus’ arrest. All four Gospels tell, in this context, of Jesus’ words to his disciples, about Judas’s betrayal, and about Jesus telling Peter that he would deny his Master. Matthew (Mt 26:17–20), Mark (Mk 14:12–17), and Luke (Lk 22:7–14) all say clearly that this Last Supper was prepared by the disciples and kept by Jesus with them as a Passover meal. John speaks of it as happening “before the feast of the Passover” and then says that at the time of the trial of Jesus before Pilate the Jewish leaders “did not enter the praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover” (Jn 13:1; 18:28, RSV).

[I]it is clear that the Last Supper had the significance of a Passover meal. Thus, there is an inevitable similarity between the celebration of the Passover as a feast of the old covenant and the Lord’s Supper as a feast of the new. The former looks back with thankful remembrance to the people’s redemption and liberation from Egypt by the act of God, associated with the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. The latter looks back with thankful remembrance to redemption by the act of God through the sacrifice of Christ. The apostle Paul links the two: “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7, NIV).

Words and Actions of the Institution
The association of the Last Supper with the Passover points to the importance of the OT background for our understanding of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. This OT background is equally important in understanding the words and actions of Jesus in the upper room.

“This is my body.” The actions of Jesus in taking the bread are described similarly in Matthew (Mt 26:26), Mark (Mk 14:22), Luke (Lk 22:19), and 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 11:23–24). Jesus took the bread, gave thanks to God (“blessing” has the same meaning in the biblical context), and broke it. It is noteworthy that the same three actions are described in the records of the feeding of the 5,000 and of the 4,000 (Mk 6:41; 8:6). What he said, according to all four accounts of the Last Supper, was “This is my body.” Christians in Catholic, Orthodox, and various Protestant traditions have differed in their understanding of the precise meaning of those words. What is clear is that in the taking of the bread there is the realization of Jesus’ giving himself, his body to be broken on the cross, his life offered that we, in and through him, might have life. First Corinthians 11:24 gives the words as “This is my body which is for you,” and some early manuscripts have “broken for you.”

“Do this in remembrance of me.” This specific instruction is found only in Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:24. Some have argued that the absence of the words in the other Gospel records indicates that it was not the explicit intention of the Lord that what he did at the Last Supper was to be repeated as a Christian sacrament. Yet all the Gospels were written when the breaking of bread had been a regular practice in the life of the church for years. Matthew and Mark, therefore, may have thought it unnecessary to express Jesus’ intention with those words. They were taken for granted.

It must also be said that these words have been interpreted differently in various Christian traditions. Many Protestant Christians have understood them to mean that in the Holy Communion we are to recall with great thankfulness that Christ loved us and gave himself to die for us. In the Roman Catholic Church the word “remembrance” has been understood as a memorial before God, a representing of the sacrifice of Christ before the Father. “This do” has been interpreted as meaning “offer this,” and even in the second century Christian writers spoke of the Eucharist as a “sacrifice.” Protestant Christians generally have felt the danger of this way of speaking; it can detract from, or even deny, the biblical understanding of the sacrifice of Christ having been offered once and for all, sufficiently atoning for the sins of the world (cf. Heb 7:27; 9:12). It must be said, however, that many Roman Catholic statements today stress the sufficiency and completeness of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; and many Protestant scholars, while not wishing to introduce a sacrificial understanding of the Lord’s Supper, stress that “remembrance” is more than simply calling to mind a past action. In biblical thinking “remembrance” often involves a realization and appropriation in the present of what has been done or what has proved true in the past (see Pss 98:3; 106:45; 112:6; Eccl 12:1; Is 57:11).

“This is my blood of the [new] covenant.” Jesus took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and handed it to his disciples for them all to drink. This refers back to the ritual of making a covenant with the offering of sacrifice, as the covenant between God and Israel after the exodus (Ex 24:1–8). Implied also is that the prophetic hope of the new covenant (Jer 31:31–34) was fulfilled in Jesus, as Hebrews 8–9 describes.

“Poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The meaning of the death of Jesus as a sacrifice is linked with the understanding of the Passover and of the covenant. It is also linked with what Isaiah 53 says of the suffering Servant making himself “an offering for sin” (Is 53:10).

