The Substance of Things Hoped For.

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The Substance of Things Hoped For.

The First Epistle of Peter, 3:15, Part 2. The Hope That Is Within Us.

In the previous post we examined 1 Pet. 3:15, specifically the text: “but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord:” In this post an examination of the second part will look at the text “being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you,”. In the Greek that reads “⸀ἕτοιμοι ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος,”.

Firstly, on careful reading, the text “being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you” requires one to be ready always, (ἀεὶ,1 aei, always, that means even when one lacks the will to do so, is tired, or whatever other circumstance or prevailing feeling overcomes a person). Not particularly brilliant insight, but always means always.

Secondly, the injunction exempts neither the person (παντί,2 here translated every man) who asks. It should be clear here, that one cannot pick and choose whom one answers, but must answer all who enquire. Again, not particularly brilliant insight, but every man means every man.

Now for the more difficult bit “a reason concerning the hope that is in you,”. The word reason is translated here from the word λόγον,3 logon which is one of the most widely used terms that has such a massive semantic domain to it. Having read a number of commentaries the word hope, from a translation of the Greek word ἐλπίδος, (elpidos) returns the vaguest of clarifications. However its definition is given in the opening verses of this very same Epistle:

[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4] unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, [5] who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(I Peter 1:3-5 [ASV])

What does this mean? Our living hope is in a resurrection unto eternal life from the dead to be activated in the “last time”. Or expressed in another way; by being Christians, we believe that we have the assurance of eternal life and joy even though we die. Excursus: notice how it’s God the Father who according to his great mercy begat us again ἀναγεννήσας 4 unto a living hope. Remind you of anything, like say John 3:3?

The basic or underlying question is always going to be, “Why are you a christian? People you know (or maybe don’t) are going to watch how you respond to the actual trials and tribulations that life brings your way. “Dude, you just got smacked in the face with life and you have a joy I don’t understand, but I want it”. You need to be able to give an answer or account, that’s what this is talking about; that we are always ready to give a defence when it comes to our hope.

“UnChristians” will run along and tell you that it’s not God’s will that you go through these difficulties, which are going to be part of what Christ brings you through to conform you to his image, but they don’t know anything about the New Testament.

We are not trying to establish a philosophical argument, E.g.; the truth value of the logical connective “if p the q”, or p=>q, which is false only when p is true and q is false. In any other case, it’s true. It’s not that kind of reason or reasoning. Anyone trying to do that has missed the point of the text.

That’s what Tertullian means when he asks: “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? what between heretics and Christians?5Tertullian, “Prescription against Heretics,” trans. Rev. Peter Holmes, D.D., F.R.A.S. in Ante- Nicene Fathers, ed. Philip Schaff: ANF03. Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian. Accessed in //

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 Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

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