Loyalty is Rewarded, Disloyalty is Not
Part two–verses 8 to 13
The true statement–2 Timothy 2:11 to 13
Loyalty is important. I love the true story of Emily, the administrative assistant to a leading American economist. The economist described the loyalty of his admin with a single phone call from the President of the United States. He writes, “It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang.
“The President was calling from the White House, ‘Get me Ken Galbraith. This is the President.’ She said, ‘He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him.’ And the President said, ‘Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.’ The admin said, ‘No, Mr. President. I work for him,… not you.’ When the economist called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. The President said, ‘Tell that woman I want her here in the White House.’”
You gotta love loyalty. And as a Christian, loyalty to Christ is essential. Without loyalty, the certainty of salvation is in question, your ability to make an impact for Christ is limited, your heart stability doesn’t exist and capacity to see Christ work in the midst of trials disappears. Are you loyal? In 2 Timothy, Paul is calling Timothy to be loyal in verses 11 to 13, and does so with “a faithful saying”. Why? Because loyalty is rewarded and disloyalty is not.
Last week, Paul motivated Timothy with the pre-eminence of Christ, the amazing power of Christ, the focused purpose of Christ, and today Paul motivates Timothy with the promises of God toward the loyal, and penalties to the disloyal. As you turn in your Bibles to 2 Timothy 2:11 to 13 and follow along in your outline, Paul shares a trustworthy statement.
Let’s read it aloud together from your outline. “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.”
This faithful statement is saturated with theology to motivate Timothy and you. The main point, loyalty to Christ and steadfastness even in the midst of persecution is rewarded, but disloyalty is punished. Notice this New Testament proverb is directed at Christians–the subject “we” meaning Paul, Timothy and all believers who are in relationship to Christ–He, Him and Himself.
The condition is given four times–if we do this, then He will do this. This is no hypothetical “if”–it is the if of a fulfilled condition. The hypothesis is assumed to be an actual fact. Therefore, you can translate it “because” we died with Him. The if does not imply any uncertainty or doubt, but actually presented truisms. The four if clauses with their conclusions fall into two pairs–the first pair is positive and the second pair is negative.
For those who care, both pairs of clauses illustrate synthetic parallelism. The first pair of clauses points to the positive results of enduring ill treatment for Christ. In contrast, the second pair of clauses asserts the solemn warning that denial and unfaithfulness negatively separate men from Christ. Today, God’s Word will cause you to test your loyalty to Christ, evaluate your understanding of doctrine, motivate your boldness for Christ and cause you to run from disloyalty to Christ.
Why? Because the Lord rewards loyalty and reacts to disloyalty. How loyal are you? You’re with family and friends, and they make fun of Christians and mock Christ. They attack those who think homosexuality is sin, that men and women’s roles are archaic and that Christians should spend all their time helping the poor.
1) Do you remain silent? 2) Do you say, “No, that’s not true”? 3) Do you share a verse? 4) Or do you say, “You all are very confused about biblical Christianity, I’m ready to help any of you know how you can be totally forgiven by God from your sins, given internal peace and empowered to be a totally new person when you’re ready”? How loyal are you? Why should I be? Because the Lord rewards loyalty and reacts to disloyalty.
A True STATEMENT Verse 11a
“It is a trustworthy statement.” This is one of the famous faithful sayings. There are five of them in the New Testament and they all occur in the Pastoral Epistles–in Timothy and Titus only! Look at them.
1 Timothy 1:15, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.”
1 Timothy 3:1, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.”
1 Timothy 4:9, “It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.”
2 Timothy 2:11, “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him.”
Titus 3:8, “This is a trustworthy statement; …those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds.”
Paul uses the faithful saying here in 2 Timothy to introduce an axiomatic truth–a truism the Early Church commonly knew and believed. It is a weighty statement containing truth which calls for our fullest confidence. Trustworthy means faithful, believing–the opposite of distrusting. The entire statement of verses 11 to 13 may have been used as a creed, a spiritual song or doctrinal reminder in the Early Church. This is why several modern translations list it in verse form.
