[Biblical citations: King James Version, unless otherwise specified]
REFERENCE WORKS ABBREVIATIONS
TGL Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Joseph Thayer, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977, originally 1901; numerically coded to Strong’s Concordance)
VED Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (W.E. Vine, Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., one-volume edition, 1940)
MHC Commentary on the Bible (Matthew Henry, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, one-volume edition, 1961, orig. 1710)
JFB Commentary on the Whole Bible (Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, one-volume edition, 1961, originally 1864)
ACC Commentary (Adam Clarke, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1967, originally 1826)
BARNES Barne’s Notes on the New Testament (Albert Barnes, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1949, originally 1868)
I Peter 3:15 and Apologia
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) The Greek word for answer is apologia, which occurs eight times in the NT. It is the word from which the English apology is derived, but in its classical definition, it did not mean an admission of wrong, but rather, a defense or justification of a belief. Apologetics, or the defense of the Christian faith, also comes from the same word. Students of philosophy or classics (or perhaps, Greek) are familiar with Plato’s Apology, which is an account of Socrates’ defense of himself at the Athenian trial that sentenced him to death.
TGL Verbal defense, speech in defense; pertaining to the person who is to hear the defense, to whom one labors to excuse or to make good his cause. [Strong’s word #627]
VED A verbal defense, a speech in defense. [under, “Answer”]
2) Apologia in Scripture
Acts 22:1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
Paul had been dragged out of the Temple by a crowd of irate Jews who sought to kill him. A Roman commander allowed him to speak to the crowd in defense of himself and his evangelistic activities.
Acts 25:16 . . . license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.
Used here in a Roman legal sense.
1 Corinthians 9:3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
Paul is defending with many arguments his right to receive wages.
Philippians 1:7 . . . in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
Philippians 1:17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. [1:16 in some other versions]
3) Related word: apologeomai
TGL 1. To defend one’s self, make one’s defense; 2. To defend a person or thing. [Strong’s word #626]
VED To answer by way of making a defense for oneself. [under, “Answer”]
See Lk 12:11, 21:14, Acts 19:33, Rom 2:15, 2 Cor 12:19. The word is used with regard to Paul’s defense of himself against the charges of the Jews in Jerusalem: before Felix (Acts 24:10), Festus (25:8), and Agrippa (26:1, 2, 24).
This is the Greek word for account. It is usually rendered word, as in John 1:1. It appears in this sense also in Acts 18:14.
TGL [for 1 Peter 3:15] account; i.e. answer or explanation in reference to judgment. [Strong’s word #3056, II.4.]
MHC Christians should have a reason ready for their Christianity, that it may appear they are not actuated either by folly or fancy.
JFB . . . an apologetic answer defending your faith . . . not to a railer, but to everyone . . . who inquires honestly . . . Credulity is believing without evidence; faith is believing on evidence. There is no response for reason itself but in faith.
ACC . . . to every serious and candid inquirer after truth. Most religious systems and creeds are incapable of rational explanation . . . Defend the truth with all possible gentleness and fear . . .
1) Dialegomai is the source of the English word dialogue.
TGL To converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss . . . drawing arguments from the Scriptures . . . with the idea of disputing prominent. [Strong’s word #1256 — appears 13 times in the NT]
VED To think different things, with oneself, to ponder, then to dispute with others; is translated ‘to reason’ in Acts 17:2, 18:4, 19, 24:25, KJV . . . 2. To converse, argue, dispute: Mk 9:34, Acts 17:17, 19:8-9, 24:12, Jude 9. 3. To converse, dispute, discuss, discourse with; most frequently, to reason or dispute with: Heb 12:5, Acts 20:7, 9 . . . not by way of a sermon, but by discourse of a more conversational character. [under “Reason,” “Dispute,” and “Discourse”]
2) Acts 17:2
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
MHC The preaching of the gospel should be both Scriptural preaching and rational; such as Paul’s was, for he ‘reasoned out of the Scriptures’: . . . Reason . . . must be made use of in explaining and applying the Scripture.
3) Acts 18:4
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
MHC The apostles propagated the gospel . . . by fair arguing. Paul was a rational as well as a scriptural preacher.
4) Acts 18:19
. . . he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
5) Acts 17:17
Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. [see also 17:18]
MHC The zealous advocates for the cause of Christ will be ready to plead it in all companies, as occasion offers.
6) Acts 19:8-10
And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
MHC He preached argumentatively: he disputed; gave reasons, and answered objections, that they might not only believe, but might see cause to believe. He preached affectionately, he persuaded . . . Some think this school of Tyrannus was a divinity-school of the Jews . . . others think it was a philosophy-school of the Gentiles.
