This was Peter’s dying message. Peter’s death and departure from this life was close at hand. Death can be a wonderful thing with a personal sense of destiny and with Bible doctrine in your soul. Any believer ought to be able to die well. There is no excuse for a believer dying poorly. We are all going to die, if the Rapture does not occur in our lifetime. How we die depends on how we lived.
Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.
The future tense anticipates Peter’s readiness in the future to teach very important points of doctrine even though he knows he is dying. Peter understands that even after he dies his message will continue through the circulation of his epistles to all the churches and down through the centuries to us. Peter understood that what he was being inspired to write would become part of God’s Word. Peter would always be ready to communicate these points of doctrine while living and because he wrote it down it will be a part of the Word of God which lives and abides forever. In effect, he leaves behind a phenomenal heritage in this second epistle — how to die well, how to avoid apostasy and what is really important in life.
Peter uses this opportunity to remind believers of the importance of Bible doctrine in their lives. One of God’s purposes is for believers to be constantly reminded of Bible doctrine and it must be more real than anything in life, because doctrine will get them through life and death with grace. Even if these doctrines are already understood, believers still need to be reminded of them. Our memory center must be constantly jogged with regard to these things. A believer must be constantly reminded of the doctrines that he has already learned. In this manner a believer orients to the plan of God.
If Bible doctrine is real to you while you are living, Bible doctrine will be real to you when you are dying. And while you are living you may have ups and downs but if Bible doctrine is real, you will be mentally stabilized. If Bible doctrine is real to you, you can actually enjoy and anticipate how marvelous it will be once your soul and spirit leave the body and go into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And, the Bible doctrine that you store in your soul remains with you throughout all eternity.
And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder.
The Greek idiom, “I consider it right” declares the solemn responsibility that Peter has before the Lord. Remember Peter knows he is about to pass from this life. The Greek word used for to stir means to arouse or to waken. Peter will do this by means of repeating the doctrines that he has taught in the past and that these believers should now know. Repetition of Bible doctrine is like glue to the soul – the more times we hear it the better it “sticks.”
Knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
Peter understood a principle called dying grace. Dying grace is defined as the death of a mature believer whereby they experience both blessing and happiness while dying. Dying grace can occur regardless of the amount of pain and suffering while dying. There could be maximum pain or a minimum of pain, but in either case there is maximum happiness in the soul. Dying grace is the bridge which takes the believer from temporal grace to eternal grace. (Romans 5:20-21; Hebrews 11:13) Dying grace removes fear of death if a believer understands Psalms 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
Philippians 3:12-14 emphasizes the importance of reaching and remaining in spiritual maturity, so that the believer may have dying grace. The Rapture generation will not need dying grace. Job 5:19-24 teaches that the mature believer has no fear of death. No believer dies until the Lord says it’s time to come home. Once God calls a believer home, nothing can keep him here. God decides when is the perfect time for each of us to depart from the earth. God’s timing is the best timing.
And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.
In spite of Peter’s approaching death he will leave behind a legacy of Bible doctrine that cannot be destroyed by his death. Death does not destroy Bible doctrine. And that isn’t all. Bible doctrine in your soul goes with you. You do not take a Bible with you but you do take whatever doctrine you have in your soul. One thing that is totally indestructible is Bible doctrine. What is really important in life is what can’t be destroyed by death.
Being diligent meant that Peter was going to make every effort to leave his readers with pertinent Bible doctrine before he departed this life. He was aware that the doctrine he taught in this epistle was something they would have after he has gone. Doctrine goes on in spite of the death or removal of any Christian teacher who has taught accurate Bible doctrine. Obviously then it isn’t the man who is important but the message. The greatest thing a pastor can do for a congregation is teach doctrine. Feed them that which is permanent. If the pastor fulfills this function, his departure will not upset the stability of the congregation. Why? Their stability is Bible doctrine, not a person.
Recall of Bible doctrine is only possible if you have stored it in your soul. Of course, it is the Holy Spirit Who brings various doctrines to your mind in time of need. Therefore, we see the importance of having a frame of reference, a categorical memory center and a spiritual vocabulary.
The word canonicity comes from the Greek word “kanon”, meaning a ruler or measuring stick. In other words, canon means a norm or standard. In the case of the Canon of Scripture, it is God’s divine norm or standard for a collection of books, which form one book, our Bible. We will examine the history of and formation of the Bible, which throughout its pages claims to be the written Word of God. As believers in Jesus Christ, it is necessary to have confidence in our Bible as the true Word of God because in it is contained God’s plan for salvation and the Christian Way of Life. The writers of Scripture were often themselves aware that what they were writing was by inspiration of God the Holy Spirit.
