1 Peter 3:15 is a well-known verse. It often appears in Bible memory verse packets. While 1 Peter 3:15 is especially known for Christian apologetics, I want to point to another key term in the verse and discuss its context.

But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.

Peter uses this verse to summarize our faith in one word. Now if I were to ask you to summarize the faith in one word, what would you choose? Would it be salvation or grace, the cross, forgiveness, or love?

Peter chooses the word hope (ἐλπίς, elpis).

Faith provides us with hope, and the gospel leads us to a place of hope. Furthermore, the concept of hope in the context of Peter’s teachings is much broader and grander than the usual English usage of the word. It is not merely a desire for something to happen, rather it points to a concrete expectation that something certainly will occur.

Our hope is rooted in eternal fellowship with God in an environment where justice and righteousness reign without end. The world’s fallen state will be dealt with once and for all. Peter wants readers to understand that our faith is not only about fixing what was wrong; it also looks forward to the full restoration of all that creation lost when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Our faith restores our relationship with God—a relationship that was broken when we sinned. We declared our independence from God by choosing to be a god unto ourselves, which is the essence of sin. By trusting in what Christ did for us on the cross, we acknowledge our past failures and seek the gracious restoration of our relationship with God. Rather than being separated from God, and hopeless as a result, we obtain hope and are reconnected to the One who made us in His image.

Why does this single term matter so much?

Well, if we only look back to sin when we share our faith, then we never reach the “good news” part of our message—the gospel. The hope that summarizes our faith is essential to the gospel message. The good news is not merely that sin has been or can be forgiven. But by grace through faith in Jesus, we are reconciled with God and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. We are brought into an unbreakable relationship with the living God that sets our destiny for all eternity. The hope that is set before us is something that God will undoubtedly do. No wonder Peter chose this word to summarize what God does through Christ.

When we share the defense of our faith, we are to do it with courtesy and respect (see 1 Peter 3:16). This hope in Christ should be the central focus of our message. Sometimes, we can be critical of the world around us; however, if we do not share the fullness of our hope and with the correct tone, then we may not have given the defense of our faith we ought to give. Therefore, we should consider God’s hope and our call to share our faith with others who need it.

About the Contributors

Darrell L. Bock

Dr. Bock has earned recognition as a Humboldt Scholar (Tübingen University in Germany), is the author of over 40 books, including well-regarded commentaries on Luke and Acts and studies of the historical Jesus, and work in cultural engagement as host of the seminary’s Table Podcasts. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) from 2000–2001, served as a consulting editor for Christianity Today, and serves on the boards of Wheaton College and Chosen People Ministries. His articles appear in leading publications. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. Dr. Bock has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas. When traveling overseas, he will tune into the current game involving his favorite teams from Houston—live—even in the wee hours of the morning. Married for over 40 years to Sally, he is a proud father of two daughters and a son and is also a grandfather.