If you could only select one text to represent apologetics, which would it be?


Thanks for the question.

While all of the Word of God should be used in apologetics, the "text of texts" on biblical apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15:
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.

The Greek word for defense is apologian and is where we get the English word “apologetics.” Like the apostle Paul, every saint is appointed for “the defense [apologian] of the gospel” (cf. Phil. 1:16).

The greater context surrounding 1 Peter 3:15 concerns suffering for righteousness' sake (1 Pet. 3:8-22). In all of life, and especially in the midst of suffering (John 16:33), the Christian should point others to the good news of salvation in Jesus’ death and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:2-4). Jesus is the ultimate example of one defending the faith (Jude 1:3) in the midst of persecution (Isa. 53:3-11; 1 Pet. 3:18).

1 Peter 3:15 presupposes that God exists and that he is holy. (See “What is Presuppositional Apologetics?" below). The fact that Peter instructs us to honor Christ the Lord indicates that we should honor not only God himself but also his Word (i.e. John 1:1). The apostle’s words also tell us to be prepared to make a defense of the hope that is within us, which implies that we need to rightly study and handle the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15). This text also informs the believer of the proper character and tone when making a defense of their living hope — “with gentleness and respect” (cf. Eph. 4:15; Col. 4:6).

To always be prepared to make a defense presupposes a faith that is being lived out visibly and unwaveringly before others. In other words, salvation in the Lord Jesus has caused the Christian to become a living testimony. That someone would even ask a question about Christian faith reveals they have likely observed something that is curious or different, especially if it's “hope in the midst of suffering” (cf. Heb. 6:19-20). This is when believers, by word and deed, display their unwavering hope in Christ their Lord, and others take notice (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12). This gives the believer the opportunity to share the gospel in love and truth by the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Related Topics

What is Presuppositional Apologetics?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).