Peter gives us an excellent synopsis of the origin of the Word of God in II Peter 1:16-21. Remember that much of what Peter wrote was taught to him directly by Jesus Christ. Peter was an eyewitness to Christ’s ministry on earth. Peter was at most major events recorded in the Gospels. (Matthew 16:28; 17:1-8) In verse 20, Peter reveals the fact that all Scripture originates with God and is not someone’s private inspiration or interpretation. This means that God the Holy Spirit so directed the writers of Scripture that without changing their personalities, their literary style, their vocabularies or their personal feelings, God’s complete and coherent message was permanently recorded, with perfect accuracy, in the original languages of Scripture. (II Timothy 3:16)
The Bible is the recorded “mind of Christ”, which existed in eternity past before it was reduced to writing. Before the written Word of Scripture came into existence through Moses, God the Holy Spirit revealed it to certain people in Old Testament times. Revelation of Scripture also came through the spoken word of prophets and others, through dreams and visions, and through angels (often the Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ). In this dispensation God speaks to us ONLY through His Word. (Isaiah 6:8-10; Daniel 10:9; Isaiah 1:1; Psalms 68:17)
The Bible records many events from eternity past that cannot be substantiated by man, but are, never the less, true and accurate statements of those events. Ancient historical facts in the Bible, that were not found in any other writings of old, were unconfirmed by mankind for thousands of years until the recent past when many of the facts were found to be true, despite earlier skepticism from the scientific community. We also find laws of divine establishment for the entire human race, not just a chosen few. These laws express God’s desire for His creation. Some portions of Scripture are direct quotes from God or times when He spoke directly to man. The Bible is a book not only of doctrine but it also contains devotional literature, such as is found in Psalms and Proverbs. The Bible is so accurate that it even records falsehoods or lies of man and Satan. What we have been given by God is a record of His Divine Viewpoint Thinking - His plan, His purpose and His will for each of us. And He has made sure that it has been preserved throughout the centuries.
Manuscripts are commonly classified into four types. The very oldest of these is called Uncial, and was written on parchment. These manuscripts were written in all capital letters without punctuation and without spacing between letters, words or paragraphs. The second type is Minuscule and dates back to the 10th century B.C. The Minuscule was written with lower case cursive type letters. The Minuscule was developed by a group of monks and is the basis for Modern Greek and Roman small case letters. The third type of manuscript is called Lectionaries. These are actually copies of various passages from ancient manuscripts. Copied by pastors for use in sermons or Bible lessons, these copies predate many of the manuscripts available today. The fourth type of manuscript is called the Papyri. This type of manuscript was written on very delicate material and if folded would simply fall apart. It was, therefore, rolled and in this way preserved, having been stored in a hot, dry climate. Papyri date before 200 A.D.
A codex is another word for manuscript. Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in 1844 by a German named Tischendorf in a Greek monastery in the Sinaitic Peninsula region near Mount Sinai. This manuscript contained the entire Greek New Testament and other Christian writings not included in the Canon of Scriptures. Codex Vaticanus was written around 325 – 350 A.D. It is called Vacticanus because it was a part of the Roman Catholic Pope’s library housed at the Vatican. It was not allowed to be copied or taken from the library though some scholars were allowed to examine it in six hour intervals only. One German scholar named Tregelles actually memorized a portion of the manuscript each day and upon return to his home would record the Scripture. Codex Alexandrinus was written in Alexandria, Egypt about 450 A.D. Its value was discovered by a Greek Orthodox scholar in 1621 and presented to King Charles of England in 1627. The most significant finding in modern Biblical archaeology was the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 in a cave near the Dead Sea by a shepherd boy. These manuscripts were written around 125 B.C. and contain all the same Scripture as the previous oldest known manuscript, the Massoretic Text. The Dead Sea Scrolls predate the Massoretic Text by 1,000 years. These are the proof many skeptics demanded for authenticity and age of writing of the Old Testament.
It should be obvious that God has had a hand in the preservation of the Canon of Scripture down through the ages. Why do we need a canon? I believe that God’s desire is for mankind to have the revealed plan and purpose of God. The canon of Scripture does just that; in it is contained God’s thinking, His will for mankind in every dispensation, man’s relationship to God and his relationship to Satan (and Satan’s world system) and the principles of doctrine necessary to operate successfully in this world. Since the absolute authority, Jesus Christ, is no longer on earth, He has given us a written standard of authority, the Bible. (I Corinthians 2:16) During the first two or three centuries after Christ, there was a massive amount of writings, many which claimed to be inspired (even to the point of assigning Paul as the author of some). There had to be a standard or canon by which these books could be judged to determine if they were or were not inspired by God. The New Testament writings were being circulated throughout the early Christian churches, but it was not until around 96 A.D. that they were completed. By the middle of the next century, the Canon of Scripture was pretty much what we have today (there was still some controversy over certain books, that were eventually included).
The Early Church Fathers, leaders and pastor-teachers of the early church, determined the criteria for the inclusion of a book into the Canon. The criterion for the Old Testament: 1) Was the book of divine origin, written by an acknowledged messenger of God? 2) Was there evidence within the book itself and did the writer claim inspiration? 3) Was the book read publicly by a prophet or priest? They would have known which ones were inspired and which ones were not. 4) Was the book quoted by a prophet or a priest or referred to in another book? 5) Was the teaching of the book adhered to by its readers, were there other historians that refer to a book or its teaching?
The criterion for the New Testament: 1) Was the book written by an apostle or someone close to him, perhaps writing on his behalf? 2) Did the local body of believers believe the book to be inspired? 3) Internal and external evidence must exist for each book that it is divinely inspired. (Colossians 4:16; II Peter 3:15-16) 4) Was the book used for teaching by a church father or pastor-teacher? 5) Does the writer believe the book is inspired? (I Thessalonians 5:27)
As early as the second century, the Canon, as we know it today, had been confirmed by numerous sources (some Christian, some not). God has miraculously preserved His book, the Bible for us today. I hope that you are beginning to see what God thinks of His written Word. (Psalms 138:2) How important is it to you?