The Use Of 1 Peter 3:13-17 For Christian Apologetics -- By: Timothy E. Miller

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 174:694 (Apr 2017)
Article: The Use Of 1 Peter 3:13-17 For Christian Apologetics
Author: Timothy E. Miller

The Use Of 1 Peter 3:13-17 For Christian Apologetics

Timothy E. Miller

Timothy E. Miller is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Bible Exposition, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Allen Park, Michigan.


First Peter 3:15 is sometimes used without due consideration of its broader context. Consequently, while some of the apologetic implications of the passage are recognized, others are missed. A verse-by-verse analysis of the pericope in which 1 Peter 3:15 resides reveals important apologetic implications that focus on the single verse can overlook.


First Peter 3:15 is popularly known as the “Apologetic Mandate.”1 As such, the text has sometimes been used without a broader presentation of Peter’s meaning in 3:13-17, the pericope in which 3:15 resides.2 Using the text in isolation is possible because the verse can be read meaningfully in isolation from its broader context.3 Nevertheless, the broader context is critical both

in showing that the verse means what it appears to mean and in developing further implications of the verse. This article, then, is designed to justify the apologetic use of the text by focusing on an exegesis of the broader context. The goal of the work is (1) to confirm that the way the text is often used in apologetic literature is correct and (2) to show that a development of the broader context provides a richer picture of the passage’s apologetic usefulness.

Historical Context

First Peter indicates that Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote the letter. Modern scholarship generally rejects this ascription, proposing that a later school (the Petrine school) or individual penned the words in Peter’s name. Schreiner’s arguments and conclusion are, however, persuasive:

There are no decisive grounds to reject Petrine authorship for the letter. Both internal and external evidence supports such a view, and there was no controversy over whether Peter wrote the letter in the early church. . . . The objections raised against Petrine authorship are not compelling, and credible responses can be given to each one.4


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