The phrase translated as “give an answer” in the New International Version is one word in the Koine (or common) Greek language of the original New Testament. It is the word “apologeomai”, which comes from the legal realm, and is best translated as “give a defense”. A defense given in such a context was therefore known as an “apologia”. We get our word “apology” in modern English from this very Greek word.
Unfortunately, terms both denote and connote things in their meaning. Accordingly, the term “apology” has certain connotations in modern English language that were not necessarily inherent in the original usage. To the Apostle Peter, therefore, being prepared to offer an apology for one’s faith in Jesus Christ did not mean one had done something for which one needed to say, “Oh, I’m sorry; I was wrong.” Rather, he was asserting that we as Christians need to be prepared to engage others with respect to their questions about our faith in Jesus Christ, and then to defend our convictions in this regard.
The early Christians understood this well. In the first generation or two after the New Testament Apostles, the early church produced a number of teachers and writers known collectively as the “Apologists.” Such men included Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Jerome, to name a few. These men offered defenses of the Christian faith to an increasingly inquisitive, even if hostile, Roman world.
In the modern world, there are many noted Christian Apologists as well. A long list could be compiled; but a few of the more well known individuals of late have been Norman Geisler, Henry Morris, Josh McDowell, John Warwick Montgomery, Francis Schaeffer, Lee Strobel, and Ravi Zacharias. For our part, we have been privileged to have noted Christian Apologist Ron Carlson with us this past week here at First Baptist Church in Lenoir City. His specialty is that of "World Religions and Cults". He has been addressing various aspects of these topics nightly as a way of helping us as believers become better equipped to defend our faith in Jesus Christ.
In times past, we have had Ken Ham, whose specialty is "Creation versus Evolution". Next year, we hope to have Randall Price with us as well. His specialties are "Biblical Archaeology and Eschatology" (end times studies). (Note: a quick Google search will lead anyone interested in knowing more about these men and their respective ministries to their official websites.)
In having these men in our church (as well as in sharing theirs and others’ names here) my purpose is really the same as that of Peter so long ago: to help equip us as believers as we attempt to meet the admonition of God's Word to be prepared to given an answer for our faith in Jesus Christ. I hope you will take the time to explore the websites of these men and their ministries; and in so doing, improve your own ability to “give an answer” regarding your hope in Jesus Christ.