The Christians of the 2nd Century were very misunderstood by the Romans and had to answer some wild accusations. They were accused of things including “incest, cannibalism, atheism, and being a subversive group” (Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to Reformation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2005. 73). These are fairly wild charges compared to what the view of Christianity is in the modern world. Considering the wild accusations in contrast to what is known about Christians through the ages since those actions have never been taught as doctrine, only perceived as teachings from those on the outside because of common terms that were used.
These accusations where not taken idly by Christians in response those who took the name of Christ started to defend Christianity. “As defenders of the faith, the Apologists answered the popular charges against Christians and made a plea for tolerance” (Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to Reformation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2005. 73). While the number of people who would continue to b e Christians would continue to grow, and Christianity would continue to spread. But the persecution for the misunderstood Christians would get worse and worse as well. However, these apologist not only defended the faith by providing the truth to those who didn’t understand, but their ultimate goal was the conversion of others for Christ. It was for this purpose they made their arguments.
What we can know is that while the Christians were facing some of the worst persecution, those who came to know Christ continued to grow. We can learn several things from the Apologists of the 2nd Century. Among the things we can learn are how to deal with our accusers as well as what the focus of any apologist ought to be. As Christians, we can use 1 Peter 3:15 as a guidance for how we ought to be ready to give an answer for anyone who asks us what we believe in. Nothing has really changed from the 2nd century except that the understanding isn’t as bad any more. However, there are still constant charges against Christians showing that the culture still does not understand Christianity. Because of this, we still have to respond to the various charges and clear up the misconceptions in Christianity. However, we must never lose sight of the ultimate object. Jesus came, and we must follow his example coming to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). This must be our focus as well.