Expectation for the Future
All four accounts of the Last Supper associate, though in different ways, an expectation for the future with the institution of the Eucharist. [See Mark 14:25; Matthew 26:29; Luke 22:18.] All of these can be understood as the ultimate realization of another hope that both OT and later Jewish apocalyptic writings set forward: the messianic banquet, the feast on the mountain of the Lord of which Isaiah 25:6 speaks. In 1 Corinthians 11:26 that future hope is quite explicitly that of Christ’s second coming.

The Practice of the Early Church
[In the early Church The Lord's Supper was referred to as "the breaking of bread." See Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7.] [A] meal in Christian fellowship and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper often took place together.

Paul’s Teaching
In Paul’s teaching, as in the Gospels, the Lord’s Supper clearly involves the backward look in thankful remembrance for the sacrifice of Christ offered once for all for the sins of the world, the realization of the Lord being with his people in the present, and the look forward in hope. Other aspects of teaching relating to the Eucharist are brought out in 1 Corinthians 10–11. The teaching arises from practical aspects of the situation in the Corinthian church; the need to be aware of the danger of turning back in any way to the worship of idols; and the potential divisions in the Christian fellowship, including that between rich and poor.

Fellowship with Christ. To partake of the bread and to drink of the cup is spoken of as having part with Christ, as sharing in sacrificial meals would mean partaking at “the table of demons” (1 Cor 10:21). “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (v 16, RSV). “Participation” is the translation of the Greek word koinonia, so often rendered “fellowship” in NT passages. When the Lord’s Supper was celebrated, there must often have been a recalling not only of the Last Supper on the night before Jesus died, but also of his presence with his disciples on the first Easter and his making himself known to them in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:30–35). They continued to experience that fellowship with him.

Feeding on Christ. Of the two Christian sacraments, baptism has a once-for-all nature, while Holy Communion is repeated. The life of Christ has been offered for sins once for all on the cross, and we find life in turning to him -- baptism signifies that. At the same time that life is also offered to us constantly for the nourishing of our spiritual lives day by day -- of this regular feeding on Christ the Eucharist speaks. First Corinthians 10:3–4 speaks of “supernatural food” and “supernatural drink” and finds in the events at the sea and in the wilderness in the days of Moses foreshadowings of what Christians find in Christ. Christ said, “I am the bread of life,” and “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed”; thus what we have in John’s Gospel (Jn 6:35, 55, RSV) is close to what Paul implies about the Lord’s Supper expressing the truth of Christians spiritually feeding on Christ.

- Tyndale Bible Dictionary [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

risen from the dead, descendant of David (2 Timothy 2:8)
The full thought of "risen" is "raised and still living" (perfect passive participle) [ref], which "implies a permanent character acquired by Jesus as the risen Savior, and our permanent interest in Him as such." [ref] "[R]emember him 'as having been raised up from the dead,' as ever being the one so raised up." [ref] "The apostle seems to say: Whatever tribulations or deaths may befall us, let us remember that Jesus Christ, who was slain by the Jews, rose again from the dead, and his resurrection is the proof and pledge of ours. We also shall rise again to a life of glory and blessedness." [ref] Thus "[t]he memory of the risen Lord will inspire [Timothy] with courage and faithfulness." [ref]

Jesus' resurrection is "the cardinal fact about Christ that proves his claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God." [ref] He "is 'of the seed of David' (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalms 89:28; 132:17; Acts 2:30; Romans 1:3; Revelations 5:5; and cf. Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:27, 32-33; 2:4-5; John 7:42). He is 'the Son of David' (Matthew 1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15; 22:42-45; Mark 10:47-48; 12:35; Luke 18:38-39; 20:41). It is as the rightful, spiritual heir of David, David's glorious Antitype, that he sits enthroned at the Father's right hand." [ref]

Paul's terminology "descendant of David" (cf. Acts 13:23; Romans 1:3) "has the triple advantage of stressing Jesus’ true humanity, his Messianic lineage, and his sovereign authority. For this last point, note especially Rev 3:7; 5:5; 22:16. Paul’s usual term for this idea is “Lord.” Peter connects these ideas in Acts 2:30, 36." [ref]

To reiterate what has already been said, these two facts -- Jesus' resurrection and his Davidic lineage -- testify of Christ's person, work, and exaltation:

First, his person. The words ‘descended from David’ imply his humanity, for they speak of his earthly descent from David. The words ‘risen from the dead’ imply his divinity, for he was powerfully designated God’s Son by his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4. Note that in Rom. 1:3 Jesus is also described as ‘descended from David according to the flesh’).

