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Is 1 Peter 3:15 Accurately Used as an Apologetic Text?

Often at BellatorChristi.com, I receive comments to which I try to respond as quickly as possible. This past weekend was no exception. For most comments, the responses I attempt to leave suffice for the question or comment presented. However, this weekend a commenter left a response that baffled me to my core. He challenged apologists in using 1 Peter 3:15 as a call to do apologetics. At face value, it has always appeared to me that 1 Peter 3:15 was an apologetic text. For heaven’s sake, if Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, and other heavy hitters in the apologetics world used this text in support for the use of Christian apologetics, one would assume that the text holds some merit. Nevertheless, I have learned never to assume anything. Thus, I pose this question on today’s blog; are apologists using 1 Peter 3:15 contextually accurate as a call to do Christian apologetics?

While I was somewhat anxious scrutinizing the use of the text—does anyone really want to say that the entire apologetics world is wrong—my anxieties were quickly dispelled when reading the text of 1 Peter 3:15 in its appropriate context. I found quite speedily that the text has been used appropriately much to the chagrin of my opposing critic. Why? When one determines the meaning of a text in relation to the context of the passage, one needs to look at the text in relation to the message of the book it is in; the surrounding chapters, and the context of the statement itself. Before beginning the process, let’s first see what the text in question states. Peter writes, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16).[1]

Context of the book argues for an apologetic understanding of 1 Peter 3:15.

What is the message of 1 Peter as it pertains to 1 Peter 3:15? The apostle Simon Peter writes this letter to the provinces in Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1-2) during the 60s.[2] For the Christians in the area, the 60s were a time of great hostility. Not only did Jewish groups ostracize the early believers, the Roman imperial government was in the process of turning up the heat on them as they were thought to be “‘atheists’ (for rejecting the gods), ‘cannibals’ (for eating Jesus’ ‘body’ and drinking his ‘blood’) and incestuous (for statements like ‘I love you, brother’ or ‘I love you, sister’).”[3] Obviously, any casual student of the Bible, much more a serious one, will know that these accusations were ungrounded and rooted in a false understanding of the Christian faith. Thus, the ancient Christian would need to hold a good apologetic in order to defend his or her faith against the false indictments posed against them in popular society, both eccelesiastically (Jewish opposition in the synagogue) and governmentally (Roman opposition in the courts). Therefore, 1 Peter 3:15 holds an apologetic thrust when held against the context of the book. But what about 1 Peter chapter 3? Is it apologetic-oriented?

Context of the surrounding chapters argue for an apologetic understanding of 1 Peter 3:15.

The first section of 1 Peter 3 continues the thought begun in 1 Peter 2:11. Peter instructs the churches to live godly lives in the pagan society in which they live. Peter notes that they are to “as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Living in the pagan culture as they were, the Christians were going to have more temptations than they would had they lived in Jerusalem or Capernaum. Peter argues that their very lifestyles were to be an apologetic argument for the faith. Peter notes that the believers were to “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” (1 Peter 2:12). 1 Peter 3:8 shifts the focus, as will be examined in the next section. In 1 Peter 4, Peter again picks up the topic of living for God and the reality that the Christian would most likely suffer for their faith (1 Peter 4:12-19).

Context of the pericope argues for an apologetic understanding of 1 Peter 3:15.

1 Peter 3:8 shifts the focus from living well in the face of pagan opposition (1 Peter 2:11-3:7) to suffering well in the midst of persecution; a topic picked up again in chapter 4. It is in this pericope that the text in question is found. Peter instructs the believers that in Asia Minor that they can anticipate threats. However, the believers were not to be frightened (1 Peter 3:14). Why were they not to fear? They should not fear because they had truth on their side. Peter redirects the believer’s focus to the reason that they were believers in the first place—the truth of Christ. It is here that 1 Peter 3:15-16 is given. The believers could face opposition and give a well-reasoned and rational defense for their faith because of the truthfulness of the faith. However, the believers were to provide the reason (Gk “apologia,” also translated “defense” [ESV]) for their faith but with the previously instructed good behavior and gentleness. Barker and Kohlenberger note that “Christian hope is so real and distinctive that non-Christians are puzzled about it and ask for a ‘reason’ (Gk 3364). The type of questioning could be either official interrogations by the governmental authorities (cf. Ac 25:16; 26:2; 2 Ti 4:16) or informal questioning.”[4] The believers were to have orthodoxy (“right belief”) an orthopraxy (“right conduct”) as part of their apologetic argumentation.

