Class Notes: 6/4/2008
1Pet 3:15 Peter and Paul's defense of the hope that was in them to the Jews and the Greeks
In our study of the mandates for the believer in God's pre-determined plan we are presently examining the mandate found in 1Pet 3:15; for the believer to sanctify or set apart the TLJC in their hearts or stream of consciousness and as a result be focused on TLJC rather than the adversities in life and to be ready to give an answer of the "hope that is in them" that results from the believer's occupation with TLJC.
1Pet 3:15;b Because of this, (the sanctification of TLJC In their heart) believers they would be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks...
Last time we saw that the word translated "defense" is the Greek word "Apologia"
Apologetics is the theological term for how one explains the gospel of salvation by Grace through Faith alone in TLJC alone. It is the study of how to present the Gospel in any given situation in order to help people understand the concepts involved.
Apologetics is the how, Evangelism is the what.
The one who following the mandate found in 1Pet 3:15 and " is giving an answer of the hope that lies within them" can present the Gospel in a way the fits the circumstance of the individual who is asking and address their specific area of interest or need.
An example of this is found in Peter's message to the Jews in Acts 2 that he preached on the Day of Pentecost. It is recorded in Acts 2:14-36; His message was that the coming of Jesus, his life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension and his sending of the Holy Spirit provided for the entire economy of salvation and fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy.
He explained the events of the Day of Pentecost in view of Old Testament prophecy Acts 2:14-21; and showed that events that the Jews had seen could be understood as a partial fulfillment of God's promises to Israel quoting the prophet Joel in Joel 2:28-32;
He described the exaltation of Jesus in the context of the expectations that the Jews had from the Old Testament prophesies Acts 2:22-28; His consistent appeal to prophecy was of great interest to the religious Jews but would have had no relevance if he had been speaking to a Gentile audience but his address fit the interests of his Jewish audience.
He described the exaltation of Jesus, along with its theological interpretation Acts 2:29-36; by stating that God has made Him both Lord and Christ "this Jesus whom you crucified" Acts 2:36;
He then made it clear that they would have to "repent" or have a change of thinking decision regarding the identity of TLJC in order for them to receive salvation Acts 2:37-40; They would have to recognize him as their Messiah, the anointed one.
We see from their response that Peter's message was effective. Acts 2:41;
Another example of apologetics is found in Acts chapter 17 where Paul makes his address to the Greeks in Athens.
Paul arrived at Athens from Macedonia and Acts 17:16; states that Athens was a city "full of idols”, which most likely means that in addition to a large number of idols inside buildings, that there were other idols displayed publicly at strategic places throughout the city.
A large number of temples had been built in the general area of the Acropolis that is likely the cause of Paul's comment that is recorded in Acts 17:24;
The Greek word "Areopagus" that is used in Acts 17:19; actually refers to the advisory counsel of the city. (Net note 74) which at the time was the most important administrative body within Athens.
Paul had been accused of teaching "strange gods" Acts 17:18; and Paul's audience was excited about his "strange" teaching and they wanted to know more. Acts 17:20;
Whatever Paul had said, the words "Jesus" and "resurrection” were what they remembered. Acts 17:18e;
These were the same two ideas that Peter presented in his address to the Jews on Pentecost. Acts 2:32; and why he and John were briefly imprisoned in Acts 4:2;
Paul starts his address with the introduction of the concept of the living God Acts 17:24;
He did not assume they were familiar with the idea of the one true and living God of Israel. When Paul or Peter addressed Jewish audiences, this idea could be taken for granted; so their purpose was to show that TLJC was the incarnation of that eternal God and show how faith alone in TLJC alone was necessary for them to benefit from his work.
In this case, as was also the case in Paul's address at Lystra that is recorded in Acts 14:15-17;he does not assume that they understand this concept.
The idea of a living personal God needed to be introduced to the gentiles before the gospel could be presented because one has to come to God consciousness before the information presented in the Gospel can be understood.
A difficulty that will be faced when "giving an answer of the hope that is in you” is like the Greeks Paul was addressing, many of the people to whom the gospel will be presented have only a very basic understanding of Christianity and often much of what they think they understand is actually incorrect because it is based on hearsay and assumption rather than actual investigation and study, consequently, it will often necessary to assume the one who has requested information will have little or no knowledge of Christian ideas, words, and meanings.
Paul was aware that the Greek pagan religion did not establish an understanding of a living personal God, so Paul introduced and explained the idea as part of his presentation.
Paul also built on their existing understanding of things. He identified aspects of their belief system that he could use as a basis for communicating the gospel. His message can be seen as an example of his desire to be "all things to all men” for the "sake of the gospel" as described in 1Cor 9:22-23;
He identified the parts of the gospel message that were most likely to find affinity with his audience. After stating that the Athenians were known for their religiosity in Acts 17:22; he built on that interest.
The religious and philosophical curiosity of the Athenians provided the path that he took for his explanation of the Gospel message.
He used the concepts of "divinity" that were present in their religion as the basis for his presentation. Acts 17:28-29; He built on the theistic assumptions that they had as part of their culture and then went beyond them with the truth.
Paul was able to leverage from their Stoic philosophy, and present the gospel in the context of their interests, and then extend the limits of what might be known from the revelation of the one true God through TLJC.
What the Greeks held to be unknown Acts 17:23; and possibly unknowable, Paul presented as being made known through the TLJC and his resurrection. Acts 17:31;
This of course fit right in with their way of thinking. 1Cor 1:22;
In the second sentence of his address Paul referred to the inscription on a nearby altar that read "To an Unknown God" Acts 17:23; He was able to leverage from this inscription to a discussion of the One True God.
Paul pointed out that a deity of whom the Greeks had some implicit or intuitive awareness was being made known to them by name. The God who is known indirectly through His creation can be known fully in redemption.
He used the creation as a basis for his apologetic approach. Acts 17:24; "The God who made the world and all things in it . . . is Lord of heaven and earth"
Paul used the creation as a basis of introducing salvation by believing in TLJC.
By starting with God's creation Paul was able to relate to his audience.
Since they had a sense of God's creative power, he need not establish the foundation of the
Christian knowledge of God; he could start with their belief of a God as creator.
God the Holy Spirit had already brought his audience to "God Consciousness", what they needed was the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone in TLJC alone to be presented to them.
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