Don’t be a “Gunslinger Apologist”

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Don’t be a “Gunslinger Apologist”

The First Epistle of Peter, 3:15. Part 1. The Christian Disciple.

The following text is probably the “locus classicus”, (considered to be the best known or most authoritative passage) or the classical text on apologetics:

but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear:

(I Peter 3:15 [ASV])

[15] κύριον δὲ τὸν ⸀Χριστὸν ἁγιάσατε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ⸀ἕτοιμοι ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος, [16] ⸀ἀλλὰ μετὰ πραΰτητος καὶ φόβου,………………….(I Peter 3:15-16 [MorphGNT])

The first part of the verse “but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord:” most apologists usually will take lightly at best, but the majority will skip over. When talking about apologetics there is an inherrent impatience to arrive at the phrase pros apologian (πρὸς ἀπολογίαν), to the defence of the faith and overlook this portion. Rephrasing it to “sanctify the Christos (Greek version of the Hebrew term Meshiach; the anointed one) as Kurios in your hearts” gives important insight into understanding the theology of who Jesus is.

The Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Old Testament, uses κύριος Kurios to render the Tetragrammaton Yahweh. The New Testament writers identified Jesus as Yahweh (E.g. Phil 2:9-11). This term Kurios is therefore a highly exalted term:

[9] Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; [10] that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, [11] and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:9-11 [ASV])

The Kurios of the Old Testament is the creator of all things: the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev. 22:13 [ASV]). God has to be the Creator to be God.

for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;

(Colossians 1:16 [ASV])

All believers are commanded to ἁγιάσατε hagiaste 1 (imperative) from the verb ἁγιάζω hagiazó meaning: to make holy, treat as holy, set apart as holy, sanctify, hallow, purify.2 What does this mean for the Christian wanting to engage in apologetics? Well it is an instruction to to treat as holy the Messiah (Lord Jesus Christ) as Lord (Yahweh) in ones hearts (καρδίαις, kardias, in the very centre of a persons being, that which identifies a person as who he/she is; the seat of emotion and thought.) and to order ones thoughts and to order the internal life of ones being in such a way that his Lordship rules over all.

The phrase arguably becomes a definition of a Christian disciple i.e. one who continuously sanctifies in ones heart, Christ as Lord. Therefore the Lordship of Christ in ones heart, orders ones worldview and the entirety of ones being. This preeminence and headship in all things, creates a mindset, that “Jesus is Lord” then becomes the foundation and vehicle to being able “always to give a defence” with meekness and fear (the right attitude). The Apostles’ point is to start from having the Lord Jesus Christ enthroned in the very essence of ones being so that the defence (ἀπολογίαν, apologian) of our “hope” may be conducted by Gods’ standards and not our own.

Note! A commentary to the Nestle-Aland Critical Text reads:

In place of Χριστόν the Textus Receptus substitutes θεόν, with the later uncials (K L P) and most minuscules. The reading Χριστόν, however, is strongly supported by early and diversified external evidence (𝔓72 א A B C Ψ 33 614 1739 itar vg syrp,h copsa,bo arm Clement), as well as by transcriptional probability, the more familiar expression (κύριον τὸν θεόν) replacing the less usual expression (κύριον τὸν Χριστόν).

The omission of τὸν Χριστόν in the patristic treatise de Promissionibus attributed to Quodvultdeus must be due to accidental oversight on the part of either translator or copyist.3 Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (pp. 621–622). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (pp. 621–622). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

The larger number of manuscripts read: κυριον δε τον θεον αγιασατε εν ταις καρδιαις υμων…..However, other important early manuscripts read: κύριον δὲ τὸν ⸀Χριστὸν ἁγιάσατε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν,… .  It is represented this way in all the principle Codices (Sinaiaticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi),  the Bodner Papyrus and in early Latin, Syriac and Coptic manuscripts, as well as in the commentary of Clement of Alexandria.

This is not a popular message unfortunately, although I am not in the business of coveting popularity ratings but being true to the text, which seems to indicate that unless Christ has been sanctified as Lord in ones hearts, one cannot be an effective apologist. Don’t be a gunslinger apologist.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

(II Corinthians 13:14 [ASV])

Featured Image: Photo by Alejo Reinoso on Unsplash

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