Conclusion

From the three points observed (the context of the book, the surrounding chapters, and the text itself), one can safely say that apologists are correct in using 1 Peter 3:15 as a proof-text for the use of apologetics. Modern Christians find themselves in a similar situation as the recipients of Peter’s first letter in Asia Minor. For our brothers and sisters in places of great persecution, 1 Peter speaks to them to continue to stand strong despite the woes they face. The rewards will be greater in heaven for those who have suffered martyrdom than for those of us who do not have to live with the threat of physical harm. However, for Western Christians, 1 Peter has a lot to say, as well. Western Christians find that pressures against them for holding their Christian faith are increasing at an alarming rate. A society which once adhered to the principles of the Judeo-Christian worldview is quickly crumbling into an abysmal moral chaos. Like the believers of old, modern Christians must stand firm, honoring Christ as Lord, being quickly ready to provide a defense (an apologetic) for the hope that one holds. 1 Peter 3:15 strongly advocates the use of Christian apologetics. Modern Christians would do well to listen to Simon Peter’s appeal.

© October 24, 2016. Brian Chilton.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture in this article comes from the New International Version (Grand Rapids: Biblica, 2011).

[2] I am a traditionalist in the sense that I hold to the early church’s understanding of who wrote the New Testament texts. I accept that John the apostle wrote the Fourth Gospel and the letters attributed to him. I, in turn, accept that Simon Peter wrote the letters that bear his name.

[3] John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener, NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 2177-2178.

[4] Kenneth L. Barker and John R. Kohlenberger, III., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, New Testament, abridged ed (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 1053.

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14 thoughts on “Is 1 Peter 3:15 Accurately Used as an Apologetic Text?”

  1. Pastor Chilton

    I wanted to clarify that in my original response I did not question the biblical idea of apologetics. But I question the Contemporary use of it within most Apologetic Ministries.

    My first contention is to question the mantra of most Contemporary Apologetic ministries in that 1 Peter 3:15 mandates all Christians be doing apologetics as they do and say. As in ever seeking out in masse to be ever preparing intellectual rationale defenses about generally proving God. For which I ask does this idea even fit in 1 Peter let alone in 1 Peter 3:15.

    For indeed it does seem that in Apologetics Today that our hope or more precise the hope spoken of in 1 Peter 3:15 and throughout the whole of this epistle is premised to be solely about scientifically, intellectually, and philosophically proving God.

    And that yes for which the proof-texting of 1 Peter 3:15 is utilized as the basis for formulating, debating, teaching others the same and to do the same.

    But rather I would contend Peter’s point (1 Peter, 1 Peter 3:15) is more about the viewing of our personal witness by being holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). This Christ likeness seeing us as we i.e. “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…” observed in the midst of real time suffering is the defense that bids the question that holds the answer of our hope. Intellectual reasons or reasoning is not in view here.

    In which I might even be more precise by asking does the original meaning of the text of 1 Peter 3:15 support the ways and means of Contemporary Apologetics. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)

    Here is my defense: 1 Peter 3:15 seems more a decree to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, than to always be ready to give an answer. In fact we ought to realize that the Imperative is attached directly to the word sanctify. As well the words ‘ready’, ‘always’, and ‘answer’ are not verbs.

    So we must ask ourselves if this command being inferred to the readying (as almost every Modern Apologist does) is correct, possible, or actually not true at all.

    What if in obeying the only direct command in this first of only two verbs found in this verse is of itself the readying or being readied.