Secondly, his work. The phrase ‘risen from the dead’ indicates that he died for our sins and was raised to prove the efficacy of his sinbearing sacrifice. The phrase ‘descended from David’ indicates that he has established his kingdom as great David’s greater Son (cf. Lk. 1:32, 33). Taken together, the two phrases seem to allude to his double role as Saviour and King.

There is another reason why Timothy must ‘remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David’. It is not just because these facts constitute the gospel which Timothy must preach, but because they also illustrate, from Jesus Christ’s own experience, the principle that death is the gateway to life and suffering the path to glory. For he who died rose from the dead, and he who was born in lowliness as David’s seed is now reigning in glory on David’s throne. Both expressions set forth in embryonic form the contrast between humiliation and exaltation. [ref]

according to my gospel (2 Timothy 2:8)
The full thought here is "according to my gospel message." [ref]

This could be be paraphrased: "according to the good tidings which I am commissioned to preach" [ref] or "according to the gospel not invented by me but entrusted to me" [ref] (cf. Romans 2:16; 16:25). There was much false teaching (cf 2 Timothy 2:17b-18), but only one true Gospel. [ref]


Right from the beginning of [2 Timothy] Paul has been trying to inspire Timothy to his task. He has reminded him of his own belief in him and of the godly parentage from which he has come; he has shown him the picture of the Christian soldier, the Christian athlete and the Christian toiler. And now [in 2 Timothy 2:8] he comes to the greatest appeal of all -- Remember Jesus Christ. Falconer calls these words: "The heart of the Pauline gospel." Even if every other appeal to Timothy's gallantry should fail, surely the memory of Jesus Christ cannot. In the words which follow, Paul is really urging Timothy to remember three things.

(i) Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead. The tense of the Greek does not imply one definite act in time, but a continued state which lasts for ever. Paul is not so much saying to Timothy: "Remember the actual resurrection of Jesus"; but rather: "Remember your risen and ever-present Lord." Here is the great Christian inspiration. We do not depend on a memory, however great. We enjoy the power of a presence. When a Christian is summoned to a great task that he cannot but feel is beyond him, he must go to it in the certainty that he does not go alone, but that there is with him for ever the presence and the power of his risen Lord. When fears threaten, when doubts assail, when inadequacy depresses, remember the presence of the risen Lord.

(ii) Remember Jesus Christ born of the seed of David. This is the other side of the question. "Remember," says Paul to Timothy, "the manhood of the Master." We do not remember one who is only a spiritual presence; we remember one who trod this road, and lived this life, and faced this struggle, and who therefore knows what we are going through. We have with us the presence not only of the glorified Christ, but also of the Christ who knew the desperate struggle of being a man and followed to the bitter end the will of God.

(iii) Remember the gospel, the good news. Even when the gospel demands much, even when it leads to an effort which seems to be beyond human ability and to a future which seems dark with every kind of threat, remember that it is good news, and remember that the world is waiting for it. However hard the task the gospel offers, that same gospel is the message of liberation from sin and victory over circumstances for us and for all mankind.

So Paul kindles Timothy to heroism by calling upon him to remember Jesus Christ, to remember the continual presence of the risen Lord, to remember the sympathy which comes from the manhood of the Master, to remember the glory of the gospel for himself and for the world which has never heard it and is waiting for it.

- William Barclay [ref]


2 TIMOTHY 2:9 - Paul's Experience (vv. 9-10)

I suffer hardship ... imprisonment ... the word of God is not imprisoned (2 Timothy 2:9)
Paul reminds Timothy that Paul's "sufferings and imprisonment had in no way weakened the power of the Gospel, or loosened the ties by which [Timothy] was bound to the service of it." [ref]

Related: Pain & Suffering



During the period of Roman occupation in Palestine the public prison (Lat carcer, publica vincula) functioned only for short durations of incarceration. It served as a place to detain both suspects awaiting trial and convicted criminals awaiting sentencing and punishment. Imprisonment itself was not considered a form of punishment under the Roman legal system (cf.Oxford Classical Dictionary [2nd ed 1970], p. 879).

