Peter of Bethsaida: Make a defense and give an account

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But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, but with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

“For example, in the Preaching of Peter the Lord says, “I chose you twelve, judging you to be disciples wor­thy of me, whom the Lord willed, and thinking you faithful apostles I sent you into the world to preach the gospel to people throughout the world, that they should know that there is one God; to declare by faith in me [the Christ] what shall be, so that those who have heard and believed may be saved, and that those who have not believed may hear and bear witness, not having any defense so as to say, ‘We did not hear.’ . . .” And to all reasonable souls it has been said above: Whatever things any of you did in ignorance, not knowing God clearly, all his sins shall be forgiven him, if he comes to God and repents.”

“The Teaching of Peter” reported by Bart Ehrman in Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into The New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

The idea of making a defense mattered to the Apostle Peter. Related to that idea and to giving, Peter wants us always to be ready to give an account for the hope that we have, with gentleness and respect.

Then the same word, defense, appears in this quote attributed to the Apostle Peter from the writings of Clement of Alexandria in his Stromata 6.6.48. It seems that when we give an account to others they will not have a defense to say they did not hear.

These words of Peter were circulated in the window of Clement’s life (A.D. 150-215) but not available to us today. Let me explain at least three reasons why I think they surface as significant for us.

Firstly, I think we have room for growth in “making a defense” and “giving an account” with gentleness and respect. If we focus on proving we are right all the time, we may actually appear as haters rather than lovers of lost souls.

Secondly, if we do not exhibit readiness to “make a defense” or “give an account” with gentleness and respect, people may think that Christianity is not the way, the truth, and the life, and abandon it as an option without testing it fully.

Thirdly, remember that Peter walked with Jesus, failed miserably in denying Christ, and experienced restoration. Regardless of our successes or failures, God wants to make known the good news through us.

In that light, linked to generosity today ask God to open the door for you to make a defense and give an account for the hope you have with gentleness and respect. Sharing the gospel is the greatest gift you can ever give someone.