    Or if indeed the command is attached to the readying (and be ready always to give an answer…”) would it not then be in accordance with the sanctifying, not regardless or apart from it? And then would it not be fully in context with the question about hope: that one specific question ‘asked’ (only other verb in this verse) about?

    And I simply ask is it not presumption (eisegesis) rather than (exegeses) that the text at hand includes any defense other than our lively hope seen and known. I am not here saying that we should not defend our rational Faith or that historical and scientific truths are not going to prove God and His Word for they always will. And I am by no means here saying we should not be able to answer the questions that the unbelievers ask us.

    I believe that this verse speaks about our hope in Christ as our personal Lord and Savior in relationship to Him and His promises. Not just that we have rationale truth on our side we have Christ and His Holy Spirit in us.

    In Christ,
    Keith

    1. Keith,

      I appreciate your response. On the one hand, I agree that one’s personal witness is being addressed. On the other hand, one’s personal witness is part of the person’s apologetic witness to the world. Sanctifying Christ means that one offers a defense to others.

      The word “answer” in the KJV is from the Greek term “apologia” which is better translated “defense.” Now you note the verb and the context of the verse. However, one cannot properly offer correct exegesis without placing the verse in context. As I note in the article (thus, will not rehash the argument), the context of the letter of Peter is apologetically focused.

      So in conclusion, yes, I think the verse does note the importance of one sanctifying Christ. But that sanctification is demonstrated in the way one lives and by the apologetic/evangelical influence that the person has with others. The context of the verse as I argued in my article demands quite differently than what you propose. I would argue that to exclude apologetics from this verse is to exclude a major portion of the verses meaning.

      In addition, Jesus was an apologist. When John the Baptist had doubts and send disciples to Jesus asking if He was the Messiah, Jesus performed miracles proving His claims. After His resurrection, Jesus performed many infallible proofs to prove that He had in fact risen from the dead.

      The apostle Paul used a variety of apologetic methods to proclaim the gospel not only to those in Jerusalem, but in Athens as well. Tertullian once argued, as you seem to imply, that Athens (intellectualism) has nothing to do with Jerusalem (faith). I think Justin Martyr rightly defended, as did Jesus and Paul, that Athens finds a home in Jerusalem.

      Thus, we should carry on Sanctifying Christ in our hearts and proclaim and defend the message of the gospel.

      Blessings,

      Brian

  2. Pastor Chilton

    I wanted assure you that I am not saying nor do I mean to imply that anyone should abandon the apologetic intent of 1 Peter 3:15. I am saying that we need to be sure that we are interpreting it aright, an applying it aright.

    Nor do I suppose that intellectualism ( for which I think that you mean our ability to know natural truth) has nothing to do with faith. Rather I am saying that it has nowhere near as much to do with faith as Modern Apologists vehemently project. Also I do not understand what your statement about Athens and Jerusalem have to do with 1 Peter 3:15 and the proper interpretation and thus application of it. Also what exactly do you mean that Athens finds it’s home in Jerusalem?

    And if I may interject Paul himself compared ‘all things’ but rubbish compared to Christ (Philippians 3:4-7). In which he did not say that all things were as trash and need be thrown away, but in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus his (as) Lord (part and parcel of sanctifying Christ) they amount to nothing, as rubbish, as dung.

    “8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11 KJV)

    In Christ,

    keith

    1. In that regard, I would agree with you. It seemed in your previous post that you were implying that natural revelation (metaphorically related to Athens) had nothing to do with special revelation (metaphorically compared with Jerusalem). I must ask, how do you define faith? You said, that apologetics “has nowhere as much to do with faith as Modern Apologists vehemently project.” How, then, do you define faith? Is faith a blind acceptance of what cannot be known? Or, is it a trust built on something that can be Known?

      Blessings,

      Brian

  3. Brian,

    You ask a very important question!

    I believe faith is a trust authored and built on what has been revealed, thereby known, and thus accepted. Hence I would define faith as believing, obeying, and hoping in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom was revealed to me, via his Word and His Power. Which was initially instituted on my sinful position being revealed to me, and thus my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Not a blind faith but eyes opened wide by God faith.