“Prison” most frequently renders Gk. phylakē. The Greek term may refer to the action of guarding, the person who guards, a period of time for guarding (i.e., guard duty), or the place of guarding (the primary NT use). Also translated as “prison” are Gk. desmōtērion and tērēsis. The former refers to a place of confinement, such as the places used for John the Baptist (Mt. 11:2), the apostles (Acts 5:21, 23), and Paul and Silas (16:26). The latter term (which is synonymous with desmōtērion in Acts 5:21, 23) occurs in Acts 5:18 in the phrase en tērēsei dēmosía, which the RSV and AV render “in the common prison” (NEB “in official custody”). Gk. dēmosía may be either an adverb or an adjective; consequently, the apostles were either put in prison publicly or they were put into a public prison (i.e., a prison belonging to the government). In Col. 4:3 the AV “in bonds” for Gk. déō is perhaps more distinct and preferable to the RSV “in prison,” since Paul in Col. 4:18 leaves no doubt that he is actually in chains (R. P. Martin, Colossians and Philemon [NCBC, repr 1981], p. 126). The part of syndéō in He. 13:3, rendered “in prison with them,” implies a sharing in the sufferings of those in prison even if only by “exercising imaginative sympathy” (F. F. Bruce, Epistle to the Hebrews [NICNT, 1964], p. 392).

“Prisoner” most often translates Gk. désmios, which refers to persons either bound by chains or confined by walls. It applies to prisoners in general (e.g., Acts 16:25, 27; He. 10:34), to Paul in particular (Acts 23:18; 25:14, 27; 28:17), and also to Paul when he designates himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:1; Philem. 1, 9; cf. 2 Tim. 1:8; also M. Barth, Ephesians [AB, 1974], I, 359–362).

“Fellow prisoner” (Gk. synaichmálōtos), a term derived from military imagery, may at times reflect a nonliteral meaning (TDNT, I, 196f); Philem. 23, however, in the light of Philem. 1, 9, and 10, probably refers to actual confinement. Thus Epaphras would have shared in Paul’s prison experience (cf. Col. 4:12), as did Aristarchus (4:10). Andronicus and Junias are also referred to as Paul’s fellow prisoners (Rom. 16:7), but this does not necessitate their being prisoners with Paul at the same time and place (C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans, II [ICC, 1979], 788f).

Though the NT mentions groups who were imprisoned (e.g., the apostles in Acts 5:19, 22, 25), certain individuals appear to be more significant. Included here are John the Baptist, Peter, and Paul.

According to Mk. 6:17f John the Baptist was imprisoned on account of his accusations regarding Herod’s unlawful marriage to Herodias. Josephus suggests that John’s imprisonment at Machaerus was also due to Herod’s fear of John’s political activism and its possible repercussions (Ant. xviii.5.2 [116–19]).

Acts 4:2f records how the Sadducees, annoyed at the apostles’ teachings, arrested and confined Peter and John (cf. 5:18). Acts 12:1–5 relates the events of Herod’s violence toward the Church and subsequent imprisonment of Peter. Significantly, Acts 5:19–26 and 12:6–11 also describe the miraculous release of the apostles and Peter from prison.

In the NT Paul is probably the most renowned figure who experienced incarceration. As a servant of God, Paul endured, among other things, numerous imprisonments (2 Cor. 6:4f.; 11:23, 28). The book of Acts records at least three, while early tradition attests to as many as seven confinements (1 Clem. 5:6). In Philippi both Paul and Silas were imprisoned under the care of a jailer (Gk. desmophýlax Acts 16:23, 27, 36; cf. LXX Gen. 39:21; T. Jos. 2:3; Ant. ii.5.1 [61]) who subsequently converted to the faith (Acts 16:30–34). To avoid a Jewish ambush, Paul was escorted by a Roman tribune to Caesarea, where he was confined while awaiting his appearance before Felix the procurator of Judea (Acts 23:12–35). But in order to win favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in prison (Acts 24:27). Later Paul’s appeal to Caesar before Festus destined him for Rome (Acts 25:12). After arriving at Rome Paul was guarded by a soldier (Acts 28:16) and was bound by a light chain (Acts 28:20; cf. SPT, p. 349). He remained in this condition for two years, but enjoyed relative freedom (Acts 28:30). Paul’s own prison experiences are ironic in view of his former activities as Saul, “persecutor of the church” (Phil. 3:6; cf. Acts 8:3; 21:1–21).

