Apologia: a defense, especially of one’s opinions, position, or actions (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary [Merriam-Webster, 1991]).
Apologia: to give an account (legal plea) of oneself (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984]).
The Greek word apologia appears ten times in the New Testament. In the KJV, it is always translated “answer” or “answered.” In the NIV, it is translated “defend” nine times and “answer” once. Here are eight of the ten occurrences:
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Lk. 12:11–12).
“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” (Lk. 21:12–15).
“When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: ‘I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense’” (Acts 24:10).
“Then Paul made his defense: ‘I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar’” (Acts 25:8).
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You have permission to speak for yourself.’ So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense” (Acts 26:1–2).
“This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me” (1 Cor. 9:3).
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth” (2 Tim. 4:16–17).
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Pet. 3:15–16).
In the first two quotations, Jesus tells us not to plan beforehand when we are brought before judges. The next three are the witnessing and preaching opportunities Paul took before Felix, Agrippa, and Caesar. His defense to the Christians (1 Corinthians 9) is mostly about preaching the gospel. The last passage tells us how to answer questions with the gospel.
The way apologia is used in the Scriptures has very little resemblance to apologetics today. Paul’s defense was an aggressiveoffense with the gospel to his listeners.
*Excerpted from Weapons & Tactics. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.
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