2 Timothy 2:7-13 – No pains, no gains! No cross no crown!


2 Timothy 2v7-13

No pains, no gains! No cross no crown!


Over the past few months we have returned a number of times to the theme of achieving a goal – esp. with the Olympic games in mind and now the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.

Last week we saw how Paul writing to his young friend and protege Timothy urges him to be like:-

  • The whole-hearted dedicated of a good soldier
  • The disciplined obedient athlete
  • The faithful hard work of a farmer

… without these characteristics there will be no victory in battle / no prize for the race run / no harvest to enjoy.

Having given Timothy these three everyday illustrations that Timothy would easily picture he urges him to carefully consider what he is saying.

2 Timothy 2:7 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. (NIV)

This verse teaches us a double-sided truth:

  • We are to use our minds to understand
  • Understanding is by divine illumination.

Bear in mind that Paul is an Apostle and therefore teaches with apostolic authority – which means that he his teaching what he has been entrusted with from God. Galatians 1:11-12 11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, …..; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (NIV)

What the apostles taught is now written down for us in the Bible – we are to carefully consider and reflect upon that. Paul sees no contradiction is saying that God gives understanding AND that we need to study carefully and diligently to gain understanding.

Some Christians never get down to the serious study of God’s word simply because they are too lazy

Some Christians don’t spend time in serious Bible Study because they think it is “spiritual” [pseudo-spiritual really] to claim that “The Holy Spirit will guides us”. So the superficially read verses, often out of context BUT fail to obey Paul’s instruction here to carefully consider / ponder / dig-deep.

We can of course, go to the other extreme and do in depth study but fail to recognise that God alone through his Holy Spirit gives understanding.

We must study the Bible carefully and prayerfully – trusting God to enlighten our understanding – not simply acquisition of information rather it is wisely using the information for practical living. Information => Knowledge => Understanding => Wisdom.

God has entrusted us – his people – with His gospel [broad grasp of ALL God’s teaching] and he requires that we be like dedicated, loyal soldiers/ self-disciplined, law-abiding athlete / and hard-working farmers – in BOTH tasks of understanding his gospel and passing it on to others!

The whole thrust of this letter to Timothy is to urge and encourage him to be a good minister of the gospel AND to remind him again that the Road to Glory is by way of toil and hardship. No Pain! No Gain! No Guts! No Glory!

Nothing that is worthwhile is ever easy! Nothing that is easy is ever worthwhile!

He has used the 3 illustrations of soldier, athlete and farmer and in these next verses he reinforces them with example from the experience of Jesus, of himself and indeed of all true believers.

  1. The experience of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, (NIV)

As we read through the OT and examine the history of God’s people in that era one thing is repeated over and over – the people forgot God! Oh – the religious ritual continued BUT God became a convenient appendage to life’s activities.

As we look back through Church history we can see how often the church has forgotten Jesus. Oh – they have been very involved in theological debate, humanitarian relief programmes and internal, often petty / parochial, squabbles while the main task for which the church exists, viz. to know Christ and make him known, has been sidelined.

It seems so fundamentally obvious that we find it extraordinary that Paul should remind us to “Remember Jesus!” BUT in our preoccupation with our own lives and even our Church activities and our pet theological preferences become too important to us then we too will forget Jesus!

The Jesus we are to remember is both risen from the dead and descended from David.

This very short and apparently simple verse is in fact very profound:-

Who Jesus is.

  • only God can defeat death. Jesus is no mere moral like you and me.
  • yet he is exactly that as well – he is moral human – descended from David and he did die like all morals.
  • But he powerfully showed himself to be God the Son by rising from the dead.

What Jesus did.

  • His resurrection was not simply to show off that he was divine.
  • Rather the purpose of his death/resurrection is to rescue from sin and God’s judgement those who come to Jesus in repentance and faith.
  • Why is the mention of David so important – because David was the greatest and most powerful and successful King Israel ever had. The Bible says that Jesus is greater than David
  • THEREFORE taking these together he is both Saviour/Rescuer and King. This is the essence of the message / gospel that Timothy must preach.

What Jesus’ experience illustrates.

  • Jesus’ life, death and resurrection teach us the Christian principle that the death is the door to life – that suffering is the way to glory. This is the path Jesus took, should his followers expect anything less.

Was it not Jesus himself who said Matthew 23:12 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

  • So Paul’s reminder to Timothy is “When you, Timothy, are tempted to avoid hardship and difficulty, suffering or even death in your ministry, remember Jesus and think again”.
  1. The experience of Paul.

2 Timothy 2:8 b -10 8b …. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (NIV)

Paul has committed no crime but because of his witness to Jesus he is in chains, literally. BUT God’s Word cannot be chained. Throughout history and even today in many places attempts are made to silence the witness of Christians. Christian witness is not just about spiritual matters – of course our concern should be to bring people to Jesus Christ but Christian witness is also about social issues ~ the needs of the poor / sick / refugees / injustices / etc..

I salute people like:-

ILLUS.: James Mawdsley the Human rights campaigner who arrived back in England after 415 days in a Burmese jail – The 27-year-old from Lancashire was jailed for distributing pro-democracy leaflets and was repeatedly beaten by guards at the jail.

I don’t know if James Mawdsley is a Christian –I hear he is but I am not sure.

Remember that Jesus was concerned with the poor and sick, the widows and orphans, the foreigners and powerless. In the OT God punished Israel when they neglected these issues – surely this is part and parcel of our Christian witness.

And Yes, so you don’t accuse me of preaching a social gospel we must always be passionate about people coming to a Jesus for forgiveness of sin and new spiritual life through Christ.

