1 Peter – Chapter Three XIX

by Ed Urzi

“…regard Christ the Lord as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it” (1 Peter 3:15 CEB).

In light of this exhortation to provide an answer to those with questions regarding Christianity, this study will begin a brief four-part survey on apologetics that will draw upon the insights of various commentators. We can start with some important definitions…

“Peter used an interesting word here when he told these believers to ‘give an answer.’ The word in Greek is apologia… It means something akin to ‘giving a well-reasoned reply’ or ‘providing a thoughtful response to a question offered.’ Apologia has nothing to do with being remorseful or apologetic. Instead, it simply describes our duty to ‘make the case’ for what we believe. The word is used (in one form or another) seventeen times in the New Testament (Luke 12:11; 21:14; Acts 19:33; 22:1; 24:10; 25:8; 25:15; 26:1-2, 24; Romans 2:1 5; 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 12:19; Philippians 1:7; 1:17; and 2 Timothy 4:1).

Apologia is used most often in the context of some form of persecution on the part of believers (as Peter used it here when addressing Christ followers who had been dispersed in to regions filled with hostile nonbelievers). Peter was unequivocal in his directive to these Christ followers. Unlike Paul, who clearly said not everyone is an evangelist, Peter made a point to say everyone must be a case maker, particularly when living in a hostile environment. Peter’s words apply to all of us. It’s time for each and every one of us to accept our duty and calling as Christian case makers.” (1)

“This is the Greek term apologia, which is a compound of apo (from) and logos (word). It refers to a legal defense in a courtroom setting (cf. Acts 19:33; 22:1; 25:16; 26:1,2,24). This text is often used to encourage believers to be an evangelistic witness, which is surely needed, but in context this probably refers to official trials or interrogations. Notice that it is important for all believers to have a prepared, logical presentation of their faith in Christ, whether for a court or for a neighbor. Every believer should be ready to be a verbal witness!” (2)

“Despite popular opinion, apologetics is not a discipline for elite Christians. Nor is the practice of apologetics limited to formal debate. Apologetics is as practical as anything in the Christian life. Every believer is required and expected to be an apologist (1 Pet. 3:15). As such, every believer is required and expected to think and prepare like an apologist. Of course, if apologetics is the highly philosophical, formal process we have come to expect, this sounds like an impossible task for most Christians. However, if apologetics is as simple as knowing what we believe and why we believe it, and being able to communicate that to others in a humble, winsome, biblical manner, that’s a horse of a different color!” (3)

(1) J. Warner Wallace, Forensic Faith, First Edition (Colorado Springs, CO, David C Cook, 2017) [pg.58]

(2) Dr. Bob Utley. Free Bible Commentary – 1 Peter 3, Copyright © 2014 Bible Lessons International http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL02/VOL02B_03.html

(3) Baucham, V., Jr. (2015). Expository Apologetics: Answering Objections with the Power of the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. Page 5