    Furthermore I would say that the spiritual explanation of faith found in scripture would be a foundational idea of faith for which I hold and thusly am assured of what He promises. In which indeed it would further help explain, even as we have been discussing, the proper interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15.

    “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrew 11:1 KJV)

    So as Athens goes yes we can know and even be persuaded to know that God does exist. For which natural revelation will always point toward this end.

    But as to being reconciled to God in Jerusalem as in being restored to a right relationship with Him natural revelation will not provide.

    Therefore if one is not supernaturally (via God’s Word) brought to Jerusalem there convicted of their sin and their need of the Savior all the truths and intellectual acknowlegements of and about God through Athens will be for naught i.e. so again as Paul said:

    Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11 KJV)

    Thus my fear and convictions of Modern Apologists is that they spend so much time in Athens, while leading others to do the same, that they fail to project and provide the only path to Jerusalem. Which dare I say in within Apologetics Today the Truth of SIN and the reality of it is actually (naturally) sidestepped or even taken out of the picture.

    In Christ,
    keith

    1. Keith,

      As I have before, I agree with the gist of what you are saying but find myself in disagreement with some of the details. Faith, biblically speaking, is a trust and dependency upon someone or something. Faith is trusting someone who has proven themselves trustworthy. Thus, as you note, natural revelation offers us the opportunity to know that God exists. In addition, it also affords us the opportunity to know that Jesus existed, that He was crucified, and that He rose from the dead as all of the aforementioned are evidentiary in nature.

      However, special revelation reveals that Jesus is in fact the Son of God. Special revelation reveals the inspiration of the Bible as God’s holy Word.

      So, in many respects, I agree with you. However, since you agree that natural (aka., special) revelation is important, I find it amazing that you hold so much disdain for modern apologetics. It is not my experience that apologists bypass or neglect sin. In fact, many apologists stress the nature of sin more than many in today’s pulpits. Concerning Hebrews 11:1, the author is not suggesting that faith believes things that cannot be demonstrated as demonstrably true. Rather, the faith suggested in Hebrews 11:1 describes the trustworthy nature of God’s future working.

      Blessings,

      Pastor Brian

  4. Pastor Brian,

    At the risk of misunderstanding each other I guess when I define or speak about Faith especially Biblical Faith: I mean Faith in God our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, initial salvation Faith (Romans 10:9), and ‘hope’ rejoicing Faith (Hebrews 11:1).

    “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2 KJV)

    Consider you tagging of: Why Do So Many People Misunderstand the Word “Faith” by Eric Chabot. Notice if you will the comments toward the end of the article.

    “Objectively speaking, the Holy Spirit works (has already worked: Romans 1:18-20)! in conjunction with the evidence for the truthfulness of the Christian faith to enable us to understand that God exists.” Here is Athens, here is ‘Natural’ revelation, finite understanding i.e. limited because: Romans 1:21-29:

    “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”

    “However, from a subjective perspective, the Holy Spirit also enables an individual to place his trust in God. (John 16: 12-15).” Here is Jerusalem the supernatural movement (enablement) of the Holy Spirit. That by Grace (Ephesians 2:8) enabled conviction of ones awareness of their sinfulness before our Holy God a/the prerequisite toward Salvation.

    Then we read:

    “In other words, one can trust that God exists and still not be a true believer. So we can conclude by stating that humans not only need to believe that Christ is the Savior, but that they also need to put our trust in Christ to become a follower of Him.”

    Which this trust/ belief/ Faith which we define Biblically, does include enabled awareness of our separation from God in our Sin. Likewise to this knowing by the Holy Spirit through His Holy Word that Christ is the Messiah. This includes our ability to accept His sacrifice on our behalf thereby being reconciled to God, through ones Faith in and through Him as our Savior and Lord.

    Now at the end of this article the gist of what I am saying is implied about my contention of where the ‘natural’ path of Athens so tread by Present-day Apologists tends to lead.