- G. L. Knapp [ref]

Also see: The Tullianum: A Prison in Rome

criminal (2 Timothy 2:9)
The only other use of this word (Greek kakourgos) in the NT is in reference to the two criminals crucified alongside Jesus (Luke 23:32–33, 39). "There is thus fulfilled the likeness between the master`s fate and that of the disciple to which the NT often refers." [ref]

Apparently this precise term was used in reference to the Christians who were persecuted under Nero. [ref]

the word of God is not imprisoned (2 Timothy 2:9)
It is as if Paul is saying: "I am bound with a chain, but no fetters are on the word of God." [ref] This may also be a subtle reminder to Timothy that his freedom means he should be all the more earnest in preaching and teaching Gospel truth. [ref]

Because the Gospel does not depend on any one person, even if/when the worker is bound the work continues. [ref] Thus the Gospel "will triumph. It will perform its pre-ordained mission on earth. No enemy can thwart it." [ref] "[I]n spite of [Paul's] own chains, the gospel will nevertheless be preached by others." [ref]

Paul's "wording is masterly. We are first led down to the lowest depth: my gospel has brought me down, down to this deepest shame and disgrace of foul imprisonment. Then with a triumphant bound we rise upward: but the Word of God, which my gospel is, has not been imprisoned. For my gospel men could do this to me but with God and God’s Word they can do nothing. Me men can silence, but that is far, far from silencing God." [ref]


2 TIMOTHY 2:10 - Paul's Experience (vv. 9-10)

Paul expresses a similar thought in Colossians 1:24.

For this reason (2 Timothy 2:10)
Meaning: "Because I know that God is carrying on his work." [ref]

I endure all things (2 Timothy 2:10)
"Christian endurance is active, not passive: pain is felt as pain, but is recognised as having a moral and spiritual purpose." [ref] As one commentator explains it: "To endure means more than not to complain. It means more than acquiescence. It means going right ahead (believing, testifying, exhorting) though the load under which one is traveling on life's pathway has become very heavy." [ref]

for the sake of those who are chosen (2 Timothy 2:10)
For the sake of those people whom God has chosen to bring to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ [ref] -- that is to say, the Christian Church. [ref

We may at first be astonished by Paul's claim that his sufferings in some sense help to secure the salvation of others. "Yet it is so. Not of course that his sufferings have any redemptive efficacy like Christ’s, but that the elect are saved through the gospel and that he could not preach the gospel without suffering for it. It is another case of ‘glory through suffering’, the ‘eternal glory’ of the elect through the sufferings endured by the apostle." [ref]

"The knowledge that others had been, and were being, saved through his ministry was regarded by St. Paul as no small part of his reward. Thus, the Churches of Macedonia were his 'crown,' as well as his 'joy' (Philippians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:19). ... St. Paul was much sustained by the thought that his labours and sufferings were, in the providence of God, beneficial to others (2 Corinthians 1:6; 12:15; Ephesians 3:1, 13; Philippians 2:17; Colossians 1:24; Titus 1:1)" [ref]

The apostle "Paul was certain that what he was going through would in the end be a help to other people. His suffering was not pointless and profitless. The blood of the martyrs has ever been the seed of the Church; and the lighting of the pyre where Christians were burned has always been the lighting of a fire which could never be put out. When anyone has to suffer for his Christianity, let him remember that his suffering makes the road easier for someone else who is still to come. In suffering we bear our own small portion of the weight of the Cross of Christ and do our own small part in the bringing of God's salvation to men." [ref]

the salvation which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:10)
"Perhaps [Paul's] reference to the salvation that is in Christ Jesus [NIV] is intended to distinguish it from the kind of salvation offered by the false teachers. The words in Christ Jesus not only define the salvation as Christian, but also show it to be the possession of all those who are in Christ." [ref]

