2 TIMOTHY 2:1-13

Endurance. It isnít usually the strength of young men. When I was in high school I went out for the track team. I was fast on my feet and I had visions of outrunning all of my competition and winning races and having everyone applaud me and say what a wonderful fellow I was. But when I got out on the track, I found that they wanted me to practice running long distances for several hours at a time. Practice? Every afternoon? Long distance wasnít in my vocabulary. I lacked the endurance.

The Christian race isnít a sprint. It isnít a brief meet to which you show up on Saturday afternoon. It is a marathon and it lasts your whole life.



You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1).

Paul begins this section with the word "therefore." When you see the word "therefore" you want to look to see what it is there for. It refers back to the previous verses. In this case, it goes back to 2 Timothy 1:16-18 and the positive example of Onesiphorus. He was the man who had sought out Paul in the Roman prison to minister to him. Paul gave that example to Timothy for a reason. He says, "Because of the testimony of such a one, you also be strong in that same grace that is in Christ Jesus."

Grace wasnít something new to the life of Timothy. He had long been an associate of Paul and you could not associate with Paul without hearing about grace. This means that this call to grace is not a new call.

The command to "be strong" is in the present tense. When you give a command in the Greek present tense, it gives a focus upon continuing action. We could translate this imperative as: You therefore, my son, continue being strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. This is a call to endurance. It is a call for Timothy to continue in that which he had already begun.

We come to Christ by grace to be saved, trusting in Him and resting upon His merit. But grace doesnít stop at the cross. It only begins there. In the same way that we came by grace, so also now we are to continue in grace.


And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2).

Paul has a method by which Timothy will be able to continue in grace and by which he will be able to impart that same grace to others. It is a strategic method. It involves the process of discipleship. Timothy is to take those teachings of grace that were given to him by Paul and he is to pass them on to others. But it is not to stop there. This is to be a multiplied ministry.

As Paul has taught Timothy, so Timothy is to multiply that ministry by teaching others who will pass those teachings on to even more.

Do you have a Timothy? Is there someone in whose life you are passing on the grace of Christ? If you are a parent, then you have a ready-made Timothy. It is your child. Or your grandchildren. But even if you are not a parent, there are others whose lives you can be touching.

There are no age limits on this process. When our daughter Sky was just going into high school, she used to have a number of the younger girls in our church over to our home and she would teach them about Christ and how they ought to live in the light of the grace of God. She was a part of this same discipleship process even at that early age.



Paul now goes on to illustrate this principle of Christian endurance by way of five graphic illustrations. These illustrations each present certain characteristics which are also required by one who would be an enduring follower of Christ.

1. The Example of a Soldier

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

I grew up on military bases. My father was a career pilot in the United States Air Force and I got to see firsthand what the military was like. I got to see that it was HARD. There are certain personages known as Drill Sergeants whose sole duty in life is to bring about hardship on the part of those under their command. There is marching and there is running and there is training and it begins before the sun comes up and it doesnít end even when the sun goes down.

The Christian is called to a similar life of discipline. He is called to suffer hardship the way a soldier suffers hardship. This is a call to dedicated service.

No soldier who is in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life. He does not try to fight on the battlefield while at the same time trying to hold down a second job. The last thing a soldier on the battlefield needs is other areas of entanglement. He has only one function. It is to obey orders. When he is ordered to march, he marches. And when he is ordered to fight, he fights.

The Christian is also called to free himself from entanglements. Instead of being so caught up in the details of everyday life, we are to seek to please our Lord. Is there something in your life that is drawing your attention away from the Lord? Give it to Him!

2. The Example of an Athlete.

And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5).

There are a lot of parallels that might be drawn between sports and the Christian life. Paul does this elsewhere, likening the Christian life to a race that must be run all the way to its conclusion. Or he speaks of the boxer who makes every punch count. Or he speaks of the athlete who competes to win a prize.

In this verse Paul focuses upon a single parallel. It is a focus upon the rules. When you participate in sports, there are certain rules that must be followed. A runner in a race cannot choose his own course. A player in a game cannot make up his own rules. Boundaries must be maintained. Rules must be followed. Otherwise the result is disqualification.

Walking in grace does not mean an absence of rules. Freedom in Christ is not a call to live as we please. It is a call to live as HE pleases.

3. The Example of a Farmer

The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:6-7).

Iím not so sure that the force of Paulís statement comes through in the way the NAS has translated verse 6. A better translation would say that the farmer must first work hard to receive his share of the crops. The point of the passage is that first you work, then you reap the results of that work.

Every farmer knows this. I have a black thumb and can kill any plant known to man and even I know this. First you plant, then you harvest. You canít do the one until you have done the other. There is no possibility of getting the order wrong.

Notice that in all three of these illustrations there is a reward for the believer who has been strong in grace.


The Call

The Reward

A Soldier

Suffer hardship

Please the One who enlisted you

An Athlete

Follow the rules

Win the prize

A Farmer

Work hard

Receive your share of the harvest



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. (2 Timothy 2:8-9).

Paulís final example is of himself. He says to Timothy, "You remember to remember Jesus the way I have remembered Jesus. You do it, no matter what the cost; even if it takes you to a Roman dungeon."

