2 Timothy 2:11-13 (RSVCE) has:

11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him;
12 if we endure, we shall 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.

What does it mean to deny him? Peter denied Jesus three times?

If we are faithless (unbelieving) he remains faithful.. (To us?)

The book of Revelation lists the unbelieving as those who do not inherit eternal life. Revelations 21:8 But for the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (NHEB)

How do we understand this?

  • Which specific verses in Revelation say the unbelieving do not inherit eternal life? Without any biblical references it is difficult for anybody to address your final question and to put it into context with what Paul said to Timothy and believing Christians.
    – Lesley
    Jan 16 '20 at 12:25
  • I have edited to add the bible verse about unbelief Jan 16 '20 at 19:12

The short answer to your main question is yes. But we need to understand that God is faithful and true to all who acknowledge Christ and have placed their faith in Him.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV): “If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

Paul is writing to Timothy to encourage him (and fellow Christians in the Ephesian church) to be faithful. Paul’s second letter to Timothy was written after Paul’s earlier imprisonment in Rome (circa A.D. 62-63) and during his imprisonment under Emperor Nero (circa A.D. 66-67). Paul describes how he was languishing in a cold dungeon, chained up like a common criminal.

This addresses your last question – Paul is not speaking to unbelievers. Paul is speaking to believers who are facing severe persecution and who may, under pressure, disown Christ, like Peter who thrice denied that he knew Jesus. Yet Jesus forgave and restored Peter.

Jesus himself said

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

The warning is clear – if we deny Christ or disown him before men, Christ will do likewise with us.

With regard to the last part of the quote, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful”, the following verse may shed some light:

Romans 3:3-4: “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and everyman a liar.”

God is faithful and true and will keep his promises, and he has promised to

“keep you strong to the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).

There is therefore every assurance to the believer that God will keep that promise.

Edit: With regard to Revelation 21:8 the context is set in the future with the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, established on earth. The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, declares that all who overcome (see the seven lettters in Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21) will inherit and drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. But the second death awaits the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars.

Revelation 21:8 is not about “the bride of the Lamb” – God’s people – but is a warning for all who are the enemies of God, who have rejected Christ Jesus and who have aligned themselves against Him. They will be cast into the fiery lake of burning sulphur – the second death.

My NIV Study Bible notes say this about Revelation 19:20 which describes how the beast and the false prophet are thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur:

Punishment by fire is prominent in both biblical and non-biblical Jewish writings (e.g., 1 Enoch 54:1). Originally the site of a cultic shrine where human sacrifices were offered, it came to be equated with the “hell” of final judgment in apocalyptic literature.”

Believers in Christ have nothing to fear.


It's pretty straightfoward.

If we have died with him, we shall also live with him

That is, died to self, and put the old man to death. Mark 8:35. Luke 9:23. Romans 6:1-4; 8:13.

If we endure, we shall also reign with him

That is, not 'either if we do endure or don't,' but provided we remain faithful. Matthew 24:12-13.

If we deny him, he also will deny us

If our will is to deny Him, it is such as is incompatible with our salvation and being with Him in an ultimate sense. He will respect it, and give us what we deserve instead of what we could have if we repented at any time (denial signifies more than a sin or sins, but apostasy or a complete turing from the Christian life). He doesn't take away our freedom in Christ, but rather we are given freedom to properly use it and not abuse it: but we still can abuse it (1 Peter 2:16).

If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself

And though we should end up the worse if we deny Him, it's not His fault, because He has kept His end of the bargain (promising to keep us in His friendship and grace, will we continue in such), and our being denied by Him was our own doing, not His. Therefore He has remained faithful: He hasn't promised to take people kicking and screaming to heaven, who have denied him and remain in denial until death! Only those who keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

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