JFB ‘Tyrannus’ — probably a converted teacher of rhetoric or philosophy.
Additional verses: Mk 9:34, Acts 24:12 and 24:25, Jude 9.
7) Related Words
Dialogismos refers primarily to inward reasoning: Lk 5:22, 6:8, 9:46-47 (2), 24:38, 1 Cor 3:20.
Dialogizomai has a similar general meaning: Mt 16:7-8, 21:25, Mk 2:6, 2:8 (2), 8:16-17, 9:33, Lk 1:29, 3:15, 12:17, 20:14.
TGL To discuss, dispute, question. [Strong’s word #4802]
VED To seek or examine together, to discuss. [under, “Reason”]
1) Acts 9:29
And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
2) Mark 12:28
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, . . .
This statement was in reference to Jesus’ discussion with the Sadducees about resurrection (Mk 12:18-27). Thus, Jesus used the techniques of “argument,” “debate,” and “disputation,” just as St. Paul did, and on very many occasions as well, especially with the Pharisees. If, then, Jesus Himself used “apologetics,” dare we do less?
3) Related Word: Suzetesis
TGL Mutual questioning, disputation, discussion. [Strong’s word #4803]
VED Debate, dispute, questioning. [under “Disputation,” No. 1]
See John 3:25, Acts 15:2, 7 and 28:29, 1 Timothy 6:4, Titus 3:9.
Luke 10:27: Loving God With Our Mind
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. (cf. Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30)
JFB This commands our intellectual nature; Thou shalt put intelligence into thine affection — in opposition to a blind devotion, or mere devoteeism . . . in the fullest exercise of an enlightened reason.
BARNES To submit the intellect to his will . . . The Christian is not commanded to throw away reason when he or she takes the step of faith; quite the contrary, the mind is to be fully included even in the act of love towards God. Likewise, God doesn’t want us preaching a mindless, irrational, blind faith to the unbeliever, but rather, a gospel which ministers to the whole person — heart, soul, strength and mind.
Jude 3: Contend Earnestly for the Faith
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Jesus’ Post-Resurrection Appearances
Jesus thought it was important to furnish empirical proofs of His Resurrection to His followers. His Resurrection was, by its very nature, tied up inextricably with history and eyewitnesses (legal-type proof) and physical sensory experience (scientific or empirical evidence). Thus, belief in His Resurrection was the very opposite of blind faith.
Jesus presented “many infallible proofs” of His Resurrection (Acts 1:3) and appeared on one occasion solely to destroy the doubts of skeptical, hard-nosed empiricist Thomas — a type of modern “scientific” man (John 20:24-29). Jesus did say that it was better to believe without the necessity of such undeniable proof (20:29), but after all, He still chose to appear for Thomas’ sake, and told Thomas to put his hands in His real, physical wounds. For that person who seems to require such evidence, then, we ought to attempt to provide it for them, following the example of Jesus with Thomas.
The other disciples and followers of Jesus (e.g., Mary Magdalene) touched Him as well (Matthew 28:9, Luke 24:39, John 20:17), and Jesus ate fish with them (Lk 24:41-43, John 21:12-13) – a wonderful, earthy and (outwardly) “unspiritual” act if there ever was one! Likewise, we must give unbelievers reasons for belief in Christianity, such as historical evidence for the Resurrection, etc.
Jesus gave proof of His Resurrection, which was, in turn, the proof of His claim to be the Messiah and God the Son. Paul and the early Christians preached Christ risen on the basis of eyewitness and empirical proof. Paul himself appealed to eyewitnesses, as he had not seen the glorified Jesus in the flesh.
This is emphatically apologetics, and it cannot be separated from our overall presentation of the gospel. An irrational, a-historical faith is no better than any other religion on the market, and the unbeliever instinctively senses this. Apologetics is crucial in the process of revealing the absolute distinctiveness and uniqueness of Christianity.
St. Paul‘s Evangelistic “Secret” — 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
MHC He accommodated himself to all sorts of people . . . He did not despise them nor judge them . . .
JFB . . . discoursing in their own manner, as at Athens, with arguments from their own poets (Acts 17:28).
Paul here expresses a fundamental principle of evangelism. Being “all things to all men” includes the use of intellectual arguments with intellectuals. We must be somewhat familiar with the prevalent philosophical assumptions in current thinking. This is not to negate the gospel, but rather, to make it more acceptable to those who might not otherwise consider it, and to remove stumbling blocks to faith. We must deal with people on their own level. We mustn’t argue for the sake of arguing or join into “ignorant speculations” with fools (2 Timothy 2:14-16), but if we don’t attempt to answer sincere objections to Christianity, many potential believers will dismiss the gospel because they see mindless people following and proclaiming it.
