What Does the Bible Say about Defending the Faith?
Why, as Christians, should we study apologetics? The primary reason is that the Bible commands us to defend the faith. But that apologetics is a biblical discipline is also shown by the fact that it was used by Jesus and the apostles in their own evangelism.
So what does the Bible say about defending the faith? Quite a lot. Let’s consider these points in order.
1. Bible verses that call us to study apologetics.
The clearest biblical mandate for using apologetics in our evangelism comes from 1 Peter 3:15:
…in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
Here we are called to defend our faith when conversing with non-Christians by giving reasons to believe the Christian message. This entails, of course, that we ourselves know the reasons to believe as well, and the best way to do that is by studying apologetics.
In addition to this passage, Jude 3 also calls us to “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” Finally, apologetics plausibly fits in with the general biblical command to love God with our minds. This command is found in Mark 12:29-30: “love the Lord your God…with all your mind.” Romans 12:2, as well, tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Certainly one way to be so transformed is by understanding how what we know about the world supports the Christian worldview, something we will gain through studying apologetics.
2. Jesus used apologetics in his evangelism.
When sharing the gospel with those around him, Jesus appealed to fulfilled prophecy to show that he was the Christ (Luke 24:25-27). Jesus appealed to his miracles to prove his divinity (John 14:11). Finally, Jesus presented his resurrection as the primary sign that backed up his radical claims (Matt. 12:38-42). Thus, he did not simply preach that he was the divine savior of the world and expect his listeners to exercise blind faith, but constructed arguments to show why it was reasonable for them to exercise such a faith. Given our call to imitate Christ in all things, we should follow him here as well.
3. The apostles used apologetics in their evangelism.
When Paul explains the ministry of himself and the other early Christians in 2 Corin. 10:5, he says that “we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” He backs this up in Acts 17:2-4, where Luke writes:
And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’ And some of them were persuaded….”
It was common for the apostles to argue for the truth of the gospel, and this is something that is found all throughout the book of Acts. When speaking with the Jews, they would appeal to the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible, along with Jesus’ miracles and resurrection as evidence that he was who he claimed to be. When speaking with primarily Gentile audiences, the apostles would appeal to God’s handiwork in nature to show that there is one true God, and then to the resurrection to prove that he has revealed himself decisively in Jesus. So in both cases the gospel presentations of the earliest evangelists involved defending the faith with arguments and evidence.
In summary, the Bible calls us to practice apologetics directly by telling us to do so, and indirectly by including rational defenses of the faith in its examples of evangelism by Jesus and the apostles. The study of apologetics is also a way to fulfill the command to love God with our minds. Therefore, whether for sharing our faith with others or for attempting to grow in it ourselves, the study of apologetics is eminently biblical.
Learn about the practical benefits of studying apologetics here.
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Know of any other verses that support defending the faith? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below!