"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. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.” (2 Peter 1:12–15, NASB95)
Peter re-shared in these verses truths that he had previously shared and was committed to continue sharing until such time that his earthly tent was laid aside. Knowing the importance of repetition in learning, Peter was committed to repeating these essential truths until such time that he was unable to speak the words any more. Observing the important of repetition in learning, Zig Ziglar made popular the phrase, “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” It is firmly established that there is great value in learning through repetition. It is through repetition that we solidly learn, and it is as we apply what has been deeply planted in our minds that we then move to accomplish things as a result. Real learning leads to action which has outcomes.
Robert Bjork of UCLA has done extensive research on human learning, particularly as it pertains to students and their performance both in the short and long term. In these excerpts, he explained: “Cramming can actually be a good thing to do from the standpoint of your getting a grade. If you don’t know the material and haven’t appropriately spaced your study across the term, … if you stay up all night, study, cram whatever and walk into the exam, you can actually perform pretty well on that exam… You know what’s coming though, right? It’s what you’ve been waiting for. The “but.”” “But the problem is not too long after that, this massed practice will lead to …very poor retention. So as far as the material in that course carrying over to other courses, to your life in general, it’s an awful thing to do.” He continued, “…The more things are massed together, the more you will see apparent benefits on the short term, the more they’re spread apart, the more you’ll see real benefits on the long term. It is possible to space too much. In some ways that’s just intuitive. If I let extraordinary time go by between when I first study something and when I restudy it, it’ll be almost like that restudy is the first time. … there is an optimal spacing interval. It tends to be very long, but there’s a peak that performance, as I increase that spacing, performance will increase a lot to some point and then gradually I get too much space.” (Source: https://knowledgeplus.nejm.org/blog/spaced-repetition-the-most-effective-way-to-learn/)
What these modern individuals have reaffirmed is the enduring truth that Peter made an important part of his teaching. Repetition is important for learning and for establishing a firm foundation of trust in God and instruction for life. These may be his last words, but he wanted them to be lasting words, and it is for that reason that he spoke them time and time again. His readers who knew him had heard this before. Peter knew these truths to be critical, and he was determined to keep them on the front of his tongue, even to the point that after he left they would continue to hear them.
I think most of us can relate to the enduring nature of words. We have things we’ve heard from someone close to us who has passed through our lives, but has marked our minds in an indelible way. This is true whether those words were for good or for evil. In fact, it is probably easier to remember some of the harsh words than the kinds ones because of how deeply they may have marked us. Peter was determined to make his last words stick in them for good.
He continued by saying that he knew that his time with them was almost done, saying, “knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” Years earlier, after being recharged to the ministry of tending Jesus’ sheep, Jesus told him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”” (John 21:18–19, NASB95)
It is estimated that Peter wrote this letter about A.D. 67–68, which would have been shortly before his death. He knew his time had come, and the circumstances surrounding him at the time of his writing must have clearly signaled to Him possibly even with the affirming of the Spirit in him that he was soon to be taken away to his death “where [he did] not wish to go.” Jesus, Himself, had told His disciples that following Him would come at the cost of their physical lives, but that the gain would also be so much more than they could ever imagine. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26, NASB95) And for Peter, Church tradition holds that “Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero (ca. A.D. 67–68), being crucified upside down, because he refused to be crucified like his Lord.” (MacArthur Study Bible)
Foxe’s Book of Martyr records for us: “In this persecution, among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit other some, and not without cause, do doubt thereof; concerning whose life and history, because it is sufficiently described in the text of the Gospel, and in the Acts of the Apostles, I need not here to make any great repetition thereof. As touching the cause and maimer of his death, divers there be which make relation, as Hierom, Egesippus, Eusebius, Abdias, and others, although they do not all precisely agree in the time. The words of Hierom be these: Simon Peter, the son of Jona, of the province of Galilee, and of the town of Bethsaida, the brother of Andrew, &c., after he had been bishop of the church of Antioch, and had preached to the dispersion of them that believed, of the circumcision, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in the second year of Claudius the emperor, (which was the year of our Lord forty and four,) came to Rome to withstand Simon Magus, and there kept the priestly chair the space of five and twenty years, until the last year of the aforesaid Nero, which was the fourteenth year of his reign, of whom he was crucified, his head being down, and his feet upward; himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord….”
We don’t know what actually happened, but what we do know is that Jesus told Peter that his life would be taken from him, and at the writing of these words Peter knew the time was near. It was important to him to repeat what he had just shared as well as that which he was about to share. He was imparting to them the truth of God, and he knew it was important for them to implant it firmly in their minds, their hearts and in the actions of their lives. And, because these words of Peter have been preserved for us we have the same encouragement, the same truth, and the same responsibility in response which is to hide God’s Word in our hearts, to think on it throughout the day, and to stand on it as we live out our lives. This was Peter’s encouragement for them, and it is his encouragement for us as one chosen by Christ to tend His sheep.