Rescuing 1 Pet 3:15 from the apologists and giving it back to the evangelist

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Greektim, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Greektim

    Greektim
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    Thought I would try a thread to actually have a thread on a Bible study since that is what this portion of the BB is about.

    How many apologists do you know that will speak on this verse to either justify their "ministry" (not a huge fan btw) or to encourage others to be mini-apologists too? I hear it all the time. I even have a buddy of mine who is getting caught up into the whole realm (w/ guys like Bruggencate) and talk about the command to give a defense.

    So I studied it.

    Let me ask first, does anyone really know the context of what Peter is talking about broadly in 1 Peter and specifically in the verses around v. 15? Generally it is about persecution (among other things) and specifically persecution for good works. Nothing at all, except maybe the very initial part of the paragraph back in 3:10 which is referring to speaking evil and lies, is about what you say. Rather it is all about turning from evil, seeking peace, against doing evil, zealous for what is good, suffer for righteousness sake, sanctifying the Lord in your hearts, slandering you for your good behavior, and suffer for doing good. These are all thoughts about actions not defending the faith with arguments.

    So the one time in the middle of this passage a "defense" is mentioned (απολογια), one must wonder what the content of that consists of. Likely, it is just a gospel explanation of why your living is so radically different. Luke quoting Paul used the same word (where we get our word apology or apologetic) in Acts 22:1 where Paul's defense is simply a gospel presentation of his conversion experience.

    And then we look at the text in 1 Pet. 3:15 and realize that it is not even a command. There is no verb in the clause (unless you consider the substantival participle for "the ones asking" a verb). The term "ready" is an adjective with the adverb "always" describing it. Then you have the prepositional phrase "with an answer". If we follow the context of doing good works, this verse is not about giving a defense for the faith. It is about presenting the gospel!

    Let's take back 1 Pet. 3:15 from the apologists and give it back to the evangelists, i.e. every Christian who is to be living so vastly different that a warning is due your strange life-style... you may have to tell them what is different about you and give the gospel. Be ready for that! Be ready to suffer and be ready to give the gospel!!!

    The application to be made here is that perhaps you are not being questioned about your lifestyle b/c you have yet to "sanctify the Lord in your heart" and visibly shown Jesus to the world in your actions and lifestyle. Until your actions are deemed "good", only then will you need to be ready for questions about why and be ready to give the gospel.

    What say you. Is this exegesis sound?
     
  2. John of Japan

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    Good analysis, Tim. :thumbs: But a couple of notes.

    The main verb, hagiasate, is an imperative. And it seems to me the following clause should be considered adverbial, modifying hagiasate. So the main thrust of the verse is sanctifying one's self--perhaps proven by the willingness to stand up evangelistically for what you believe. Maybe the best examples in the NT for this would be Peter, and then Paul before various rulers.

    At any rate, I agree that the primary focus should be evangelistic here.
     
  3. Reformed

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    2 Pet. 3:8-22; 4:1-19 deals with suffering for righteousness' sake. In the midst of this teaching is Peter's admonishment (v. 15). I concur with Tim, that there is an εὐανγελλιον emphasis, although not limited to just that. Personal sanctification is alluded to it 4:1, "whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God." The ability to endure persecution, in the power of the Spirit, is part of our sanctification.
     
  4. Greektim

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    I'd agree with that understanding of the "apologia" clause being adverbial (though it is still a clause lacking a verb). I think a case could even be made that the Petrine style (at least in 1 Peter) is to begin w/ a command and follow it w/ participles (I would argue imperatival) or possibly an implied verb such as the case here. Either way, I'd still avoid interpreting apologia as "defense" and understand it evangelistically as a gospel presentation.

    Now another question to throw out there is what "sanctify the Lord God/Christ in your heart" means. Thoughts?
     
  5. Reformed

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    Consider the Lord as holy (ἁγαζιω). Set the Lord apart in your heart, mind and affections. Honor Him and consider His commands without conflating them with other concerns. By doing this the last part of verse 15 becomes possible.
     
  6. John of Japan

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    Well, the normal usage of apologia seems to be a formal defense, as in Acts 22:1, 24:16, 1 Cor. 9:3, etc. You do have a little wriggle room in the usage in Phil. 1:7 & 17, which might possibly be interpreted as "presentation." Do you have any lexicons on your side here? Extra-Biblical usage?
    Set Him apart and make Him the foundation of your existence.
     
