A brother recently commented on an earlier post regarding this very passage, and I thought it would be wise to look into it. It is one of the passages that made me consider conditional security many many years ago.
It bugged me then, being an avowed OSAS (once saved always saved) believer, but as is the case, when you see something you don’t like (or won’t try to understand) denial is bliss!
This passage, specifically verses 11 – 13 are full of if’s. Jam packed. Let’s consider the meaning of “if”
In English “if” can be defined as a word…
- used to talk about the result or effect of something that may happen or be true
- used to say that a particular thing can or will happen only after something else happens or becomes true
- used for introducing a situation or condition that must exist before something else happens
The English “if” is now understood. (snicker snicker)
The wrinkle in this is that the Greek used in the New Testament has four conditional “if’s”.
As if “if” wasn’t conditional enough, eh?
Granted, all four of the conditional clauses in this passage below are of the First Class “Simple Condition” and could easily be translated as a fulfilled condition.
So for example, the first clause could read “If, as is the case we have died with him…”
So before we dig in, lets take a few moments to simply read the text under consideration.
2 Timothy 2:11-14
11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have 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.
14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
As you can see, as an avowed OSAS follower, these verses were difficult to find comfort in. Verse 12 was simply to be glossed over.
Let’s consider each of the conditional clauses in the following posts and and try to figger out what Paul is getting at. Lets look at our third clause in this post.
2 Timothy 2:12 b
If we deny him, he also will deny us.
Let’s remember that the conditional clause could be translated, If, as is the case we deny him, he also will deny us.
Wow Paul – are you saying that some believers have, in reality denied Him? How can that be? You need to read John 10:28, Paul.
John 10:28- 29
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
John perfectly describes that believers are eternally secure, and that God will not allow anyone one to snatch them out of Jesus’ or the Father’s hand.
But this isn’t about someone snatching me, as if a believer is being kidnapped from the kingdom! It is about free-will, about the freedom to love God more than “these” (as Jesus once asked a disciple), it is about being willing to stay with the Master due of love instead of being required to stay with Him due to some initial faith contract.
Back to 2 Timothy 2:12. If, as is the case we deny him.
Since Paul is stating a fact of reality, who is “we”? It cannot be representing all believers – that makes no sense. Obviously, at least in my mind, Paul is referring to those who were in the fellowship, and yet have departed from the faith.
Some have turned away! This seems to me to be on Paul’s’ mind as he writes this letter to the young Timothy.
2 Timothy 1:15
15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
2 Timothy 2:17-18
17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
2 Timothy 3:8
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
Interesting that the three examples of those who had turned away from the faith, who had denied Him, were team tagging for heresy.
2 Timothy 3:5
5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Finally, Paul gives Timothy (and us) some guidance on how to relate with those who deny the faith. Within the context of 2 Timothy, Paul describes people who are full of denial (is that possible?).
These folk have the appearance of godliness, having the skin of faith, but no heart/mind/soul of faith.
Paul says to avoid such people, turn away from them!
Wow – kinda overly harsh there Paul! Are we not to win them back, try to understand thier point of view, enter into discussions to convince them of thier errors?
Brothers & sisters – faith is to be nurtured not nuked! These deniers will poison your well of faith, drag you down and destroy your faith. Stay away! There are many in the institutional church that are of this ilk!
As an aside, Paul is not telling believers to avoid those outside of the church. Those who are outside of the church are to be entered into with irenic debate and honest open discussion.
Not so with deniers, those who were in faith and have rejected and denied – it is our responsibility to “avoid such people”.
Our final post on this short passage will consider “If we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself” I hope to see you there.
As always, if you have any comments , or wish to correct something I am missing, I look forward to the interaction.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.