Paul certainly taught this to Timothy before writing it here. So now Paul reminds his faithful apostolic assistant he has nothing to fear from the threat of death or arrest. Timothy should speak out for Christ, clearly proclaim the Gospel, and never back down from teaching God’s Word. The idea in this faithful saying reminds you true faith identifies you with Christ, while unbelief just as certainly separates you from Christ. Loyalty is rewarded and disloyalty is not. The first phrase found in verse 11 promises . . .
#1 A true statement of SECURITY Verse 11b
“It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him.” The verb died describes the general fact of dying and the verb live describes living in the future. There are two possible interpretations of “if we died with Him” here–either way you interpret it, this phrase explains how Paul could actually stare death in the face so calmly.
VIEW 1 The Lord Jesus died not only for us, but also as us
In God’s sight, when Jesus died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. When He arose, we arose. In Christ, every one of you believers here has already passed through death and burial and now stands on resurrection ground. Your physical death is simply an incident of momentary concern. Paul describes this Spirit baptism, dying and rising again in Christ in Romans 6.
Romans 6:4, “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” When you are in Christ, you died with Him and you rose with Him. Romans 6:8, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” In this view, Paul is telling Timothy, “Since we all died spiritually in Christ, we will all live forever in Christ.”
VIEW 2 The problem is the context and flow of argument of Romans 6 is different than 2 Timothy 2
Romans 6 is about our union with Christ, but here in 2 Timothy Paul is talking about persecution and the potential of physically dying. With Paul’s own death looming as he rots in a disgusting Roman prison, after his trial and before his soon expected execution, the context points to “if we died with Him” is better understood as physical death.
Death is seen as the highest expression of suffering for Christ–it’s called martyrdom. So Paul is saying, if we physically die for Christ, we will live forever with Christ. Timothy would fear death under the Roman persecution started by Nero against Christians. And if Timothy supports Paul and His apostolic teaching, he is making himself a prime target for the authorities to arrest and kill.
The Greek word died is translated death, kill, immortality, die together, and mortal. “If we died with Him” is a reference to a martyr’s death, now viewed from the perspective of a future crowning day. Paul is telling Timothy that faithfulness even while facing the supreme ultimate sacrifice for Christ assures us of eternal fellowship with Christ in resurrection glory.
The future tense of the verb, “we will also live with Him,” points to living forever with Christ in Heaven in the future. This is how Paul could face death so calmly–why he would write 2 Corinthians 5:8, “prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” Paul could face physical death, knowing it was simply a doorway to eternity with Christ. The martyr’s hope is eternal life after death.
So Timothy and FBC Christian, Paul is reminding you of a trustworthy truth—a promise. You have nothing to fear from death. The worst is already over. Get it now–this life is the only Heaven a non-Christian will ever experience. And this life is the only Hell a Christian will ever experience.
You’re secure in Christ. You will not be condemned for your sins, because Christ was condemned for you. You will not be punished for your sins, because Christ was punished for you. You will not die for your sins, because Christ died for your sins. You will not fail to live after death, because Christ lived after death.
Nothing can separate you from the all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving Christ. Romans 8:35, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Paul wrote those words from Rome, and Roman Christians themselves now feared Nero and all the terrifying savagery of persecution—being eaten alive by lions in the arena or burned alive as torches in Nero’s garden . . . awful, horrifying, ghastly deaths.
Timothy and the believers in Ephesus also shared these same fears. So Paul reminds Timothy of a truth all Christians back then already knew. “For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him.” Timothy, Christian–you are secure. Loyalty is rewarded and disloyalty is not. Our decisions must be influenced by the secure truth that death has been destroyed–Christ has securely given you a future after death. But Paul also promises Timothy . . .
#2 A true statement of MOTIVATION Verse 12
“If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us.” Here is Paul’s motivating statements–first positive, reigning, and then negative, deny us. Don’t ever think God merely motivates His children with positive encouragement. He also motivates you with negative warnings. And verse 12 gives us both.
