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An excerpt from the Second Letter to Timothy reads:

2 Timothy 2:11: "It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him" (emphasis added).

I am wondering about the hermeneutical analysis of the text in bold, particularly in light of Romans 6:3-4?

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7 Answers 7

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The idea of our "spiritual" death is an expression occurring regularly in the NT -

  • Rom 6:2-4 - Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? Or aren’t you aware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.
  • Rom 6:6, 7 - We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
  • Rom 6:8-11 - Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. So you too must count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • Rom 7:6 - But now, having died to what bound us, we have been released from the law, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
  • 2 Cor 14, 15, 17 - For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. ... Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
  • 2 Tim 2:11 - This is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
  • 1 Peter 2:24 - He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “By His stripes you are healed.”

Thus, the "death" that Paul discusses in all these places is a "death to sin" - in Christ we become a transformed person with a renewed mind and focus.

  • 2 Cor 3:18 - And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
  • Rom 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Ellicott explains this well in his comments on 2 Tim 2:11 -

If we died with Him—is well explained by 1Corinthians 15:31 : “I die daily.” The Apostle died when he embraced the lot of daily death. The meaning is still further illustrated in 2Corinthians 4:10, where we read how St. Paul and his companions were “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” “He and his faithful companions (was Timothy, to whom he was then writing, to be ranked in this blessed company? ) had given themselves up to a life that involved exposure to sufferings, bitter enmity, cruel persecutions, even death; but if we be thus dead with Him, what matters it? How can we fear even that last agony man can inflict on us—physical death?—for death with Him involves, surely, life with Him too: that life endless, fadeless, full of glory, we know He is now enjoying, in the possession of which I, Paul, and some of us have even seen Him, face to face, eye to eye. In that life of His we shall share; we shall be partakers in this life of His there, but only if we have shared in the life of suffering which was His life here.”

Matthew Poole is also helpful -

For if we be dead with him: we are said to be dead with Christ two ways:

  1. By our dying to sin, as he died for sin, Romans 6:5.

  2. By our suffering in testimony of the truth, 2 Corinthians 4:10, which is that being dead with him which is here mentioned.

It is possible to discern two closely related but still distinct meanings of "dying with Christ" in the above verses:

  1. 2 Cor 5:14 - For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One [Jesus] died for all, therefore all died. That is, in a sense, sense Jesus died all, then all died to sin. This is the "atonement"/"vicarious" sense of dying to sin.
  2. A personal death to sin (as opposed to the vicarius death to sin in Jesus) where we personally accept Christ's sacrifice and appropriate it for ourselves, personally and accept the miraculous change wrought by the Holy Spirit in our lives. See 1 Peter 2:24, 2 Cor 3:18, Rom 12:2.
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  • Also important is the concept of Union with Christ. We are united to Christ in his death and then in his resurrection. So what does it mean to "die with him"? It's the Gospel!
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 12, 2021 at 2:34
  • @curiousdannii - quite correct - I was actually going to add something as you wrote that.
    – Dottard
    Sep 12, 2021 at 4:27
  • Curious why you deemphasize baptism in Romans 6. To Paul it seems that is the point in which we are initially spiritually brought into Christ (see also Gal 3:26-27) and when we spiritually die with him (Rom 6:3-5/Col 2:12-13)?
    – Austin
    Nov 27, 2021 at 13:13
  • @Austin - Because baptism is is an outward symbol of what has already taken place (conversion) and a symbol of a daily, constant surrender to Christ ("I die daily"). Thus, death to sin, at a person level, is a daily constant decision of baptism is just a symbol, Thus, death with Christ is NOT just a single event in the Christian's life.
    – Dottard
    Nov 27, 2021 at 19:56
  • Interesting, thanks for your perspective. I think there is a difference between internal conversion by which someone begins to believe and the initialization of the spiritual union with Christ that is described as occuring at baptism. Regarding, the 1 Cor 15:10 and 2 Cor 4:10 Paul was describing his and his fellow travelers grave experiences that are not shared in common with all Christians, being faced with death on a regular basis. Also to me, 2 Tim 2:11 seems to be referring to a singular completed death event with Christ and not an ongoing dying with Christ. Thanks again for sharing.
    – Austin
    Nov 27, 2021 at 20:41
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The Lord had no sins whatsoever, having adopted the human nature and being 100% man therefore, yet without any taint of sin. He lived a life of self-sacrificial love, righteousness and mercy, and exactly for that reason was hated by demons and by humans who loved in themselves sins and sinful drives, (that are alien infections, ontologically speaking, on human nature) more than God and His commandments; they loved more their sinful lifestyle, of which end is the second death (Rev. 21:8), more than the lifestyle shown and preached by the Lord Jesus Christ, that leads to eternal life. Thus, the Doer of the best suffered the worst due to the sins of men voluntarily, in order to eliminate all those sins in humans and expel Satan and his servant demons from mankind (cf. John 12:31).