    “One Piece of Advice to Christian Apologists”

    “… If the object of my faith was evidence alone, than evidence would be an idol. Instead, the object of my faith is God or Jesus Himself. So while reason and evidence does support my trust in Jesus/God, it does not take the place of God Himself. If you are at the place where you have allowed evidence to take the place of faith, you need to pull back and find some balance on this issue.”

    Hereby as I do contend, directed to this place by way of Modern Apologetics natural drift toward misappropriating scripture that dishonors our Lord.

    Here is where my discernment and convictions reside. That is to say when Scripture is wrested one quenches the Spirit and brings disrepute to God.
    In which 1 Peter 3:15 is one of many verses that (in view of God’s Word) many heavy hitters in Apologetics Today miss-interpret and misapply!

    Therein is my fear (phobos i.e awe and reverence of God not phobeo), sometimes, yes even as you say to the disdain of the erroneous teachings that Modern Apologists of these days purport.

    Even in your responses I believe I see an overemphasis of adherence to one’s ability (for the Modern Apologist & the Natural Man) to diagnose/discern (1 Corinthians 2:14) Truth within well-reasoned and rational defenses.

    Up to now I have refrained from outright saying but I must say your interpretation of 1 Peter is inaccurate and misleading. To say that it is apologetically (all about offering natural demonstrably true defenses) focused, not only differs from what I propose, it strays even outside most if not all commentaries in what they have proposed, and most of all it does not align with Peter’s inspired words.

    Now if you were to say (in which you almost do but come short of acknowledging) the focus of 1 Peter, of chapter 3, and the periscope of 1 Peter 3:15 was apologetically focused as in the defense: Hopes reason of we as Christians sanctifying Christ in our sufferings, through our lives lived in lively hope towards God, then yes I would agree. Here the Divine path of Jerusalem onward toward Mount Zion.

    Whereas right suffering (1 Peter 1:6, 2:19-20, 3:14-18, 4:1, 4:12-19, 5:1, & 5:6-11) for living for Christ is what should be understood, which is more the focus, the theme, and the message of this Epistle. 1 Peter 3:15: supernatural sanctified lives lived and thus witnessed by outsiders for the Lord’ sake 1 Peter 2:12-15 :

    “12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, uwhereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as dsupreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:”

    Within the overview of your exposition you say much here to my convictions and fear:

    “However, the believers were not to be frightened (1 Peter 3:14). Why were they not to fear? They should not fear because they had truth on their side. Peter redirects the believer’s focus to the reason that they were believers in the first place—the truth of Christ. It is here that 1 Peter 3:15-16 is given. The believers could face opposition and give a well-reasoned and rational defense for their faith because of the truthfulness of the faith.”

    Your interpretation and your application do not align nor square with these verses. Even in your suggestion concerning fear you are amiss: Yes in 1 Peter 3:14 were are told not fear:

    “And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;” (1 Peter 3:13-14)

    Now consider this verse in whole and how it speaks volumes about context, indicating: probable harm, conditional to being followers of ‘the’ (a definitive article in the Greek) good, being yet happy (literally in view of us here being blessed) that is but and if conditionally ye (plural) we are suffering (literally) for our righteousness (doing and being the good that God requires). And finally, too be i.e. “…not afraid…”

    We should be aware that this statement is very important to the context here at hand. Firstly “…be not afraid…” is translated from one Greek word phobeo which indicates a state of fear for which we are not to be in. As well this verb is in the passive voice here attached to “…their terror…” Remarkably “…their terror…” actually has two moods indicated in it. An imperative (command) and a subjunctive:

    “Subjunctive — the mood that normally presents the verbal action as being probable or intentional. The subjunctive can also express verbal action in terms of mere possibility. In Greek, it is the optative mood that points to possibility more than probability.” (Michael S. Heiser and Vincent M. Setterholm, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Lexham Press, 2013; 2013).
    For which I would suggest in meaning implies that probably we will be tempted to be afraid in such distressing circumstances. But that we are commanded to not to be in that state of fear on account of the terror coming from those whom confront us.

