What is Apologetics?
by Patrick Collins
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.— 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Christians are instructed in Scripture to not only know why they believe what they believe, but to defend the faith with gentleness and respect.
While "apologetics" sounds like you're apologizing for something, it's quite different in meaning. The reason they sound similar is they both come from the same root word which means to plea or make a case. Although, technically, apologetics comes from the Greek word “apologia.” It is found a few times in the New Testament. This Greek word means “a defense” or “a reasoned out response.”
It is a branch of Christian theology which “seeks to provide a rational justification for the truth claims of the Christian faith. It is primarily a theological disciple, though it has practical applications.” (William Lane Craig, “Reasonable Faith” p. xi)
“Apologia” appears many times in the New Testament:
- Acts 22:1 "hear my defense" in court
- Acts 25:16 "answer for himself" in court
- 1 Cor. 9:3 Paul's "answer" in defense of his apostleship
- 2 Cor. 7:11 Showing outward evidence
- Phil 1:7 "defense" of the gospel
- Phil 1:17 "defense" of the gospel
- 2 Timothy 4:16 giving an answer
- 1 Peter 3:15 "give an answer" to those who ask about our hope in Christ.
Apologetics is also shown by example throughout the Bible. Some of the clearest examples are in Acts chapters 17-20. If you read those chapters, notice how Paul takes a different approach with each audience…
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