This verse could be literally translated, “if we endure, we will be Kings together. But if we ourselves will deny, also that one will deny us.” Look at the positive promise . . .
First A true statement of POSITIVE Motivation Verse 12a
“If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” In connection to the first phrase of the true statement, which is, “if you die, you live, now, if you endure persecution or hostility without being killed, you give evidence you truly belong to Christ, and therefore, will reign with Him.” The present tense tells you this endurance is to continue throughout your entire life.
Look back to verse 10–Paul says to Timothy that he is currently enduring his suffering in a Roman prison for the sake of those who are chosen. The New Testament repeatedly reminds us Christ is one who endured hostility, like in Hebrews 12:3, and you know Christians are promised suffering in this world, right? Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
Paul just commanded Timothy back in verse 3, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” You students, newlyweds, even spiritual leaders are not exempt from the ordinary ills and regular disasters that overtake people on this sin-diseased planet. And Christian, you also suffer from the active malice of the detestable Satan, along with the hatred of a world system that despises Christians and their beliefs.
So here Paul now calls Timothy to endure–be patient, persevere, and be steadfast. The Greek verb endure is made up of two major words–hupo meno, to remain under. You remain under the weight of a trial, persecution, even potential death. Why? The faithful saying, this true statement tells you that better times are ahead.
Verse 12, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” Future tense, “you will reign.” That’s the hope of every believer in this room who experiences trial, ongoing health issues or relationship pain. Those who live with difficulty hope for the eternal Kingdom.
But this is especially true of those of you who experience injustice, harsh treatment, hateful relatives, wrongful treatment by employers, and horrible people who were cruel–one day Christ will make it all just, and life will be perfect. And the shocker is this–you will assist Christ in the perfect, righteous process of ruling this planet with Him.
The Greek verb reign literally means to rule as a king. The verb here is a compound verb that means to reign with or to be kings together with. Paul is reminding Timothy and you–as you endure, fix your eyes on the reward God promises for suffering. Paul encourages with, you will reign, Christian. “You will reign as a king.”
Paul was looking forward to the day when he himself would reign, and Nero, who currently rules Rome, would be dead. What’s Paul say in 2 Timothy 4:8? “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” Romans 14:10 tells Christians, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
Second Corinthians 10:5 tells Christians what our judgment will be like. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” You will be rewarded. I am certain you noticed those rewards are often called crowns, which implies ruling and reigning.
And as you study the New Testament further, you realize Christ Jesus has ruling and reigning in mind for his children in the future. Christ’s plan is to rapture His church to Heaven, judge this planet with a seven-year horrific tribulation, physically return in glory to end the rebellion to the one true God, and literally rule this planet for one thousand years with his saints as co-regents.
This kind of reward should amaze you, because it goes beyond being with Christ to reigning with Christ. This is not a “pie-in-the-sky” reward. Jesus was specific about ruling with Him in the parable of the minas, where He has the master say in Luke 19:17, “Well done, my good servant! … Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”
Co-regency speaks of privileged intimacy. Those who endure will be his co-reigning viceroys and confidants. What amazing joy! Eternal reward goes beyond eternal rest to eternal responsibility as Christ’s co-regents, teaming with Him on vast new enterprises. Jesus promised the twelve in Matthew 19:28, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Believers will have positions of authority in the millennial kingdom, as 1 Corinthians 6:2 to 3 indicates, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life?”
Who will reign with Christ? Those who endure. In fact, those who will reign with Christ are the people sitting around you who endure. But in the future, they will be resurrected saints–perfect, with glorified bodies. Those believers who survive the Tribulation will go on living in the refurbished earth as regular Christians like today. But a glorified Christ will rule from Jerusalem and glorified perfect saints will rule with Him around the earth.
I want to rule Maui, but might get Hemet–we’ll see. But anyplace will be sauce in the Kingdom. The 1,000-year millennial kingdom is real and it is coming. It is when Christians will reign with Christ. At the bema judgment seat of Christ, our position, power and prominence in the millennial kingdom will be decided.
