cross-and-bible-1158304-1919x2844In part 1, I began to explain what apologetics, or Christian case-making is and isn’t, showing the goals and the practical use for Christians who seek to persuade others to follow Christ. In this post, I want to give you the origins of the word “apologetics,” and in doing so, I think you’ll start to see how Christianity has a rich origination in reason and evidence.

Origin of “apologetics”

The case-making concept, and the origins of the word “apologetics,” comes from the Greek word apologia meaning rationale or defense, as in a court of law, and can be found eight times in the New Testament:

  • Acts 22:1 – “’Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.’”
  • Acts 25:16 – “I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 9:3 – “This is my defense to those who would examine me.”
  • 2 Corinthians 7:11 – “For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
  • Philippians 1:7 –  “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”
  • Philippians 1:16 – “ The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:16 – “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!”
  • 1 Peter 3:15 – “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”

This is also related to the Greek word apologeomai used ten times in the New Testament in a similar way as above:

  • Luke 12:11 – “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say”
  • Luke 21:14 – “Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer”
  • Acts 19:33 – “Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd.”
  • Acts 24:10 – “And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied: ‘Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.'”
  • Acts 25:8 – “Paul argued in his defense, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.'”
  • Acts 26:1 – “So Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You have permission to speak for yourself.’ Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense”
  • Acts 26:2 – “‘I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews,'”
  • Acts 26:24 – “And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.'”
  • Romans 2:15 – “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:19 – “Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.”

So now that you better understand the origins of the word “apologetics,” the biblical concept it comes from, and what its purposes are, why should we think that God wants us to defend Christianity in this way? In the next post, I’ll show the biblical model and commands concerning our responsibilities for making a defense.

Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)