Summary: Cutting a straight furrow with the Word of God and avoiding catastrophe.
AN UNCHAINED GOSPEL
I. SALVATION WITH ETERNAL GLORY (2 Timothy 2:8-10)
Paul asks Timothy to “remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead’ (2 Timothy 2:8). Here in the Greek of 2 Timothy 2:8 the resurrection is mentioned BEFORE the Lord’s nativity into the house of David. After all, Jesus Christ is ‘declared to be the Son of God… by the resurrection from the dead’ (Romans 1:4).
Nevertheless, Jesus’ nativity is also emphasised (cf. Galatians 4:4). He is indeed the long-awaited “Christ” - the Messiah, the anointed One - born into the house of David (Luke 1:32-33). And His name, “Jesus” speaks of His mission as the Saviour of sinners (Matthew 1:21).
This is the Apostle’s pronouncement of “glad tidings” (2 Timothy 2:8) - the Gospel according to St. Paul. For this he was willing to be treated as a common criminal, suffering bonds himself in the full knowledge that “the word of God is not bound” thereby (2 Timothy 2:9). In order that “the elect” might “obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus,” Paul was willing to endure all things (2 Timothy 2:10; cf. Colossians 1:24).
II. A FAITHFUL SAYING (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
1. “For if we died together (with Him),
we shall also live together (with Him)” (2 Timothy 2:11).
2. “If we endure (sufferings),
we shall also reign together (with Him)” (2 Timothy 2:12).
This is part of the taking up of our Cross DAILY (Luke 9:23). If we suffer as Paul suffered (2 Timothy 2:9), and if we endure as Paul endured (2 Timothy 2:10), then our sufferings (like his) will be balanced with the glory to come (cf. Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
3. “If we deny (Him),
He will also deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12).
Jesus has already stated this Himself (Matthew 10:32-33).
4. “If we are unfaithful,
He faithful abides - He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
In the structure of this poem, “If we deny Him” finds its parallel in “If we are unfaithful.” So “He will also deny us” must be paralleled by “He remains faithful.”
To whom is Jesus being faithful here? Surely He is being faithful to Himself when He keeps not only His promises, but also His threats. NOT to deny us when we have denied Him (2 Timothy 2:12) would be to deny Himself - which He cannot do (2 Timothy 2:13).
This was the basis of Elijah’s audacious prayer, which effectively closed up the heavens preventing rain for three and a half years (James 5:17). The prophet's main concern was no doubt for the honour of the LORD, whose wrath and curse is pronounced against even the nation of Israel if she should turn aside from Him (Deuteronomy 11:16-17). Whether it is a threat or a promise, the Lord is faithful - “He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
III. A WORKER NOT ASHAMED (2 Timothy 2:14-15)
Paul asks Timothy to add his testimony to the teachings of the Epistle so far, reminding his hearers of the need to avoid such wrangling about words as is unprofitable and subversive, which only causes “catastrophe” in the lives of those who overhear such unedifying disputations (2 Timothy 2:14). By contrast, Timothy is to be diligent in his service of God, “cutting a straight furrow” with the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Changing the metaphor, others may ‘miss the mark’ (2 Timothy 2:18), but we must remain true to the Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17).