Therefore, you must look at your sufferings in the light of the coming judgment seat in order to endure. Loyalty is rewarded and disloyalty is not. And remember, to endure does not protect salvation. Salvation is protected by Christ–you’re held secure by Christ. But all those who are held secure actually will seek to endure and actually do endure.
So to endure does not protect salvation, but it does prove salvation. But there is negative promise to this . . .
Second A true statement of NEGATIVE Motivation Verse 12b
“If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” Personalize it–if you deny Him, He will deny you. The Greek verb deny is in the future tense, pointing to a future emphasis, declaring, “If we ever deny Him,” or
“If in the future we deny Him.” This true statement looks at some confrontation or situation or some persecution that makes the cost of confessing Christ very high and thereby tests one’s true faith, asking each of you–is the church attender a real believer or a make believer?
Any so-called Christian who fails to endure and fails to hold onto his confession of Christ will deny Christ only because he or she never belonged to Christ at all. This is what Jesus says in Matthew 10:32 and 33, “Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”
The Greek word disown or deny in 2 Timothy has a wide range of meanings in the New Testament, from temporary disowning (like Peter did to Jesus) to full-blown apostasy. Here Paul is describing apostasy–permanent unfaithfulness. This is a decision of disloyalty, 1) because Christ denies those who do it, 2) because of the close similarity with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 10, and 3) because the next phrase, the fourth stanza, refers to temporary unfaithfulness.
Look at verses 17 and 18 of this chapter where Paul describes two who deny Christ and His teaching. When you apply this phrase here, “If we deny Him, He also will deny us,” to those two men, it is an ominous declaration for the likes of Hymenaeus and Philetus. Think about the future–“If we will disown Him, He will also disown us.” The terror that will unfold at the final judgment is a reciprocal, eternal disownment. The stakes were high for Timothy and they remain equally high for you today.
“What about Peter’s denial? Can a true believer deny the Lord?” Believers like Peter can fall into temporary cowardice and fail to stand for the Lord. You and I all do it in various ways when we’re unwilling to openly declare our love for Christ in a given situation. When Peter was facing the test Paul describes here, did Peter evidence a lack of true saving faith?
Well look at the entire event. His response to the denial–weeping bitter tears of sorrow and the Lord’s restoration of Peter in Galilee probably should lead you to conclude that Peter was truly justified, though he obviously was not yet fully sanctified. Until Pentecost, Peter didn’t have the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit. After the Spirit came to live in him in New Covenant fullness, his courage, boldness, and willingness to face any hostility became legendary.
Tradition even tells us Peter died as a martyr, requesting to be crucified upside down, since he felt it unworthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. So perhaps the answer to Peter’s denial is that his was a momentary failure, followed by repentance. But there is a settled, final kind of denial that does not repent, and thereby evidences an unregenerate heart. Like those so-called followers in John 6:66, “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.”
Hebrews 6:4 to 6 clearly tells each one of you here that you can enjoy the blessings of Christian fellowship, but not be saved. “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.”
Along with those who now can never repent, the New Testament repeatedly declares that living in continual disobedience to the Scripture is another way churchgoers actually deny Christ. Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” The professor here is not a possessor.
Paul’s faithful saying here in 2 Timothy 2:12 says that kind of permanent denial will face a reciprocal, eternal disownment from God at the final judgment. Loyalty is rewarded and disloyalty is not. Timothy, be motivated to remain loyal, knowing you will one day reign with Christ and be motivated to remain loyal to Christ, knowing deniers will be rejected by Christ, leading to a final promise in this faithful statement.
#3 A true statement of COMFORT Verse 13
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” What does faithless mean?
View one: Faithless means continuous, non-saving faith, meaning you’re not genuinely saved
View two: Faithless means temporary faltering, like Peter and you have stumbled
So what does the entire phrase mean? Is Christ faithful to punish and repudiate, because He cannot deny the justice of His being, or is Christ faithful to hold on to Christians because of His character of fidelity and the permanence of His promise? One evidence is this–the New Testament never uses God’s faithfulness negatively. It doesn’t use faithfulness as the basis for the certainty that the faithless will be punished.
