As Christians, we all should be reading the Bible, which is the word of God, on a regular and daily basis. This applies to apologists of all levels as well.
Recently, I was reading the book of Acts (which I’ve read countless times before) when I came to Acts 22:1.
“Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
This is Paul’s opening statement to the Jews after they had tried to kill him and he was arrested by the Romans. He asked permission to the speak to the Jews, motioned to them, and there was great silence. And he addressed them in the Hebrew language. (Acts 21). And his opening sentence was
“Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
This time that I read this, the word defense jumped out to me. Here Paul is fixing to make his case, to defend himself against the charges that were laid against him:
“Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”
So Paul was trying to make his case. And from his opening statement, he was asking them to listen to his defense. The Greek word for defense used in that verse is apologia, which is where we get the word apologetics. Paul was using apologetics. Apologia means:
- verbal defense, speech in defense
- a reasoned statement or argument
This word appears 8 times in the New Testament. For most who are into apologetics, the most famous appearance is in 1 Peter 3:15:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
1 Peter 3:15
This is the go-to verse for apologetics. Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.
So this got me thinking, if apologia appears 8 times in the New Testament, then what do the other verses say? We’ve already looked at two of those verses: Acts 22:1 and 1 Peter 3:15, so let’s look at the other six.
To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’
In Acts 25, after Paul appeals to Caesar, Festus is explaining Paul’s case to King Agrippa. Here, apologia is translated at to answer for himself. Again, a defense. When we use apologetics, we are answering for ourselves charges laid against us, and charges laid against the gospel.
My defense to those who examine me is this
1 Cor 9:3
Here, Paul is addressing questions of whether he is an apostle and more. Interestingly is the Hebrew word for examine used in this verse, which is anakrino. BibleStudyTools.com defines anakrino as:
An interesting thing in 1 Corinthians is that Paul doesn’t say, “Don’t you judge me.” No, for those that have examined or judged him, he gives an answer. In some ways, I think he welcomes it because it gives him a chance to make his case. (For more on the judging topic, read here or here.)
For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
2 Cor 7:11
In this verse, apologia is the Greek word that is translated as “what clearing of yourselves.” Apologetics is a desire to clear ourselves of the charges that others might lay against us.
just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.
Here, we have a clear use of apologetics: defense of the gospel. I love how Paul says both defense and confirmation of the gospel. That’s what apologetics is: a defense and confirmation of the gospel.
but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
Again, defense of the gospel. Surely, we are all seeing a pattern here. (“Yes we are, and don’t call us Shirley.”) I think we are all appointed for the defense of the gospel.
At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.
2 tim 4:16
Here, Paul is talking about how one person has forsaken him (because of a love for this present world) and how another person has done him much harm. And then finally, he says that at his first defense, no one stood with him, but all forsook him. Still, he does not hold it against them, for he does not want that charged against them. To me, this is walking in love and forgiveness. In 1 Corinthians, he says that if he does great things (I’m paraphrasing) but has not love, then he is worthless. In our walk of apologetics, we cannot forgive to love and forgive, just like we cannot forget our devotion to God’s word.
There are other verses we could point to, like how it as Paul’s custom to go to the synagogues to reason with others (Acts 17:1-2), or how Jesus would respond to questions with logic and reason. But I think the case for apologetics can strongly be made just from these 8 verses that use the word apologia.
- Make a case.
- Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for the hope the hope that is within you, with meekness and fear.
- Answer the charges laid against the gospel.
- Welcome others examining or asking questions about the gospel.
- Clear the charges laid against the gospel.
- Defend and confirm the gospel.
- This is for all believers to do, from lay people to scholars.
- Stand firm. Walk in love and forgiveness.