And while Christ’s witness may be chained up like Paul and even silenced in death the Word of God is free – it cannot be held in captivity. Very often the death of a martyr sparks a spread of God’s Word

Even English history is littered with the deaths of martyrs – many burned at the stake but often their suffering served to further the cause of Christ and the spread of God’s word.

The now famous words of Mr Latimer to his friend and fellow martyr, Dr. Ridley, as they were burned at the stake in Oxford on 16 October 1555, “Be of good comfort Mr Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out!”

When I read about Paul and Timothy and others who suffered dreadfully for the sake of their faith in Jesus I find it difficult to apply to my life. By comparison my life is so comfortable. I am unlikely, living in Godalming, to be burned at the stake or imprisoned for preaching the gospel. I don’t think God intends that I look for trouble nor that I purposefully offend people. On the contrary I am called to live at peace with all as far as it depends on me {Rom.12v18}

So how do I apply this to my life? I suppose the question is:-

  • Am I willing to put aside my own natural “wants” / “comforts” for the sake of the gospel?
  • To help the neighbour whose music is too loud?
  • To show kindness to the boss who picks on me?
  • To invite the difficult cantankerous old aunt to Christmas dinner? …….
  • To give up my favourites TV night to pray?
  • To wake up an hour early each morning to prepare to lead a study group / youth activity etc…
  • To put off upgrading to a new computer / new car / bigger house and giving the money to some missionary need….
  • Am I willing to swallow my pride and forego what I think are “my rights”?

The costs will be different for each one!!

These do not quite equal being burned at the stake or being chained up in a Roman dungeon BUT they do show were my heart is / what I consider to be important!

  1. The Experience of all Christians.

The willingness to sacrifice and endure hardship for the sake of the gospel is something required of all believers.

Verses 11-13 are probably a hymn / quote well-known in the early church and Paul’s point here is to show that Christ’s suffering and his own hardships are not unusual but are in fact common Christian experience.

2 Timothy 2:11-13         11 ..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 will remain faithful,

for he cannot disown himself. (NIV)

Now the Bible uses the imagery of dying and living of dying to sin and being raised to new life in Christ [baptism illustrates that]. In the context of this passage I don’t think that is what Paul is talking about here rather he is talking about death to SELF and SAFETY as we daily take up our cross and follow Jesus. This parallels with the next line of “enduring”.

These verses act as an incentive / encouragement and as a warning ~ but they are conditional.

The Incentive is that we can ‘live’ and ‘reign’ with Jesus is glory ~ think of the most perfect / wonderful / enjoyable place to live in and people to live with that you can imagine !!! – living and reign with Christ is infinitely better!!

The condition is that we die to our selfish desires and ambitions and willing endure difficulty / discomfort for Christ’s sake and the sake of the gospel.

The Warning echoes Jesus’ own words in Matthew 10:33 33 … whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. (NIV)

This is a very serious and severe warning.

What does it mean if we are faithless, he will remain faithful – does it mean that if we turn away from Christ and deny him and disown him that we don’t really need to worry because God is faithful and we can be sure he will abandon or punish us??!!

It is true that God is not fickle and that he can not be unfaithful to us BUT equally importantly God cannot he unfaithful to himself he cannot disown / deny himself – including his warnings!!

Faithfulness on God’s part means that he carries out his promises and his threats. Failure on his part to carry out his threats would mean that God was denying himself and he cannot do that.

Now some people might find it strange to say that there certain things that God cannot do. After all, isn’t God all-powerful? Are not all things possible to him?

NO, God is not a Totalitarian despot who exercises his power in an arbitrary way ~ It is true that he has the freedom to use his power as he chooses BUT he chooses to do only good in keeping with his perfect character.

The one thing God cannot do because he will not is to deny himself by acting contrary to his character.

The Bible tells us that . [Hebrews 11:6] 6 … without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (NIV)

Thus if we are faithless [without faith in God] and deny him then he will deny us ~ sober warning!

God always remains faithful to himself – a God of mercy and justice – one who fulfils all his promises whether of blessing or judgement – giving us life if we die with Christ, and a kingdom if we endure with him, BUT denying us IF we deny him by living for self in stead of him.

Throughout this passage Paul has been driving home this one point {soldier, athlete, farmer – Jesus’ experience, Paul’s own experience} blessing comes through pain / fruit through toil / life through death / glory through suffering.

Why then as Christians do we expect things to be easy – neither human wisdom / experience teach us that nor does divine revelation.

In every sphere of life achieving a goal costs – whether in business / sport / education / BUT it doesn’t mean it has to be drudgery.

Take falling in love and marriage – for marriage to be successful we have to work at it no matter how much we may love our spouse there are personal costs. Raising a family – there are personal costs to the parents financial / going without to ensure the children are provided for / sleepless night when they are babies and teenagers – but we do it willingly for their sakes because we love them.

So too with Jesus – if we love him and are committed to his cause we endure difficulties and hardship willingly for a higher purpose.

Hebrews 12:2 2 … Jesus, …., who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

ILLUS.: Our eyes on the goal – stories from the heart p.111.

Take up your cross and follow Christ,

Nor think till death to lay it down;

For only those who bear the cross

May hope to wear the glorious crown. [Charles Everest 1814-77]

No pains, no gains! No cross, no crown!


2 Timothy 2v7-13

  1. The experience of Christ

Who Jesus is

  • Human and Divine
  • Saviour and King

What Jesus demonstrates

  • Death is the door to Life
  • Suffering is the road to Glory
  1. The experience of Paul

His suffering was for the sake of the Christ’s Gospel and Christ’s Church

  1. The experience of all Christians

      The incentive

  • to live and reign with Christ in glory …

      The warning

  • if we disown Christ he will disown us …

 … because he is faithful both to his promises and his judgements

Click here to read more about 2 Timothy and buy this book from AMAZON


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