Exegesis of 1 Peter 3:13-17: Apologetic Epilogue
A Brief Application to Christian Apologetics from Peter’s Use of Pros Apologian
1 Peter 3:15 has become the pretext for a wide variety of applications regarding apologetic methodologies (evidentialism, presuppositionalism, classicalism, Reformed epistemology, etc.) and philosophical arguments (ontological, teleological, cosmological, transcendental, etc.). Such applications, however, are not derived directly from this text but are based upon real or hypothetical questions and challenges presented by unbelievers. The text allows for such an application only insofar as the particular questions raised by an unbeliever may relate to those subjects. The context of 3:15 is suffering for living righteously, not familiarity with S5 modal logic. Constant awareness of the Lordship of Christ is a necessary and sufficient precondition for always being ready to fearlessly give reasons for our hope.
An apologetic discussion is faithful to this text only insofar as it is related to proclaiming the Lordship of Christ. The hope which is in us is grounded in sanctifying the Lord Christ in our hearts, and any reasons given for our hope must honor him as holy. An apologetic discussion is unfaithful to this text when it does not lead to the foot of the cross and the door of the empty tomb, but becomes bogged down in the finer details of the particular structure of transcendental arguments, focuses inordinately on apologetic methodological competition or endlessly appeals to the irreducible complexity of cellular biology (or any other apologetic “hobby horse” issue). Each of these apologetic subjects (and many others like them) has value in their place, but must never supplant the supremacy of the Lordship of Christ in apologetics and life.