Most “modern” people need some proof before they can believe. This is okay, just as it was for Thomas, for whom Jesus made a special post-Resurrection appearance. On the other hand, we should also reply to — with love and gentleness — false philosophies and beliefs and point out their inconsistencies and undesirable consequences, always with the goal of presenting Christianity as a rational alternative and, indeed, the only answer to man’s deepest aspirations. Once a person has gotten over their intellectual stumbling blocks (or, their cop-outs, excuses, or rationalizations, as the case may be), that is the best time to communicate the gospel message.
Timing and sensitivity and prudence are very important (and too often neglected) factors in evangelism. Very often we are not meeting people where they are at, but rather, trying to force them to be where we are at, in terms of theological and spiritual understanding and development. St. Paul was opposed to the approach of presenting the gospel in a set, formulaic “take it or leave it” kind of way, where if a person rejects it, well, “that’s their problem.”
Many times, of course, it is their problem of rebelliousness, or, as the proverb goes, “a man convinced against his will retains his original belief still.” But too often, however, it is our own personality, lack of love, ignorance, insensitivity, or hypocrisy that a person is actually rejecting, not Jesus Christ.
One often hears people say that it is not so much Christianity (or, Catholicism in particular) that they have trouble with, as much as it is Christians and the lousy witness they give. We must all acknowledge our shortcomings in this regard and try to do better.
We should not alienate anyone when we share the gospel with them. If a person still refuses to believe, as they will, it better not have anything to do with our approach or attitude, because God holds us responsible. That person is all the more likely to reject the next witness before he or she even speaks, because of their past distasteful experience with us.
If we have indeed done our best, in love, and by God’s grace, and have faithfully carried out God’s commission, then the unbeliever’s response is not our problem, nor is it ultimately in our hands (the apologist always plays a small role anyway, even when they “do it right”: God’s grace is the ultimate cause of all conversions or movement closer to God). We must realize with a clean conscience that the world will often reject us as it rejected Christ.
By and large, non-Christians or nominal Christians respect apologetics, because they’re so used to hearing that they “should believe” (with no reasons given, nor even considered necessary), whereas what they really want to know is why they should believe the gospel is true. This is the function of apologetics: to provide reason enough for faith. God always requires a leap of faith, yet this leap is not without reason and much excellent evidence in its favor. If we don’t share a rational faith, as opposed to a blind faith, we will fail in our mission as God’s ambassadors. May God help us to live up to that awesome responsibility.
St. Paul‘s Sermon on Mars Hill in Athens (The Areopagus): Acts 17:22-34
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. [RSV: very religious] For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
MHC Paul was himself a scholar . . . human learning is both ornamental and serviceable to a gospel minister, especially for the convincing of those that are without; for it enables him to beat them at their own weapons.
JFB . . . a conciliatory and commendatory introduction . . . the whole discourse is studiously courteous . . . [v.28] The first half of the fifth line, word for word, of an astronomical poem of Aratus, a Greek countryman of the apostle, and his predecessor by about three centuries. But, as he hints, the same sentiment is to be found in other Greek poets . . . Probably during his quiet retreat at Tarsus (Acts 9:30) . . . he gave himself to the study of so much Greek literature as might be turned to Christian account in his future work. Hence this and other quotations from Greek poets; 1 Cor 15:33 and Titus 1:12.
