We tend to protect our valuable stuff. When my wife leaves her purse in the car, she locks the car. Most people keep their money in a bank. Those with influence or fame are often guarded closely while in public. If it has value or potential risk, it is locked up or otherwise guarded. We understand this concept.
The New Testament talks about guarded stuff quite a bit. What follows is an abridged list of ways τηρεω (tereo) is translated, in a very informal word study format. Specific definitions come from BDAG (a fantastic lexicon).
- Prisoner/Person in Custody – It is used of Jesus (Matt. 27.36ff), Paul and Silas (Acts 16.23), Angels Who Sinned (II Peter 2.4), and Peter (Acts 12.5).
- To Preserve or Hold Someone or Something – It is used of the “good wine that was kept until after the bad wine was consumed” (John 2). It is used to describe our inheritance, which is being held and is waiting for those who die in Christ (I Peter 2.4). It is used to describe the universe and the earth, which is being preserved because its destruction will be caused by God at the end of time (II Peter 3.7; Cf. Romans 8.22-24). For the Christian, this seems to resolve the climate change issue since God is keeping the earth intact until the last day.
- To Not Give Up Something – Paul uses it urging Christians to persist in being united (Eph. 4.3). He also used it to tell Timothy that he had held onto his faith, even up to his imminent death (II Timothy 4.7). John uses it to describe our spiritual protection from being lost if we’re trying to live faithfully (I John 5.8).
For the sake of brevity, we’ll stop there. How cool is that our eternal home is being held by God, or that our record is kept clean by Jesus if we’re trying to be faithful? The two most important assets a Christian has is their eternal home and spiritual state. The first can never be taken away, and the second can only be lost if we give it up willingly and intentionally. God is good.