Christian Essentials, Evangelism & Apologetics, Youth Apologetics Q & A

Jesus Witnesses: 1 Peter 3:15 Everyday Apologetics

     The call to follow Jesus Christ is not an easy path, and those who follow Jesus will have opposition and at times be reviled slanderously for being a Christian. In the first century church Christians were accused of being “evil doers” because they did not follow and fulfill the duties of the gods of Rome under Tacitus, and because of that they were verbally abused and ridiculed.[1]  Peter’s message in 1 Peter 3:13-17 is counter cultural because in the Roman world taking revenge or retaliating was considered a social obligation, and turning the other cheek was not an option.[2]  Peter learned first hand from Jesus that those who follow Him will be persecuted and spoken of falsely (Matthew 5:10-12), and Jesus taught his disciples to turn the other cheek when they are wrongly being mistreated (Matthew 5:39).  Peter’s message is one he learned himself over time, and he is instructing believers scattered across Asia Minor whom were experiencing suffering and false accusations to press on demonstrating to the world God’s grace in the face persecution (1 Peter 3:8-17).

Jesus Witnesses

     One of the most common quoted verses in the Bible on Apologetics, if not the most common, comes from 1 Peter 3:15.  The word ‘apologetics’ comes from the Greek word “apologia,” which means to give a reason for what you believe, to make a defense, to defend the gospel.[3]  When learning how to share the faith with those asking questions, it is good to address them with reasonable responses that they will understand.  William McRaney Jr. states:  “As we learn the questions, we can begin to find resources, people and materials to help us address the legitimate concerns people have about giving their lives to Christ.”[4]  There are many apologetic resources out there for Christians to find and learn from, and some of the more known Christian Apologists are people like Walter Martin, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, and John Lennox. Each of these men have specific areas that are related to apologetics in their fields of study and ministries, and much can be learned from apologists like them.  

     Christians are to be Jesus witnesses to those around them, whether it is for a ministry or as an individual, all Christians are witnesses for Jesus Christ. Peter wrote that believers are to set apart Christ as Lord in their hearts, always be ready answer those who ask them why they believe what they believe, and to do that with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).  Another way this can be understood is that every Christian has a testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ.  That simply means that they have put their trust in Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross as atonement for sin and in His resurrection from the dead providing the forgiveness of sins, and giving them eternal life.  Therefore Christians should know what they believe and be prepared in how they would answer, and when they answer share the gospel message in a graceful and respectful manner.  However many Christians are not prepared to give an answer when asked why they believe or they simply do not share the gospel with others.  It has been suggested that 95-97% of Christians do not share their faith, which is very alarming and discouraging.[5]

     An important lesson for Christians to learn is how to interpret the Bible properly understanding the original meaning and it’s content.[6] In 1 Peter 3:13-17 Peter writes to Christians who are suffering and being persecuted for the faith, and at times it is not easy to stand for truth when you experience these types of things.  The good news is that when Christians struggle and go through hard times God can use them to reach the lost.  The Bible encourages believers to trust in the Lord and not themselves, and to cast all their cares upon Him (Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 Peter 5:7).  To set apart (hagiazo; to consecrate, devote oneself)[7]Christ as Lord in your hearts simply means to be Christ centered (Colossians 3:17), to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33-34), and in whatever happens each day is in the Lord’s hands and He will work out for the good (Romans 8:28).

Conclusion

     The times might have changed but the need for Christians to reach the lost with the gospel message is still the same, and God can use anyone to be His witness who sets apart Christ as Lord in their hearts.  At times we might be reviled, slandered, even mocked for our faith in Jesus, but in Christ we can be overcomers through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13; 1 John 5:5).  The encouragement in 1 Peter 3:13-17 is for all Christians, and there is much to learn and apply from these verses in our daily lives.  Therefore as witnesses for Jesus Christ, may we press on in the faith representing Him, and sharing the good news that Jesus saves and changes lives.


    [1]  Gary M. Burge, et al., The New Testament In Antiquity, 398.

    [2]  Gary M. Burge, et al., The New Testament In Antiquity, 400.

    [3]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament, 232.

    [4]William McRaney Jr., The Art of Personal Evangelism, 206.

    [5]William McRaney Jr., The Art of Personal Evangelism, 5.

    [6]Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 27-29.

    [7]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament, 69.

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