    Now we should acknowledge that in the very next verse, 1 Peter 3:15 we are told to fear! “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (KJV)

    As far as our respond-ability in fear concerning the mode or motive or our answering we might assume, which so many do, that the object of this fear, or respect (ESV) is for he that asketh about your hope. Not that neither the text nor myself am saying that we should not give due respect to others be they friend or foe everywhere and always.

    This is how we are to be regardless if we are staged before an audience in debate, commenting on a blog, and or in real-time (it came to pass) face to face everyday dialogues. For that would go against being rightly meek would it not.
    No God forbid we are not to tremble in fear concerning those whom persecute us, for we were just informed in the previous verse to not be afraid or troubled by them or theirs.

    Rather this fear is far more relevant and profound than any phobia that we may have toward anyone or anything here on earth or otherwise.
    This word here translated to fear is the same one used in 1 Peter 1:17: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:”

    Indeed this is that wonderful, sound, and righteous fear of our Holy God. Which does and should often include trembling Mark 5:33, even before men in this Holy Fear: 1 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 7:15, Ephesians 6:5. And lest we neglect Paul’s inspired words in Philippians 2:12-13:

    “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

    This word here translated to fear is defined as:“53.59 φόβοςd, ου m; δέος, ους n: profound respect and awe for deity—‘reverence, awe.’φόβοςd: καὶ πορευομένη τῷ φόβῳ τοῦ κυρίου ‘and (the church) lived in reverence for the Lord’ Ac 9:31.δέος: λατρεύωμεν … μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέους ‘let us worship … with reverence and awe’ He 12:28.” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 540.)

    So our answer is to be every inundated with reverence and awe toward our God. Which in all cases could and should guide, protect, and infuse all our relations and communications? And here specifically, and most appropriately pertaining to the “HOPE” words that we should speak in Holy Spirit instilled reply (Matthew 10:19-20, Luke 12:11-12, & Ephesians 6:19-20). No readied rhetoric, or rehearsed responses here implied nor suggested.

    I as well have some comments and questions that yet linger in my considerations of your defenses within our conversations.

    1) You said: “One of the greatest arguments for doing apologetics is from the fact that Jesus and the early apostles were in fact apologists!”

    Why do you say that Jesus and the Apostles were Apologists? How can say that the Apostles were Apologists let alone Jesus Christ?

    Jesus Christ was, is the Son of God. His Words spoken, written, healings, and miracles performed were His workings, God’s workings, and Holy Spirit Providentially empowered. Which includes those thus inspired words written through His Apostles. This confusing statement and thus argument seems simply to be a Modern twist to over emphasize the ‘natural’ by placing it in the same sphere and influence as ‘supernatural’.

    2) You state: “But even if one person did, we would, according to 1 Peter 3:15, be obligated to provide a defense for the faith.” But you never answered my question concerning if 1 Peter 3:15 does in proper interpretation really say we are obligated as is in commanded to be ready to give an apologia?

    3) I notice that you hold to and often say, as do most Apologists Today that the Church is guilty of intellectual laziness. Rather I would say the Church has more of a problem with spiritually Lethargy resulting in a great lacking of Discernment. Kind of like the Corinthian Church consider 1 Corinthians 2, which has very much to say in contrast to the Apologetic of these days.

    Here, is where I stand neither in opposition to you personally nor any other person, but in reverence for Christ and my right founded fear of misrepresenting Him and His Word. Brian I do not wish to disparage you nor any Christian in your endeavors to serve our Lord. I do however pray that we, the both of us consider if what God’s Word claims in these matters is what we are in fact defending as for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    In Christ,
    keith

    1. Keith,

      Our conversation is starting to become quite repetitive. Thus, I will not respond to every aspect of your comment as I have already given answers to some of your objections. I will, however, make three observations.