God’s faithfulness is always used positively, to assure you God keeps His Word, guards you from temptation, and protects you from the evil one. But you can’t solve the interpretive question merely by word choice or parsing verbs. The right view must be determined by the context. What’s been happening in 2 Timothy? Paul is motivating embarrassed, ashamed, timid and weak Timothy to fire up and be bold.
Paul calls Timothy to speak out, uphold sound doctrine, and proclaim the true Gospel, even though Christian leaders are being arrested and killed for doing so. And worse, Paul, Timothy’s own mentor, is in a dank Roman cell awaiting execution. Be bold, Timothy. But here in verse 13, God declares that even if you are not–even if you don’t courage up, and you don’t show a measure of faith by growing bold, Christ remains faithful to you.
The text describes Christ here as the One–He is the one who stays faithful to you. So the Greek word translated “faithless” refers to a believer’s unfaithfulness. The sad fact is, believers—you and I are often unfaithful. Paul cites the example of Demas later in chapter 4:10. So here, Paul did not want Timothy to be unfaithful like Demas.
But even when you and I disappoint the Lord, He remains true to His Word and His character and is faithful in His dealings with us. Remember His dealings with John Mark, who disappointed the Lord at Perga? Paul really felt Mark’s defection keenly, but the Lord Himself did not write Mark off. God used Barnabas, Peter, and other believers to bring Mark back into useful ministry to Paul and to the New Testament Church.
Even if verse 13 means you remain in a state without faith, meaning unsaved–Christ is still declared to be faithful, no matter what. And you know by experience–even though you and I change and are at times unfaithful to Christ, Christ does not change and is always faithful to His children. Thank God for this truth. Take comfort from this truth.
Where would you and I be if this line were not true? “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” What a comfort to Timothy, who certainly wavered at times–some would say it’s why Paul wrote 2 Timothy. And what a comforting blanket for you and I who are often faithless. Obviously, this is a blessing to you who are loyal but occasionally struggle with disloyalty.
Why is God like this? This magnificent truth says, “for He cannot deny Himself.” Calvin declares, “Christ is not like us; Christ never swerves from His truth.” God’s faithfulness is rooted deep in His character as the God who always acts in conformity to His very nature. What God is, He always is. No man is always himself, but God is always Himself–He cannot be untrue to His own nature.
This is beautiful. These truths are essential for loyalty in the midst of suffering. God’s faithfulness is a wonderful comfort for those who are loyal. God’s faithfulness is a serious warning for those who might be inclined to be disloyal.
TAKE HOME Where are you at today?
Is salvation urgent to you? Satan continues his efforts to make sin less offensive, Heaven less appealing, Hell less horrific and the Gospel less urgent. Are you urgent to be made right with God through Christ? At the cross, the worst about us (our sins) was laid upon Christ, and at our conversion the best about Christ (His righteousness) was laid upon us.
But authentic faith is the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart. It is not something the carnal heart can conjure up out of its own free will. Everyone here stands condemned before God because of their sin. Has your sin been punished on Christ and you been given His righteousness? Is it proven by a transformed heart that wants to obey God’s Word?
Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good.” Mere profession does not save–you need to receive Christ and trust Him with all your heart. When you do, you will boldly confess His name. Cry out to God to open your heart and give your heart to follow Him.
Is sanctification a passion for you? Are you motivated to live and reign with Christ? Then what you do with your life now for Christ is crucial. And how passionate your longing to reign with Christ is critical. Have you taken steps to faithfully serve Christ, give to Christ, draw near to Christ and worship Christ? As a student, are you making commitments and taking steps to pursue Christ and His work? And as you get older, are you making the choices necessary to finish well with Christ?
Are you less loyal or more loyal to Christ than you were a year ago? And how will you grow to be loyal to the end so that you might reign with Christ? Loyalty is rewarded and disloyalty is not. God makes promises to the faithful and gives problems of the unfaithful.