(and) with (it) eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10)
As one source explains: "This glory is the final, complete salvation of the elect in the new order of God. The saints will have resurrection bodies and transformed human natures (1 Cor. 15:42–49). They will experience the triumph of Christ over sin and death, and know fullness of joy in a life secured for them by Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension (v. 11; Matt. 13:43; 1 Tim. 1:16 note; cf. Ps. 16:11)." [ref]

Related: "Election"


2 TIMOTHY 2:11 - Conditions of Faithfulness (vv. 11-13)

Beginning with "For if we died with Him" and running through the end of verse 13 (2 Timothy 2:11b-13), it appears that Paul is quoting an early Christian hymn -- perhaps "part of a baptismal ceremony" [ref] [ref] -- "as an incentive to courage and endurance." [ref] [ref] As one source explains:

[M]any scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: "(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context" (P. T. O'Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage. [ref]

The first two lines of the hymn describe the attitudes and actions associated with loyalty to Christ, the last two with disloyalty [ref]:

For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him
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

And so the main idea of the hymn seems to be that "[l]oyalty to Christ, stedfastness even amid persecution, is rewarded, and disloyalty is punished." [ref]

a trustworthy statement (2 Timothy 2:11)
That which Paul is about to say is "worthy of entire credence and profound attention. The object is to encourage Timothy to bear trials by the hope of salvation." [ref

For (2 Timothy 2:11)
"[T]the word 'for' indicates that in the hymn something preceded. The probability is that the unquoted line which preceded was something like, 'We shall remain faithful to our Lord even to death,' or, 'We have resigned ourselves to reproach and suffering and even to death for Christ's sake.'" [ref]

if we died with Him (2 Timothy 2:11)
This may be an allusion to martyrdom -- especially appropriate considering Paul's present circumstance. [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] And of course faithful Christian service demands dying "to worldly comfort, ease, advantage, and honor" [ref] -- in other words, "death to self and to safety, as we take up the cross and follow Christ." [ref] "When I choose to die to my reputation, my rights, my ideas, and my pleasures -- when I choose to take up the Cross and die daily as Jesus told me to, I live." [ref]

That said, every Christian symbolically dies and is raised to new life, as pictured in Christian baptism (Romans 6:4-5, 8; Colossians 3:3). [ref] [ref]

live with Him (2 Timothy 2:11)
While this refers to "the life of the blessed in heaven" [ref], eternal life begins here on earth the moment a person becomes a Christian (Romans 6:8). [ref] In that respect, "[t]o live with Christ means to be with him, to have fellowship with him, to delight in him, to be like him, to love him, and to glorify him (see, for example, John 17:3; Philippians 2:5; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 John 3:2; 5:12; Revelations 14:1; 19:11, 14; 22:4)." [ref]

Related: Hymns & Spiritual Songs In Paul's Writings


2 TIMOTHY 2:12 - Conditions of Faithfulness (vv. 11-13)

reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12)
There is both a current and a future aspect to our reigning with Christ:

To reign with Christ means to experience in one's own life the restoration of the royal office. By virtue of creation man held the threefold office of prophet, priest, and king. As prophet his mind was illumined so that he knew God. As priest his heart delighted in God. As king his will was in harmony with God's will. This threefold office, lost through the fall, is restored by God's grace. The joyful response of the believer's will to the will of Christ, that response which is true freedom, is the basic element in this reigning with Christ. Moreover, even during the period before death Christians rule the world by means of their prayers, in the sense that again and again judgments occur in answer to prayer (Revelations 8:3-5). In heaven they are even closer to the throne than are the angels (Revelations 4:4; 5:11). In fact, they sit with Christ on his throne (Revelations 3:21), sharing his royal glory. And when Christ returns, the saints sit and judge with him (Psalms 149:5-9; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3). [ref]

deny Him ... deny us (2 Timothy 2:12)
In the original Greek, this "mark[s] a mere contingency, improbable in itself." [ref] A true believer will not and cannot deny Christ. Thus Paul is speaking of the person who has professed to be a true follower of Christ but later denies him -- proving he was never actually a Christian. As one commentator puts it: Paul is speaking "of a final, permanent denial, such as that of an apostate, not the temporary failure of a true believer like Peter (Matt. 26:69–75). Those who so deny Christ give evidence that they never truly belonged to Him (1 John 2:19) and face the fearful reality of one day being denied by Him (Matt. 10:33)." [ref]

