Have you ever had a friend remind you of who you and urge you on towards your destiny with the very words you have used to encourage others? This Tuesday with Timothy, Paul does just that. He uses very familiar and trustworthy sayings to remind Timothy why the journey is worth it, that he will make it even if his faith fails, because he is sealed and compelled by a greater love that never fails.
Last week, Mary Carmen showed us how Timothy is not alone in his suffering. Paul encouraged Timothy like a good friend saying, “I have been there too.” This week Paul is pointing Timothy towards his eternal prize and how perseverance here impacts eternity. He has a great reward at stake. When the journey gets tough, as they all do, we need to be reminded of deep, familiar foundational truth. We must silence and turn away the temporary noise around us and press on toward the eternal prize.
11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
Observation – what does the passage say?
* Paul provides comfort, motivation and warning through 4 trustworthy sayings:
1. If we die with Christ, we also live with Him through His resurrection power.
2. If we endure, we will also reign with Christ.
3. If we disown Him, He will also disown us.
4. If we are faithless, Christ remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.
* Paul issues 4 commands to Timothy:
1. Remind the people of the 4 trustworthy sayings.
2. Do not quarrel about words.
3. Present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
4. Avoid godless chatter.
* Paul warns Timothy of ungodliness spreading like gangrene, causing people to fall away from the faith.
* Paul assures Timothy that nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
Can you find a few other observations? Please consider sharing them in the comment section below so we can continue to learn from each other.
Interpretation – what does the passage mean?
According to Dr. Constable’s commentary, Sonic Light, Paul used a commonly accepted and used quotation that encouraged believers to remain faithful to their Christian profession. With the trustworthy sayings that are familiar to Timothy, Paul is reminding him of 4 things:
1. The comfort in knowing that whoever gives their life away to Christ will also experience the resurrection power of new life in Christ. Timothy can surrender his exhaustion and emotions to Christ and rise in Christ’s strength.
2. The motivation to endure in this life in order to reign with Christ in eternity. Dr. Constable explains the Bible seems to teach there are degrees of reigning, just as there are differences in rewards.
3. The warning that if the believer departs from following Christ faithfully during his or her life, Christ will “deny him” or her at the judgment seat of Christ. Sonic Light continues, the unfaithful believer will not lose his salvation or all of his reward, but he will lose some of his reward. Paul is urging Timothy to live a life that does not deny him any of his reward.
4. The comfort in knowing that if a believer is unfaithful to God, Christ will still remain faithful to him or her. “While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Timothy’s weakness and temptations do not change the living God in him. We should be compelled by such faithful love to live faithful lives.
A sobering perspective from The Dake Bible: The 4 trustworthy sayings reveal that God is as true to His threats as He is to His promises. He cannot lie and act contrary to His Word or to Himself, so He is obligated to curse for sin and to bless for righteousness.
With this inescapable, convicting truth about God’s character, Paul is warning Timothy to remind the people of the trustworthy sayings, not to get caught up in meaningless arguments that have divided the church and spread like cancer causing believers to fall away and abandon the faith. Because, regardless of how many believers shipwreck their faith, God’s solid foundation stands firm with a seal. It is the only sure foundation on which believers should build their faith. They will be measured by it.
Take a few minutes to follow the link to Sonic Light by a Dallas Theological Seminary professor. Include a few sentences in your notes describing the meaning of the passage after reading the scripture and gleaning insights from the commentary. Consider sharing your insights describing the meaning of the passage in the comments section too.
Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?
I find comfort in knowing my salvation is sealed, that my faith can waiver, and the Lord’s faithfulness will sustain me into heaven, because “He can’t deny Himself.” But, I want to more than make it into heaven. Is that selfish? No. Christ died for more than that. The reconciliation of sinful me to Holy God that happened that day the perfect Lamb decided to be tortured to death for me, who would continue to sin, and never made to choose Him, was for greater intimacy than simply walking through the gates of His Kingdom.
We are invited to also reign with Him and receive a full reward that He died to set up for us. Who am I to decide that getting just enough of Jesus to get into heaven is just enough? Who am I to decide that I’m not qualified to reign and receive reward?
Who would walk into their own birthday party, remain standing just inside the door and reject the gifts? This would break the heart of the host. We wouldn’t do that here on earth. That is exactly what I am doing with my relentless desire to reign here on earth. Under the guise of strategic diligence, I engage in godless chatter, striving to win meaningless arguments that build on my foundation of pride and add to my collection of “reward” here on earth. I refuse to continue breaking the heart of the Host.
There are levels of reigning in heaven. What do you think they look like?
Imagine your full reward set aside just for you in heaven. How does it compare to the world’s definition of success here?
How does Paul’s message move on your heart and stretch your expectation of heaven?
What is the godless chatter in your life?
Thank you for going on this journey through II Timothy with us this Summer. Like, Paul, let’s be vulnerable and share our hearts with each other. We can’t wait to hear from you.
In His Unfailing Love,