  7. Aaron

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    Any who've studied the lives of Martin Luther, John Calvin, or, more recently, Richard Wurmbrand could tell you that sanctification and suffering are barren when lacking the art of apology.
     
  8. Reformed

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    Defending the faith takes many forms. Not every believer is going to be thrust before a tribunal on account of their faith. On the other hand it is quite probable that believers will have opportunity to share the Gospel in their every day life with friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances etc. But as Tim rightly pointed out the context of 1 Pet. 3:15 is within facing persecution. Facing the authorities for being a Christian was more common during Peter's time than during ours. In fact it was more prevalent in Luther's, Calvin's, and Bunyan's time. The way the United States is going a need for such a verbal defense in the face of persecution may become commonplace.
     
  9. Greektim

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    I'm away from all my sources at the moment. And I do think that the usual meaning is "defense". But even in cases as you mentioned above, the defense for Paul was his conversion experience. I'm moving in the direction that the early Christian "apologetic" was the gospel and not what we make it today. The context is the most driving part of my argument. Actions that require an explanation most square with righteous living coupled with a gospel explanation.

    Next question on the sanctify the Lord (more related to another thread)... would this be the equivalent of the Lord's prayer "Sanctify your name"???
     
  10. Van

    Van
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    I think we should be always ready to give an answer to those who ask us about our hope. And so we are to be ready to present the gospel in light of our individual conversion experience, for it is our hope, not the hope of some other guy.

    So I see it as suffering for the Lord, which we would be willing to do if we have put the Lord on the throne of our heart, setting Him above all worldly concerns. And if someone asks us why we hope in the spiritual blessings so much we suffer in this world, we should tell them.
     
    #10 Van, Jan 1, 2013
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  11. zrs6v4

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    Im trying to reconcile Biblical context with our context here. What exactly do you see differently with our modern defense and a defense given in the first century?

    In our context, how could our defense be most biblical?

    I dont see much difference personally. I think that being nearly 2,000 years removed that our work is more tedious in restablishing certain truths although that may not even be true when looking at early pagan cultures.

    Id assume your focus on unbiblical "defense" in modern apologetics is the extreme appeal to intellectual debate?
     
    #11 zrs6v4, Jan 1, 2013
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  12. SolaSaint

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    You beat me to it, that was going to be my reply. I will comment more later, I'm smoking some ribs right now...gotta go.
     
  13. Reformed

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    Hasn't anyone ever told you that smoking is bad for your health?
     
  14. SolaSaint

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    Tim,

    I agree many apologetic ministries use 1 Pet 3:15, but I think it is appropriate. As you said these verses and the whole epistle is how we should bear up under persecution, and of course it was written to early believers who were under more persecution than we are today. We are to give an answer or defense today when asked about our hope(this is to be evangelistic). I'm not sure I see your beef with ministries using this verse. I looked up this Bruggencate guy and I don't see what you are referring to. I couldn't even see his reference to 1 Pet 3?

    Can you please elaborate on what you see as abuse of this verse by specific minitries? Thanks and God Bless.
     
  15. Greektim

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    Long and short of it, I see many people defending their own apologetics ministry based on this verse. And I don't see this verse being a basis for defending the faith but rather simply expressing vocally one's faith after it has been expressed visually w/ good works and persecution. This verse is a call to voice the gospel, not defend it or the faith, IMO.
     
  16. Greektim

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    That's just it... it wasn't a defense. It was simply a gospel presentation. It is not about biblical or nobiblical whatever. It is about apologists abusing this verse to make is say something that it does not.
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    I think your unnecessarily splitting hairs.
     
  18. Greektim

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    Perhaps... but I don't think Peter had in mind the modern state of apologetics today either. And as the title indicates, the emphasis is an evangelistic one rather than an apologetic one. I would like to see the apologist do what he does w/out this verse. I don't think this verse requires what the apologist often state it commands.
     
  19. Revmitchell

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    I believe you can go either way with it without robing it of its context. Apologetics and Evangelism are too closely related.
     
  20. Greektim

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    Maybe, but I think the full import of what Peter is stating is a gospel explanation not a defense of Christianity. I don't think these 2 sides of the same coin here. I believe one is an outgrowth of the other.
     

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