"Deny us" means that Christ "will not acknowledge us as his own." [ref]


2 TIMOTHY 2:13 - Conditions of Faithfulness (vv. 11-13)

faithless ... faithful ... He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13)
"This could be (1) a word of warning (The Lord will exact punishment; he cannot deny his holiness) or (2) a word of hope (Because of who he is, he remains faithful to us despite our lapses). The latter is more likely, since Paul consistently cites God's faithfulness as a reassurance, not as a warning (cf. especially Romans 3:3; also 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3)." [ref] [ref] [ref] In truth, both interpretations are correct: "[F]aithfulness on [Christ's] part means carrying out his threats (Matthew 10:33) as well as his promises (Matthew 10:32). Divine faithfulness is a wonderful comfort for those who are loyal (1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; Philippians 1:6; Heb_10:23). It is a very earnest warning for those who might be inclined to become disloyal." [ref]

"Faithless" indicates "a wavering of faith, not an open act of disloyalty so much as an inward distrust of God’s promises." [ref] If, in fact, Paul is thinking of apostasy: "The question whether one can actually lose the gift of salvation is not so much in mind as is the question of what can happen to those who profess the faith, enjoy the benefits of the believing community and then prove to be false believers: Paul has in mind primarily the sin of apostasy, which for its treachery seems almost to be a special category of sin." [ref]

Here several points are worth noting:

  • "Not every weakness of faith will call down the awful judgement, for man’s faith in God is not the measure of God’s faithfulness to man." [ref] A moment of weakness does not mean we are lost. "True children of God cannot become something other than children, even when disobedient and weak. Christ’s faithfulness to Christians is not contingent on their faithfulness to Him."
  • God is not to be blamed for our wrongdoing; he remains faithful even when we do not. [ref]
  • The fact that Christ remains faithful despite our lack of faith should foster within us moral courage [ref] and a determination to get up and keep going after having stumbled and/or fallen short.
  • "[N]o matter what, God's promise to save his people will not fail because some prove to be false." [ref]

deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13)
This "has the notion of proving false to oneself, a thing that Christ cannot do." [ref] If Paul intends this as a warning, then his point is that Christ must deny anyone who denies him. "Indeed, if he did not deny us (in faithfulness to his plain warnings), he would then deny himself. But one thing is certain about God beyond any doubt or uncertainty whatever, and that is ‘he cannot deny himself’." [ref]

It is possible that "for He cannot deny Himself" was not part of the original hymn but was added by Paul as a sort of summary or conclusion. [ref]


Looking back over the first half of this chapter [2 Timothy 2:1-13], the apostle Paul seems to have been hammering home a single lesson. From secular analogy (soldiers, athletes, farmers) and from spiritual experience (Christ’s, his own, every Christian’s) he has been insisting that blessing comes through pain, fruit through toil, life through death, and glory through suffering. It is an invariable law of Christian life and service.

So why should we expect things to be easy for us or promise an easy time to others? Neither human wisdom nor divine revelation gives us such an expectation. Why then do we deceive ourselves and others? The truth is the reverse, namely ‘no pains, no gains’ or ‘no cross, no crown’.

It is this principle which took Jesus Christ through a lowly birth and a shameful death to his glorious resurrection and heavenly reign. It is this principle which had brought Paul his chains and prison cell, in order that the elect might obtain salvation and glory. It is the same principle which makes the soldier willing to endure hardship, the athlete discipline and the farmer toil. It would be ridiculous, therefore, to expect our Christian life and service to cost us nothing.

- John Stott [ref]

This life of decision, sacrifice and struggle is the life of salvation that is in Christ Jesus. From the standpoint of our experience this salvation remains at the best of times in progress, unfinished; at the worst of times it is nearly invisible. Its completion involves our response, our commitment to endure what can only be called a struggle. The decision to withdraw from it carries grave consequences. The decision to press on in the power of the Spirit promises eternal glory, complete life and fellowship with Christ forever.

- Philip H. Towner [ref]


*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. ( | **This outline is from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe