The Great Commission for Apologetics (1 Peter 3:15…Get it Straight)
by Paul Rezkalla
David and I have just come back from a week of philosophy and apologetics conference sessions. There was no shortage of the oft-quoted, passion-instilling, lock-yourself-in-a-room-to-read-Plantinga inducing slogan for apologetics that is 1 Peter 3:15—“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” I’ve seen and heard this phrase quoted more times than I can count. It has essentially become the Great Commission for Apologetics.
The exhortation is simple: Christians need to be ready to defend what they believe. This verse provides the biblical charge for Christians to engage in apologetics. But this is not all that we are commanded to do in 1 Peter 3:15. The beginning portion of the passage is rarely, if ever, quoted as a charge to those engaging in apologetics. Yet it provides the foundation for apologetics! Without it, apologetics is utterly useless.
Here is the entire passage, in context:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
The first thing we are commanded to do is to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts. This is the foundation for our apologetic. To “set apart” Christ as Lord means to…
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