      1) You again note your disagreement with the modern apologetic use of 1 Peter 3:15. I have already demonstrated in the article that 1 Peter 3:15 as well as the First Letter of Peter is rooted in an appeal for the Christian to do apologetics. You have not given evidence to dismiss the claims outside of borderline ad hominems. Claiming that apologists are misusing the text is not enough. I could claim that the dismissal of apologetics is just as abusive to the text. But neither of us get anywhere unless data is provided. The quotation of texts in Greek do not provide evidence in an of themselves. The text must be placed in its proper context. When placed in its proper context, I have already demonstrated that the text (as have many highly-trained, scholarly apologists and biblical scholars) is rooted in an appeal to defend the faith.

      2) You note that Jesus and the apostles were not apologists. I find this quite bizarre. Why do you think that Jesus performed miracles? They were apologetic in nature as they verified the claims that Jesus was making. I have argued for this already. Thus, there is no need to rehash it here. But I find it intriguing that you are using apologetic argumentation to dismiss the use of apologetics–possibly bordering on a formal logical fallacy.

      3) Herein is my most important observation from our conversation: I feel the root of our disagreement is not one of a biblical nature, but rather a philosophical one. I assume that you hold a hardline hyper-Calvinist stance (that is, the belief that there exists no human response to the divine grace of God conferred). Or, that God does not provide persons the freedom to respond to God’s grace. From your comments, I also assume that you hold a presuppositional stance (that is, that evidence is unnecessary due to the presuppositions that everyone holds). A good example of a presuppositional theologian is one Cornelius Van Til. If this is the case, your systematic theological system disallows natural revelation, thereby negating the apologetics enterprise.

      I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian. I am a Congruist (which is a subset of Molinism). That is, I hold to both divine sovereignty and human freedom. In addition, I do think that individuals are given a great deal of information about God through creation. Thus, I am an evidentialist and, therefore, a classic apologist. I could discuss the issue in much more detail, but it would extend the reply to a greater length than it should be (this response is probably too long as it is).

      Nevertheless, I do appreciate your views and the tactful way you presented your opposition. I encourage you to check out my article concerning Thomism, Molinism, and Congruism as better alternatives than Calvinism and Arminianism right here on the website. I also encourage you to study up on the various stances concerning presuppositionalism and evidentiary forms of apologetics. I think you will find that presuppositionalism is found to be greatly lacking in substance

      Blessings,

      Pastor Brian

  5. As I said in our Facebook discussion on this article, thank you for examining the passage. I wish more “apologists” did this. I think we agree on what the “big picture” of the passage is. Peter is telling them to, while they are suffering persecution, to prepare themselves to evangelize and to give them the reason why they have hope – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What we disagree on is whether there is further application that Peter is commanding… Is Peter saying, tell them the Gospel or is he commanding them to preach the Gospel and be ready to answer every question they may ask about the nature of God and nature of knowledge, reality, and existence (philosophical theory). It seems from your arguments that you believe the latter – that Peter in this passage is commanding the Christians to be ready to answer every philosophical question that is thrown their way, and that these philosophical, (and often theoretical) questions are the reason for our hope alongside the Gospel.

    I was not in any way trying to say that all man-made philosophy is bad or that they can never be used, I was only trying to make the point that Peter is not commanding Christians in the passage in question to answer these philosophical, theoretical questions, but to teach the Gospel. The command is to tell them the reason for the hope within them (the Gospel). May philosophical questions arise while the Gospel is being preached? Sure. Would it be good to give an answer? Sure. Is it neccessary? No. I don’t beleive Peter is commanding them to be ready to answer every philosophical and theological question, which it seems on your view, would be what is being commanded here. I just don’t believe Peter is using the word ‘apologia’ this way in the passage. He narrows his use of the word to “giving a reason for the hope that is within you”, which in my judgment (and it seems you agreed with this main point) is talking about preaching about the resurrected Christ, which Peter says is the reason for our hope in 1 Peter 1:3. I believe the readers of the epistle would have read 1 Peter 3:15 with 1:3 in mind, and would have understood that Peter is merely saying, give a defense by telling them about the resurrected Jesus. Our job based on this passage as Christians is to teach people about the resurrected Messiah and the eyewitness testimony. If Peter is commanding that we must be able to “defend the faith” (this phrase is not used in the passage) by being ready to answer all of the philosophical questions one may ask, then this command is setting us up for failure because it would be commanding us to be acquainted with every question or theory about life, knowledge, and ethics, which is not possible.