Why? What was the motivation for suffering the evils of a Roman prison? What gave Paul the gasoline to endure such circumstances? It was the fact that he knew that the word of God is not imprisoned. They could put Paul in prison, but they could not imprison the gospel.

That is the closing message of the book of Acts. A great deal of the book of Acts takes place within various prisons and courtrooms. It is a book about the attempt to imprison the gospel. It comes to a close with Paul having been brought to Rome under house arrest.

And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. (Acts 28:30-31).

Do you see the very last word in the very last verse? It is also the last word in the Greek text. It is the word unhindered. The point is that they could lock up Paul but they could not lock up the gospel. He was chained; the gospel was free.

This is a liberating truth. The gospel is winning. It cannot be contained. It cannot be imprisoned. It will succeed in accomplishing that for which it was designed. That is motivating. It is motivating because you are guaranteed success in sharing the gospel. Paul alludes to this in the following verses.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

It is a trustworthy statement:

For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him;

if we endure, we shall 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. (2 Timothy 2:10-13).

In verse 9 Paul said that he suffers hardship. Now in verse 10 he says that he endures all things. In verse 12 he shall speak of how we endure. The motivation for that endurance is for the sake of those who are chosen.

Notice how Godís sovereignty plays out in the plan of salvation. Every once in a while, I am asked, "If God really does predestine some to be saved, then why should we ever have to present the gospel? Doesnít predestination take away any motivation for evangelism?" The contrary is true. Instead of taking away motivation for evangelism, Godís work of election provides Paulís motivation to evangelize. He is motivated to endure hardship for the sake of those whom God has chosen to be saved. The very fact that God has chosen them is for Paul a motivation to suffer for them.

There are a lot of things that I do for my family that I donít do for others. Why? Because they are my family. And Paul calls us to do the same thing. He calls us to do good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith (Galatians 6:10).

Verses 11-13 are given by way of poetry. It could be that this was an ancient hymn that was sung during the worship service. It contains a rhyme and meter.

It is a trustworthy statement:

For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him;

if we endure, we shall 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. (2 Timothy 2:11-13).

These verses give a series of promises. They are conditional promises. Each one begins with the conditional clause "if." The idea is that if the first part of the clause is true, then the last part will also be true.

1st Couplet

If we died with Him,


Points to the cross and our union with Christ in the past

Our action is a positive one (we die with Him and endure)

We shall also live with Him


2nd Couplet

If we endure


Points to our present perseverance

We shall also reign with Him


3rd Couplet

If we deny Him


Points to future temptations and warnings

Our action is a negative one (we deny Him and are faithless)

He also will deny us


4th Couplet

If we are faithless


A promise of the Lordís continuing faithfulness

He remains faithful


Notice the movement of the tenses. They move from past (aorist) to the present to the future, but then come to a close with a present summary.

Notice also that the first two couplets are in parallel. They reflect the positive action of the believer and the blessings that follow. The last two couplets are also in parallel. They reflect the negative action of the unbeliever and the consequences of those negative actions.

1. The First Couplet: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him (2:11).

Some commentators have sought to tie this is with Paulís sufferings and impending martyrdom. But if this were the case, then we would expect a future tense. Instead Paul uses the aorist. The point is that, in Paulís mind, he has already died with Christ.

To be sure, the fact that Paul sees himself as having already died with Christ is an encouragement in face of the possibility of his impending martyrdom. It is easier to die if you have already died. Paul considers himself dead to the world and he calls for us to have that same consideration.

2. The Second Couplet: If we endure, we shall also reign with Him (2:12).

The Christian is not only called to die; he is also called to live. He is called to remain and to endure and to persevere in the faith.

3. The Third Couplet: If we deny Him, He also will deny us (2:12).

Now we move from the positive to the negative. Instead of dying with Christ and enduring for Christ, here is the situation of denying Christ. A person who refuses to die with Christ and to endure for Christ is in effect denying Christ. He finds that he shall be denied by Christ. This echos the words of Jesus when He said: "But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:33).

At this point, you might be thinking, "Iím okay, I would never think of actually denying Christ." But Paul elsewhere makes it clear that it is possible to be guilty of such a denial in ways other than words. He describes those who profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed (Titus 1:16).

4. The Fourth Couplet: If we are faithless, He remains faithful (2:13).

At first glance, this couplet seems to contradict the previous one. After reading the previous couplet that says our denial results in His denial, we would expect to read that our unfaithfulness results in His unfaithfulness. But it is impossible for Christ to be unfaithful.

There are those who look at this verse and who say, "If we are faithless, it is okay because Christ is faithful and He will forgive us in spite of our faithlessness." Such an interpretation is reading something into the passage that simply isnít there. This passage doesnít say that we will be saved in spite of being faithless. To the contrary, it says that Christ remains faithful. He remains faithful in granting His blessings upon those who have died in Him and who have endured with Him. And He also remains faithful in denying those who deny Him. He is faithful when He saves the repentant. And He is faithful when He condemns the unrepentant.

This last couplet is a blessing to those who are faithful. It is a warning to those who are not. It is salvation to those who remain in Christ. It is the curse of damnation to those who deny Christ.

This is a call to endurance. It is a call to remain faithful. It is the very strictest warning to those who are tempted to deny Christ and to turn away from Him.

About the Author
Return to the St Andrews Homepage
Return to Online Bible Studies & Sermons Page