If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV)
Scripture is replete with reminders of God’s faithfulness to those who believe in him. These verses give us hope that our heavenly Father will supply all our needs (Matthew 6:25-33; Philippians 4:19), help us in temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3), forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), bring comfort in pain (1 Peter 4:19) and assure us a place with him at the coming of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
In 2 Timothy 2:13 Paul wrote, If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. I have heard Paul’s words interpreted, “God is faithful to us even when we have no faith in him.” However, I do not believe that was Paul’s idea when writing to Timothy. He previously wrote, If we deny him, he also will deny us. These were the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 10:33, But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. If we deny Christ we will be lost. If we have no faith we will be lost. Paul’s tone to Timothy is that of damnation not salvation.
To whom is God faithful in 2 Timothy 2:13? Answer: Himself. Paul wrote, The saying in trustworthy . . . for he cannot deny himself. Paul wrote to the Roman church speaking of the Jews, What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar. (Romans 3:3-4 ESV) God’s word in trustworthy. Every word of God proves true (Proverbs 30:5), it is true in his warnings as well as his promises. He will grant eternal life to all those who have faith in him and condemn to eternal punishment all who do not have faith (John 3:36).
The writer of Hebrews penned, And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 ESV) To please God we must have faith that he exists and faith that he rewards those who seek him. Without faith in these two things we cannot please God, therefore he does not reward us with drawing near to him.
The Greek word used for faithless in 2 Timothy 2:13 means “to be unbelieving”. It would be contrary to his nature (holiness and righteousness) and a dishonor to his name for God to save those who never come to faith in Christ or who claim to have faith yet habitually live in sin. To quote John Piper, “He [God] saves those whose faith magnify his name, for he cannot deny the infinite value of his name.”
In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul describes God’s dealing with faithless people. He wrote, Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (Romans 11:22 ESV)Are you faithless?
Scriptures for meditation:
1 Chronicles 28:9