3 Apologetics Strategies From the Book of Acts
by Alisa Childers
“Do you understand what you’re reading?“
This simple question is credited with carrying Christianity into Ethiopia. (1) Acts chapter 8 tells of Philip being led to the desert by an angel to meet an officer from the court of the Queen of Ethiopia. Philip finds him reading an Isaiah scroll containing prophecies about the Messiah. At this point, Philip could have walked up and boldly declared, “I have been sent to you today to proclaim the good news of Jesus the Messiah!” But he didn’t. He met this man right where he was at and asked a good question, which then led to an explanation of the gospel. This is apologetics at its best.
Apologetics is sometimes called “pre-evangelism” because it can help clear intellectual obstacles in the way of faith. The command to do apologetics is found in 1 Peter 3:15 which tells us to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” The Greek word translated as “defense” is apologia, which is where we get our English word, “apologetics.” In the book of Acts, when the apostles did evangelism, they did apologetics. They were constantly defending their faith—to religious leaders, political officers, secular philosophers, and average citizens. Here are 3 ways they used apologetics to defend their faith:
1. They defended the gospel, not themselves.
The apostles were no strangers to trials, councils, and prisons. In Acts 4, Peter and John were brought before the Jerusalem high council and were challenged to defend their right to preach the resurrection of Jesus. Peter wasn’t even one sentence into his defense when he began to proclaim the gospel. He didn’t spend his energy trying to clear his name, or avoid prison time—he preached the resurrection of Jesus to the very council that was questioning him.
This example was also followed by the martyr Stephen in chapters 6-7. Stephen was a Jewish Christian who was brought before the council and accused of blasphemy against Moses and God. In his famous speech, he addressed the council by recounting the history of the Jews, pointing out that God’s true prophets have always been rejected. He also stressed that God’s presence isn’t confined to one specific geographical area or temple. On one level, Stephen answered the charges of blasphemy. But even more, he opened the door theologically for the church’s worldwide mission…
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