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Apologetics (3)

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The art of explaining the faith in such a way as to make a reasoned defence against its detractors. Paul’s Areopagus sermon is a classic example of biblical apologetics, which can be of value to all who are called upon to defend the faith today.

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Paul’s Areopagus sermon, a classic example of biblical apologetics

Paul speaks to his listeners on their own ground, starting on their own terms

Acts 17:22–23 ESV
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

Paul presents the Christian position

Acts 17:24–27 ESV
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

Paul supports his argument in a culturally appropriate way

Paul quotes from two secular writers, first from the Cretan poet Epimenides, and secondly from the Cilician poet Aratus.

Paul concludes his argument and calls for a response

Acts 17:29–31 ESV
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Apologetics as a regular feature of Paul’s ministry

Acts 18:4 ESV
And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.
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Apologetics is part of the work of church leaders

Titus 1:9 ESV
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

All Christians share responsibility for the task of apologetics

1 Peter 3:15 ESV
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,

Other examples of Christians engaging in apologetics

Acts 18:28 ESV
for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
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Apologetics alone is an inadequate way of presenting the gospel

1 Corinthians 1:17–25 ESV
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
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