    And finally, I never once said that I oppose apologetics. I defend the faith and what I believe in many different ways. I just don’t believe this is what Peter is commanding in this passage. I only oppose using 1 Peter 3:15 to show that Peter is commanding every Christian to defend the faith and to be ready to give an answer to every question unbelievers would ask. I believe we should work on preparing ourselves to answer questions that people ask us about our beliefs, I just don’t believe this is what Peter is commanding his 1st century audience to do in this passage.

    One last point, you said in our Facebook discussion that “one should not hammer the Bible down someone’s throat.” What do you mean by this? What justification from scripture would you give to show that this is something we should not do?

    Grace and peace,
    Jason

    1. Jason,

      Thanks for continuing our conversation here. To summarize our discussion for the readers of the website who may not be acquainted with our previous conversation, you take the position that Peter only addresses believers to be prepared to defend the resurrection of Christ, and nothing more. You assume that I take the position that Peter instructs all believers to know every philosophical argument under the sun. I think your analysis of the passage is too narrow and your assumption of my argument is too broad.

      The presentation of the gospel to an atheist will be much different than a presentation to a Muslim. The former does not believe in God, whereas the latter does. The starting point is different. We see Jesus and the apostles using different tactics with different people. To present the gospel, one may need to be trained with some scientific, historical, and philosophical understanding. So while I do not think that Peter demands that one uses specific arguments, I do think that he is calling for Christians to be equipped to defend the faith.

      I also question why one would not desire to learn more about defending the faith. Part of the greatest commandment calls us to love God with all the mind. It seems to me that the better we are intellectually equipped, the more we demonstrate such mental love.

      Finally, you asked about my statement concerning one hammering the Bible at someone. What I mean to say is that all the quotations of Scripture will do not a whit of good if one is predisposed to deny the claims of Scripture. The source of their doubts must first be addressed, whether it is a Humean philosophical outlook or simply hyper skepticism.

      Blessings,

      BC

      1. Just to clarify my position a little. You almost got it. My position is that this really is not a “apologetic text” at all, at least as we understand apologetics today. I believe Peter is only saying that as the Christians are question, the “defense” they are to give for the hope within them is to tell their persecutors the Gospel message that gives them hope, which is, in of itself, it’s own apologetic when it includes the message of the resurrection.

        I only took the assumption regarding your position because it seems that you believe 1 Peter 3:15 is commanding every Christian to “defend the faith.” If this is a command to defend the faith, this would assume we are being commanded to be prepared to answer every argument against the faith. Maybe I am just missing something in your argument.

        I am not against learning to defend the faith. I just take more of a presuppositional approach, believing that the Gospel message itself can get through hardened, atheistic, biased hearts without any of the philosophical arguments for God’s existence being made, such as the moral argument, the transcendental argument, and the cosmological argument. If one needs evidence, the Gospel itself provides the evidence if one is really willing to investigate it’s message. New Testament preaching in the book of Acts always presupposed the authority of Christ. They spoke with authority as they taught and preached God’s word and told people about the resurrection. It is only the word of God and the Gospel message that make disciples and lead God’s people to be fruitful.

        I have no problem “hammering the Bible at someone” as you put it. It is a Biblical approach. The Spirit uses the sword of his word to pierce hearts and to bring conviction. This is the only tool we see used in scripture. He uses the message to bring people to Christ and to harden those who do not want to believe it.

        God bless!

      2. Thanks Jason for the follow-up. As I noted in the article, I think the text is completely justified in being called an Apologetics text. The reader will have to read the article in order to judge for him/herself. I also challenge presuppositionalism as it does not engage with the issues as does classic, cumulative, and other apologetic approaches. But such is for another article at another time.

        Blessings,

        Brian

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