Paul’s speech . . . strikes one as an admirable introductory lesson in Christianity for cultured pagans . . . The . . . allusions to Stoic and Epicurean tenets . . . like the quotations from the pagan poets, have their place as points of contact with the audience, but they do not commit the apologist to acquiescence in the realm of ideas to which they originally belong . . . The 20th-century apologist, in confronting contemporary paganism . . . will . . . be vigilant to seize upon every appropriate point of contact. Anything that rings a bell in his hearer’s minds may serve, for their minds are full of questions and aspirations — sometimes only half-consciously realized — to which the answer and fulfillment are provided by the gospel. (F.F. Bruce, The Defense of the Gospel, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1959, 46-47)
The Nature, Necessity, and Goal of Christian Apologetics
In the measure that religion is isolated from fact, it by the same measure is removed from reality . . . Apologetics . . . are not the gospel, but if a man has a prejudice against the gospel it is the function of apologetics and evidences to remove that prejudice . . . No well-grounded apologist will state that the philosophic demonstration of Christianity will save a man, but it is, to the contrary, quite evident that no man will give the necessary credence to the Word if he has certain mistaken notions and biased opinions about the facts and nature of the Christian religion. Apologetics and Christian evidences cut down these objections. (Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidences, Chicago: Moody Press, 1953, 7, 13-16)
The purpose of apologetics is at least twofold. First, to bring glory to God. Secondly, to remove from critics any excuse for not repenting before God . . . One never ‘argues’ another into becoming a Christian. We gently refute error; then we preach the gospel, for men are saved by the power of the gospel. (Edward John Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1948, 7-8)
The argument from prophecy and the argument from miracle were regarded by the first-century Christians, as by their successors in the second and many following centuries, as the strongest evidences for the truth of the gospel . . . Christians today may also emphasize the evidence for His resurrection as a most potent argument for the truth of Christianity; and their evidence will be the more effective if the power of His life is at work in their lives in such a way that others take note of it. (F.F. Bruce, The Defense of the Gospel, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1959, 14)
The Role of the Stubborn Will and Rebelliousness in Unbelief, According to Scripture
The non-Christian often demands an extraordinary amount of “proof” for Christianity, frequently excessive and unreasonable, given the proof required by the same person before he will believe in various other theories or explanations.
Thus, we find that there is often a double standard involved in spiritual/theological unbelief, with Christianity required to offer an “airtight” defense or rationale, whereas other systems of thought need not do so in order to be believed. People often believe these other viewpoints solely on authority (while at the same time criticizing Christians for trusting any spiritual or ecclesiastical authority, whether human or divine).
The non-Christian or nominal Christian accepts many things that he doesn’t fully understand, such as Quantum physics, the theory of relativity, the Big Bang, or the nutritional value of food. Such a person will eat and recognize that food is nutritious, without usually bothering to study the ins and outs of the biochemistry of nutrition, digestion, etc.
Yet when “spiritual food” is involved, they will refuse to enter into the benefits available (as evidenced by millions of transformed lives) until they fully comprehend and understand every real or imaginary theological or philosophical “problem.”
The Bible presents unbelief as a psychologically complex mixture of intellect and will. The will to believe becomes a supremely important factor, as does the rebelliousness of human nature (stemming from the Fall of man). Unbelief is presented as somewhat of an intellectual problem, but primarily a spiritual and moral one.
1) Matthew 11:20
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: (cf. John 12:37)
The people in the cities that witnessed more of Jesus’ miracles than anyone, didn’t repent or believe in Him, thus demonstrating that unbelief is often unyielding to the strongest proofs.
2) Luke 16:31
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (cf. Lk 10:16)
JFB The greatest miracle will have no effect on those determined not to believe.
This principle is verified by the resurrections of Lazarus and Jesus Himself.
3) Luke 22:67-68
Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.
It wasn’t that they could not believe, but that they would not.
4) John 3:19-20
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (cf. John 1:5)
5) John 4:48
Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
6) John 7:7
The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
JFB i.e., I am here to lift up My voice against its hypocrisy, and denounce its abominations; therefore it cannot endure Me.
7) John 7:17
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
JFB A principle of immense importance, showing that singleness of desire to please God is the grand inlet to light on all questions vitally affecting one’s eternal interests.
8) John 8:43-47
Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. [RSV: You cannot bear to hear my word] Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (cf. John 10:26-27)
9) Acts 17:31
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
10) Romans 1:18-32
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
RSV: 19, 21 What can be known about God is plain to them . . . their senseless minds were darkened
The word suppress in verse 18 indicates that unbelief is sometimes a wicked refusal to accept known truth, which is evident to all. The Greek word is katecho, which means “to restrain, hinder (the course or progress of)”. [TGL — Strong’s word #2722]
11) Romans 2:14-15
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
JFB The Ethics of Natural Theology may be said to be the one deep foundation on which all revealed religion reposes. In Romans 1:19-20 we have what we may call its other foundation — the Physics and Metaphysics of Natural Theology.
12) Romans 8:7-8
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
The Greek word for flesh here is sarx, meaning, in this context, “mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God” [TGL].
13) 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
14) Galatians 4:16
Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
15) Ephesians 4:17-18
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
16) 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
JFB God judicially sends hardness of heart on those who have rejected the truth, and gives them up in righteous judgment to Satan’s delusions (see Is 6:9-10, Rom 1:24,26,28 and 11:8-10, Matt 13:10-17, Jn 12:40, and Acts 28:24-27). Love of unrighteousness is the great obstacle to believing the truth.
17) Titus 1:15
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
(originally written in 1987 during my evangelical Protestant period)