An Admonition to faithfulness in Faith and Christian Conduct.
v. 8. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my Gospel;
v. 9. wherein I suffer trouble as an evil-doer, even unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound.
v. 10. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
v. 11. It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him;
v. 12. if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, he also will deny us;
v. 13. if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Faithfulness in the ministerial office, indeed, in any office in the Church, depends on the certainty of the Christian faith. For this reason the apostle reminds Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to the Gospel as preached by me. The content and summary of the glorious message of the Gospel, as preached by Paul, was Jesus Christ, true man indeed, a descendant of David according to the flesh. See Rom_1:3. This man Jesus Christ completed His work of redemption of the world by His resurrection from the dead. By this miracle, which reason cannot suffer and no man, of his own strength, can believe, as Luther writes, the work of redemption found divine acknowledgment and acceptance. These facts Timothy must keep in remembrance at all times, they were to encourage him to bear with cheerful courage all the trials which his work might bring upon him.
That there is a wonderful strength enclosed in this message of salvation St. Paul has experienced in his own case: in which I suffer evil, even to bonds, like a criminal; but the Word of God is not bound. In the sphere of the Gospel, for the sake of the Gospel, in the service of the Gospel, Paul had freely sacrificed himself. He did not grow weary in enduring evil, hatred, enmity, persecution, if he could but continue to serve the Gospel. Though he was imprisoned like a common criminal, he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had done no wrong, and that he was but following in the footsteps of his Master. At the same time it was a source of great satisfaction to him to know that the course of the Gospel was not bound, and that its course did not depend upon his person. Though his enemies had succeeded in casting the great preacher of righteousness into prison, yet they could not stop the preaching of righteousness through the blood of Christ. Even in the apostle's case written communication with the other parts of the Christian world had not been cut off. Should the climax be reached and his person be removed, the Lord was able to continue His work through the agency of other men.
His personal attitude the apostle explains still more fully: For that reason I endure all things for the sake of the elect, in order that they also might share in the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. Because Paul knew that the Word of God was not bound, because he was ever mindful of the risen Christ and His glorious victory over all enemies, and because he had entered the ranks of the disciples of the Lord, therefore he willingly endured all these evils, not passively, as one that could not help himself, but actively and even aggressively, as one who intended his attitude to serve a definite purpose. The apostle has in mind chiefly the elect, the believers, Php_1:14; 2Co_1:6; Col_1:24. The fact that the apostle endured all sufferings so steadfastly should serve for the encouragement of the Christians for all times; it should cause them to become so sure of their salvation in Christ Jesus that even the greatest afflictions and persecutions would not cause them to doubt the fact of their being the children of the heavenly Father through Christ. For their salvation is in Christ Jesus; it is earned by Him, it rests in Him, it is grounded in Him. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the believers will obtain that eternal glory which is connected with this salvation. This glory enters into the hearts of the believers even here in time, and in eternity they will be blessed with the fullness of the heavenly glory such as they can but feebly conceive of in this vale of tears and sorrows.
So great is the comfort and consolation which the apostle has on the basis of this thought that he breaks into a song of Christian hope: Trustworthy is the word: If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for deny Himself He cannot. The apostle calls attention to the wonderful truths which he here lays before the Christians to encourage them at all times: Truly a trustworthy, a sure word! If we are faithful to the Lord, even unto death, and if we daily cause our old Adam, our sinful flesh, to die with all desires and evil lusts, then we shall also become partakers of the reward of mercy which He has reserved for us in heaven. See Rom_8:18. If we show a steadfast patience in the midst of all afflictions and sufferings, then He will at the last day elevate us to the honor and dignity of coregents with Him. Even here on earth, by virtue of the fellowship of faith with Him, He has made us to be kings and priests before Him. But yonder in eternity He will vest us with the powers of eternal kings and rulers, and we shall reign with Him throughout eternity. On the other hand, St. Paul issues an emphatic warning, telling us that, if we deny Him, He will deny us. Every true follower of Christ must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Him. But he who, in word or deed, is ashamed of Christ will find that the Lord will also be ashamed of him on the great Day of Judgment. See Mat_7:23; Mat_10:33; Mat_25:12. And again: If we are faithless, if we are not true to Him and to our promise given Him in Baptism, if we lose the faith of our hearts by neglecting the Word and the Sacraments, God will be faithful to His threat of punishment, for He cannot be untrue to His essence; He is the Eternal, Immutable. A faithless, unreliable servant the Lord cannot reward but with the reward of unfaithfulness. What a solemn warning to the Christians of all times not to yield to the weakness of the flesh and thus to forfeit the blessings of eternity!