“If we are faithless, he remains faithful.” In this lab, John Piper asks whether this popular phrase was written to be a comfort or warning. He believes that many misunderstand these words because they have taken them out of context and made them something they do not say.

Principle for Bible Reading

Some popular verses in the Bible are often misquoted or misused. People will wield the words of the Bible wrongly because they have ripped them from their context in Scripture. The words are made to fit or serve some other purpose than their original meaning. Read the context carefully to confirm that favorite verse means what you think it means.

Study Questions

  1. Why would Paul say that 2 Timothy 2:11–13 is “trustworthy”? What does that say (or not say) about the rest of his letter?
  2. What structure, if any, do you see in the saying in 2 Timothy 2:11–13? How do the four lines of the saying seem to relate to one another, and what would that suggest about the meaning of the first half 2 Timothy 2:13?
  3. If the beginning of 2 Timothy 2:13 is a warning after all, why would it be good news that God will not deny himself? What makes the faithfulness of God to himself good news for a believer?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–03:03)

  1. Beware of Bible slogans without context.
  2. Glad expectancy of God-centeredness pays off.

A Trustworthy Saying (03:03–05:17)

  • “The saying is trustworthy” (2 Timothy 2:11) does not mean some things are reliable and others are not.
  • Paul is saying that there are common phrases in the church that are trustworthy and others are not. Paul advocates for the truthfulness and reliability of this saying.
  • The verses say that the saying is trustworthy because God is faithful (“for”). (2 Timothy 2:11)

If We Die, We Will Live (05:17–07:06)

  • Paul introduces a positive pair of statements in 2 Timothy 2:11–12.
  • If we die with Christ through faith, we’re going to live with him forever. (2 Timothy 2:11)
  • Paul goes further to say that if we endure in faith with him, we will not only live with him, but reign with him. (2 Timothy 2:12)

If We Are Faithless (07:06–09:14)

  • If we deny him — we deny that he is to be preferred over the things we want in this life — he also will deny us. (2 Timothy 2:11)
  • What will he deny us? He will deny us the privilege of being with him, of reigning with him.
  • Another way to say the same thing is to say that if we do not have faith in him, he remains totally committed to himself and his glory. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Beware of Bible Slogans (09:14–10:14)

  • Beware of Bible slogans without context.
  • People often wrongly quote 2 Timothy 2:13 to suggest that God is faithful to saveus when we are faithless. Paul is saying the opposite.
  • This quote, ripped out of its context, has given lots of people false assurance.

God’s Faithfulness to God (10:14–12:00)

  • God is radically committed to God. He’s radically God-centered and God-exalting. (2 Timothy 2:13)
  • Why is that good news? Because he is completely and utterly faithful to himself and to his promises.
  • If you die with him through faith (2 Timothy 2:11) and endure with him through faith (2 Timothy 2:12), he will faithfully fulfill every promise to you.