Given that, to "die with Christ" means to become as alien from, as 'dead' to all sins as He was alien and 'dead' to them; i.e. to die for all those sins and sinful inclinations that lead humanity to the horrible murder of their God and Creator, their Benefactor, in order to let Him live in us (cf. Gal. 2:20), for unless we die for the sin, unless we crucify our sins through grace of the Lord so that we can say with Paul that "the world [i.e. worldly - aka sinful - drives and interests] is crucified to us and we to the world" (Gal. 6:14), He will not be able to eternally dwell in us together with the Father (John 14:23) and the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).

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In the verse “if we died with Him, we will also live with Him,” the words “with Him” are key. We can only live with Christ if we are united with him in his death. In dying for us, Christ received the wages that were due to us because of sin (Rom 6:23). It is by his death that we are reconciled to God (Eph 1:7, Rom 3:24) and through his death that we have access to God’s Spirit and grace (Rom 5:1-2, Rom 5:15).

To be baptized into Christ is to be baptized into his death (Rom 6:3). Baptism therefore constitutes the first way in which we die with Christ.

That one died for all, therefore all died – 2 Cor 5:14

But baptism is just the first step in the life of union with Christ. It marks the beginning of a new way of walking (Rom 6:4-6) in the Spirit of Christ that is, at the same time, a dying to the flesh and sin (Rom 8:13, Gal 5:16-17). Paul admonishes us not to “receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor 6:1). The grace that Christ wrought for us through his death is meant to bear fruit in our lives, bringing about true transformation, holiness, and an obedience that comes from the heart (Rom 6:17).

So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living in accord with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live – Rom 8:12-13

To Paul, dying with Christ also meant the literal experience of suffering, persecution, and death for the sake of Christ and the salvation of souls. This is the meaning in the context of 2 Tim 2:11.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. – 2 Tim 10

The union between Christ and those who are persecuted for his sake is richly implied in Christ’s words to Paul on the road to Damascus: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). The impact these words had on Paul is reflected, I think, in how he viewed his own sufferings and tribulations.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. – 2 Cor 4:7-10

As a final thought, in the mystery of our union with Christ, “the mystery that is Christ in you,” lies the “wealth” and “the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). To die with Christ ultimately means to remain united with him until the end, when the life that we are given to live with him will be our eternal life with God (Rom 2:7, Rom 6:22).

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Remember that in context, Paul was exhorting Timothy to faithfulness in the face of hardships (Timothy 2:3). He was basically saying that whatever believers suffer for the sake of Christ will be worth it because of the reward they will receive.

When we die to ourselves, we experience what true life in Christ is (this verse). We may suffer now, but a time is coming when we will reign with Christ throughout all eternity (2 Timothy 2:12). God is so good that even when we fail, He remains faithful to us (2 Timothy 2:13). But we are warned that if we reject Him, He will reject us (2 Timothy 2:12).

All of this was to motivate Timothy toward faithfulness.

Paul used a series of opposites to put our hardships in perspective. If we die, we live (this verse). If we suffer, we reign (2 Timothy 2:12). Though we falter in our faith, God never will (2 Timothy 2:13). The rewards are greater than the sacrifices. We can’t lose for winning.

Some scholars interpret this as speaking of physical death through martyrdom, and a promise of a physical resurrection. Others see this in the sense of dying to self and experiencing the abundant life of Christ. Both of these interpretations have merit and are scripturally accurate.

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    I made a slight modification to the OP from the advice of NigelJ. You may want to alter your first sentence accordingly, although it's probably fine the way it is. You stated "When we die to ourselves, we experience what true life in Christ is (this verse)." My question, then, is when do we "die to ourselves"? Is this not directly answered for us? Romans 6:3: "[Do] you not know that all of us who have been baptized [water immersed] into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" It seems to be a major difficulty communicating this idea. Thanks.
    – Xeno
    Sep 12, 2021 at 0:53
  • Quick comment: I was not the one to downvote your response. :)
    – Xeno
    Sep 12, 2021 at 1:10
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What is the hermeneutical interpretation of "dying with Christ" (2 Tim. 2:11)?

