Today’s text contains Paul’s final use of this phrase (cf 1 Tim 1:15, 3:1, 4:9; Titus 3:8). So, what does Paul say in respect to this “faithful saying?”
“If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him” (v 11) Of this, renown scholar and expositor William Mounce wrote, “Most agree that this first line refers to a believer’s baptism and the new life that follows” (Pastoral Epistles, 516).
Paul’s writing elsewhere agrees with this assessment. In Romans 6, Paul speaks of those who are dead to sin (v 2) baptized into Jesus and His death (v 3), being buried with Jesus in connection with our own death to sin (v 4). The result? We are raised from spiritual death in newness of life (v 5). “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor 5:17).
But the question must be asked, “What about those who have not died with Him? What shall be the end for them?” 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 gives us the answer.
“If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” To endure means to remain faithful. The New Testament is replete with the requirement of Christian endurance. Jesus oft spoke of the need for His disciples to endure (Matt 10:22), even to the point of dying for one’s faith (Rev 2:10). In Revelation 2-3, Jesus made His affirmative promises to those who overcome. The Hebrews writer penned, “The just shall live by faith, but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him” (Heb 10:38).
Again, a question must be asked, “What happens to those who do not endure? And why do so many say it is impossible to stop enduring?”
“If we deny Him, He will also deny us.” Those who claim that any who fall away “were not really saved to begin with” fail to recognize the inclusive nature of Paul’s use of “we” and “us.”
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself.” The Hebrews writer warned his audience of the danger of departing from the living God through “an evil heart of unbelief” (3:12).
These are indeed faithful sayings. Any who teaches otherwise is not consenting to wholesome words (1 Tim 6:3-5). “From such withdraw yourself.”