…and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. — 1 Peter 3:15
We are told always to be ready. In a sense, Peter's motto is much like that of the Boy Scouts—"Be prepared." Our preparation is to make us ready to give a defense and a reason for the hope that is in us. If we are dragged before magistrates, if we are on trial for our faith, we are to be prepared to say why we believe what we believe. If your neighbor says, "I notice that you are a Christian. What is it that you believe?" are you ready to explain not only what you believe but why you believe it?
Some Christians tell those who inquire that we simply take a leap of faith with no bother about the credibility or the rational character of the truth claims of the Bible, but that response goes against the teaching of this text. The only leap of faith we are to take is out of the darkness and into the light. When we become Christians, we do not leave our mind in the parking lot. We are called to think according to the Word of God, to seek the mind of Christ and an understanding of the things set forth in sacred Scripture. The Bible is a big book, and every bit of it, I believe, has been inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, the author of this Book is God. He gave it to us to be understood, and we cannot understand it if we close our mind to the careful study of it.
Peter says that we are to stand ready to give what the English translation calls "a defense" to everyone who asks for a reason for our hope. The Greek word translated "defense" is apologia, which may be translated as "apology." Every Christian is to be prepared to give an apology to all. This does not mean that we are to apologize to people—"Please, excuse me for being a Christian; I'm sorry that I'm so irrational; I just can't help it"; it means that we are to give a defense.
Excerpt from 1–2 Peter (2011, Crossway).