Short Answer:

Dying with Christ refers to Christian baptism through which a person is united spiritually with Christ himself, by uniting spiritually with his death, burial, and resurrection through faith.
Uniting with Jesus' death connects us with his moment of victory over sin where he nullified the Law and broke the bonds of death so that we may enter with him into the new creation through the eternal life manifest in Christ's resurrection life.


Supporting verses

11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; - 2 Timothy 2:11

Dying with Christ so that we might live with him is most strongly paralleled in Romans 6:3-5:

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Let's notice a couple of things here:

  1. We are united to Jesus' death through baptism.
  2. We are buried with Jesus through baptism
  3. The purpose and effect of this is the new life and the resurrection.
  4. We are baptized into Christ -> Baptism is the way we are brought into Christ.

Similarly uniting with Christ & his death through faith & baptism are found

In Colossians 2:11-12:

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

And in Gal 3:26-27 :

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Christ's Death is the critical moment of victory for Him and us all

Colossians 2:11-15

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Here Christ nailed the legal debt of us to the cross through his death and triumphed over the enemies.

Philippians 2:8-9

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Because of Jesus' obedience to the point of death, God highly exalted Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:56-57

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus's victory becomes our victory.


Conclusion

Dying with Christ so that we may live with him in, 2 Timothy 2:11 is a direct reference to our union with Christ initiated through our union with his death and burial in baptism by faith discussed in Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:11-12. This initiation ceremony spiritually identifies us with Christ's moment of victory over sin and the hope of life eternal manifest in Christ's resurrection life.

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What is the hermeneutical interpretation of "dying with Christ" (2 Tim. 2:11)?

Paul's words to his faithful companion Timothy refer to the physical death and that they will reign with him in the future, the promised reward, is assured as long as they remain faithful to the end.

PHYSICAL DEATH

2 Timothy 2:11-12 NASB

11 The statement is trustworthy: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we [a]deny Him, He will also deny us;

Similarly to the Church of Laodicea Jesus said to John to write:

Revelation 3:21 NET

21 I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

The one who overcomes, and remains faithful to the end, [not from the day of his baptism], will be given the reward of ruling with Christ.

BAPTIZED INTO SPIRITUAL DEATH

Romans 6:3-4 NET

3 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.[a]

"Baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death." Excerps from verses can relate to many other verses in the scriptures, to clarify their meaning such excerpts should be read in context. This expression does not appear in "Timothy 2:11" so what does it mean? Dottard has a good answer to this question. Briefly, Jesus began his "baptism into death" after his water baptism, this sacrificial course continued until his death. He also indicated that his anointed with holy spirit faithful followers would also undergo the "baptism into his death" that is suffer for his name, when he said [Mark 10:39 NASB]" They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized."

The Bible was one block of letters until the British pastor Stephen Langton divided the scriptures into chapters and verses early in the 13th century, excerpts should therefore be read in context to fully understand their meaning.

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  • Interesting take. I see verse 11 referring to spiritual death/baptism and verse 12a referring to what you quoted in Rev 3:21. Other than 2 Tim 2:12, dying with Christ so that we may live with him is only explicitly linked to spiritual death/baptism in Rom 6:3-5 and echoed in Col 2:11-15. In Rev 3:21 death isn't specifically mentioned since conquering only requires enduring with Christ till the end (Matthew 24:13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved). The end could be death or the end could be when Jesus returns and physical death would not be required (1 Cor 15:51).
    – Austin
    Nov 27, 2021 at 12:59
  • Austin :[ vs 11 in Greek Koine] Πιστὸς ὁ λόγος : Εἰ γὰρ συναπεθάνομεν, καὶ συζήσομεν; The Greek text read in context with vs 12 does not imply spiritual death. It simply says that if we die like him we will also live with him. Read also similar verses Romans 6:5,8. However, excerpts from the verse may also relate to spiritual death/baptism. Your comments are appreciated. Tks. Nov 29, 2021 at 9:02
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I think is the ways we act should resemble jesus.. The way he tolerated hardships and abuse for the word of God.

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    Sep 11, 2021 at 23:28

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