Have you ever thought about what the world would be like without paper? Probably not. Especially in the day that we now live we are trusting more and more in technology to replace paper. Yet, I believe there is something special about paper. Sure you can do anything that you can do on paper now on your computer or even your smartphone, but paper does have a tangible aspect to it. Not only can you feel the paper in between your fingertips, but you can smell the ink, see the delicate handwriting, and even taste the paper if you wish. But, the paper itself isn’t usually what holds the value. The content, the writing, is what holds the value.
Paper wasn’t always so accessible. In the days of the apostles, it was imperative that when you wrote something you didn’t screw up and have to start all over on new “paper”. So, in a sense, paper held value. However, the recipients of the apostles’ letters knew that it was not so much the paper that held value as it was the words on the page.
For example, Peter wrote two epistles that we know of and in his second epistle, 2 Peter in our Bibles, he emphasizes that he is reminding believers of important truths. This reminder came to the original readers in the form of a paper letter that would eventually be distributed to those that needed to read it. There are several times where the apostle is directing the reader’s attention back to the written Word of God by way of reminder. There is one in 2 Peter 1:12-15, where Peter is reminding the readers about the truth that they each were established in, namely the gospel (even though not explicitly stated). This was to be Peter’s last will and testament to these Christians, so the value of Peter’s words of reminder held great value. A few more reminders can be found in chapter 3 as well.
Another example of Peter’s reminding words are found back at the end of chapter one.
2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV)
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
This reminder, in particular, was also informative. Perhaps some of the readers knew that God’s Word didn’t originate with man’s ingenuity, but if there was any doubt before it could now be erased. Peter wished that the readers would take the written Word of God for what it was, the very words of God. In this way, the written Word, which was written by men moved by the Holy Spirit, was written on paper.
So, the paper on which the Word of God is written has some material value, but the contents, the very words themselves, have eternal value since they are God’s revelation of himself to man. The paper will eventually pass away, but God’s Word shall never pass away (Matt. 5:18).
Paper is important. We communicate with it, we share it, and we use it regularly. What are you doing with God’s Word? Are you communicating with it to others who need it (which is everyone!)? Are you sharing it with those who do not yet believe or even own a copy of the Bible? Are you using it regularly, meditating on the Word day and night and writing it on the tablet of your heart? Paper has some value, but the value of God’s written Word is priceless.