2

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV):

15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

What does Peter mean by "[...] being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason [...]"? Is Peter encouraging believers to train in apologetics?

1
  • 1
    Most people I have met simply understand that it is an opportunity to tell the enquirer of our personal testimony of the Lord and the hope that is within our breast. Peter was a man who caught fish for a living and then followed Jesus (literally, on foot) as the gospel was preached throughout Galiliee and Judaea. When did Peter ever 'train in apologetics' ? ? This question is profoundly impractical. in my view.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 23 at 6:07
1

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV):

15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [G627 apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

HELPS Word-studies

627 apología (from 575 /apó, "from" and 3056 /lógos, "intelligent reasoning") – properly, a well-reasoned reply; a thought-out response to adequately address the issue(s) that is raised.

627 /apología ("reasoned defense") is the term for making a legal defense in an ancient court. Today 627 /apología ("biblical apologetics") is used for supplying evidences for the Christian faith.

[An "apology" in classical times had nothing to do with saying, "I'm sorry," but rather was a reasoned argument (defense) that presented evidence (supplied compelling proof).]

In fact, the English word 'apologetics' comes from a Greek word in this verse. So a strong argument can be made that Peter is encouraging believers to train in apologetics in 1 Peter 3:15. However, I do not think this is Peter's emphasis that he encourages every Chrisitan to be formally trained in intellectual apologetics. I think he used the Greek word rather informally.

Unlike Paul, Peter himself was not trained in logical apologetic reasoning. Peter's emphasis was on actions as he himself was a man of actions. One chapter earlier, he wrote in 2:12

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

This is the context. This is the first line of defense: Live a good life. The 2nd line of defense is to be able to simply "give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (NIV).

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown emphasizes on the hope and not on the apologetics:

This verse does not impose an obligation to bring forward a learned proof and logical defense of revelation. But as believers deny themselves, crucify the world, and brave persecution, they must be buoyed up by some strong "hope"; men of the world, having no such hope themselves, are moved by curiosity to ask the secret of this hope; the believer must be ready to give an experimental [experiencial] account "how this hope arose in him, what it contains, and on what it rests" [Steiger].

Is Peter encouraging believers to train in apologetics in 1 Peter 3:15?

I think that would be an over-interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15. Peter was thinking in more concrete terms of living the hope and be able to explain it.

1

Note carefully what Peter is instructing here in 1 Peter 3:15 -

always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you

Some have a simple faith whose defense is simply that, "This is what happened to me and why I believe ..."

Others have a very complex faith that includes an understanding of physics, cosmology, technicalities in Greek and Hebrew, etc. They have a great abundance of "evidence" for their faith.

There are others that are spread between these two extremes.

Now, Peter's instruction is to be ready to defend one's own faith, whatever that means, either simply or in a complex and complete way.

Which should one use? The answer lies in the state of mind of the questioner - Do not answer what the questioner is not asking!!! At the same time, we should be prepared to answer the questions that God sends to us via such questioners.

7
  • What if we come across an intellectually strong questioner? For instance. Mar 23 at 11:36
  • Given that Peter did not base his testimony on physics, cosmology, or technical linguistics, it seems to me that those fields (while potentially helpful) are not necessary to be able to exercise faith in the full, powerful, eternally transformative sense in which he did. Mar 23 at 17:33
  • @HoldToTheRod - that is obviously true but beside the point here. The point is that each person should practice what it is that make them believe and be ready to give that answer which will vary greatly from person to person.
    – Dottard
    Mar 23 at 19:11
  • @Dottard good thoughts; I think Paul would agree that God gives different people different gifts for the benefit of His work. I just wasn't sure if you were implying (perhaps you were not) that Peter's faith was simple--I do not believe it was. Mar 23 at 20:21
  • 1
    @HoldToTheRod - I made no comment about Peter's faith. I agree he was well informed as was Paul; both were excellent witnesses and greatly used by God.
    – Dottard
    Mar 23 at 20:22
0

A believer and follower of Christ should at least be able to say how and why God is known to them. God does not hide himself from anyone, rather the unbeliever hide themselves from God.

1
  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the Tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Mar 23 at 16:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.