A while back, I was asked to do a quick exegesis of 1 Peter 3:15 for a class I was taking in seminary. I then shared on this blog what I wrote at that time.
But even though what I wrote was geared more toward the idea of being a witness during persecution, there’s never been a better time for us to be able to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ.
My prayer is that the following words will embolden you and give you courage as you “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.”
1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
1 Peter 3:15 was written by the Apostle Peter and most likely addressed to Christians living in Rome (Babylon). There are, however, various arguments against the Petrine authorship of the letter, but none have been taken seriously by the Church. As a matter of fact, by “the end of the second century and beginning of the third century, the letter is explicitly identified as Peter’s.”
The overall context of 1 Peter is one of persecution. In other words, Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were heavily burdened with “manifold temptations” and “trials” (1:6-7). Scholars differ on the exact date of the writing and to which time of persecution the letter was actually addressing, but persecution was evidently a common occurrence.
The immediate context of verse 15 has it on the heels of an exhortation by Peter to live in such a way that shows love to the brethren (v. 8). Immediately following in verse 16, Peter writes that by living this way their “good conversation” will put to shame any false accusers or those who may speak evil of them. Therefore, the exhortation of verse 15 is part of an overall call to be witnesses to a hostile world who is watching and looking for any reason to find fault.
Words to Examine
There are several words within 1 Peter 3:15 that are worth examining in closer detail. By doing so, we will be able to obtain a richer and fuller understanding of the passage.
- Sanctify. The word translated “sanctify” is the word hagiazō (ἁγιάζω), which means “to make holy …purify or consecrate; …venerate…sanctify.”
- Heart. The word translated “heart” is a word that could be understood to be the actual organ within the body that pumps blood, but kardia (Strong’s G2588) can also mean – and in this case does – the center of spiritual life.
- Ready. Peter suggests that the Christian should “be ready always…” The idea here is that of being prepared for something. We read in Matthew 25:10 of those that were “ready” for the coming of the bridegroom. Their readiness involved preparation for a future event. When we attach the adverb “always” to “ready,” what we have then is a readiness that is always anticipating something that could happen at any time.
- Give an answer. The Greek word translated “give an answer” is apologia (ἀπολογία), which is a verbal defense of something, or reasoned argument (G627). Paul used the same word in 1 Corinthians 9:2 when he said, “Mine answer (apologia) to them that do examine me is this…” The idea of the word has nothing to do with making an excuse for something, but to give a reason for it in defense of it.
- Reason. The Greek word here is logos (G3056), which has to do with words, things said, ideas expressed, thoughts communicated. Jesus was called the Word (Logos) in John 1:1. He was described as the Wisdom of God expressed. The Bible is the Word of God, the inspired, written revelation by God of Himself to mankind.
- Meekness. This word in Greek is praÿtēs (πραΰτης), which is defined as a mildness of disposition, or a sense of humility (G4240).
- Fear. The Greek word translated “fear” is the word phobos (G5401), which carries with it the idea of dread, terror, or exceeding fear.
Taking into account the background and context of 1 Peter 3:15, including an examination of the words used in the text, the following expanded version of the verse would thereby seem appropriate:
1 Peter 3:15 KJV – But sanctify [set aside as holy and revered, set up higher than anything or anyone else] the Lord God in your hearts [your life, your essence, the seat of your emotions, your way of thinking]: and be ready always [make preparations beforehand; do the work in advance of the need; anticipate the issue and prepare accordingly] to give an answer [a well-though-out response, a reasoned reply, a logical defense] to every man that asketh you a reason [because some men want more than “I don’t knows”; they want to be convinced with language they can understand] of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear [because there are grave consequences for not being ready…1) the lost may remain in their lostness and reject Christ, and 2) the One who is Holy is judging your works].”
Conclusion and Application
As mentioned above, 1 Peter 3:15 was written to those who were enduring trials and tribulations, i.e., persecution. Today, even though we are not enduring the same kind of trials and tribulations, there are other more minor forms of persecution and tribulation we may encounter in the immediate future. Nevertheless, all trials and tribulations, regardless of the severity, should provide for us an opportunity to exhibit a “hope” that is in us and beg the reason why.
Therefore, as Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15), we should study as those who are to be examined, so when the time comes when we are asked to “give an account,” we will not be ashamed (1 Peter 3:16), but offer our actions AND our testimony as reasons for our faith.
 The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Thomas R. Schreiner. 2003, Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville. Page 22
 The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. (G37)
7 responses to “A Quick Exposition of 1 Peter 3:15 (Applicable to Today)”
As with most people, including myself, we ramble. Peter is no different. None of the writers of the bible lack this ability. One thought bleeds into another, and some times they will say something pass over it assuming the whole of that subject in a word.
This is the case sort of in 1 Peter 3:15. Sanctify the Lord in your hearts.
In good exegesis we should look at the context the bigger Ramble and its obvious that Peter is talking about the motives and contents of the heart. Not evangelism but the conflict between you being different, adorned differently because of a heart condition.
If Nasa could do the math to get a satellite to sling shot off Venus a few times so it could head on in around to the sun, because Centripetal force makes moving toward the sun difficult, We can plot a course for the condition of our heart and put it on a graph.
The Sanctification of God in our hearts or the place or pedestal and respect we give him is shown directly proportional to how our conduct is displayed. But since we know Conduct is not always an indicator of a Love and reverence for God, we need to look at what Sanctification actually is. is it a washing of the hands and preparation to meet God? Or is it a desire to wash our hands and prepare, to offer sacrifices etc. because we reverence God.
Being post Cross, past the dawn of our new covenant and our sacrifice already given, it sort of leaves us with intent not gifts at the alter. The whole of Peter deals with this change from contempt to admiration. Its the John 3:14-15- then 16 following point. but men loved darkness rather than light, they had contempt etc.
So to sanctify God in the heart is not as simple as some might think meaning to know something so you can preach it. But to know God and to cherish him, to put him at the high place of your heart.
Then we should be able to explain why. In the end its about restored relationship with God by the cross through faith/trust/admiration of Him/Jesus as saviour and returning lord of our lives. Welcome Home Lord.
Best compliment for me this past week from a co-worker: “Gary you are the most prepared person I know!”
Until my (come from the city to the cabin) neighbor called me and poured out his anger issues, fears, workplace melt down (he’s the boss but not now till he get’s his head together) and so on…We talked. Now about my prayer life readiness….
Always a challenge to keep our barrels clean and our powder dry.
So true, and not be caught untangling hooks while the fish are rising.
When you’re unprepared for a fish uprising, you’re doomed.
Hello Mr. Baker,
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Thank you. I’ll check it out 🙂